Reports that Saddam Hussein is breeding deadly viruses deep underground in secret laboratories are being taken as “credible” by senior US officials. They are being leaked to journalists as a basis for a public awareness programme aimed at a justification, however unfounded, for an attack.
The latest of such reports was delivered by none other than Richard Butler, the failed UN weapons investigator whose team Saddam Hussein expelled from Iraq, amid accusations that the team was spying. The Iraqi authorities complained that every time the team visited an area, there was a bombing raid shortly after, even when empty warehouses had been found.
Now Mr. Butler accuses Saddam Hussein of fabricating Bubonic Plague and Ebola and that the capacity for the development of nuclear weapons was very advanced. An Iraqi dissident, Khidir Hamza, who moved out of Iraq eight years ago in 1994, claims that Iraq’s nuclear capacity is only three years away.
He claims that the Iraqi weapons-making effort is controlled by civilian bodies, which are coordinated by the Iraqi government. It is witnesses like Mr. Butcher and Mr. Hamza who were called before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a debate as to the threat posed by the Ba’ath regime in Baghdad and the response to plan by the USA.
If the firm evidence presented by these witnesses, whose cases are based entirely on hearsay and personal contacts in foreign intelligence organisms, which can mean anything, witnesses who have been absent from Iraq for so long, is seriously considered by the US Senate, then it proves just how desperate Washington is to deliver a credible and internationally-justifiable, legal, basis for military action against Iraq.
The motives have to be examined. The notion that the issue is an internal Bush family question of unresolved business is as absurd as it is frightening. The notion that Iraq is to be a target after yet another contrived basis for action is presented (last time it was Kuwait’s policy of cross-drilling, literally stealing Iraqi oil, which goaded Saddam into action to protect his country’s vast reserves), based on the fact that this country has a quarter of the world’s oil resources is not absurd, but it is frightening. The notion that Bush needs a war to satisfy the sabre-rattling members of his administration (Rumsfeld and company) and the clique of privileged companies which gravitate around the White House is absurdly frightening, despite not being so absurd.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru