Newsweek: Iraqi defector says WMD's were destroyed

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Feb 27 12:56:45 MST 2003

Exclusive: The Defector’s Secrets

By John Barry

March 3 issue —  Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever 
to defect from Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, told CIA and British 
intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that 
after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological 
weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.

KAMEL WAS SADDAM Hussein’s son-in-law and had direct knowledge of what 
he claimed: for 10 years he had run Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological 
and missile programs. Kamel told his Western interrogators that he hoped 
his revelations would trigger Saddam’s overthrow. But after six months 
in exile in Jordan, Kamel realized the United States would not support 
his dream of becoming Iraq’s ruler after Saddam’s demise. He chose to 
return to Iraq—where he was promptly killed.

Kamel’s revelations about the destruction of Iraq’s WMD stocks were 
hushed up by the U.N. inspectors, sources say, for two reasons. Saddam 
did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to 
bluff Saddam into disclosing still more. And Iraq has never shown the 
documentation to support Kamel’s story. Still, the defector’s tale 
raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq 
still exist.

Kamel said Iraq had not abandoned its WMD ambitions. The stocks had been 
destroyed to hide the programs from the U.N. inspectors, but Iraq had 
retained the design and engineering details of these weapons. Kamel 
talked of hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches and even 
missile-warhead molds. "People who work in MIC [Iraq’s Military 
Industrial Commission, which oversaw the country’s WMD programs] were 
asked to take documents to their houses," he said. Why preserve this 
technical material? Said Kamel: "It is the first step to return to 
production" after U.N. inspections wind down.

Kamel was interrogated in separate sessions by the CIA, Britain’s M.I.6 
and a trio from the United Nations, led by the inspection team’s head, 
Rolf Ekeus. NEWSWEEK has obtained the notes of Kamel’s U.N. debrief, and 
verified that the document is authentic. NEWSWEEK has also learned that 
Kamel told the same story to the CIA and M.I.6. (The CIA did not respond 
to a request for comment.)

The notes of the U.N. interrogation—a three-hour stretch one August 
evening in 1995— show that Kamel was a gold mine of information. He had 
a good memory and, piece by piece, he laid out the main personnel, sites 
and progress of each WMD program. Kamel was a manager—not a scientist or 
engineer—and, sources say, some of his technical assertions were later 
found to be faulty. (A military aide who defected with Kamel was 
apparently a more reliable source of technical data. This aide backed 
Kamel’s assertions about the destruction of WMD stocks.) But, overall, 
Kamel’s information was "almost embarrassing, it was so extensive," 
Ekeus recalled—including the fact that Ekeus’s own Arabic translator, a 
Syrian, was, according to Kamel, an Iraqi agent who had been reporting 
to Kamel himself all along.


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