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Profile: Ari Fleischer

 
  

Positions that Ari Fleischer has held:

  • White House Press Secretary (2001-2003)


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, September 28, 2002

   “This is not a matter open to negotiations with Iraq. This is a matter for discussions with the United Nations. It's clear for all the world to see that Iraq's intentions are to delay, to argue, to confuse and finally to defy, so they can continue to build up their arms. It makes it even more important for the United States to take strong action.” [Washington Post, 9/29/02]

Associated Events

Quote, October 21, 2002

   “Regime change remains Congress' policy, assigned by the President, remains law of the land, it remains the American position and a position that the President and everybody in his Cabinet strongly supports.” [White House, 10/21/02]

Associated Events

Quote, October 22, 2002

   “The policy is regime change. Saddam Hussein is the heart of the regime.” [White House, 10/22/02]

Associated Events

Quote, November 23, 2002

   “The President's position is either he will disarm or we will remove him so Iraq is disarmed” [White House, 10/23/02]

Associated Events

Quote, December 2, 2002

   “We have intelligence information about what Saddam Hussein possesses.... If Saddam Hussein indicates that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is violating United Nations resolutions, then we will know that Saddam Hussein again deceived the world. If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.” [Washington Post, 12/3/02, White House, 12/2/02b]

Associated Events

Quote, December 5, 2002

   “The president of the United States and the secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.... President Bush has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Richard Butler has said they do. The United Nations has said they do. The experts have said they do. Iraq says they don't. You can choose who you want to believe.” [AP, 12/5/03, CBC News, 12/5/2002]

Associated Events

Quote, January 9, 2003

   “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” [White House, 1/9/2003]

Associated Events

Quote, January 16, 2003

   “The president views this as troubling and serious.... What the world wants to know is if Saddam Hussein has disarmed. Possession of chemical warheads is not a good indication that the man has disarmed.” [New York Times, 1/17/03]

Associated Events

Quote, February 18, 2003

   “Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a rather wealthy country. Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction [sic].” [Financial Times, 1/16/04, White House, 2/18/03]

Associated Events

Quote, March 21, 2003

   “Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. This was the reason that the President felt so strongly that we needed to take military action to disarm Saddam Hussein, since he would not do it himself.” [White House, 3/21/03]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

No related entities for this entity.


 

Ari Fleischer actively participated in the following events:

 
  

September 1, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       In an interview with the BBC, Powell states that he favors the return of UN inspectors as a necessary “first step” in dealing with Iraq. He says: “Iraq has been in violation of these many UN resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. So as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find, send them back in, why are they being kept out.” Regarding the decision of whether or not the use of military action would be required, he says: “The world has to be presented with the information, with the intelligence that is available. A debate is needed within the international community so that everybody can make a judgment about this.” [Independent, 9/2/03] His comments directly contradict statements made by Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on August 7 (see August 7, 2002), and another speech to the Nashville convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26 (see August 26, 2002). Interestingly, it also comes one day after Scott McClellan, the White House deputy press secretary, told reporters, “The view of the administration is united and one in the same. We are singing from the same songbook.” [CNN, 8/30/02] But commentators are concluding otherwise, which spurs another statement from Washington, this one from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who the next day tells reporters as they accompany him on Air Force One: “There is no difference in position between Cheney, Powell, and President Bush. It's much ado about no difference.” [CNN, 9/03/02]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan
          

September 20, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       White House and Pentagon officials publicly disclose that the Department of Defense has finished a highly detailed plan for attacking Iraq that was delivered to President Bush's desk in early September by Gen. Tommy R. Franks. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “The President has options now, and he has not made any decisions.” The New York Times interviews senior officials who explain that the plan includes specific details, including the “number of ground troops, combat aircraft and aircraft carrier battle groups that would be needed,” and the “detailed sequencing for the use of air, land, naval and Special Operations forces to attack thousands of Iraqi targets, from air-defense sites to command-and-control headquarters to fielded forces.” Officials also tell the Times that any attack would begin “with a lengthy air campaign led by B-2 bombers armed with 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs to knock out Iraqi command and control headquarters and air defenses.” The principal goal of the air attacks, they say, “would be to sever most communications from Baghdad and isolate Saddam Hussein from his commanders in the rest of the country.” [New York Times, 9/21/02] The disclosure of this information notably comes only a few days after Iraq has offered to unconditionally admit weapons inspectors (see September 16, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Thomas Franks, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush
          

