1,490. 2/15/1999

“The CIA had become so used to relying on the U.N. for reporting on WMD that it was accustomed to doing without spies in Iraq’s weapons program. Its window on Iraq was shut in [August] 1998 when Saddam stopped cooperating with the inspectors. The U.N. monitors were recalled and the Clinton administration ordered the four-day Desert Fox bombing raids [from December 16-19, 1998] that were intended to pulverize much of Saddam’s weapons infrastructure. In spite of the bombardment, Saddam defiantly refused to readmit the weapons inspectors. Without U.N. monitors, the CIA was forced to develop its assessments based on satellite photographs, the occasional defector, and extrapolation from past experience. As the quality of its information on Iraq declined, its fears grew. In February 1999, they concluded that the Desert Fox raids had failed to damage most of Iraq’s suspected chemical warfare facilities. Iraq, the intelligence agencies inferred, still retained stockpiles of poison gas and had the capability to quickly resume the production of chemical weapons.” [The 15th of the month used for date sorting purposes only.]

 – Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, Cobra II, Page 143

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