Bush the First, Hating Saddam, Selling Him Weapons

by Kurt Nimmo

 

In an interview with CNN’s Paula Zahn, former president George Bush spoke recently of his “hatred” of Saddam Hussein. “I hate Saddam Hussein,” said Bush.”I don’t hate a lot of people. I don’t hate easily, but I think he’s, as I say, his word is no good and he’s a brute. He’s used poison gas on his own people. So, there’s nothing redeeming about this man.”

The former president claims to hate Saddam simply because he is “no good” and a “brute.” Zahn does not bother to probe deeper. Paula Zahn’s ratings are dismal these days. Her former boss over at FOX News said, “a dead raccoon could get higher ratings.” The Bush interview, obviously, is good for Zahn’s floundering career. As such, we shouldn’t expect Zahn to push Bush Senior on the particulars of his hatred. Not these days, anyway, when the corporate media essentially plays second fiddle for the government.

Hatred in the wake of the Gulf War is not unique. For instance, Wasli el-Ghazali, most assuredly hated Bush and America. Ghazali was convicted back in 1994 for his role in a plot to murder George Bush the Elder during a visit to Kuwait. “Every Arab child is worth all of America,” Ghazali told Robert Fisk of the Independent. “I am an Iraqi citizen. Bush killed 16 members of my family.”

In response to the failed–and some would say bogus–plot to kill Bush, Clinton fired 23 Tomahawk missiles into Baghdad on June 26, 1993 (more than a year before the conviction of Ghazali and his co-conspirators). Seven of these “precision guided” missiles missed their target (or did they?) and hit civilian housing, killing eight people, including the renowned artist Leila al-Attar. Clinton later told the American people they could “feel good” about the attack. No word if Clinton, like Bush, hates Saddam Hussein–or, for that matter, innocent Iraqi civilians, including artists.

Bush did not tell CNN’s Zahn if the assassination plot was the particular incident that stoked his hatred of the Iraqi dictator, nor did the anchor ask. It is fair to conclude Bush has not always hated Saddam. Or if he has hated Saddam all these years, he put that hatred aside in the name of statecraft. Reagan, Bush, the Iraqi dictator, and American corporations have worked together over the years. War and death make for good business. It also makes for lies and deception–and possibly for less than truthful interviews.

Former Reagan official and National Security Council staffer Howard Teicher has described a less than hateful relationship between the Reagan administration and Saddam Hussein. In 1995, Teicher offered an affidavit in the Teledyne case, a legal sideshow to a larger scandal known as “Iraqgate.” According to Teicher, he and Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Iraq to make sure the Iraqi dictator received what he needed in order to win the Iran-Iraq war–or if not win at least make sure there was a draw. “CIA Director Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles,” Teicher swore in the affidavit.

Teicher claims the United States “actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing US military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure Iraq had the military weaponry required.” Reagan also sent a secret message to Saddam, which then vice president Bush delivered to Egyptian President Mubarak, and Mubarak passed on to Saddam, “telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.” Reagan CIA director Casey wanted to give Saddam cluster bombs, which “were a perfect ‘force multiplier’ that would allow the Iraqis to defend against the ‘human waves’ of Iranian attackers,” explained the former NSC staffer. He recorded Casey’s comments in meeting minutes, which are now in the Ronald Reagan presidential archives in Simi Valley, California.

In 1982, Reagan “legalized” direct military assistance to Iraq. This resulted in more than a billion dollars in military related exports. According to Kenneth R. Timmerman (author of The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq) the US government under Reagan and Bush sold Iraq 60 Hughes MD 500 “Defender” helicopters, eight Bell Textron AB 212 military helicopters equipped for anti-submarine warfare, 48 Bell Textron 214 ST utility helicopters (sold for “recreational” purposes), and US military infra-red sensors and thermal imaging scanners (sold illegally to Iraq through a Dutch company). After the Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency found the following US equipment in Iraq: spectrometers, oscilloscopes, neutron initiators, high-speed switches for nuclear detonation, and other tools used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons.

“One entire facility, a tungsten-carbide manufacturing plant that was part of the Al Atheer complex,” Timmerman told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, “was blown up by the IAEA in April 1992 because it lay at the heart of the Iraqi clandestine nuclear weapons program, PC-3. Equipment for this plant appears to have been supplied by the Latrobe, Pennsylvania manufacturer, Kennametal, and by a large number of other American companies, with financing provided by the Atlanta branch of the BNL bank.”