September 26, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       During the daily press “gaggle,” Ari Fleischer acknowledges there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks. [White House, 9/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

October 9, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       During his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that oil is a motivating factor behind the drive for war with Iraq. He says, “It is not a factor. This is about preserving the peace and saving the lives of Americans.” [MSNBC, 11/7/02; White House, 10/9/02; New York Daily News, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

October 21, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte provides the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with a revision of the UN draft resolution. [Associated Press, 10/21/02; Telegraph, 10/22/02 Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq] The Bush administration makes it clear that it expects the UN Security Council to vote on this draft of the resolution soon and signals that US officials are losing their patience with other member states. At the daily White House press briefing, Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “It's coming down to the end. The United Nations does not have forever.” Similarly, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, states, “We're also making clear it is time to wrap this up.” [Associated Press, 10/21/02; Associated Press, 10/21/02b] George Bush will say the following day: “The UN can't make its mind up. If Saddam won't disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him for the sake of peace. [The United Nations] must resolve itself to be something more than the League of Nations, must resolve itself to be more than a debating society, must resolve itself to keep international peace.” Summing up US feelings, an unnamed official tells the New York Times that the administration's message to the other permanent members is, “You're either with us or against us.” [Telegraph, 10/22/02; New York Times, 10/23/02; CNN, 10/22/02]
The revision drops the words “all necessary means,” stipulating in its place that Iraq's failure to abide by the new resolution would result in “serious consequences.” [Associated Press, 10/21/02; Associated Press, 10/21/02b; Telegraph, 10/22/02; Washington Post, 10/22/02 Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq]
The revision does not require that UN inspectors be accompanied by armed guards, a requirement in the earlier draft which many current and former UN inspectors opposed. [Associated Press, 10/21/02; Associated Press, 10/21/02b Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq]
A provision in the previous draft requiring that member states help the UN enforce “no-fly” and “no-drive” zones around the inspection sites remains in the draft resolution, but in brackets, suggesting that the US and Britain are willing to negotiate on this point. [Associated Press, 10/21/02b; Telegraph, 10/22/02; Economist, 10/23/02 Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq]
The revision does not require that the five permanent members of the Security Council be permitted to appoint their own officials to the inspection teams. [Telegraph, 10/22/02; Associated Press, 10/21/02b Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq]
The revision stipulates that Iraq must declare its weapons of mass destruction within 30 days of the resolution's passing, after which the weapons inspectors would have another 45 days to commence its work on disarmament. If Iraq does not meet the deadline, its failure to do so will be considered a “material breach” of the resolution. [Economist, 10/23/02; ABC News, 10/23/02 Sources: John Negroponte]
The revised draft still contains phrases that set a hair trigger for the implementation of “serious consequences.” The revision stipulates that further “false statements and omissions” by Iraq would amount to “a further material breach.” [Economist, 10/23/02 Sources: Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq]
Reactions - In spite of the revision, the oppositional stances of France, Russia, Mexico, and China remain unchanged. Bulgaria, Colombia, Norway, Singapore show some support for the revision. [Telegraph, 10/22/02; Associated Press, 10/21/02b; Times, 10/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Boucher, George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, Revised Draft of a US-British UN Resolution on Iraq  Additional Info 
          

October 30, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer denies that the US intends to control Iraq's oil reserves. He claims, “The only interest the United States has in the region is furthering the cause of peace and stability ... not his country's ability to generate oil.” Asked if the US would take over Iraq's oil fields in the event of a US invasion of Iraq, Fleischer explains, “No. The purpose of any plan the United States has is to make certain that Saddam Hussein complies with all UN resolutions.” Asked if the US would administer Iraq's oil fields after an invasion he said, “I think that it's impossible for anybody to speculate about anything and everything that could possibly happen under any military scenario. And I wouldn't even try to start guessing what the military may or may not do.” [MSNBC, 11/7/02; White House, 10/9/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

