Another document from the archives of the Iraqi Intelligence Service details the response plan from IIS headquarters in dealing with the discovery of a mass grave early in 2001. The burial site in the southern no-fly zone got the attention of the head of the IIS 5th Directorate, the Counterintelligence directorate, who sent a top-secret memo to the head of M4/1, Foreign Intelligence – Arab Nations. Document ISGQ-2004-00224003 lays out the Iraqi regime’s strategy for damage control (emphases mine):
Pages 3-5 contain a Secret memo signed on behalf of the Head of 5th Directorate (Translator Comment (TC): no name indicated) and sent from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to the 1st Department of the 4th Directorate regarding information about mass graves in the Southern Area of Iraq, and the rituals and ceremonies to be made for the dead people. The memo was dated 07 February 2001, and contained the following notes:
• The IIS has no information about the mass graves in the Southern Area.
• Graves have to be tested for the presence of nuclear radiation.
• Were they buried alive or did they die of suffocation?
• Were they military or civilian?
• Was there any identification of their names?
• Place signs and accurate details for the mass graves to be reached easily.
• Use trusted news agencies to leak rumors and information that there is a misunderstanding and signs from some Coalition Forces members regarding the presence of the mass graves in Southern Iraq.
• Request assistance from some friendly countries that possess the technological capabilities to search for these graves.
• Give CNN the priority to cover this incident to make a bigger effect on the international community.
• Leak rumors to trusted media sources that the atrocities and mass graves found in the Southern Area were committed by the Coalition Forces. This is in order to make these actions noticeable as monstrous and inhuman to the whole world.
• After that, the remains are to be taken out of the graves; military procedures and arrangements will be made to pay the deceased their last respect. Also the building of memorial statues for the dead in every governorate.
Why would the mass graves need testing for nuclear radiation? Did Saddam use nuclear weapons in Iraq during or after the first Gulf War? The fact that this is one of the first tasks given by the head of the Counterintelligence directorate sounds rather unusual. Certainly by this time — ten years after the cessation of military operations against Iraq in that region — the Iraqis would have thought to test for radiation to ensure that we did not use our nukes against them.
The other points of interest show the deliberate manipulation of the media, including CNN. Why did the IIS trust CNN to deliver on their story line? Their confidence came from Eason Jordan’s capitulation to Saddam, complete with allowing the regime to dictate the copy that his reporters read into the cameras. Peter Arnett had swallowed the “baby formula” story hook, line, and sinker during the first Gulf War. Why wouldn’t they trust CNN to deliver their propaganda unfiltered to the West?