The Inspectors' Story
Aired March 1, 1998 - 10:00 p.m. ET
ANNOUNCER: Now on IMPACT, danger in Iraq. For the first time ever, the inside story from U.N. inspectors about events that led to the brink of war.
SCOTT RITTER, U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: These were the documents which laid out the Iraqi nuclear weaponization program.
ANNOUNCER: Exclusive stories and exclusive footage from U.N. inspectors, charging deception in Iraq; deception about Saddam Hussein's most legal weapon secrets.
TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: The information they get about the so-called alleged concealment efforts are wrong and bias.
ANNOUNCER: U.N. inspectors show IMPACT the documents and spy plane photos to reveal how much they found in Iraq, and how much remains.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: We definitely saw evidence that documents were removed or they were missing.
ANNOUNCER: Danger and charges of deception. How Iraqi guards threatened to shoot the U.N. inspectors.
RITTER: We were actually informed that if we would not withdraw that vehicle, the Iraqi security forces would open fire on that vehicle.
ANNOUNCER: First ever, firsthand accounts from the U.N. inspectors from the center of the storm in Iraq.
IMPACT, CNN and "Time" on special assignment, with Bernard Shaw in Washington, D.C., and Stephen Frazier in Atlanta. IMPACT, a collaboration of two of the world's leading news organizations, CNN and "Time."
From Washington, D.C., here's Bernard Shaw.
BERNARD SHAW, CO-HOST: Welcome to IMPACT. Tonight, an IMPACT, "Time" magazine exclusive; the inspectors' own stories told through interviews, documents, videotape and surveillance photographs. Their findings help explain why the United States and Britain threaten to bomb Iraq if inspections are not allowed to continue unimpeded.
Senior correspondent Kathy Slobogin has the first part of our hour-long special: The Inspectors' Story.
KATHY SLOBOGIN, "TIME": This is a high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance photograph of one of Iraq's most sensitive sites. Declassified for this report, the photo shows a heavily protected presidential area in downtown Baghdad. The area contains more than 500 buildings. The homes of ministers and government elite, barracks and military installations, and at the center of it all, Saddam Hussein's presidential palace.
In this palace, Iraq's president and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan negotiated last week's agreement that prevented war. But in 1991, just after the Gulf War, the palace hosted a meeting of a different sort, a meeting that U.N. Weapons inspectors say was the start of their troubles. The so-called Special High Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, included experts from Iraq's nuclear, biological, chemical and missile programs. Its purpose, according to U.N. weapons inspectors, was to plan a massive concealment of Iraq's most vital military secrets; a charge that Iraq denys.
AZIZ: The special commission has one fundamental aim.
SLOBOGIN: Just days earlier in New York, Aziz had accepted U.N. Security Council resolution 687, giving Iraq 15 days to formally declare a complete list of its weapons of mass destruction. A special U.N. commission, UNSCOM, was created to dismantle the weapons. Expert inspectors would oversee the task.
RITTER: We will act fully within the provisions.
SLOBOGIN: U.N. Weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, has not spoken in-depth about his work in Iraq until now.
RITTER: The commission was a temporary body, designed to be a temporary body and had organized itself to be a temporary body.
I'm here to inspect it again.
SLOBOGIN: The 36-year-old Ritter is a former U.S. Marines intelligence officer, who served in the Gulf War. As a ballistic missiles specialist for the newly created U.N. Special Commission, he got right to work.
The world was stunned by the weapons Saddam Hussein declared to the U.N. Amid this vast arsenal of poison, weapons experts took their lives in their hands to render it harmless. This worker was drenched with Sarin nerve gas, one drop of which can kill. If it wasn't for his protective suit and a 40-minute decontamination procedure, he'd be dead.
(on camera): Over the years, inspectors would discover that Iraq denied or lied about every one of its banned weapons program: missile, chemical, biological and nuclear. What's more, inspectors say, an organized system of concealment blocked their efforts from the outset.
RITTER: From day one Iraq has undertaken a systematic concealment effort against the Security Council resolutions, against the Special Commission, against the IAEA.
SLOBOGIN (voice-over): IMPACT has obtained this translated Iraqi document dated April 4, 1991, just one day after UNSCOM was created. It orders Iraqi nuclear scientists to hide their atomic bomb program from the inspectors. Among the orders, move all nuclear materials to a substitute site, collected and move computer data and create a cover story to justify the existence of the nuclear weapons labs.
RITTER: They actually conducted so-called red team exercises, where personnel from the Iraqi government went to these facilities, playing the role of inspectors, asking questions and ensuring that everybody understood what the scripted answers would be.
SLOBOGIN: CNN's Peter Arnett talked to Iraqi general minister Amer Rasheed about the charge of Iraqi deception.
GEN. AMER RASHEED, IRAQI GENERAL MINISTER: There's absolutely no concealment, whatsoever. And this is well known to UNSCOM.
SLOBOGIN: But concealment was the least of the inspectors' problems in the early days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2: Furthermore, I must strongly protest, and I emphasize strongly, the fact that personnel under my command clearly marked as U.N. personnel, come under hostile fire directed by Iraqi forces.
SLOBOGIN: In September, 1991, Iraqis used force again to take back crates of documents which had just been seized by U.N. inspectors, documents they believed were crucial to their task.
RITTER: I was with the operations center back here, and the feeling we were getting from the personnel on the ground was that they had the crown jewels, that this was exactly what we thought it was.
SLOBOGIN: The so-called crown jewels were documents detailing Iraq's nuclear weapons know-how, and this time they had literally been within the inspectors' grasp.
RITTER: These are the documents which laid out the Iraqi nuclear weaponization program.
SLOBOGIN: It was a turning point; both sides now realized that the prize was not simply weapons of mass destruction, but documents and computer disks. Vital information that could enable Iraqi rebuild their arsenal. According to UNSCOM, these confrontations led the Iraqis to quickly assemble a master weapons library, easily moved, easily concealed.
RITTER: Concealment mechanism sought to gather in this documentation to collate it, to get rid of access documents etcetera. And to keep it in a centralize the archive, which would be under the protection of the Special Security Organization.
SLOBOGIN: The Special Security Organization was and still is headed by Kusai (ph) Saddam Hussein, the president's son. It is a small, but intensely loyal force. According to inspectors, it has played a lead role in hiding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and its libraries of sensitive information.
RITTER: It's the enforcement arm of the concealment mechanism. The Special Security Organization protects things which are deemed to be presidential in nature.
SLOBOGIN: As Peter Arnett found out, General Rasheed was reluctant to discuss the secret organization.
PETER ARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tell us about the special security organization.
RASHEED: I don't think this has to do anything with our relationship with UNSCOM. And by the way, UNSCOM, and who supplies them with information, they know very well this organization.
SLOBOGIN: In July, 1992, another showdown. Scott Ritter and his team received intelligence reports that now Iraq's master weapons archives were being hidden in the Ministry of Agriculture in Baghdad.
RITTER: We arrived at that site, Iraq refused to allow the team in, and it turned into a standoff of over a week-and-a-half in duration. We watched them bus in the people. It was a big party, and the special security people brought in banners. They brought in the agitators who get the people chanting. They conducted a rehearsal and then they marched on the inspectors.
RASHEED: We spend a lot of effort before they enter any civilian site to control demonstration, but we cannot control the people all the time.
SLOBOGIN: Finally, when a man in the crowd tried to stab an inspector through the window of a jeep, the inspectors left empty handed.
RITTER: They said that the Special Commission would not be allowed into the ministries, because this affronted the dignity and sovereignty of Iraq. By putting the archive in the ministry, in this case an innocuous sounding ministry, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Iraq undertook to create a sanctuary where inspectors would not be allowed?
SLOBOGIN: Despite this public humiliation, despite Iraqi resistance, UNSCOM continued to make progress in destroying weapons Iraq had already declared. Over the next two and a half years, Iraq's stockpile of thousands of weapons, including chemical warfare agents, was gradually diminished by demolition teams.
Monitoring devices, cameras and sensors linked by satellite to New York and UNSCOM's Baghdad center were soon installed at hundreds of factories, labs and sensitive sites. By early 1995, the success in monitoring and destroying weapons, and political pressure from within the U.N., had UNSCOM close to declaring Iraq free from weapons of mass destruction.
AZIZ: The basic requirements that Iraq had to implement have been implemented.
SLOBOGIN: The U.N. might ultimately accepted Tariq Aziz' assurances, but there was an extraordinary turn; the defection from Iraq to Jordan of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, the man at the heart of Iraq's military secrets.
SHAW: That defection of Hussein Kamal breathed new life into the inspectors' efforts to uncover Iraq's most unguarded secrets. More on that, and what was found on the general's chicken farm when IMPACT continues.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CO-HOST: Welcome back, as we devote our entire program tonight to the stories told by United Nations weapons inspectors operating in Iraq. We pick up in the summer of 1995, when inspectors believed they had almost completed their work, thought they'd found almost all of Iraq's nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, until a dramatic series of events forced them to reevaluate their success and made them realize there were more secrets and more weapons out there.
Kathy Slobogin continues our report now, with the events that provided confirmation the inspectors' work was nowhere near complete.
SLOBOGIN: In July, 1995, few at UNSCOM paid much attention to these surveillance photographs of an area just outside Baghdad. They showed truck containers parked at the home and adjoining farm of General Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law.
General Kamal headed all Iraq's banned weapons programs. UNSCOM knew him as a key player in the conceal Saddam Hussein's most guarded secrets. But suddenly on August 8, Hussein Kamal defected with his family to Jordan, a move that would change forever the dynamic between Saddam Hussein and the weapons inspectors. Immediately, the general started talking about concealment.
GEN. KAMAL HUSSEIN (Through translator): We were ordered to hide everything from the beginning and indeed, much information was hidden and many files were destroyed in the nuclear, chemical and biological programs. These were not individual acts of concealment, but the result of direct orders from the Iraqi leadership.
SLOBOGIN: Baghdad's response to General Kamal's defection was just as unexpected. A few days later when U-2 surveillance shows that the truck containers had disappeared, Iraq invited UNSCOM to visit Hussein Kamal's chicken farm.
RASHEED: After the defection of Hussein Kamal, we discovered that he has hidden some documentation and some components of material, and he has given specific instruction to some senior experts to conceal not weapons, not equipment, not material, but to conceal the story of the -- program.
CHARLES DUEFLER, UNSCOM: The story is ludicrous, in essence. The Iraqis told us that the -- a girlfriend of the late Hussein Kamal had called them up and informed them that gee, there may be something in one of these buildings related to the Special Commission's work.
SLOBOGIN: That something turned out to be box after box of documents; one-and-a-half-million pages, all related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
(on camera): The documents were a gold mine. They revealed evidence of a crash program to build a nuclear weapon before and during the gulf war. They showed an ongoing effort by Iraq to build its own Scud missiles. They confirmed that Saddam Hussein's biological warfare plans had gone beyond simple experiments, and they left UNSCOM with a sobering thought.
DUELFER: The chicken farm documents gave us a clear indication of how much we had missed.
SLOBOGIN (voice-over): They were also remarkable for what they did not include, the fine print on how to develop, build and use weapons of mass destruction.
DUELFER: The know-how documents were weeded out. It was more than accidental. It had to be by design. A second important point is there was no documentation related to the -- concept of use for these -- weapons.
SLOBOGIN: Were the documents brought in on those truck containers and planted at the chicken farm? Was this a setup to blame Hussein Kamal for hiding Saddam Hussein's secrets? And if so, who was behind this? Few at UNSCOM believe the tall tale of how the documents wound up on the chicken farm. Who dreamed up the cover story?
RITTER: When we confronted the Iraqis with the illogic of their story, a senior Iraqi official acknowledged that what he told the Special Commission was a lie, and that he'd be instructed to lie by the Special Commission by Tariq Aziz himself.
