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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (97)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Showing 1-100 of 912 events (use filters to narrow search):    next 100

February 15, 1848

       In a letter to his law partner, William H. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln disagrees with Herndon's argument for preemptive war. “Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion ... and you allow him to make war at pleasure. ... The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.” [Sources: Letter from Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 2/15/1848]
People and organizations involved: Abraham Lincoln
          

October 30, 1944

       Ahmed Chalabi is born into a wealthy, oligarchic Shiite family with close ties to Iraq's Hashemite monarchy. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004] Ahmed's mother runs political salons catering to Iraq's elite and his father loans money to members of the ruling family who reward him with top posts in the government, which he uses to advance his business interests. Ahmed's grandfather was also close to the monarchy, holding nine cabinet positions in government during his lifetime. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002] But it was Ahmed Chalabi's great grandfather who, as the tax farmer of Kadimiah, a town near Baghdad, established the family's grand fortunes. According to Iraqi historian Hanna Batatu, Ahmed's great grandfather was “a very harsh man, [who] kept a bodyguard of armed slaves and had a special prison at his disposal” where, according to a friend of Ahmed Chalabi, he imprisoned serfs who failed to pay their taxes or produce wheat. “When he died the people of Kadimiah heaved a sigh of relief,” Batatu writes. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Batatu, 2004 cited in CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

After the 1950s

       The use of aluminum for rotors in gas centrifuges is discontinued. Other materials, such as maraging steel and carbon fiber, are used instead. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
          

1950s

       The first “Zippe-type” gas centrifuge, named after one of its main developers, German scientist Gernot Zippe, is produced. The centrifuge uses duralumin rotors. Centrifuge rotors are thin-walled tubes that spin at high speeds producing enriched uranium 235. Centrifuge rotors are highly sensitive and must be made from specialized high-strength material. [Institute for Science and International Security, 9/23/02]
People and organizations involved: Gernot Zippe
          

1958

       After the 1958 coup that deposes King Faisal II of Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, 13, and his family flee to Lebanon because of their close ties to the Iraqi Hashemite monarchy (see October 30, 1944). The young Ahmed then goes to England where he attends boarding school. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

1960s

       Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile, studies for his doctorate in math at the University of Chicago where he gets to know Albert Wohlstetter, a prominent cold-war strategist and a mentor for Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. After receiving his degree, Chalabi moves to Lebanon where he works as a math teacher at the American University of Beirut. His brother, Jawad, is also living in Beirut and runs Middle East Banking Corp. (Mebco). [Salon, 5/5/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Albert Wohlstetter, Jawad Chalabi
          

1963

       The Chalabi family, with some local partners, found the Middle East Banking Corp. (Mebco). [Salon, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Middle East Banking Corp.
          

1975

       Secretary of State Henry Kissinger signs a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Israel obligating the US to ensure the security of Israel's oil reserves and energy supply in times of crisis. “The memorandum ... [is] quietly renewed every five years” according to the London Observer, “with special legislation attached whereby the US stocks a strategic oil reserve for Israel even if it entail[s] domestic shortages—at a cost of $3 billion in 2002 to US taxpayers.” [Observer, 4/20/2003; Janes Foreign Report, 4/16/03 Sources: Memorandum of Understanding, 9/1/1975] In the event that commercial shippers refuse to ship oil to Israel, the US is obligated to ship it using its own tankers. [Janes Foreign Report, 4/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Israel, Henry A. Kissinger
          

1977

       Ahmed Chalabi moves to Jordan where he founds Petra Bank. His partners include wealthy families from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. [Guardian, 4/142003; Salon, 5/4/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

1979-1989

       Two years after its founding, Petra Bank, run by Ahmed Chalabi, is the second largest bank in Jordan. The bank's success is attributed to the Chalabi family's vast network of international connections which has enabled Petra to move money in and out of Jordan several steps ahead of the Jordon's strict exchange controls. “They were far more efficient than the other banks,” a Jordanian businessman tells Salon. Chalabi's bank lends money to several influential figures, including Prince Hasan, now a close acquaintance of Chalabi, to whom the bank lends $30 million. Chalabi's friendship with Hassan enables Petra to open a chain of branches in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Salon, 5/4/2004; Guardian, 4/142003] During this period, Petra bank even does business with Saddam Hussein, helping the dictator finance Iraqi trade with Jordan. [Salon, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Hasan bin Talal, Petra Bank, Ahmed Chalabi
          

Early 1980s

       At this time, an engineer named “Joe T.,” is working in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work pertains not to actual centrifuges, but to the platforms upon which the centrifuges are installed. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
          

Mid-1980s-late 1990s

       Joe T., an engineer, begins working for the CIA. [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
          

(Late 1980s)

       Iraq begins developing “Zippe-type” centrifuges (see 1950s). The centrifuges use rotors made from maraging steel and carbon fiber, which are more advanced than aluminum and allow the rotor to spin at significantly higher speeds. But Iraq has problems building them—even with considerable assistance from German experts. [Institute for Science and International Security, 9/23/02]
          

1985

       Albert Wohlstetter introduces Ahmed Chalabi to Richard Perle, undersecretary of defense for international-security policy. [American Prospect, 11/18/2002]
People and organizations involved: Albert Wohlstetter, Richard Perle, Ahmed Chalabi
          

After 1989

       Jordanian investigators spend 45 days in the US looking for hidden assets belonging to a Washington, D.C. subsidiary of Petra Bank, a Chalabi-controlled enterprise that collapsed in 1989 (see August 2, 1989). Nearly all of the US assets listed in Petra Bank's books turn out to be worthless, with the notable exception of an auxiliary office where valuable bank records are presumably kept. The “office” is a country estate with a swimming pool in upscale Middleburg, Virginia. It belongs to the Chalabi family, which had been charging the bank a monthly rent. “There was not one business record in the whole place,” an official will later recall. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

August 2, 1989

       Mohammed Said Nabulsi, Jordan's central bank governor, orders the country's banks to deposit 30 percent of their foreign exchange holdings with the central bank. The measure is part of an effort to enforce regulations on liquidity ratios and reduce the outflow of foreign exchange from Jordan. Petra, run by Ahmed Chalabi, is the only bank among the 20 that is unable to comply with the order. At the urging of Nabulsi, King Hussein puts Petra under government supervision and orders an audit of the bank's books. Petra's board of directors are replaced and an investigation begins. Two weeks later, in August 1989, Chalabi flees the country—reportedly with $70 million. According to Hudson Institute's Max Singer, Prince Hassan personally drives Chalabi to the Jordanian border, helping him escape. The investigation subsequently uncovers evidence of massive fraud. “The scale of fraud at Petra Bank was enormous,” Nabulsi will later recall. “It was like a tiny Enron.” Arthur Andersen determines that the bank's assets are overstated by $200 million. The bank is found to have enormous bad debts (about $80 million); “unsupported foreign currency balances at counter-party banks” (about $20 million); and money purportedly owed to the bank which could not be found (about $60 million). Millions of dollars of depositors' money had been routed to the Chalabi family empire in Switzerland, Lebanon, and London, in the form of loans that had not been repaid. The Chalabi family's Swiss and Lebanese firms, Mebco and Socofi, are later put into liquidation. As a result of the fraud, the Jordanian government is forced to pay $200 million to depositors whose money had disappeared, and to avert a potential collapse of the country's entire banking system. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004; Guardian, 4/142003; American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; Salon, 5/4/2004] Chalabi later provides a different account of what happened. According to Zaab Sethna, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress, King Hussein of Jordan turned on Chalabi in coordination with Iraq because Chalabi was “using the bank to fund [Iraqi] opposition groups and learning a lot about illegal arms transfers to Saddam.” Petra Bank was also providing the CIA with information on the Jordanian-Iraqi trade. [American Prospect, 11/18/2002; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Middle East Banking Corp., Petra Bank, Hussein bin Talal, Mohammed Said Nabulsi, Arthur Andersen
          

January 1990

       Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, CIA Director William acknowledges the West's increasing dependency on Middle East oil. [Cited in Ahmed, 10/2/01]
People and organizations involved: William H. Webster
          

May 1990

       The US National Security Council presents a white paper to President Bush in which it describes Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as the optimum contender “to replace the Warsaw Pact” and on that basis argues for the continuation of Cold War-level military spending. [Pilger, 1991 cited in Davidsson, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 10, 1990

       A 500-page report completed on behalf of the Jordanian military attorney-general charges that Ahmed Chalabi was directly responsible for the collapse of Petra Bank (see August 2, 1989). It accuses him of making “fictitious deposits and entries to make the income ... appear larger; losses on shares and investments; [and] bad debts ... to Abhara company and Al Rimal company.” The technical report contains 106 chapters, each of which addresses a different irregularity. Most of them are attributed to Chalabi. [Guardian, 4/142003]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Petra Bank
          

Mid-1990s

       Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, moves to Europe where he forms al-Tawhid, an organization whose aim it is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. While in Europe, Al Zarqawi and other members of his group make plans to attack Jews and Israeli targets in Germany. [Independent, 2/6/03; Newsweek, 6/25/03 Sources: Shadi Abdallah] In late 1999, Al Zarqawi is allegedly involved in an attempt to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, whose customers are frequently Israeli and American tourists. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Independent, 2/6/03; Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official] At some point during this period, Al Zarqawi establishes a training camp near Herat, Afghanistan, which competes with al-Qaeda for new recruits. According to the Bush administration, the training camp specializes in poisons and explosives. While in Afghanistan, Zarqawi maintains contact with his cells in Europe. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Independent, 2/6/03 Sources: Shadi Abdallah]
People and organizations involved: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
          

Mid-September 1990

       The Pentagon, citing top-secret satellite images, claims that some 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks are gathering on Saudi Arabia's border in preparation for an attack. But two commercial Soviet satellite images of the border area, taken at the same time, obtained by Florida's St. Petersburg Times, show only an empty desert. “The bulk of the mighty Iraqi army, said to number more than 500,000 in Kuwait and southern Iraq, couldn't be found,” Newsday reports. [St. Petersburg Times, 1/6/91; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]]
          

August 2, 1990

       The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 660 condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and demanding that Iraq “withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990.” [Sources: UN Resolution 660]
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council
          

August 2, 1990

       The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 678 authorizing “Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait ... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.” [Sources: UN Resolution 678]
People and organizations involved: United Nations Security Council
          

Late 1990

       An unconfirmed report of Iraqi soldiers entering a Kuwaiti hospital and removing newborns from their incubators is distributed widely. The rumor, which later turns out to be false, is seized upon by senior executives of the PR firm Hill and Knowlton, which has a $10 million contract from the Kuwaiti royal family to win support for a US-led intervention against Iraq. The PR firm, which has very close ties to the Bush administration, helps a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only as “Nayirah,” prepare to speak before a congressional caucus. In her testimony, she describes in detail how she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she was an intern and steal the incubators, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.” President Bush refers to the incident numerous times as he lobbies Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq. But it is later discovered that Nayirah is actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and that she was never an intern at the Kuwait hospital. The story was a complete fabrication. [Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [a]; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03]
People and organizations involved: George Herbert Walker Bush, Hill and Knowlton, US Congress
          

1991-2003

       The British MI6 establishes Operation Mass Appeal, a British intelligence mission “designed to exaggerate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction” in order to shape public opinion. [BBC, 11/21/03] The operation plants stories in the US, British, and foreign media from the 1990s through 2003. Intelligence used by Mass Appeal is said to be “single source data of dubious quality.” After the First Gulf War, the operation seeks to justify the UN sanctions policy. But after the September 11 attacks, its objective is to secure public support for an invasion of Iraq. The mission is similar to Operation Rockingham (see 1991-March 2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. [New Yorker, 3/31/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03; BBC, 11/21/03 Sources: Former Clinton Administration official, Scott Ritter] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter says in late in 2003 (see November 21, 2003) that he supplied Mass Appeal with intelligence while serving as UN chief weapons inspector from the summer of 1997 until August 1998 and that he met with British agents involved in the operation several times in both New York and London. [BBC, 11/21/03 Sources: Scott Ritter]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 
          

1991-March 2003

       After the First Gulf War, the British Defense Ministry's Defense Intelligence Staff creates a secret intelligence office known as Operation Rockingham. The purpose of the top secret cell is to collect intelligence that can be used by the US and British to support the case for maintaining UN sanctions on Iraq. After the September 11 attacks, Rockingham helps build Britain's case for the need to use military force against Iraq. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b; Guardian, 11/21/03; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Guardian, 11/29/03; BBC, 11/21/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03 Sources: Unnamed British intelligence officials, Scott Ritter] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter, who has first-hand knowledge of the operation, will later tell reporters that “Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasizing reports that showed noncompliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing those which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking intelligence.” He also says that members of the cell were backed by officials “from the very highest levels,” including military and intelligence officers, as well as civilian officials from the ministry of defense. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a Sources: Scott Ritter] The operation is similar to Operation Mass Appeal (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. Rockingham is also compared to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see August 18, 2003), which has also been accused of producing misleading assessments on Iraq based on the selective use of intelligence. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Guardian, 11/21/03 Sources: Scott Ritter]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 
          

1991-1997

       Under the supervision of UNSCOM weapons inspectors, Iraq destroys more than 38,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, 690 tons of chemical warfare agents, over 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals, more than 400 pieces of production equipment, 48 missiles, 6 missile launchers, and 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents. [Congressional Research Service Reports, 4/98; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02 Sources: UNSCOM report, S/1998/332, April 16, 1998] After cross-referencing weapons-making materials found in Iraq with sales records from other countries, UNSCOM inspectors conclude that at least 90% of Iraq's weapons have been destroyed or dismantled. Chief UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter believes that a good portion of the remaining 10% was destroyed during the First Gulf War, thus leaving only a small fraction unaccounted for. [Pitt, 7/24/02; Newsday, 7/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter
          

May 1991

       President George H. W. Bush signs a covert “lethal finding” authorizing the CIA to spend a hundred million dollars to “create the conditions for removal of Saddam Hussein from power.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] The CIA forms the Iraqi Opposition Group within its Directorate of Operations to implement this policy. [Ritter, 2005, pp 128] Awash in cash, the agency hires the Rendon Group to influence global political opinion on matters related to Iraq. According to Francis Brooke, an employee of the company who's paid $22,000 per month, the Rendon Group's contract with the CIA provides it with a ten percent “management fee” on top of whatever money it spends. “We tried to burn through $40 million a year,” Brooke will tell the New Yorker. “It was a very nice job.” The work involves planting false stories in the foreign press. The company begins supplying British journalists with misinformation which then shows up in the London press. In some cases, these stories are later picked up by the American press, in violation of laws prohibiting domestic propaganda. “It was amazing how well it worked. It was like magic,” Brooke later recalls. Another one of the company's tasks is to help the CIA create a viable and unified opposition movement against Saddam Hussein (see June 1992). This brings the Rendon Group and Francis Brooke into contact with Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi (see After May 1991). [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Rendon Group, Francis Brooke, George Herbert Walker Bush
          

After May 1991

       CIA Agent Whitley Bruner contacts Ahmed Chalabi in London as part of an effort to organize Iraqi exiles into a unified opposition movement against Saddam Hussein (see May 1991). [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Newsweek, 4/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Whitley Bruner, Ahmed Chalabi
          

1992-1996

       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
          

March 8, 1992

       The Defense Planning Guidance, “a blueprint for the department's spending priorities in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” is leaked to the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/8/92; Newsday, 3/16/03] The document causes controversy, because it hadn't yet been “scrubbed” to replace candid language with euphemisms. [New York Times, 3/11/92; Observer, 4/7/02; New York Times, 3/10/92] The document argues that the US dominates the world as sole superpower, and to maintain that role, it “must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.” [New York Times, 3/8/92 (B); New York Times, 3/8/92] As the Observer summarizes it, “America's friends are potential enemies. They must be in a state of dependence and seek solutions to their problems in Washington.” [Observer, 4/7/02] The document is mainly written by Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who hold relatively low posts at the time, but become deputy defense secretary and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, respectively, under George W. Bush. [Newsday, 3/16/03] The authors conspicuously avoid mention of collective security arrangements through the United Nations, instead suggesting the US “should expect future coalitions to be ad hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted.” [New York Times, 3/8/92] They call for “punishing” or “threatening punishment” against regional aggressors before they act. Interests to be defended preemptively include “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, [and] threats to US citizens from terrorism.” [Harper's, 10/02] Senator Lincoln Chafee (R) later says, “It is my opinion that [George W. Bush's] plan for preemptive strikes was formed back at the end of the first Bush administration with that 1992 report.” [Newsday, 3/16/03] In response to the controversy, US releases an updated version of the document in May 1992, which stresses that the US will work with the United Nations and its allies. [Washington Post, 5/24/92; Harper's, 10/02]
People and organizations involved: Lincoln Chafee, United States, Soviet Union, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Paul Wolfowitz
          

April 9, 1992

       After a two-year investigation, Ahmed Chalabi is convicted in abstentia and sentenced by a military court to 22 years of hard labor and ordered to return $230 million in embezzled funds. The 223-page verdict charges Chalabi with 31 counts of embezzlement, theft, forgery, currency speculation, making false statements, and making millions of dollars in bad loans to himself, to his friends, and to his family's other financial enterprises in Lebanon and Switzerland (see June 1992). [Guardian, 4/142003; Salon, 5/4/2004; Newsweek, 4/5/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

June 1992

       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

       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)

       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

       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
          

August 22, 1995

       Hussein Kamel, Iraq's former minister of military industry—who was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and who had overseen Saddam's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile weapons programs for almost a decade—is interviewed shortly after defecting by UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus, Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the Internal Atomic Energy Agency,and Nikita Smidovick of UNSCOM. During the interview, Kamel says that Iraq had destroyed all of its banned weapons after the First Gulf War. “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed,” he tells his interviewers. With regard to Anthrax, which Kamel says had been the “main focus” of Iraq's biological program, Kamel says, “nothing remained.” Regarding the nerve gas, VX, Kamel says, “they put it in bombs during last days of the Iran-Iraq war. They were not used and the program was terminated.” When asked if the program had been reconstituted, Kamel replies, “We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine ... We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons.” On the issue of prohibited missiles, Kamel states: “[N]ot a single missile left but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed.” Kamel also says that inspections worked in Iraq. “You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq,” he reveals. [Sources: UNSCOM Interview with Hussein Kamel, August 22, 1995] But this information is not made public. Newsweek reports in March 2003 that according to its sources, “Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the UN inspectors ... for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more.” [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03] Kamel also says that Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994 and who will be a source for claims regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” he tells his interviewers. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] At around the same time, Kamel is also interviewed by the CIA and Britain's MI6. According to sources interviewed by Newsweek, Kamel provides them with the same information. [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03 Sources: Unnamed sources] But after this is revealed on February 24, 2003 by Newsweek's John Barry, the CIA issues a strong denial. “It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue,” CIA spokesman Bill Harlow will say. [Reuters, 2/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Nikita Smidovick, Rolf Ekeus, Maurizio Zifferero, Hussein Kamel, Bill Harlow, John Barry
          

After 1996

       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
          

January 1996

       The CIA—concerned about Chalabi's contacts with Iran and convinced that he is not capable of delivering on his promises—severs its ties with him and the Iraqi National Congress. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Central Intelligence Agency, Iraqi National Congress
          

July 8, 1996

       The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, an Israeli think tank, publishes a paper titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” [Guardian, 9/3/02; Washington Times, 10/7/03; Chicago Sun-Times, 3/6/03] The paper, whose lead author is Richard Perle, advises the new, right-wing Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to break with the policies of the previous government by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ....” Much along the lines of an earlier paper by Israeli Oded Yinon , the document urges the Israelis to aggressively seek the downfall of their Arab neighbors—especially Syria and Iraq—by exploiting the inherent tensions within and among the Arab States. Specifically, it recommends that Israel work with Turkey and Jordan to remove Saddam Hussein from power as a means of “foiling Syria's regional ambitions.” [Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96; Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 3/19/03; Guardian, 9/3/02 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm] Other suggestions for Israel include abandoning the Oslo Accords, developing a foreign policy based on a traditional balance of power strategy, reserving its right to invade the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a strategy of “self-defense,” abandoning any notion of “land for peace,” reestablishing a policy of preemptive strikes, forging closer ties to the US while taking steps towards self-reliance, and seeking an alternative to Yasser Arafat as leader of the PLO. [Guardian, 9/3/02; Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, 7/8/96 Sources: A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Richard Armitage, Richard V. Allen, Benjamin Netanyahu, Richard Perle, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Jonathan Torop, Meyrav Wurmser, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser
          

August 1996

       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
          

1997

       Ahmed Chalabi, speaking before an audience at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), insists that with just minimal support from the US, Saddam Hussein's government could easily be toppled and replaced with a government friendly to Israel. Chalabi's ideas reportedly catch the attention of neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. [Newsweek, 5/31/2003; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Ahmed Chalabi, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz
          

(1997-1998)

       According to Middle East expert Judith Kipper, around this time, Ahmed Chalabi makes “a deliberate decision to turn to the right,” having realized that conservatives are more likely than liberals to support his plan to use force to topple Saddam Hussein's government. Chalabi's aide, Francis Brooke, later explains to the New Yorker: “We thought very carefully about this, and realized there were only a couple of hundred people” in Washington capable of influencing US policy toward Iraq. He also attends social functions with Richard Perle, whom he met in 1985 (see 1985) and who is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton. According to Brooke, “from the beginning, Cheney was in philosophical agreement with this plan. Cheney has said, ‘Very seldom in life do you get a chance to fix something that went wrong.’ ” Paul Wolfowitz is said to be enamored with Chalabi. According to an American friend of Chalabi, “Chalabi really charmed him. He told me they are both intellectuals. Paul is a bit of a dreamer.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004] He also becomes friends with L. Marc Zell and Douglas Feith of the Washington-Tel Aviv law, Feith and Zell. [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi tells his neoconservatives friends that if he replaces Saddam Hussein as Iraq's leader, he would establish normal diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, eschew pan-Arab nationalism, and allow the construction of a pipeline from Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa, Zell later tells Salon magazine. Having a pro-Israeli regime in Iraq would “take[] off the board” one of the only remaining major Arab threats to Israeli security, a senior administration official says in 2003. It would do this “without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states,” notes Salon. [Salon, 5/5/2004; Knight Ridder, 7/12/2003 Sources: L. Marc Zell] But Chalabi has a different story for his Arab friends. He tells his friend, Moh'd Asad, the managing director of the Amman, Jordan-based International Investment Arabian Group, “that he just need[s] the Jews in order to get what he want[s] from Washington, and that he [will] turn on them after that.” [Salon, 5/5/2004] Chalabi also says that the Iraqis would welcome a US liberation force with open arms. [Christian Science Monitor, 6/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Moh'd Asad, Douglas Feith, L. Marc Zell, Ahmed Chalabi, Francis Brooke, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

1997-2002

       Under the leadership of Jose Bustani, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversees the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. The organization also enlists 63 new member-states bringing its total membership to 145. According to George Monbiot of the Guardian of London, OPCW's surge in membership represents “the fastest growth rate of any multilateral body in recent times.” Bustani also steps up efforts to bring Iraq and other Arab states into the chemical weapons treaty. [Associated Press, 6/5/2002; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Jose M. Bustani, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
          

October 6, 1997

       Hans Blix, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, writes in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that there is no evidence that Iraq has an active nuclear weapons program. Blix says that the agency now has a “technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program,” despite some missing evidence and gaps in knowledge. He states with certainty the following: [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]
“There are no indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce nuclear weapons. Iraq's explanation of its progress towards the finalization of a workable design for its nuclear weapons is considered to be consistent with the resources and time scale indicated by the available program documentation. However, no documentation or other evidence is available to show the actual status of the weapon design when the program was interrupted.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“Iraq was at, or close to, the threshold of success in such areas as the production of HEU [high-enriched uranium] through the EMIS [electromagnetic isotope separation] process, the production and pilot cascading of single-cylinder sub-critical gas centrifuge machines, and the fabrication of the explosive package for a nuclear weapon.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications to suggest that Iraq had produced more that a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material (HEU or separated plutonium) through its indigenous processes, all of which has been removed from Iraq.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications that Iraq otherwise acquired weapon-usable nuclear material.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“All of the safeguarded research reactor fuel, including the HEU fuel that Iraq had planned to divert to its ‘crash program,’ was verified and fully accounted for by the IAEA and removed from Iraq.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

People and organizations involved: International Atomic Energy Agency, Iraq, Kofi Annan, Hans Blix
          

November 12, 1997

       David Wurmser, director of the Middle East program at the American Enterprise Institute, writes an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the US government should support Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress [INC] and work to foment “an Iraqi insurgency to depose the butcher of Baghdad.” Wurmser writes: “Washington has no choice now but to abandon the coup option and resurrect the INC. An insurgency may be able to defeat Saddam's weak and demoralized conventional army. But one thing is clear: There is no cost-free way to depose Saddam. He is more resolute, wily and brutal than we. His strength lies in his weapons of terror; that is why he is so attached to them.... Organizing an insurgency to liberate Iraq under the INC may provoke Saddam to use these weapons on the way down. Better that, though, than current policy, which will lead him to use them on his way back up.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/12/97]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser, Ahmed Chalabi
          

December 1997

       UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter meets with Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. According to Ritter, Chalabi tells him that he has close contacts with Iranian Intelligence and offers to set up a meeting between Ritter and the head of Iranian intelligence. (Chalabi later claims this is “an absolute falsehood.”) [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

1998

       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
          

1998

       Ahmed Chalabi and Francis Brooke find allies in the US Senate's Republican leadership. They provide the Republicans with details about the events surrounding the INC-CIA's 1995 failed plot against Saddam Hussein (see March 1995) and Iraq's subsequent incursion into Kurdish territory (see August 1996) which the Republican senators use against the Clinton White House and the CIA. “Clinton gave us a huge opportunity,” Brooke later recalls. “We took a Republican Congress and pitted it against a Democratic White House. We really hurt and embarrassed the president.” The Republican leadership in Congress, he acknowledges, “didn't care that much about the ammunition. They just wanted to beat up the president.” Senior Republican senators, according to Brooke, are “very receptive, right away” to Chalabi and Brooke's information, and Chalabi is soon on a first-name basis with 30 members of Congress, including senators Trent Lott, Jesse Helms, and Newt Gingrich. [Alternet, 5/21/2004; New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Francis Brooke, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, Ahmed Chalabi, Jesse Helms
          

1998

       Expert committees report that Iraq has failed to adequately account for 500 mustard-gas shells, 25 “special warheads,” 150 aerial bombs, 2 scud missiles, 520 kilograms of yeast extract growth medium specifically for anthrax, 15,000 122 mm artillery shells, 25,000 rockets and several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX. [BBC, 9/11/02; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 6/02; Newsmax, 9/4/02]
25 Special Warheads - Iraq failed to account for 25 “special warheads” . Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter will tell the Christian Science Monitor in mid-2002, “Even if he hid some warheads, they would have degenerated by now.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02]

Scud Missiles - Iraq has accounted for or destroyed 817 of its 819 Scud missiles. [Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02 Sources: Kofi Annan]
It is later suggested by experts, such as former UN inspector Scott Ritter and Charles Duelfer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that Iraq could possibly salvage and manufacture enough components to build up a store of between five and 25 missiles. [BBC, 9/11/02] But as the San Francisco Chronicle later notes, citing unspecified weapons experts, “there is no evidence that these have been tested or that Iraq has any functional launchers.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]
8,5000 liters of anthrax - Iraq maintains that these remaining stores of Anthrax were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991, however they offer no evidence of this. [Scotsman, 2/24/03]
Scott Ritter, a former Marine intelligence officer and chief weapons inspector, will later say that evidence indicates that Iraq's liquid bulk anthrax has not been produced by Iraq since 1991. Furthermore, he adds, the factory where Iraq had produced the pathogen was destroyed in 1996. He says that any anthrax produced before then is no longer a threat to anyone because after three years liquid bulk anthrax becomes “useless sludge.” [Reuters, 2/8/02]
Several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX - UNSCOM is unable to account for several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX.
Iraq maintains that these remaining stocks were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. [Scotsman, 2/24/03] In March 2003, UNMOVIC, the successor to UNSCOM, will report “that Iraq's production method created nerve agent that lasted only six to eight weeks.” [Independent, 6/1/03] Critics believe that most of these stocks were destroyed during the First Gulf War. Scott Ritter, a former chief weapons inspector, speaking at the Suffolk Law School building in downtown Boston, will say on July of 2002: “The research and development factory is destroyed [a Gulf War bomb destroyed the production facility on January 23, 1991]. The product of that factory is destroyed. The weapons they loaded up have been destroyed. More importantly, the equipment procured from Europe that was going to be used for their large-scale VX nerve agent factory was identified by the special commission—still packed in its crates in 1997—and destroyed. Is there a VX nerve agent factory in Iraq today? Not on your life.” [Pitt, 7/24/02]
 Additional Info 
          

1998

       Radio Free Europe, headquartered in Prague, begins transmitting anti-Saddam programs into Iraq. Late in the year, Iraqi diplomat Jabir Salim defects and tells Czech officials that before leaving Iraq he had been given $150,000 in cash to finance a plot to blow up Radio Free Europe's headquarters. This information is apparently passed on to Washington and US officials warn Tom Dine, program director of Radio Free Europe, about the plot. In response, Radio Free Europe begins 24-hour video surveillance of the building. [Newsweek, 4/28/01; Washington Post, 5/1/02; Slate, 11/19/03; Independent, 10/26/01 Sources: Unnamed sources, Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Jabir Salim, Radio Free Europe, Tom Dine
          

1998

       The National Security Council (NSC) completes a review of Iraq and terrorism. In an interview with journalist Robert Dreyfuss four years later, Daniel Benjamin, then-director of counterterrorism at the NSC, summarizes the report's conclusions: “[W]e went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link [between] al-Qaeda and Iraq, says Benjamin. We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact. No other issue has been as closely scrutinized as this one.” [The American Prospect, 12/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin
          

January 26, 1998

       The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an influential neoconservative think tank, publishes a letter to President Clinton urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil.” In a foretaste of what eventually happens, the letter calls for the US to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations, and says the US should not be “crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter is signed by many who will later lead the 2003 Iraq war. 10 of the 18 signatories later join the Bush Administration, including (future) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Undersecretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, presidential adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams, and Bush's special Iraq envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. [Sunday Herald, 3/16/03 Sources: January 26, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton] Clinton does heavily bomb Iraq in late 1998, but the bombing doesn't last long and its long term effect is the break off of United Nations weapons inspections. [New York Times, 3/22/03]
People and organizations involved: William J. Bennett, Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, William Schneider Jr., Donald Rumsfeld, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Robert B. Zoellick, Peter Rodman, John R. Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, William Kristol, Paula J. Dobriansky, Robert Kagan, Francis Fukuyama, Richard Perle
          

January 27, 1998

       Ahmed Chalabi meets Scott Ritter, a liaison for the UN weapons inspectors program, in his London apartment. When Chalabi asks Ritter what kind of information inspectors need, Ritter discloses all of inspectors' intelligence gaps. “I should have asked him what he could give me,” Ritter later tells the New Yorker. “We made the biggest mistake in the intelligence business: we identified all of our gaps.” The New Yorker reports: “Ritter outlines most of the UN inspectors' capabilities and theories, telling Chalabi how they had searched for underground bunkers with ground-penetrating radar. He also told Chalabi of his suspicion that Saddam may have had mobile chemical- or biological-weapons laboratories. ... ” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

February 18, 1998

       Former CIA director James Woolsey participates in an online discussion on Time's weekly forum on the topic of Iraq. At one point, he is asked if he thinks the US is capable of launching a successful military attack against Iraq given the lack of support from US allies. Woolsey responds: “It will be harder but perhaps not impossible. The key holdout is Saudi Arabia—and it is indeed aggravating that even though we went to war in 1991 principally to protect its oil, they are unwilling to let us launch air strikes from their country.” [Time, 2/18/1998]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey
          

February 19, 1998

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [CNN, 2/20/98; Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, Peter Rodman, Roger Robinson, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Robert A. Pastor, Max Singer, Peter Rosenblatt, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Leon Wienseltier, Caspar Weinberger, Richard V. Allen, Frank Carlucci, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Richard Burt, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Sven F. Kraemer, Gary Schmitt, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Bernard Lewis, Frederick L. Lewis, Jarvis Lynch, Robert C. McFarlane, John R. Bolton, Fred C. Ikle, Stephen Solarz, David Wurmser, Dov S. Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith
          

May 29, 1998

       The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) publishes a letter addressed to Congressman Newt Gingrich and Senator Trent Lott. The letter argues that the Clinton administration has capitulated to Saddam Hussein and calls on the two legislators to lead Congress to “establish and maintain a strong US military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect [US] vital interests in the Gulf—and, if necessary, to help removed Saddam from power.” [Sources: PNAC letter to Gingrich and Lott, 5/29/1998]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Clinton administration, US Congress, Project for the New American Century, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich
          

(July 1998)

       Scott Ritter has a second meeting with Ahmed Chalabi (see January 27, 1998), this time at Chalabi's house in Georgetown. Inspectors have recently discovered trace evidence of VX nerve gas on warheads in Iraq and Ritter is concerned that the Iraqis are still hiding something. During the meeting, they discuss the VX discovery and Chalabi suggests that Ritter do intelligence work for the INC. He shows Ritter two studies advocating Hussein's overthrow. One of the studies is a military plan, written, in part, by retired General Wayne Downing, who commanded the Special Forces in the first Gulf War. Downing's study suggests that the Baathist regime could easily be toppled by Iraqi fighters alone. But the plan would nonetheless require some American troop support. Chalabi wants to sell the plan to Congress. Ritter, a former marine, isn't impressed and tells Chalabi he thinks it's a ploy to get the US involved. He asks Chalabi, “So how come the fact that you'd need more American assistance is not in the plan?” Chalabi replies, “Because it's too sensitive.” Chalabi then shares with Ritter his plans to rule Iraq. Ritter later tells the New Yorker: “He told me that, if I played ball, when he became president he'd control all of the oil concessions, and he'd make sure I was well taken care of. I guess it was supposed to be a sweetener.” (Chalabi's office will tell the New Yorker that Ritter is a “liar.”) [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter, Ahmed Chalabi
          

(July 1998)

       David Wurmser says that having a region in northern Iraq controlled by the Iraqi National Congress would provide the missing piece to complete an anti-Syria, anti-Iran block. “If Ahmed [Chalabi] extends a no-fly, no-drive in northern Iraq, it puts scuds out of the range of Israel and provides the geographic beachhead between Turkey, Jordan and Israel,” Wurmser says. “This should anchor the Middle East pro-Western coalition.” [Forward, 7/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, David Wurmser
          

July 1998

       UNSCOM weapons inspector Richard Butler states, “If Iraqi disarmament were a five-lap race, we would be three quarters of the way around the fifth and final lap.” [Boston Globe, 3/22/99]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook
          

July 24, 1998

       Francis Brooke and David Wurmser meet with Dore Gold, Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations, with hopes to get Israel to pressure US Congress into approving a $10 million grant to the Iraqi National Congress to fund an effort to facilitate regime change in Iraq. “I went to speak to [Ambassador Gold] just to say that I think it's in Israel's best interest to help the Iraqi people get this thing done,” Brooke says. “The basic case I made was that we need help here in the US to get this thing going.” Commenting on the effort, Richard Perle tells Forward, a Jewish-American Magazine, “Israel has not devoted the political or rhetorical time or energy to Saddam that they have to the Iranians. The case for the Iraqi opposition in Congress would be a lot more favorable with Israeli support.” [Forward, 7/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Francis Brooke, Dore Gold
          

October 31, 1998

       President Clinton Signs the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 into law. The act, which passed with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate, was written by Trent Lott and other Republicans with significant input from Ahmed Chalabi and his aide, Francis Brooke. The act makes it “the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” To that end, the act requires that the president designate one or more Iraqi opposition groups to receive up to $97 million in US military equipment and nonlethal training. The act authorizes another $43 million for humanitarian, broadcasting, and information-collection activities. To be eligible for US assistance, an organization must be “committed to democratic values, to respect for human rights, to peaceful relations with Iraq's neighbors, to maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, and to fostering cooperation among democratic opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Washington Post, 1/25/2002 Sources: Iraq Liberation Act of 1998]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Francis Brooke, Trent Lott, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

December 16, 1998

       UNSCOM executive chairman Richard Butler orders the withdrawal of weapons inspectors from Iraq accusing the Iraqis of not cooperating. His actions follow a phone conversation with Peter Burleigh, the American representative to the United Nations [New York Times, 12/18/1998] , basically warning Butler that the US intends to strike Iraq. In his book, Saddam Defiant, Butler will recall: “I received a telephone call from US Ambassador Peter Burleigh inviting me for a private conversation at the US mission... Burleigh informed me that on instructions from Washington it would be ‘prudent to take measures to ensure the safety and security of UNSCOM staff presently in Iraq.’... I told him that I would act on this advice and remove my staff from Iraq.” Butler's order to withdraw is made without the permission of the UN Security Council. [Butler, 2000, pp 224; Znet, 7/6/2004] Years later, the American press and government will say that on this day Saddam Hussein “kicked out” inspectors. [Extra!, 10/2002]
People and organizations involved: Peter Burleigh, International Atomic Energy Agency, Richard Butler, United Nations Special Commission
          

