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Interview with Frank Gaffney, Jr. - 2002-11-14

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., is the President & CEO of the Center for Security Policy. He is a columnist for the Washington Times and is a monthly contributor to Defense News and Investor's Business Daily. He is a contributing editor to National Review Online and a columnist for American Spectator Online, and Mr. Gaffney is a featured weekly contributor to Hugh Hewitt's nationally syndicated radio program and appears frequently on national and international television and radio programs. He spoke with VOA's David Borgida.

And now joining us is Frank Gaffney, the President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy here in Washington. Mr. Gaffney, thanks for joining us.

It's my pleasure.

Early reaction from the British, they're calling it a first step. But there does appear to be some concern, skepticism, perhaps doubts. What is your take as we analyze this briefly?

Well, I don't think it came as any surprise that Saddam would go through the preliminary motions of agreeing to what the U.N. demanded of him, notwithstanding the advice that he got from his parliament yesterday, mind you.

But the problem is, this isn't going to come out right. This will not, I believe, result in the true and permanent disarmament of Iraq for the simple reason that even if Saddam, against all odds, goes through the motions now of cooperating with inspectors, coming up with a list on December 8th of everything that he's got, helping them find it, helping them even destroy it.

What we know about the nature of chemical and biological weapons especially is, within a matter of months, perhaps even a few days, he could be back in the business, especially if, as seems likely, the chemical and biotech industries that he claims are for civilian uses only are permitted to remain in place. That's a matter of hours change-out to going back into weapons of mass destruction production if he chooses to do so. So, I don't think it's going to come out right, and I think we are simply watching him do what he has done before; namely, run the clock out and try to play for time and advantage against us.

Well, a play for time, in your view. Take us the next couple of weeks, if you would, just in terms of the timeline, what do you expect might happen?

Well, in theory, we will see 100 inspectors going off, starting next week. A hundred inspectors, it has been pointed out, is roughly the number that some of the UNSCOM teams the previous inspection regime used to have just to go look for one subset of the problem -- chemical weapons, biological weapons -- in a particular area. So, this is a trivial number of people going into a country the size, as it has been pointed out, of France. This is, I think, mission impossible. They will begin addressing the information that Saddam gives them. They will begin going to look at places. But again, at the end of the day, even if it all goes exactly the way we hope it might, it isn't going to permanently disarm Saddam Hussein.

Well, stay with us for just a minute, Mr. Gaffney, and we'll address more of this story in a moment.

And still with us, Frank Gaffney, the President of the Center for Security Policy here in Washington. Your take, Mr. Gaffney, on atropine and the Iraqis' attempts to buy it wherever they can. Particularly the concern is in Turkey, a NATO ally.

Well, a couple of quick points. This is a drug that was not put on a list of impermissible products for sale to Iraq. Therefore, Turkey was entitled to sell it to them if they could. What is worrisome is of course the quantities. Now, is Saddam simply trying to mess with our minds and try to discourage us from thinking about military operations, or is he in fact more concerned than he has appeared to be in the past about the safety of his own troops and trying to take steps to protect them in the event that he does use chemical or biological weapons against us? We don't know.

It is prudent for us to anticipate that we will have to operate in precisely the kind of environment we just saw -- a difficult, especially in high heat temperatures, but an environment in which we have to operate in order to do the job of really disarming Saddam Hussein, which will unfortunately require us to go into Iraq, I believe, remove his regime, and liberate his people.

Let's talk about that in the minute or so that we have left, Mr. Gaffney. There have been leaks to major newspapers, detailing a bit of the U.S. military strategy. How would you assess that strategy, given that you think there will be some attack? And what do you think will be the result of it?

I hope that the United States is able to use a secret weapon in this war. And that is the Iraqi people, that have at least as much interest as we do in liberating themselves from Saddam Hussein's regime. If we do this right, empower them and minimize the destruction of the infrastructure of the country by using airpower to take down Saddam's command-and-control apparatus and the security personnel around him, I think it may be possible to liberate this country relatively quickly and with minimal loss of life either on the Iraqi side or on ours. It is going to take a concerted effort, and really the Iraqi people are going to have to play a very important role, I think.

The views of Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. Thanks, Mr. Gaffney, for joining us.

A pleasure. Thank you.

Your insight has been very valuable.