Again, Why Saddam Must Be Removed
Last October, PBS ran a special on its “Frontline” program titled
“Gunning for Saddam” and featured interviews with experts
such as Richard Perle, Richard Butler, James Woolsey, and Iraqi
defector Khidhir Hamza.
I’m currently overseas in Europe but I brought along the full
transcripts of the interviews conducted with these individuals and
with the understanding that maybe 20% of their comments, max,
made the actual program, I thought I would give a few of their
quotes, which, today, are as pertinent as they ever were. Nothing
has changed in Iraq, only since these remarks were solicited,
Saddam has had another 7+ months to operate without any
supervision whatsoever, over 3 years total now. The little
bombmaker is merrily plying his trade and the West is about to
get another shock if we don’t act quickly.
[All of what follows are direct quotes, unless otherwise
Richard Butler, former chairman of UNSCOM, the operation that
was established to find and dismantle Saddam’s weapons of mass
Butler: The degree of resistance that the Iraqis showed to our
investigation of their biological weapons program exceeded all
other deceptions and resistances. So I had to conclude that, for
Saddam, biological weapons were his weapons of choice. He
seems to be really attached to the idea of killing people with
germs, because they tried so hard to keep us away from their
biology program. What did they have? Everything. Anthrax,
plague, botulinum, gangrene, camelpox. Would you believe
there’s a thing in Iraq called camelpox?
Anthrax, however, (is the) leading biological agent, leading
candidate, because of its nature. We know that Saddam loaded
this into shells, bombs, and missile warheads. I had in my own
hand pieces of a destroyed missile warhead that we swabbed and
it had anthrax residue in it.
..Saddam (has an) addiction – a compulsive behavior, a deep
belief that somehow (weapons of mass destruction) will open up
the world or make him the leader of the world, the new
Nebuchadnezzar from biblical times, whatever…
James Woolsey: Former Director of the CIA from 1993-95.
Re going after Saddam as a result of 9/11:
I think it’s pretty clear that we have him dead to rights on trying
to assassinate former President Bush in the spring of 1993….
President Clinton believed that. That’s why he launched the 24
cruise missiles at the empty building in the middle of the night in
the summer of 1993, after Saddam tried to assassinate former
President Bush and the bomb didn’t go off. The CIA looked into
the forensics of the bomb and told President Clinton that it was
an Iraqi government bomb. He then asked the FBI to double-
check and sent an FBI forensics team over; they did the same
thing. We both said, “Yes, this is an Iraqi government plot.”
That was the occasion for the launching of the cruise missiles
against the empty (Iraqi security service) building in the middle
of the night.
Q: So we have possible involvement in the World Trade Center
bombing (1993), definite involvement in the plans to assassinate
a former president of the United States. What else?
If the U.S. government would now go back and look at all of
these previous terrorist incidents – the bombings in East Africa,
the Cole, all the others – and look beyond bin Laden, beyond the
terrorists, and see if there is anything anywhere that points
toward foreign government involvement – and by the way, some
of these may be Iran and not Iraq; it’s not only a possibility of
Iraq – I think they might turn some things up.
Q: Is this really a story that hasn’t really been written yet – a
detective story, if you will?
I think things will continue to come out tying Iraq – possibly Iran
– but tying Iraq to terrorism directly against the United States in
the 1990s and possibly September 11. We weren’t really looking
under those rocks hard from the early 1990s on. And now that, I
hope, the U.S. government and its friends and allies are starting
to look under those rocks, they might find some things that they
didn’t find before…
Q: What of Saddam and working with the fundamentalists?
He’s, I think, perfectly happy to work with fundamentalists.
People who say he would never work with fundamentalists are
about 15 years out of date. He’s restructured the Iraqi flag in his
own calligraphy to show ‘Allah Akbar – God is Great’ across the
face of it. That’s roughly equivalent to, if during World War II
when he finally decided he needed the Russian Orthodox
Church, if Joseph Stalin had written in his own hand across the
Soveit flag, ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an
advisory panel to the Pentagon. Also former assistant secretary
of defense in the Reagan Administration.
Saddam is probably the most dangerous individual in the world
today…(He is) capable of anything. Capable of using weapons
of mass destruction against the United States, capable of
launching other military maneuvers as soon as he thinks he can
get away with it.
There can be no victory in the war against terrorism if, at the end
of it, Saddam Hussein is still in power – not only because he
supports terrorism, not only because he trains terrorists and gives
them refuge – but because he is the symbol of defiance of all
Western values. He succeeded in throwing the United Nations
out. He’s violated all of the undertakings that followed the end
of the Gulf War…
He is winning. Because he is winning, and because he has
awesome capabilities, he poses a continuing threat to us and to
…I think the regime of Saddam Hussein is far weaker than most
people believe, and what it would take to topple it is a tiny
fraction of what was necessary to expel Iraq from Kuwait in
…It’s certainly true it’s not easy. It’s not simple. On the other
hand, simply waiting until biological weapons show up in this
country because we didn’t take action against Saddam when we
had the opportunity would be foolish and shortsighted, just as it
was foolish and shortsighted to not act with vigor against
terrorism in the period in which Al Qaeda was developing into
the organization it became. Ten years ago, Al Qaeda was
nothing. We watched it grow, because after each terrorist act, it
was stronger than before. We never challenged it. We never
took significant action against it. And these acts of terror were
regarded as great triumphs and the basis upon which Al Qaeda
became a magnet for people who want to destroy us.
Q: What about the issue of the anthrax. Does it have to be
proven that it was in the hands of terrorists and, thus, Iraqi
No, not at all. In fact, I rather doubt that it’s Iraqi anthrax. But
what the delivery of anthrax through the mail forces us to
consider is a range of options available to Saddam Hussein that
we didn’t consider before. Because the argument that we could
deter Saddam by threatening to destroy him if he used weapons
of mass destruction against us is no longer relevant, if you allow
the possibility that he could deliver weapons of mass destruction
through anonymous third parties. And there’s no question he has
the capacity to do that.
…Look, I don’t believe that we will again experience an attack
exactly like that of Sept. 11. For one thing, we now know that
you never yield control of the aircraft. Instructions to pilots were
exactly the opposite, before Sept. 11. So it isn’t going to be a
We’re always fighting the last war. I can’t tell you what form a
new terrorist attack will take. The one that troubles me the most
is the use of biological weapons, disseminated not by Iraqi
intelligence officials, but by terrorists who are prepared to
commit suicide, who would cheerfully kill millions of
Americans, if they could do it. All that remains is to organize
their entry into the United States together with those biological
agents. And that is something that Saddam Husesein and his
intelligence apparatus is in a position to do.
…This is a question of protecting ourselves, and we are in a
situation where the only credible defense has to include a strong
offense. It is too easy to get into the United Staes. It is too easy
to recruit suicide bombers. It is too easy to disseminate weapons
of mass destruction. So either we take this to the enemy, or we
wait, and hope the enemy chooses not to take it to us. But if we
wait, it will be his choice, and not ours.
…An attack (such as Sept. 11) was inevitable, because we failed
to respond to lesser attacks, and the terrorists were emboldened
by their successes. And make no mistake about it: every time
they killed Americans or carried out an attack against American
property abroad, they considered that they had achieved a
victory. They determined to go from victory to victory, and we
did not interfere with that.
Khidhir Hamza, former head of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program
who defected to the West in 1994.
Saddam believes that security starts abroad. Always he thinks
that way. Think outside…If someone is endangering you, go
after him one way or the other. And Saddam is vengeful.
Remember, he tried to kill former President Bush even after he
left office. It’s his nature. And, I think, it’s an impression he
wants to leave, ‘Don’t do me a bad turn; I never forget it.’
…a guy like bin Laden (is) an excellent complement to the
operation he wants. They supply him with the foot soldiers
ready to blow themselves up. He could train those foot soldiers,
support them with his operations, ongoing, including the arm of
the military industry, which is very sophisticated, and know-how
for acquiring technology, knowing where to go and where to get
Q: Why the special interest in biological weapons?
Biological are much less easily detectable than any other. You
could have a plastic bag of anthrax in your pocket and take it, if
it is well sealed, or doubly sealed, and take it anywhere without
Chemical is harder. There are always traces of chemicals, which
would be a give-away. Nuclear, you have the radiation problem.
And I don’t believe radiological weapons are effective anyway;
we tried them. They don’t create the terror that biological
weapons can create.
[Ed: But here Mr. Hamza is not understanding that you could
still contaminate half of Manhattan, with an enormous financial
impact on the United States.]
Q: If the United States for whatever reason decides that its war
on terrorism should not include Saddam Hussein, his long-term
goals, does he still feel that this war started ten years ago,
supposedly finished ten years ago, is ongoing, whether we go at
him or not? Is this war for Saddam Hussein continuing?
Yes, it will be continuing to him as long as you keep on him the
sanctions. Limit him and how much weapons he can make.
Limit his military capability. Limit his ability to domineer the
region. Limit his movements. Limit his power. You are his
enemies. It makes no difference whether they go after him or
not. Not going after him will relieve him from trying to defend
himself, but it would not get him out of the box he is in. Because
he believes if he stays weak, he’s dead. So he’ll fight you one
way or the other – through terrorism (and) all the kinds of
weaponry he has.
Next week, a further report on Turkey (on top of my “Week in