Last Updated: 3/24/06 3:46 PM
Pre-war Iraq had tip from Russia

Pentagon Report Says Russia Gave Iraq Intelligence

March 24, 2006

Russia provided intelligence to Iraq's government on U.S. military movements in the opening days of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, a Pentagon report released on Friday said.

The report said an April 2, 2003, document from the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs to President Saddam Hussein stated that Russian intelligence had reported information on American troops plans to the Iraqis through the Russian ambassador.

The intelligence, the document stated, was that the American forces were moving to cut off Baghdad from the south, east and north, that U.S. bombing would concentrate on Baghdad and that the assault on Baghdad would not begin before around April 15. In fact, Baghdad fell about a week before that date.

"Significantly, the regime was also receiving intelligence from the Russians that fed suspicions that the attack out of Kuwait was merely a diversion," the report stated.

Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Cucolo of U.S. Joint Forces Command told a briefing he viewed Russia's decision to give intelligence to Saddam's government as "driven by economic interests." The report noted Russian business interests in Iraqi oil.

The revelations were contained in a report by the U.S. military's Joint Forces Command assessing the Iraqi view of events in the opening months of the war, from March to May 2003, based on interviews with senior Iraqi officials and captured documents.

The report said a document sent to Saddam on March 24, 2003, stated, "The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are (sic) impossible, and that they have changed their tactic," to avoid entering cities.

The report said this kind of information was "only one of the fog-generators obscuring the minds of Iraq's senior leadership."

The report also dealt with the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. President George W. Bush cited the threat posed by such weapons as the prime justification for the invasion. No such weapons ever were found.

The authors stated that the report was not intended to examine "the technical extent of Saddam's WMD capabilities," noting that other investigators had done so.

"But the tension created by the regime's steadfast refusal to 'come clean' with regard to WMD shaped the actions and interactions of both sides leading up to war," the report stated. "Saddam walked a tightrope with WMD because as he often reminded his close advisors, they lived in a very dangerous global neighborhood where even the perception of weakness drew wolves."

It stated that there were benefits for Saddam to let his enemies believe he had such weapons, even if he did not, while at the same time it was critical to his survival for the United States and the rest of the West to believe he did not have them.

"He had placed himself into a diplomatic and propaganda Catch-22," the report said.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters

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