Saddam's Web of Lies Conceals Iraq WMD Program
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2002 Before making any judgments about Iraq, it is important for the American people to know that Saddam Hussein's regime lies to further its aims, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said Oct. 4.
She said Pentagon officials would present a briefing in the next few days on the Iraqi dictator's denial and deception operations. She said the operations are very organized, comprehensive "and clearly intended to hide Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
As the American people, the Congress and the United Nations confront issues on Iraq, Clarke said they should remember that it has been Iraqi policy to lie to their own people, neighboring countries and the world. "People should consider that fact very carefully as they weigh their decisions on how to deal with Iraq," she said.
Clarke called the Iraqi denial and deceit campaign a sophisticated program directed by the highest level in the government. She said there is already evidence that Iraq is trying to conceal its weapons of mass destruction program in anticipation of the return of U.N. arms inspectors.
Joint Staff spokesman Navy Rear Adm. David Gove told reporters that operations continue in Afghanistan. He said U.S. service members yesterday destroyed the largest cache of weapons yet found in the country. American troops had found the 420 500-pound aerial bombs buried near Kandahar several weeks ago.
In addition, another battalion of the Afghan national army graduated from the U.S.-French training facility near Kabul.
Both Clarke and Gove expressed the department's sorrow over the death of Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Johnson, the Special Forces soldier killed in the Philippines Oct. 2. A Green Beret captain was also wounded in that attack and is in intensive care at an American facility on Okinawa, Japan, Gove added.
He noted an American team has arrived in the Philippines to assist local officials in investigating the incident. An Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesmen said the Abu Sayyaf terror group was responsible for the attack. Clarke could not confirm this suspicion.
Gove addressed the leaflet-drop operation Oct. 1 over Southern Iraq. A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft dropped about 120,000 leaflets on Iraqi anti-aircraft sites. The leaflets warned the Iraqi gunners not to fire on coalition aircraft patrolling the Southern No-fly Zone. If the Iraqis continue to fire, coalition aircraft will attack, the leaflets said. Gove said the leaflets are a continuing operation done at the discretion of the Southern Watch commander and added there may be further drops.
Gove said there were two such missions last year. He said there does not appear to be any difference between incidents against coalition aircraft before and after the drops. "The firing activity that we've seen over the last three years and so far this year is relatively consistent," Gove said. "On average it is about the same."
Clarke said the leaflet drops send a very clear message to the Iraqi gunners "who for 10 years, have been firing on our pilots trying to bring those planes down."
"This is a very bad thing to do and there (are) going to be consequences," she said.