By Trowbridge H. Ford
The assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March 12, 2003 had all the hallmarks of a coup d’etat – what various covert operators, especially ones from Israel’s Mossad, had deliberately arranged to make look like one – but it was actually just a deliberate effort to get rid of the most likely troublemaker before it was too late. Djindjic seemed a most unlikely one since he had the least nefarious past of all the others who had seen to former President Slobodan Milosevic’s defeat in the presidential election in October 2000, and had helped arrange his transfer to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
Djindjic, though, had a keen sense of which way the wind was blowing during Yugoslavia’s recent past, and had nearly always been the first one to change directions when conditions seemed to call for it. The Prime Minister knew that the task ahead now was seeing that the war criminals, domestic and foreign, followed Slobodan to the tribunal. The only trouble in doing so was that he crossed the man who had made a career of stopping in their tracks such policy innovators: the Mossad’s Director Meir Dagan.
Djindjic was born in Bosnia, the son of a Yugoslav army officer serving there, and his changes of posts soon took him to Belgrade where Zoran began a serious academic career in philosophy at its university, a most politically-charged endeavor, given Marshal
Tito’s efforts to steer a course between East and West during the height of the Cold War. Djindjic soon fell afoul of the authorities by organizing student demonstrations against how they conducted affairs, resulting his being imprisoned in 1974, and obliging him to flee to Frankfurt three years later so that he could complete his studies.
There he studied under Jurgen Habermas at the University of Konstantz who objected to the resigned pessimism of fellow theoretical social thinkers like Max Herkeimer, and said so in The Theory of Communicative Action. Djindjic not only took the message to heart, but went back to Yugoslavia in 1987 to spread the message by helping see that Habermas was made a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts the following year, and that Milosevic became President in 1989.
Djindjic, while teaching at the University of Novi Sad, soon became disillusioned again about how affairs were going, helping found the radical Democratic Party (DS), and becoming its president in 1993 while organizing protests against the elections Milosevic annulled because he disliked the results. Djindjic soon, however, favored the break-up of both Bosnia and Yugoslavia because he believed that Serbs could not peacefully live with Bosniacs and Muslims. “In 1994,” CNN reported after his assassination,” he visited the Bosnian Serb headquarters in Pale as they laid siege to nearby Sararjevo, Reuters said,” possibly resulting in his being photographed in the famous video which showed all the covert operators, probably including Israelis too, involved in the operation – what became so explosive at Milosevic’s war crimes trial at The Hague. This would demonstrate that Djindjic had been most self-serving when he shipped the ousted President to the tribunal in June 2001 in exchange for $1,200,000,000 in international economonic aid.
Still, Djindjic was able to get elected Belgrade’s mayor in 1996, thanks to the Zajedno (‘Together’) coalition which he put together with Vuk Draskovic’s SPO party, and Vesna Pesic’s GSS party, but the coalition fell apart after four months when Djindjic’s radicalism could not be coopted into the President’s expansionist plans at the expense of Kosovo. The demonstrations in Belgrade Djindjic organized in October 1997 to out Milosevic were completely upstaged by his confrontation with NATO over the province’s future.
During the countdown to NATO’s bombing campaign to force the Serbs to withdraw from Kosovo, Milosevic finally fell out with the provocative publisher Slavko Curuviga, apparently because he had learned of Yugoslavia’s collusion with the Israelis in trying to oust the Muslims from Bosnia and now in Kosovo, and threatened to tell.
The publishing mogul had already tipped his hand by writing an open letter, entitled “What Now Milosevic?”, to the President in October 1998, claiming that he was the source of all the country’s problems. Moreover, Curuviga was a close friend of former security chief boss, Jovica Stanisic, but unlike the sacked security chief, he could not simply be silenced by being replaced by a new crony. Curuviga had his own media network, based upon the most influential daily newspaper, Dnevni Telegraf, and The European, a most important outlet if Yugoslavia ever hoped to join the EU, and if Curuviga started crowing about what had really been going on – what seemed to be in the offing when he was forced to move its headquarters to Montenegro, the Serbian dictator could be in big trouble, and he knew it.
