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Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive

A number of questions are raised by the incredibly bedraggled, tired and crushed condition of this once savage, dapper and pampered ruler who was discovered in a hole in the ground on Saturday, December 13:

1. The length and state of his hair indicated he had not seen a barber or even had a shampoo for several weeks.

2. The wild state of his beard indicated he had not shaved for the same period

3. The hole dug in the floor of a cellar in a farm compound near Tikrit was primitive indeed – 6ft across and 8ft across with minimal sanitary arrangements - a far cry from his opulent palaces.

4. Saddam looked beaten and hungry.

5. Detained trying to escape were two unidentified men. Left with him were two AK-47 assault guns and a pistol, none of which were used.

6. The hole had only one opening. It was not only camouflaged with mud and bricks – it was blocked. He could not have climbed out without someone on the outside removing the covering.

7. And most important, $750,000 in 100-dollar notes were found with him (a pittance for his captors who expected a $25m reward)– but no communications equipment of any kind, whether cell phone or even a carrier pigeon for contacting the outside world.

According to DEBKAfile analysts, these seven anomalies point to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein was not in hiding; he was a prisoner.

After his last audiotaped message was delivered and aired over al Arabiya TV on Sunday November 16, on the occasion of Ramadan, Saddam was seized, possibly with the connivance of his own men, and held in that hole in Adwar for three weeks or more, which would have accounted for his appearance and condition. Meanwhile, his captors bargained for the $25 m prize the Americans promised for information leading to his capture alive or dead. The negotiations were mediated by Jalal Talabani’s Kurdish PUK militia.

These circumstances would explain the ex-ruler’s docility – described by Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as “resignation” – in the face of his capture by US forces. He must have regarded them as his rescuers and would have greeted them with relief.

From Gen. Sanchez’s evasive answers to questions on the $25m bounty, it may be inferred that the Americans and Kurds took advantage of the negotiations with Saddam’s abductors to move in close and capture him on their own account, for three reasons:

A. His capture had become a matter of national pride for the Americans. No kudos would have been attached to his handover by a local gang of bounty-seekers or criminals. The country would have been swept anew with rumors that the big hero Saddam was again betrayed by the people he trusted, just as in the war.

B. It was vital to catch his kidnappers unawares so as to make sure Saddam was taken alive. They might well have killed him and demanded the prize for his body. But they made sure he had no means of taking his own life and may have kept him sedated.

C. During the weeks he is presumed to have been in captivity, guerrilla activity declined markedly – especially in the Sunni Triangle towns of Falluja, Ramadi and Balad - while surging outside this flashpoint region – in Mosul in the north and Najef, Nasseriya and Hilla in the south. It was important for the coalition to lay hands on him before the epicenter of the violence turned back towards Baghdad and the center of the Sunni Triangle.

The next thing to watch now is not just where and when Saddam is brought to justice for countless crimes against his people and humanity - Sanchez said his interrogation will take “as long as it takes – but what happens to the insurgency. Will it escalate or gradually die down?

An answer to this, according to DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources, was received in Washington nine days before Saddam reached US custody.

It came in the form of a disturbing piece of intelligence that the notorious Lebanese terrorist and hostage-taker Imad Mughniyeh, who figures on the most wanted list of 22 men published by the FBI after 9/11, had arrived in southern Iraq and was organizing a new anti-US terror campaign to be launched in March-April 2004, marking the first year of the American invasion.

For the past 21 years, Mughniyeh has waged a war of terror against Americans, whether on behalf of the Hizballah, the Iranian Shiite fundamentalists, al Qaeda or for himself. The Lebanese arch-terrorist represents for the anti-American forces in Iraq an ultimate weapon.

Saddam’s capture will not turn this offensive aside; it may even bring it forward.

For Israel, there are three lessons to be drawn from the dramatic turn of events in Iraq:

First, An enemy must be pursued to the end and if necessary taken captive. The Sharon government’s conduct of an uncertain, wavering war against the Palestinian terror chief Yasser Arafat stands in stark contrast to the way the Americans have fought Saddam and his cohorts in Iraq and which has brought them impressive gains.

Second, Israel must join the US in bracing for the decisive round of violence under preparation by Mughniyeh, an old common enemy from the days of Beirut in the 1980s. Only three weeks ago, DEBKAfile’s military sources reveal, the terrorist mastermind himself was seen in south Lebanon in surveillance of northern Israel in the company of Iranian military officers.

With this peril still to be fought, it is meaningless for Israelis to dicker over the Geneva Accord, unilateral steps around the Middle East road map, or even the defensive barrier.

Third, Certain Israeli pundits and even politicians, influenced by opinion in Europe, declared frequently in recent weeks that the Americans had no hope of capturing Saddam Hussein and were therefore bogged down irretrievably in Iraq.

The inference was that the Americans erred in embarking on an unwinnable war in Iraq.

