Cover image for Treachery : how America's friends and foes are secretly arming our enemies
Title:
Treachery : how America's friends and foes are secretly arming our enemies
Author:
Gertz, Bill.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Forum, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
280 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781400053155
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"In his new book, New York Times bestselling author Bill Gertz uncovers the most significant threat to U.S. national security today: America's enemies - including radical terrorist groups - are arming themselves with the world's most dangerous weapons. And they're doing it with the help of America's supposed allies. Worst of all, the U.S. has let it all happen." "Using his unparalleled access to the U.S. intelligence and defense communities, Gertz names names, revealing which of our "friends" have placed greed over principle to make America's enemies far more deadly and the world a far more dangerous place. In Treachery, Gertz tells the whole story, complete with previously unpublished classified intelligence documents, and based on dozens of exclusive interviews with senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." "Only Bill Gertz has the contacts and the knowledge to tell the complete story of how France, Germany, Russia, China, and other countries have armed our enemies to the teeth. Treachery is also the definitive account of what the U.S. government is doing to counter the threat - and of how our leaders have too often failed us."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 The U.S. military intelligence team was in Iraq to find weapons. Not ones Saddam Hussein may have hidden. The 75th Intelligence Exploitation Group, a unit set up by the U.S. Central Command, was out to find the chemical and biological weapons that Saddam had indicated he would use on advancing U.S. troops. The rapid fall of Baghdad to U.S. and allied military forces in April 2003 created a different kind of problem for the Army spooks: looting. Hundreds of Iraqis, freed from Saddam Hussein's tyranny, began pillaging bombed-out ministries and burning government buildings. But the Army intelligence team was still able to get information about Saddam's regime. And in May, members of the team made an unusual discovery: Stashed away in an Iraqi ministry were a dozen blank French passports. For the soldiers, the passports confirmed suspicions about the French that had been growing since Paris sought to block U.S. efforts to oust Saddam before the war: They were clear evidence that the French were aiding the enemy. Earlier in 2003, U.S. intelligence officials had discovered that the French government had secretly helped officials from Saddam's dying regime flee from Iraq. French officials in Syria provided the passports to the Iraqis, intelligence revealed, and the travel documents gave Saddam's henchmen an easy exit. France is a member of the European Union, and the so-called Schengen Agreement provides that an EU passport holder can travel freely-that is, without any careful scrutiny by immigration authorities-through all but three EU countries (Britain, Denmark, and Ireland). The news that the French had enabled key Saddam aides to free Iraq was a closely guarded secret even within the U.S. intelligence community. U.S. operatives used sensitive intelligence-gathering methods to uncover the truth about the passports, and the intelligence was distributed to a very small group of senior government officials. But those who did learn what the French had done-including officials in the Pentagon, the State Department, and the military-were angry. The French had helped the Iraqi officials escape from justice. Coalition troops were uncovering more and more mass graves in Iraq, but the French had made it much harder to find out who was responsible and to put them on trial for war crimes. Even after Saddam Hussein was captured in a hole in Iraq in December 2003, many senior Saddam loyalists remained at large, and it was clear that large numbers had fled the country. "It made it very difficult to track these people," a senior Bush administration social said. Another social said, "It's like Raoul Wallenberg in reverse," referring to the Swedish diplomat who supplied travel documents to help Jews escape Nazi Germany in World War II. "Now you have the French helping the bad guys escape from us." After the Washington Times broke the story in early May 2003, some officials publicly commented on the relationship between France and Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said simply, "France has historically had a very close relationship with Iraq. My understanding is that it continued right up until the outbreak of the war. What took place thereafter, we'll find out." Rumsfeld had developed a reputation for poking his finger in the eye of news reporters whenever he had the chance; if he found one fact wrong, he never hesitated to embarrass a reporter in public or private over the error. But when asked specifically whether France had helped Iraqis escape, he said, "I've read those reports, but I don't have anything I can add to them." In a meeting before that press conference, Rumsfeld had been more direct; when aides told him that he would be asked about the French assistance, he replied, "Gertz had that story already." The secretary knew from the intelligence that had passed his desk that the report was true. Privately, the defense chief's aides say that he was livid that the French had aided Saddam's regime. But France's government bristled at the suggestion that it would betray the United States by helping the Iraqis. A French Embassy spokeswoman, Nathalie Loiseau, stated, "France formally denies this type of allegation, which is not only contrary to reality but is intended to discredit our nation. It is certainly time for rumors of this type-totally unfounded and a dishonor to those who spread them-to stop." Of course, those social comments came weeks before it became known that the 75th Intelligence Exploitation Group had discovered a dozen blank French passports in the Iraqi ministry. When, on May 24, the Washington Times broke the news that the U.S. team had found those passports, the French spin machine went into full action. Spokesmen again denounced the American press for heaping scorn on France. But to anyone who had closely followed France's illicit relationship with the Iraqis-which went back decades-the French government's denials rang hollow. On the passports specifically, the French denials seemed implausible in large part because it was difficult to believe alternative explanations for why an Iraqi ministry would have blank French passports. A Defense Intelligence Agency social who confirmed the existence of the dozen French passports suggested that they could have been looted from the French Embassy, since embassies often keep blank passports on hand to assist visiting nationals whose passports are lost or stolen. "And if embassies are looted, blank passports would be a great commodity in the right hands," the social said. "The French had a lot of business interests in Iraq through the [UN] oil-for-food program." But that explanation proved false. The French Embassy had not been looted, even after coalition forces took Baghdad on April 9. The reason was simple. In the days after the fall of Baghdad, France had protected the embassy with armed guards and barbed wire. Looters had sacked a French cultural center in Baghdad, but the center would not have had passports. Another explanation for the passports was that the Iraqis had forged