John Barry

Stories by John Barry

  • Spies, Lies &Amp; Iraq

    The woman claimed to be Saddam Hussein's former mistress. Last September, on ABC's "Primetime Thursday," she described the Iraqi strongman as a Viagra enthusiast who enjoyed listening to recordings of Frank Sinatra singing "Strangers in the Night," as well as to tapes of torture victims crying for mercy. Parisoula Lampsos, 54, a woman of Greek extraction who had lived in Baghdad most of her life, recounted watching Saddam preen in front of a mirror declaring, "I am Saddam. Heil Hitler!" She said that she had once seen Osama bin Laden at Saddam's palace, and that, in the mid-1990s, Saddam had given money to the Qaeda terror chief. She recounted that Saddam had confessed to her that he tried to murder his own son Uday. After visiting Uday in the hospital, where he was recovering from gunshot wounds, Saddam supposedly told her, "I didn't want it this way. I wanted him to die."It was great TV. But was it good intelligence? At the Pentagon, the get-Saddam hard-liners thought so.They...
  • Fighting In Summer?

    Will George Bush press the button for war Monday, Jan. 27, the day U.N. inspectors in Iraq make their initial report? Not likely. Even Britain would be hard pressed to go along if he did. And permission to use bases in Turkey, Jordan and perhaps even Saudi Arabia is contingent on getting a second U.N. resolution. "Mission: Impossible," in other words.So what next? Obviously, wait. How long? Do the math. Next week U.N. inspectors will almost surely be given extra time. Washington insiders are already talking a month--and possibly two. Depending on what the inspectors find, there's then the prospect of a U.N. debate over a second resolution. The first took two months. The next probably won't be easier. Add it all up, and the date for military action is late March, at the earliest, and could be June. Summer, in other words, in Iraq.The conventional wisdom suggests that's beyond the Pentagon's window of opportunity. In fact, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems to be working on that...
  • Turkey: Holding Its Ground

    Turkey's hesitation to allow U.S. troops to use its soil as a springboard for an invasion of Iraq has "stunned" the Bush administration, a senior U.S. official told NEWSWEEK. Washington wants to deploy "two or three divisions" of ground troops in Turkey plus an unspecified number of combat air wings. A possible force of 80,000 poised on Iraq's northern border suggests that the invasion plan relies far more heavily on a "northern front" than has so far been revealed.A 150-strong U.S. military survey team starts work in Turkey this week assessing facilities at three ports and 10 air bases. Even for the survey team to be allowed to go in, the United States had to make an unprecedented concession: the Pentagon had to drop its usual demand that the team be clearly subject to U.S. rather than domestic Turkish law.The next U.S. envoy to Ankara will be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, who flies to Turkey at the end of the week to meet with the chief of the Turkish...
  • Periscope

    Brazil: Lula's Looking GoodAs soon as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio (Lula) da Silva was sworn in on Jan. 1, the world worried that his leftist leadership would send Brazil down the path of neighboring Argentina. Foreign investors feared he would focus on pleasing his support base and fail to execute necessary reforms. Instead, Lula seems to be taking steps to defuse what some considered Latin America's biggest time bomb.The Brazilian president has wowed financial markets by introducing a program of severe fiscal austerity. The largely impoverished voters who elected Lula have been placated--for the time being at least--by the appointment of large numbers of trade unionists (seven), women (four), blacks (two) and others of the dispossessed who have rarely graced Brazilian cabinets.All along, Lula has said that he will delay fighting poverty until he could restore Brazil's teetering finances. His program should do just that. He has proposed no large new taxes. Brazil already...
  • Turkey Gets Cold Feet

    Call it a bad case of cold feet. To fight a war against Saddam Hussein, Washington needs Turkey's help. At the least, it wants access to air bases along Iraq's northern border. At best, it hopes for permission to launch a full-scale ground operation from Turkish soil involving 80,000 U.S. troops. The inducement is a $14 billion aid package to compensate Ankara for financial losses and the promise of continued support at the IMF. The problem: Turkey's new government, elected just last November, is having serious second thoughts about joining the Bush administration's war.Turkey's surprise about-face has "stunned" Washington, a senior U.S. official acknowledged to NEWSWEEK, and could force the Pentagon to rethink its whole operations plan. U.S. diplomats and military planners thought they had a deal after the ruling AK Party leader Tayyip Erdogan met with George W. Bush in December. But the Turkish government's dilemma is clear: 88 percent of its people strongly oppose war, according...
  • Exclusive: No Help

    We need more actionable intelligence," chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix repeated last week, appealing for help from--especially--America. Blix complains that Washington has been slow to pass evidence or leads on Saddam Hussein's forbidden weapons programs to his inspection teams. One reason for U.S. delay, NEWSWEEK has learned: the U.N. teams don't yet have overhead surveillance. The CIA has a list of suspect sites in Iraq and wants overhead monitoring of the sites before, during and after surprise U.N. visits--"to see nothing goes in or out," a source said. The United States has offered Blix use of its Predator surveillance drone (UAV). To avoid the appearance of bias, Blix wants Europe to provide the UAVs. But European UAVs are not as good as Predator. "They [the CIA] don't have that many shots in their locker," said the source, referring to the suspect-sites list. "They want to ensure the U.N. makes effective use of what they do know."--John BarryPhoto: Proof? An Iraqi...
  • Selling The United States

    The consensus among George W. Bush's advisers is that America must do a better job of making friends. Millions of Muslims view America as corrupt, brutal and arrogant, indifferent if not outright hostile to Islamic concerns. Twice lately the Pentagon has floated half-baked ideas for covert propaganda campaigns to loosen Saddam Hussein's grip on power in Iraq, and to boost America's image throughout the region and even among its European allies. Those schemes didn't get far: they're too tricky, and too embarrassing when they unravel.Instead, the Bush administration is trying a more overt campaign to win support. After pondering reams of focus-group results and opinion polls, the State Department believes it has found two themes that unite America and Islam: faith and families. Administration officials claim we're actually closer to some Muslim countries than to traditional U.S. allies. Former Madison Avenue executive Charlotte Beers, the new under secretary of State for public...
  • Big Brother Is Back

    The official logo of the information Awareness Office, the Pentagon's secretive new terrorist-detection experiment, isn't subtle. A picture of the globe, under the watchful gaze of that spooky pyramid on the dollar bill, the one with the all-seeing eye of God at the top. Underlining that, the project's motto: scientia est potentia (Knowledge Is Power).All in all, not a bad description of the office's lofty--and controversial--ambitions. Quietly created after the September 11 attacks, the office's Total Information Awareness project aims to enable federal investigators to engage in a kind of super "data mining"--inventing software to trawl through commercial and government computer databases in search of suspicious patterns that might indicate terror plans.The 9-11 hijackers, for instance, enrolled in flight schools, rented apartments, used credit cards and bought airline tickets together. The details of all these transactions were routinely stored in various companies' computers....
  • Exclusive: Behind The Bushies' U.N. Victory

    As he walked his younger daughter Anne Marie down the aisle for her wedding on Nov. 2, Secretary of State Colin Powell had a double reason to rejoice. Even as the bridal party drove to the church in rural Maryland, Powell was on his secure satphone talking with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. With only minutes to go before the wedding convoy drew up, the pair finally agreed on a crucial compromise in the wording of the United States' proposed U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq. A relieved Powell switched off his phone--and for 20 minutes concentrated on being just the father of the bride. "The phone was only shut down when I started down the aisle," he joked afterward.A week of haggling still lay ahead. But the outcome--a unanimous 15-0 vote in the Security Council last Friday, with even Russia and Iraq's Arab neighbor Syria agreeing to Washington's tough line--is widely seen as a triumph for Powell. It wasn't just because of his hands-on role (he was calling...
  • Military: Getting Ready For War

    When the U.S. Army recently gave Robert Clifford an order for another of his giant, high-speed catamarans, he was overjoyed. Clifford's company in Hobart, Australia, Incat, had been overstocked with the hydrofoils, which can cut through the waves at 55mph. Normally used as civilian car ferries, each ship can carry 350 troops and 700 tons of cargo, which (along with the craft's own fuel load) means up to eight M1A2 battle tanks. After testing one of Clifford's wave-piercing cats, the Army decided to lease another in late September, a big boost for his bottom line. But Clifford was told modifications had to be completed and the multimillion-dollar ship had to be ready to sail by Nov. 14. According to Pentagon sources, the reason for that is its destination: the Persian Gulf. The first stop for the cat, newly named Spearhead by the Army, will be Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean atoll that would be a U.S. forward supply base for an invasion of Iraq. By the last week of November, the Army...
  • The Fog Of Battle

    It was, in sheer scale, "the greatest cavalry charge in American history," wrote one military historian. The four-day, 250-mile sprint of the 24th Mechanized Division around the western flank of Saddam Hussein's Army in the 1991 gulf war was a dashing feat of arms, a show of American can-do spirit and ability. But as the U.S. military prepares to finish the job, possibly by driving all the way to Baghdad, it is worth considering the heavy lifting required to move a division of tanks and armored-personnel carriers that far, that fast. The 24th Mech had 1,600 armored vehicles, 3,500 wheeled vehicles and 90 helicopters. To keep the division's 18,000 soldiers rolling along required 395,000 gallons of fuel, 213,000 gallons of water and 2,400 tons of ammunition--each day. Before shoving off, the 24th Mech stockpiled 2.3 million gallons of fuel and 3 million tons of other supplies. Multiply those totals by four or five, and you have some idea of the bare minimum of logistics required by...
  • War Crimes: Digging Up The Truth

    The United Nations will send a forensics team to a mass grave at Dasht-e Leili in north Afghanistan where hundreds of captured Taliban were buried last December after suffocating in airless container trucks en route to prison (NEWSWEEK, Aug. 26). After initially shunning an investigation, Lakhdar Brahimi, the top U.N. representative in Kabul, said Hamid Karzai's provisional administration and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission agreed to proceed. "I think it is fairly certain that a large number of people died in suspicious circumstances," Brahimi told the Security Council last week. The two leading warlords in the region, Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Atta Mohammed, denounced NEWSWEEK's report as "sensationalistic, inaccurate and false," but acknowledged that "approximately 200" prisoners died, mostly of "wounds suffered in the fighting, disease, suffocation, suicide and a general weakness." But they offered to cooperate with "objective and impartial investigators" if they...
  • What We Face: The Bottom Line

    It is the question of the moment: should the United States invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein? President George W. Bush urgently argues Saddam is a madman in possession of a massive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons--an arsenal he could turn loose on us or our allies, or use to arm our enemies. Vice President Dick Cheney claims the Iraqi dictator will have a nuclear bomb "very soon." Others--including a growing chorus of Republicans--urge caution, warning a hasty strike will distract U.S. forces from the still-unfinished war on terrorism and shatter our fragile coalition with Arab allies. Just how immediate a threat does Saddam pose--and what are the benefits and drawbacks of a military operation to overthrow him? A NEWSWEEK Briefing Book:How Dangerous Is Saddam Right Now?The answer would be "not very" if the Iraqi dictator didn't command scientific teams with 20 years' know-how in covert chemical- and biological-weapons programs. These teams are almost certainly...
  • The Death Convoy Of Afghanistan

    Witness Reports And The Probing Of A Mass Grave Point To War Crimes. Does The United States Have Any Responsibility For The Atrocities Of Its Allies? A Newsweek Investigation.
  • Beyond Baghdad: Expanding Target List

    While still wrangling over how to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration is already looking for other targets. President Bush has called for the ouster of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Now some in the administration--and allies at D.C. think tanks--are eyeing Iran and even Saudi Arabia. As one senior British official put it: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."In a statement broadcast into Iran in mid-July, Bush promised unspecified U.S. "support" to "Iran's people" as they "move toward a future defined by greater freedom." And early this month, a top Bush aide said the current regime--both the elected government of reformist Mohammed Khatami and the unelected mullahs who dominate public life--was ineffectual. Speaking to an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, National Security Council aide Zalmay Khalilzad did not call outright for a regime change in Iran, but didn't argue when a questioner asserted that this...
  • Rumors Of War

    The "Future Of Iraq Project" is holding its second two-day working session this week at the State Department. Participants will enthusiastically sketch out their plans for running Iraq after Saddam Hussein is gone. At the first session, in July, a group of 10 Iraqi exiles and a few Western observers debated issues of "transitional justice": reforming the courts, ending police abuses and looking at amnesty for some rights violators. This week's theme is "public finance," things like eradicating corruption, restoring Iraq's international credit rating and finding and taking back the billions allegedly stolen by Saddam and his sons. Everyone involved agrees the talks are a splendid idea. "We should have done this years ago," says a European diplomat.There's just one problem. Saddam isn't cooperating. Despite the Bush administration's repeated vows to remove the Iraqi dictator, and despite the "battle plans" slathered across the pages of The New York Times in recent weeks, no one in...
  • Afghanistan: New Proposals For How The U.S. Can H

    Alarmed at the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the slow pace of international aid, top Bush administration officials are reviewing U.S. policy. "We have talked about needing an 'exit strategy,' but the real challenge is to have a 'success strategy'," said one policymaker. Among the proposals:Extend the mission of ISAF, the 4,650-strong international peacekeeping force in Kabul, at least through Afghan elections planned for 2004.Send a high-level civilian official to coordinate foreign aid. President Hamid Karzai's infant government can't, and big donor nations, especially in Europe, are concerned about corruption.Send a senior officer to coordinate the U.S. role in helping internal security and improve liaison on the ground; this would free the current commander, Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, to hunt Al Qaeda.Speed the creation of an Afghan national Army. Regional warlords pay their militias more than the troops in the national Army get. Possible fixes: have ISAF do some...
  • Death In The Ranks At Fort Bragg

    When 32-year-old Jennifer Wright went missing in late June, her husband, William, told neighbors he knew what had happened: she'd run off with a friend. An Army Special Forces master sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., he'd recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and his marriage was showing signs of strain. William Wright claimed it wasn't the first time Jennifer had up and left, eventually to return. Jennifer Wright's family was skeptical. She was a doting mother, and they didn't believe she'd leave her three sons.They were right. On July 19 Wright reportedly confessed to strangling Jennifer weeks before. He took police to a wooded area, where he'd allegedly buried her.The murder was grisly, but in the tight-knit military community in and around Fort Bragg, it is becoming depressingly familiar. Jennifer Wright was just one of four Fort Bragg wives allegedly slain by their soldier husbands in the past six weeks. Inevitably, the murders raised uncomfortable...
  • Exclusive: Osama Bin Laden And The Mystery Of The Skull

    Does the United States have the skull of one of Osama bin Laden's lieutenants, or even bin Laden himself? If not, why the mystery about what we have found? In early May, Canadian troops came across a grave site at the Afghan village of Ali Khel near Tora Bora on the border with Pakistan. The cluster of graves was festooned with flags and banners, and lit at night. Villagers said the graves held the remains of Qaeda fighters killed in December in the battle for Tora Bora. Bin Laden and his top aides were in the area when the 17-day U.S. air assault began but he hasn't been provably seen since. Could he be buried at Ali Khel?A U.S. Army forensic team, hastily airlifted to the site, unearthed 23 bodies, from which it took "samples" before reburying them. Mystery No. 1: what samples? The story at the time (repeated last week by a spokesman at the U.S. military HQ in Afghanistan) was that these were tissue samples, bound for the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, where DNA would...
  • Choose Your Weapons

    George W. Bush never served in Congress, and he doesn't feel especially at home around rank-and-file members. When he wants to charm or scold Capitol Hill, he tends to call on House and Senate leaders and let them spread the word. But when House Republicans started complaining in January that the president was skimping on the Defense budget, Bush quietly summoned members of the Armed Services Committee to the White House to clear the air.Sitting around the Cabinet Room table, Bush and Dick Cheney promised to make good on their campaign pledge to modernize the military with a new generation of advanced weapons--and said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would lead the way if Congress would only quit its carping. "You have to give Rumsfeld more freedom," Cheney told them. "Dick's right," Bush cut in. "Let him do his job." According to a White House official who was in the room, Bush told the lawmakers that Rumsfeld had his blessing to kill off aging or unneeded weapons programs to...
  • Charm Won't Do It

    As he waited in his breezeway to greet Crown Prince Abdullah, George W. Bush should have been relaxed, or at least able to fake it. He was in his favorite spot: his ranch in Crawford, Texas. He already had made friends and done business with two world leaders there, Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin. The administration brain trust was with him now, at the ready. But as the minutes ticked past, the president fidgeted like a pitcher with the bases loaded. Abdullah was late. The TV crews had nearly trampled the ranch house's new lawn of native grasses. But what may have distracted him most was what his own father had told him to expect from Prince Abdullah: an earful. The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia was coming to speak bluntly to the son of his best American friend, former president George H.W. Bush.Two royal families--the House of Saud and the House of Bush--did the do-si-do in Texas last week, warily circling each other in a search for Middle East peace. But the central figure in the...
  • Rumsfeld's Big Worries

    The military brass have warned that their forces are stretched thin, and worry about a long stay in Afghanistan, or a Mideast peacekeeping mission. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted last month that talk of U.S. forces' being "overextended and exhausted" was "a fundamental misunderstanding." But in a memo to the service secretaries two weeks earlier, on March 13, Rumsfeld said: "The entire force is facing the adverse results of the high-paced optempo and perstempo" (the number of operations and the strain on troops). In the memo, obtained by NEWSWEEK, Rumsfeld warned: "We are past the point where the Department can, without an unbelievably compelling reason, make any additional commitments." He adds: "It is time [to] begin to aggressively reduce our current commitments." Meanwhile, the Bush budget office won't pay for deployments already made. Since 9-11 the Pentagon has called up 83,000 Reserves and National Guard. The cost through the end of the fiscal year: $5.3 billion....
  • Paid To Worry

    Dr. Stephen Younger is a mild-mannered, slightly bookish federal bureaucrat unknown to the general public. But as much as any other government official, he is the man charged with worrying about how to head off the next terrorist attack. As the director of the Defense Department's Threat Reduction Agency, Younger spends about $2 billion a year looking for ways to deter and defend against terrorism. He is not alone, of course; from President Bush on down, there are 40-plus government agencies and 43 congressional groups and a new Office of Homeland Defense jostling to fight the war on terror. But Younger, a former nuclear-weapons designer who studies ancient societies and reads Trollope on the side, may have a better feel than anyone in Washington for the nature and dimensions of the threat--and what to do about it.Studying the problem anew in the wake of 9/11, Younger has concluded that "everything we thought we knew turned out to be wrong." He had assumed, for instance, that a...
  • Pipeline Brigade

    Is George W. Bush using war as an extension of his oil policy? It looked that way in February, when Washington announced a $700 million aid package for the Andean region, largely to fight the twin threats of guerrilla war and drugrunning that threaten the area. As is usual, half the money will go to Colombia, but with a new twist: $98 million for training and equipping a Colombian brigade of around 2,000 soldiers to protect the 772-kilometer Cano Limon pipeline. Used to transport crude oil to the Caribbean coast from a field pumped by Occidental Petroleum of California in partnership with the Colombian state oil company, the pipeline is a favorite target of rebel saboteurs.This would hardly be the first time a nation defended its interest in smoothly flowing oil supplies by force of arms. Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the gulf war that followed are only the latest conflicts over control of fossil fuel. Bush's critics have argued since September 11 that his "war on terror" is...
  • 'Odd Couple' Alliance

    If this weekend's Anglo-American summit in Crawford, Texas, is anything like the lovefest that most people expect it to be, some credit has got to go to a 49-year-old Scottish rugby player-turned-oil and gasman named Bill Gammell. Gammell turns out to be a missing link in the relationship between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.When Bush met Blair for the first time, at Camp David in February of last year, the two leaders had so little in common that the president made a little joke out of the fact that they both used the same toothpaste (Colgate). They didn't look or sound much like soul mates. Bush was a conservative Texas Republican who had run a baseball team and acquired a taste for the high-school locker room humor of the "Austin Powers" movies. The British prime minister was an Oxford-educated barrister and lifelong center-left politician with a keen interest in the Qu'ran. But Bush knew that he and Blair could do business--and he knew it, NEWSWEEK has...
  • Analyzing The 'Axis Of Evil'

    Rhetoric aside, "axis of evil" doesn't mean much. Iraq and Iran are bitter enemies--they fought each other in the bloodiest war of the 1980s--and North Korea has little in common with either of them. Though all three "rogue nations" are thought to be developing weapons of mass destruction, no U.S. attack is imminent against any of them; good military options are as scarce as allies for such an undertaking. Instead, Washington faces challenges, and a few opportunities, from three very different countries: ...
  • After Afghanistan, What Next?

    The biggest applause line in President Bush's State of the Union speech tonight? Don't even ask. We already know it: that made-for-television moment when Bush, having lauded the skill and bravery of American soldiers and fliers in Afghanistan, turns to the gallery and gestures for Hamid Karzai, new boss of that liberated ruin, to stand and take his bow. ...
  • Next Up: Saddam

    Saddam Hussein lives for vengeance. But in 2002 the Iraqi dictator, who haunted the '90s, could well get a taste of someone else's wrath. And for President George W. Bush, it will be personal. In 1993, after the gulf war and after the first President Bush retired as commander in chief, Saddam tried to murder him with a car bomb in Kuwait, but the Clinton administration didn't want to hear about it. The new president's staff encouraged diplomats in the region to play down the aborted attack, especially the incriminating evidence that pointed directly to Baghdad. The reasons: the White House didn't want to have to react; it didn't have a policy for eliminating Saddam; it wasn't even sure how best to contain him. Eventually, reluctantly, Bill Clinton fired off a few cruise missiles and relied on exile groups, covert conspiracies and overt sanctions to defang the vengeful dictator. That policy fell apart in 1998, and four days of intense bombing called Operation Desert Fox couldn't put...
  • Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald

    Victory, as the ancient Greeks said, has a thousand fathers, and the scramble is already on to claim paternity for Operation Crescent Wind, the air campaign that broke the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan in two months flat. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is the one who is most lionized in the media. But much of the credit has to go to Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald, the air boss at Central Command when the war started and now the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for operations--the top three-star general's job in the Air Force. Wald, whom defense expert William Arkin jokingly dubs the "Zelig of air power," has played a key role in every air campaign since the gulf war--from Serbia to Kosovo--and learned lessons from each to improve performance the next time. Wald will be the man to watch if the United States takes on Iraq next year in what would likely be another precision-guided air war.Wald has the usual "right stuff" credentials. He did a tour in Vietnam, flying as a forward...
  • Lt. Gen. Charles Wald,

    Victory, as the ancient Greeks said, has a thousand fathers, and the scramble is already on to claim paternity for Operation Crescent Wind, the innovative air campaign that broke the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan in two months flat. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is the one who is most lionized in the media. But much of the credit has to go to Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald, the air boss at Central Command when the war started and now the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for operations--the top three-star general's job in the Air Force. Wald, whom defense expert William Arkin jokingly dubs the "Zelig of air power," has played a key role in every air campaign since the gulf war--from Serbia to Kosovo--and learned lessons from each to improve performance the next time. Wald will be the man to watch if the United States takes on Iraq next year in what is likely to be, if it happens, another precision-guided air war. Wald has the usual "right stuff" credentials. He did a tour in Vietnam...