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[] USA Today 13.08.02: Some question motives behind leaks about Iraq,

USA Today August 13, 2002
Some question motives behind leaks about Iraq

By John Diamond

WASHINGTON -- A newspaper article reports on a war plan, and Defense 
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fumes that the source of the story should go to 
jail. A Web site posts commercial satellite photos of U.S. military planes 
massing at a Mideast base, and irate e-mails come in demanding, "How much 
is Saddam paying you?"

As talk of a U.S. invasion aimed at toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 
intensifies, some are saying news media reporting is compromising 
classified military plans and putting lives in danger. Past deployments 
have received advance coverage, but some administration officials complain 
that an unprecedented level of detail about the possible assault is giving 
valuable intelligence to the enemy. "Anyone who has a position where they 
touch a war plan has an obligation to not leak it to the press or anybody 
else because it kills people," Rumsfeld railed after one recent leak. "If 
people start treating war plans like they're paper airplanes and they can 
fly them around this building and throw them to anybody who wants them, I 
think it's outrageous. . . . They ought to be in jail."

So far, no one at the Pentagon has been locked up for leaking to reporters, 
sparking a different kind of speculation: the possibility that the Bush 
administration is letting slip tantalizing but ultimately harmless bits of 
military information to confuse the enemy or win over skeptics.

During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, U.S. commanders used news leaks and 
other means to lead Iraq to believe that Marines would land on the Kuwaiti 
coast. In 1944, Allied forces used inflatable dummy tanks and false radio 
traffic to lure Germany into worrying about a non-existent army.

There are many reasons for the volume of information about a possible U.S. 
invasion of Iraq. As a rule, the United States doesn't do Pearl 
Harbor-style sneak attacks. Especially since the collapse of public support 
for the Vietnam War, lawmakers have argued that the United States cannot 
embark on a major military commitment without the backing of the public. 
That requires a public debate and some detail about the military commitment 
to come.

Virtually everyone who leaks to the press has an agenda. Sometimes an 
official wants a plan scrutinized in the hopes the exposure will kill it. 
Sometimes trial balloons are floated to test reaction.

Duke University political scientist Peter Feaver says leaks have actually 
helped President Bush advance his Iraq agenda by getting Congress, allies 
and the public used to a controversial idea.

"Bush administration officials understandably complain about the leaks, but 
on balance, the leaks have helped rather than hurt," says Feaver, who 
worked on President Clinton's National Security Council staff. "The leaks 
have shifted the debate from 'should we go?' to 'how should we go?' "

After more than a month of intensive coverage, several Iraq scenarios have 
been aired. They range from small, swift attacks involving elite commandos 
swooping in on Saddam's Baghdad redoubts to a full-scale invasion involving 
nearly 300,000 troops.

"The cacophony is its own form of deception," says Kenneth Allard, who 
teaches national security courses at Georgetown University. He says some of 
the leaks may be deliberate disinformation drawing on Winston Churchill's 
assertion that in wartime, the truth is so precious it must be accompanied 
by "a bodyguard of lies."

The Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon disagrees. He says a report 
last month in The New York Times contained information that would help 
Saddam prepare for a U.S. attack. "This was actually a very serious leak," 
he says. "It was a big mistake."

Senior administration officials make no secret of their hope that Iraqi 
military officers may hear the war drums beating in Washington and be 
encouraged to topple Saddam on their own.

Even the prodigious volume of debate on a possible Iraq attack does not 
give away the exact time, place and method of the actual operation. Germany 
knew the Allies were coming in the spring of 1944, but they didn't know it 
would be Normandy on June 6.

John Pike, whose Web site published the satellite 
pictures that drew angry e-mail, says superior force and execution, not 
surprise, are the keys to success. The options for attacking Iraq, he says, 
are well known.

"Anyone who watches the History Channel can game this one," Pike says. 
"There's only a short list of military options available to the United 
States, and anyone who knows which end the bullet comes out of is going to 
figure out those options pretty quickly."

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