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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Reagan and Saddam
The Unholy Alliance


According to the corporate media and the two major political parties, Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest presidents in American modern history. They attribute to the man the myths of ending the Cold War, reviving America's economy, and uplifting the sense of pride and nationalism.

They also belittle and dismiss as insignificant some of Reagan's policies that even the institutional establishment had admitted to their fallacy and the harm that they had caused, such as defying and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra affairs, supporting reactionary regimes in Latin America and the Middle East, creating the biggest deficit in modern US history, assaulting the labor unions and fighting the working class for the benefits of the wealthy, shifting the political process in the United States (including the opposition party) toward the right, and giving rise to the neoconservatives and their drive toward Pax Americana and the rise of American imperialism.

To begin with, we need to clear a few facts and expose the presiding myths. Reagan did not win the Cold War. The Soviet Union collapsed from within due to decades long of struggle to remain alive through artificial engineering of outmoded state machinery. If the pundits claim credit for Reagan to end of the Cold War, then they also need to acknowledge the roles of Soviet President Mikel Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II.

As for lifting-up America's sense of pride and nationalism, Reagan lifted the spirit of American capitalism in rescuing its myth in the world as enemy of the workers and the oppressed to one that was the engine of freedom, prosperity, and moral values. Reagan managed to dress up US capitalism both at home and abroad as a friend of the little man, finding support for this exploiting economic and political system even within the very people that it was exploiting. Perhaps this was Reagan's biggest achievement.

Yet, the greatest damage that the Reagan's policy caused and we continue to suffer its consequences was in Iraq by supporting the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein despite Saddam's clear violation of human rights and threats to his neighbors. In fact, it was Reagan that supplied Saddam with the means to develop his weapons of mass destruction that Bush Jr. later used as an excuse in 2003 to launch his war and occupy Iraq.

Concern about the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to a gradual warming of relations between Iraq and the United States. American National Security Advisor Zbignew Brzezinski publicly encouraged Iraq to attack Iran and take back the Shat-al-Arab waterway. Most American foreign service officers despised the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran for having held diplomats of the US embassy hostages for 444 days. The "Carter Doctrine" was established in 1980, stating that America would intervene militarily in the region to assure its access to oil. In that same year, Saddam's armies invaded Iran, instigating a ruinous war that lasted for eight long years. The invasion was prompted as much by American urging as it was by Saddam's dislike for Islamic fundamentalism.

There was a sea change in relations between America and Iraq when Ronald Reagan became president. Fearing the rise of Soviet influence in Iran, and fearing an Iranian takeover of the region, the Reagan administration began actively arming and supporting Saddam. By 1982, Iraq was removed from the list of terrorist sponsoring nations. By 1984, America was actively sharing military intelligence with Saddam's army. This aid included arming Iraq with potent weapons, providing satellite imagery of Iranian troops deployments and tactical planning for battles, assisting with air strikes, and assessing damage after bombing campaigns.

Following further high-level policy review, Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD-114) on November 26, 1983, concerning U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. The directive reflected the administration's priorities, calling for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf.

Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld, the head of the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co. at the time, was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein." Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and discussed U.S efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil. Rumsfeld made no reference to Iraq's chemical weapons.

The Reagan administration allowed the Iraqis to buy a wide variety of "dual use" equipment and materials from American suppliers. The shopping list included a computerized database for Saddam's security police, helicopters to transport Iraqi officials, television cameras for video surveillance applications, chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), and numerous shipments of "bacteria/fungi/protozoa" to the IAEC. The bacteria cultures were used to make biological weapons, including anthrax.

A US Senate inquiry in 1995 accidentally revealed that during the Iran-Iraq War the United States had sent Iraq samples of all the strains of germs used by Iraq to make biological weapons. The strains were sent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Type Culture Collection to the same sites in Iraq that UN weapons inspectors later determined were part of Iraq's biological weapons program.

The Senate Banking Committee reported in 1994 that the U.S. Commerce Department had traced shipments of biological materials identical to those later found and destroyed by U.N. inspectors. These shipments continued at least until November 1989. Assisted by Pentagon expertise, which secretly seconded its Air Force officers to work with the Iraqis, Iraq began using its air force more aggressively, hitting Iran's economic and infrastructure targets and extending its air strikes to the Iranian oil terminals in the Lower Gulf.

U.S. support for Iraq blossomed further in 1983 when the United States provided economic aid to Iraq in the form of Commodities Credit Corporation guarantees to purchase U.S. agricultural products ($400 million in 1983, $513 million in 1984, and climbing to $652 million in 1987). This allowed Iraq to use money it otherwise would have spent on food to buy weapons and other military supplies. With Iraq off the terrorism list, the U.S. also provided quasi-military aid.

An example of U.S. sales during this time of germ warfare and other weapons to Iraq included "deadly pathogens," with government approval, some from the army's center for germ research in Fort Detrick. The British government also conceded after the Scott Inquiry Report was published that it continued to grant licenses to British firms to export materials to Iraq usable for biological weapons at least until December 1996.

So strong was the hold of pro-Iraq lobby on the Republican administration of President Reagan that it succeeded in getting the White House frustrate the Senate's attempt to penalize Baghdad for violating the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, which it had signed. This led Saddam to believe that Washington was firmly on his side, a conclusion that paved the way for his invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War.

On April 18, 1988, the United States conducted Operation Praying Mantis. In response to Iran's mining of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy engaged the Iranian Navy in the Gulf, sunk two of Iran's biggest surface ships and crippled a third. On July 3, 1988 U.S. forces once again engaged some of the remnants of the Iranian Navy in the Strait of Hormuz and an Iranian civilian jet strayed over the battle area. The USS Vincennes mistook the airliner for an Iranian fighter and shot it down. Although it was a mistake, in Tehran it was viewed as a sign that the United States was now actively allied with Iraq and would take any action to defeat Tehran. In August 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini, who had resisted all previous pleas to end the war, was forced to concede that Iran could not fight both Iraq and the United States any longer. Tehran accepted a cease-fire with Iraq that brought the war to an end.

The most reprehensible of Saddam's actions that the Reagan administration chose to overlook was his campaign against Iraq's Kurds known as al-Anfal, a twisted reference to a verse in the Koran. In March 1987, Saddam appointed his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, as governor of northern Iraq. Less than six weeks after his appointment, Majid employed chemical warfare to wipe out several towns in the Balisan valley, where one of the Kurdish opposition group was located. In February 1988, Majid unleashed the al-Anfal campaign. Iraqi forces began clearing areas of Kurdish residence with massive bombardments of chemical weapons and high explosives, followed by army sweeps that often killed anyone left alive and razed to the ground anything left standing.

On March 15, 1988, Majid conducted his most famous attack, swamping the Kurdish town of Halabcha with several varieties of chemical weapons and killing at least five thousand Kurdish civilians. When the campaign finally ended in 1989, some two hundred thousand Kurds were dead, roughly 1.5 million had been forcibly resettled, huge swaths of Kurdistan has been scorched by chemical warfare, and four thousand towns had been razed. The U.S. Senate passed a bill to impose sanctions on Iraq, but the Reagan administration prevailed upon the Congress to drop the matter.

Today, Saddam is held in US custody, awaiting trial for his crimes. It would be interesting to listen to his testimonies (granted if he stayed alive for his trial and did not die of some mysterious cause while in prison) and reveal the support and aid that he received from Bush's hero, the great communicator Ronald Reagan, in waging wars on the oppressed.

Alex Dawoody lives in Battle Creek, Michigan.
He can be reached at:



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Saddam Hussein's lawyer assassinated by men who used 'government vehicles'

Yet another of the lawyers representing the President of Iraq has been assassinated.

This is what happens to people who threaten those who hold power in the new Iraq. Eye-witness reports confirm that the assassins used vehicles owned by the new Iraqi regime. The US government will surely want to move the trial to a location where it can be more carefully controlled, because evidence given by Saddam Hussein could incriminate officials in the US and its closest allies including the UK, along with all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The US and others know that evidence of serious crimes involving senior officials, many of whom are still serving today particularly in the US and the "new Iraq", could be revealed by Saddam Hussein's lawyers before or after the trial even if the whole truth does not emerge in court.

Calls to move Saddam trial after second lawyer killed

Fresh doubts have been raised over the trial of Saddam Hussein after a second defence lawyer was murdered in Baghdad.

Adel al-Zubeidi, representing the former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan, was shot dead, and Thamir al-Khuzaie, a fellow member of the defence team, was wounded in an ambush.

This was the second killing of lawyers who were acting for Saddam and seven other defendants. Saadoun al-Jananbi was killed last month just days after appearing in the special court trying the case in the Iraqi capital. Defence lawyers said afterwards that they may boycott the proceedings until they are provided with adequate security.

Mr Zubeidi and Mr Khuzaie were attacked by three gunmen in Adil, a Sunni neighbourhood. Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's main lawyer, alleged that the shooting was done by "an armed group using government vehicles".

He said: "The aim of these organised attacks is to scare Arab and foreign lawyers. We call upon the international community to send a committee to investigate because the situation is becoming unbearable."

The case is due to recommence on 28 November. But Richard Goldstone, the first prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, said that the time had come to move the court. He said: "I don't understand how you can have a fair trial in this atmosphere of insecurity with bombs going off. It is just impossible to have a public trial if you can't guarantee the safety of witnesses, judges or defence counsel."

The Independent, "Calls to move Saddam trial after second lawyer killed", 9 November 2005.

BBC News, "Saddam lawyers threaten boycott", 9 November 2005.

The chief lawyer for Saddam Hussein has said the former Iraqi leader's defence team will cease dealings with the court trying him for crimes against humanity. Khalil al-Dulaimi said that defence lawyers were unable work when their safety was threatened. He also said defence witnesses were too frightened to come forward. "The defence committee has decided to consider the 28 November date [for the next hearing] cancelled and illegitimate," Mr Dulaimi told Reuters.

Mr Dulaimi also told reporters that he blamed US-led forces in Iraq for the killings. "The occupation forces are responsible for this criminal incident, and they bear the responsibility of preserving the lives of the people regardless of their identity."


Saddam defense team boycotts trial over killings

Ammar Al-Alwani
November 9, 2005

RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) - Lawyers for Saddam Hussein and his aides severed all contact with the court trying the former Iraqi president on Wednesday after the second murder of a member of the defense team since the trial began last month.

Attorneys representing Saddam and seven co-accused on charges of crimes against humanity considered a second day of hearings set for November 28 to be "cancelled and illegitimate", lead counsel Khalil al-Dulaimi told Reuters.

Interviewed in the Sunni Arab rebel stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, he said he felt personally threatened and renewed demands for the United Nations to intervene to stop the trial following Tuesday's killing of lawyer Adil al-Zubeidi.

"We're facing daily threats and these threats prevent us from going to our offices and the court and from interviewing the witnesses," Dulaimi said.

"We call on the international community, the U.N. Security Council, the United States and all those involved to work on scrapping the criminal court as illegitimate, and also to pressure it to release President Saddam Hussein and his legitimate leadership team.

"The defense committee has decided to consider the November 28 date cancelled and illegitimate."

Coming less than three weeks after the killing of another lawyer for one of Saddam's co-accused, Tuesday's attack renewed international concerns about whether the trial can be held in Iraq given the sectarian violence still plaguing the country.

It was unclear what effect a defense boycott would have on the tribunal, which has the power to appoint counsel. However it would clearly dent efforts by the Iraqi and U.S. governments to show that the trial is entirely fair.

The defence team has said it is simply not safe to take part in the trial.

Zubeidi, who was defending Saddam's half-brother Barzan al- Tikrit and former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan, was buried on Wednesday, virtually in secret. Police said close relatives interred him with a minimum of ceremony in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad, in line with Shi'ite custom.

Gunmen shot Zubeidi in his car in Baghdad; Thamer Hamoud al -Khuzaie, a fellow member of the defense team is in hospital with bullet wounds and head injuries sustained when the car crashed, a medical source said.


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the attacks undermined efforts to uphold the rule of law.

"It is vitally important that the security of all involved with the tribunal should be equally assured to ensure a trial free from intimidation and coercion," Annan said through his spokeswoman, Marie Okabe.

The anger dividing Iraq pervades the proceedings, but ministers refused to consider a move abroad after the murder of lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi the day after the trial opened on October 19. Tribunal and government officials made no comment.

President Jalal Talabani urged the government to ensure the safety of those involved in the trial.
The start of the trial was watched on television by millions of Iraqis -- both Zubeidi and Janabi spoke heatedly -- but some of Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs called it "victors' justice" orchestrated by the Shi'ite- and Kurdish-led government.

The government has denied involvement in the murder of Janabi, who was kidnapped and killed the day after the trial opened by men who witnesses said identified themselves as employees of the Interior Ministry.

In the latest burst of violence, a suicide car bomb in the mixed Shi'ite and Sunni Arab town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, killed seven Iraqi policemen, army and medical sources said.

With five weeks until December 15 elections that Washington hopes will steer Iraq further along the path to stability and democracy, the Arab League stepped up efforts to organize a national reconciliation conference in Cairo.

An Arab League delegation has been visiting Baghdad to persuade politicians to attend the conference, which had originally been planned for November 15.

Billed as a way to heal deep sectarian rifts in post-Saddam Iraq, the conference was put off while organizers tried to lure more people to the table.

Senior Arab League official Ahmed ben Hilli said there would now be a meeting in the Egyptian capital on November 19 to prepare the ground for a main conference to be held some time later.

In western Iraq, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have been conducting an offensive since Saturday to clear the small frontier town of Qusayba of al Qaeda militants, the U.S. military declared the main phase of the operation complete.

(Additional reporting by Faris al-Mehdawi in Baquba, Alastair Macdonald, Paul Tait, Waleed Ibrahim, Aseel Kami, Lutfi Abu Oun and Ahmed Rashid in Baghdad, Irwin Arieff at the United Nations)



Sunday, November 13, 2005

Saddam Hussein:
Taking Out the CIA's Trash

by Kurt Nimmo
Dissident Voice
August 2, 2003

A few years ago, a friend visiting the United States from Switzerland remarked upon what she viewed as one of the more conspicuous American personality quirks: Americans often seem to possess absolutely no curiosity when it comes to history -- not their own or that of the world at large. How can Americans make informed opinions, she mused, when they have no stomach for history, politics, or current events? My Swiss friend found this incomprehensible -- not only incomprehensible, but dangerous.

Enter Colin Powell. In a Reuters interview, Powell characterizes the missing Saddam Hussein as "a piece of trash waiting to be collected" by the United States military. Personalizing the vendetta against Saddam is nothing new -- Bush has done it from the start, as his father did the last time the US invaded Iraq. For millions of Americans, the invasion of Iraq and the ongoing devastation of that unfortunate and victimized country are all about Saddam. Like the irritating neighbor who cuts his grass at three in the morning and dumps the clippings over the fence, Americans react to Saddam Hussein on an emotional and personal level. Saddam -- thanks to Bush and the corporate media -- has taken on a biblical semblance of evil. Saddam Hussein is the yardstick we now use to measure wickedness. He is our Emmanuel Goldstein, replacing Osama in the neocon pantheon of evil.

In fact, Saddam is no better or worse than any number of dictators past or present. General Augusto Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos, General Suharto, Anastasio Somoza, Pol Pot -- these are a few of the bloody dictators responsible for the death of literally millions of people (Pol Pot was responsible for the slaughter of 1.5 million people, Suharto 500,000 or more). These are dictators the United States either supported directly or indirectly over the years. In general, the American people know nothing about these sadists and murderous thugs or how their government supported them.

If Saddam is indeed "a piece of trash," as Powell claims, it is an indisputable fact that he is trash created by the United States. Saddam was almost entirely a Frankenstein creation of the CIA. This is a fact backed up by more than one US government official and documented in several books.

And yet, if you were to ask the average American if he or she finds it possible Saddam Hussein was groomed, financed, and supported by the CIA beginning with president John F. Kennedy -- who signed off on plan to overthrow the government of Iraq in 1963 -- chances are they wouldn't believe it. After all, we're the good guys, we do good in the world -- and that's why we're now attempting to track down Hussein and bring him to justice. It's all about liberating the Iraqi people and throwing off this sadistic butcher -- or so the Bushites want us to believe.

The Saddam-CIA story is out there, easy enough to find. In order to find it, simply point your browser at Google and enter the following search criteria: "Saddam CIA coup." Most of the results returned link to articles and news items reporting how the CIA attempted to overthrow Hussein several times since the first Gulf invasion. ABC, Time, MSNBC, USA Today, and other mainstream publications carry many of these stories.

But Google also turns up stories infrequently if ever reported in the mainstream press about Saddam Hussein and the CIA -- as it turns out the Iraqi dictator and the now reviled Ba'ath Party were once favored CIA assets serving US interests. This is the sort of information you will not find splashed across the front page of the New York Times, let alone buried in section F16. In fact, most of this information appears primarily in papers such as the Hindustan Times or in books written by Arab authors. Since the story is at odds with the Bush version of reality, it's not front-page material in America.

In April of this year, however, as Bush was knee-deep into his invasion of Iraq, the UPI ran a story about Saddam's connection to the CIA. The story came and went. It was buried beneath a tidal wave of anti-Saddam propaganda and hysterical distortion unleashed by the Bushites and parroted by an obedient corporate media.

Prior to the UPI story, Roger Morris, a former National Security Council staffer in the 1970s, confirmed that the Ba'ath Party now so reviled by average Americans was essentially installed by the CIA in 1963 in response to the Iraqi leader General Abd al-Karim Qasim, a bloody dictator who backed out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact and talked about nationalizing Iraq's oil industry. "We came to power on a CIA train," admitted Ali Saleh Sa'adi, Ba'ath Party secretary general at the time. As James Critchfield, then head of the CIA in the Middle East, told Andrew and Patrick Cockburn ("Out of the Ashes, The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein," 2000), the CIA regarded the Ba'athist coup against Qasim "a great victory" and also considered it their favorite coup.

