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Scott Ritter: Clinton's failed coup attempt against Saddam

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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:53 AM
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Scott Ritter: Clinton's failed coup attempt against Saddam
Scott Ritter was the former US marine captain tasked with finding Saddam Hussein's weapons. Now, in this first detailed account, he reveals how the CIA plotted to use a UN weapons inspection to overthrow the Iraqi regime - and how fiasco turned to tragedy when it failed

This is big, Scott," Moshe Ponkovsky said. "We don't share this with anyone." Israel's military intelligence was already assisting us at Unscom (the United Nations Special Commission, which ran the UN's weapons inspections programme in Iraq) by scrutinising the "take" from the American U-2 spy-plane flights over Iraq. It had proved an unorthodox but fruitful relationship for Unscom: the Israeli analysts had proved far superior to the CIA's. But what I was now proposing to the Israelis was a dramatic expansion of this intelligence-sharing.

was asking Lieutenant Colonel Ponkovsky and his colleagues to accept tapes from a secret Unscom-British communications eavesdropping operation that we were planning in Baghdad itself. The Israelis would process the data (ie, break any codes or ciphers the Iraqis might be using, and translate), and analyse them to determine if there was anything useful for Unscom's mandate of disarming Iraq.It was an ambitious, and possibly dangerous, project, but I had the backing of Unscom's senior executives - its chairman, the Swedish diplomat Rolf Ekus, his American deputy, state department official Charles Duelfer, and Russian arms control expert Nikita Smidovich. By the end of January 1996, the scheme was falling into place: Ponkovsky told me that his boss, director of military intelligence General Ya'alon, had given authorisation. Just one part of the jigsaw puzzle was missing: with Britain providing the intercept team, and Israel doing the analysis, that just left the Americans.

Earlier that month, Duelfer had handed me a paper from the CIA containing a series of questions about Unscom's communications intercept plan. Until then, the CIA had been disdainful of Unscom as a tool for intelligence-gathering, but now they were getting interested. Not that I knew it at the time, but the hidden agenda was regime change.


The failed June 1996 coup attempt had largely been determined by domestic American political considerations. Like President George HW Bush before him, Clinton and his political handlers were sensitive to public perception in a presidential election year. This shaped both the coup's mission (get Saddam) and its timing (early summer, before the Republicans had nailed down their candidate). Not only was the 1996 plot chiefly a "wag the dog" scenario, but once again, any chance of Iraq disarming under UN supervision had been cynically undermined by the larger US objective of regime change,3604,1579659,

(the above is an extract from Ritter's new book Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy

Just to cast a skeptical eye for a second - why has he waited until now to reveal this? (And per Robert Baer's "See No Evil" - although it's been a long time since I read it so my facts may be off - why did Clinton refuse US support for a coup attempt in (I think) the same year led by the Kurds.
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ArkDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 10:56 AM
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1. He needs Burger King money.
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:01 AM
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2. If true, in a nutshell:
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 11:02 AM by mzmolly
The CIA coup plan went like this: if Unscom inspections could somehow be used to trigger a crisis, that would create a pretext for a US military attack against the Special Republican Guard, then Saddam's personal security force could be decapitated. This would clear the way for the plotters, led by Mohammad Abdullah al-Shawani, a former commander of Iraqi Special Forces who had defected to Amman in Jordan and been recruited by the CIA, to make their move.

I knew that Clinton supported "Regime Change" he simply wanted the Iraqi's to do it. Bush went in gunz a blazin' which was ignorant beyond belief and then used Clinton policy to justify his actions.

Of course, if accurate, this does explain why Saddam was "edgy" about inspections - even after he disarmed. :crazy:

But, it does not justify Bush's invasion - if that's the goal?

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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. IMO, The NEOCONS In Clinton's Admin & Pentagon Wanted Saddam
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 11:13 AM by cryingshame
NOT Clinton's political team. If Ritter is alleging the later then he needs to show definitive proof. Briefs or quotes from Clinton's political staff. Otherwise, it's his uninformed opinion.

With history as a tutor, then it's almost certain the NeoCons were feeding Clinton bad info and withholding info as well (Able Danger).
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1932 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:17 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Bill Clinton has said that Al Gore was the biggest advocate of a military
invasion of Iraq in his cabinet. I remember hearing him say that on CSPAN the week after Gore gave his anti-war speech.

So, if Clinton chose to encourage a regime change carried out be Iraqis, it was probably the compromise position within his cabinet.
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Saddam found out that the US was using
UNSCOM to spy on him (Tariq Aziz complained to the UN) which was why, in 1998, he threw them out.
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Laughing Mirror Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
10. Iraq did not kick out UN inspectors, UN pulled them so US could drop bombs
Earlier, Iraq had expelled UN inspectors of US nationality who were accused of (and who were) spying, but Iraq did not ever throw out UNSCOM as a whole.

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Fleshdancer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:28 AM
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6. This is seriously f*cked up
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 11:28 AM by GloriaSmith
Now it isn't very surprising why the inspectors were kicked out of Iraq. It's interesting that we attempt a coup using inspectors which leads to UN sanction 1060 since Iraq wouldn't let the inspectors through and years later Bush uses 1060 as a reason for war. Sounds like Clinton has a lot of explaining to do.

Here's what I don't understand from this article - apparently the US blew the entire cover:

Inside the folder I was handed was a lengthy report, classified top secret, and containing several US codewords I was familiar with. The subject line read: "UN COMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPT OPERATION UP AND RUNNING IN BAGHDAD." I glanced down at the list of addressees. This document had been sent around the world, to every embassy and military headquarters the US maintained. This was more than just giving people a heads-up about our SCE operation. This was blowing its cover to smithereens.

"The Yanks seemed to have sent it everywhere except Tariq Aziz's own office," remarked a Ministry of Defence official.

Very few people in London knew about the operation. And now all the details, including the real names of the personnel involved, had been broadcast around the world. "We would like your opinion on this matter," said the director.

(skipped one paragraph)

Whether done on purpose or accident, the American publication of the sensitive details of a covert British intelligence operation, operating under Unscom cover, was an incomprehensible act. The US had killed the SCE, so now we had nothing specific to go on. We needed high-quality intelligence, without which weapons inspections were going nowhere. I had tried my best to develop sources of information, but had been sabotaged by the CIA

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Terran1212 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
7. What about hussien's son who tried in the eve of the war?
Most underreported fact EVER from peter arnett.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
8. "why has he waited until now to reveal this?"
He's been talking about it for years.
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. my bad
I've just read a PBS interview of him talking about a coup. We rarely get Ritter on the TV over here & I've only ever seen him talk about the spying & the use of that intelligence for airstrikes. Plus interviewers are primed to repeat "but you didn't say that in 1998(?)" over and over again.
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