COVERT ACTION

By Country/Region

Iraq

Through the 1990s

Click for materials dealing with United Nations activities in Iraq and accusations of U.S. manipulation of UNSCOM for information acquisition purposes.

Materials presented in chronological order of the events discussed.

Gunter, Michael. "Mulla Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Rebellion in Iraq: The Intelligence Factor." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 7, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 465-474.

This article strains hard to make a conventional analysis of the defeat of Barzani's Kurds in 1975 but adds little that is new or insightful.

Oberdorfer, Don. "A Carefully Covert Plan to Oust Hussein." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 25-31 Jan. 1993, 19.

Outgoing national security adviser Brent Scowcroft told a group of Washington Post editors and reporters that the Bush administration "adopted a covert action plan to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power but was careful not to violate the longstanding ban on attempting to assassinate a foreign leader."

Sciolino, Elaine. "C.I.A. Asks Congress for $19 Million to Undermine Iraq's Rulers and Rein in Iran." New York Times, 12 Apr. 1995, A4 (N).

Lancaster, John, and David B. Ottaway. "With CIA's Help, Group in Jordan Targets Saddam." Washington Post, 23 Jun. 1996. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Weiner, Tim. "Iraqi Offensive into Kurdish Zone Disrupts U.S. Plot to Oust Hussein." New York Times, 7 Sep. 1996, A1, A4 (N).

Saddam Hussein moves against the Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq.

Wise, David. "Another C.I.A. Disaster." New York Times, 13 Sep. 1996, A23 (N).

In this op-ed piece, the author uses the collapse of CIA covert operations in northern Iraq to argue against the use of covert action generally.

Smith, R. Jeffrey, and David B. Ottaway. "Anti-Saddam Operation Cost CIA $100 Million." Washington Post, 15 Sep. 1996, A1, A29-30. "The CIA's Most Wanted Man: The Agency Has Spent $100 million Trying to Catch Saddam Hussein, but Has Little to Show for the Effort." WPNWE, 23-29 Sep. 1996, 14-15.

The CIA covert operation in northern Iraq began with a presidential finding signed by President George Bush in May 1991. The operation consisted essentially of "giving covert financial aid and encouragement to anyone who stood a reasonable chance of success" in toppling Saddam Hussein. President Bill Clinton's "appointees at the CIA and National Security Council ... concluded that it did not amount to much" and "proposed to cut spending for the program." The funding for the anti-Hussein effort was restored in the face of criticism from some members of Congress.

Randal, Jonathan C. "Linked to the CIA, Their Lives Now Are on the Line." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 16-22 Sep. 1996, 8-9.

Iraqi Arabs connected to a CIA-supported opposition to Saddam Hussein have been thrown into disarray by the Iraqi Army's move into the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

Fedarko, Kevin. "Saddam's CIA Coup." U.S. News and World Report, 21 Sep. 1996, 42-44.

Gunter, Michael M.

1. "The Iraqi Opposition and the Failure of U.S. Intelligence." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 135-167.

The author covers U.S. efforts against Saddam Hussein into late 1998, but the focus is on the 1994-1996 period when the CIA's operation based on the Kurdish opposition was at its height. Gunter is not optimistic about the potential success of future efforts to use opposition groups to overthrow the Iraqi leader.

2. "The Iraqi National Congress (INC) and the Future of the Iraqi Opposition." Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 19 (Spring 1996): 1-20.

An earlier version of the above article.

Colvin, Marie. "Revealed: CIA's Bungled Iraqi Coup." Sunday Times (London), 2 Apr. 2000. [http://www.sunday-times.co.uk]

Article provides details, ostensibly from Iraqi dissidents close to events, about the failed covert operation against Saddam Hussein in 1995-1996.

Hoagland, Jim. "How CIA's Secret War on Sadaam Collapsed." Washington Post, 26 Jun. 1997, A21, A28-29.

Burgess, John, and David B. Ottaway. "Iraqi Opposition Unable to Mount Viable Challenge." Washington Post, 12 Feb. 1998. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Weiner, Tim. "C.I.A. Drafts Covert Plan to Topple Hussein." New York Times, 26 Feb. 1998, A11 (N).

The CIA has put together a draft plan for "a major program of sabotage and subversion" against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The plan has not yet been presented for approval to the President, some of whose advisers are skeptical that Hussein can be ousted by covert action. Nonetheless, there have been calls from senior members of Congress to destabilize the Hussein regime.

New York Times. "[Editorial:] James Bond vs. Saddam Hussein." 27 Feb. 1998, A20 (N).

"[T]he notion [that covert action can topple Hussein] is a fantasy and a poor substitute for the hard work of dealing with the threats presented by Iraq.... The great danger of covert operations is the illusion that a secret policy can somehow make up for the deficiencies of a public policy."

Kitfield, James. "The Trouble with Iraq." National Journal, 28 Feb. 1998, 446-449.

Relations between the U.S. administration and the Iraqi opposition are marked by a "high level of recrimination and hesitancy." These attitudes are colored by the events leading up to Saddam Hussein's crushing of CIA-supported opposition groups in August 1996.

Lippman, Thomas W. "A Blueprint to Overturn Iraq." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 10 Aug. 1998, 14.

"Directed by Congress to pursue more vigorous efforts to bring down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Clinton administration has responded with a detailed ... plan to rebuild Iraq's shattered opposition and prepare a case for a possible war crimes indictment of Iraqi leaders."

Loeb, Vernon. "Congress Stokes Visions of War to Oust Saddam: White House Fears Fiasco in Aid to Rebels." Washington Post, 12 Aug. 1998, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Loeb, Vernon. "Saddam's Iraqi Foes Heartened by Clinton: No Immediate Plan for Overthrow Seen." Washington Post, 16 Nov. 1998, A17.

"Congressional supporters of the bill [the Iraq Liberation Act] ... envision U.S. military aid going to train and arm an opposition army that as early as next year would invade Iraq, capture lightly defended areas in the southern and western parts of the country, encourage mass defections from the Iraqi military and ultimately bring down the government.... Previous administration efforts at mobilizing the Iraqi opposition using covert assistance from the CIA have been dismal failures."

Weiner, Tim. "Crisis with Iraq: Baghdad's Foes." New York Times, 16 Nov. 1998. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 15 November 1998, "President Clinton ... all but called for a coup against Saddam Hussein, vowing to work with Iraqi opposition groups until 'a new government' took power in Iraq....Two weeks ago, the president signed an unusual $97 million bill [the Iraq Liberation Act] that proposes to unify the deeply divided Iraqi opposition. The CIA has spent nearly that much money since the Gulf War backing four different groups trying to subvert Saddam: Kurdish dissidents in northern Iraq, Iraqi military defectors in Jordan, Shiite Muslim groups in southern Iraq and a coalition of exiles based in London. None proved effective."

Ahrens, Frank. "Radio Free Iraq's Strong Signal: U.S. News Service Heats Up for First Time Since Cold War." Washington Post, 18 Dec. 1998, D2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Radio Free Iraq began broadcasting taped newscasts into Iraq via shortwave radio on 30 October 1998. The service operates from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters, overlooking historic Wenceslaus Square, in Prague. David Newton is director of the service whose budget is $5 million. See also, Harvey, "U.S. Anti-Saddam Measures," Periscope 21.4 (Dec. 1998), 5.

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