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Profile: Iraqi National Congress

 
  

Positions that Iraqi National Congress has held:



 

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Iraqi National Congress actively participated in the following events:

 
  

1992-1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Over a period of four years, the CIA's Iraq Operation Group provides the Iraqi National Congress (INC) with $100 million, which the organization uses to set up training camps and propaganda operations in Northern Iraq. [Ritter, 2005, pp 128; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004] During this time span, Chalabi allegedly misuses a lot of the funds. “There was a lot of hanky-panky with the accounting: triple billing, things that weren't mentioned, things inflated ... It was a nightmare,” a US intelligence official who works with Chalabi will say in 2004. [Newsweek, 4/5/2004] Chalabi refuses to share the organization's books with other members of the INC, and even with the US government itself. According to a former CIA officer, “[T]hey argued that it would breach the secrecy of the operation.” One night, government investigators break into the INC's offices to do an audit. They find that although the books are in order, many of the group's expenditures are wasteful. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Chalabi spends much of his time in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Robert Baer, a CIA officer who is also working in Iraq, later recalls: “He was like the American Ambassador to Iraq. He could get to the White House and the CIA. He would move around Iraq with five or six Land Cruisers.” Hundreds of thousands of dollars flow “to this shadowy operator—in cars, salaries—and it was just a Potemkin village. He was reporting no intel; it was total trash. The INC's intelligence was so bad, we weren't even sending it in.” Chalabi tries to portray Saddam's regime as “a leaking warehouse of gas, and all we had to do was light a match,” Baer says. Chalabi, at certain points, claims to know about Iraqi troop movements and palace plans. But “there was no detail, no sourcing—you couldn't see it on a satellite.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004 Sources: Robert Baer]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Robert Baer, Central Intelligence Agency
          

June 1992      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Masud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani, meet in Vienna along with nearly 200 delegates from dozens of Iraqi opposition groups to form an umbrella organization for Iraqi dissident groups. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Federation of American Scientists, 8/8/1998] The event is organized by the Rendon Group, which has been contracted by the CIA to organize the wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents into a unified movement against Saddam Hussein. Rendon names the group the “Iraqi National Congress” (INC). The CIA pays the Rendon Group $326,000 per month for the work, funneled to the company and the INC through various front organizations. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005 Sources: Unnamed former CIA operative] Thomas Twetten, the CIA's deputy directorate of operations, will later recall: “The INC was clueless. They needed a lot of help and didn't know where to start.” [The New Republic, 5/20/2002; Bamford, 2004, pp 296-297] Rendon hires freelance journalist Paul Moran and Zaab Sethna as contract employees to do public relations and “anti-Saddam propaganda” for the new organization. [SBS Dateline, 7/23/2003]
People and organizations involved: Masud Barzani, Jalal Talabani, Central Intelligence Agency, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Iraqi National Congress, Rendon Group, Paul Moran, Zaab Sethna, Thomas Twetten
          

October 1992      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Prominent Shiite Iraqi opposition groups join the Iraqi National Congress, a creation of the CIA (see June 1992), and hold a meeting in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq where they select a three-man leadership council and a 26-member executive council. The three leaders include moderate Shiite Muslim cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum; ex-Iraqi general Hasan Naqib; and Masud Barzani. Ahmed Chalabi, who is reportedly not at all popular among the exiles present, is somehow selected to chair the executive council. This event represents the first major attempt to bring together the many different groups in Iraq opposed to Saddam Hussein. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Federation of American Scientists, 8/8/1998]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Hasan Naqib, Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Iraqi National Congress, Masud Barzani
          

(1994)      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Iraqi National Congress sets up “a forgery shop” inside an abandoned schoolhouse in the Kurdish town of Salahuddin. “It was something like a spy novel,” CIA agent Robert Baer later recalls. “It was a room where people were scanning Iraqi intelligence documents into computers, and doing disinformation. There was a whole wing of it that he did forgeries in. ... He was forging back then, in order to bring down Saddam.” One of the documents fabricated by the INC is a copy of a purported letter to Chalabi from President Clinton's National Security Council. The letter requests Chalabi's help in a plot to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Baer believes Chalabi's intent is to trick the Iranians into believing that the Americans will kill Hussein, thus inspiring them into joining a plot against the dictator. According to Francis Brooke, a Rendon Group employee working with the INC, Chalabi did not create the forged letter. “That would be illegal,” he says. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004 Sources: Robert Baer]
People and organizations involved: Rendon Group, Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress, Francis Brooke
          