"The Ba'athist coup, resulted in the return to Iraq of young fellow-Ba'athist Saddam Hussein, who had fled to Egypt after his earlier abortive attempt to assassinate Qasim," writes Alfred Mendes ("Blood for Oil," Spectrezine). "Saddam was immediately assigned to head the Al-Jihaz al-Khas, the clandestine Ba'athist Intelligence organization. As such, he was soon involved in the killing of some 5,000 communists. Saddam's rise to power had, ironically, begun on the back of a CIA-engineered coup!"

In fact, according to Said K. Aburish ("A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite," 1997), many of the people on CIA hit lists had nothing to do with the communists; thousands were "fellaheen [peasants] and the Muthaqafeen or educated classes." According to Aburish, the Ba'ath Party contact man during the CIA-engineered coup was William Lakeland, the US assistant military attache in Baghdad.

"United Press International has interviewed almost a dozen former U.S. diplomats, British scholars and former U.S. intelligence officials to piece together the following account," writes Richard Sale ("Saddam key in early CIA plot," UPI, April 10, 2003). "The CIA declined to comment on the report."

According to a former senior State Department official, writes Sale, "Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in Iraq's Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim's movements." Adel Darwish ("Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam's War," 1997) told Sale that one Capt. Abdel Maquid Farid, the assistant military attache at the Egyptian Embassy, was Saddam's "paymaster" and that Saddam's handler was an "Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed Darwish's account."

None of these revelations should come as a surprise. The CIA has sponsored coups and interventions in the Middle East since the end of the Second World War. In 1949, the CIA backed a military coup in Syria, deposing a democratically elected government, while in Iran Mossadeq, a popular and democratically elected leader, was overthrown in a 1953 CIA engineered coup that installed the Shah and ushered in a quarter century of brutal repression. No doubt both Syrians and Iranians recall these events now that the Bush neocons talk openly of deposing "failed states" in the Middle East.

In addition to these covert CIA actions, the US government has meddled in Middle Eastern affairs in habitual fashion for decades; the US military entered Lebanon in 1958, again in 1983 (only to leave after the suicide bombing of the US Marine barracks); Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986, killing Libyan leader Qaddafi's young daughter. Meanwhile, the US has consistently backed Israel, providing the small Zionist state with arms and obscene amounts of American taxpayer money subsequently used to occupy Palestinian land and brutalize its people in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions. In 1988 alone, the US vetoed three Security Council resolutions condemning Israel's occupation of Palestine and its repression in Lebanon.

Add to the above list of dishonor the numerous CIA engineered coups, assassinations, and sundry plotted incidents of mayhem in such far-flung places as Guatemala (1954), Zaire (1960), Cuba (1961), Dominican Republic (1961), Indonesia (1965), Greece (1965), Chile (1973), Angola (1975), El Salvador (1979), to name the more obvious and well-documented (see Mark Zapezauer, "The CIA's Greatest Hits"). As John Stockwell, former CIA official and author, notes: " ...the CIA has overthrown functioning democracies in over 20 countries." And yet the American people know little if anything about this sordid history.

The disingenuous Colin Powell is free to stand before the American people and use picturesque (if inappropriately childish) nouns to describe Saddam Hussein -- who was, not long ago, that is before he outlived his usefulness and fell from grace, our man in Baghdad -- and questions that should be obvious, especially for supposedly educated journalists, are never asked: is it possible that a large number of our current problems in the Middle East and elsewhere stem directly from US support of repressive and murderous regimes? Is it also possible there will not be peace in the Middle East so long as the United States unconditionally supports Israel and pays for the unconscionable theft of Palestinian land? Do you think providing the CIA with new powers -- both abroad and at home -- will make the world a more secure and less violent place?

Secretary of State Colin Powell may sincerely believe Saddam Hussein is nothing more than "a piece of trash waiting to be collected." Most of us likely agree about the trash part -- but the collection service is another matter entirely. Even if the wily and murderous former dictator is snatched from one of his many hideaways -- tomorrow, next week, or next year -- this will not stop the guerilla war against the US occupation of Iraq, regardless of what General Abizaid, Rumsfeld, or Bush have to say about it.

But even if Saddam is tracked down and cornered, the US will make sure he never faces justice. For as foreign affairs analyst Eric Margolis has noted, "Dead dictators tell no tales." Considering Saddam was in bed with the CIA and several US presidents -- including Dubya's daddy -- the mission to kill him is an especially urgent piece of unfinished business.

Kurt Nimmo is a photographer, multimedia artist and writer living in New Mexico. To see his photo work and read more of his essays, visit his excellent “Another Day in the Empire” weblog:



Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thanks for the Memories
( view movie)

Saddam key in early CIA plot

UPI Intelligence Correspondent

U.S. forces in Baghdad might now be searching high and low for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but in the past Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they used him as their instrument for more than 40 years, according to former U.S. intelligence diplomats and intelligence officials.

