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Wargame: Iraq

November 25, 2002
msnbc.com

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November 25, 2002
New York, NY

ANNOUNCER:

From MSNBC and the Counsel on Foreign Relations this is a special presentation. War Game Iraq.

LESTER HOLT:

I'm LESter Holt. Only the President will decide when and if America attacks Saddam Hussein. But it will be his closest advisors, the National Security Council, who send that recommendation his way. The National Security Council meets in the situation room in secret. But in this program we're going to give you a seat at the table in a war game. A simulation.

We're going to show you how the President's top security advisors debate the decision to make war. With the help of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, we have recruited eight foreign policy veterans, many from past administrations.

We have asked each of them to take on the role of one of the President's top advisors. They will have to think on their feet. They do not know what will happen in our war game. But we have set the stage with some basic facts. It is early December. There are 50,000 US troops in the region. UN inspectors are on the ground in Baghdad and Saddam has declared to the UN that he has no weapons of mass destruction. The question what should the President do?

ADVISOR:

Good morning.

MALE2 VOICE:

Good morning everybody.

FEMALE VOICES:

'Morning. 'Morning.

LES:

I just left the President 30 minutes ago (RINGING). And he wants us to go back at the thing we've been at for a long time now, looking at our options in Iraq. Madam Secretary? Why don't you begin as you usually do.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

Well I think first of all— we need to be very careful here (RINGING). I think that we all understand that by Saddam Hussein declaring that he has no weapons that they United States could in fact argue that— we are already in material breach. And that we need to start taking forceful action and bring the Security Council together now.

LESTER HOLT:

Our mock Secretary of State has zeroed in on Saddam's statement that he has no weapons of mass destruction. The United States can prove that's a lie. And argue that the lie itself is grounds for war because it's a material breach of Iraq's obligations to reveal all. But the Secretary of State believes it's too soon to make the case.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

So I would urge the President not to take precipitous action— though we certainly are going down the road we all expected— to go down.

NSA:

Thanks, SEC STATE. SEC DEF, what's the— Pentagon have to say?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

Well as you know— I wasn't— real happy. We weren't real happy at the Pentagon that we didn't declare material breach immediately upon— Saddam's— declaration which of course was a lie, just as every other one of— his has been a lie— going back— to 1991. I would agree with SEC STATE about— not— precipitating something today but— with an emphasis on that word today. (RINGING)

LESTER HOLT:

Our mock Secretary of Defense like his real life counterpart, believes the US already has enough evidence to launch a war.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

Within a month, six weeks— we can have— in the Gulf what we would need to move.

NSA:

We have two issues on the table.

LESTER HOLT:

The President's LES chairs the meetings and it's his job to find a consensus. But already he's got a divided room with the Secretary of State urging restraint and the Secretary of Defense urging war. Just as in real life our Secretary of Defense is not a fan of UN inspections or Chief Inspector Hans Blix.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

He has never found a violation of anything in all his career. And he won't find one now. And I think what we have to do is prepare the ground for declaring a material breach based on Saddam's false declaration, not on anything that the inspectors are going to do, 'cause they're not going to find one. Saddam—

(OVERTALK)

US AMBASSADOR TO UN:

I'd take a slightly different view on that. From our vantage point he has already missed the first— hurdle that he was supposed to jump over (RINGING). Having sai—

LESTER HOLT:

The Ambassador to the UN carries weight in this room. The UN Security Council voted unanimously to support the US position. And it's her job to keep that support together. She backs up her boss, the Secretary of State, and argues the UN inspectors need time. That Blix could give the President valuable ammunition to build America's case internationally and put Saddam on the defensive.

UN AMBASSADOR:

I think having the inspectors in there puts him in a box because the first thing they find that runs counter to his very broad and categorical statement that he has nothing gives us all that— that— that anybody on the Council might need to— be confident that— that we're in— in material breach. So we can have our view, but our aim up presumably is to have an international—

NSA:

Yeah.

UN AMBASSADOR:

--consensus that that—

LESTER HOLT:

Caught between hawks at the Pentagon and the go-slow approach at the State Department, the LES looks for some middle ground.

LES:

At least from where I sit it's a dangerous business to say it's a material breach and not act on it.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

Absolutely.

MALE VOICE:

Right.

LES:

What if the President were to say— "I wanna move toward action in two or three weeks. I wanna begin building the case. What could you do in two or three weeks?"

MALE VOICE:

Well—

(OVERTALK)

LES:

When will you be prepared to do something—

MALE VOICE:

Well—

LES:

--meaningful.

CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF:

When I— When I say prepared I would say fully prepared. Of course you're never fully prepared (RINGING).

LESTER HOLT:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is the President's top military advisor and knows the strength and capabilities of all the military services.

CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS:

But if the President said at this moment to strike, we could do that. We do have that capability right now. But it's not optimal.

(OVERTALK)

CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS:

So— So between now and the optimum period we're talking about six to eight weeks.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

I'm nervous when I hear you talking about six to eight weeks. If you give me three months or six months to prepare the nation, I lower the risk to the threat of attack on this nation (RINGING).

LESTER HOLT:

A new player at the table after 9/11 is the Homeland Security Advisor. And talk of war in Iraq makes him understandably nervous.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Because if we go to war in six weeks and then we have some major attacks on the homeland, and then you get five governors say after those attacks, I coulda been a lot better prepared if you would've told me or if you would've given me two or three more months or if you'd o' left my National Guard here. Can you handle those questions (TALK)? This is different than a cold war. So I'm the guy at the table that's gonna be draggin' their feet. I'll just put that out here right now.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

The whole purpose of going through the United Nations' exercise is that we are engaged in some kinda due process (RINGING).

LESTER HOLT:

The Secretary of Energy isn't normally involved in National Security Council deliberations. But war in Iraq could jeopardize our oil supply. So his views are important?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

The world will be watching us and we don't wanna give the impression that we've already made the decision that we are gonna find him in material breach and that we are going to go to war.

LESTER HOLT:

We asked our participants to convey a sense of the internal policy debate not going on in the Bush administration. So the views they express in our war game are not necessarily their real life opinions and to make the war game more realistic, we put together a so-called control group. Top experts from the Council on Foreign Relations who will create new wrinkLES in the scenario, pushing this National Security Council to confront surprises and set-backs.

At this point the control group introduces the first complication. A piece of satellite surveillance will be delivered to the director of central intelligence. It will strongly suggest that they Iraqis have tricked the UN inspectors at a pharmaceutical plant in Baghdad.

DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE:

This is satellite photography taken of yesterday's inspection (RINGING) and what it shows is first the Akashaht (PH) pharmaceutical plant which is off to the northwest of the facility. That was the site of the actual inspection. To the southeast is another building which we tentatively identified as Uday Hussein Hospital.

During the course of a 3˝ hour delay of the inspections— we caught buses leaving that facility. In addition there was debris found in the basement of the Akashaht Pharmaceutical plant which— my analyst believe could— concealed a tunnel leading from the Akashaht facility directly to Uday Hussein Hospital. But this looks exactly like the pattern that we saw during the 1990s.

LESTER HOLT:

What can the President's team do with information that even Hans Blix, the head of the UN inspection team, does not have?

NSA:

Do the UN inspectors have the information, all the information you just gave to us?

DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE:

They'll have everything except the— the satellite imagery. It's up to us to decide whether or not we wanna tell them.

(OVERTALK)

UN AMBASSADOR:

It's our obligation though, I think, to give him this information that we believe there is a tunnel, allow him to go back and check it out.

FEMALE2 VOICE:

I—

FEMALE VOICE:

I mean they— they can't—

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

If we have our suspicions that there is a tunnel there we present it to the inspectors, to Blix, what to we expect him to do with it? What can we make him do with it?

DCI:

Well in theory it is certainly true that we— he could go back and try to conduct another no notice inspection at the site. I think we have to assume though that the Iraqis will have sanitized it by this point in time. I mean that's—

(OVERTALK)

DCI:

--what those buses would've been leaving. But we don't know for—

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

This is typical. This is what's going to happen time and time—

FEMALE VOICE:

Absolutely.

MALE3 VOICE:

--again. Blix will not—

FEMALE VOICE:

Did— Did—

(OVERTALK)

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

--confront them. He never has. I don't think he ever will. And so we're going to be going like this for month after month, after month until we get into hot weather. And once we get into hot weather we're around until next winter again before we can take military action and at that point, he's closer to having nuclear weapons. Conceivably—

FEMALE VOICE:

But it's—

MALE3 VOICE:

--could have 'em.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

--l— yeah. Let's slow down a minute. Just—

DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE:

And this is what we've been telling you for a month now. They are cheating. We— That declaration is a sham. And the question is—

MALE VOICE:

Right.

MALE2 VOICE:

--which of these do you wanna get on?

MALE VOICE:

Yeah.

(OVERTALK)

MALE2 VOICE:

And you wanna use this—

UN AMBASSADOR:

Well I think— I think we— I think we need to establish a pattern of— of noncompliance and I think when we get information of this sort we oughtta be transparent not only with B— Blix and his team but with the members of the Council and we can do so informally. We provide sanitized—

MALE2 VOICE:

So you'd brief them informally.

UN AMBASSADOR:

--intelligence all the time.

NSA:

Look I'm not gonna take it to the President at— at this point. Let's pursue it and see what else you find out.

LESTER HOLT:

We have given the President's advisors stark evidence that Iraq is cheating. But in this simulation it is not enough to move them to war. Coming up, How will they react with another part of the Middle East erupts in violence.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

We've been here many times before. I have to tell you I'm just frustrated as hell.

(NEW SECTION)

LESTER HOLT:

Returning now to our simulated meeting of the National Security Council. We've given our fictional NSC strong evidence that Iraq is cheating on inspections. But so far it is not enough to make them push the President to war. Now our control group of experts from the Council on Foreign Relations will increase the stakes with a sudden crisis.

News of a major incident in the Middle East. The information comes as information often comes to the White House through a breaking news report from overseas. The question, "Will it divert the President's Advisors from their focus on Iraq?"

MUSIC

ANNOUNCER:

This is a World Global News Network Special Report.

REPORTER:

At this hour Israeli tanks are moving into the West Bank town of Ramallah (PH), the latest violence began with last week's bombing of a Tel Aviv theater by a PaLEStinian suicide bomber. Israeli forces retaliated with a missile attack in Ramallah (PH), but one missile hit a car killing all six members of a PaLEStinian family.

That family was buried in an emotional ceremony today and angry PaLEStinians then took to the streets and began attacking Israeli soldiers first with stones then with guns. The situation quickly escalated into pitch house-to-house fighting. Eight Israeli soldiers and 16 PaLEStinians have been killed so far in today's clashes. Repeating our story. Israeli tanks are moving into the West Bank town of Ramallah.

PaLEStians are exchanging gun fire with Israeli troops. Two dozen Israelis and PaLEStinians are dead.

(MUSIC)

NSA:

All right. There— There's no— There's no way we can go to the President without taking this into account. SEC STATE— what do you think?

SECRETARY OF STATE:

I— I think several things here. We've been here many times before. I have to tell you I'm just frustrated as hell. We had discussions— two years ago now about the importance of really getting a serious negotiation going in the Middle East. If we'd had that serious negotiation going we might not be where we are.