March 1995      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi creates a militia army of about 1,000 fighters in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and bribes tribal leaders in the city of Mosul to support a planned rebellion against Saddam Hussein. He is also hosting members of Iranian intelligence who promise that when the operation is launched, Iran will simultaneously hit Iraq from the south. But the CIA learns that Baathist officials have caught wind of the plot and the CIA instructs agent Robert Baer to tell Chalabi that “any decision to proceed will be on your own.” Chalabi, who has no military experience, decides to go through with the plot anyways. But the operation quickly flounders when many of Chalabi's fighters desert, the bribed Iraqi tribal leaders stay home, and the Iranians do nothing. The CIA is furious that it funded the operation, which becomes known within the agency as the “Bay of Goats.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Francis Brooke, Rendon Group, Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Saddam Hussein, Robert Baer
          

After 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After the failed coup attempt in Iraq (see March 1995), Ahmed Chalabi comes to Washington to lobby the US government to pursue a policy of regime change. Chalabi sets up shop in a million-dollar brick row house in Georgetown, owned by Levantine Holdings, a Chalabi family corporation based in Luxembourg. The house will serve as both the Iraqi National Congress' Washington headquarters and as Chalabi's home. Francis Brooke, Chalabi's aide, and Brooke's family will live in the house for free. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Washington Post, 11/24/2003, pp C01] Brooke is reportedly a devout Christian who, the New Yorker reports, “has brought an evangelical ardor to the cause of defeating Saddam.” Brooke tells the magazine: “I do have a religious motivation for doing what I do. I see Iraq as our neighbor. And the Bible says, when your neighbor is in a ditch, God means for you to help him.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Brooke believes that Saddam Hussein is of such an evil nature, that even the most extreme measures would be justified to remove him. Charles Glass of Harper's will report that Brooke “says he would support the elimination of Saddam, even if every single Iraqi were killed in the process. He means it. ‘I'm coming from a place different from you.... I believe in good and evil. That man is absolute evil and must be destroyed.’ ... He says he believes in Jesus and in resurrection and in eternity. If all the Iraqis die, he says, they will live in eternity. But the ‘human Satan’ must go, no matter what.” [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004] As part of their lobbying strategy, Chalabi and Brookes examine the successes of various American Jewish lobby groups. “We knew we had to create a domestic constituency with some electoral clout, so we decided to use the AIPAC [American Israel Political Action Committee] model,” Brooke later the New Yorker. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress, Francis Brooke
          

August 1996      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       One of the Kurdish groups within the Iraqi National Congress (INC) invites Iraqi forces into Kurdistan to crush a rival faction allied with Chalabi. Saddam Hussein sends 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and 300 tanks into the Kurdish city of Irbil. Saddam's forces capture, torture, and kill hundreds of Chalabi's followers and some INC officials. At this time, Chalabi is in London. The Clinton administration eventually evacuates 7,000 supporters. [Guardian, 2/22/2002; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004] A few years later, Chalabi and his aide, Francis Brooke, will help ABC News produce a documentary that puts the blame on the CIA.
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Central Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Chalabi
          

1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi suggests in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that if the INC is successful in its efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's government, the new government will restore the oil pipeline from Kirkuk, Iraq to Haifa, Israel. The pipeline has been inoperative since the state of Israel was established in 1948. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress
          

February 4, 1999      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       President Clinton signs Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 99-13 designating seven Iraqi opposition groups as being eligible to receive US federal funds under the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act (see October 31, 1998). The act stated that the policy of the US should be to support regime change in Iraq. The seven groups include the Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi National Congress, the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. [White House, 2/4/1999]
People and organizations involved: Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraqi National Congress, Iraqi National Accord, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

November 19, 1999      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Congress allocates $10 million “to support efforts to bring about political transition in Iraq, of which not less than $8 million shall be made available only to Iraqi opposition groups designated under the ILA [Iraq Liberation Act of 1998] for political, economic humanitarian, and other activities of such groups, and not more than $2 million may be made available for groups and activities seeking the prosecution of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi Government officials for war crimes.” President Clinton signs the appropriation bill into law on November 29. [The Library of Congress Thomas Database, n.d. Sources: Public Law 106-113] This $10 million dollars is the first allocation of funds to Iraqi opposition groups out of the total $97 million that was authorized by the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act (see October 31, 1998).
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

2000      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Former CIA director James Woolsey serves as a corporate officer for the Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation which manages the Iraqi National Congress' US funding. Also during this time, Woolsey and his former law firm, Shea and Gardner, provide the INC and Iraqi exiles with pro bono work. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Shea and Gardner, James Woolsey
          

October 25, 2000      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Congress substantially increases its support for Iraqi opposition organizations, more than doubling the groups' funding to $25 million for 2001. Of this amount, $18 million is specifically designated for the Iraqi National Congress: $12 million for “food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance,” and $6 million for the “production and broadcasting inside Iraq of radio and satellite television programming.” In addition, $2 million is allocated for groups and activities seeking the prosecution of Saddam Hussein, while the remaining $5 million is “to support efforts to bring about political transition in Iraq.” [The Library of Congress Thomas Database, n.d. Sources: Public Law 106-429]
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Iraqi National Congress
          

February 12, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Washington Times reports that the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an umbrella Iraqi opposition group, is negotiating a $98,000 contract with the Guidry Group to train INC security officers “how to use pistols, Kalishnikov rifles, 12-gauge shotguns, and a variety of other fire-arms.” Funding for the training is being provided by the US government. Francis Brooke, the group's Washington lobbyist, says, “This is important because this is the first time we are receiving lethal training with the United States government funding.” [United Press International, 2/12/2001]
People and organizations involved: Guidry Group, Francis Brooke, Iraqi National Congress
          

September 15, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       State Department auditors discover that the Iraqi National Congress' “information collection” program has failed to keep its books in order. According to the audit, the INC used a mixture of accounting methods (both cash and accrual); lacked adequate internal controls; lacked written accounting policies and procedures; had bank balances that exceeded FDIC insured amounts; and “did not comply with applicable regulations and agreements.” The auditors question the costs of about $2.2 million out of $4.3 million in expenditures between March 2000 and May 2001. “Of that amount, $113,794 was unallowable under terms and conditions of the agreement, and $2,107,093 was classified as unsupported because of either inadequate or a lack of documentation.” [Sources: Review of Awards to Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation] Examples cited by auditors include $2,070 paid for a Washington health center membership and money paid to the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. [Washington Post, 1/25/2002] Another $101,762 was spent in undocumented expenses related to travel and badge distribution for attendees at a human rights conference. Additionally, the INC made $578,795 in undocumented cash payments. The auditors also draw attention to the INC's shifting of funds “back and forth among several different banks into several different currencies” which they note created a potential for “fraud, waste, and abuse.” [Sources: Review of Awards to Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation] In a 200-page response to the audit, the INC acknowledges “the need to strengthen internal [financial] controls,” but denies any misuse of federal funds. Entifadh K. Qanbar, the INC's Washington office director, says the US government is using the financial issues as a “smoke screen” to divert attention away from its failure to develop its own policy on Iraq. “There is a sense that the INC will make Saddam very angry if we are allowed to conduct aggressive actions inside the country,” Qanbar says. “That will drag the United States into a war. They are not prepared to go to war against Saddam. This is why the review is stalled.” [Washington Post, 1/25/2002]
People and organizations involved: US Department of State, Entifadh Qanbar, Iraqi National Congress
          

February 11, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Former CIA Director James Woolsey telephones Deputy Asistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells to arrange a meeting between Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts and Mohammad Harith, an Iraqi defector being supplied by the Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] After the phone call, Wells issues an “executive referral,” requesting that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) introduce Harith to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] Later in the day, two DIA officers meet with Ahmed Chalabi to arrange an interview with Harith. In an email to Knight Ridder Newspapers, Wells will later recall, “I discussed the issue of an individual with information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction with intelligence community members. They said they would follow up. I never met with any member of the INC.” [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Linton Wells, Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress, James Woolsey
          

Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After several meetings with Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) —an Iraqi defector provided by the Iraqi National Congress—a Defense Intelligence Agency debriefer determines that the defector's information on Iraq's presumed arsenal of banned weapons seems “accurate, but much of it [apears] embellished.” Defense Intelligence Agency analysts also determine that the defected Iraqi has been “coached by the Iraqi National Congress.” Harith claimed that he was a major in an Iraqi intelligence unit charged with concealing illicit weapons and that Iraq has developed mobile biological weapons labs. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress
          

May 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Defense Intelligence Agency analysts issue a “fabricator notice,” warning the intelligence community that the agency has determined (see Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002) that Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith is of questionable reliability and recommending that agencies disregard any intelligence that he has provided. It also notes that Harith had been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress” on what to tell US interrogators. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04; Reuters, 2/18/04; New York Times 2/13/04; Newsweek, 2/16/04 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence official] The classified memo is “widely circulated within intelligence agencies, including the DIA and CIA,” Newsweek will later report, citing unnamed intelligence officials. [Newsweek, 2/16/04 Sources: Linton Wells, Unnamed US Intelligence Officials] Almost a year later, in a presentation to the UN, Secretary of State Colin Powell will make the claim that Iraq has mobile biological weapons labs (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003), and cite Harith as one of intelligence's four sources. Explaining how the reference to a dubious source made its way into Powell's speech, the State Department will say that the “fabricator notice” had not been properly cross-referenced in intelligence computers. [Newsweek, 2/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Iraqi National Congress
          

Summer 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, says that “informants within the Iraqi intelligence community,” have revealed “that Hussein's VX stockpile is far larger than the 3.9 tons Iraq reported—something UNSCOM inspectors have long suspected,” reports The Washington Post. “Chalabi also says that the VX had been converted into a dry salt for long term storage and was positioned in various sites across Iraq for use in the event of a foreign attack. UNSCOM officials said the account seemed credible, given what was learned about Iraq's VX program in the final months of weapons inspections.” [Washington Post, 7/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

June 26, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Entifadh Qunbar, a lobbyist for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), sends a memo to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in which he provides information about a State Department-funded intelligence program, known as the “information-collection program,” run by the INC. Qunbar, who says he is the overall manager of the group, states in the memo that under the program, “defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed,” and “the results are reported through the INC newspaper (Al Mutamar), the Arabic and Western media and to appropriate governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies.” Information is also passed on to William Luti, who will later run the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002), and John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, who Qunbar describes as the “principal point of contact.” [Newsweek, 12/15/03; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo] The memo provides a description of some of the people involved in the group and their activities. It says that the analytical group includes five analysts with a background in Iraq's military, Iraq's intelligence services and human rights. One person, a consultant, monitors the Iraqi government's alleged efforts to develop banned weapons. The five analysts process information and write reports, which are sent to Al Mutamar, the INC's newspaper, as well as the US government and many mainstream news organizations. Qunbar says that the information-collection program issued 30 reports between August 2001 and June 2002, which were sent to Al Mutamar. According to the memo, the group published 28 private reports in collaboration with the INC's headquarters in London. The memo reveals that between October 2001 and May 2002, information provided by the INC was cited in 108 articles published by a variety of English-language news publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, CNN, Fox News, and several others. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Entifadh Qanbar, Memo, Iraqi National Congress
          

August 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After the State Department decides it will no longer provide the Iraqi National Congress (INC) with monthly payments, funding for the INC's “information collection” program and other covert operations is picked up by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) which begins providing Chalabi's group with a monthly stipend of $340,000. Under the DIA's rules, the INC is forbidden from publicly releasing any info about its intelligence program without written permission from the Pentagon. Under the State Department, the INC had been feeding stories to the media. The Defense Department tasks the INC with collecting intelligence on Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda, its presumed arsenal of WMD, and the whereabouts of Michael Scott Speicher, a US Navy pilot missing since being shot down during the first gulf war. Not withstanding its divorce with the INC, the State Department will continue supporting other INC initiatives, providing it with $8 million for its newspaper, anti-Hussein television broadcasts into Iraq, and regional offices and humanitarian relief programs. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Newsweek, 4/5/2004; Houston Chronicle, 3/11/2004; Washington Post, 8/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, US Department of State, Iraqi National Congress
          