United Press International has interviewed almost a dozen former U.S. diplomats, British scholars and former U.S. intelligence officials to piece together the following account. The CIA declined to comment on the report.

While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.

In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy in what one former U.S. diplomat, who asked not to be identified, described as "a horrible orgy of bloodshed."

According to current and former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

For example, in the mid-1950s, Iraq was quick to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan.

Little attention was paid to Qasim's bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959, an act that "freaked everybody out" according to a former senior U.S. State Department official.

Washington watched in marked dismay as Qasim began to buy arms from the Soviet Union and put his own domestic communists into ministry positions of "real power," according to this official. The domestic instability of the country prompted CIA Director Allan Dulles to say publicly that Iraq was "the most dangerous spot in the world."

In the mid-1980s, Miles Copeland, a veteran CIA operative, told UPI the CIA had enjoyed "close ties" with Qasim's ruling Baath Party, just as it had close connections with the intelligence service of Egyptian leader Gamel Abd Nassar. In a recent public statement, Roger Morris, a former National Security Council staffer in the 1970s, confirmed this claim, saying that the CIA had chosen the authoritarian and anti-communist Baath Party "as its instrument."

According to another former senior State Department official, Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in Iraq's Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim's movements.

Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author of "Unholy Babylon," said the move was done "with full knowledge of the CIA," and that Saddam's CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed Darwish's account.

Darwish said that Saddam's paymaster was Capt. Abdel Maquid Farid, the assistant military attaché at the Egyptian Embassy who paid for the apartment from his own personal account. Three former senior U.S. officials have confirmed that this is accurate.

The assassination was set for Oct. 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. Accounts differ. One former CIA official said that the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and began firing too soon, killing Qasim's driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm.

Darwish told UPI that one of the assassins had bullets that did not fit his gun and that another had a hand grenade that got stuck in the lining of his coat. "It bordered on farce," a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. But Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents, several U.S. government officials said.

Saddam then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut, according to Darwish and former senior CIA officials. While Saddam was in Beirut, the CIA paid for Saddam's apartment and put him through a brief training course, former CIA officials said.

The agency then helped him get to Cairo, they said. One former U.S. government official, who knew Saddam at the time, said that even then Saddam "was known as having no class.

He was a thug -- a cutthroat."

In Cairo, Saddam was installed in an apartment in the upper class neighborhood of Dukki and spent his time playing dominos in the Indiana Café, watched over by CIA and Egyptian intelligence operatives, according to Darwish and former U.S. intelligence officials.

One former senior U.S. government official said: "In Cairo, I often went to Groppie Café at Emad Eldine Pasha Street, which was very posh, very upper class. Saddam would not have fit in there. The Indiana was your basic dive."

But during this time Saddam was making frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew Saddam, former U.S. intelligence officials said.

Saddam's U.S. handlers even pushed Saddam to get his Egyptian handlers to raise his monthly allowance, a gesture not appreciated by Egyptian officials since they knew of Saddam's American connection, according to Darwish. His assertion was confirmed by former U.S. diplomat in Egypt at the time.

In February 1963 Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. Morris claimed recently that the CIA was behind the coup, which was sanctioned by President John F. Kennedy, but a former very senior CIA official strongly denied this. "We were absolutely stunned. We had guys running around asking what the hell had happened," this official said. But the agency quickly moved into action.

Noting that the Baath Party was hunting down Iraq's communist, the CIA provided the submachine gun-toting Iraqi National Guardsmen with lists of suspected communists who were then jailed, interrogated, and summarily gunned down, according to former U.S. intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the executions.

Many suspected communists were killed outright, these sources said. Darwish told UPI that the mass killings, presided over by Saddam, took place at Qasr al-Nehayat, literally, the Palace of the End. A former senior U.S. State Department official told UPI: "We were frankly glad to be rid of them. You ask that they get a fair trial? You have to get kidding. This was serious business."

A former senior CIA official said: "It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran's communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed."

British scholar Con Coughlin, author of "Saddam: King of Terror," quotes Jim Critchfield, then a senior Middle East agency official, as saying the killing of Qasim and the communists was regarded "as a great victory."

A former long-time covert U.S. intelligence operative and friend of Critchfield said: "Jim was an old Middle East hand. He wasn't sorry to see the communists go at all. Hey, we were playing for keeps." Saddam, in the meantime, became head of al-Jihaz a-Khas, the secret intelligence apparatus of the Baath Party. The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980.

During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq's armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group. This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. "When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind," the former official told UPI.

A former CIA official said that Saddam had assigned a top team of three senior officers from the Estikhbarat, Iraq's military intelligence, to meet with the Americans. According to Darwish, the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam's ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days.