SLOBOGIN: Once again, the trail of concealment led to the highest levels of government. UNSCOM reacted with a new, more aggressive stance. Take no Iraqi claims at face value. And if necessary, return to the ruins of the Gulf War. Re-examining every scrap of debris for clues to the state of Iraqi weapons programs. That's how a team of U.N. Inspectors wound up here in the moon scape of Mukhabarat. Iraq's bombed out chemical weapons plant 50 miles northwest of Baghdad.
DUELFER: Huge numbers of vast bunkers. Tons and tons of concrete. What if we were able to dig out under all this tons of concrete? There might well be documentation there.
SLOBOGIN: Dutch UNSCOM inspector, Kayes Wulterbeck, and his team of 40 started digging through concrete looking for paper. After three days, they hit pay dirt.
KAYES WULTERBECK (PH), UNSCOM INSPECTOR: Concrete column of a building that was hit during the bombing had collapsed on top of documents. They were in good condition.
SLOBOGIN: What the paperwork showed was shocking. From thousands of lines of Arabic handwriting two letters leapt off the pages -- VX, the deadliest poison gas of all. Iraq had always denied manufacturing VX in bulk. Now, here in immaculate pen and ink were the production logs, the quality and control details, even incident reports when Iraqi plant workers got sick.
DUELFER: We put the law into what the Iraqis had been telling us about VX, because here, right before us, was documentation on the VX program.
SLOBOGIN: In November, 1995, another bombshell: these missile gyroscopes and accelerateometers were intercepted in Jordan, on route to Baghdad. Their origin: Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a former ally of Iraq. Then, in Iraq inspectors found more new gyroscopes dumped in the river Tigris, suggesting that Iraq was rebuilding its ballistic missile program right under their noses, a charge Iraq denies.
RASHEED: At that time, I was responsible for the military industrialization corporation. We have neither the intention nor any activity of resuming long-range missile.
SLOBOGIN: The trail of illegal Iraqi procurement is tough to follow, but UNSCOM has found a consistent link with the Iraqi presidency through Iraqi intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat.
DUELFER: The Mukhabarat, which is to say the Iraqi -- one of the Iraqi key intelligence organs, has responsibility for overseas procurement.
SLOBOGIN: It was Iraqi front companies in Europe that originally procured the key component in Iraq's main biological weapons center at Al Hakim. This 5,000 liter stainless steel used to develop anthrax for biological warfare. UNSCOM technicians leveled Al Hakim in the spring of 1996.
But what inspectors didn't know at the time was that Iraq had already been secretly negotiating for a year to replace the Al Hakim fermenter with one ten times larger. The detailed paper trail was only recently uncovered by an UNSCOM biological team.
GABRIELE KRAATZ-WADSACK, UNSCOM: I found five cabinets with hundreds of documents related to the Al-Hakim facility on the plans
for future production of equipment -- fermentation designs. My eye was caught by a plan for a bigger plant in Al-Hakim.
SLOBOGIN: Iraq said the fermenters were to be used to make animal feed.
RASHEED: Mr. Arnett, you might not be aware of what is a fermenter. A fermenter is used even in secondary schools. But you see, because fermenters are used also in biological weapons, they want to confuse issues.
SLOBOGIN: UNSCOM says Iraq confused issues by lying about its biological weapons for so long. A massive fermenter, they say, could be an enormous boost to their arsenal. But UNSCOM has yet to find out if the machinery was actually delivered. The proposed provider of the huge fermenter, once again, was Russia, the maker of Iraq's illicit gyroscopes. UNSCOM is still waiting for an explanation from Moscow.
KRAATZ-WADSACK: We raised it just recently, and it's still not resolved yet.
SLOBOGIN: By 1996, U.N. inspectors were increasingly frustrated. They now had proof that Iraq lied to them about making tons of VX poison gas, and direct evidence that Baghdad was still importing parts for its banned missile and biological programs. It was clearly time to take the offensive.
FRAZIER: What form would any offensive take for these unarmed U.N. Inspectors? Their surprising tactics when we come back.