Everybody wanted to put that off 'cause they wanted Iraq first. We're— We're in a terrible situation. So first of all, I'm a little pissed off, quite frankly— colleague. But we are where we are.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:

Look the— the President decided last summer that we were going to have dealings with the PaLEStinians when they stopped being a corrupt dictatorship. They're still a corrupt dictatorship.

SEC STATE:

Absolutely.

SEC DEF:

They don't control the suicide bombers. That's how this got started yet again. I don't think we can be distracted from this by hoping that we're gonna solve something that depending on how you could is either three millennia or— or at least a century old— with the current players in— between the—

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

We're not gonna solve it, Stan. We just—

SEC DEF:

--PaLEStinians and the Israelis.

SEC STATE:

--need to be here.

LESTER HOLT:

As it often does in real life, the Israeli-PaLEStinian conflict throws a wrench into the administration's plans. And so does harsh reaction from America's allies, which starts flooding in with messages and phone calls from foreign capitals.

UN AMBASSADOR:

So I've got some information here. I just got handed a note from my deputy— saying that he'd just run into the— the French and Russian ambassadors up at the UN. And has been told that they're drafting a Security Council resolution, the UN Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli action. So we're gonna have greater complexity in the Security Council— at this delicate moment.

SEC STATE:

Right and I would add to that. I also just got a message. I think that we all have to recall that Syria signed onto the draft to the resolution against Iraq and as stated in their statements after that. Because they wanted to show that the UN would be unanimous against any state that took action that was not in the interest of peace and security and they specifically named the PaLEStinian cause and the Middle East conflict and so Syria is gonna expect the United States to support that resolution in contradiction. But let me read you this.

SEC DEF:

What Syria—

SEC STATE:

Le— Let—

SEC DEF:

--expects of the—

SEC STATE:

SEC DEF.

SEC DEF:

--United States should be of modest interest—

SEC STATE:

I— I— I don't disagree.

SEC DEF:

--to all of us.

SEC STATE:

But SEC DEF let me tell you that— our— Undersecretary for Political Affairs just received a call from the Turkish Ambassador. He reminded us they have a newly elected government, one of which I think we all have some concerns about. He states that the Israeli actions in Ramallah are quote "deeply disturbing and hugely problematic," unquote for our Muslim allies. He calls on the United States to do all that it can to quote "end this immediately."

LESTER HOLT:

The Secretary of State is worried about Turkey. It recently elected a new Islamic oriented government. It is home to the massive Incerlik Air Base (PH), part of the Pentagon's Iraq invasion plan. Could the Israeli action and the Turkish response threaten US capabilities?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

How much could they impair our military operations? This is a real question.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

Does it make it impossible? No. It doesn't make it impossible. Which gets back to the point that— you were addressing the— the President on the Turkish issue.

MALE VOICE:

Um-hm (AFFIRM).

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

Turkey is not essential to— to success.

UN AMBASSADOR:

We have the fact that we had an understanding with— with the Israelis that they were not going to launch this kind of action in this context. I realize that it's their right, but the point is it's not helpful. And so I think in the first instance we— the President ought to go back and— and have a very serious conversation with Sharon. Because if we don't lay down a marker early on that— that we're not going to find it helpful for Israel to throw various— complexities into the mix at the outset—

SEC STATE:

UN AMBASSADOR, what were they—

UN AMBASSADOR:

--it's gonna get more and more—

SEC STATE:

--supposed to do when they had this—

UN AMBASSADOR:

SEC STATE it—

SEC STATE:

--latest bombing?

UN AMBASSADOR:

--they— they— we have had this tit for tat. They have retaliated and with unfortunately serious consequences for innocent civilians. But it's a matter of scale.

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

Right. I think what we need to tell them is—

UN AMBASSADOR:

So the first instance—

SEC STATE:

--"You've done it. Pull back."

UN AMBASSADOR:

The— exactly. Now then we have this problem in the security council with the French and the Russians. And how we manage it we'll— impact considerably on the reaction of countries like Turkey and— and those in the Gulf. So—

SEC DEF:

I just don't believe—

UN AMB:

--we can slow roll—

SEC DEF:

--that Turkey is going to follow a French or Russian lead on this.

UN AMB:

We—

SEC DEF:

The French and Russians as Tom Freedman puts it are the trash talkers of international diplomacy. And—

UN AMB:

Well whether we like it or not—

SEC DEF:

--they are going to continue—

UN AMB:

--they're gonna table this resolution.

SEC DEF:

--to be a problem.

UN AMB:

And we're gonna have to take a position on it. And so—

SEC DEF:

We veto it. We're— We can't—

UN AMB:

--we— Well I don't think it's that clear cut.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Mr.-- Mr. Secretary, it's very important to think of the day after. It's not—

(OVERTALK)

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

--only the action.

SEC DEF:

I understand that. But by—

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Turkey is in a—

SEC DEF:

--being weak—

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

--fragile situation.

SEC DEF:

--you don't make the day after easier.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

This is—

SEC DEF:

You make it harder.

UN AMB:

There's nothing weak about deciding how we're gonna manage this diplomatically. We need—

SEC DEF:

Well you—

UN AMB:

--to figure out—

SEC DEF:

--can be diplomatic. I mean let's be very diplomatic. I'm all— all in favor of that. What I'm saying is that the—

SEC STATE:

We're gonna send you SEC DEF.

SEC DEF:

--fact that the French and the Russians—

UN AMBASSADOR:

(LAUGHTER) That'll work.

SEC DEF:

--put in a resolution for the 190 millionth time condemning Israel and that we don't let it pass is— is not news.

