FP: Mr. Gaubatz, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Gaubatz: Thank you Jamie.
FP: Let’s start with your background. Tell us a bit about who you are and why you were sent to Iraq at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Gaubatz: I served 20 years on active duty with the USAF and had spent 12 of those years as an OSI Special Agent (counter-terrorism/counter-intelligence. After retiring I obtained a position as a civilian Federal Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
Directly after Sept 11th, I was sent to the U.S. State Department (Foreign Service Institute) for a one year intensive Arabic language course. Immediately afterwards I was deployed (as a civilian Agent) to Saudi Arabia from Jan 2003 until Mar 2003. I was the only civilian in the area.
Before Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was assigned to an area along the Saudi and Iraq border (Arar Air Base, Saudi Arabia). My mission directly before the war was to develop intelligence to eliminate espionage by Saudi Arabian military officials who we suspected of passing U.S. war fighting intelligence to Iraqi intelligence officers. I conducted an operation against one Saudi military officer and his activities were deterred and he is no longer a U.S. threat. I also conducted missions along the border of Iraq before the war to collect intelligence on Iraqi movement and their war fighting capabilities.
The 5 man team I was assigned to collected intelligence on the probability of chemical or biological weapons being used against our forces by the Iraqis. Initially Saudi officers advised Saddam Hussein would not use WMD during the war, but as the days got closer the Saudi officers were wearing chemical protective equipment as we were. You could see the look of defeat in the Saudis’ eyes. All along they had been saying Saddam would not use WMD, but in their heart they knew he had the capability and would do so if he had the opportunity.
In April 2003, I was deployed into Nasiriyah, Iraq. Again I was the first and only civilian Federal Agent there. My primary mission in Iraq was to locate suspected WMD sites and conduct Force Protection Operations (find out the threats against U.S. forces in the area). I was to also locate Iraqis who were loyal to Saddam Hussein.
FP: Tell us about the sites you identified and why the ISG never searched them.
Gaubatz: There are four sites I identified in southern Iraq. Two are within the city limits, one about 20 miles south of Nasiriyah (in the vicinity of Suk Ash Shuyakh), and another near the port of Umm Qasr (near Basrah). Three agents and I identified these sites. We had multiple sources, from various backgrounds, and who had access to the information.
One must remember that at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the average Iraqi was more open to providing Americans intelligence. They wanted Saddam removed and wanted chemical and biological weapons removed as well. The people of southern Iraq had fully expected WMDs to be used against them as well. Each of their homes had been prepared for a chemical attack. Many had gas masks and had sealed certain rooms in their homes. We were shown this.
Iraqis from backgrounds such as Iraqi Police officers, Doctors, Engineers, Iraqi Govt. officials, farmers, tribesmen, etc. identified sites that contained WMDs. They explained in detail why WMDs were in these areas and asked the U.S. to remove the WMDs. Much of the WMDs had been buried in rivers (within concrete bunkers), and in the sewage pipe system. There were signs of chemical activity in the area (missile imprints, gas masks, decontamination kits, atropine needles, etc..) The Iraqis and my team had no doubt WMDs were hidden in these areas.
The Agents and I knew we had found what we had been looking for. We immediately wrote our reports, which included all the source names, their credibility, their contact information, grid coordinates of the sites, and photographs. The reports were then sent to the U.S. Weapons Inspectors (in northern Iraq). This was mid April 2003. We were initially told by the Inspectors that their team was not organized at this point to conduct exploitations of sites. The sites we had identified would require an extensive amount of excavation. The actual ISG was not formed until a couple of months after the war. Not only did ISG not have the people and proper equipment, they advised Iraq was still a combat zone and very dangerous. ISG members further told us that WMD searches were being concentrated in northern Iraq, and not southern Iraq.
This was the first and largest mistake by ISG. During my intelligence gathering the Iraqis had told us that Saddam concentrated on hiding the WMDs in the southern region because the history of prior UN Weapons Inspections had always concentrated in searches of northern faculties. Searches in southern Iraq had primarily been helicopter flyovers. I have respect for every U.S. member of ISG who served in Iraq, but as an organization, the management was poor. They were not organized nor prepared for this type operation. I compare them to FEMA during Hurricane Katrina. Good people, but poor management. Poor management results in disaster and failure.
FP: Is there a possibly that some of the sites you identified three years ago may have been exploited by others (not the U.S.)? Could the government be covering this up because it may be embarrassing that we let the WMDs slip out of our fingers when we had a chance to obtain them?
Gaubatz: This has been an uphill battle for 3 years (to get the sites searched). The more intelligence I have obtained during the last 3 years is starting to point to the strong possibility that we lost a major opportunity by not searching the sites I identified.
Although I believe some of the WMD sites still contain chemical and biological weapons, there are indicators the Russians may have assisted in exploiting some of the WMDs from one or more of these sites. The Iraqi people told us that Russian intelligence had been well organized in Iraq before the war, and also Iranian personnel. We were told if we don't remove the WMDs, others will. The Iraqi sources were constantly asking us when we were going to remove the WMDs. We just shook our heads. ISG would not come to our locations to exploit. Not only had we risked our lives, but many Iraqi people had done so as well by assisting us.
I have provided detailed information to Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Congressman Curt Weldon. The 15 plus pages of detailed information I provided to them leaves no doubt accurate and verifiable intelligence was obtained about WMD in southern Iraq. I not only provided them names, addresses, and phone numbers of Iraqis who can confirm the WMDs, but also the Russian and Iranian involvement. The latest information was provided to Congressman Weldon during the period 16 Mar 2006, through 4 Apr 2006. I spent several days assisting them in converting military grid coordinates into longitude and latitude, which would put them within one meter of the sites.
FP: Do you feel President Bush and Congress were provided accurate intelligence before, during, and after the war?
Gaubatz: The most accurate intelligence is what is initially obtained by ground intelligence officers. The intelligence myself and other Agents obtained on the ground never reached our President or Congress. The intelligence they eventually received was so diluted and politically scrubbed, that it was often far from the original intelligence we received.
There was no intelligence failure; there was a serious dissemination failure. The intelligence ground agents obtained what they had to obtain, but they must in the future get it into the appropriate hands immediately without it being filtered. I have no doubt that no member of Congress or President Bush ever got the intelligence myself and other Agents assigned to Nasiriyah, Iraq obtained. I know Congressman Hoekstra nor Congressman Weldon had ever seen this. After the war, President Bush was briefed that WMDs were not in Iraq and all suspected WMDs sites were searched. All sites have not been searched.
FP: Thank you for joining us today sir.
Gaubatz: Thank you Jamie.
Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.