The Saddam-U.S. intelligence alliance of convenience came to an end at 2 a.m. Aug. 2, 1990, when 100,000 Iraqi troops, backed by 300 tanks, invaded its neighbor, Kuwait.

America's one-time ally had become its bitterest enemy.



The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet

by Jeremy Scahill
Democracy Now!
August 2, 2002

"Man and the turtle are very much alike. Neither makes any progress without sticking his neck out." - Donald Rumsfeld

Five years before Saddam Hussein's now infamous 1988 gassing of the Kurds, a key meeting took place in Baghdad that would play a significant role in forging close ties between Saddam Hussein and Washington. It happened at a time when Saddam was first alleged to have used chemical weapons. The meeting in late December 1983 paved the way for an official restoration of relations between Iraq and the US, which had been severed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

With the Iran-Iraq war escalating, President Ronald Reagan dispatched his Middle East envoy, a former secretary of defense, to Baghdad with a hand-written letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a message that Washington was willing at any moment to resume diplomatic relations.

That envoy was Donald Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld's December 19-20, 1983 visit to Baghdad made him the highest-ranking US official to visit Iraq in 6 years. He met Saddam and the two discussed "topics of mutual interest," according to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. "[Saddam] made it clear that Iraq was not interested in making mischief in the world," Rumsfeld later told The New York Times. "It struck us as useful to have a relationship, given that we were interested in solving the Mideast problems."

Just 12 days after the meeting, on January 1, 1984, The Washington Post reported that the United States "in a shift in policy, has informed friendly Persian Gulf nations that the defeat of Iraq in the 3-year-old war with Iran would be 'contrary to U.S. interests' and has made several moves to prevent that result."

In March of 1984, with the Iran-Iraq war growing more brutal by the day, Rumsfeld was back in Baghdad for meetings with then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. On the day of his visit, March 24th, UPI reported from the United Nations: "Mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers in the 43-month Persian Gulf War between Iran and Iraq, a team of U.N. experts has concluded... Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, U.S. presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld held talks with Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz (sic) on the Gulf war before leaving for an unspecified destination."

The day before, the Iranian news agency alleged that Iraq launched another chemical weapons assault on the southern battlefront, injuring 600 Iranian soldiers. "Chemical weapons in the form of aerial bombs have been used in the areas inspected in Iran by the specialists," the U.N. report said. "The types of chemical agents used were bis-(2-chlorethyl)-sulfide, also known as mustard gas, and ethyl N, N-dimethylphosphoroamidocyanidate, a nerve agent known as Tabun."

Prior to the release of the UN report, the US State Department on March 5th had issued a statement saying "available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons."

Commenting on the UN report, US Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick was quoted by The New York Times as saying, "We think that the use of chemical weapons is a very serious matter. We've made that clear in general and particular."

Compared with the rhetoric emanating from the current administration, based on speculations about what Saddam might have, Kirkpatrick's reaction was hardly a call to action.

Most glaring is that Donald Rumsfeld was in Iraq as the 1984 UN report was issued and said nothing about the allegations of chemical weapons use, despite State Department "evidence." On the contrary, The New York Times reported from Baghdad on March 29, 1984, "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name."

A month and a half later, in May 1984, Donald Rumsfeld resigned. In November of that year, full diplomatic relations between Iraq and the US were fully restored. Two years later, in an article about Rumsfeld's aspirations to run for the 1988 Republican Presidential nomination, the Chicago Tribune Magazine listed among Rumsfeld's achievements helping to "reopen U.S. relations with Iraq." The Tribune failed to mention that this help came at a time when, according to the US State Department, Iraq was actively using chemical weapons.

Throughout the period that Rumsfeld was Reagan's Middle East envoy, Iraq was frantically purchasing hardware from American firms, empowered by the White House to sell. The buying frenzy began immediately after Iraq was removed from the list of alleged sponsors of terrorism in 1982. According to a February 13, 1991 Los Angeles Times article:

"First on Hussein's shopping list was helicopters -- he bought 60 Hughes helicopters and trainers with little notice. However, a second order of 10 twin-engine Bell "Huey" helicopters, like those used to carry combat troops in Vietnam, prompted congressional opposition in August, 1983... Nonetheless, the sale was approved."

In 1984, according to The LA Times, the State Department - in the name of "increased American penetration of the extremely competitive civilian aircraft market"-pushed through the sale of 45 Bell 214ST helicopters to Iraq. The helicopters, worth some $200 million, were originally designed for military purposes. The New York Times later reported that Saddam "transferred many, if not all [of these helicopters] to his military."

