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War and Terror: September surprise|
Posted on Saturday, September 06 @ 12:24:38 UTC
By Bill Berkowitz, TomPaine.com
Last May, President Bush made his now-famous -- and outrageously false -- statement to a Polish television station: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.... But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
In fact, of course, we hadn't found anything of the sort -- and pretty soon that'll be official. David Kay, the man in charge of the WMD search in Iraq, is expected to release a report this month on what the more than 1,200-member Iraq Survey Group has turned up. And the fact that the count still stands at zero won't stop Kay from trying to paint the search as a success.
Kay is the perfect yes-man. Not only did he head up the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) nuclear search team in Iraq in the early nineties, he has deep roots in the defense industry and is well connected to corporate media. When the president needed someone to hawk his "Iraq's WMD are an imminent threat to homeland security" thesis to the American people, David Kay was the man. During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Kay was a ubiquitous presence on the cable news networks, backing the president's assertions to the hilt. He testified before Congressional committees and published op-ed pieces in several mainstream dailies.
So it came as no surprise when Kay traded in his pundit's garb in early June to step in as Special Advisor for Strategy. Appointed by CIA Director George Tenet, Kay was given the responsibility of "refining the overall approach" for the weapons search.
"Kay's experience and background make him the ideal person for this new role," Tenet said when he announced the appointment. "His understanding of the history of the Iraqi programs and knowledge of past Iraqi efforts to hide WMD will be of inestimable help in determining the current status of Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons."
Kay's no stranger to the CIA. In fact, he was fired from his position as deputy director of UNSCOM's Iraq Action Team in the early 1990s because of his contacts with the U.S. intelligence community, according to Gordon Prather, the army's chief scientist during the Reagan years.
It's not something he's ashamed to talk about. In an interview with PBS' Frontline, Kay spoke with surprising candidness:
"Once you were dealing in a clandestine, competitive environment, you needed access to satellite photography, access to signals intercept, access to measurements of leakage and contamination from the programs, so you could identify where it is. Access to defectors, who, after all, were not defecting to the U.N. They were defecting to national governments to use them. So, from the very beginning, you needed that expertise; but I can say for myself personally -- and I'm really only comfortable talking about myself -- although a number of us discussed this in the early days, I realize it was always a bargain with the Devil -- spies spying. The longer it continued, the more the intelligence agencies would, often for very legitimate reasons, decide that they had to use the access they got through cooperation with UNSCOM to carry out their missions."
Kay is also involved with one of the nation's major defense contractors, serving as a senior vice president for the San Diego-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), which received about two-thirds of its $6 billion revenue last year from the U.S. Treasury, according to a report by Katrin Dauenhauer and Jim Lobe in Asia Times.
Aside from homeland security projects, SAIC has already won several reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and Kay along with other former company employees are firmly planted in country. The company has headed up the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council (IRDC) since the Pentagon established the body was in February, according to the Asia Times report, and also runs the recently established Iraqi Media Network (IMN) project, charged with building a new information ministry, complete with television, radio and a newspaper. SAIC is also a subcontractor under Vinnell Corporation, which has been training the Saudi National Guard for a long time, and is now responsible for pulling together and training a new Iraqi army.
So David Kay has some personal interest in keeping up U.S. appearances in Iraq, including the image that we invaded the country for legitimate reasons. That and his die-hard loyalty to the Bush administration means he'll be spinning the upcoming report as hard and as positively as he can. Unfortunately for him, he may not have much to work with.
Scott Ritter, a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq and the author of Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America, claims looters destroyed or stole Iraq's weapons-program records when they ransacked the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate after the United States took Baghdad. The Directorate, Ritter explained recently in The New York Times, was the government agency coordinating U.N. inspection teams' missions and monitoring Iraq's infrastructure to ensure the country complied with Security Council resolutions. As such, it was the repository for records on weapons programs, as on dozens of "dual-use" industrial sites, that is, structures that could be modified to manufacture illegal materials.
While these archives might have led inspectors down some blind alleys, Ritter says, "seizing the directorate archive would have been a top priority for the coalition forces -- at least as important as the Iraqi Oil Ministry or the National Museum. And it seems highly unlikely that coalition leaders didn't know what the archive contained."
Whatever they knew, the Directorate lies in shambles, which boosts the chances that Kay's search will prove fruitless. But fruitless isn't an acceptable answer for the White House - and anyone paying attention knows it. Conservative columnist Robert Novak recently indicated that Kay's upcoming report will aim to take the heat off the administration: "Former international weapons inspector David Kay... has privately reported successes that are planned to be revealed to the public in mid-September."
Pentagon officials are beginning to spread the word that Kay's team is prepared to claim that the Hussein regime purposefully "spread nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons plans and parts throughout the country to deceive the United Nations," according to The Boston Globe. Citing senior Bush administration and intelligence officials, the Globe predicts Kay will argue that after hoodwinking the U.N. inspectors, Hussein would quickly reassemble all the information and materials and "manufacture substantial quantities of deadly gases and germs."
After four months of intense searching, no hard evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has yet been found. And while David Kay's pre-war predictions about the existence of WMD now appear less reliable than the insights of Johnny Carson's Karnak the Magnificent, the Bush administration is counting on Kay to bring home the bacon. The loyal Mr. Kay, in turn, appears poised to hand in a report marked by speculation, innuendo and circumstantial evidence. Kay's September surprise: He morphs into a weapon of mass deception.
Bill Berkowitz is a long time political observer and columnist.
Reprinted from TomPaine.com:
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