Is it possible French lawyer Jacques Verges will be allowed to defend Saddam Hussein? Verges told AFP on December 19 that if called to defend Saddam, he’d march a slew of US and European witnesses to the stand.
At the top of the list are Reagan and Bush Senior.
“Right now the former Iraqi regime is being blamed for certain events that took place at a time when its members were treated as allies or friends by countries that had embassies in Baghdad and ambassadors not all of whom were blind (to Iraqi crimes),” said Verges.
“Today, this indignation appears to me contrived.”
“When we reprove the use of certain weapons (we need to know) who sold these weapons,” he said about Iraq’s past purchase of arms from France, Britain, the United States, and Russia.
“When we disapprove of the war against Iran (we need to know) who encouraged it.”
It was primarily Reagan and Bush who “encouraged” Iraq’s merciless war against Iran. That’s obvious, although many Americans — the same Americans who cannot tell the difference between Saddam and Osama — are clueless.
Calling Reagan to the stand, however, is out of the question — he’s got Alzheimer’s. He wouldn’t know Saddam from Edwin Meese at this point. He might even kick the bucket before a trial gets under way.
That leaves the main architect of Reagan’s Operation Coddle Saddam, Bush Senior. Old Skull and Bones Bush is healthy and of sound mind, so to speak.
Call him to the stand.
On the first day of the trial, Jacques Verges may want to show the Rumsfeld video, the one where Rummy shakes hands with Saddam. Creepy, admittedly, but a good piece of theatrics to get the point across — all of these guys were in bed with Saddam.
Rummy was in Baghdad on December 20, 1983 as a “special envoy” sent by Reagan to “thaw” relations between the United States and Iraq.
Saddam was using chemical weapons on the Iranians at the time, but that really wasn’t an issue. Rummy tried to say later he slapped Saddam’s hand for using chemical weapons, but a declassified cable recording of the meeting reveals Rumsfeld didn’t even mention it.
Is it possible Reagan knew about Saddam’s human rights violations, or was he taking a nap at the time, as he was wont to do back in the day?
As the evidence indicates, Bush Senior knew for certain. So did a lot of other people in the Reagan administration.
In 1981 US Secretary of State Alexander Haig told the Senate foreign relations committee that Saddam was worried about “Soviet imperialism in the Middle Eastern region,” a concern that conspicuously followed the Soviet Union’s refusal to deliver arms so long as Iraq continued its military offensive against Iran.
In other words, the Reaganites saw Saddam’s falling out with the Soviets as an opportunity not to be missed, regardless of all the tortured political prisoners wasting away in Saddam’s gulags or buried in mass graves. Bush Junior would later feign outrage over these atrocities as he pedaled his illegal and immoral war against the people of Iraq.
As the New York Times reported more than a year ago, the United States gave Iraq important battle-planning assistance during the Iran-Iraq war as part of a secret program under Reagan, even though US intelligence agencies had a good idea the Iraqis would use chemical weapons. More than 60 “specialists” from the Pentagon’s DIA provided Saddam with detailed information on Iranian military deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes, and bomb-damage assessments.
In 1984, according to Bob Woodward, the CIA began to secretly supply Iraq with intelligence that was used to “calibrate” mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.
The following year Reagan established full diplomatic relations with Iraq.
In 1985 the Reagan administration encouraged American corporations licensed by the US Department of Commerce to export a whole lot of nasty biological and chemical materials to Iraq — anthrax, botulinum toxin, and other toxigenic and pathogenic substances — according to a 1994 Senate report.
“The American company that provided the most biological materials to Iraq in the 1980s was American Type Culture Collection of Maryland and Virginia, which made seventy shipments of the anthrax-causing germ and other pathogenic agents,” writes William Blum.
Other US companies doing business with the Butcher of Baghdad include Hewlett Packard, Dupont, Honeywell, Alcolac International, and Bechtel Group, to name but a few. In total about $1.5 billion worth of biological agents and high-tech equipment was exported to Iraq from 1985 to 1990.
Bechtel is one of Junior’s favored corporations, slotted to “rebuild” Iraq — in other words, make a pile of money replacing what Dubya’s daddy, Clinton, and Junior have destroyed over the last twelve or so years: power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems, sewage systems, etc.
“The United States spent virtually an entire decade making sure that Saddam Hussein had almost whatever he wanted,” says Representative Samuel Gejdenson, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of a House subcommittee investigating the exports to Iraq. “The Administration has never acknowledged that it took this course of action, nor has it explained why it did so. In reviewing documents and press accounts, and interviewing knowledgeable sources, it becomes clear that United States export-control policy was directed by U.S. foreign policy as formulated by the State Department, and it was U.S. foreign policy to assist the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
“By the end of 1983, US$ 402 million in agriculture department loan guarantees for Iraq were approved,” explains Norm Dixon. “In 1984, this increased to $503 million and reached $1.1 billion in 1988. Between 1983 and 1990, [US Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation] loan guarantees freed up more than $5 billion. Some $2 billion in bad loans, plus interest, ended up having to be covered by US taxpayers.” Bush was at the center of these export credits and bad loans floated by the typically oblivious US taxpayer.