UN AMBASSADOR:

No it's— it's— it's— it is news in the current context because I think as w— as LES laid out well. We have made a d— decision that we're going to— to launch this buildup that we're gonna put the Homeland on— on a higher state of readiness. We are going to be signaling to the world that we are dead serious about— about starting this conflict and if in fact we don't have compliance. That in itself is going to rattle people but I think it's the right thing to do. But it does matter very much how in the interim we deal with— these sorts of—

(OVERTALK)

UN AMBASSADOR:

--of— complexities.

SEC DEF:

A lot of diplomacy is great.

SEC STATE:

Right.

SEC DEF:

Hand holding is—

UN AMBASSADOR:

No.

SEC DEF:

--great. Voting—

UN AMBASSADOR:

But— But— But—

SEC DEF:

--for the French and Russian Resolution—

UN AMBASSADOR:

--Israel—

SEC DEF:

--or letting it pass.

UN AMBASSADOR:

SEC DEF.

SEC DEF:

--or letting it pass I think would not—

(OVERTALK)

NSA:

I'm not gonna go back to the President to get him to change our policy on— Israeli-PaLEStinian negotiations. He's not gonna do that.

SEC STATE:

I agree.

NSA:

So he's not going to issue a statement condemning Sharon on this.

SEC STATE:

I agree.

NSA:

That's not— That's not his approach.

(OVERTALK)

UN AMBASSADOR:

I— I didn't wanna put up— a private conversation between the President and— and the Prime Minister to make clear that we have concerns about how they calibrate their response—

SEC STATE:

President's never gonna make that phone call.

SEC STATE:

--in this context. Well.

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

Or he's not gonna call Sharon—

Then— Then we're gonna— right now and slap his hand.

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

--be on a—

NSA:

The point is we're not—

UN AMBASSADOR:

It's not gonna happen.

NSA:

--going to let unhappiness among the Gulf states or the Ar— the other Arab states detour— deter us now—

(OVERTALK)

NSA:

--from the path we're on.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Mr. Chairman.

NSA:

We're talking about how to manage their unhappiness.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

But it depends.

NSA:

And I haven't heard a word from you, Yousef (PH), but how to do it. All you're saying is that they're gonna be unhappy.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

I— I think— I think we must demonstrate a little more toughness toward the Israelis.

SEC DEF:

Arafat's still there.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

In public.

SEC DEF:

He's— He's a corrupt dictator. They don't have the democratic structure.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

It doesn't make any difference. I mean—

SEC DEF:

It's— The President said it made a lot of difference.

MALE VOICE:

No. SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

--Arafat is—

(OVERTALK)

SEC DEF:

The President said it was the essence of the di—

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

But— But Arafat is irrelevant. He has no power. He can order only a sandwich on his telephone.

SEC STATE:

Even though—

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

That's about all he can do.

SEC STATE:

--though you could— Even though I started to damn it 'cause I'm— I was frustrated and am frustrated with what our policy is. Our policy is what it is. We— We can't take our eye off the ball here.

LESTER HOLT:

Our National Security Council decides the Israeli-PaLEStinian crisis will have to wait. Iraq remains the top priority. But what will happen when the threat of violence becomes more real here at home.

(MUSIC)

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

The President needs to say there are likely to be attacks on the American Homeland of the size we saw in 911.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Once again LESter Holt.

LESTER HOLT:

For 22 minutes the President's top advisors have been distracted from the problem of Iraq by the sudden escalation in violence between Israel and the PaLEStinians. Now our control group from the Council on Foreign Relations will add another fictional development, a new threat on the home front.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

We have Hassan (PH) a confessed terrorist. We have him in— in custody right now. He's tellin' us about another 911 size attack— using oil tankers in US ports. I— I think we need to discuss the possibility of not allowing any more oil tankers in there. Particularly liquefied natural gas.

You're talking about an explosion that could have two-three mile blast radius that would level everything. I— I think we have to protect our deployment ports now. Our problem is we got a US Coast Guard that is smaller than the New York City Police Department. We do not have the capability to defend all of our ports.

SEC STATE:

Well— Well we thought how well they kept— Haitian—

MALE VOICE:

Yeah. It's—

SEC STATE:

--refugees off—

(OVERTALK)

MALE VOICE:

It's— ni—

SEC STATE:

--Florida's coast.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Look. We only have so many assets in this country. You— You told me to go out and defend everything. Okay? It got— I only have so many assets. You gotta tell me what the priority's going to be. Defending our offensive military capabilities and deployment ports, or defending our cities.

We're talkin' about biological detection equipment. I don't have enough to do both.

SEC DEF:

We can't— you know, be deterred from doing what's necessary— because— of— a terrorist— in prison says that there may become attack on oil tankers. You know? That—

HSA:

Just askin' for priorities.

MALE VOICE:

Sure.

HSA:

And I need— I— I think there's only one person in the country that can make that decision. I think we should consider goin' to— to condition level orange for petroleum industry and the chemical industry to— to— to certain sectors as we can do those things that— We have weapons of mass destruction sitting—

MALE VOICE:

Yes.

MALE2 VOICE:

--inside our nation.

FEMALE VOICE:

What— What—

(OVERTALK)

HSA:

They don't need to bring 'em in.

NSA:

The question on the table, (MUSIC) as far as I'm concerned— is a) What are we gonna do about this threat in fact? Answer HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR's questions and secondly what the devil do we say about it publicly? That's

HSA:

The President needs to prepare the American public psychologically for the fact that we're going to war and this is a different one. In Vietnam, Korea, Panama. Even the first time we went to the desert in 1991.

There was no real concerns of massive large scale attacks on the United States. That's changed. (TALK) And we need— They need— The President needs to say there are likely to be attacks on the American homeland of the size we saw in 911. I know that's gonna be difficult.

SEC STATE:

Maybe what we ought to do is recommend to the President that he say to the American people, "As we this situation continues we are likely to hear about a series of threats." I've asked our Homeland Security Advisor to begin a series of meetings with key sectors in the American economy. To make sure that we have done what we can— to go forward so that people don't freak out every time we have— we're gonna have threat, after threat. But we need to make sure. I mean I think there oughtta be a meeting in the Roosevelt room of— those companies that bring the oil tankers in and tell them what's going on and talk about what we have in place.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Just— And then Madam Secretary how 'bout overseas? I mean my oil guys, the CEOs of all the oil companies are freaking out about the expatriots they have out there.

UN AMB:

But I think we have a question here about how— whether a private meeting with CEOs behind closed doors— is sufficient. We have a s— a fairly specific set of information here. At least specific to industry, specific to ports. And I think— HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR you need to give us your advice on whether this merits or not some more public statement about the threat.

HSA:

It— It's going to be public one way or the other. Since 911, the White House has called governors and mayors 11 times to give 'em specific warning of credible intelligence information. Eleven out of 11 times it's been on the local TV station within LESs then two hours.

FEMALE VOICE:

Right.

HSA:

So we have to understand that. You just can't tell with CEO. I wish we could. We can't. And by the way—

(OVERTALK)

HSA:

--hate to be a bureaucrat here, but if you call in all the CEOs to talk to government officials about their vulnerabilities under FACA (PH) it's gonna be in all the front pages of the newspapers.

FEMALE VOICE:

Yes.

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE:

Because we put it out there or—

FEMALE2 VOICE:

I don't think it should be—

UN AMBASSADOR:

--whether it leaks out through a meeting.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

We gotta put it out.

FEMALE VOICE:

Right. I don't think it should be—

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

What—

FEMALE VOICE:

--a secret at all. I think we should—

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Okay.

SEC STATE:

--say to the American people, "There is going to be threat after threat as we hear of them we are going to bring in the relevant people. We'll tell you what the issue is. But we're gonna work these through."

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Let's raise the threat level then to orange—

MALE VOICE:

All right.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

--for these seven—

NSA:

Let— Let me see if I can state the consensus on this so we can get back to where we're supposed to go for the President to the options. We're all agreed I think it— on raising the threat level to orange. We'll all— We'll—

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

For certain specific sectors.

FEMALE VOICE:

Sectors. Right.

NSA:

That's for these sectors. And you'll— you'll specify that in a memo—

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Yes.

NSA:

--to the President. Secondly the President's gotta say something publicly.

ran Um-hm (AFFIRM).

LES:

Now fr— frankly, listening to this discussion, I think— getting ourselves prepared at home is far more of a problem than getting ourselves prepared to take military action against Iraq. We're in much better shape to go hit Baghdad than we are to protect our own cities. And one of the tricks in drafting this will be the President making a balance between alarming people and fighting them off the path of where we need to go and preparing them for real dangers here at home.

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Right.

LES:

We've gotta strike that balance. Anything else we need to say on that one?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

You say you're not worried on military cooperation. Are you worried about energy cooperation. That's an important factor. When the price of oil hits $30 it enters the Oval Office. It's an Oval Office issue. When it hits $40 it's a cardiac arrest for the American economy. This is serious stuff.

LES:

All right. All I wanna know at this point is what we need to say on energy oil as part of the presidential statement if anything.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

We need to tell the President that— he has to address the concerns of the Gulf states.

LES:

Be specific.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

And—

LES:

What concerns do we need to show that we're—

(OVERTALK)

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

I— I really think we need to say something about the Israelis— and the PaLEStinians.

LES:

I— I heard ya and you know the President's policy. The President has made clear he's not going to let these events in the Middle East derail his Iraq policy.

UN AMB:

It's not about derailing it. It's about managing it.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Helping it.

UN AMB:

And I think the question is—

LES:

So—

UN AMB:

--if— is there something—

LES:

--how heard anything about how to manage it better?

UN AMB:

Well Yousef—

LES:

As the CIA Director says—

SEC STATE:

Been through this like 20 times.

LES:

--we have no reason to believe that these people are any more out of sorts today than they were three months ago or six months ago. If the situation gets worse we can talk about doing more. But the President's not gonna change his policy in the middle of this crisis.

LESTER HOLT:

The mock National Security Council has decided that for now the problems in the Middle East cannot be allowed to derail US policy. And while the homeland will be put on a heightened state of alert, the domestic terror threat will also not change the war plan. So our control group decides to test the President's advisors with another challenging simulation. A confusing set of events in Baghdad which rapidly unfold into a major incident.

SEC DEF:

The Inspector's vehicles are now moving in a different direction accompanied by Special Republican Guard forces.

(NEW SECTION)

LESTER HOLT:

For the real live National Security Council, concrete information is sometimes hard to come by. They have to make decisions with incomplete facts, sometimes from dubious sources. Even satellite intelligence can be confusing. Our control group decides to test our simulated National Security Council with exactly that kind of problem. The Secretary of Defense is about to get a telephone report from one of his intelligence officers.

INTELLIGENCE OFFICER:

Mr. Secretary of Defense. Images from our predator drone show that a convoy of United Nations inspectors, headed toward the Iraqi agricultural institute encountered a roadblock created by the Special Republican Guard. The Inspectors' vehicLES appear now to be moving in another direction flanked by the Republican Guard.

MALE VOICE:

About the need (NOISE) to have the Gulf (UNINTEL) make it up. At this—

SEC DEF:

You're gonna wanna hear about this phone call.

(OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

SEC DEF:

The Inspectors' vehicLES are now moving in a different direction, no longer toward the Iraqi Agricultural Institute, accompanied by Special Republican Guard forces. This— Repu— This roadblock and diversion has occurred within the last hour.

