Putin Says Russia Warned U.S. on Saddam
Reuters — Putin Says Russia Warned U.S. on Saddam
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in comments sure to help President Bush, declared Friday that Russia knew Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had planned terror attacks on U.S. soil and had warned Washington.
Putin said Russian intelligence had been told on several occasions that Saddam’s special forces were preparing to attack U.S. targets inside and outside the United States.
“After the events of September 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services several times received information that the official services of the Saddam regime were preparing ‘terrorist acts’ on the United States and beyond its borders,” he told reporters.
“This information was passed on to our American colleagues,” he said. He added, however, that Russian intelligence had no proof that Saddam’s agents had been involved in any particular attack.
Jon Henke isn’t sure what to make of this but asks some reasonable questions:
1: How much credibility did Russia assign to that information?
2: How much credibility does the US assign to that information?
3: Why are we just hearing this now?
4: Are we just hearing about this now because the information was dubious?
5: Through what kind of sources did Russia get this information? If they came from Russia’s own intelligence work, they would have more credibility than if they came from Iraqi (dis)informants (read: Chalabi’s INC)
These are fair points.
Honestly, I’m not sure how to read this, either, although I’m more than a bit skeptical. For one thing, given that we loudly proclaimed some rather sketchy intelligence in bolstering our case for the war, one would think we would have shooted this from the rooftops. After all, it would constitute an “imminent threat” that would more easily have justified pre-emptive action. Secondly, this is especially odd given Putin’s adamant opposition to our invasion.
Speaking to reporters in the capital of ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, he went out of his way, however, to say that Russia’s view of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was unchanged.
“Our position has not changed. We indeed passed this information on to our American partners but we consider that there are rules, defined by international law, for using force in international affairs and these procedures were not observed,” he said.
Still, this is a story worth following.