CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown: Iraq: Inspections Then and Now
Aired October 3, 2002 - 12:53 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: For all the talk of U.N. weapons inspections in general and Saddam Hussein's palaces in particular, very few people can speak with firsthand knowledge. Charles Duelfer is one of them. He served as the deputy chairman of the U.N. program that carried out the first round of inspections right after the Gulf War.
Charles, thanks for joining us.
What about those presidential palaces? You've been inside. What are they like?
CHARLES DUELFER, FMR. UNSCOM DEP. CHAIRMAN: Well, they're more than just palaces. They're large groupings of governmental buildings. Of course, they are palaces, and marble appears to be the predominant construction material. They are large facilities. They have warehouses, they have governmental buildings, a lot of administrative buildings, and those areas of interest to us at the time.
BLITZER: Did you ever find anything suspicious, any weapons of mass destruction, capabilities, documents or anything along those lines in any visits to the palaces?
DUELFER: We only had one set that was under very artificial circumstances. The Iraqis knew we were coming, and they cleaned the buildings out completely. And bear in mind, we were not looking for weapons themselves, we were looking for documents. We were investigating their concealment mechanism. We knew that there was one guy in Iraq who really knew this stuff. That was the president. He had to give -- issue instructions, papers and that flowed through his lieutenants, and those issues and computers were there.
BLITZER: If you're Saddam Hussein and you have four years to move things around knowing someday there might be renewed inspections. You don't put them in the presidential palaces, because that's where the inspectors want to go.
DUELFER: Exactly. He's had four years to prepare. There's going to be a mismatch between the full resources of the nation-state with an elaborate security and intelligence system, against U.N. inspectors operating under u.n. Rules.
BLITZER: Let me read an e-mail we got from Ed: "The U.S. should remove the sticking point of the inspections issues immediately, take out those palaces. Otherwise, the inspectors will simply be running around Iraq chasing their tails. If the Iraqis are restricting access to those estates. That's obviously where the weapons are." DUELFER: Well, there's a lot of places where Iraq can hide things. They're very good and they've got an elaborate system. I've talked to Iraqis who departed Iraq. These people have a great sense of how to move things about. I agree with that comment that we're going to be chasing our tails if we abide by the same set of rules that we operated under.
Unless those rules are changed, it's not going to work.
BLITZER: That's why the U.S., the Bush administration wants a new U.N. Security Council resolution.
Hal from Houston has this question: "What distinguishes a 'palace' from other government buildings?"
DUELFER: This is a definition which Iraq imposed on the U.N. They had defined areas that they were going to say that had to be treated specially because of Iraq's sensitivities, dignity and so forth. So there was an agreement that inspections would take place with a bunch of diplomats to serve as a, sort of a, dignity battalion.
BLITZER: And Jay from Birmingham, Alabama has this to say. "I think Hussein's palaces are a red herring. If I don't want you to look in my closet, I'll make attack off limits. I think we should call his bluff and accept his limitations on the searches."
DUELFER: The problem is warning time, frankly. We have to be able to go anywhere possible, but we have to be able to do it in a way where Iraq doesn't know we're headed in that direction. That's a tough nut to crack, especially with a country like Iraq.
BLITZER: Charles Duelfer, you've been there. You've seen those places. Thanks for joining us.
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