- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Those who Saddam Hussein cannot kill, he must intimidate or deceive. Until he obtains nuclear weapons, he cannot deter those, such as America and Britain, who seek to contain or eliminate him. Since the 1991 Gulf War, his most effective weapon has been deception. He played cat and mouse with U.N. weapons inspectors for years, allowing them to search for his weapons of mass destruction on terms he knew would conceal the best and most powerful of them. Sometimes, his deception was so crude that only willing dupes could possibly be taken in. Crudest of all was his claim to "sovereignty" in some 100-odd "presidential palaces," which the U.N. dutifully exempted from weapons inspections, despite the very obvious conflict with the "anywhere, any time" requirement of the 1991 disarmament resolutions.

U.N. debate on President Bush's proposed resolution on Iraq has dragged on for weeks, and resembles the Mad Hatter's tea party more each passing day. With the advent of the French and Russian counter-proposals, any effective U.N. action is a remote possibility at best. More likely, the United Nations will again accept Saddam's claims of "sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence," meaning his palaces will again be off-limits to any weapons inspections. We dare not accept this result, because it's the same deception as before. Even the choice of the term palace is part of the deception.

To Americans, the word palace conjures images created by Walt Disney's smiling imagination. Last week, in discussion with Iraqi National Congress sources, I learned in detail how Saddam's palaces have precious little to do with crowns, princes and glass slippers. Some of the 100 or more sites do contain lavish residences, but they also are the primary locations of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs. They also house the headquarters of his Special Security Service and Special Republican Guard. Many of the sites cover 5 or 10 square miles, and are comprised of dozens of buildings. They are or should be the places that are either inspected most thoroughly, or placed at the top of every Air Force and Navy target list. Consider just these few examples.

The main Baghdad "Presidential Complex" covers about 2 square kilometers, and about 15 or 20 buildings, including several palaces. One palace, Al-Seqoor ("the Eagle") houses a biological weapons lab called Al-Tahaddi, "the Challenge." Like almost all of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction facilities, the Al-Tahaddi lab is underground. Unconfirmed reports say that the Al-Tahaddi lab is working on the Ebola and West Nile viruses, among others. Just west of there is the Al-Radwaniyeh compound, which covers about 9.3 square kilometers. Al-Radwaniyeh is used to store biological weapons of mass destruction and also has hardened bunkers for a large command and control facility.

Saddam's Special Republican Guard is responsible for concealing and using weapons of mass destruction. It comes under the command of the Special Security Service, which also controls the Mukhabarat secret police. The SSS headed by Saddam's son Qusay is headquartered in a building located in the Baghdad Presidential Compound, in the Al-Nisoor Square. On the map, it's in the Al-Kindi "neighborhood."

About 80 miles northwest of Baghdad is the city of Samarra. Just north of there is the Jabal Makhul Presidential Site. It's about 10 square miles in size with about 90 buildings. Jabal Makhul which means "under the mountain" is the home of Project 555, Saddam's uranium enrichment program. Located in the Al-Fajir site within the huge complex, Project 555 is working overtime shifts, trying to make fissile materials for nuclear weapons. According to my sources, it's also a favorite place to hide other weapons of mass destruction in a large complex of underground tunnels.

Many of Saddam's palace compounds have man-made lakes. These are built over the tunnels where WMD work is being done as a barrier to bombardment. Typical of this is the Al-Tharthar presidential site, about 150 miles north of Baghdad. It's about 2.5 square miles in size, and its large man-made lake sits above a tunnel complex housing weapons of mass destruction storage and possible production. Another is Saddam's favorite. His palace compound in his hometown of Tikrit is about 4 square kilometers in size. It has a large man-made lake built in 1991 that sits over another tunnel complex for weapons of mass destruction storage and research.

In total, there are about 1,000 buildings in Saddam's palace complexes. Many of them were destroyed in 1991 or in the 1998 air strikes. Most have been rebuilt, and some like the Tikrit site are constantly being expanded. If any new U.N. inspections fail to probe into every corner and underground tunnel in each of them and not when the Iraqis know they're coming or block the inspectors' entry they may as well not be done at all.

Saddam delendus est.

Jed Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide