24 Feb

Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555, Part II

                                       

Continuing the story about the CIA officer who had found a possible underground nuclear site in Iraq:

The man running the site was an Iraqi general, identified in the Company X report as PEAIR/13. According to the Eastern Europeans who had worked with him, he was “not young, but looked younger then he was.” He wore a military uniform “with no indication of rank on it; he was also a senior member of the Baath party who often traveled by helicopter.” Later the Eastern European project manager identified him as “Saddam’s cousin.”

By early June 2004, they were ready to make a foray to the area. Traveling with LYHUNT/101, they drove in through Turkey to Mosul, where they were met by another Company X associate, a number of Iraqi shooters from Baghdad, and a contingent of Kurdish peshmergas. By now, security had become an issue throughout Iraq.

The first surprise when they reached the site was the chemical plant in the valley on the far side of the Jebel Makhoul. It didn’t fit with the description of the facilities they had heard from other engineers who had worked in the area in the 1980s, until they realized it had been built later. After the 2003 war, it had been looted right down to the rebar.

When they reached the hillside overlooking the Tigris, they found what appeared to be a large cistern. “It had some interesting features,” the former CIA officer said. “It was fed by a 24-inch pipe that drew water from five miles up the river.”

They thought the cistern might be camouflaging the entry to the underground site, but they had no excavation equipment to test their hypothesis. It was serviced by a double-paved macadam road – the only paved road in the area – thick enough to accommodate 20-ton trucks. Nearby they found a Soviet-designed power station large enough to provide power to a town of 30,000 people, although there was no town of that size nearby. But uranium enrichment required huge amounts of power, and large supplies of fresh water as coolant, to disguise the plant from heat-sensing satellites. The power station had also been looted.

That was when they saw the spoils from digging. “They weren’t piled, but spread over a very wide area, so satellites wouldn’t pick up signs of excavation,” the former CIA officer said. They later estimated the Vietnamese had hauled up the equivalent of 5,000 truckloads of dirt and ground rock from below the surface. Whatever they had built, it was enormous.

After that unsuccessful attempt to find the entry shaft to the underground site, the former operations officer reported his findings to U.S. military intelligence and to a top ranking officer at CIA. The CIA was “not responsive,” he said. But the military intelligence officer jumped at the information – at first. He sent representatives to debrief one of the former Eastern European engineers, but then let it drop. When asked, he said he had “no command authority” to pursue the investigation.

The former operations officer had a long-established relationship with Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin, a legendary figure in the special operations community who was now deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Boykin also jumped at the information at first, and gave the order to send in a SEAL team specialized in WMD sites to hunt for the hidden access shaft. “Then we got a call from Jacoby” – that would be Admiral Jacoby, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “He said, ‘Don’t go to Baghdad, it’s too dangerous.'”

This was the same Jacoby who, other Pentagon sources told me, “was too busy working on his third star” through politicking in Washington to take an active interest in what was going on in Iraq.

Finding the entry shaft to a suspected WMD site hidden in a ten square mile area that was covered with rubble and ruined buildings was no mean feat. It was going to require significant excavation work. But before that, they had to narrow down the area to search, and the DIA made it clear they were not going to help.

Not long after this, a left-wing think tank, the Center for Public Integrity, released an “investigation” alleging that the wife of a top Company X executive involved in tracking down Site 555 had improperly used her position as a deputy assistant secretary of defense to steer Iraq reconstruction contracts his way. “She stayed clear of this,” the former operations officer said, referring to their investigation and other operations in Iraq. “This was just a smear aimed at sabotaging our efforts.”

Returning to Baghdad on his own dime in September 2004, the former operations officer decided to brief U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, whom he had known from Iran-Contra day in Honduras. “His people said we were full of shit,” he told me. “But remember, this was when the ISG was coming out with their final report. They wanted no waves, no loose ends.”

The Iraq Survey Group “inspectors” rarely left their compound near the Baghdad international airport because of the danger of IEDs and insurgent attacks. Their rare sorties mainly involved trips to the airport stockade, where top officials from Saddam’s regime were being held. “The big shots knew about the program, but they didn’t know the details,” the former operations officer said. Details such as the precise grid coordinates of the underground facility beneath Site 555.

The more Hoekstra learned about Site 555, the angrier he got. He had encouraged the former operations officer to return to Iraq several times in 2005, and again in 2006. By now, they had narrowed down the area to search for the hidden entry tunnel, and believed they had located what appeared to be ventilation shafts for the underground production halls. But still the DIA refused to help.

Hoekstra pounded on the table, and sent House intelligence committee staff members repeatedly to DIA headquarters. He wanted them to send in a team with handheld underground anomaly detectors, but the DIA refused. So did General Boykin’s boss, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone.

Finally, Hoekstra went to the White House and met with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington, and suggested that he request a copy of the Company X report from General Boykin’s office at the Pentagon. Boykin eventually sent it over – minus the pictures, site diagrams, and key pages. What you guys are doing is history, one of Boykin’s aides said. We’re not interested in history.

Didn’t anybody get it? If they could locate an underground nuclear weapons site that had eluded the UN investigators and where uranium enrichment work had continued undetected for years, it would provide dramatic proof that Saddam Hussein had never abandoned his WMD programs, as the CIA, the Democrats, and the United Nations claimed.

Sometimes Hoekstra felt he was the only one who cared any longer to learn the truth about Saddam’s weapons programs.

To this day there had never been a concerted effort to follow up on this underground facility. Even to find out if it exists at all. Why not? If it exists it can be added to many other examples of evidence found that indicate Saddam was most assuredly in possession of WMD and had aspirations for the big one, nuclear.

About Curt

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.
This entry was posted in The Shadow Warriors, WMD and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Sunday, February 24th, 2008 at 10:19 am
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10 Responses to Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555, Part II

  1. Pingback: Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » » Saddam’s WMD Program & Site 555

  2. Scott says: 1

    Shattering Conventional Wisdom About Saddam’s WMD

    The gist of the new evidence is this: roughly one quarter of Saddam’s WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid 1990’s. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid to late 1990’s. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war. The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam’s nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003

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  3. Scott says: 2

    First of all, most of the key judgments in the October 2002 national intelligence estimate on Iraq’s WMD programs were either overstated or were not supported by the raw intelligence reporting.

    Second, in the committee’s view, the intelligence community did not accurately or adequately explain the uncertainties behind the judgments in the October 2002 national intelligence estimate to policy-makers, both in the executive branch and here on Capitol Hill.

    Third, the committee concluded that the intelligence community was suffering from what we call a collective group-think, which led analysts and collectors and managers to presume that Iraq had active and growing WMD programs. This group-think caused the community to interpret ambiguous evidence, such as the procurement of dual-use technology, as conclusive evidence of the existence of WMD programs. While we did not specifically address it in our report, it is clear that this group-think also extended to our allies and to the United Nations and several other nations as well, all of whom did believe the Saddam Hussein had active WMD programs. This was a global intelligence failure.

    Fourth, the committee concluded that in a few significant instances the analysis in the NIE suffered what we call a layering effect. Assessments were built or were based on previous judgments without carrying forward the uncertainty of those judgments. This is what we have termed the intelligence assumption train. Layering is a necessary tool for analysts; there’s no question about that. However, if ongoing underlying questions and uncertainties are not incorporated into the subsequent intelligence products, then the subsequent assessment can, unbeknownst to the policy-maker, become increasingly inaccurate. In other words, the assumption train simply becomes longer.

    Fifth, the committee concluded there was a failure by intelligence community managers to adequately encourage analysts to challenge their assumptions, to fully consider alternative arguments, to accurately characterize intelligence reporting and to counsel analysts who had lost their objectivity.

    Sixth, the committee concluded that there were significant shortcomings on almost every aspect of the intelligence community’s human intelligence collection efforts against the Iraqi WMD target.

    Most alarmingly, after 1998 and the exit of the U.N. inspectors, the CIA had no human intelligence sources inside Iraq who were collecting against the WMD target.
    In addition to this lack of good source reporting, the CIA did not share its sensitive human intelligence reporting.

    Most, if not all, of these problems stem from the broken corporate culture and poor management and cannot be solved by simply adding funding and also personnel.

    Seventh, the committee concluded the CIA abused its unique position in the intelligence community to the detriment of this nation’s prewar analysis in regards to Iraq’s WMD programs. In a number of cases, the CIA sequestered significant reportable intelligence and prevented information from being shared with all- source analysts at other intelligence agencies.

    But with respect to Saddam Hussein’s regime and his link to terrorists, the committee did find that the CIA judgments were reasonable, based on the available intelligence. The agency was also more careful to inform policy-makers about uncertainties with their analysis.