“A similar taxpayer-funded, though smaller scale, scam operated under the auspices of the federal Export-Import Bank,” Dixon continues. “In 1984, vice-president George Bush senior personally intervened to ensure that the bank guaranteed loans to Iraq of $500 million to build an oil pipeline. Export-Import Bank loan guarantees grew from $35 million in 1985 to $267 million by 1990.”
Just in case there’s any doubt that Reagan and Bush Senior allowed the sale of deadly biological and chemical agents to Iraq, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration, reported in 1994 that “microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.”
The exports continued to at least November 28, 1989, well into Bush Senior’s administration.
One of the first things Dubya’s daddy did upon assuming office was sweep Saddam’s horrendous human rights record under the carpet. Bush refused to join the UN in condemning the forced relocation of around half a million Kurds and Syrians in 1989. This violated the 1948 Genocide Convention — but then Bush, Reagan, and Clinton rarely mentioned human rights unless they were giving speeches or excoriating official enemies.
All of this preferential treatment went out the window the day Saddam made the boneheaded mistake of invading Kuwait.
Reagan and Bush had lavished so many biological and chemical weapons on Iraq that in 1990 the deadly stuff became a threat to the United States, or rather the US military.
“That American troops could be killed or maimed because of a covert decision to arm Iraq,” Murray Waas wrote in the Village Voice, “is the most serious consequence of a U.S. foreign policy formulated and executed in secret, without the advice and consent of the American public.”
“I hate Saddam Hussein,” Bush Senior told CNN’s Paula Zahn in September 2002. “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.”
It is, all told, a remarkable conversion, one perfectly synchronized with Saddam’s descent from useful client to demonized renegade and international outlaw.
Back in 1992 Douglas Frantz and Murray Waas of the Los Angeles Times wrote a story headlined, “Bush secret effort helped Iraq build its war machine.” Frantz and Waas apparently got their hands on some classified documents that revealed “a long-secret pattern of personal efforts by [George Bush senior] — both as president and vice president — to support and placate” Saddam Hussein.
Jacques Verges would also do well to call James Akins, the former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
In 1963 the CIA was ramping up its coup against Iraqi Prime Minister Abudul Karim Qassim and Akins was in Baghdad. “I knew all the Ba’ath Party leaders and I liked them,” Akins told Said K. Aburish, author of a book about the CIA-coordinated coup that eventually led to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein (A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite). “The CIA were definitely involved in that coup,” Akins admitted. “We saw the rise of the Ba’athists as a way of replacing a pro-Soviet government with a pro-American one and you don’t get that chance very often… Sure, some people were rounded up and shot but these were mostly communists so that didn’t bother us.”
In fact, a lot of them were doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors who formed Iraq’s educated elite. The CIA wanted them killed. It drew up lists and brought one of its prized assets in from Cairo to help with the torture, murder, and mayhem — Saddam Hussein.
Another CIA spook that may be of interest to Verges is Miles Copeland, who is tight with Bush Senior. Copeland told the UPI’s Richard Sale that the CIA had enjoyed “close ties” with the Ba’ath Party, just as it had “close ties” with the intelligence service of Egyptian leader Gamel Abd Nassar.
Sale quotes a former State Department official as saying that Saddam became part of the CIA plot to kill Qassim. Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author (Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam’s War), says that Saddam’s CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for the CIA and Egyptian intelligence. US officials separately confirmed Darwish’s account, according to Sale.
Unfortunately, none of these details will be revealed in open court or will they make corporate press headlines — or for that matter find their way to page E16).
Last month the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued a press release before former Gen. Wesley Clark testified against Slobodan Milosevic.
The normally simultaneous broadcast of testimony, said the ICTY in a press release, would “be delayed for a period of 48 hours to enable the US government to review the transcript and make representations as to whether evidence given in open session should be redacted in order to protect the national interests of the US.”
Geneva-based reporter Andreas Zumach may break the news about how US corporations illegally helped Iraq build its biological, chemical, and nuclear programs under the watchful eyes of Reagan and Bush Senior in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, but that does not mean the Bush Ministry of Disinformation — Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc. — are obliged to inform the American people about it.
In fact, the names listed in Zumach’s report were mentioned in Iraq’s 12,000-page report submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva and the United Nations.
In order to redact those names, the Bushites violated an agreement with the Security Council and blackmailed Colombia, which at the time was presiding over the Council, grabbed the UN’s only copy, removed the corporate names and other information, and distributed the result to the other four permanent members of the Security Council.
In other words, the Bushites can do whatever they want and nobody can do anything about it.
Jacques Verges will have to settle for the notoriety of defending the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, jet setting terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka Carlos the Jackal), Holocaust revisionist Roger Gaurady, and fall guy Slobodan Milosevic.
There’s a good chance the Bushites will not allow Jacques Verges or any other lawyer anywhere near Saddam Hussein.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . 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, will soon be published by Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: email@example.com