BNL–or Banca Nazionale del Lavoro–provided more than $5 billion in unauthorized loans to Iraq, including $900 million guaranteed by the US government. “About half of the money allegedly went to finance the purchase of US farm products, including $900 million guaranteed by the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp., but investigators said much of the rest had helped fuel Iraq’s military buildup,” wrote George Lardner in the Washington Post on 22 March 1992. Lardner and others were learning about covert and illegal arms sales to Iraq through Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, chairman of the House Banking Committee. Gonzalez was conducting “special orders”–uninterrupted speeches on the House floor–detailing the criminal behavior of Reagan and Bush. Hardly anybody paid attention, least of all Bush, who was running for a second term.

While Bush Junior declares he “will not allow… a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction,” the administration of his father and Reagan, as the Gonzalez revelations demonstrate, apparently didn’t have the future of America in mind when they allowed biological and chemical weapons–as well as massive amounts of conventional military hardware–to be exported to Iraq. They were only interested in making sure Saddam gassed as many Iranians as possible–and thus pay back the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for evicting the despised Shah Reza Pahlavi and initiating an anti-western revolution in Iran. No doubt it irks Bush, Cheney, neocons in general, and a few mulitnaitonal oil corporations that Iran is calling the shots on its oil resources.

The US Department of Commerce licensed 70 biological exports to Iraq between 1985 and 1989, including at least 21 batches of lethal strains of anthrax. The French newspaper Le Figaro, in an article published in 1998, said researchers at the Rockville, Maryland lab of the American Type Culture Collection confirmed sending anthrax samples via mail order to Iraq. After the Gulf War, Iraq made several declarations to UN weapons inspectors about how they had weaponized the anthrax sent to them by the American corporation. In 1985, the US Centers of Disease Control sent samples of an Israeli strain of West Nile virus to a microbiologist at the Basra University in Iraq. In addition, Iraq received other “various toxins and bacteria,” including botulins and E. coli.

Corporations that have sold dual-use chemicals and biological samples to Iraq for its weapons program include: Phillips Petroleum, Unilever, Alcolac, Allied Signal, the American Type Culture Collection, and Teledyne. Teledyne pled guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy, false statements, and violations of the Export Administration Act and the Arms Export Control Act for indirectly exporting 130 tons of zirconium to Iraq through Chilean arms manufacturer Carlos Cardoen. The zirconium was intended for use in cluster bombs. In defense, Teledyne argued during the trial that the CIA had authorized the shipments. The Baltimore company Alcolac was convicted of illegally selling thiodiglycol–a chemical precursor used in the production of mustard gas–for use in Iraq’s chemical warfare program.

When Murray Waas and Craig Unger published an article in The New Yorker about the Reagan administration and Bush’s involvement with Saddam Hussein–a full three years before Howard Teicher’s revelatory affidavit–they were roundly condemned and mocked by the corporate media. Steven Emerson of the Wall Street Journal called the article a “Byzantine conspiracy theory,” while Michael Fumento, a syndicated columnist, said the story was “a big fat nothing,” baseless innuendo that “spread like a flesh-eating bacteria into newspapers, newsmagazines, and television news throughout the country.” Others accused a liberal media of attempting to derail Bush’s re-election bid.

During the election, Bill Clinton promised, if elected, he would appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Iraqgate scandal. But like so many election promises Iraqgate fell off the radar screen not long after Clinton assumed office. Worse, when former NSC staffer Howard Teicher presented his affidavit in 1995, the Clinton Justice Department went on the offensive, accused Teicher of lying, and then promptly classified the document as a state secret. On January 15, 1995, attorney general Janet Reno and deputy John Hogan released a Final Report whitewashing the entire affair. It was hoped the whole thing would simply fade away. Except for a few books and other “Byzantine conspiracy theories,” the Reagan-Bush-Iraqgate scandal has pretty much slipped from public view.

In general, the corporate media gave but cursory notice to the revelations. “There’s a good reason why we in the media are so partial to a nice, torrid sex scandal,” said Ted Koppel, as he opened a Nightline Iraqgate report in 1992. “It is, among other things, so easy to explain and so easy to understand. Nothing at all, in other words, like allegations of a government cover-up, which tend to be not at all easy to explain, and even more difficult to understand.” In short, according to Koppel and the corporate media, the American people do not have the intelligence to judge for themselves if their leaders are criminals. Obviously, Monica Lewinsky is more important.

As Dubya the Junior and his coterie of chick hawks prepare to make war on a Frankenstein Bush the Senior–at least in part–created, the revelations exposed by Representative Henry B. Gonzalez and a handful of others need to be revisited within the full context of public debate.

However, considering the handmaiden role of corporate media in the dissemination of government propaganda–and its insistence upon offering vacuous interviews by the likes of Paula Zahn–chances are the American people will not be allowed to understand any time soon what the government does in their name.

Our only hope, it would seem, rests in “Byzantine conspiracy theories.”

Kurt Nimmo is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

 

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

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