November 24, 2003 | Broadcast

Special Report with Maria Bartiromo

Welcome back. We turn our attention now to the matters of intelligence and foreign policy. The State Department is defending a decision by the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to ban a major Arab television station’s broadcasts from Iraq. The council raided the offices of al-Arabiya television. The State Department says that the aim was to keep the station from being used as a channel for incitement. Joining us now to talk about the situation in post-war Iraq and elsewhere around the globe, former CIA Director James Woolsey.

Mr. Woolsey, good to have you with us.

Mr. JAMES WOOLSEY (Former CIA Director): Good to be with you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: So much to talk about tonight, from Russia to North Korea. Let’s begin, though, in Iraq. You were an advocate of the president’s action in Iraq. What is your analysis of the rash of post-war violence there, and of–and elsewhere, such as what we saw last week in Turkey?

Mr. WOOLSEY: Well, I think that in Iraq itself there were several problems. One is that the 4th Division was kept out by the Turks, and so they didn’t come through that so-called Sunni triangle, the area just north and west of Baghdad where most of the–or virtually all of the incidents either originate or take place. Second, most importantly perhaps, the State Department declined for years, beginning back in 1998, to spend nearly $100 million, or a large share of it that was appropriated to them then, to help train people–Iraqis who were outside Iraq to go in with us or to fight if need be. We should have gone in with hundreds or even thousands of Iraqis who had–who were from the Iraqi diaspora to help serve as scouts, as spies, as policemen, as–all–for all sorts of purposes, and we went in with almost none.

Those two factors together have meant that particularly Saddam’s clan, the Tikritis, maybe 1 percent to 2 percent of the Iraqi population in this Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad–and those were–the Tikritis were the people who dominated his government. They feel they have nothing really to lose, because they’re out of the saddle, and they certainly will not be running things in the future. And they have, some of them, money, and they hire criminals to do these–undertake these terrible attacks and they undertake some of them themselves, probably with some assistance from al-Qaida, Islamist organizations anyway, infiltrating people in from Iran, from Syria, perhaps from Saudi Arabia.

So we’ve got a serious problem in that share of Iraq, but outside that part of Iraq, generally speaking, not entirely, but generally speaking among the Kurds in the north and among the Shia Muslims in the south, things are going reasonably well. It’s a mixed picture.

BARTIROMO: It sounds like–it sounds like you do believe, though, that we need the Iraqis to really take more of a leadership position, or–or certainly more of a policing position. Today Iraq’s interim authority submitted a time table for self-rule, asking the UN Security Council for a new resolution that would end the U–the US-led occupation in June. Is that what it’s going to take to see a stabilization there or not?

Mr. WOOLSEY: It probably helps to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis in a reasonable time frame like that. This is probably the best course under the circumstances. The expert on the Middle East at Princeton, Bernard Lewis, and I wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago in which we advocated doing this with the old Iraqi constitution, the one that they had from 1925 until 1958, because they had an elected parliament, it has a bill of rights, it has an amendment procedure. It does have a Hashemite king as a constitutional monarch, but that could be amended and changed to a president if they wanted to do it. We thought that would be a reasonable interim government to use to establish a basis for sovereignty, and that various ministries could be turned over to that entity as they were ready. You know, the railroad ministry is probably ready now. Other ministries will be ready on a month-to-month basis.

They’ve decided instead to have the whole thing take place next June and take place with an interim government. That may work. It’s going to take a lot of work between now and June to get ready for that, but it’s probably better to start with an interim government than to start with elections, as at least some Iraqis were calling for before. You–you have to have some kind of a rule of law before you can call elections, I think.

BARTIROMO: And I–I remember the piece. Bernard Lewis actually has joined us on the program talking about similar–similar ideas. Now a week ago, a classified Pentagon memo was leaked to The Weekly Standard…


BARTIROMO: …detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden back in the 1990s to 2003. Part of the time frame in the memo occurred when you were director of the CIA. What can you tell us about the history of the relationship between al-Qaida and Iraq?

