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Ray McGovern: Remembering an: Ill-Starred Day Four Years Ago

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“Yesterday [we] got information from the United States authorities that it would be prudent not to leave our staff in the region. I have just informed the Council that we will withdraw the inspectors.”

Someone ought to tell the president that his version about Saddam Hussein refusing to allow the inspectors in was Plan A; i.e., the plan worked out with the British to “wrong foot” Saddam into such refusal by demanding the most intrusive inspection regime in modern history—the kind that Saddam would be sure to reject (or so it was thought). Washington and London would then have the casus belli after which they had been lusting. (Plan A is fully described in official British documents leaked to and published by the London press.)

Please, quickly, someone remind the president that, as things turned out, Plan A was foiled; that Saddam outfoxed London and Washington by acceding to a very rigorous inspection regime and that in early 2003 intrusive inspections, and one-on-one interviews with Iraqi scientists, were being conducted without serious interference (but, alas, with no success in finding WMD). Please remind President Bush that, nonetheless, someone who worked for him and Cheney abruptly told Annan to pull out the inspectors two days before the attack on Iraq. Remind Bush that he and Blair had to default to Plan B; i.e., get the UN inspectors out of Iraq before it became even clearer that, if any WMD were eventually found, they would certainly not be of such quality or quantity as to pose a serious threat.

In other words, Plan B was war without pretense. No one knew that better than Kofi Annan. So it was difficult to watch him squirm on July 14, 2003, as Bush played fast and loose with the the president continues to do, without challenge from the corporate media. To wit, at his press conference on July 12, 2007:

Q. Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing.... Thousands and thousands are brought the al-Qaeda into Iraq.

A. Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That’s why I...worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course...It was his decision to make.... I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.
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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early 60s, and then as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

An earlier version of this article appeared on
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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)

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