them. "The Iraqis are adept at forging passports," the defense social said. Even Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, in an apparent effort to play down America's rift with France, later told me that he did not view the passports as a smoking gun in the case against the French. "We all know that there are forged and stolen passports from a variety of countries," he said, noting that trading and selling passports was a widespread problem in the Middle East. But analysis by intelligence teams determined that the passports found in the Iraqi ministry were in fact genuine French travel documents. According to a senior Defense Department social, a large group of Saddam's henchmen had managed to get out of Iraq and ended up crossing the porous Syrian border. The Iraqis managed to make it to a hotel in Damascus and were there without their characteristic Saddam-style mustaches. "They stayed one night and were out of there the next day with French passports and on Air France to who knows where," the senior social told me. The unmistakable conclusion was that the French were actively helping America's enemy, an enemy that has killed hundreds of Americans and millions of Iraqis. And France's aid to the Iraqi regime went far beyond passports. The evidence that France had sold out its allies to aid a rogue state led by a bloody tyrant was simply staggering. After all, by the time the U.S. military intelligence team discovered the French passports, U.S. forces had already found caches of French-made missiles and other weapons in Baghdad, and the Iraqis had already shot down an American pilot using a French missile. Even those discoveries, however, revealed just a small part of what the French had done to cozy up to a dictator. "Rank Hypocrisy and Blatant Disloyalty" Americans had reacted angrily to France's support for Iraq in the lead-up to the war, well before the public-and even most U.S. government officials-knew the depth of France's treachery. Some people had taken to the streets to pour bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau wine into the streets. In New Jersey, California, and Illinois, people had thrown out imported French Evian bottled water, Dijon mustard, and Brie cheese. In a symbolic gesture, on March 11 Congress had banned the terms "French fries" and "French toast" from the House cafeteria; thereafter the House would be eating "freedom fries" and "freedom toast." Although French president Jacques Chirac would claim that France did not suffer any economic penalties from the American backlash, economic statistics showed that the country lost some $500 million in business from Americans who canceled vacations in France. The state of Montana showed its displeasure by divesting itself of $15 million in French stocks. Those angry at the French could not understand why a longtime ally of the United States would stand against the United States and defend a tyrant like Saddam Hussein. As the noted French anticommunist intellectual Jean François Revel observes in his 2003 book Anti-Americanism, French leaders and intellectuals harbor a deep disdain for the United States, and these anti-Americans condemn the United States for prosecuting a war on terrorism. "Obsessed by their hatred and floundering in illogicality," writes Revel, "these dupes forget that the United States, acting in her own self-interest, is also acting in the interest of us Europeans and in the interest of many other countries threatened, or already subverted and ruined, by terrorism." Even before the war on terror, former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine had condemned what he called America's "hyperpower," and for months before the 2003 war in Iraq, France was trying to rein in American power. Along with Germany, another supposed U.S. ally, France refused to support any U.S. effort to remove Saddam Hussein. French leaders also argued that there could be no justification for war against Iraq unless the United Nations Security Council approved that strategy. In March 2003, Congressman Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, pointed out France's "rank hypocrisy and blatant disloyalty." Weldon recalled that just four years earlier, France had not sought UN support for its effort to remove Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic from power because French officials knew that Russia, a traditional friend of the Serbs, would have blocked the measure. Instead the French asked the United States for help. "For the first time and only time in NATO's history," said Weldon, "along with our president, at that time Bill Clinton, they used a NATO military force to invade a non-NATO sovereign nation to remove the head of state." In a letter to Chirac, the congressman stated that "your sudden reverence for the inviolability of the United Nations is laughable." Noting that Saddam Hussein was a far worse dictator than Milosevic ("The atrocities perpetrated under Hussein's regime are well documented by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Coalition for International Justice, and even the United Nations"), Weldon concluded, "Convenience, not principle, seems to be France's guiding compass." As Weldon observed, in using all their power to block Saddam's removal from power, the French were blatantly disregarding not only the long record of Saddam's crimes but also Iraq's constant flouting of United Nations resolutions since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Interestingly, France's repeated efforts to block the United States at the United Nations might have actually made military action necessary. In the fall of 2002, France had watered down the language in UN Security Council Resolution 1441 that required Iraq to disarm all of its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. Privately, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said that France's diplomatic subversion had made it more difficult to resolve the problem of Iraq peacefully. (Later, when he learned that the French had helped Iraqi officials escape, Wolfowitz would begin to think of France not as an unfaithful ally but as a new enemy, albeit an enemy not in the same category as Syria, Iran, and North Korea, or even Russia and China.) In early March 2003, shortly before the war began, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters in Paris that France "will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes resorting to force." He declared that "Russia and France, as permanent members of the Security Council, will assume their full responsibilities on this point." According to Jacques Chirac, however, France was not opposing the United States or "appeasing this dictator," Saddam. Chirac testily told a television interviewer, "Why would France want to restrain American power? And even if France wanted to do so, how could we? It's an absurd line of reasoning. It is absolutely not reasonable [or] realistic. I am trying to be more serious and more honest of our assessment of things and world affairs today. It is ridiculous, really." Meanwhile, in denying that he was trying to appease Saddam, Chirac revealed how lenient he would be with the Iraqi tyrant. "I think the more we threaten him, the more he will react as a wounded animal," he said. "Again, every day there [is] one more step toward cooperation done by Iraq." But if France's actions seemed illogical or hypocritical, it was only because Americans did not understand that the French had long ago sold out to the Iraqis. Excerpted from Treachery: How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies by Bill Gertz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.