November 2002-March 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       The Bush administration and the United Nations disagree over how intrusive the inspections should be. The US wants the inspectors to be as aggressive as possible by visiting sensitive sites and demanding interviews with Iraqi scientists without the presence of minders. Hans Blix, on the other hand, advocates a more measured approach to achieving disarmament. He says that inspection team recruits should be “firm” with their Iraqi counterparts but never “angry and aggressive.” One of his aides tells The Washington Post in late November 2002: “We're not going to do in-your-face inspections. He [Blix] wants effective inspections. It's not our job to provoke, harm or humiliate.” The inspectors argue that it makes no sense—nor is logistically feasible—to begin the inspections process with intrusive inspections of Iraq's most sensitive sites. One UN official explains to The Washington Post, “If you only have 11 people, you cannot go to a big new site, but you can go check on a known monitoring site.” The Independent reports that inspectors “believe it would not only be counterproductive, but could damage the prospect of ascertaining whether President Saddam does indeed possess an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.” [Washington Post, 11/17/02 Sources: US and UN officials] In December, Washington calls for an increase in the UN inspectors' staff so that the UN's two agencies can conduct multiple simultaneous inspections each day. On December 4, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “We want to make certain that they [the inspections] are aggressive enough to be able to ascertain the facts in the face of an adversary who in the past did everything in his power to hide the facts.” [BBC, 12/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Ari Fleischer
          

November 8, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       The UN Security Council unanimously votes 15-0 in favor of UN Resolution 1441, which stipulates that Iraq is required to readmit UN weapons inspectors under tougher terms than required by previous UN resolutions. The resolution does not give the US authority to use force against Iraq. The resolution makes it very clear that only the UN Security Council has the right to take punitive action against Iraq in the event of noncompliance. [United Nations, 11/8/02; Zunes, 11/14/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441] After the resolution is passed, top Bush administration officials make public statements threatening to use military force against Iraq if Saddam's regime does not comply with the resolution. George Bush, Colin Powell, John Negroponte, Andrew Card, and Ari Fleischer make statements asserting that the resolution does not prevent the US from using force.
A provision that would have authorized UN member states to use “all necessary means” to disarm Iraq is relocated to the preamble of the resolution where it presumably has no practical significance. [New York Times, 11/6/02]
A provision requiring that security guards accompany the inspectors is removed. [New York Times, 11/6/02]
The resolution requires Iraq to provide the UN with the names of all its weapons experts. [New York Times, 11/6/02; Times, 11/9/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441]
The resolution states that weapons inspectors will be authorized to remove Iraqi scientists, as well as their families, from Iraq in order to interview them. An official later tells The Washington Post that the power to interview Iraqi scientists was “the most significant authority contained in the resolution” and “the one thing that is most likely to produce overt Iraqi opposition.” [New York Times, 11/6/02; Times, 11/9/02; Guardian, 11/7/02; The Washington Post, 12/12/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441]
The resolution overturns provisions of the previous Resolution 1154 that required UN inspectors to notify Baghdad before inspecting Saddam Hussein's presidential sites. Resolution 1154 had also required that inspections of those sensitive sites occur in the presence of diplomats. The new resolution demands that Iraq allow the inspectors “immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access” to any sites chosen by the inspectors. [New York Times, 11/6/02; Times, 11/9/02; Guardian, 11/7/02; CNN, 11/8/02] Unnamed diplomats and US officials tell USA Today that the US may attempt to claim that Iraq is engaged in a pattern of defiance and deceit if it hinders the inspectors in any way. [USA Today 12/19/02 Sources: Unnamed diplomats and US officials]
The resolution include a provision calling for “no-fly” and “no-drive” zones in the areas surrounding suspected weapons sites to prevent the Iraqis from removing evidence prior to or during inspections. [New York Times, 11/6/02; Times, 11/9/02; Guardian, 11/7/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441]
The final resolution includes statements stipulating that an Iraqi failure to comply with the terms of the resolution, including “false statements or omissions” in the weapons declaration it is required to submit, will “constitute a further material breach” of its obligations. Additional wording included in the same provision explains that any breach of the resolution will “be reported to the Council for assessment.” Also, towards the end of the resolution, it states that the chief weapons inspector should “report immediately to the Council any interference” by Iraq so that the Council can “convene immediately to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all the relevant council resolutions in order to restore international peace and security.” [New York Times, 11/6/02; Times, 11/9/02; CNN, 11/8/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441]
Paragraph 8 of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 states that Iraq “shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution.” The US contends that this applies to the US- and British- patrolling of the “no-fly” zones that the two countries imposed shortly after the Gulf War. The “patrolling,” which has never been officially sanctioned by the UN and which is not recognized by Iraq, often includes aerial attacks on Iraqi sovereign territory. Iraq consistently fires on the attacking jets in self-defense. Other UN Security Council members explicitly oppose this interpretation of the resolution before its passage. [Associated Press, 11/12/02; Associated Press, 11/15/02; Associated Press, 11/16/02; United Press International; Washington Post, 11/16/02; Reuters, 11/15/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441]
The resolution gives Iraq seven days to announce whether or not it will comply with the resolution, and 30 days (December 8) to declare its chemical, biological, and nuclear-related capabilities—even those that are unrelated to weapons programs. 10 days after Iraq's acceptance of the terms, inspectors will send an advanced team to Baghdad, but will have a total of 45 days to begin the actual work. The inspection team will be required to provide the UN Security Council with a report 60 days (January 27) after the commencement of its work. [Associated Press, 11/16/02; Associated Press, 11/8/02; Guardian, 11/7/02 Sources: UN Resolution 1441] Diplomats and US officials speaking off the record tell USA Today that the declaration due on December 8 represents a hidden trigger, explaining that any omissions will be considered a material breach and sufficient justification for war. [USA Today 12/19/02 Sources: Unnamed diplomats and US officials]
Syria requested that the resolution include a provision stating that Iraq's compliance with the terms would result in the lifting of sanctions. This provision was not included. [CNN, 11/8/02]
Syria requested that the resolution declare the entire Middle East a “nuclear-free and weapons of mass destruction-free zone.” This provision was not included. [CNN, 11/8/02]
France did not want the resolution to include any wording that might authorize the use of force. Instead it argued that the resolution should include only terms for tougher inspections. In the event of Iraqi noncompliance with the terms, France argued, a separate resolution should be agreed upon to decide what further action would be necessary. France lost its argument, and the new resolution includes a warning to Iraq “that it will face serious consequences” in the event of its failure to comply with the terms of the resolution. [Guardian, 11/7/02]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Card, Colin Powell, John Negroponte, George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer  Additional Info 
          

December 4, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       The White House calls for more aggressive inspections. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “We want to make certain that they [the inspections] are aggressive enough to be able to ascertain the facts in the face of an adversary who in the past did everything in his power to hide the facts.” The White House recommends increasing the UN inspectors' staff so that the two agencies can conduct multiple simultaneous inspections each day. [BBC, 12/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

December 5, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: “The president of the United States and the secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.” When pressed for details, he adds: “President Bush has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Richard Butler has said they do. The United Nations has said they do. The experts have said they do. Iraq says they don't. You can choose who you want to believe.” [AP, 12/5/03; CBC News, 12/5/2002]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Richard Butler, Ari Fleischer, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush
          

December 16, 2002      Complete Iraq timeline

       The New York Times reports that the Defense Department “is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries” in order to stem the tide of anti-Americanism. The Pentagon has considered several tactics it may employ to improve America's image abroad. For example, the Times explains that the Pentagon “might pay journalists to write stories favorable to American policies,” or hire “outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of American policies.” Another idea would be to set “up schools with secret American financing to teach a moderate Islamic position laced with sympathetic depictions of how the religion is practiced in America.” Several official sources interviewed by the Times opposed the plans. One military officer tells the newspaper: “We have the assets and the capabilities and the training to go into friendly and neutral nations to influence public opinion. We could do it and get away with it. That doesn't mean we should.” Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, a former commander of American forces in the Pacific, says that it probably wouldn't be very effective. “Running ops against your allies doesn't work very well.... I've seen it tried a few times, and it generally is not very effective,” he says. [New York Times, 12/16/2002 Sources: Unnamed senior Pentagon and administration officials] The White House defends the program. “The president has the expectation that any program that is created in his administration will be based on facts, and that's what he would expect to be carried out in any program that is created in any entity of the government,” White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says. [New York Times, 12/17/2002]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Dennis C. Blair
          

