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July 22, 2003

Let's not throw out the

Daniel Radosh

Let's not throw out the baby with the Baathwater. What could possible go wrong with this?

The United States has moved to resurrect parts of the Iraqi intelligence service, with the branch that monitors Iran among the top priorities, former Iraqi agents and politicians say.... A senior American official said concern about Iran was driving some of the discussion about moving quickly to re-establish an intelligence service. The official said the United States recognized that Iraq had a good intelligence apparatus focused on Iran because activities in the neighboring country might affect Iraqi security at home. People close to the Iran branch said the Americans had also expressed interest in reviving the intelligence service's Syria branch....

Mr. Hamed, a Mukhabarat officer since 1976, said he refused to join the revived unit when former co-workers told him that it would be cooperating with the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, an Iranian opposition group that is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Mr. Hamed said he had worked with the group during the Iran-Iraq war and called them butchers, adding that he had seen bodies of people they had executed.

The People's Mujahedeen, which seeks the overthrow of the government in Tehran, found refuge in Iraq under Mr. Hussein, playing an important role during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's and later in 1991, in crushing the uprisings of the Shiites in the south and the Kurds in northern Iraq. In April, the United States signed a cease-fire with the group's troops in Iraq and in early May began to disarm them. A sizable contingent of senior members of Congress now advocate removal of the group from the terrorist list, arguing that its members' knowledge should be mined for use against Iran....

The officials said it was unclear to whom a new Iraqi intelligence service would report. But they said the C.I.A. now had a sizable operation in Iraq, with at least several dozen officers on the ground.

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