Early 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The US Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] concludes early in 2003 that the intelligence being provided by dissidents supplied by the Iraqi National Congress is of little value. The New York Times reports that an internal DIA study has found that “dissidents invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] Unnamed officials interviewed by the Times say the defectors have been considered by the Defense Intelligence Agency to be dubious sources from the start. It is believed that the dissidents' motivation for talking has been money and their opposition to Saddam Hussein. The Times' sources say “they would not speculate on whether the defectors had knowingly provided false information and, if so, what their motivation might have been.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] The document reveals that more than $1 million was paid to Chalabi's group for information about Saddam Hussein's alleged banned weapons programs. [Independent, 9/30/03; New York Times, 9/29/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress
          

10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the Bush administration's case against Saddam to the UN Security Council, in advance of an expected vote on a second resolution that the US and Britain hope will provide the justification to use military force against Iraq. [The White House, 2/6/03] At the insistence of Powell, CIA Director George Tenet is seated directly behind him to the right. “It was theater, a device to signal to the world that Powell was relying on the CIA to make his case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Vanity Fair magazine will later explain. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232; Bamford, 2004, pp 371-2] In his speech before the Council, Powell makes the case that Iraq is in further material breach of past UN resolutions, specifically the most recent one, UN Resolution 1441. Sources cited in Powell's presentation include defectors, informants, communication intercepts, procurement records, photographs, and detainees. [The White House, 2/6/03] Most of the allegations made by Powell are later demonstrated to be false. “The defectors and other sources went unidentified,” the Associated Press will later report. “The audiotapes were uncorroborated, as were the photo interpretations. No other supporting documents were presented. Little was independently verifiable.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq's December 7 declaration was inaccurate - Powell contends that Iraq's December 7 declaration was not complete. According to UN Resolution 1441 the document was supposed to be a “currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects” of its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. But Saddam has not done this, says Powell, who explains that Iraq has yet to provide sufficient evidence that it destroyed its previously declared stock of 8,500 liters of anthrax, as it claimed in the declaration. Furthermore, notes the secretary of state, UNSCOM inspectors had previously estimated that Iraq possessed the raw materials to produce as much as 25,000 liters of the virus. [Washington Post, 2/6/03d; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03]
Iraq has ties to al Qaeda - Powell repeats earlier claims that Saddam Hussein's government has ties to al-Qaeda. Powell focuses on the cases of the militant Islamic group Ansar-al-Islam and Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, who had received medical treatment in Baghdad during the summer of 2002 (see Late 2001-May 2002). [The White House, 2/6/03] However, just days before Powell's speech, US and British intelligence officials—speaking on condition of anonymity—told the press that the administration's allegations of Iraqi-al-Qaeda ties were based on information provided by Kurdish groups, who, as enemies of Ansar-al-Islam, should not be considered reliable. Furthermore, these sources unequivocally stated that intelligence analysts on both sides of the Atlantic remained unconvinced of the purported links between Iraq and al-Qaeda (see February 3-4, 2003). [Daily Telegraph, 2/4/03; Independent, 2/3/03] Powell also claims that Iraq provided “chemical or biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000.” The claim is based on a September 2002 CIA document which had warned that its sources were of “varying reliability” and that the claim was not substantiated (see September 2002). The report's main source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative who offered the information to CIA interrogators while in custody, later recounts the claim (see February 14, 2004). [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/04; The New York Times, 7/31/04 Sources: Unnamed administration official] Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, will later say that neither he nor Powell ever received “any dissent with respect to those lines � indeed the entire section that now we know came from [al-Libi].” [Newsweek, 11/10/2005] Senior US officials will admit to the New York Times and Washington Post after the presentation that the administration was not claiming that Saddam Hussein is “exercising operational control” of al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b Sources: Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior US State Department officials]
