From Seymour Hersh's Chain Of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib:

"Just how little we in the United States understood about the nature of the insurgency became clear to me in December 2003, when I spent three days in Syria with Ahmad Sadik, an Iraqi Air Force brigadier general who served in signals intelligence during the Iran-Iraq war. Sadik, whose English is excellent, was reassigned in the early 1990s to work with the United Nations inspectors who, over their seven years in Iraq, we now know, successfully dismantled, destroyed, or otherwise accounted for the Iraqi arsenal of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.


Over the next few months, he told me, he learned from former colleagues and internal planning documents - many of the regime's most sensitive offices were ransacked after its collapse and some material was published in the Arabic press - that Saddam had drawn up plans for a widespread insurgency in 2001, soon after George Bush's election brought into office many of the officials who had directed the 1991 Gulf War. Huge amounts of small arms and other weapons were stockpiled around the country for use by insurgents. In January of 2003, as the long-expected Coalition invasion appeared imminent, Saddam issued a four-page document ordering his secret police, the Mukhabarat, to respond to an attack by immediately breaking into key government offices and ministries, destroying documents, and setting buildings on fire. He also ordered the Mukhabarat to arrange for the penetration of the various Iraqi exile groups that would be brought into Iraq, with U.S. help, in the aftermath of the invasion.

One of the war's most critical dates, according to Sadik, was April 7, 2003, as American troops were moving at will on the outskirts of Baghdad and were obviously prepared for rough door-to-door urban warfare. American commanders had feared, and planned for, a drawn-out siege of Baghdad. Instead, the troops, who included members of the Baath Party hierarchy, the Special Republican Guard, the Special Security Organization, and the Mukhabarat, were ordered to return to their homes and initiate the resistance from there. "In my neighborhood," Sadik recalled, "there were roadblocks on every street corner, guarded by well-armed forces. They were there at six p.m. on April 7th and gone by six the next morning. Fighting the U.S. Army head-to-head is useless."

(A former high-level American intelligence official had told me months earlier that the American signal intelligence community had reported that Baghdad had suddenly gone quiet on the evening of April 7th - Saddam loyalists had stopped chatting on satellite phones and other devices and simply melted away overnight. It was only then, the former official said, that it was clear that there would be no bitter fighting in the city.)

Sadik further told me that Saddam, in his 2001 directive, had ordered three insurgency divisions to be set up... The divisions were to contain two to four thousand members, organized in small cells of three to four...


In our conversations, Sadik made it clear that Saddam's preplanning was only one of many factors in the growing insurrection. There also were thousands of Iraqi nationalists and religious leaders - people who had struggled against the Saddam regime - who chose within days after the fall of Baghdad to resist the American occupation. The ultimate enemy, Sadik told me, was the occupation itself: the failure of the American occupiers to understand the Iraqis and the increasingly harsh tactics of the American troops as they sought to quell the continuing violence."

No comments: