By Susan Lindauer, Former CIA Back Channel to Iraq at the United Nations
Americans are astonished to discover that right up to 9/11, the CIA was
developing a "Real Politik" vision of Iraq that recognized the fast
approaching collapse of U.N. Sanctions. The CIA was preparing for
Peace---with a ruthless determination that the United States would
capture the lion's share of spoils from Iraqi Reconstruction contracts
in any post-sanctions period.
transporting medical supplies and doctors into Baghdad International
Airport at the end of the Clinton Administration had blasted the myth of
invincibility surrounding sanctions. To this day, those pilots are
anonymous--but they changed the equation in total. Their courage honoring
the Berlin Airlifts in the Cold War was quickly copied. Across Europe
and the Arab world, activists began to organize humanitarian flights
into Baghdad. On the Security Council, France and Russia argued
strenuously that the ban on air travel had been self imposed, and the
no-fly zone could not prohibit humanitarian flights.
this time, UN sanctions had killed over 1.7 million Iraqis; wiped out
literacy in a single generation; and created artificial starvation in
the world's second most oil-rich nation. Iraq's world class hospitals
that once rivaled London and New York had been ravaged. Sick of the
misery, the global community refused to stay silent any longer.
CIA saw the writing on the wall. International loathing for "genocide
by sanctions" had reached such a peak of outrage that there was no
possibility of re-crafting the hated policy. Secretary of State Colin
Powell's vision of "smart sanctions" had come too late.
CIA was determined to control the agenda for the advantage of the
United States, however. And so quietly through my back channel, we
undertook a proactive, covert dialogue over exactly what concessions
Iraq would offer the United States, in exchange for lifting the
sanctions. As a long-time opponent of sanctions myself, I was eager to
That dialogue--even the existence of
our back channel to Iraq's Embassy at the United Nations from 1996 to
2003--was strictly covert, kept close and precious-- away from Washington
pundits and think tanks whose ignorance would have smashed all progress
on the rocks. Our dialogue was no less vigorous for that secrecy.
was the CIA at its best. Nobody got soft on Saddam's government. By any
measure, the CIA's demands far exceeded the U.N. mandate to eliminate
Iraq's WMDs. If there was going to be peace, it would have to be rock
solid, with zero chance that Baghdad would bite the United States in
retaliation for those years of misery and death.
A Prosperous Peace for All
emerged was a dynamic and comprehensive framework hammered out with
Iraq's Ambassador Dr. Saeed Hasan and senior diplomats in New York.
agreement required weapons inspections "with no conditions." But the
deal accomplished much more. By February, 2001--nine months before
9/11--Baghdad authorized the FBI to send Terrorism Task Force into Iraq,
with permission to conduct investigations and make arrests. After 9/11,
Iraq sweetened its contribution with promises to hand over banking and
financial documents on Al Qaeda figures. There's no question but that
Iraq's cooperation qualified as the most substantial windfall in the War
on Terrorism. Notably, it targeted actual terrorists--- not Islamic
charities or frightened taxi drivers and plumbers with the wrong accents
and ethnic coloring.
Every time Senator John
McCain or Dick Cheney pounded the lectern on CNN, and demanded an
interview with Al Anai, or other cooperation--- Iraq complied within
THE PEACE DIVIDEND
importantly, the CIA was determined that the U.S. would retain a strong
footing inside Iraq in all major economic sectors, in any post
The CIA envisioned a great
Peace Bonanza for U.S. corporations that would have gorged American
workers and shareholders with billions of dollars in revenues. It was a
vision of prosperity and wealth creation, which put the United States at
the center of the banquet table. The CIA wanted jobs, more jobs and
profits. The goal was to rival the economic impact of the reconstruction
of Germany and Japan after World War II, driving as many of those
economic benefits to U.S. coffers as possible.
was happy to oblige. Those were days when the United States commanded
such power on the world stage that other nations recognized Washington
would have to be gratified in order for a change of policy to move
And so Baghdad agreed to Every Single
Demand put forth by the CIA--- without complaint that U.S. conditions
far exceeded the scope of the U.N. mandate for ending the sanctions.
CIA demanded and won Iraq's agreement to allow all U.S. corporations to
return to Baghdad, post-sanctions, at the same level of market share as
before the first Gulf War in 1990.
promised first tier oil concessions to U.S. Oil Corporations in all new
exploration and development leases, with priority contracts for the
purchase of American oil equipment. Baghdad also promised the U.S. could
join existing oil leases held by other countries on a second and third
January, 2003, Iraq offered the LUKoil Contract held by Russia to U.S.
oil companies instead, in a final, tragic bid to avert War.
- By December, 2001, Iraq agreed to give preferential contracts, post-sanctions, to U.S. Corporations in telecommunications
fact, the CIA demanded and won Iraq's agreement to give the U.S.
preferential contracts in health care, hospital equipment and
- Iraq agreed to buy 1
million American-manufactured automobiles every year for 10 years. This
would have required imports from the U.S., not licensing of technology.
That would have created thousands of high-paying Union jobs in the Rust
Belt of America.
Imagine the modern day
Global Economy if the CIA's vision had prevailed. There would be no
bankruptcy of the Middle Class. No housing foreclosure crisis. No
government stimulus packages to bail out Banks or the U.S. automobile
industry. There would be No Great Depression on All Points of the Global
Horizon. This bounty would have extended to Britain and all of Europe
and Asia. All countries would have joined the Feast of Reconstruction in
Iraq. The prosperity flowing from this Peace Bonanza would have
multiplied like loaves of bread throughout the world.
better schools. Universal health coverage. Substantial new investment
in green energy, mass transit and infrastructure improvements. That's
what the Middle Class sacrificed in this Bonfire of the Vanities.
quickly recognized American voters would be irate over those costs. No
longer fired with courage in the belly, and lacking the strength of
conviction, Republicans shifted blame for their mediocre war policy onto
the Intelligence Community--which had developed this peace framework--
rather than take responsibility for their own decision making.
three U.S. Assets covering the Iraqi Embassy in New York got thrown in
prison as "Iraqi Agents," citing the Patriot Act. All of us faced secret
charges, secret evidence and secret grand jury testimony. Myself, I
spent a year locked up on Carswell Air Force Base without a trial or
hearing, threatened with indefinite detention.
a violent effort to force to me to recant, I was threatened with
forcible drugging with Haldol, Ativan and Prozac. Only thanks to
blowback from the blogs and internet radio was the truth that I had
lived saved from a chemical lobotomy.
There's a reason why, and it bodes very badly for America.
THE COST OF WAR:
tragic truth is that pulling U.S. soldiers out from Iraq will not
reverse those negative consequences for the U.S. economy or taxpayers.
The Middle Class is down for the count and not getting up. Our grand
children will be financing this failed War in Baghdad with hefty income
taxes to pay America's creditors in China for decades to come. There's
serious question as to whether the War in Iraq has ended the "American
The United States has hemorrhaged $4
TRILLION on the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deficits continue to
escalate in Kabul. Military spending for defense contractors has
increased 81 percent since the 9/11 attack, while disability and health
benefits for U.S. Veterans have stagnated.
4,000 U.S. Soldiers died in Iraq--- while another 30,000 suffered
serious traumatic injuries, paralysis, amputations and head injuries.
American soldier attempts suicide every 80 minutes, according to
Veterans for Peace, which has demanded more community outreach to save
- Post traumatic stress
cripples tens of thousands of young American soldiers who face great
difficulty returning to work and family life.
For all of the glory of U.S. military budgets, we have nothing to give our young people in uniform.
And that's not all. What of that grand vision called the War on Terrorism?
like a fox, Saddam Hussein tried to give the United States banking and
financial documents that would have closed down the financial pipeline
feeding terrorism. Mostly that financing derives from heroin profits,
which would have resulted in substantial seizures, and killed two birds
with one powerful stone.
Yet for all the
rhetoric, Republican leaders so desired to attack Saddam that they left
all terrorism financing in circulation. There's no question but those
monies have financed attacks on U.S. and allied partners in Pakistan,
India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines--wherever radical
Islam is engaged in violent retaliation against U.S. military
And so the greatest irony is that the
U.S. has financed our Enemies' War on Terrorism against our own people.
That's just plain stupid. And dangerous.
damage goes farther. Former CIA Director of Operations and head of the
Bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheuer argues that U.S. interventions are in
danger of igniting another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Guaranteed to outscore 9/11, the next attack will most likely involve a
dirty nuclear attack on the financial district of New York City, which
would push the global economy over the edge, into the abyss.
out of Iraq creates an opportunity to reduce that risk--but only if
Washington learns the lessons of its past mistakes and resists the
temptation to engage in new military mis-adventures.
The Weapons Trap in Iran
as the world weighs another War against Iran, we must engage in a
serious conversation as to whether any nation is worth the risk of
destruction to our own?
Veterans and anti-war
activists alike must force a consideration of what our economy has
suffered already--since the value of human life has become so cheap. We
must examine the costs of War to our economy, our taxpayers and our
soldiers, with much greater clarity and honesty than Republicans in
Congress applied to the War in Iraq.
the War in Iraq has had an unexpected consequence. It has persuaded Iran
of the dangers of nuclear disarmament. Baghdad would have been much
less vulnerable to U.S. military adventurism, if only Saddam's
government had possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, per U.N.
accusations. Baghdad's inability to mount an effective defense created
an irresistible provocation for War Hawks in Washington and London.
lesson of the Iraq War is not lost on Teheran. On that contrary, it has
proved to Iranian leaders that WMDs are vital to their future
independence. Only a guarantee of "mutual assured destruction" will
preserve the freedom of their country.
Unquestionably, that is the greatest tragedy of all, with more dangerous consequences to come.
One must ask: Would the CIA's vision of peace been so terrible after all?