January 9, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       UNMOVIC inspectors say they have yet to uncover evidence indicating that Iraq has resumed its production of weapons of mass destruction. After providing the UN Security Council with a summary of the inspectors' findings, Hans Blix tells reporters in New York, “We have now been there for some two months and been covering the country in ever wider sweeps and we haven't found any smoking guns.” [Guardian, 1/10/03] But Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, insists that the absence of evidence is of little concern, asserting, “The problem with guns that are hidden is you can't see their smoke. We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” And John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN, accuses Iraq of “legalistic” cooperation, claiming that it needs to act proactively. He also says, “There is still no evidence that Iraq has fundamentally changed its approach from one of deceit to a genuine attempt to be forthcoming.” [Guardian, 1/10/03] Colin Powell also seems undaunted by Blix's remarks. “The lack of a smoking gun does not mean that there's not one there,” he says, “If the international community sees that Saddam Hussein is not cooperating in a way that would not allow you to determine the truth of the matter, then he is in violation of the UN resolution [1441]...You don't really have to have a smoking gun.” [News24, 1/10/03] Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, echoes views from Washington, asserting that the “passive cooperation of Iraq has been good in terms of access and other procedural issues,” and adds, “But proactive cooperation has not been forthcoming—the kind of cooperation needed to clear up the remaining questions in the inspectors' minds.” [Guardian, 1/10/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Jeremy Greenstock, Ari Fleischer, John Negroponte, Hans Blix
          

January 16, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       UN weapons inspectors discover a cache of 12 warheads designed to carry chemical warfare agents in the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area located about 80 miles [120km] south of Baghdad. News of the discovery is announced immediately. According to officials, the warheads were not included in Iraq's December 7 declaration to the UN (see December 7, 2002). [Washington Post, 1/16/03; Reuters, 1/17/03; Reuters, 1/17/03b; New York Times, 1/17/03; New York Times, 1/18/03; Press Trust of India, 1/18/03] The warheads—meant for 120 mm rockets with a range of 11-22 miles—are in perfect condition. Though they seem to be configured for Sarin gas, they are empty and have no trace of chemical weapons. [New York Times, 1/17/03; Newsday, 1/18/03; Washington Post, 1/16/03; Washington Post, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/31/2003; Reuters, 1/29/03; Reuters, 1/17/03; Reuters, 1/17/03b] Iraqi officials call their failure to include information about this cache in Iraq's December 7 declaration an oversight and promise to check if they have any other old warheads in storage. General Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of Iraq's weapons-monitoring directorate and the chief liaison to UN inspectors, says the warheads were imported in 1986 and therefore are too old to be of any use. “These are 122 mm rockets with an empty warhead. There are no chemical or biological agents or weapons of mass destruction,” he explains. “These rockets are expired ... they were in closed wooden boxes ... that we had forgotten about,” he adds. “It doesn't represent anything. It's not dangerous.” He refers to the discovery as a mere “storm in a teacup.” [Washington Post, 1/16/03; Associated Press, 1/19/02; Independent 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03; Washington Post, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/17/03; Reuters, 1/17/03; Reuters, 1/17/03b] The Bush administration considers the discovery significant. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says: “The President views this as troubling and serious.... What the world wants to know is if Saddam Hussein has disarmed. Possession of chemical warheads is not a good indication that the man has disarmed.” Ari disputes the notion that empty warheads do not represent a threat. “Putting chemical weapons into a chemical warhead is done at the last minute,” he notes. However officials from other countries seem to disagree. A French diplomat tells reporters, “I have only one thing to say—empty.” [New York Times, 1/17/03] The inspectors feel that the discovery is “evidence that their search was beginning to yield results and should be given more time to work,” reports the New York Times. [New York Times, 1/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Hussam Mohammad Amin, Ari Fleischer  Additional Info 
          