SEC STATE:

And accompanied by Republican Guard because.

SEC DEF:

I've told you everything I know.

DCI:

Yeah. I think— I mean that is an important concern. If they are specifically directing— if the SIV is directing them, that is a— a clear contravention.

FEMALE VOICE:

Right.

SEC DEF:

We've just got the actual images— from the predator and— showing the road block and the— the video can be displayed— at your request— LES (PH)

NSA:

Please.

SEC DEF:

Please proceed.

LESTER HOLT:

The Council must sometimes make judgments on the sparest of information. What are they to make of a seven-second transmission from a drone flying over Baghdad.

SEC DEF:

All we have— as far as we can tell— appears to be a roadblock and now—

SEC STATE:

In other words—

(OVERTALK)

MALE VOICE:

--we know what we know.

SEC STATE:

--instead of being able to go straight, they've had to turn.

MALE VOICE:

Apparently so.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

Yeah. Well— Well this is not a life threatening event by any means.

FEMALE VOICE:

Yeah.

(OVERTALK)

MALE2 VOICE:

But we have to find out—

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

--warfare facilities—

MALE2 VOICE:

--wh— why—

MALE VOICE:

--where they were—

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

--why did you change your— your direction?

SEC STATE:

And why are the Republican Guard—

(OVERTALK)

MALE VOICE:

Why—

MALE2 VOICE:

Yeah.

SEC DEF:

They were en route to the Iraqi Agricultural Institute.

NSA:

We need some more information. (MUSIC) Because just based on that it's suspicious, worrisome, but we don't have grounds to say anything else at this moment.

MALE VOICE:

'cause—

FEMALE VOICE:

We— We—

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

--it's a Bill of Particulars.

MALE2 VOICE:

Right.

UN AMB:

But I think we also need to have, obviously, Ken's best folks— give us their judgment as quickly as possible about what this actually means.

DCI:

I— I will definitely have my people get to work on this.

LESTER HOLT:

Within minutes a new piece of information will turn the situation on its head in our simulation. Chemical weapons finally enter the picture and a more difficult question must be faced.

NSA:

It is something we're not gonna declare the basis for— taking military action.

(NEW SECTION)

LESTER HOLT:

At this point, more than an hour into their meeting, our National Security Council is still trying to figure out what this picture means. Does it show the Iraqis are really blocking UN inspectors? Interpreting this kind of intelligence is exactly the kind of challenge the real National Security Council will face as the inspectors do their work.

And if Saddam Hussein is true to form he will surprise American officials with moves none of them can predict. So our control group puts just that kind of wild card into the mix with another live newscast. It turns out the UN inspectors are not being diverted away from chemical weapons, they are being led right to them.

ANNOUNCER:

(MUSIC) This is a World Global News Network Special Report.

REPORTER:

In a surprising development in Iraq the government is turning over to UN inspectors a large cache of the deadly chemical VX, which was stored in an abandoned warehouse near Baghdad. Inspectors were on their way to another site when they were intercepted by Special Republican Guard forces and immediately escorted to the warehouse. A spokesman for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein says that chemical weapons were produced without government knowledge by a rogue faction of the Republican Guard.

Eyewitnesses report seeing 18 members of the guard being taken away. The government spokesman says Iraq wants UN inspectors to destroy the chemicals immediately. A Canadian member of the inspection team speaking with reporters after returning to Baghdad is praising Iraq's cooperation with the inspection process.

An Iraqi government spokesman says the turn of events shows that Iraq is determined to avoid armed conflict. Repeating our story, Iraq is turning over to UN inspectors a large store of deadly chemical weapons which the Iraqi government says were produced by a rogue faction of the Iraqi Republican Guard. More details as they become available.

(MUSIC)

NSA:

This is the kind of issue where we're—

ANNOUNCER:

This has been a World Global News Network—

NSA:

--gonna have to go to the President right away. It's not a matter of figuring out whether or not this convoy was a serious problem. We now know it's connected with VX gas. He's admitted it. And he's turning it over.

Do we regard this as a material breach? Is it a basis for our taking military action against Saddam. Can we carry that diplomatically and politically at this stage. We'll, on the other hand, some people say, "Well he's admitting he's got the stuff. That's— That's a good sign."

SEC DEF:

The only people who will regard this as a real disclosure by Saddam rather than a sham are what Lenin used to call useful idiots. Clearly what's going on here is that this a sham.

NSA:

Anyone think anyone's gonna believe these— this was a rogue operation.

(OVERTALK)

UN AMB:

No, of course not.

MALE VOICE:

No.

UN AMB:

But that's not the point.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Let's go around the table so—

FEMALE VOICE:

Right.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

The people will who— because they want to.

NSA:

Canadian on the team even said, "Hey, we gotta praise the Iraqis for turning the stuff over."

(OVERTALK)

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

Which is what Saddam Hussein wants because here we are into the na—

SEC DEF:

There aren't too many, but there are even a few Canadian useful idiots.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

People will believe what they wanna believe because they don't want war and therefore they'll say, "Well Saddam Hussein told us that this is a rogue operation and there's no reason for us (LAUGHTER)--

NSA:

Right.

MALE2 VOICE:

--not to believe it."

NSA:

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR, what do you think?

HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR:

Express outrage, but it's not the trigger. I agree. Probably this was the defensive plan in case the UN team was going to that biological warfare facility. This was a planned event, the deception. It's daylight in Iraq. Hopefully we have good satellite coverage of what's going on at the agriculture plant now and I think we should be insisting our inspection team get to the agriculture plant.

NSA:

UN AMBASSADOR, what do you think?