This was wide of the mark even before Saddam was brought in. The Americans are in firm control - even though they face a tough new adversary – and the whole purpose of the defeatist argument heard in Israel was to persuade the Sharon government that its position in relation to the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat is as hopeless as that of the Americans in Iraq.

Israel’s only choice, according to this argument, is to knuckle under to Palestinian demands and give them what they want. Now that the Iraqi ruler is in American custody, they will have to think again.

14 December

Commander of US ground forces in Iraq, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said at the dramatic news conference in Baghdad (Bremer: We Got him!), that Saddam Hussein was discovered in a “spider hole” 6-8ft deep behind a mud hut in a walled farm compound in Adwar, a town 15 km from Tikrit, eight months after his regime was toppled.

His capture was achieved without a shot fired and no injuries. He was emaciated, tired and unkempt and had grown a gray beard. The initial medical examination was videotaped and aired. He was then shaved for identification. Found with him were two AK-47 assault rifles and $750,000. Two associates were detained with him. A ventilator enabled them to stay underground. The hole in which Saddam was hiding was camouflaged with bricks and dirt.

Operation “Red Dawn” was carried by 4th Infantry Division and coalition special forces – 600 men. It was made possible by a great deal of human intelligence and the interrogation of captives.

Gen. Sanchez reported the deposed Iraqi ruler, discovered Saturday, December 13, at 8.30 pm local time, showed no resistance and appeared resigned to his fate. He was “talkative and cooperative” while being taken to a secure place. The interrogation will “take as long as it takes.”

US administrator Paul Bremer called on the Iraqi people to turn to reconciliation and Saddam’s followers to lay down their arms.

US troops poured into Baghdad and blocked the road-bridges into the capital as soon as word spread, in anticipation of violence from Saddam fedayeen or foreign terrorists fighting the US-led coalition presence.

Baghdadis fired guns in the air to celebrate the capture of the man who ruled the country with an iron fist for 23 years.

Kurdish and Shiite towns filled with dancing and jubilation.

Iraq officials demand Saddam be handed over to the new Iraqi war crimes tribunal to be judged for the murder of 300,000 Iraqis.

Top Bush Team Divided over Next Iraq Moves

December 8, 2003,

Returning home Sunday, December 7, from a one-day visit to Kirkuk and Baghdad, US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he plans to accelerate even further the deployment of Iraqi security forces – even if it means putting them on the job with a bare minimum of training. To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE .

Rumsfeld's haste is one more symptom of the clash of views dividing the top Bush team over Iraq policy since an emergency consultation that took place in the White House in mid-November.

No one seems to question the need to speed up the transfer of government into Iraqi hands. This will be achieved by means of assemblies for selecting a new government in place of the interim Governing Council operating alongside the US administration in Baghdad. The arguments center on the role US military forces will play in the transition period; whether they should take charge of securing the civic processes afoot or leave the task to the tens of thousands of hastily conscripted barely-trained Iraqis. Should US troop resources be divided between safeguarding the transition and fighting off guerrillas? Or should they stick to field combat plain and simple?

Above all, military operations and the political process must be brought into smooth sync. This raises the question of which authority is competent to hand down orders and priorities to the military command in Iraq during the uncertain period of changeover. The Pentagon? The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? The US administration in Baghdad?

The defense secretary and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz certainly sense that their standing on the Bush team is on the line if they are cut out of positions of authority in the political process and left only with the conduct of the military.

A discreet move by President George W. Bush preceded Rumsfeld’s lightning trip to Baghdad and hinted at what lie ahead. Paul Bremer, the US administrator for Iraq, was not alone when he flew back to Baghdad earlier this month from an emergency consultation at the White House.

With him, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly 135 revealed on November 28, was Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, deputy national security adviser to the president and Bush’s newest personal Iraq watchdog at US-led coalition administration headquarters, known as the Green Zone, in central Baghdad.

It is a well-kept secret in Washington and Baghdad that the silver-haired, bespectacled Blackwill (whose name is often misspelled Blackwell), actually outranks Bremer. He was entrusted with providing the President with a direct assessment feed on the situation in the Red Zones – or Iraqi areas – as well as on the performance level of the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council and of Bremer himself. Most of all, Bush asked for Blackwill’s impressions on how well US troops are coping with the increasingly tough guerrilla war waged against them by a coalition of pro-Saddam Iraqi insurgents and foreign combatants, including al Qaeda and Hizballah terrorists who enter the country from Syria and Saudi Arabia.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Washington report that if the Bush team wants to chart a new Iraq game plan, veteran diplomat and Harvard professor Blackwill is arguably the most experienced and best qualified strategic thinker available to prepare the ground with an on-the-spot evaluation of the elements on the table and recommendations of how best to deploy them. He steps onto a well-trodden path. He is the fifth strategist the administration has put into Iraqi this year. Former Central Command head General Tommy Franks led the way, followed by Bremer’s predecessor, Jay Garner, General John Abizaid, who succeeded Franks and Bremer himself. Vice President Dick Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, have all tried their hand. None have come up with a fast cure for the ongoing and increasingly complex Iraq war.

The new watchdog combines the skills of a diplomat with the brainpower of a university professor. His last diplomatic post was US ambassador to India. From mid-June 2001 to the end of July 2003, Blackwill promoted a striking growth in military, security and intelligence cooperation between the United States and India, encouraging increased defense cooperation, including the supply of “defensive” nuclear, chemical and biological equipment. He also established a strong security channel between India and Israel and a regional strategic understanding between the two countries that complements the US-India relationship. Israel now supplies India with some $1.2bn worth of hardware per year in such fields as military and electronic intelligence and missiles.

At Harvard, he taught foreign and defense policy and qualitative public policy analysis for fourteen years culminating in his appointment as Belfer Lecturer in International Security at the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his academic career, Blackwill spent 22 years in the US Foreign Service, serving under secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig and George Shultz. When the Bush circle talked about Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state in the first Bush administration, Blackwill was tapped as national security adviser.

As Bush’s new man in Baghdad, the ambassador particularly asked for a low-profile and backroom role, leaving Bremer as America’s front man in dealings with Iraq’s communal leaders. But the last word rests with Blackwill as it does with regard to the US command.

While Lt.-Gen Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground troops, formally defers to Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers and his deputy, Gen. Peter Pace, the last word rests with Blackwill, personal emissary of the president and commander in chief – provided it is endorsed by Bush.

The hierarchical shake-up aroused a chorus of dissent from Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff Gen. Richard Myers, who complained that commanders in Iraq would find themselves in the confusing situation of still having to work with Bremer while fully aware that the out-of-sight Blackwell was calling the shots behind the administrator’s office. “It’s a bad and unhealthy scene,” a senior source told DEBKA-Net-Weekly.

Bush quashed their objections and moved forward with a step that has begun the process of eroding the authority of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in the conduct of civic and political issues in Iraq.

Within days of his arrival in Baghdad, Blackwill made two major recommendations to the President and Bremer, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington and military sources.

The first , that the US administrator’s handpicked 25-member Iraqi Governing Council served no useful purpose and should be dissolved forthwith, ahead even of the transfer of sovereignty next June.

The second , that the US military command’s tactics for fighting the pro-Saddam insurgency and its imported allies including al Qaeda and associated terrorists, are misconceived and should be revised.

While minimizing casualties is necessary and laudable, that alone is no way to win a war, said Blackwill. He went on to put his finger on what he regards as the real problem: Not just American losses, but the increasing number of Iraqis killed and maimed every day, both at the hands of Saddam’s guerrillas and marauding criminal gangs. This figure while unpublished is staggering. Blackwill finds that the steeply rising Iraqi civilian casualty toll is instilling in the country the sense that the United States is incapable of bringing security to Iraq. More and more Iraqis are consequently volunteering to join up with Saddam Hussein’s forces.

His advice therefore was for American troops to spread out in large units in the streets of the towns and villages to protect the Iraqi population and enforce law and order. As long as they sit behind concrete blast walls, American forces cannot expect to be respected or obeyed, he concluded.

The time has come, says Blackwill, to start counting how many Iraqis are dying for lack of order and security – not just Americans.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, Bremer sat down with Sanchez to try and persuade him to turn over a new tactical leaf in line with Blackwill’s recommendations to the President. The furious general refused point blank. He is quoted as saying that any fresh orders must come down to him through proper channels, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the meantime, his troops were fully engaged in keeping up the pressure on the guerrillas and thwarting terrorism. He had none to spare for street duty. Blackwill’s recommendations, he declared, would have the effect of raising US and Iraqi casualties alike – achieving the opposite effect to the one sought

DEBKAfile’s military sources, updating the DEBKA-Net-Weekly exclusive of November 28, noted that during President Bush’s surprise Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad on November 27, Sanchez and Bremer, who flanked him when he addressed US troops, showed signs of their strained relations.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is still a power in the Republican Party, was not talking out of the top of his head when he criticized the Bush administration in a Newsweek interview for putting too much emphasis on a military solution and slighting the political element.

The US went “off a cliff in Iraq,” he said, adding “Americans can’t win in Iraq. Only Iraqis can win in Iraq.”

In a rejoinder to calls from Democratic senators for a greater international role in Iraq, Gingrich in NBC’s “Meet the Press” this week stressed the need for more Iraqi involvement. He criticized the Bush administration for failing to “put the Iraqis at the center of this equation.”

But his slogan: The key in Iraq is “not how many enemy do I kill but how many allies do I grow,”

is strangely reminiscent of the motto posited by presidential envoy Blackwill to count “not how many Americans are killed but how many Iraqis are killed.”

The former Republican powerhouse sounds suspiciously as though he may be testing his chances of swimming back to the front of the Washington political arena through the hot water of the hidden battles in Washington over Iraq. His utterances strongly indicate that those battles are far from over.

Source Page: http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=740

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