Friday, March 24, 2006

Still Think Diplomacy Would Have Avoided Conflict?

Then you could not be more hopelessly wrong.

Russia was actively assisting Iraq in preparing for the US led coalition effort to depose Saddam Hussein, including providing intel that was quite accurate as to composition of US forces and the battle plan that the US would use to enter Iraq and march towards Baghdad.

The headline by ABC News:

Did Russian Ambassador Give Saddam the U.S. War Plan?
Document written sometime before March 5, 2003

The first document (CMPC-2003-001950) is a handwritten account of a meeting with the Russian ambassador that details his description of the composition, size, location and type of U.S. military forces arrayed in the Gulf and Jordan. The document includes the exact numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, different types of aircraft, missiles, helicopters, aircraft carriers, and other forces, and also includes their exact locations. The ambassador also described the positions of two Special Forces units.

Document dated March 25, 2003

The second document (CMPC-2004-001117) is a typed account, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hammam Abdel Khaleq, that states that the Russian ambassador has told the Iraqis that the United States was planning to deploy its force into Iraq from Basra in the South and up the Euphrates, and would avoid entering major cities on the way to Baghdad, which is, in fact what happened. The documents also state "Americans are also planning on taking control of the oil fields in Kirkuk." The information was obtained by the Russians from "sources at U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar," according to the document.

This document also includes an account of an amusing incident in which several Iraqi Army officers (presumably seeking further elaboration of the U.S. war plans) contacted the Russian Embassy in Baghdad and stated that the ambassador was their source. Needless to say, this caused great embarrassment to the ambassador, and the officers were instructed "not to mention the ambassador again in that context."

(Editor's Note: The Russian ambassador in March 2003 was Vladimir Teterenko. Teterenko appears in documents released by the Volker Commission, which investigated the Oil for Food scandal, as receiving allocations of 3 million barrels of oil — worth roughly $1.5 million. )
Thus, it would appear that no matter how much diplomatic pressure was exerted by Powell at the State Department on the Russians and the UN, UNSCAM reared its ugly head and would further support that Iraq bought off the Russians and provided sufficient compensation to the Russian Ambassador that the Russians would provide key intel on US assets in the region.

This begs several questions:
1) Was the information leaked to the Russians by US Central Command to provide a backchannels dialogue showing US resolve on tossing Saddam on the ash heap of history? Or was this the result of a spy or spy ring?

2) If this intel was obtained via a spy or spy ring, has the US smoked out the person or persons who provided the Russians with the intel about US assets and battle plans? This person is a traitor and should be treated as such for undermining US national security at a time of war. And has this person been identified so that he, she, or the group of persons involved cannot undermine US national security going forward - with an eye towards Iran?

3) Have the Russians been running interference for the Iranians in the same fashion that they did for Iraq? If so, then there's no way that the UN or any other international body will be able to respond to the threat posed by an Iran on the nuclear precipice as those entities have been compromised through graft, corruption, and bribes.

4) Given that this evidence supports the contention that US diplomatic efforts were being undermined by the Iraqis who bought off key players at the UN, should any Administration going forward consider or rely upon the UN to handle international disputes when it is clear that the UN has been gamed to eliminate or reduce the possibility of action on key conflicts (Sudan, Iran, North Korea, et al.)?

Others blogging: Ace of Spades, Captain Ed, Pajamas Media, and Ray Robison, who provides a breakdown of US forces being assembled for the invasion, including the following:
Number of tanks: 480
Number of armored cars: 1132
Number of artillery: 296
Number of Apache helicopters : 735
Number of fighter planes: 871
Number of Navy ships: 106. 68 in the Gulf and the rest in Oman (State of Oman), Aden (Yemen), the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
Number of air carriers: 5. One nuclear powered. Three in the Gulf one in the Mediterranean and one on its way.
Number of Cruise missiles: 583 based on the US Navy and distributed on 22 ships.
Number of Cruise missiles on planes: 64
Number of heavy bombers B-52 H: 10 in the Indian Ocean.
Number of B1-B: 8 present in the US base of Thumarid in Oman.

4- The ambassador pointed that what worried us (most probably “us” refers to the Russians) was the increase in the number of planes in Jordan where the number of planes in Al Sallt base was as follows:
24 planes F-16
10 planes Tornado
11 planes Harrier
He also mentioned that there were 10 A-10 tank destroyers in the Jordanian base of King Faysal.

5- The ambassador also pointed that a certain number of the 82nd Division (82nd Airborne) which was deployed in Afghanistan started coming to Kuwait. The number of troops has reached 750 soldiers.

Flopping Aces is also covering the latest document examination, and the name of Teterenko keeps popping up. In fact, he was among those Russians who were in a convoy that was hit by US forces in April 2003 on its way to Syria. Considering that no one quite knows what happened to Iraq's WMD, much speculation has swirled that Iraq transported its WMD out of the country, and some believe that Iraq had help. Russia could have played the role of intermediary. That's all conjecture, but with continued examination of these documents, evidence of Russia's malfeasance is growing.

QandO is also examining the documents.

PJ Media reports yet another curious tidbit. Ray Robison has additional translations to work from. These ones show that Iraq was hiding Russian and Turkish scientists from UN inspectors during a surprise inspection December 15, 2002. AJ Strata picks up the story as well and also wonders whether Iran has picked up the Iraq payoff strategy.

Meanwhile, AJ points to a WaPo article that Naji Sabri may have been a French spy who was turned over to CIA handlers:
Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s last foreign minister, Naji Sabri, was a paid spy for French intelligence, which later turned him over to the CIA to supply information about Iraq and its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs more than six months before the war began in March 2003, according to former senior intelligence officials.
This differs from the version of events that I noted a few days ago, which was based on NBC news reports:
The contact was brokered by the French intelligence service, sources say. Intelligence sources say that in a New York hotel room, CIA officers met with an intermediary who represented Sabri. All discussions between Sabri and the CIA were conducted through a "cutout," or third party.
Once again, we're down to figuring out which sources to value higher.

MacRanger also picks up on the document dump and provides some color commentary.

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