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James Woolsey was director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995 during the Clinton administration. He spoke with Global Viewpoint editor Nathan Gardels in New York on Dec. 9.

GLOBAL VIEWPOINT: Of course, we don't know yet what is in the Iraqi declaration to the United Nations, but they have said these documents prove they have no mass destruction weapons. Yet, those who have seen intelligence in the recent past -- such as former President Bill Clinton -- suspect more.

Clinton said recently that ''I believe Saddam Hussein has significant stocks of chemical and biological weapons. I believe he has people who have worked for the last four years in labs to try to develop the nuclear option.''

Is the United States likely to have intelligence beyond what is contained in the Iraqi declaration?

JAMES WOOLSEY: It has intelligence. But it is probably intelligence that can't be shown without compromising the CIA's sources and methods.

There are only two kinds of people who believe anything other than what former President Clinton said: those who work for Saddam and ostriches. This is all a charade. Everybody knows he has chemical and bacteriological weapons. He refused to declare hundreds of tons of VX gas and sarin and thousands of liters of anthrax and botuleum. Once the U.N. inspectors discovered these because of (the former head of the weapons program) Hussain Kamal's defection in 1995, Saddam said, ''Oh, those biological weapons.'' How credulous does someone have to be to believe Saddam now?

We may not have evidence that can be shown until Iraq is liberated and the buried gas centrifuges and bottles of anthrax and canisters of VX are turned up.

GV: Clinton's view also was that in the declaration, the Iraqis would ''show a little leg'' but not be completely honest, making it hard for the United States to prove ''material breach.''

WOOLSEY: Apparently it doesn't show any leg at all. What it reports is all the ''dual-use'' facilities such as pharmaceutical plants that could theoretically be used to make biological weapons. That is not the point.

The point is the biological laboratories they have are on trucks and mobile. And there is no evidence that the VX, anthrax, growth medium and other things the previous inspectors found have been destroyed. Now the Iraqis say they burned it but didn't keep any records! Hello?

GV: Well, those who believe the Iraqi declaration include others besides those who work for Saddam and ostriches. It includes the Russians, who have said the declaration is a good basis to resolve the Iraq issue peacefully.

WOOLSEY: The Russians may have an economic reason for the time being to act like ostriches: They hope they will get more consideration in developing Iraq's oil in the future or a guarantee of repayment on past debts if a new government comes to power.

I really doubt that the hard-eyed, smart and skeptical former KGB officers who run Russia today are actually sitting down and saying, ''Oh, that was a really fine declaration. We really don't know what Saddam has and now he is kindly telling us.'' Come on. That is ridiculous.

GV: Might the coalition assembled behind the latest U.N. inspections resolution break apart over different evaluations of the declaration and whether or not ''material breach'' can be proven?

WOOLSEY: We don't need to prove material breach. The burden of proof is on Saddam to disarm. And he hasn't done it. If that means that some of the countries who said they would be in support of disarming Iraq break away because there is no ''smoking gun,'' then so what? The only countries that are important are Britain, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

So what if President Bush decides to go into Iraq and leave the French and Russians wringing their hands for a few weeks until invading U.S. troops can show the hidden weapons they've uncovered and prove to the world that Saddam was lying again?

GV: Will inspections mean anything as long as inspectors don't exercise the option of removing scientists and their families from Saddam's reach?

WOOLSEY: The only prayer of inspectors finding anything is to bring out the scientists. You now have 80-100 inspectors -- the size of a small-town police force -- working in a totalitarian country the size of California looking for weapons that can easily be put on trucks or in vans and moved around at will. And Saddam has had four years to hide them.

Probably 90 percent of what we learned in the 1990s about Saddam's weapons we learned from defecting scientists. There is no way to talk honestly with those who have been recently hiding weapons without getting them and their families out of the country beyond the reach of Saddam's torture machine.

The preeminent test of Hans Blix' good faith as chief inspector is whether or not he is willing to pull people out of the country to talk to them. If he doesn't do this, he has very little chance of being taken seriously by the U.S. government. If he doesn't do this, he is as bumbling as Inspector Clouseau, the comedic detective.

Finally, a question on Turkey. Can the new ''soft Islam'' of the Justice and Development Party under Recep Tayyip Erdogan be part of a ''deep coalition'' with the West against radical Islamists that is perhaps more important than Turkey being part of NATO?

If Erdogan is in the process of creating a Muslim version of Europe's Christian Democratic parties -- that is, a party tied to a religious belief but committed to secular democracy -- that is a huge development. It provides a model for how Islam, in a very important state, can be integrated with modernity and political liberalism.

(c) 2002, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.
For immediate release (Distributed 12/9/02)