When the bombing campaign commenced, the threats against Curuviga only increased, especially after a NATO F-111 was knocked down – thanks to the latest radar that the Israelis had apparently made available to Milosevic’s presidential residence, and making Curuviga’s media empire an even bigger danger. And almost everyone was acknowledging that it was what the publisher knew, and not what any prying reporters may say which put him on the top of Milosevic’s hit list. Two and a half weeks into the campaign, on April 11th, Curuviga was gunned down by two masked gunmen as he entered an apartment building complex with his girlfriend.
Djindjic fled to Montenegro, fearing that he was the next target. He had already been recognized by Time magazine as a man to be reckoned with during the 21st century, and Milosevic used a picture of him shaking hands with arch-enemy Bill Clinton to help mobilize public opposition to NATO’s destructive campaign.
Djindjic went even further afield when NATO action destroyed the President’s radar listening post in his own residence, forcing the Chinese Embassy to supply the missing aerial reconnaissance. When this was destroyed on May 7th, NATO did to the country what the Israelis had been hoping to do in Lebanon during their recent bombardment – making it an economic basket-case by destroying its infrastructure – but Tel Aviv had to honor restrictions which NATO never faced. Three weeks later, Milosevic’s forces withdrew from Kosovo, and the war ended.
Djindjic returned in July 1999 to Serbia where he was tried in camera for endangering state security but he was soon released by Milosevic. Djindjic then helped put together the forces which contested the President’s re-election with Kostunica’s candidacy in October 2000, and when Milosevic was defeated, Djindjic led the 18-party Democratic coalition which forced him to give up his office, and won Serbia’s parliamentary elections, resulting in his becoming its Prime Minister on January 25, 2001. In the meantime, Milosevic had holed himself up in his villa, threatening to kill anyone who came to get him to answer an indictment for alleged war crimes, whether the trial was held in Serbia or in The Hague. President Kostunica had a ban on any extraditions anywhere.
Also, Milosevic’s fate took on an international dimension which has not been properly aired. Just when Clinton was considering a pardon for Marc Rich because of his role with Israel in helping Milosevic combat Yugoslavia’s Muslims and their ambitions, the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service’s Director of Strategy, Colonel Xu Junping, defected to the United States, threatening apparently to tell all about Beijing’s assistance in the process, plus much more. China became so alarmed, it seems, at the prospect of the defector telling all about Israel’s and its assistance to Milosevic – undercutting any proposed trial of him at The Hague – that it forced a confrontation with Washington. On April 1, 2001, Chinese fighters forced an American EP-3E Aries II spy plane, with 24 US crewmen on board, to crash-land on China’s Hainan Island, expecting to force Washington to hand over Xu Junping for the crew, especially since Beijing had lost one of its pilots in achieving the forced landing.
The American spy plane, based at the Whidby Island Naval Air Station in Washington State, was loaded with all kinds of eavesdropping, translating, and communicating systems, and the Chinese leadership was confident that Washington would quickly agree to give up Xu Junping for the most sought-after spy plane, said to be worth $100 million.
It had been monitoring the activities of a newly-purchased, Russian-made Sovremenny-class destroyer in the South China Sea – what US Navy brass considered the greatest threat to its carrier-based task forces controlling the area. While Beijing said it would treat the captured spooks as hostages until the defector was handed back, Washington stood firm against any deal, threatening long-term consequences to the Chinese relationship if Beijing persisted in its demands, resulting two weeks later in the crew being returned, but not the precious plane.
In April 2002, Gordon Thomas, the West’s most knowledgeable researcher of Israeli intelligence, revealed that the Chinese were allegedly so incensed about the failure to get back the whistleblowing Xu Junping that they took dire measures to keep the former Yugoslav President from telling all at The Hague: “How China secretly helped Slobodan Milosevic during the Balkans War – and how a CSIS squad flew to Belgrade, ready to whisk Milosevic to sanctuary in China shortly before he was arrested and sent to The Hague War Crimes Tribunal.” (Quoted from “China’s War Inside America,” no. 39, Globe-Intel, April 14, 2002.) Thomas added that both Iraq and Iran were set to go nuclear by 2005.
While Thomas’s claims were most persuasive in Washington and London, they were only black propaganda of the worst kind. How Xu Junping could have known in December 2000 that the Chinese had a reckless covert plan to rescue Milosevic – who still had not been arrested – is beyond belief. There was no need to even think about rescuing him forcefully yet. Then, if the Chinese were willing to take any risk to get Xu Junping back, why did they simply hand over the 24 American hostages in a matter of only 11 days after the Hainan Island incident? There apparently was no plan that Xu Junping somehow miraculously knew about, and Beijing was ecstatic at having captured the super secret spy plane’s technology – what could keep it informed about what even North Korea was doing in the way of developing nuclear weapons and missles – without serious consequences – what made President Clinton’s cancellation of the contract between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and China’s Jaing Zemin to ship its Phalcons to China merely a minor inconvenience.
Thomas’s disinformation – what could only have come from Tel Aviv, now under the leadership of Ariel Sharon and Meir Dagan – was clearly intended to cover up its far greater assistance to Milosevic completely at China’s expense. In addition, if Chinese special forces had intruded into Serbia, and tried to kidnap the former Yugoslavian President, the new authorities in Belgrade would have unanimously protested about the gross violation of its soverneignty – what America’s National Security Agency (NSA) could clearly corroborate. Finally, the claim by Xu Junping that both Baghad and Tehran would soon have nuclear weapons set off alarm bells in Tel Aviv, Washington and London since they were now under the impression – thanks to the assurances by British WMD inspector Dr. David Kelly – that Saddam Hussien had finally disarmed his arsenal.
Just in February 2003, Kelly had been so convinced about what the Iraqis had done because of his inspections that he assured David Boucher, Britain’s permanent represenativive to the Conference on Disarmament in Vienna, thus if the West still attacked: “I will probablay be found dead in the woods.” (Quoted from Rowena Thursby, “The David Kelly ‘Dead in the Woods’ PSYOP,” October 20, 2006, GlobalResearch, ca.) Of course, in making this prediction, Kelly was assuming that the dreaded Iraqi Mukhabarat would be his assassins because of his betrayals.
Undoubtedly, Kelly was recalling what happened to the dictator’s cousins Saddam, and his more important brother Hussein Kamel, head of Iraq’s weapons procurement program, when they defected in August 1995, and he told Rolf Ekeus, head of the UNSCOM inspectors, what had happened to Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs, and that Saddam Hussein was only three months away for testing an atomic bomb when Operation Desert Storm occurred in January 1991 – what forced him to let its inspectors back into the country, and resulted in the elimination of its remaining WMD.
When the dissolutioned defectors returned in February 1996 with their families from Jordon, expecting a presidential pardon, the brothers were besieged in their villa outside Baghdad by Saddam’s special forces until they ran out of ammunition, and were summarially executed while terrified relatives watched the shootout from three buses parked in its yard. No one, in sum, betrayed Iraq, and got away with it, as long as Saddam was in command.
Kelly had good reason to be concerned about his future as his past was coming back to haunt him. He was a former UNSCOM biological weapons inspector who had convinced everyone concerned that the Iraqi dictator was committed to rebuilding its WMD arsenal, thanks to the hemorrhaging of the former Soviet Union’s programs, both its expertise, and its essential components in the preparation of various weapons systems. What Kelly had told reporters like Judith Miller of The New York Times, and Tom Mangold of The Observer – what appeared respectively just at this time in Germs: Biological Weapons and American’s Secret Wars and Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Bioglogical Wars – left no doubt that Saddam could launch a devastating biological attack on any enemy in the region he chose within 45 minutes no matter what efforts new inspectors made to discover it, and stop it. In short, it seemed that Kelly still did not believe Saddam’s assurances about the destruction of all WMD systems.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists then gave substance to Kelly’s apparent suspicions by publishing an article by William C. Potter, Djuro Miljanic and Ivo Slaus in the March/April 2000 issue about Tito’s nuclear legacy, claiming that the two research reactors at Milosevic’s Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, just outside Belgrade, might just be helping Saddam get his bomb. Potter was the Director of the influential Center of Nonproliferation Studies at Monterey’s Institute of International Studies (MIIS), and the two Serbs were defectors who claimed that they knew the current state of the Yugoslav nuclear program. According to them, the pariah state was at its wits’ end – given the NATO bombing campaign, the article contended – and bankrupt Serbia might just be supplying Iraq with the necessary chemists, physicists and engineers – along with 50 kilos of weapons-grade uranium and 10 kilos of low-irradiated highly-enriched uranuim that the Soviets had supplied for the reactors at Vinca – to make devastating nuclear bombs.
Of course, the reactors had long been shut down. Yugoslavia was observing the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treay, and the Institute was being regularly inspected by IAEA, but this could be just a clever ploy for some kind of rogue operation with Iraq – claims which gave credibility to a defensive pact between Belgrade and Baghdad which could result in several crude bombs being fired if Iraq were attacked again. (For more on this, see Con Coughlin, Saddam: The Secret Life, p. 306ff.) After all, even Scott Ritter, UNSCOM’s chief inspector in Iraq, when he was ordered to stop inspections, and resigned, said this when departing from Iraq: “…Saddam would have as many as three nuclear weapons ready for use as soon as he laid his hands on the necessary fissile material (uranium 235 or plutonium).” (Quoted from ibid., p. 309) Ritter also revealed that he had worked with the Mossad during his seven years of alleged independent inspections of Iraq’s WMD.
What was most disturbing about these claims is that they, along with other articles Potter had written, refuted what Hussein Kamel’s defection and death had apparently accomplished. Though the claim that Serbia might well have supplied Saddam with enough uranium to create several nuclear bombs was based upon the ancient, unsubstantiated assertions of Vinca’s director Stevan Dedijer back in the 1950s, it fitted in nicely with Potter’s previous claims that Iraq still seeking to become a nuclear power. On April 3, 1998, he had an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, “The Case Russia Forgot,” asserting that Moscow had supplied Baghdad with hundreds of sophisticated gyroscopes for missiles, “…designed to deliver nuclear-warheads to targets more than 4,000 miles away,” and in a subsequent article in the Bulletin of the Atomics Scientists, he elaborated upon the plot Moscow had apparently engaged in but continued to deny.
Rather than permit Milosevic to be exposed probably by Yugoslavia’s enemies as the provider of Iraq’s needed nuclear material – what The Daily Telegraph and The Times were committed to doing, thanks to continuing input from the Mossad, and what would obviously embroil it in the ouster of Saddam – Djindjic had worked behind the scenes to help defeat Milosevic in the election in October 2000, and then he arranged his shipment to The Hague when it seemed that Milosevic’s
remaining friends – particularly the Chinese, Israelis, and now President Kostunica – were desperate to prevent it for fear of damaging blowback about what the former President had actually done for all concerned. In the process, the Serbian Prime Minister got an additional $l billion in aid to help rebuild the country, what he helped accelerate by breaking up the socialist economy with market reforms, and then going after the old communist bureaucrats who had lined their pockets while this was occurring.
The result reduced the Yugoslav President to a mere figurehead – a condition that Serbia’s Djindjic made more obvious by adopting a loose federation with its only member remaining, Montenegro, before its expected departure too – and Kostunica was soon suspected of plotting the Prime Minister’s assassination. The only things holding it back were amassing the necessary resources to make it happen with impunity, and to make sure that Yugoslavia was not found to be the supplier to any WMD that Saddam was finally found to have, especially nuclear ones – what could only be a certainty after his regime had been smashed. Kostunica surely did not want to go to the extreme of getting rid of Djindjic, only to discover that he was left holding the bag for the previous President’s transgressions, particularly if there were several dirty bombs exploded in the process, and tens of thousands of people consequently killed.
While explaining how Washington and London were maneuvered into attacking Iraq would require a much longer article – what Israeli intelligence played such a leading role in that Ariel Sharon, soon after he was elected Prime Minister in 2001, made his campaign strategist Meir Dagan the Mossad’s director general – the whereabouts of the alleged, missing Vinca nuclear material from Yugoslavia was the driving force behind those who wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein but the last thing they wanted to openly admit because it would show that the destruction of Milosevic’s regime had only compounded problems in the Middle East. When time for the planned showdown with Saddam came, though, Washington was in no doubt that the real danger was his having nuclear weapons – what resulted in the White House constantly alluding to nuclear mushrooms when it came to the danger Saddam presented.
As Vice President Dick Cheney told a VFW convention in Nashville on August 26, 2002, “Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.” (Quoted from David Barstow, William J. Broad, and Jeff Gerth, “How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence,” The New York Times, October 5, 2004.) The only problem was putting together a few bombs since the Iraqis already had the knowhow and equipment required.
While Cheney was certain of the immediacy of the danger – thanks to all the information that Ahmed Chalibi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC) had been able to collect for Tel Aviv – he could not afford to panic the public, so he acted as if the Iraqis were still in the process of getting the required nuclear material. The INC, based in London, and funded by the US, was Cheney’s answer to everything when it came to Iraq’s WMD. Cheney told the VFW veterans, though, that Saddam had gotten high-strength aluminum tubes to use as clandestine centrifuges for the preparation of high-grade nucelar material – reviving the worries that Potter had much earlier raised. Then Cheney claimed that the Iraqis were in the process of getting 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger that the centrifuges would diffuse the nuclear material from.
Of course, if these claims were true, the emergency was less pressing than Cheney claimed as it would take quite awhile to make the required explosive material from the source in question.
At the same time, Matthew Rycroft, Tony Blair’s private secretary for foreign affairs, put together the now famous Downing Street Memo – the precurser of the infamous Downing Street Dossier aka ‘dodgy dossier’. During the summer of 2002, SIS Director General Richard Dearlove had gone to Washington for talks about the Iraqi situation, and returned with alarming news, as Rycroft duly reported in the memo after a secret meeting of top officials at No. 10: “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terorrism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record.” (Quoted from Henry Porter, “Now we know what we know, why is Blair still in office?,” The Guardian, October 22, 2006.)
Dearlove was back at the Prime Minister’s residence on September 12th, reporting to Blair, Campbell and others drafting the Iraqi dossier that one of its agents in Baghdad had developed an informant within the Iraqi military who could confirm that Saddam could hit any target he wanted within 45 minutes with deadly chemical or biological weapons – a capability that former UNSCOM inspector Dr. Kelly had always feared but thought Saddam had rid the country of in 1998. The source of the new threat was centered around Dr Rihad Taha aka Dr Germ. “Mossad’s dossier on Dr Germ,” Gordon Thomas wrote in January just before the invasion. “details her terminal experiments on Saddam’s prisoners with anthrax, botulism, and ricin.” Dr Germ was putting into practice at places like Iraq’s Salman Park what she had learned while studying at the University of East Anglia, and doing research at Porton Down where Kelly was also based.
The Israeli government, through the Marc Rich Foundation, then panicked the West with two articles in the September 2002 issue of The Middle East Review of International Affairs which claimed that Saddam had secretly created a similar, deadly chemical and biological capability – what was so persuasive that it soon became the centerpiece of Downing Street’s October dossier about Iraq’s WMD, thanks to the drafting assistance of John Williams, the Foreign Office’s director of communications, and a close friend of Blair’s spin doctor, Alastair Campbell.
Robert G. Rabil, in “Operation ‘Termination of Traitors’: The Iraqi Regime Through Its Documents,” claimed that the Anfal chemical campaign during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq war was just a testing ground for mass, systemtic murder of its dissidents and neighbors in order to prevent the regime’s destruction – what Ibrahim al-Marachi indicated in another article that the Iraqi dictator, thanks to his overlapping, ruthless security network, had been able to keep completely secret from the outside world.
To add Saddam’s alleged biological warfare threat to the fray – what made for DCI George Tenet’s absolute confidence about finding WMD in Iraq, and was incorporated in its National Intelligence Estimate which persuaded Congress to vote for the war – MIIS’s Potter declared in an Op-Ed piece, “Invade and Unleash?,” in The Washington Post on Sepetember 22, 2002 that the return of the weapons inspectors to Iraq might quicken the use of its “deadly biological weapons assets”. Might it not be better, Potter suggested, to remove the risk by just taking out the regime immediately by mounting an invasion. “Indeed,” Potter concluded, “much as Israel’s nuclear force often is charaterized as a ‘weapon of last resort,’ so might Iraq’s biological weapons be viewed in Saddam Hussein’s mind as an asset to be employed only if his regime were on the brink of destruction (as in, ‘If we are going to go, we’ll take someone with us’.)”
When President Bush was still convinced that the biggest threat that UNSCOM faced when returning to Iraq was some kind of nuclear retaliation by Saddam – what started with the return of the inspectors, under Hans Blix, in November – Potter helped lead a letter campaign to US Senators, making sure that the government increased its program to allow Iraqi scientists and their families to leave the country so that they could safely tell investigators where all the WMD weapons were hidden without fear of reprisals. Despite the fact the Bush had been told by the CIA with “moderate confidence” that Iraq was still four to six years away from having nuclear bombs, Bush told an audience in Cinncinnati on October 7th in no uncertain terms of the risk: Facing clear evidence of peril, “we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” (Quoted from Bob Woodward, State of Denial, p. 97.)
When the UNSCOM inspections went ahead in Iraq without any signs of it having nuclear weapons, and nothing had surfaced during the trial of Milosevic in The Hague about Israel having helped him and Saddam in various ways – Djindjic even calling the proceedings a fiasco during which the former dictator made fools out of the prosecution – Kostunica allegedly started planning the Serbian Prime Minister’s assassination. In December 2002, Cedomir Jovanovic, a former bodyguard of Milosevic’s who assisted the peaceful surrender of the former dictator in his villa, and now was Djindjic’s troubleshooter with Serbia’s underworld, apparently arranged a hit on the Prime Minister at Kostunica’s alleged behest.
He visited Zemin Gang bosses Dusan Spasojevic, a corrupt businessman and close friend of Milosevic’s, and Milora Lukovic aka ‘Legija’, former leader of the Red Berets, while they were serving time in prison. They, it seems, made a deal whereby they would be sprung from prison in return for assassinating Djindjic.
Jovanovic was most bitter about what had proved to be the totally unnecessary capture and extradition of Milosevic to the ICCY – what was established beyond all question when Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported to the UN Security Council on January 27, 2003, that “…we have to date found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s.” During the next few months, he assured the Council, if his inspectors were allowed to continue their work, the claim, it seems, would be proven decisively.
While the two assassins recruited to kill Djindjic were released from prison in January, there were several feeble attempts before the fifth one succeeded with deadly precision. It seems they were attempting to scare Djindjic from going ahead with a growing anti-Israel agenda in Serbia’s pursuit of joining the EU – what Sweden’s Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was taking the lead in. While she wanted to see the former communist country adopt a viable form of social organization – one the West approved of – she was increasingly taking an anti-Israeli line, ultimately even calling for Brussels to break diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. More pressing, she was vehemently opposed to the Iraq war, and the extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists and their alleged supporters. When Djindjic went to a meeting with her on March 12, 2003, the two assassins – having lain in wait all night for the hit -killed him with shots to the chest from long range as he was getting out of his limosine for the encounter.
The highly conspiratorial character of the assassination was well demonstrated throughout, from the cameras being turned off when the killing occurred, though the cameramen was there, to the eventual shootout with the alleged assassins two weeks later. A state of emergency was declared, and over 1,000 people were arrested to make it appear that coup was underway at the expense of President Kostunica, though the Minister of Interior Dusan Mihajlovic had declared immediately that Spasojevic and Lukovic were the assassins. The security forces even demolished Spasojevic’s compound in an attempt to kill him – what set him and a Lukovic up for the fatal shootout on March 27th.
The only trouble with it – like almost all conspiracies – was that the Lukovic was not ‘Legija’ but Milan Lukovic. The famous Red Beret leader had been tipped off about it, it seems, most probably by the Mossad since it made the assassination seem just a messy Serbian matter, and fled secretly to Hungary, only to reappear 14 months later when affairs were much less volatile.
Things did not cool down because Israeli intelligence had so cooked the books when it came to Iraq’s alleged WMD – what became incorporated in the Pentagon’s war plan, and assigned to the 75th Exploitation Task Force (ETF) with NYT reporter Judith Miller embedded in its ranks to make sure that nothing was missed as the 946 locations on the WMD Master Site List were liberated. (Jeffrey Steinberg had made the contrived character of the case crystal clear when he published right before the invasion – what had helped prompt Djindjic’s murder – “Behind the Iraq Dossier Hoax: Intelligence Was Cooked in Israel,” in the February 21, 2003 issue of the Executive Intelligence Review, showing that it was almost completely copied from the Middle East Review of International Affairs September 2002 issue.) Still the Pentagon was ecstatic about the possibilies, given the WMD intelligence case Secretary of State Colin Powell had presented to the Security Council on February 5th when trying to get a resolution to approve of the war.
While during Saddam’s ouster from power, the ETF found nothing to justify Powell’s wild accusations, as Woodward has explained: “Each time they seemed to have found something that could be portrayed as a smoking gun – an alleged stockpile, a vat or even a small vial of biological weapons – it would soon be discredited.” ( p. 210.)
Bush still was over-the-top about the matter – as when he declared “Mission Accomplished” in Afghanistan – declaring on May 29th while travelling through Europe that Iraq’s WMD had, indeed, been found. While in Poland, he declared: “We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two.” (Quoted from p. 209) Despite the fact that they turned out to be labs for supplying hydrogen to weather balloons, the Pentagon appointed the 1,400-man Iraq Survey Group (ISG), under the direction of veteran UNSCOM WMD inspector David Kay, to settle the controversy.
As soon as DCI George Tenet had arranged for Kay to become a member of the Agency, he wanted him to immediately start the necessary field work, but Kay wanted to read all the WMD intelligence about what had happened in Iraq since he had left UNSCOM. After a solid week of reading reports and sitting through Agency and Pentagon briefings, he was appalled by what he had learned. “It was nothing new,” Kay recalled, since the previous UNSCOM inspections ended in 1998. “Everything after that either came from a defector or came through a foreign intelligence service in an opaque sort of way.” (Quoted from p. 216.)
Kay was referring to intelligence agencies like the Mossad, Britain’s SIS, Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and assorted American ones, and informants like the BND’s Curveball, the Mossad’s source on Dr. Germ, and MI6’s Iraqi military informant about Saddam’s 45-minute, strategic chemical and biological threat.
Curveball, for example, turned out to be the only source for Iraq’s mobile biological weapons labs that Powell spoke so menacingly about, and Kay was “aghast” that he was never interviewed by any service but the BND and that none of them had taken seriously his known alcoholism. All that was left of Saddam’s revived nuclear program – the missing uranium 239 from Belgrade’s Vinca Institute, its Serbian scientists, the Russian gyroscopes for Saddam’s IRBMs, the Niger yellowcake, the high-specification aluminum tubes for centrifuges, etc. was the aluminum tubes, and they were apparently for simply firing rockets. And the Iraqi military intelligence officer who allegedly confirmed Kelly’s worst fears about Saddam’s chemical and biological capability had never even been contracted by MI6.
By the time Kay’s ISG completed its preliminary investigations in Iraq, all the serious claims had come to nothing. But in attributing blame for the failure, Kay was most careful not to say too much about the faults of the Mossad, MI6, and the American atomic scientists. Of course, there was no mention of the various Israeli dossiers, SIS’s operating on a completely hearsay basis, and what scientists like William Potter, Djuro Miljanic and Ivo Slaus had published in journals like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, much less what they had told Western intelligence services while protected by a security blanket. The closest Kay came to letting the cat out of the bag was when President Bush persisted in asking him who he thought ran the world’s best intelligence service in light of the colossal fiasco: “In my experience, it was not the British or the Israelis, despite their reputation. In my judgment, the best one is the Chinese.” (Quoted from p. 280.)
Later, we learned when Kay testified before the Senate the following January about the ISG’s conclusions that he had consulted with Dr. Kelly about the complete surprise. “Mr Kay said he had been expecting Dr. Kelly’s arrival in Iraq to help the search for biological weapons programmes, and had spoken to him shortly before his death. ‘He never had any doubts about Iraq’s programmes,’ Mr Kay said.” (Quoted from Julian Borger, “Admit WMD mistake, survey chief tells Bush,” The Guardian, March 3, 2004.)
The reason why Kelly never made it to Iraq was because he was tricked by his employer, the MOD, to talk to the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan who “sexed up” his answers so much about Iraq’s alleged WMD capability that the Prime Minister outed his identity for public ridicule and political assassination on July 17, 2003.
To facilitate this killing with the least risk and possible blowback, Dagan’s service seems to have assassinated not only German policitican Jurgen Möllemann but aslo English Royal cadet Stephen Hilder in parachute accidents, as a subsequent article will describe.
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