Iraq has missiles capable of flying up to 1,200 kilometers - Describing a photo of the al-Rafah weapons site, Powell says: “As part of this effort, another little piece of evidence, Iraq has built an engine test stand that is larger than anything it has ever had. Notice the dramatic difference in size between the test stand on the left, the old one, and the new one on the right. Note the large exhaust vent. This is where the flame from the engine comes out. The exhaust vent on the right test stand is five times longer than the one on the left. The one of the left is used for short-range missiles. The one on the right is clearly intended for long-range missiles that can fly 1,200 kilometers. This photograph was taken in April of 2002. Since then, the test stand has been finished and a roof has been put over it so it will be harder for satellites to see what's going on underneath the test stand.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03] But according to the Associated Press, “... UN missile experts have reported inspecting al-Rafah at least five times since inspections resumed Nov. 27, have studied the specifications of the new test stand, regularly monitor tests at the installation, and thus far have reported no concerns.” [Associated Press, 2/7/03] Similarly, Reuters quotes Ali Jassem, an Iraqi official, who explains that the large stand referred to in Powell's speech is not yet in operation and that its larger size is due to the fact that it will be testing engines horizontally. [Reuters, 2/7/03; Guardian, 2/15/03] Several days later, Blix will report to the UN that “so far, the test stand has not been associated with a proscribed activity.” [Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraqis attempted to hide evidence from inspectors - Powell shows the UN Security Council satellite shots depicting what he claims are chemical weapons bunkers and convoys of Iraqi cargo trucks preparing to transport ballistic missile components from a weapons site just two days before the arrival of inspectors. “We saw this kind of housecleaning at close to 30 sites,” Powell explains. “We must ask ourselves: Why would Iraq suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections if they were anxious to demonstrate what they had or did not have?” [Washington Post, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03] But the photos are interpreted differently by others. An unnamed UN official and German UN Inspector Peter Franck say the trucks in the photos are actually fire engines. [Mercury News, 3/18/03; Agence France Presse, 6/6/03] Another series of photos—taken during the spring and summer of 2002—show that Iraqis have removed a layer of topsoil from the al-Musayyib chemical complex. This piece of evidence, combined with information provided by an unnamed source, leads Powell to draw the following conclusion: “The Iraqis literally removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity.” [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03h] Showing another series of pictures—one taken on November 10 (before inspections) and one taken on December 22—Powell says that a guard station and decontamination truck were removed prior to the arrival of inspectors. Powell does not explain how he knows that the truck in the photograph was a decontamination truck. [Washington Post, 2/6/03h; The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03]
Communication intercepts demonstrate Iraqi attempts to conceal information from inspectors - Powell plays recordings of three conversations intercepted by US Intelligence—one on November 26, another on January 30, and a third, a “few weeks” before. The conversations suggest that the Iraqis were attempting to hide evidence from inspectors. [New York Times, 2/5/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03; Times, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03] Senior administration officials concede to The Washington Post that it was not known “what military items were discussed in the intercepts.” [Washington Post, 2/13/03] Some critics argue that the intercepts were presented out of context and open to interpretation. [Sydney Morning Herald, 2/9/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03] Others note that the conversations were translated from Arabic by US translators and were not analyzed or verified by an independent specialist. [Newsday, 2/6/03]
Biological weapons factories - Colin Powell says that US intelligence has “firsthand descriptions” that Iraq has 18 mobile biological weapons factories mounted on trucks and railroad cars. Information about the mobile weapons labs are based on the testimonies of four sources—a defected Iraqi chemical engineer who claims to have supervised one of these facilities, an Iraqi civil engineer (see December 20, 2001), a source in “a position to know,” and a defected Iraqi major (see February 11, 2002). Powell says that the mobile units are capable of producing enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill several thousand people. He shows computer-generated diagrams and pictures based on the sources' descriptions of the facilities. Colin Powell says that according to the chemical engineer, during the late 1990s, Iraq's biological weapons scientists would often begin the production of pathogens on Thursday nights and complete the process on Fridays in order to evade UNSCOM inspectors whom Iraq believed would not conduct inspections on the Muslim holy day. [Washington Post 2/5/03d; Reuters, 2/8/02; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03] Responding to the allegation, Iraqi officials will concede that they do in fact have mobile labs, but insist that they are not used for the development of weapons. According to the Iraqis, the mobile labs are used for food analysis for disease outbreaks, mobile field hospitals, a military field bakery, food and medicine refrigeration trucks, a mobile military morgue and mobile ice making trucks. [Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Iraq's explanation is consistent with earlier assessments of the UN weapons inspectors. Before Powell's presentation, Hans Blix had dismissed suggestions that the Iraqis were using mobile biological weapons labs, reporting that inspections of two alleged mobile labs had turned up nothing. “Two food-testing trucks have been inspected and nothing has been found,” Blix said. And Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said, “The outline and characteristics of these trucks that we inspected were all consistent with the declared purposes.” [The Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Powell's case is further damaged when it is later learned that one of the sources Powell cited, the Iraqi major, had been earlier judged unreliable by intelligence agents at the Defense Intelligence Agency (see February 11, 2002). In May 2002, the analysts had issued a “fabricator notice” on the informant, noting that he had been “coached by Iraqi National Congress” (see May 2002). But the main source for the claim had been an Iraqi defector known as “Curveball,” who turned out to be the brother of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi. The source claimed to be a chemical engineer who had helped design and build the mobile labs. His information was passed to Washington through Germany's intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which had been introduced to the source by the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In passing along the information, the BND noted that there were “various problems with the source.” And only one member of the US intelligence community had actually met with the person—an unnamed Pentagon analyst who determined the man was an alcoholic and of dubious reliability. Yet both the DIA and the CIA validated the information. [Newsweek, 4/19/04; Newsweek, 7/19/04; Knight Ridder, 3/28/04; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, 08/22/03; Knight Ridder, 4/4/04 Sources: Unnamed Pentagon analyst, Unnamed current and former US intelligence officials, Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior German security official] In addition to the inspectors' assessments and the dubious nature of the sources Powell cited, there are numerous other problems with the mobile factories claim. Raymond Zilinskas, a microbiologist and former UN weapons inspector, argues that significant amounts of pathogens such as anthrax, could not be produced in the short span of time suggested in Powell's speech. “You normally would require 36 to 48 hours just to do the fermentation .... The short processing time seems suspicious to me.” He also says: “The only reason you would have mobile labs is to avoid inspectors, because everything about them is difficult. We know it is possible to build them—the United States developed mobile production plants, including one designed for an airplane—but it's a big hassle. That's why this strikes me as a bit far-fetched.” [Washington Post, 2/5/03d] After the Powell's speech, Blix will say in his March 7 report to the UN that his inspectors found no evidence of mobile weapons labs (see March 7, 2003). [Blix, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Iraq is developing unmanned drones capable of deliverying weapons of mass destruction - Powell asserts that Iraq has flight-tested an unmanned drone capable of flying up to 310 miles and is working on a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 745 miles. He plays a video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet dispersing “simulated anthrax.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03f; The White House, 2/6/03] But the Associated Press will later report that the video was made prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Apparently, three of the four spray tanks shown in the film had been destroyed during the 1991 military intervention. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Imported Aluminum tubes were meant for centrifuge - Powell argues that the aluminum tubes which Iraq had attempted to import in July 2001 (see July 2001) were meant to be used in a nuclear weapons program and not for artillery rockets as experts from the US Energy Department, the INR, and the IAEA have been arguing (see February 3, 2003) (see January 11, 2003) (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see January 27, 2003). To support the administration's case, he cites unusually precise specifications and high tolerances for heat and stress. “It strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds US requirements for comparable rockets,” he says. “Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.” Powell also suggests that because the tubes were “anodized,” it was unlikely that they had been designed for conventional use. [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 3/8/03] Powell does not mention that numerous US nuclear scientists have dismissed this claim (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see September 23, 2002) (see December 2002). [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] Powell also fails to say that Iraq has rockets identical to the Italian Medusa 81 mm rockets, which are of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the 3,000 tubes that were intercepted in July 2001 (see After January 22, 2003). [Washington Post, 8/10/03] This had been reported just two weeks earlier by the Washington Post. [Washington Post, 1/24/03] Moreover, just two days before, Powell was explicitly warned by the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research not to cite the aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq is pursuing nuclear weapons (see February 3, 2003). [Financial Times, 7/29/03]
Iraq attempted to acquire magnets for use in a gas centrifuge program - Powell says: “We ... have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines. Both items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium. In 1999 and 2000, Iraqi officials negotiated with firms in Romania, India, Russia and Slovenia for the purchase of a magnet production plant. Iraq wanted the plant to produce magnets weighing 20 to 30 grams. That's the same weight as the magnets used in Iraq's gas centrifuge program before the Gulf War.” [The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b] Investigation by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] will demonstrate that the magnets have a dual use. IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said a little more than a week before, on January 27, in his report to the Security Council: “Iraq presented detailed information on a project to construct a facility to produce magnets for the Iraqi missile program, as well as for industrial applications, and that Iraq had prepared a solicitation of offers, but that the project had been delayed due to ‘financial credit arrangements.’ Preliminary investigations indicate that the specifications contained in the offer solicitation are consistent with those required for the declared intended uses. However, the IAEA will continue to investigate the matter ....” (see January 27, 2003) [Sources: Letter dated January, 27 2003 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council] On March 7, ElBaradei will provide an additional update: “The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.” (see March 7, 2003) [CNN, 3/7/03]
Iraq attempted to purchase machines to balance centrifuge rotors - Powell states: “Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer show that Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors. One of these companies also had been involved in a failed effort in 2001 to smuggle aluminum tubes into Iraq.” [New York Times, 2/6/03b; New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
Powell cites the documents removed from the home of Iraqi scientist Faleh Hassan - Powell cites the documents that had been found on January 16, 2003 by inspectors with the help of US intelligence at the Baghdad home of Faleh Hassan, a nuclear scientist. Powell asserts that the papers are a “dramatic confirmation” that Saddam Hussein is concealing evidence and not cooperating with the inspections. The 3,000 documents contained information relating to the laser enrichment of uranium (see January 16, 2003). [The White House, 2/6/03; Hassan, 1/19/03; Daily Telegraph, 1/18/03; Associated Press, 1/18/03] A little more than a week later, in the inspectors' February 14 update to the UN Security Council (see February 14, 2003), ElBaradei will say, “While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusions previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03; BBC, 2/17/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraq is hiding missiles in the desert - Powell says that according to unidentified sources, the Iraqis have hidden rocket launchers and warheads containing biological weapons in the western desert. He further contends that these caches of weapons are hidden in palm groves and moved to different locations on a weekly basis. [The White House, 2/6/03] It will later be suggested that this claim was “lifted whole from an Iraqi general's written account of hiding missiles in the 1991 war.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq a few dozen scud missiles - Powell also says that according to unnamed “intelligence sources,” Iraq has a few dozen Scud-type missiles. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq has weapons of mass destruction - Secretary of State Colin Powell states unequivocally: “We ... have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.” Elsewhere in his speech he says: “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.” [US Department of State, 2/5/03; CNN, 2/5/03]
Reaction - The speech does little to change minds on the Security Council. France, Russia, and China remain opposed to the idea of a new resolution that would pave the way for the US to invade Iraq. These countries say that Powell's speech demonstrates that inspections are working and must be allowed to continue. “Immediately after Powell spoke, the foreign ministers of France, Russia and China—all of which hold veto power—rejected the need for imminent military action and instead said the solution was more inspections,” reports The Washington Post. But governments who have been supportive of the United States' aggressive stance remain firmly behind Washington. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03] The press' response to Powell's evidence is also mixed. The Times of London, a relatively conservative daily newspaper, describes Powell's presentation as a “few smudgy satellite photographs, a teaspoon of talcum powder, some Lego-style drawings of sinister trucks and trains, a picture of an American U2 spy plane, several mugshots of Arabic men and a script that required a suspension of mistrust by the world's doves.” [Times, 2/6/03] The Washington Post opinion pages, however, are filled with praises for the speech. [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] The editorial proclaims that after the presentation, it is “hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” [Washington Post, 2/6/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, Raymond Zilinskas, Faleh Hassan, Hans Blix, Iraqi National Congress, Colin Powell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein  Additional Info 
          

February 18, 2004      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Ahmed Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), tells the London Telegraph during an interview in Baghdad that he has no regrets that the intelligence he fed to the US turned out to be wrong. Though his group has been accused of intentionally providing misleading information to US intelligence through the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith, he believes its members should be regarded as “heroes in error.” “As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful,” he contends. “That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.” One of the most significant claims Colin Powell had made to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 had been supplied by a source supplied by the INC. In that case, a defected Iraqi major had claimed that Iraq possessed mobile bilogical weapons labs. [Telegraph, 2/19/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

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