In 1988, Saddam's forces attacked Kurdish civilians with poisonous gas from Iraqi helicopters and planes. U.S. intelligence sources told The LA Times in 1991, they "believe that the American-built helicopters were among those dropping the deadly bombs."

In response to the gassing, sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the US Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most US technology. The measure was killed by the White House.

Senior officials later told reporters they did not press for punishment of Iraq at the time because they wanted to shore up Iraq's ability to pursue the war with Iran. Extensive research uncovered no public statements by Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressing even remote concern about Iraq's use or possession of chemical weapons until the week Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, when he appeared on an ABC news special.

Eight years later, Donald Rumsfeld signed on to an "open letter" to President Clinton, calling on him to eliminate "the threat posed by Saddam." It urged Clinton to "provide the leadership necessary to save ourselves and the world from the scourge of Saddam and the weapons of mass destruction that he refuses to relinquish."

In 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was in a position to draw the world's attention to Saddam's chemical threat. He was in Baghdad as the UN concluded that chemical weapons had been used against Iran. He was armed with a fresh communication from the State Department that it had "available evidence" Iraq was using chemical weapons. But Rumsfeld said nothing.

Washington now speaks of Saddam's threat and the consequences of a failure to act. Despite the fact that the administration has failed to provide even a shred of concrete proof that Iraq has links to Al Qaeda or has resumed production of chemical or biological agents, Rumsfeld insists that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

But there is evidence of the absence of Donald Rumsfeld's voice at the very moment when Iraq's alleged threat to international security first emerged. And in this case, the evidence of absence is indeed evidence.



Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Saddam lawyers to seek new delay in trial

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

Saddam Hussein's lawyers will ask for another delay in his trial pending a full, independent investigation into the murder of a defence lawyer, an American member of the defence team said on Friday.

Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general who is part of a committee for Saddam's defence, said the United Nations should probe the murder of Saadoun al-Janabi, who was kidnapped and killed one day after the trial began on Oct. 19.

A lawyer for Saddam Hussein shows a document to the presiding judge in Baghdad's Green Zone, October 19, 2005. Saddam Hussein's lawyers will ask for another delay in his trial pending a full, independent investigation into the murder of a defense lawyer, an American member of the defense team said on Friday. (REUTERS/Bob Strong)

"If the orders came from higher officials then you have a real problem. I don't see how you go forward with a trial," Clark told Reuters in an interview.

"There will be motions made in court to enlist its support for a thorough investigation. It was selective violence calculated to destroy the ability of the defence to present its defence," Clark said, adding that the motion will be made when the court reconvenes on Nov. 28.

"Everything changed drastically after the first session when one of the defence lawyers was executed. The defence is obviously extremely disturbed. There is need for a thorough independent investigation by the United Nations," he said.

Iraq's government has denied any role in the murder of Janabi, who represented Awad al-Bander, one of seven former senior Iraqi officials who with Saddam are accused of crimes against humanity.

Janabi, who was outspoken during the hearing, was found shot execution-style after being kidnapped from his office.

Witnesses said Janabi's kidnappers identified themselves as Interior Ministry employees, often accused by Sunni groups as sanctioning hit squads run by Shi'ite militiamen.

The government has denied these charges.

The defence committee asked the United Nations to probe the murder after what Clark described as attempts by Iraqi officials to blame members of Saddam's former ruling Baath party.

"Neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi government are credible to investigate Janabi's execution, which was very professional," Clark said. "We have to know who is responsible before we can protect the lawyers and more importantly the witnesses."


The Saddam trial comes as Sunni Arab insurgents, including some Baath party loyalists, mount a bloody campaign against the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.

The judge agreed to a defence motion to postpone it until Nov. 28 in part because many witnesses were said to be too afraid to testify.

Another defendant in the case, Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, asked his captors to free him so he can seek treatment for spine cancer, an Arab newspaper said on Friday.

Barzan, a former head of Iraq's feared Mukhabarat intelligence service, said he could not receive proper treatment in prison, adding that some prisoners had died of cancer while in detention, the daily Asharq al-Awsat said.

Clark said the defence team backed suggestions by some human rights groups that it would be impossible to hold a fair trial before a U.S.-backed court in Iraq, and that the case should be moved abroad to be put before an international tribunal.

But despite a statement from defence lawyers this week that they would suspend all contact with the Baghdad court hearing the case, Clark said Saddam's chief attorney Khalil al-Duleimi will be present at the next trial session.

"I don't think the lawyers are going to abandon their client but they will not recklessly go forward in a case where they will be in jeopardy and they can't call witnesses," he said.

Clark, a veteran anti-war campaigner who first met Saddam before the 1991 Gulf War, was among the last Westerners to see him just weeks before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.