Mr. WOOLSEY: Well, I have always thought that there was a relationship, connections between al-Qaida and Iraqi intelligence. They’re sort of like two Mafia families. They hate each other, they kill each other from time to time, they insult each other all the time, but in the Middle East especially, the enemy of my enemy is at least my temporary friend, and I think they’ve been working together for years going back to when bin Laden was in Sudan and Mr. Tarabi there brokered a relationship between them.

That memo–I’m against leaks of classified documents, but that memo on the basis–is the basis of that article in The Weekly Standard, has a stunning number of connections. I counted over 35 meetings beginning in the early ’90s between Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaida, over 20 individuals named who took part in the meetings, a dozen or so meetings where they talked about–of different types of weapons and trai–assistance in training, three where they talked about intermediaries between them.

I think anybody who reads that article and says that there was no connection of any kind in the ’90s between–and now between Iraqi intelligence up until the war and–and al-Qaida just is ignoring what’s as plain as the nose on your face. It’s another question whether or not Iraq was involved at all in September 11th. That’s a different issue. But connections, ties, assistance–George Tenet wrote that a year ago to the Congress. He said there’re connections going back 10 years and training by the Iraqis of al-Qaida in, quote, “poisons, gases and explosives,” and what this memo does is it puts meat on the bones of Tenet’s letter of a year ago.

BARTIROMO: Sure does, Mr. Woolsey. Stick around. We’re going to slip in a quick break and then we’ll continue our discussion on those connections and ties and relationships. Do stay with us. James Woolsey comes back in a moment.


Announcer: This is SPECIAL REPORT. Once again, Maria Bartiromo.

BARTIROMO: Welcome back to the program. Much more to come this half-hour, including my interview with Robert Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot. But first, we are back now with former CIA Director James Woolsey.

Mr. Woolsey, you made an interesting comment just a moment ago. You’re saying that in all the years that you’ve been studying Saddam Hussein, al-Qaida, you have seen ties, you have seen connections. However, you said it was a different thing when it comes to September 11th. Do you believe Saddam Hussein had any direct connection or indirect connection to 9/11?

Mr. WOOLSEY: I think it’s possible. If I had to pick odds, I’d say 51-49, quite possibly. I think it’s the meetings between al-Ani–two of them confirmed, I believe now, in Prague, two others not–between him, who was an Iraqi intelligence officer, and Atta, one of the lead bombers–the suicide bombers of 9/11. I think that some of the training that went on at Salman Pak in Iraq of–of hijackers–not necessarily the hijackers who attacked us 9/11, but developing the doctrine and–and tactics.

I think that on the anthrax side, the fact that Atta took one of the other hijackers in to be treated for what one the doctors down in Florida now say was anthrax a couple of months before the–the anthrax attacks and 9/11 suggests there may be a tie between the anthrax attacks and al-Qaida. I think there’s a lot we don’t know yet, but there are a number of things that are very suspicious and well worth still vigorously investigating on the 9/11 and the anthrax attack front.

BARTIROMO: Briefly on North Korea, broadening out the focus, compared to all of the threats the US is facing, where does North Korea rank?

Mr. WOOLSEY: It’s a very bad threat, because they’re very far along toward having nuclear weapons, may already have a couple of nuclear weapons themselves, as well as the–as the fissionable material to make more. They’ve opted out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They export and they–they really earn most of the foreign currency they get from illegal exports of ballistic missiles and heroin. And there’s nothing to say they won’t export fissionable material such as plutonium or highly enriched uranium once they have enough of it. And you don’t need a big, elaborate logistics structure to export something the size of a grapefruit, which is the size of fissionable material you need for a nuclear weapon.

I think that–that we have a serious problem with North Korea, and I think pe–if one wants peaceful change there, the only country that can quite possibly bring it back–about is China because they have so much leverage over North Korea’s fuel and food.

BARTIROMO: Sure. Mr. Woolsey, thank so much for joining us. We hope you’ll come back soon.

Mr. WOOLSEY: Hope so, too. Good to be with you.

BARTIROMO: Former CIA Director James Woolsey.