As the Western establishment bangs the war drums over a chemical weapons attack the Obama administration implausibly claims was perpetrated by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, recently declassified CIA documents reveal that the U.S. federal government was helping Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein (shown prior to 2003 Iraq War) even though it knew he was engaged in some of the worst chemical attacks in world history. The latest revelations, first uncovered by Foreign Policy, illustrate what some analysts call the hypocrisy and apparent insanity of U.S. foreign policy.
Of course, like Assad, Hussein was once considered a strong U.S. government ally before suddenly becoming an enemy of the U.S. establishment and, therefore, a target for “regime change.” In the late 1980’s, in fact, American intelligence operatives were secretly helping the Iraqi dictator fight his barbaric wars against Iran and his own people — even giving the regime in Baghdad information that they knew would be used to more effectively employ deadly chemical weapons attacks.
Declassified government documents and interviews with former U.S. intelligence officials cited in news reports show conclusively that the U.S. government knew about the chemical attacks for years, including the use of mustard gas on Iraqi and Iranian civilians. “They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks,” reported Shane Harris and Matthew Aid for Foreign Policy. “They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.”
Incredibly, the declassified documents expose top American officials — in their zeal to ensure victory for the ruthless Iraqi dictator in his war against Iran — apparently more concerned about getting caught than the gruesome killings being perpetrated with chemical weapons and U.S. assistance. The documents warned, for example, that Iranian authorities might be able to gather evidence to present to the United Nations linking the U.S. government to the apparent violations of international laws on war in the Geneva Protocol.
Because the Soviet Union had previously deployed chemical weapons without serious repercussions, however, U.S. officials sounded less concerned about getting caught than they might otherwise have been. "As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings," states one of the secret CIA reports. "Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law." The Iran-Contra scandal also later exposed the U.S. government’s secret and unlawful arming of the Iranian regime, too.
With the U.S. government providing crucial intelligence to Hussein about Iranian efforts, however, the Iraqi regime was able to inflict massive damage on its regional enemy in Tehran. But again, the U.S. establishment knew the damage would extend far beyond just Iran’s military forces. "If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border," the CIA said in one of the recently declassified documents, essentially admitting that the regime it was supporting was going to murder civilians with chemical weapons. Hussein also used chemical agents to murder innocent Kurds.
“By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein's military,” Foreign Policy reported, citing the declassified documents and interviews with former officials. “That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq. A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula.”
Of course, official American support for the Iraqi tyrant went well beyond providing intelligence and global cover as he perpetrated mass-murder with chemical weapons. As The New American has documented extensively, the U.S. government played a crucial role in building up Hussein’s military, too, at least before imposing sanctions blamed for killing 500,000 children and eventually overthrowing the regime. Among other support, American taxpayers were forced to subsidize “agricultural loans” to the dictatorship, which in turn used the money to buy military weaponry.
“The extent of [George H.W.] Bush administration aid to Baghdad is growing more evident with the passage of time, with one of the latest revelations being that even the Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff had gotten into the acts of appeasement,” noted TNA’s William Hoar in a 1992 article entitled “Making of a Monster: How the U.S. Helped Build Iraq's War Machine.” “The Pentagon, for example, proposed a plan to train and exchange forces with Saddam's military, and even sought to protect the dictator's personal aircraft from missile attack…. Bush administration apologists have called their efforts a misguided attempt to moderate Saddam Hussein's behavior. In truth, they constructed a monster that was then used to justify the war for a new world order.”
Beyond heavy backing for the Iraqi dictator and his chemical weapons usage, the U.S. government has a long and sordid history of supporting some of the most brutal tyrants on Earth — particularly in the Middle East. Meanwhile, despite claiming to be engaged in some sort of “global war” on “terrorism,” numerous American administrations — and especially Obama — have been brazenly supporting self-styled terrorists, even, in some cases, groups officially identified as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.
In Libya, for example, the U.S. government became close to tyrant Muammar Gadhafi under the guise of the terror war, with the Libyan despot helping American authorities hunt down enemies of the U.S. government. Like in Iraq, however, the tables turned and Gadhafi suddenly found himself on the “enemies” list. Previous U.S. opponents — al-Qaeda and various other jihadist outfits — were showered with weapons and money by the Obama administration, which also provided air support. As The New American documented extensively, much of the Libyan “opposition” was led by self-styled al-Qaeda operatives who had previously fought U.S. troops in Iraq.
More recently, in Syria, Assad suddenly found himself in a similar situation, going from “valued ally” in the U.S. terror war to vicious enemy almost seamlessly. While the Obama administration still claims to be fighting “al-Qaeda,” it is now universally acknowledged that vast swaths of the Syrian opposition are led by self-proclaimed al-Qaeda groups. Even the most effective anti-Assad fighting force officially merged with al-Qaeda earlier this year.
Now, decades after helping Hussein employ chemical weapons, the U.S. government suddenly claims to be outraged that its own former terror-war ally in Syria allegedly deployed chemical weapons. So, to deal with the supposed deployment, the Obama administration is openly plotting direct military attacks on the Assad regime without even consulting Congress — helping self-styled al-Qaeda “rebels” take over the country, and probably laying the groundwork for more wars and the extermination of Christians and other minorities in the nation.
As the Obama administration lawlessly steps up the decades-old U.S.-government pattern of variously backing dictators and terrorists before going to war against them, analysts predict that the situation in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate while the federal government runs up trillions more in debt. The death toll will keep rising, too, with innocent civilians paying the steepest price. Perhaps even more shocking to Americans: U.S. foreign policy is contributing to the literal extermination of ancient Christian communities throughout the region, as The New American documented extensively. Unless Congress steps in to restrain Obama, experts say the already chaotic and bloody state of affairs could be about to literally explode.
Photos of Saddam Hussein prior to 2003 Iraq War: AP Images
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at
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