Last week Newsweek reported that Hussein Kamel told the CIA that Iraq did destroy all its chemical and biological weapons. You’ll remember Kamal as the son-in-law who defected, became a Western informant, then stupidly went back to Iraq, where he was quickly executed.
Newsweek had been one of many publications that had held Kamel up as an information goldmine, one that proved Iraq was up to no good.
The Newsweek story failed to make clear how this information fit in with their years of other reporting. The Guardian tried to put the whole thing together, saying that the former UN inspector now thinks Kamel was a “consumate liar.”
Nobody gives much guidance on how much of what we think about the programs is based on Kamel. Much of what he said was backed up by documents, so it can’t be all wrong.
March 3, 2003 Newsweek
Exclusive: The Defector’s Secrets
Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.Kamel was Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law and had direct knowledge of what he claimed: for 10 years he had run Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.
Saddam’s stone wall: Iraq still hasn’t satisfied the U.N. inspectors.(Saddam Hussein)(Irag shows no sign of changing its negative attitude toward weapons inspection by the United Nations)(Brief Article)
Gregory Beals John Barry
Earlier this month, a report by another U.N. body, the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed that Iraq tried to revive its nuclear-weapons program after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. When the agency demanded an explanation, Baghdad said an “unauthorized” program had been run by Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s luckless son-in-law, who defected to Jordan in 1995 and then returned to Iraq, where he was killed. That effort now seems to have been shut down, and the IAEA is prepared to give Iraq a clean bill of health on nuclear weapons.
His secret weapon.(Saddam Hussein had a germ-warfare arsenal during Gulf War)
No hurry: Iraq’s germ-warfare program finally came to light because of the defection on Aug. 8 of Saddam’s son-in-law Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, whom Ekeus describes as “the mastermind of the whole biological-weapons program.” With Kamel prepared to spill Saddam’s secrets, the Iraqis suddenly provided Ekeus with reams of information on their outlawed program. The defection will apparently not lead to Saddam’s downfall in the near future. Once again, the dictator was crushing any potential challengers at home. And given the lack of an acceptable successor to Saddam, even U.S. allies in the Middle East were in no hurry to see him fall, as long as he remains politically and militarily weakened.
But the forced revelations have deprived Saddam of his most potent secret weapon. “They kept biology as the prize,” Ekeus told Newsweek. He said the Iraqi strategy was to get economic sanctions fitted without revealing the secret of the biological weapons. Germ warfare could have given Saddam “an ideal strategic weapon,” Ekeus said, assuming he had an effective longrange delivery method. Delivered secretly, it also could have been “the ideal terrorism weapon.” Now if Iraq wants to escape from the economic sanctions that are choking it, Baghdad will have to prove that it has given up its doomsday weapons.
RELATED ARTICLE: Doomsday Arsenal
Iraq now concedes its program to make weapons of mass destruction was far more advanced than it admitted before.
* Biological: Outsiders learned for the first time that anthrax germs and botulism poisons were actually loaded into Iraqi missile warheads and bombs. If inhaled, both agents kill by destroying the ability to breathe. Iraq also loaded a little-known fungal poison called aflatoxin, which may cause cancer, and it experimented with infectious viruses.
* Nuclear: Baghdad also provided new information showing that its nuclear program was more advanced than the allies knew. In August 1990, the month it invaded Kuwait, Iraq reportedly began a crash program to produce a nuclear weapon within a year. It failed.
* Chemical: Iraq’s supply of mustard gas and nerve agents such as sarin was well known, having been used in combat against Iran and Kurdish rebels. Mustard burns skin and lungs but is much less lethal than sarin, which paralyzes.
Defector’s testimony confuses case against Iraq.
By Julian Borger in Washington.
03/01/2003 The Guardian
Copyright (C) 2003 The Guardian
Hussein Kamel, the former head of Iraq’s weapons programmes whose 1995 defection has been portrayed by the US and Britain as evidence of Iraqi deceit and the futility of inspections, was a “consummate liar”, according to the last weapons inspector to interrogate him.
The transcript of the interrogation, leaked this week to Newsweek magazine and seen by the Guardian, makes it clear that the defector’s testimony on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was inconclusive and often misleading.
The emergence of the classified statements weakens the case the US and Britain has tried to build against Saddam Hussein, in which Kamel’s defection has been used to bolster claims that Iraq still has thousands of tonnes of chemical and biological weapons for which it has not accounted.
They reveal that Kamel, who was President Saddam’s son-in-law, told UN inspectors that Iraq had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons and abandoned its nuclear programme after the Gulf war. But he said blueprints, documents, computer files and moulds for missile parts had been hidden.
Rolf Ekeus, the former chief UN weapons inspector who oversaw the interrogation in August 1995, said much of the chemical arsenal had been destroyed by the inspectors, not Baghdad.
Mr Ekeus agreed that the Iraqi government had probably eliminated its biological arsenal but said he remained convinced that “seed stocks” of bacteria had been retained as well as growth media and fermenters so it could quickly reconstitute its arsenal.
Kamel, who had been the director of Iraq’s military industrial establishment, was assassinated soon after his mysterious decision to return to Iraq just weeks after his high-profile defection.
The US and British governments have pointed to the defection to emphasise the extent of Iraq’s weapons programmes and the inherent weakness of inspections.
But Mr Ekeus pointed out that Unscom, the UN special commission on Iraq, had already discovered a lot about the Iraqi pre-war biological programme earlier that year, forcing Baghdad’s admission in July, a month before Kamel’s defection, that it had pursued germ warfare.
The transcript of Kamel’s interrogation reveals a far more ambiguous picture than the one portrayed in Washington and London.
“Kamel was a consummate liar,” Mr Ekeus said.
While the transcript of the interrogation makes it clear that the defection was less than a breakthrough, it had a psychological impact on Baghdad. The Iraqi government, unsure what he was going to tell the inspectors, became much more forthcoming.
Before Mr Ekeus arrived in Amman to interrogate Kamel, the Iraqis invited him to Baghdad to hand over documents and then took him to Kamel’s chicken farm where several metal containers full of documents had been buried.
“They wanted to blame it all on Kamel,” Mr Ekeus said. “But Kamel was just carrying out the government’s policy.”