A close aide to Saddam Hussein says the Iraqi dictator did in fact get rid of his weapons of mass destruction but deliberately kept the world guessing about it in an effort to divide the international community and stave off a US invasion. \nThe strategy, which turned out to be a serious miscalculation, was designed to make the Iraqi dictator look strong in the eyes of the Arab world, while countries such as France and Russia were wary of joining an American-led attack. At the same time, Saddam retained the technical know-how and brain power to restart the programs at any time. \nUS defense officials and weapons experts are considering this guessing-game theory as the search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons continues. If true, it would indicate there was no imminent unconventional weapons threat from Iraq, an argument US President George W. Bush used to go to war. \nSaddam's alleged weapons bluff was detailed by an Iraqi official who assisted Saddam for many years. The official was not part of the national leadership but his job provided him daily contact with the dictator and insight into the regime's decision-making process during the past decade and in its critical final days. \nThe official refused to be identified, citing fear of assassination by Saddam's paramilitaries who, he said, remain active throughout Iraq. But in several interviews, the former aide detailed what he said were the reasons behind Saddam's disinformation campaign -- which ultimately backfired by spurring, rather than deterring a US invasion. \nAccording to the aide, by the mid-1990s "it was common knowledge among the leadership" that Iraq had destroyed its chemical stocks and discontinued development of biological and nuclear weapons. \nBut Saddam remained convinced that an ambiguous stance about the status of Iraq's weapons programs would deter an American attack. \n"He repeatedly told me: `These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong,'" the aide said. \nPublicly Saddam denied having unconventional weapons. But from 1998 until 2002, he prevented UN inspectors from working in the country and when they finally returned in November, 2002, they often complained that Iraq wasn't fully cooperating. \nIraqi scientists, including those currently held by the US military, have maintained that no new unconventional weapons programs were started in recent years and that all the materials from previous programs were destroyed. \nBoth Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have come under fire in recent weeks as weapons hunters come up empty handed and prewar intelligence is questioned. \nBefore the invasion, the British government claimed Saddam could deploy unconventional weapons within 45 minutes. The Bush administration insisted the threat was so immediate that the world couldn't afford to wait for UN inspectors to wind up their searches. Despite the warnings, Iraqi troops never used such weapons during the war. \nUS intelligence officials at the Pentagon in Washington, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some experts had raised the theory that Iraq put out false information to persuade its enemies that it retained prohibited chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. \n"That explanation has plausibility," said Robert Einhorn a former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation. "But the disposition of those missing weapons and materials still has to be explained somehow." \nIraq's claims that it destroyed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons materials could never be verified by UN inspectors who repeatedly requested proof. \nHowever, UN inspectors, who scoured Iraq for three and a half months before the war, never found any evidence of renewed weapons programs. \n"The longer that one does not find any weapons in spite of people coming forward and being rewarded for giving information, etc., the more I think it is important that we begin to ask ourselves if there were no weapons, why was it that Iraq conducted itself as it did for so many years?" Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector, told AP in June.
PAPERS, PLEASE: A digital certificate or a printout would return one of three results: green for ‘pass,’ red for ‘not passed’ or yellow for ‘to be determined,’ the CECC said Starting today, people can download a Digital COVID-19 Certificate, with the government now requiring people at night clubs, karaoke bars and other businesses in “eight major special establishment categories” to be fully vaccinated and present a vaccination certificate. The eight categories include dance venues, massage parlors, hostess bars and saunas. Customers and service personnel at the venues have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as they can neither avoid contact with people nor strictly observe distancing guidelines, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. As such, both groups are required to be fully vaccinated, meaning that they must have had at least a
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
LAWMAKERS RALLY: Beijing’s unlegislated actions breach international and WTO trade rules, and affect the basic principles of the EU single market, the letter said A group of 41 EU lawmakers on Tuesday condemned China for its political and economic coercion of Lithuania, and called on leaders of the bloc to demonstrate solidarity with Vilnius. The letter was initiated by Slovakian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Miriam Lexmann, who is cochair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. “We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, resolutely condemn political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) against Lithuania,” the letter said. The letter addressed European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they