SHAW: We'll be right back with our weekly program IMPACT and U.N. inspectors on what's been like in Iraq.
SHAW: Welcome back to IMPACT. We're devoting our program to the first-hand story of the United Nations' inspectors in Iraq, and how their findings and Iraq's denials brought the region to the brink of war.
In 1996, they still believed Iraq was hiding chemical and biological agents and missiles. And they believed Iraq was hiding weapon blueprints, shuttling them from place to place, right under the inspectors' noses. So, they adopted a strategy that eventually caused Iraq, and even some at the U.N., to say the inspectors were overly zealous.
Kathy Slobogin continues our story as inspectors follow the road to confrontation.
SLOBOGIN: By 1996, UNSCOM's Executive Chairman, Ambassador Ralph Ekeus, was fed up. His inspectors believed the Iraqis were still misleading them about their weapons of mass destruction. Yet he was being pressured by some members of the U.N. Security Council to declare Iraq free of such weapons. UNSCOM decided to change tactic and take the offensive.
RITTER: We wanted to send a signal to the Iraqis that he were coming in serious fashion, the mechanism of concealment, and that there was no way around addressing this issue with the special commission.
SLOBOGIN: UNSCOM's answer: a new aggressive counter-concealment team. Its purpose: to pressure the elite military groups suspected of hiding Saddam Hussein's secrets and to stop what they believe was deliberate concealment. Going after people suspected of hiding weapons of mass destruction instead of the weapons themselves meant inspecting some of Saddam Hussein's most secretive agencies. It was a risky move.
DUELFER: And this meant going up against these organizations and people who have both responsibility for protecting the regime, as well as we understand concealing material from the special commission.
SLOBOGIN: UNSCOM's aggressive inspections caught the Iraqis off guard.
AZIZ: This game started in March 1996. They first wanted to inspect what we call sensitive sites, sensitive sites, which means that sites which are closely attached to the national security of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: We were trying to make a step towards you.
There was this inherent conflict there.
We have seen the cars moving inside the facility.
SLOBOGIN: Russian inspector Nikita Smidvich (ph) led the first UNSCOM concealment team in March 1996. IMPACT has obtained the team member's own video tape from the mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: There was a lot of movement by the way. You promised us. I gave an order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #3: It is just being officers, between units.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: You told me there will be no vehicle movement inside the facility.
Every such inspection is very tense exercise by definition.
There was no restriction placed from previous occasions to photographs this site.
Sometimes we put inspectors on vehicle. And they patrol the perimeter of the site. We use helicopters which provide us with observation from the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #4: The Iraqis have now formally denied us access from the facility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #5: They have now changed the front gate closed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #4: The standoff continues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #6: Access blocked by this vehicle and by the Iraqi police car.
SLOBOGIN: Inspectors were repeatedly stalled at the gates of sensitive military and state security sites.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #7: Cabinets -- number of files...
SLOBOGIN: When they were finally allowed inside this building, they found empty filing cabinets and thousands of pages of useless files.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: We have definitely seen that some sites were cleaned. We definitely saw evidence that documents were removed or they were missing.
RITTER: They kept us inside the base negotiating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1: If you allow us in, we'll position ourselves. It will be quick and it will be limited.
SLOBOGIN: The first concealment team inspections turned up nothing. Inspectors were repeatedly frustrated by what they saw as deliberate Iraqi stalling tactic.
RITTER: Iraqi vehicle positioned itself in front of our car while our car was moving.
SLOBOGIN: Meanwhile, Iraq ridiculed UNSCOM for not finding any hidden weapons.
AZIZ: The information they get about those sites, about the so- called alleged concealment efforts, are wrong and biased.
SLOBOGIN: By the summer of 1996, the concealment team was ready to launch its second mission, fully expecting Iraq to stall them, the inspectors developed a new strategy, using an old tool.
RITTER: We brought into play in a big way during this inspection the U-2 aircraft. It's a fantastic asset.
SLOBOGIN: An American piloted U-2 spy plane like this one is on loan to UNSCOM from the U.S. Military.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #7: We have been delayed for tow and a half hours, delayed access to the site.
