UNSCOM-CIA revelations show how the American people were lied to about Iraq

                      Comment by Martin McLaughlin
                      9 January, 1999

                      Press reports over the past week have confirmed that the United Nations
                      Special Commission (UNSCOM), the agency charged with carrying out
                      weapons inspections in Iraq, has functioned as an instrument of US
                      intelligence operations aimed at overthrowing or assassinating Saddam

                      Articles in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Washington
                      Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications have provided many
                      details about the spying activities carried out by US agents working under
                      UNSCOM cover. These agents installed electronic equipment at
                      UNSCOM's facilities in Baghdad, which allowed them to monitor secret
                      communications by Iraq's Special Republican Guards and Special Security
                      Organization. These encrypted communications were relayed by satellite to
                      the US National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, which
                      analyzed the conversations to collect information on the movements of
                      Saddam Hussein and other top Iraqi officials. Some of this information was
                      used in the targeting for last month's US-British bombing raids on Iraq.

                      These revelations completely contradict the picture of US-Iraq relations
                      which has been presented by successive US governments and by the daily
                      newspapers and television networks in the eight years since the Persian
                      Gulf war. The American people have been lied to, not once or twice, but
                      repeatedly and on a grand scale.

                      The American public was told that Iraq was a "rogue state" threatening the
                      world, which had to be subjected to an unprecedented regime of weapons
                      inspection to insure that it carried out the demands of the United Nations
                      that it dismantle its stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
                      and its facilities for building such "weapons of mass destruction." In reality,
                      most such weapons and facilities were destroyed in the gulf war and the
                      remnants were disposed of within a few months. Subsequent years of
                      inspections have not produced any evidence that Iraq either possesses
                      more such weapons or is in the process of producing them.

                      Iraqi officials bitterly protested the activities of UNSCOM, declaring that
                      its personnel were intelligence agents working for the United States, Britain
                      and Israel and that its activities were aimed, not at weapons monitoring,
                      but at overthrowing the government of Iraq. These charges have now been
                      confirmed, not only in the American press, but in the statements of Clinton
                      administration officials, who have conceded that US intelligence agents
                      worked undercover at UNSCOM and that data collected by UNSCOM
                      was passed on to the intelligence services of--the United States, Britain
                      and Israel!

                      Iraq's alleged refusal to cooperate fully with UNSCOM was used
                      repeatedly by the Clinton administration as the pretext to justify continuing
                      the trade embargo, enforced by US and British military forces, which has
                      wrecked the Iraqi economy and caused the premature deaths of as many
                      as a million people, the majority of them children. The latest revelations
                      demonstrate that the Iraqi government was resisting, not demands for
                      weapons inspections, but demands that it expose the innermost workings
                      of its military and intelligence commands to agents of its bitterest enemies,
                      to which no sovereign state could agree.

                      The exposure of American spying under UN cover is an indictment, not
                      merely of the US intelligence services, but of the entire media and political
                      establishment in the United States, which has uncritically parroted the lies
                      and propaganda of the CIA and NSA. The daily newspapers and
                      television networks played the role of cheerleaders for a confrontation with
                      Iraq, criticizing the Clinton administration only for being insufficiently
                      bellicose and postponing the much desired bombing of Baghdad.

                      In specific cases the role of the press went beyond even that of echoing
                      war propaganda. The Washington Post has admitted that it was in
                      possession of key details of the US spy operation in Baghdad last
                      October, but deliberately withheld them at the request of the CIA. This
                      was not in order to keep the operation secret from the Iraqis--they were
                      shouting about the CIA's role in UNSCOM from the rooftops. It was to
                      keep the operation secret from the American people, so that they could
                      continue to be deluded by Pentagon and CIA propaganda.

                      The UNSCOM-CIA revelations are a powerful vindication of the analysis
                      made by the World Socialist Web Site throughout 1998. During the
                      February crisis, when US military action was only forestalled by Kofi
                      Annan's trip to Baghdad, the WSWS denounced the provocative role of
                      UNSCOM. One item posted February 17 carried the headline "Inspectors
                      or spies--is there a difference?" and noted press reports about the
                      "unpublicized assistance" to UNSCOM from the American CIA and NSA.

                      In August, when UNSCOM inspector and ex-Marine Scott Ritter
                      resigned, denouncing Clinton's Iraq policy as insufficiently aggressive, the
                      WSWS commented: "His revelations have, unwittingly, shattered the
                      pretense that UNSCOM is a purely technical and purely neutral body of
                      arms control experts, answerable only to the UN Security Council. By
                      Ritter's own account, UNSCOM is an intensely political body that
                      functions as an instrument of imperialist foreign policy, first and foremost,
                      that of the United States."

                      In December, in the midst of the four-day US-British air war on Iraq, the
                      WSWS commented on criticism of UNSCOM's role by French, Russian
                      and Chinese representatives at the UN Security Council, and noted that
                      UNSCOM's activities were widely credited in the American press with
                      making the bomb and cruise missile attacks more accurate and effective.
                      We wrote:

                      "These reports cast a new and sinister light on the activities of UNSCOM
                      during the past year, when the agency's inspectors have focused their
                      attention on surprise visits to so-called presidential sites within Iraq--that is,
                      the various public buildings and residences set aside for the personal use of
                      Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The question is posed: were
                      UNSCOM's operations dictated by the need of the Pentagon to gather
                      intelligence on the movements of the Iraqi leader, so that he could be
                      targeted for US attack?"