Strike may have avoided Iraq invasion
The US Central Intelligence Agency’s Luis Rueda has revealed that he had briefed former president George Bush and his top advisers on intelligence that would have enabled the president to call off the Iraq invasion.Updated: Mar 20, 2013 23:26 IST
The US Central Intelligence Agency’s Luis Rueda has revealed that he had briefed former president George Bush and his top advisers on intelligence that would have enabled the president to call off the Iraq invasion.
Rueda, who is now retired, ran the CIA’s operations inside Iraq. He believed he knew where Saddam Hussein would be — at a palatial retreat outside Baghdad known as Dora Farms. Not only was Saddam supposed to be there, but so were his sons Uday and Qusay. A single strike could have killed them all and perhaps headed off war, Rueda said.
Rueda said the president asked him a lot of questions about the sources — how confident he was, what the odds were. Rueda reportedly said the chance was 60-70%, which was “good enough”.
However, new intelligence came in, which said that there was a bunker-like structure inside Dora Farms, which meant that two stealth fighters, each with a two-man crew, would have to drop bunker-busting bombs.
Rueda said there was going to be four Americans, in planes with absolutely no protection, who would have to go in there and do it and get out. The decision was the president’s alone.
The strike went off like clockwork. Every structure was destroyed except the main residence, which had been spared for fear of killing women and children, Rueda said. However, there was no bunker entrance. Some of the intelligence was wrong, and
Saddam was not killed that night.
After he was captured, Saddam told FBI interrogators that he had been at Dora Farms, was long gone before the missiles struck. Bush had ordered the strike delayed until an ultimatum giving Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq expired. Had the president not waited, the story would have been a little different.
First Published: Mar 20, 2013 23:24 IST