The Path of War Timeline: Part 3

June 19th, 2005 - by admin

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane / Raw Story – 2005-06-19 00:00:58

Runup to War October 2002 – March 2003

October 2002
Seymour Hersh writes: “A set of documents suddenly appeared that promised to provide solid evidence that Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear program. The first notice of the documents’ existence came when Elisabetta Burba, a reporter for Panorama, a glossy Italian weekly owned by the publishing empire of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, received a telephone call from an Italian businessman and security consultant whom she believed to have once been connected to Italian intelligence. He told her that he had information connecting Saddam Hussein to the purchase of uranium in Africa.

She wanted to arrange a visit to Niger to verify what seemed to be an astonishing story. At that point, however, Panorama‘s editor-in-chief, Carlo Rossella, who is known for his ties to the Berlusconi government, told Burba to turn the documents over to the American Embassy for authentication. Burba dutifully took a copy of the papers to the Embassy on October 9th.

George Tenet clearly was ambivalent about the information: in early October, he intervened to prevent the President from referring to Niger in a speech in Cincinnati. But Tenet then seemed to give up the fight, and Saddam’s desire for uranium from Niger soon became part of the Administration’s public case for going to war. (New Yorker)

October 10, 2002
Congress passes the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. (White House)

October 22, 2002
In October 2002, in a notable front-page article titled “For Bush, Facts Are Malleable” (10/22/02), Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank noted two dubious Bush claims about Iraq: his citing of a United Nations International Atomic Energy report alleging that Iraq was “six months away” from developing a nuclear weapon; and that Iraq maintained a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used, inBush’s words, “for missions targeting the United States.” While these assertions “were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought,” Milbank concluded they “were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States” and “there was no such report by the IAEA.” (FAIR)

November 8, 2002
The UN Security Council unanimously approves resolution 1441 imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq and requiring Iraq to declare all weapons of mass destruction and account for known chemical weapons material stockpiles on pain of “serious consequences.” Iraq accepts the terms of the resolution and UN inspectors return. (Iraqwatch) November 15, 2002 The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq is formed “to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security through replacement of the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government.” An offshoot of the Project for a New American Century, it has close ties to Ahmed Chalabi and is dedicated to promoting the Bush administration’s Iraq policies. (CounterPunch)

December 2, 2002
The British government is accused of double standards yesterday after launching a dossier on Iraqi human rights abuses designed to soften up public opinion ahead of a possible war. British foreign secretary Straw defends the moves, and cites WMDs.

“He’s got these weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and, probably, nuclear weapons which he has used in the past against his own people as well as his neighbours and could almost certainly use again in the future,” he said.

But the Foreign Office later retreats. It has repeatedly accepted that Iraq does not have nuclear arms and a spokesman, clarifying the position, said Mr Straw had been “referring to Saddam Hussein’s intention to acquire such weapons” (Guardian)

December 7-22, 2002December 7:
Iraq submits a 12,000-page declaration on its chemical, biological and nuclear activities, claiming it has no banned weapons.

December 17:
Colin Powell indicates there are problems with the declaration.

December 18:
Jack Straw indicates the UK believes Iraq is in material breach of the UN resolution. The Ministry of Defense reveals ships are being chartered to bring troops and equipment to the Gulf.

December 19:
Hans Blix says the declaration contains nothing new out its WMD capacities and does not inspire confidence. The US immediately accuses Iraq of being in material breach.

December 22:
Iraq invites the CIA to come in an look for WMD’s. (Guardian)

January 27, 2003
The UN arms inspectors’ report indicate that no banned weapons have been found but criticizes Iraq for not giving the inspectors full access to facilities and scientists and not providing clear accounts of certain materials. (Iraqwatch)

January 28, 2003
President Bush delivers the State of the Union address, stating: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa…. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.” Bush adds that the US is prepared to attack Iraq even without a UN mandate. (White House)

Since October, the CIA had warned the administration not to use the Niger claim in public. CIA Director Tenet personally persuaded deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley to omit it from President Bush’s Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati. But on the eve of Bush’s State of the Union address, Robert Joseph, an assistant to the president in charge of nonproliferation at the National Security Council (NSC), initially asked the CIA if the allegation that Iraq sought to purchase 500 pounds of uranium from Niger could be included in the presidential speech. A CIA official said he told Joseph that the agency objected to the British including that in their published September dossier because of the weakness of the U.S. information. (Washington Post)

January 31, 2003
The United States is conducting a secret ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer. Katherine Gun, a British intelligence officer is arrested in March on charges of passing secrets. She admits she leaked a secret memo to a British newspaper about US-UK government surveillance of the United Nations before the war in Iraq, and is later freed. (Guardian)

February 5, 2003
Colin Powell makes a presentation to the UN, attempting to prove that Iraq is evading the inspectors, continues to produce WMD’s, and is linked to al-Qaeda. (White House)

Powell cites the British dossier of February 3 as a “fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed… which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.” (Guardian) “Powell embellishes an intercepted conversation about weapons inspections between Iraqi officials to make it sound more incriminating, changing an order to “inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas” to a command to “clean out” those areas. He also added the phrase “make sure there is nothing there,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the State Department’s official translation. (FAIR; CommonDreams)

February 7, 2003
Downing Street is plunged into acute international embarrassment after it emerged that large parts of the British government’s latest dossier on Iraq – allegedly based on “intelligence material” – were taken from published academic articles, some of them several years old. (Guardian)

February 9, 2003
US rejects a French-German initiative to triple the number of inspectors in Iraq. (Department of State) February 13, 2003 The Washington Post reveals that, according to anonymous sources, two Special Forces units have been operating in Iraq for over a month. (Washington Post)

March 3, 2003
Britain and the United States have all but fire the first shots of the Iraq war by extending the range of targets in the “no-fly zones” over Iraq to “soften up” the country for an allied ground invasion. Pilots have attacked surface-to-surface missile systems and are understood to have hit multiple-launch rockets. (Guardian)

March 7, 2003
On March 7th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents involving the Niger-Iraq uranium sale were fakes. (New Yorker)

March 16, 2003
Dick Cheney states on Meet the Press: “We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization. . . . We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.” (Mount Holyoke transcript)

March 19, 2003. War Begins. (White House)

May-July 2003
The British Ministry of Defense’s most senior biological weapons expert and adviser to intelligence agencies on Iraq, Dr Kelly was the anonymous source for BBC reports in May 2003 that a dossier used by the Blair Government to justify invading Iraq had been “sexed up.” After being revealed as the BBC’s source and grilled before a parliamentary inquiry, Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003. (The Age)

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