SLOBOGIN: While Scott Ritter and the inspectors haggled over access to sensitive sites, the plane circled 60,000 feet overhead. The new strategy was simple -- a concealment team would arrive unannounced at a sensitive site. Simultaneously the U-2 would photograph the Iraqis ground movements in response. The hopes was the movements would portray the Iraqis hiding secrets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #8: You should not been stopping us here. We should have been moving. We should have been moving a long time ago.
SLOBOGIN: The sites Ritter and his team chose were among the most sensitive in Iraq, organizations that protect and spy for Saddam Hussein. Immediately, UNSCOM struck a nerve.
RITTER: Then let us go this way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #8: But we are also picking another way because...
RITTER: You can't pick another way. You have no say in the matter.
RITTER: Right from the start, they refused to cooperate with this team. They told the team upon its arrival that the goal of the inspection was to inspect special public guard or special security organization or Makhabarat Intelligence sites. The team might as well leave now, because Iraq will not cooperate with the team.
SLOBOGIN: On June 11 1996 while Ritter and company were blocked, the U-2 photographed suspicious movement nearby. These sedans, the preferred cars of the special security organization, were seen massing around in abandoned SSO warehouse. A short time later, the cars moved to this site, a presidential area near Saddam International Airport, at that time off limits to U.N. inspectors. Could they have carried documents or computer files that Iraq didn't want the inspectors to find? UNSCOM quickly tried to gain access to that very site, presidential or not.
RITTER: All I know is I want to go down this road and I'm being told I can't. Therefore, it's in violation of the agreement. I am filming, because it's in violation. As long as you stick by the rules of the agreement, the rules of the modalities agreed upon between Chairman Ekeus and his excellence Aziz, we'll stop filming. Right now, you're in violation, therefore we have to assume something is happening down there.
RITTER: The inspection team was prohibited by the Iraqis, physically prevented by the Iraqis from gaining access to this site.
RITTER: See this roadblock? See that guard with the gun? That's violation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #8: No, no. This is regular, you know?
RITTER: It's a regular what? Get it out of our way and let us through.
SLOBOGIN: Another intense standoff that lasted for a week.
RITTER: I tell you where to photograph. OK? And I want him to photograph this, because this is blocking us.
SLOBOGIN: When inspectors were finally allowed in, they were met by Tariq Aziz. The area belonged to Saddam Hussein special security organization. It also housed an elite group of soldiers from the special republican guard, responsible for the protection of Saddam Hussein. But the mysterious sedans had vanished.
Once again, UNSCOM believed it had tracked a trail of deception to the very heart of Iraqi power.
SHAW: Despite all they had learned, U.N. inspectors returned from these trips empty-handed. There was no proof Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It would take a lucky break in the fall of 1997 to get the inspection teams back on track.
IMPACT will continue in a moment.
FRAZIER: Our story continues now with events from the fall of 1997, when U.N. inspectors' efforts to break through Iraqi weapons concealment hit a nerve, with an unexpected encounter, a chase on foot and a discovery that explained why Iraqi presidential sites, and special security forces had become such sensitive elements of the search for weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad.
Once again, Kathy Slobogin with the endgame between inspectors and Iraqis.
SLOBOGIN: September 25, 1997, biological weapons experts set out on a routine inspection of a food laboratory in downtown Baghdad. On a hunch, lead inspector Diane Seamen decided to break routine.
DUELFER: In this particular case the inspector said well, instead of going in the front door, I'm going to go in backdoor this time.
DIANE SEAMEN (PH), UNSCOM: When I got to the top of the stairs, I reached to open the door and one of the two men was pulling the door on the opposite side. And I released it and it opened and there he was and saw me and they just gave me a very startled look and turned around and ran the other direction.
SLOBOGIN: Booth men were carrying overstuffed briefcases. There was only one option.
SEAMEN: They ran, but when we caught up with them, they stopped. We took the suitcase, the briefcases out of their hands.
