FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Chemical Weapons, the US, Iraq and the New York Times

It was page one of the New York Times Sunday (August 18), picked up extensively by the international media, a featured story on America On Line. “Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas”, shouted the headline. Senior military officers revealed that the Reagan administration had provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance in waging decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The assistance was given at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraq had already employed chemical weapons and would likely continue to do so.

This of course raises obvious questions about the current Bush administration’s near-frenzied demonization of Saddam Hussein, particularly for his alleged chemical and biological weapons (CBW) threat. Readers can be forgiven if they think this is a revelation of some sort. It isn’t.

The story may add a new detail or two about the precise nature of US tactical assistance to the Iraqis, but the basic story has long been known. Strangely, the Times story leaves out the most significant part — the furnishing of chemical and biological materials by the United States to Iraq which markedly enhanced Iraq’s CBW capability. (There is one isolated line in the Times piece, almost at the very end, hinting at something of the sort: “Former Secretary of State Shultz and Vice President Bush tried to stanch the flow of chemical precursors to Iraq.”)

At the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own horn, I must point out that I wrote a story on this very subject in 1998, which was published in several “alternative” magazines, distributed widely on the Internet to this day, and won a Project Censored award in 1999. As far as I know, the American mainstream media has never covered this story, and if the Times article is any guide, the censorship will continue.

Following is the crux of my article as published in 1998:

In his recent State of the Union address, President Clinton, in the context of Iraq, spoke of how we must “confront the new hazards of chemical and biological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking to acquire them.” He castigated Saddam Hussein for “developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons” and called for strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention.

Who among his listeners knew, who among the media reported, that the United States had been the supplier to Iraq of much of the source biological materials Saddam’s scientists would require to create a biological warfare program?

According to a Senate Committee Report of 1994 [1]: From 1985, if not earlier, through 1989, a veritable witch’s brew of biological materials were exported to Iraq by private American suppliers pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Amongst these materials, which often produce slow, agonizing deaths, were: Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax. Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin. Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord and heart. Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs. Clotsridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness. Clostridium tetani, highly toxigenic. Also, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli); genetic materials; human and bacterial DNA. Dozens of other pathogenic biological agents were shipped to Iraq during the 1980s.

The Senate Report pointed out: “These biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.” [2] “It was later learned,” the committee revealed, “that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.”[3]

These exports continued to at least November 28, 1989 despite the fact that Iraq had been reported to be engaging in chemical warfare and possibly biological warfare against Iranians, Kurds, and Shiites since the early 80s.

NOTES

[1] “U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War,” Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration, reports of May 25, 1994 and October 7, 1994.

[2] Ibid., May 25 report, pp. 36-47

[3] Ibid., October 7 report, p. 3

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com New Print Edition of CounterPunch Available Exclusively to Subscribers:

War Talk As White Noise: Anything to Get Harken and Halliburton Out of the Headlines; First Hilliard, Then McKinney: Jewish Groups Target Blacks Brave Enough to Talk About Justice in the Middle East; Intimidation is the Name of the Game; Smearing “Insane” McKinney As Muslims’ Pawn; The Missing Terrorist? Calling Scotland Yard: “Where’s Atif?” They Never Booed Dylan!: Tape Transcript Shows Famed Newport Folkfest Dissing of Electric Dylan Not True. The Catcalls were for Peter Yarrow! New Shame from the Liffey Shrike

Remember, the CounterPunch website is supported exclusively by subscribers to our newsletter. If you find our site useful please: Subscribe Now! Or Call Toll Free 1-800-840-3683

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

More articles by:

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail