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Iraqi Deception

But the non-cooperation with the inspectors did not end. In fact, Iraq became ever more obstructionist, with access denied to more and more sites (no such denial of access was permitted under the UN resolutions that established the cease-fire in 1991), while continuing to deny that it had any WMD programs at all. Finally the inspectors were withdrawn under pressure in 1998, after it became apparent that they were not being permitted to to do their jobs. Further, the embargo on weapons-related and dual-use equipment was visibly breaking down, and the disposable income diverted by the Iraqi government from the Oil for Food program was rapidly increasing. The story is told by Pollack [4].

To most analysts, professional as well as lay, the explanation was obvious: Iraq, free of outside inspectors, with a rapidly growing stream of diverted oil income, and constrained only by an increasingly porous embargo, had resumed its WMD efforts. All the evidence pointed in that direction, and if there was no clear proof, that was only to be expected from a rigidly controlled police state. One could not count on having informed defectors, national technical means cannot see through roofs, and obtaining human intelligence in such an environment was likely impossible. Iraqi denials were, quite plausibly, interpreted as the routine lies of a dictatorship, just another form of propaganda. Faced with an adversary known to have a history of deception, the absence of evidence could be interpreted as evidence of good operational security, rather than the absence of a program.

We now realize that that was incorrect. Knowing that the inspectors and the U. S. government expected them to lie, the Iraqis ``got inside the decision loop'' and got them to believe the truth was a lie.


next up previous
Next: Iraqi motivation Up: Deception and Denial Previous: Iraqi WMD
jonathan katz 2005-09-01