(Late 1998)

       General Anthony Zinni, commander of CENTCOM, which has operational control of US combat forces in the Middle East, is provided with a copy of Chalabi's military plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein. “It got me pretty angry,” he later recalls. He warns Congress that Chalabi's plan is a “pie in the sky, a fairy tale.” He tells the New Yorker: “They were saying if you put a thousand troops on the ground Saddam's regime will collapse, they won't fight. I said, ‘I fly over them every day, and they shoot at us. We hit them, and they shoot at us again. No way a thousand forces would end it.’ The exile group was giving them inaccurate intelligence. Their scheme was ridiculous.” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Anthony Zinni, US Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

Late December 1998

       According to US intelligence sources, Farouk Hijazi, the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, visits Afghanistan in late 1998 after US cruise missiles are fired on al Qaeda training camps following the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Hijazi, who is also a longtime intelligence officer, meets Osama bin Laden in Kandahar and extends an offer from Baghdad to provide refuge for him and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden reportedly rejects the offer because he doesn't want his organization dominated by Saddam Hussein. After the 9/11 attacks, proponents of invading Iraq will claim the visit makes Hijazi a key link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Hijazi will be captured by US troops in late April 2003 after the US/British invasion of Iraq begins. When interrogated by US authorities, he will deny any Iraq-al-Qaeda ties. [Associated Press, 4/25/03; USA Today, 7/13/03; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Associated Press, 9/27/01; Guardian, 2/16/99]
People and organizations involved: Farouk Hijaz, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Mohammed Omar
          

1999

       A top level US policy document explicitly confirms the US military's readiness to fight a war for oil. The report, Strategic Assessment 1999, prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, states, “energy and resource issues will continue to shape international security,” and if an oil “problem” arises, “US forces might be used to ensure adequate supplies.” Oil conflicts over production facilities and transport routes, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions, are specifically envisaged. [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/20/03]
People and organizations involved: United States
          

(1999)

       Joe T. begins working in the Winpac unit of the CIA, which analyzes intelligence related to dual-use technology and export controls. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03; New York Times, 10/3/04 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
          

Late 1990s

       An associate of Ahmed Chalabi later tells journalist Andrew Cockburn that in the late '90s, “Ahmed opened an INC office in Tehran, spending the Americans' money, and he joked to me that ‘the Americans are breaching their embargo on Iran.’ ” [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi
          

1999

       Presidential candidate George W. Bush tells prominent Texas author and Bush family friend Mickey Herskowitz, who is helping Bush write an autobiography, that as president he would invade Iraq if given the opportunity. “One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief,” Herskowitz remembers Bush saying. “My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of [Kuwait] and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade Iraq, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.” Herskowitz later says he believes Bush's comments were intended to distinguish himself from his father, rather than express a desire to invade Iraq. [Houston Chronicle, 10/31/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Mickey Herskowitz
          

Between 1999 and 2000

       Intelligence reports suggesting that “rogue states” are trying to obtain uranium sparks concern within the French government about the security of France's uranium supplies in Niger, as well as the security of the two French consortiums that control Niger's uranium industry. [Financial Times, 8/2/04] France has reportedly learned that uranium is being extracted from abandoned mines and being sold on the international black market. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005]
People and organizations involved: France
          

1999

       Iraqi diplomat and suspected intelligence officer Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani arrives in Prague to replace his predecessor, Jabir Salim, who had defected (see 1998). Fearing that Al-Ani had a similar mission to that of Salim, Czech intelligence closely monitors al-Ani's activities. Sometime in 1999, al-Ani is reportedly videotaped loitering around and photographing the Radio Free Europe building. Al-Ani is sometimes seen with a thinner, taller man wearing a Shell Oil jacket who is never identified. The pictures are passed onto the Czech intelligence agency [BIS]. [Newsweek, 4/28/01; Washington Post, 5/1/02; Slate, 11/19/03 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed sources]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Radio Free Europe, Jabir Salim
          

February 1999

       In his book, Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute urges the US to support an insurgency aimed at toppling the Bath'ist government of Saddam Hussein as part of a broader policy to defeat pan-Arabism in Iraq. In its place, the US should encourage the creation of a “loosely unified Iraqi confederal government, shaped around strong sectarian and provincial entities,” Wurmser argues. [Wurmser, 1999, pp 136-137] What happens in Iraq is vitally important, Wurmser notes, because the country is of extreme strategic importance. “It is a key transportation route, and it is rich in both geographic endowments and human talent,” he explains. “Its location on pathways between Asia and Europe, Africa and Asia, and Europe and Africa makes it an ideal route for armies, pipelines, and trade from both the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf. Iraq also has large, proven oil reserves, water, and other important resources. Its geographic centrality and abundance of natural advantages alone make the country a regionally important center.” [Wurmser, 1999, pp 116-117]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser
          

February 1999

       Wissam al-Zahawie, Iraq's ambassador to the Vatican, sets off on a trip to several African countries as part of an effort to convince African heads of state to visit Iraq. Saddam Hussein hopes that these visits will help break the embargo on flights to Iraq, and undermine the UN sanctions regime. Zahawie's first stop is Niger, where he meets with the country's president, President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, for one hour. Mainassara promises that he will visit Baghdad the following April (He's assasinated before he has an opportunity to do this). [Sunday Herald, 7/13/2003; Time, 10/2/2003; New Yorker, 10/20/03; Independent, 8/10/03a Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Charles O. Cecil] Zahawie's visit is reported in the local newspaper as well as by a French news agency. The US and British governments are also aware of the trip but show no concern. No one suggests that the trip's motives have anything to do with acquiring uranium. At this time, Niger is actively seeking economic assistance from the United States. [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Charles O. Cecil, Wissam al-Zahawie] In early 2002, the Italian military intelligence service, SISMI, will allege in a report (see February 5, 2002) sent to the US that the motive behind the visit was to discuss the future purchase of uranium oxide, also known as “yellowcake” (see October 15, 2001). [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie, Unnamed US intelligence sources]
People and organizations involved: Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, Wissam al-Zahawie
          

February 4, 1999

       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
          

March 1999

       A special panel of the UN Security Council reports that “the declared facilities of Iraq's biological weapons program have been destroyed and rendered harmless.” [Guardian, 5/15/02; Daily Mirror, 4/5/02]
          

(After June or July 1999)

       Rocco Martino, an Italian information peddler and former SISMI agent, provides French officials with documents suggesting that Iraq intends to expand its “trade” with Niger. It is not known from where he obtains these documents. The French assume the trade being discussed concerns uranium, Niger's main export. At French intelligence's request, Martino continues supplying them with documents. [Financial Times, 8/2/04; Sunday Times, 8/1/04]
People and organizations involved: France, Rocco Martino
          

June 1999

       A businessman reportedly approaches Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki and insists that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq. Mayaki reportedly interprets “expanding commercial relations” to mean that Iraq is interested in discussing uranium sales. According to Mayaki, he does meet the delegation but avoids discussion of trade issues because of UN sanctions on the country. They reportedly never discuss what the businessman had meant when he said Iraq was interested in “expanding commercial relations.” [Sources: Report On The US Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq]
People and organizations involved: Ibrahim Mayaki
          

November 19, 1999

       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
          

December 2, 1999

       Speaking in Manchester, New Hampshire, presidential candidate George Bush says as president he would not lift the sanctions on Iraq nor attempt to negotiate with Saddam Hussein. “I'd make darn sure that he lived up to the agreements that he signed back in the early '90s. I'd be helping the opposition groups. And if I found, in any way shape or form, that he was developing weapons of mass destruction, I'd take them out. I'm surprised he's still there. I think a lot of other people are as well.” [Boston Globe, 12/3/1999; Federal Document Clearing House, 12/2/1999]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