January 21, 2003      US support of Iraq WMD

       Corpwatch reporter Russell Mokhiber asks White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to comment on a January 17 op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune (see January 17, 2003) which criticized the Bush administration for its hypocritical condemnation of Iraq's 1988 poison gas attacks on Halabja (see March 1988). [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “You and the President have repeatedly said that Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. The biggest such attack was in Halabja in March 1988, where some 6,800 Kurds were killed. Last week, in an article in the International Herald Tribune, Joost Hiltermann writes that while it was Iraq that carried out the attack, the United States at the time, fully aware that it was Iraq, accused Iran. This was apparently part of the US tilt toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. The tilt included billions of dollars in loan guarantees. Sensing he had carte blanche, Saddam escalated his resort to gas warfare—graduating to ever more lethal agents. So, you and the President have said that Saddam has repeatedly gassed his own people. Why do you leave out the part that the United States in effect gave Saddam the green light?” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “Russell, I speak for President George W. Bush in the year 2003. If you have a question about statements that were purportedly made by the administration in 1988, you need to address those somewhere other than this White House. I can't speak for that. I don't know if it is accurate, inaccurate, but you have all the means to ask those questions yourself.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that a number of major American corporations—including Hewlett-Packard and Bechtel —helped Saddam Hussein beef up its military in the 1980s. And also the Washington Post, last month in a front-page article by Michael Dobbs said the United States during the '80s supplied Iraq with cluster bombs, intelligence and chemical and biological agents. In that same article, they reported that Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense, went to Baghdad in December 1983 and met with Saddam Hussein, and this was at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons almost on a daily basis in defiance of international conventions. So there are some specifics, and the question is—if Iraq is part of the axis of evil, why aren't the United States and these American corporations part of the axis of evil for helping him out during his time of need?” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “Russell, as I indicated, I think that you have to make a distinction between chemical and biological. And, clearly, in a previous era, following the fall of the Shah of Iran, when there was a focus on the risks that were underway in the region as a result of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, different administrations, beginning with President Carter, reached different conclusions about the level of military cooperation vis-a-vis Iraq. Obviously, Saddam Hussein since that time has used whatever material he had for the purpose therefore of attacking Kuwait, attacking Saudi Arabia, attacking Israel. And, obviously, as circumstances warrant, we have an approach that requires now the world to focus on the threat that Saddam Hussein presents and that he presents this threat because of his desire to continue to acquire weapons and his willingness to use those weapons against others.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “If I could follow up on that— ” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “Russell. Russell.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “If I could follow-up on it. You and the President have repeatedly said one of the reasons Saddam is part of the axis of evil is because he's gassed his own people. Well, he gassed his own people with our help. You saw the Washington Post, article, didn't you, by Michael Dobbs?” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “I think that statement is not borne out by the facts.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “Did you see the Post, article by Dobbs?” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “I think that he gassed his own people as a result of his decisions to use his weapons to gas his own people.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “But who gave him the weapons?” [White House 1/21/03]
Ari Fleischer - “And I think the suggestion that you blame America for Iraq's actions is way beyond the pale.” [White House 1/21/03]
Mokhiber - “Who gave him the weapons?” [White House 1/21/03] (Ari moves on.) [White House 1/21/03]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

February 18, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       Ari Fleischer says during his daily press briefing: “Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a rather wealthy country. Iraq has tremendous resources that belong to the Iraqi people. And so there are a variety of means that Iraq has to be able to shoulder much of the burden for their own reconstruction [sic].” [White House, 2/18/03; Financial Times, 1/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

March 2, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       The Observer breaks the Koza memo (see January 31, 2003) story. Neither the US State Department nor the White House denies the authenticity of the leaked memo. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tells reporters, “As a matter of long-standing policy, the administration never comments on anything involving any people involved in intelligence.” And Patrick Weadon, speaking for the NSA, says, “At this point, we're not issuing a statement.” [The Sydney Morning Herald, 3/4/03; Washington Post, 3/4/03; Baltimore Sun, 3/4/03] The intended victims of the operation are deeply angered by the memo. President Ricardo Lagos demands an immediate explanation from the US and Chile's ambassador to Britain Mariano Fern?ndez explains to The Observer, “We cannot understand why the United States was spying on Chile. We were very surprised. Relations have been good with America since the time of George Bush Senior.” [The Observer, 3/9/03] Martin Bright, one of the reporters who helped break the story, later tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the exposed operation has “caused an enormous diplomatic rift between the Chileans and the Americans and the UK.” He says he believes that the leaked memo is partially responsible for Chile's increasingly defiant stance at the UN. The UN quickly begins a top-level investigation of the spy operation. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/6/03; The Observer, 3/9/03] The Observer notes that the leaked memo could make it more difficult for the US to obtain UN authorization to wage war on Iraq. [The Observer, 3/2/03] The US media networks largely ignore the story. Though NBC, CNN, and Fox News Channel all arrange for interviews with Martin Bright soon after the story is broken, all three quickly cancel. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Bright explains, “It happened with NBC, Fox TV and CNN, who appeared very excited about the story to the extent of sending cars to my house to get me into the studio, and at the last minute, were told by their American desks to drop the story.” [Salon, 3/3/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Patrick Weadon, Britain Mariano Fern?ndez, Ricardo Lagos
          

March 7, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       UNMOVIC chief arms inspector Hans Blix provides a quarterly report to the UN Security Council on the progress of inspections in Iraq, as required by UN Security Resolution 1284 (1999). It is the twelfth such report since UNMOVIC's inception. Blix's report to the Council does not contain any evidence to support US and British claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or the programs to develop such weapons. IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei also reports to the Council and says there are no signs that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03]
UNMOVIC report by Hans Blix -
There is no evidence that Iraq has mobile biological weapons factories, as was recently alleged by Colin Powell in his February 5 presentation (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN. “Several inspections have taken place ... in relation to mobile production facilities,” Blix says. “No evidence of proscribed activities has so far been found.” He further explained that his inspectors had examined numerous mobile facilities and large containers with seed processing equipment. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Blix, 3/7/03]
The Iraqi government has increased its cooperation with inspectors since the end of January. It is attempting to quantify the biological and chemical weapons that it says were destroyed in 1991. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]
Iraq's destruction of several Al Samoud II missiles represents a real step towards disarmament. “The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament,” he says. “We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03]
Blix says that the UN inspectors needed a few more months to finish their work. “Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions,” he says, concluding, “It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]
Iraqi scientists have recently accepted inspectors' requests to be interviewed without “minders.” “Since we started requesting interviews, 38 individuals were asked for private interviews, of which 10 accepted under our terms, seven during the past week,” Blix explains. [CNN, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Some Iraqi scientists have agreed to interviews without “minders” —but more cooperation is needed. He says, “While the Iraqi side seems to have encouraged interviewees not to request the presence of Iraqi officials or the taping of the interviews, conditions ensuring the absence of undue influences are difficult to attain inside Iraq.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03] Iraq needs to turn over more documents. “Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03] There is no evidence of underground weapons facilities. Blix says: “There have been reports, denied by Iraq, that proscribed activities are conducted underground. Iraq should provide information on underground structures suitable for the production or storage of weapons of mass destruction. During inspections of declared or undeclared facilities, inspectors examined building structures for any possible underground facilities. In addition, ground-penetrating radar was used in several locations. No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
IAEA report by Mohamed ElBaradei -
There is no evidence that the aluminum tubes imported by Iraq in July 2001 were meant for a nuclear weapons program. ElBaradei says: “Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets. ... Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question.” [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03]
There is no evidence that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Documents provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the US were determined to be forgeries. The documents were a collection of letters between an Iraqi diplomat and senior Niger officials discussing Iraq's interest in procuring a large amount of uranium oxide (see Early October 2002). “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei explains. “We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.” (see June 12, 2003) [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Guardian, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03]
The IAEA has yet to come across evidence of a nuclear weapons program. “After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq,” ElBaradei states. “[T]here is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.” [IAEA, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03]
In a direct response to allegations made by Colin Powell on February 5 (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) related to the attempted procurement of magnets that could be used in a gas centrifuge, ElBaradei, says: “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.” [IAEA, 3/7/03]
Iraq's industrial capacity “has deteriorated” at the inspected sites because of lack of maintenance and funds. [IAEA, 3/7/03]
Reaction - Both sides claim that the reports give further support to each of their respective stances on the issue of Iraqi disarmament. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin tells the Council that the reports “testify to the progress” of the inspections. He states that France will not support another resolution because “we cannot accept any ultimatum, any automatic use of force.” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the reports demonstrate that inspections have been “fruitful.” The Bush administration does not alter its position, despite statements by the two inspectors that Iraq is cooperating with inspections and complying with demands to disarm. Colin Powell, responding to the inspectors' reports, reiterates the administration's position that the inspections are not working and that Saddam is not cooperating. “We must not walk away,” Powell says. “We must not find ourselves here this coming November with the pressure removed and with Iraq once again marching down the merry path to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening the world.” He claims that Iraq's behavior is a “a catalog still of noncooperation” and repeats the administration's allegation that the “Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” Back at the White House, Ari Fleischer tells reporters, “As the president has said, if the United Nations will not disarm Saddam Hussein, it will be another international organization, a coalition of the willing that will be made up of numerous nations that will disarm Saddam Hussein.” [CNN, 3/6/03; CNN, 3/7/02; US Department of State, 3/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Mohamed ElBaradei, Ari Fleischer, Igor Ivanov, Dominique de Villepin, Hans Blix  Additional Info 
          

March 21, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says during his daily press briefing, “Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. This was the reason that the President felt so strongly that we needed to take military action to disarm Saddam Hussein, since he would not do it himself.” [White House, 3/21/03]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush
          

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