SLOBOGIN: At this point, one of the inspectors turned on his camera and videotaped Dr. Seamen opening the briefcases. Inside were documents, log books and test kits for deadly bacteria; suspicious items never reported to UNSCOM. There was something else that caught the inspector's eye.
SEAMEN: Well, immediately my attention was drawn to the letter head on some of the documents. They were from the presidency office, the Special Security Organization letterhead.
RITTER: For the first time, we had documents which linked the Special Security Organization with a biological program.
SLOBOGIN: The Special Security Organization, or SSO, protects Saddam Hussein. U.N. inspectors believe it also hides his weapons secrets. Its headquarters is near the presidential palace in downtown Baghdad. UNSCOM decided it had to be inspected.
RITTER: And we knew that attempting to do this would be extremely confrontational.
SEAMEN: It was 11:00 o'clock at night, and that's an area where it's heavily guarded.
RITTER: When the lead vehicle went through the checkpoint, we apparently took the Iraqi security elements there by surprise.
SLOBOGIN: An Iraqi guard pointed a loaded gun at Scott Ritter's head and prepared to fire.
RITTER: We were actually informed that if we would not withdraw that vehicle, that they would be -- the Iraqi security forces would open fire on that vehicle.
SLOBOGIN: If not for the Iraqi minders accompanying the UNSCOM team, Ritter might be dead.
SEAMEN: I think Scott was more scared than I have ever seen him that night.
SLOBOGIN: Once again, inspectors were blocked. They were told the route they were taking to the SSO headquarters was down a presidential road and thus off limits.
SEAMEN: We said which one would you like us to go down, and he finally said all roads leading to that place were presidential, so we said, so you're denying us access. No, you can inspect the building you just can't go down any of the roads that lead to it.
SLOBOGIN: The inspectors were bumping up against the boundaries of a massive presidential site in downtown Baghdad. A site the at the center of the current crisis. We asked Scott Ritter to show us the areas that have been off limits for weapons inspectors on this U-2 surveillance photograph.
RITTER: And they have indicated that this area, all 4.5 square kilometers of it and 700+ buildings, is in fact a denied area to the inspection teams, creating what is in effect a sanctuary.
AZIZ: So always they have an issue. Like now we have the issue of the presidential site. We will resolve it. Iraq is very open, very transparent on this. Everybody will understand that there is absolutely nothing. You will see they will raise another issue.
SLOBOGIN: Shortly after Ritter's tense standoff, Iraq publicly accused him of being a CIA spy.
AZIZ: We don't know. We don't have the American files about his background. But you can judge from his behavior, and his behavior is actually a behavior of a spy, not a behavior of an expert in the disarmament area.
RITTER: In terms of my being a CIA agent, again, the facts speak for themselves. I have never been employed by the CIA or affiliated with the CIA.
SLOBOGIN: In November, 1997, Saddam Hussein expelled American weapons inspectors from Iraq. In protest, UNSCOM pulled all of its inspectors out. The world braced for a military attack. A confrontation was narrowly averted when Iraq accepted a Russian- brokered deal to let the Americans back in.
(on camera): By January, 1998, Ritter and his fellow inspectors were back in Baghdad. They were following up on an explosive intelligence tip, information that Iraq had tested biological weapons on human beings.
RITTER: The commission was put in contact with the piece of information that contained a number of very specific points to include dates, names and organizations.
SLOBOGIN (voice-over): According to a classified intelligence report seen by an IMPACT producer, Iraq tested biological weapons on Shi'a Muslim prisoners in 1995.
The collection site for the prisoners was reportedly the Abu-Gray (ph) prison, run by the Aman Al Ahm (ph), Iraq's political police. German inspector, Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack, was dispatched to the notorious prison to check the report. The UNSCOM team asked administrators for records of prisoner transfers during the period in question.
KRAATZ-WADSACK: The key findings of this inspection activity was that there are no documents for the time frame -- we were interested in; especially the time frame 1994 and 1995. Documents were just missing.
SLOBOGIN: Iraq vehemently denied it had ever tested biological weapons on prisoners. But UNSCOM has found videotapes of Iraqi scientists testing biological weapons on dogs and donkeys, tapes that inspectors say are so inflammatory they cannot be released.