UN AMBASSADOR:

I agree. I mean it's obviously a diversion and a joke. But the— the— the bottom line is it's not going to give us what we need— as a trigger in any way, shape or form in— in— in a diplomatic sense. I agree completely with the General. I don't think we can be confused about it, signaling disarmament but let's— let's pocket it and recognize that it's not a trigger and let's continue to look for evidence of noncompliance that is more—

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE:

SEC DEF?

SEC DEF:

I have something that just came in that's relevant to this— discussion. Some infrared— imaging of the Iraqi agricultural institute where the convoy was headed— before the diversion indicates that there's a contained fire in a courtyard as if materials are being destroyed.

NSA:

What do you wanna say about that?

SEC DEF:

What a coincidence that— that— that you have a huge fire like that at the site to which they were headed and were prevented from going to. This is starting to get— very interesting.

UN AMB:

This is more about the material breach.

(OVERTALK)

MALE VOICE:

Right. I— I— I—

SEC DEF:

This is— This is getting very—

SEC STATE:

I was where every one of you were on that side of the table which is the diversion was serious. This was all a joke but not the basis for going forward. This makes it a much more serious situation.

NSA:

Yousef, what do you think?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

I think we are going to get where we want to get at the end anyway. We know he has weapons and we know we can prove that case. I'm just very concerned that we appear to be in a big hurry to go to war instead of in a big hurry to disarm him. And—

LES:

Ken.

FEMALE VOICE:

On—

LES:

On— On the issue of material breach.

DCI:

Yeah— as DCI, I'm not gonna take a position on whether we should or should not make this material ple— breach. But to take UN AMBASSADOR's point. If they turn over the VX, they have not turned over the per— the facility that produced the VX. We can demand that they turn over the facility. We can demand they— turn over all of the precursor chemicals. In addition, we no have proof that elements of the SRG, the Special Republican Guard, were prodicing— prohibited items.

SEC DEF:

And diverted us from a place where they—

DCI:

This— This—

SEC DEF:

--started a fire.

DCI:

Exa— This would now allow us to then make demands about the Special Republican Guard—

(OVERTALK)

NSA:

But you really wanna push further to find out—

DCI:

Well I'm saying—

NSA:

--find out more information.

DCI:

We certainly need a lot more information. This gives us the opening.LES, point. Eighteen Special Republican Guard Personnel could not manufacture a warehouse full of VX. It took thousands of people to do that.

SEC DEF:

I think the United States should formally ask Hans Blix to remove these 18 ir— individuals and their families from Iraq and question them about their role in— in so— monu— allegedly manufacturing— this— VX. I think that would be a very useful thing for us to do.

LES:

He oughtta ask for it. He won't get it, but he oughtta ask for it.

SEC STATE:

I think that we have a way forward here. I think if we all were to look at this in actuality, it is a material breach. The question is do we wanna declare it as such. I think there is a middle ground. I think the middle ground is to say to those on the Security Council, we have concerns about a situation in Iraq.

We are going to request that the 18 be taken out of the country for further interviewing. We have not come to a conclusion about this situation, but we are quite concerned about it because I think if we don't do that, if we don't reserve the right to declare this a material breach after further investigation, we may pass an opportunity that in hindsight we will look back on and wish we had taken.

NSA:

The situation I think comes down to— to this. If we don't declare this kind of revelation, the material breach, we may never have an opportunity as clear cut. Everyone except people who are just committed on the other side of this question will see this as proof positive that Saddam had the weapons of mass destruction we've been talking about.

On the other hand, if we do declare a material breach, we're almost forced into taking military action as quickly as possible and maybe before we're ready to do it. We're gonna have at least a three, four-week hiatus. And on top of it there isn't very much we're going to be able to do here at home to get ready for.

(OVERTALK)

SEC DEF:

The Secretary of State had it (MUSIC) exactly right. We express our concern. We get ready to get ready. We start moving. We take these steps. The reserves moving forces to the Mideast and the rest continue to keep this on people's minds, but wait a few weeks to make the— the formal— declaration.

FEMALE VOICE:

Well it may not be a month.

MALE VOICE:

Marvelous thing is—

FEMALE VOICE:

We may be—

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

The marvelous thing that we can use to kick the can down the street a little bit is this business of getting the 18 people out of the country.

(OVERTALK)

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

We've bein' very prudent in withholding judgment in the interest of peace. But if looked very, very suspicious.

FEMALE VOICE:

Right.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

And if he refuses to a— llow the 18 out of the country, well that must tell us something as an international community. That this man is once again playin' a cat and mouse game.

SEC DEF:

In the meantime we'll get three to four divisions in there.

MALE VOICE:

Well that's right.

NSA:

I— I like it. We say this is very serious. We're investigating whether or not it could be a material breach. We'll be able to make that determination when we get new information in the coming weeks. Meantime we're gonna continue to build up our forces abroad and get ready at home.

LESTER HOLT:

In our war game, Iraq has used deception, diversion and disinformation to delay the inspections. It has pushed our mock National Security Council much closer to a decision to recommend war. But still they have decided on more investigation while continuing an aggressive military buildup. In the second round of our war game they will be confronted with new crises as they edge closer to the brink of war.

MALE VOICE:

We need to start moving the troops.

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

And the diplomacy's a joke.

(NEW SECTION)

ANNOUNCER:

(MUSIC) From MSNBC and the Council on Foreign Relations, this is a special presentation, "War Game Iraq." Once again, LESter Holt.

LESTER HOLT:

Welcome back to "War Game Iraq." After a three-hour meeting we know bring our mock National Security Council back to the table for a second round. Our behind the scenes control group from the Council on Foreign Relations has advanced the scenario to put more pressure on the President's advisors. The clock has moved ahead three weeks. There are now 85,000 US troops in the region. US intelligence continues to detect subtle Iraqi manipulations in the UN inspection process. And those 18 rogue Iraqi officers possibly involved in producing VX gas.

Have been summarily executed by the Iraqi regime before they could be interviewed by UN inspectors. In our first session, the NSC concluded that the discovery of VX gas in Iraq could be the smoking gun the United States needs. But that more concrete information was needed to build the case for war. Now three weeks later in our fictional scenario the Council comes back to the table armed with more information and the LES asked whether the United States is now ready to make its case.

NSA:

Ken, what's our net judgment? With this evidence are we going to be able to convince anyone besides ourselves and our friends that this is a material breach?

DCI:

LES, I think that at this point in time it is really a matter of US diplomacy. I think that the rest of the world is going to see this based on what they want to believe. Those countries that don't want us to go to war are going to interpret this as being minor incidents. Those countries that are willing to support us will take this as good signs of material breach.

LES:

And UN AMBASSADOR, how does this look from the UN?

UN AMBASSADOR:

I think it looks grim.

LES:

Well obviously then if there's any (THROAT CLEARS) question of— several votes against this, let alone a veto, we don't wanna bring this material breach issue to a vote.

KEN:

Right.

UN AMBASSADOR:

Not yet. I think we have—

MALE VOICE:

Right.

UN AMBASSADOR:

--we have further spade work to do. And I— I— I am not suggesting that we give up.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Let's cut to the chase. If we go to war, who's gonna be with us?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY:

Or more importantly, who's gonna be against us. I say that in terms of— of the Gulf states, in terms of noncooperation (SIC) and Turkey also. We have to make use of those people and so we wanna do everything we possibly can to ensure that they will at least s— if not support us at least step aside and let us do our thing.

MALE2 VOICE:

I— I—

LES:

Mick— JIM. Why don't you bring us up to date in what we could accomplish in the next two or three weeks if we had to move very quickly. And then what the optimum force is and when that's there.

SEC DEF:

Well in terms of logistic base and the infrastructure for— offensive military operations, we're in good shape. In terms of troops, this is close to the trigger. It's a very visible sign and we don't want a lot of troops sitting around in— in— the— the region w— with no action taking place. So I think we're getting to the crunch point if we wanna get an operation under way in the February or certainly no later than— than March time frame, that— we have to start moving— moving the troops.

FEMALE VOICE:

Don't you think we should

LES:

Tell us— Tell us what we could accomplish if the President said to go in two or three weeks and tell us what we would accomplish if— we could wait to get all 200,000 troops present.

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

You could start with your— your air— air campaign. We could start with the air campaign right now.

SEC STATE:

Which you're gonna start with anyway.

(OVERTALK)

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

I think it's very important for us to try to win this as quickly as possible once we start fighting. So I would advise the President to give us a few weeks here and let us get the forces in theater.

FEMALE VOICE:

We need to see what—

LESTER HOLT:

But with the Secretary of State working to win this—

(BREAK IN TAPE)

LESTER HOLT:

But with the Secretary of State working to win the support of Arab countries, a rapid move toward military action could backfire. And she urges a go slow approach to give diplomats a chance to build a coalition for military action.

SEC STATE:

I don't think we should urge the President to give that order to get all of the troops in while we're going around the capitals making a case and in fact, there's been material breach.

SEC DEF:

Wendy, we're past that.

SEC STATE:

We have to sequence this.

SEC DEF:

We're past that. (CLEAR THROAT) We're past that. We need to start moving the troops.

MALE VOICE:

Well, one of the important things—

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

Then you're giving a mixed message. You're giving quite a mixed message in terms of— I mean, and then diplomacy's a joke.

SEC ENERGY:

What kind of military campaign are you talking about? When you say we start bombing, bombing what? If we gonna do civilian casualties, you gonna lose the Gulf states right there.

(OVERTALK)

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

No, no, no. No. No, absolutely not. We went in— in 1991 we went after a lot of the infrastructure in Iraq. This time we shouldn't go after the infrastructure.

MALE VOICE:

So what are we gonna do?

CHAIRMAN, JCS:

We— what we should be targeting this time is not necessarily their command and control and their— their— their sanitation and electrical facilities. We should be striking their field forces and the Republican Guard. Part of the idea is to convince 'em that you guys are gonna be punished. You're gonna lose.

(OVERTALK NOT TRANSCRIBED)

SEC DEF:

In 1991 we were using about five percent smart weapons. The Gulf War, about ha— I mean, in the— in the— Afghan War about half. We'll be using 85, 90 percent smart weapons— in— in this air war. This is—

(OVERTALK)

SEC STATE:

But just make sure U.S.-- the American people know it doesn't mean it's gonna be a bloodless war.

SEC DEF:

They— certainly it's not gonna be bloodless. Wars are never bloodless. But— the opportunity here to attack precisely what we want to attack is considerably greater than it ever has been.

LESTER HOLT:

(VOICES) The Secretary of State tries again to slow down the Pentagon.

SEC STATE:

We're getting a huge amount of noise for the 85,000 troops and for all the equipment that has been moved in. And I'm not saying we can't deal with that noise. We can deal with that noise. But I just think we all don't know what the tipping point is.

SEC DEF:

There's a— there's a key point here. A lot of the noise is because people still think we are indecisive.

MALE VOICE:

Right.

SEC DEF:

One of the only true things bin Laden has ever said (CLEAR THROAT) is if people look at strong horse and a weak horse then they like the strong horse better. If we are clearly moving decisively, we're going to find that people are gonna say, "Oh. Now they really mean it." Even the French. The French usually come around when they see that we really mean

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