    Finally, the committee found no evidence that the intelligence community’s mischaracterization or exaggeration of intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of politics or pressure.

    – Senator Pat Roberts 070904 SIC Release of WMD investigation report
    Press Conference transcript

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  4. Philadelphia Steve says: 3

    With all this “ironclad proof”, why isn’t President George W. Bush going on prime time to proclaim it as justification for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003?

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  5. SealPatriot says: 4

    Actually, information like this have been cleared by the Pentagon as unclassified for distribution to the public. Why the prime time news and the rest of this country’s mainstream media fail to report on this is a mystery. Why I had to look to foreign news papers to find articles on WMD and Chem Warfare material found in Iraq is an even bigger mystery.

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  6. Philadelphia Steve says: 5

    I repeat. Since George W. Bush launched his war based on this information, why isn’t HE going on the air to cite it as justification?

    Other than the fact it will then be examined and found as faulty as Colin Powell’s “mobile biological weapons factories”.

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  7. ChrisG says: 6

    Steve,

    Go back and read the whole speach by our President. The WMDs were not found in the quantities they were thought to have been in the UN monitored and inventoried sites. Several tons showed up in Jordan months later in a thwarted attack on Amman.

    We did find mobile labs and secreted samples of bio weapons (shown on this website and others).

    Yes, I wish our President had been much more forceful on shouting this all out. I have a feeling it would implicate several countries and a person who was pardoned in 2000 in Saddam’s gross violations of the 1991 cease fire.

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  8. Scott says: 7

    Steve, among many other reasons, it’s most likely that the President doesn’t feel the need to reiterate the threat that compelled a decision five years ago. Maybe he’s moved on to the war at hand rather than the DNC political crutch that opposition to the war really is.

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  9. David Hunt says: 8

    Actually, I wish we could take people who intone “We didn’t find WMDs” and spread some of the materials we found on their exposed skin, or have them take a deep breath of the stuff.

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  10. we know the PRESIDENT BUSH IS NOT A BRAGGER ON HIS DEEDS, HE NEVER BRAGG
    ABOUT HIMSELF, that’s why the OBAMA WON THE ELECTION KNOWING THIS, AND THEY USED IT TO SELL THE HATE BUSH AND ANY OTHER LIKE BUSH WARMONGER , AND BUSH ATTACK ON ANYTHING THEY COULD FIND, AND THE PEOPLE STUPIDLY BELIEVED THE NEW GUY COMING FROM
    NOBODY KNEW WHERE, WITHOUT ANY LETTER OF CREDENCE OF KNOWLEDGE AND INTELLIGENCE, WITHOUT ANY EXPERIENCE ON DECISIONS MAKING TO SERVE AMERICANS, WITHOUT ANY PROOF OF HIS LOVE FOR AMERICA, THEY THE PEOPLE FOLLOWED THE PROPAGANDA FROM MANY SOURCES WHO WHERE PAID TO SELL THIS MAN, AND THEY USE THE RACIST CARD ON THE CONSERVATIVES TRYING TO PUT SOME SENSE TO THE PEOPLE ALREADY HYSTERICAL FROM HAVING
    DRANK THE POISONOUS COOLAID, HOPE THEY REGAIN THEIR HEAD BY THE NEXT NOVEMBER TO MAKE UP FOR SUCH IMPOSITION ON AMERICANS, SUCH TROUBLE TO MAKE THEIR BUDGET,
    SUCH DIVISION OF CLASS BY THIS MAN SPEECH AND ALWAYS ACCUSING OTHER FOR HIS OWN FAILURE, BECAUSE HE WAS NOT FIT FOR THE JOB BUT VOTED BY INTERESTED GROUPS ONLY, NOT BY TRUE AMERICANS TO ELECT ONE TO SERVE THE WISH OF AMERICANS THEIR NEED TO CREATE, THEIR NEED TO PURSUE THE DREAM OF WHAT IS AMERICA, HE WAS PUT IN POWER TO EXPAND THE GLOBAL COMMUNIST AGENDA, AND IS WORKING ON IT TO SUCCEED, AS FAST AS HE CAN,
    SO TO GET A SURE CONTROL OF AMERICA BY HUMILIATING HER TO CRUSH THE PRIDE STILL FLORISHING BY THE ONE PATRIOTS PASSIONATE TO SAVE THIS BEAUTIFUL AMERICA, AND BY GOD THEY WILL,

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