December 17, 1999

       With the passing of UN Resolution 1284, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is created to assist in the disarming of Iraq. The new body replaces the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). UNMOVIC is deliberately designed to prevent infiltration by spies of the UN Security Council member states, specifically the US and Britain. This had been a problem with its predecessor, UNSCOM. The UN diminishes the role of Americans in the new commission by abolishing the powerful office of deputy chairman, which had always been held by an American, and by appointing non-Americans to important positions. In the new inspections body, “The highest-ranking American in the agency now has a relatively lowly job, in charge of the training division.” A Chinese official holds the senior “activity evaluation” position and a Russian official is in charge of “liaising with foreign governments and companies.” Another reform is that the inspectors will use commercial satellite companies, instead of US spy satellites, to monitor Iraq's activities. [The Times, 9/18/02]
          

2000

       US intelligence learns from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) that Iraq has made arrangements to purchase tubes, made of 7075-T6 aluminum, from China through Garry Cordukes, the director of the Australian company International Aluminum Supply. The company is associated with Kam Kiu Propriety Limited, a subsidiary of the Chinese company that will manufacture the aluminum tubes. Concerned that the tubes may be related to Iraqi efforts to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, an Australian intelligence agent contacts Cordukes to obtain a sample of the tubes for examination. A CIA agent, Joe T., is said to have played a significant part in this discovery. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.
          

2000-2002

       The State Department begins funding the Iraqi National Congress' “information collection” program to the tune of $150,000 per month. The program is part of the US government's larger goal of effecting a regime change in Iraq (see October 31, 1998). According to the agreement between the State Department and the INC, the group is permitted to use the money to “implement a public information campaign to communicate with Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq and also to promulgate its message to the international community at large.” The INC is prohibited from engaging in activities “associated with, or that could appear to be associated with, attempting to influence the policies of the United States Government or Congress or propagandizing the American people.” But according to Francis Brooke, an INC spokesman, some of the State Department's funds are used to finance the expenses of Iraqi defectors who serve as the sources for several US news stories. Brookes claims that there are “no restrictions” on the use of US federal funds to make defectors available to the media. Another Chalabi spokesman will say: “The INC paid some living and travel expenses of defectors with USG funds. None of these expenses was related to meeting journalists.” He adds that the INC “did not violate any US laws.” [Newsweek, 4/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Francis Brooke, Iraqi National Congress, US Department of State
          

2000

       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
          

2000

       During the 2000 presidential campaign, the Republican Party calls for “a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein.” Similarly, the Democratic Party's platform supports using “America's military might against Iraq when and where it is necessary.” [Project for the New American Century, 7/6/00; Strategic Affairs. 11/1/00; NewsMax, 2/3/01; Democratic National Committee, 2000 Platform, pg 46; Republican National Committee, 2000 Platform Sources: Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee]
People and organizations involved: Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee
          

2000

       In his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, neoconservative Michael Ledeen measures modern leaders against Machiavelli's rules for leadership and concludes that “[e]ven after a half a millennium, Machiavelli's advice to leaders is as contemporary as tomorrow.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 185] He laments that contemporary Western leaders, “like their counterparts in the rest of the world, have fallen short of Machiavelli's standards.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 187] According to Ledeen, “[I]f new and more virtuous leaders do not emerge, it is only a matter of time before we are either dominated by our enemies or sink into a more profound crisis.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 187] Such a situation, he explains, would put the US in the “same desperate crisis that drove Machiavelli to call for a new dictator to set things aright.” He adds, “In either case, we need Machiavellian wisdom and leadership.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 188] Throughout the book Ledeen highlights certain qualities that he believes make strong leaders. A leader “must be prepared to fight at all times,” he writes, and must be of “manly vigor.” Women, he says, are rarely strong leaders because women generally cannot achieve virtue for they lack the “physical wherewithal and the passionate desire to achieve” military glory. To Ledeen, the ends may justify the means. In some situations, “[i]n order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to ‘enter into evil.’ ” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 90] According to Ledeen, the Christian god sanctions this view. Machiavelli, he notes approvingly, wrote: “I believe that the greatest good that one can do, and the most gratifying to God is that which one does for one's country.” Ledeen thus adds: “Since it is the highest good, the defense of the country is one of those extreme situation in which a leader is justified in committing evil.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 117]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

Early 2000

       Antonio Nucera, deputy chief of the SISMI center in Viale Pasteur in Rome, telephones Rocco Martino, an Italian information peddler and former SISMI agent and tells Martino of a SISMI intelligence asset working in the Niger Embassy in Rome who is in need of money and who can provide him with documents to sell. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005; Il Giornale, 11/6/2005; Il Giornale, 9/21/2004; Sunday Times, 8/1/04; Financial Times, 8/2/04 Sources: Antonio Nucera, Rocco Martino] According to Martino, “SISMI wanted me to pass on the documents but they didn't want anyone to know they had been involved.” [Financial Times, 8/2/04; Sunday Times, 8/1/04]
People and organizations involved: SISMI, Antonio Nucera, Rocco Martino
          

March 2000

       Rocco Martino, an Italian information peddler and former SISMI agent, meets with an Italian intelligence source who is an employee at the Niger embassy in Rome. The employee is a 60-year-old lady known only as “La Signora.” What happens next is not clear. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005; Sunday Times, 8/1/04; Financial Times, 8/2/04; Talking Points Memo, 11/10/2005]
According to Rocco Martino - Over the next several months, La Signora provides Martino with numerous documents. First comes a “codebook,” then a dossier, which includes a mixture of fake and genuine documents, and then finally, a purported agreement between Niger and Iraq on the sale of 500 tons of uranium oxide, also known as “yellowcake.” [Talking Points Memo, 11/10/2005]

According to La Repubblica - With the blessing of Antonio Nucera, the deputy chief of the SISMI center in Viale Pasteur in Rome, Martino and La Signora hatch a plan to break into the Niger embassy (see January 2, 2001) to steal material that could be used to create a collection of forged documents that Martino would then sell to French intelligence. They reportedly solicit the help of Nigerien First Embassy Counselor Zakaria Yaou Maiga. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005]

People and organizations involved: Zakaria Yaou Maiga, Antonio Nucera, Rocco Martino
          

May 2000

       Jose Bustani is reelected to the position of director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the 2001-2005 term by a unanimous vote. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Jose M. Bustani
          

(May 17, 2000)

       Presidential candidate George W. Bush allegedly tells Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American newspaper, that if he becomes president he will remove Saddam Hussein from power. “He told me that he was going to take him out, ” Siblani says in a radio interview on Democracy Now! almost five years later. Siblani will also recall that Bush “wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States.” As Siblani will later note, as a presidential candidate Bush has no access to classified intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs. [Democracy Now!, 3/11/05 Sources: Osama Siblani]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Osama Siblani
          

September 2000

      
People involved in the 2000 PNAC report (from top left): Vice President Cheney, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim, and author Eliot Cohen.
PNAC drafts a strategy document, “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” for George W. Bush's team before the 2000 Presidential election. The document was commissioned by future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Bush's brother), and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. [Sources: Rebuilding America's Defenses]
The document outlines a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”

PNAC states further: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

PNAC calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the Internet, and the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran, and other countries.

It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

However, PNAC complains that thes changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03]
Notably, while Cheney commissioned this plan (along with other future key leaders of the Bush administration), he defends Bush's position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq during an NBC interview in the midst of the 2000 presidential campaign, asserting that the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] A British member of Parliament will later say of the report: “This is a blueprint for US world domination—a new world order of their making. These are the thought processes of fantasist Americans who want to control the world.” [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02] Both PNAC and its strategy plan for Bush are almost virtually ignored by the media until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Aaron Friedberg, Steve Forbes, Elliott Abrams, Francis Fukuyama, Norman Podhoretz, Henry S. Rowen, Vin Weber, Eliot A. Cohen, Hasam Amin, William J. Bennett, Midge Decter, George Weigel, John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Project for the New American Century, Paula J. Dobriansky, Frank Gaffney, Donald Kagan, Steve Rosen, Saddam Hussein, Peter Rodman, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Dan Quayle, Syria, China, United States, Lybia, North Korea, Iraq, Fred C. Ikle
          

September 2000

       Chalabi's brothers, Jawad and Hazem, are convicted and sentenced in absentia by a Geneva court for fabricating fake documents. [CounterPunch, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Hazem Chalabi, Jawad Chalabi
          

September 2000

       The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century writes a “blueprint” for the “creation of a ‘global Pax Americana’ ” (see also June 3, 1997). The document, titled, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century, was written for the Bush team even before the 2000 Presidential election. It was written for future Vice President Cheney, future Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, future Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Florida Governor and President Bush's brother Jeb Bush, and future Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. The report calls itself a “blueprint for maintaining global US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” The plan shows that the Bush team intended to take military control of Persian Gulf oil whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power and should retain control of the region even if there is no threat. It says: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” The report calls for the control of space through a new “US Space Forces,” the political control of the internet, the subversion of any growth in political power of even close allies, and advocates “regime change” in China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and other countries. It also mentions that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (see also Spring 2001 and April 2001 (D)). [Sunday Herald, 9/7/02 Sources: Rebuilding America's Defenses] However, the report complains that these changes are likely to take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/12/03] In an NBC interview at about the same time, Vice Presidential candidate Cheney defends Bush Jr.'s position of maintaining Clinton's policy not to attack Iraq because the US should not act as though “we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” [Washington Post, 1/12/02] This report and the Project for the New American Century generally are mostly ignored until a few weeks before the start of the Iraq war (see February-March 20, 2003).
People and organizations involved: William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton, Donald Rumsfeld, Roger Barnett, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Alvin Bernstein, John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Stephen A. Cambone, Eliot A. Cohen, Barry Watts, Abram Shulsky, Gary Schmitt, Steve Rosen, Dov S. Zakheim, Michael Vickers, Mackubin Owens, Phil Meilinger, Dan Goure, Donald Kagan, David Fautua, Devon Gaffney Cross, Thomas Donnelly, David Epstein, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Martinage, James Lasswell, Mark P. Lagon, Robert Kagan, Fred Kagan, William Kristol, Robert Killebrew  Additional Info 
          

October 5, 2000

       During the vice presidential debates, both Joe Lieberman and Dick Cheney advocate a tough stance toward Saddam Hussein. Lieberman says he and Gore would continue to support Iraqi opposition groups “until the Iraqi people rise up and do what the people of Serbia have done in the last few days: get rid of a despot.” Cheney says it might be necessary “to take military action to forcibly remove Saddam from power.” [CATO Daily Dispatch, 10/6/2000]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Joseph Lieberman
          

October 25, 2000

       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
          

November 1, 2000

       In an op-ed piece published by the Washington Times, David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute calls on the US and Israel to “broaden” the conflict in the Middle East. The US, he says, needs “to strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region—the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza” — in order to “reestablish the recognition that fighting with either the United States or Israel is suicidal.” This is necessary, according to Wurmser, because the policies of the US and Israel during the last decade have strengthened Arab radicalism in the Middle East. Wurmser complains that the two countries have mistakenly identified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their own behavior as the primary causes of anti-Israeli and anti-American violence instead of focusing on what he claims are the real sources of resentment among Arab leaders—Israeli and American values. “Few anti-American outbursts or Arab-Israeli confrontations initially have much to do with Israel's or America's behavior; they have more to do with what these two countries are: free societies,” Wurmser writes. “These upheavals originate in the conditions of Arab politics, specifically in the requirements of tyrannies to seek external conflict to sustain internal repression. ... A regime built on opposition to freedom will view free nations, such as the United States and Israel, as mortal threats.” The US and Israeli failure to grasp this reality, along with the Clinton administration's reluctance to remove Saddam from power, according to Wurmser, has only empowered Arab radicalism. The answer, he argues, is to forcefully reassert US and Israeli power. [Washington Times, 11/1/2000]
People and organizations involved: David Wurmser
          

After November 2000

       After the 2000 Presidential Election, Bush's White House political adviser, Karl Rove, tells neoconservative Michael Ledeen “Anytime you have a good idea, tell me.” From that point on, according to a Washington Post interview with Ledeen, every month or six weeks, Ledeen offers Rove “something you should be thinking about.” On more than one occasion, ideas faxed to Rove by Ledeen, “become official policy or rhetoric,” the Post reports. [Washington Post, 3/10/2003]
People and organizations involved: Karl Rove, Michael Ledeen
          

December 16, 2000

       President-elect George W. Bush announces his nomination of Powell to the position of Secretary of State. Powell, in his remarks, suggests that the US might have to “confront” Saddam Hussein. Powell says: “Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time. The world is going to leave him behind and that regime behind as the world marches to new drummers, drummers of democracy and the free enterprise system. And I don't know what it will take to bring him to his senses. But we are in the strong position. He is in the weak position. And I think it is possible to re-energize those sanctions and to continue to contain him and then confront him, should that become necessary again.” [Journal of the Air Force Association, 2/2001]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, George W. Bush
          

(Between Late 2000 and September 11, 2001)

       According to an October 2005 report by the Italian weekly La Repubblica, official stamps and letterhead stolen (see January 2, 2001) from the Niger embassy are used to fabricate a set of forged documents implicating Iraq in an attempt to purchase 500 tons of uranium oxide, also known as “yellowcake,” from Niger. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005; Corriere della Sera, date unknown, cited in Talking Points Memo, 10/31/03; New Yorker, 10/20/03; Agence France Presse, 7/19/03; Reuters, 7/19/03 Sources: Unnamed Senior US intelligence officials] Material taken from real SISMI documents from the 1980s concerning Iraq's yellowcake purchases from Niger during that period are also incorporated into the set of forged documents. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/30/2005] It is not clear who precisely forges the documents. La Repubblica, in a 2005 article, seems to imply that the deed is done by Rocco Martino, an Italian information peddler, and Antonio Nucera, the deputy chief of the SISMI center in Viale Pasteur in Rome. [La Repubblica, 10/24/2005] An August 2004 report in the Financial Times, however, reports that according to Martino, “Italian foreign intelligence service, the SISMI, had forged the documents and had arranged for them to be passed to him by an official of Niger's embassy in Rome (see March 2000).” [Financial Times, 8/2/04]
People and organizations involved: Antonio Nucera, Rocco Martino, SISMI, France
          

Early 2001

       Shortly after Bush is inaugurated into office, Greg Thielmann, an analyst for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), is appointed to serve as the intelligence liaison to John Bolton. But Thielmann's intelligence briefings do not support Bolton's assumptions about Iraq, and Thielmann is soon barred from attending the meetings. According to Thielmann: “Bolton seemed to be troubled because INR was not telling him what he wanted to hear. I was intercepted at the door of his office and told, ‘The undersecretary doesn't need you to attend this meeting anymore. The undersecretary wants to keep this in the family.’” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Greg Thielmann, John R. Bolton  Additional Info 
          

2001

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell sends a letter of appreciation to Jose Bustani, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, commending him for his “impressive” work. [Associated Press, 6/5/2005; Guardian, 4/16/2002]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Jose M. Bustani
          
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