Unlike the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal put its story on the captured Iraqi intelligence files on page one of the paper this morning. It carries the joint byline of Frederick Kempe in Baghdad and David Cloud in Washington. The lead is as follows: “U.S. investigators have unearthed Iraqi records of Saddam Hussein’s agents world-wide, a treasure trove of intelligence that U.S. officials expect will help to identify foreigners paid to serve the former dictator’s interests and to unravel international networks for procuring missiles and other banned weapons.”
The heart of the story states: “Information contained in the files could prove troublesome for individuals, companies and countries that may be implicated in aiding Mr. Hussein’s regime. U.S. officials say the documents could help establish tribunals in Iraq for people involved in crimes against the Iraqi people. Already, revelations from the files have prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open new espionage and criminal probes in the U.S.
“‘We have the equivalent of the Stasi archives,’ said the senior U.S. official, referring to the East German state security service files recovered after that Communist regime’s collapse. Those archives, which implicated both domestic and foreign informants and agents, sparked a series of political scandals and some legal prosecutions.
“The Iraqi documents are among 25 tons of papers seized at the abandoned headquarters of the country’s intelligence services days after the fall of Baghdad in April, according to U.S. officials. The records include a ‘complete listing of the amount of money paid for political influence’ to foreigners, including politicians, business people and others, said the U.S. official familiar with the files. Mr. Hussein’s overseas intelligence apparatus kept track of Iraqi exiles opposed to his regime, and Baghdad also kept lists of informants paid for their help in that regard.”
But the Journal unaccountably saves what I believe is an item of extraordinary interest for the last paragraph: “The files also include evidence that Iraq was behind several small-scale terrorist attacks against the U.S. and other countries, officials said. In one case, the 1993 bombing of a U.S. facility in Asia now has been linked to Iraq; orders for the operation were found in the files, a law-enforcement official said. The attack caused no casualties, the official said, refusing to disclose its exact location.”
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