KRAATZ-WADSACK: As Iraq admitted, they have tested agent on animals. So, of course, this would be a step further, which would be of much concern.
RITTER: Based upon the reaction of the senior Iraqi officials, who were accompanying the team we believe we were striking a nerve.
SLOBOGIN: The very nature of the investigation infuriated the Iraqis.
QUESTION: You were mentioning Scott Ritter on Monday, trying to find evidence of experimentation on human beings on the part of the Iraqis. Can you say at any time within the 1980s, the 1990s...
QUESTION: ... whether or not Iraq ever conducted this experiment?
AZIZ: Never. This was a sheer lie. It was used as a pretext to enter into that site.
SLOBOGIN: Whether the Iraqis were truly outraged at the allegations, or simply concealing more evidence, they completely blocked UNSCOM's investigation.
RITTER: We were stopped after our first day of inspection.
SLOBOGIN: On January 23, 1998 executive chairman Richard Butler reported to the Security Council that his inspectors could no longer do their jobs. This led to the recent threat to use military force.
DUELFER: Well, we think we've got a fairly good model of what has been going on in Iraq with respect to withholding material, who does it, how it's done, the types of systems and organs that are involved in that.
SLOBOGIN: UNSCOM inspectors think they have finally cracked the code of Iraq's Byzantine concealment mechanism. They believe Saddam Hussein's son, Kusai Hussein, through his special security organization is responsible for hiding weapons and information from the U.N. They believe Tariq Aziz has known about the concealment from the beginning. And, they suspect the library of all of Iraq's banned weapons programs is contained on computer disks hidden somewhere in Iraq, perhaps even within one of the presidential sites at the center of the latest crisis.
RITTER: We must be allowed access to these sites, immediate, unrestricted, unfettered access.
SLOBOGIN: Access now supposedly granted. But for how long? Iraqi suspicions remain high, and Baghdad's relations with UNSCOM have never been worse.
AZIZ: UNSCOM has made a lot of wrongdoings towards Iraq. It has given a lot of misinformation and disinformation to the Security Council, to the international public opinion.
SEAMEN: Can you just tell me that you'll leave me in peace here with my people?
DUELFER: How do we assure ourselves Iraq is telling the truth, when they've denied so much for so long. We're not in a position where we're going to take them at their word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #9: Please stop. Please stop.
FRAZIER: Since U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brought back his deal with Iraq, the fate of UNSCOM's counter-concealment teams has become unclear. UNSCOM chief, Richard Butler, says the deal ensures his group's independence. But, privately, some inspectors fear the deal will weaken their ability to find out what they think Iraq still has hidden.
Still unaccounted for, according to the British Foreign Office, are these: critical missile parts, warheads, and propellant; equipment for spraying biological agents; 17 tons of growth medium for biological agents; 4,000 tons of chemicals that can be turned into chemical agents; and, 600 tons of ingredients that make VX, an agent so toxic, says the British report, that one drop can kill.
Bernie's back with a final thought, when IMPACT returns.
SHAW: A final thought now on a 15 cent magazine. That was the newsstand price of the first "Time" magazine, published 75 years ago this week. Back then, Henry Luce took a long view of his fledgling weekly, offering perpetual, yes, perpetual subscriptions for $60, meaning as long as you or your heirs lived, you received the magazine for that bargain price. Seventy-five years later, about 150 people still receive the magazine under that arrangement. Our colleagues at "Time" are celebrating the magazine's 75th anniversary with a special edition. Next week on IMPACT, we'll cover the event commemorating the birthday, the big 75th. Here's a peek at what's in store.
ANNOUNCER: A celebration of legends of our time. Leaders who have changed the history and culture of our century. Time celebrates 75 years of leaders and legends.
FRAZIER: For IMPACT, I'm Stephen Frazier in Atlanta -- Bernie.
SHAW: Stephen. And I'm Bernard Shaw in Washington. We'll see you next week on IMPACT.