A Saddam Chronology
A Saddam Chronology
Saddam Hussein is one of the world's great monsters. Nothing would be more welcome than to have him put on trial, a trial which could offer Iraqis and the world an honest accounting of his many crimes. However, as so often happens, when a trial is organized by those who are themselves guilty of serious crimes, truth is not the goal. Instead the historical record is falsified to make the one monster seem uniquely blameworthy and the ones running the show above criticism.
We saw this pattern in the Tokyo trials following World War II, where the crimes of Japanese officials were documented in gruesome detail (except for the biological warfare programs, which Washington wanted to use for itself and except for the involvement of the emperor, who was to serve U.S. purposes during the occupation), while the crimes of the victors, such as the horrific fire-bombing raids and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were disregarded. Likewise, Panamanian ruler Manual Noriega was a thug who certainly belonged in the dock. But when the
It is a matter of principle in
Already, however, much of the media is falling into line in framing the crimes of Saddam Hussein. For example, the Washington Post website offered a summary of "Events in the Life of Saddam Hussein" from the Associated Press. But the chronology was seriously incomplete. Below is that chronology, corrected to include -- indented and in brackets -- some of the most serious omissions.
A glance at the life of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein:
1957 -- Joins underground Baath Socialist Party.
1958 -- Arrested for killing his brother-in-law, a Communist, spends six months in prison.
[This was not the only attempt to assassinate Kassem. In April 1960, the CIA approved using a poisoned handkerchief to kill Kassem. The "handkerchief was duly dispatched to Kassem, but whether or not it ever reached him, it certainly did not kill him." (Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA, New York: Knopf, 1979, p. 130.)]
[The coup was backed by the CIA.
"As its instrument the C.I.A. had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Baath Party, in 1963 still a relatively small political faction influential in the Iraqi Army. According to the former Baathist leader Hani Fkaiki, among party members colluding with the C.I.A. in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein....
"According to Western scholars, as well as Iraqi refugees and a British human rights organization, the 1963 coup was accompanied by a bloodbath. Using lists of suspected Communists and other leftists provided by the C.I.A., the Baathists systematically murdered untold numbers of
["Again, this coup, amid more factional violence, came with C.I.A. backing. Serving on the staff of the National Security Council under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the late 1960's, I often heard C.I.A. officers -- including Archibald Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a ranking C.I.A. official for the Near East and Africa at the time -- speak openly about their close relations with the Iraqi Baathists." (Morris, "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making," p. A29.)]
[From 1973-75, the
[In the late 1970s, Saddam also purged the Iraqi Communist Party and other oppositionists. (Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958, London: I. B. Tauris, 1990, pp. 182-87) "We see no fundamental incompatibility of interests between the
Despite the fact that
At the same time that the
[The chronology omits one of Saddam Hussein's most egregious atrocities, his Anfal campaign against the Kurds from 1987-89, in which at least 50,000 and possibly 100,000 Kurds were systematically slaughtered. (Middle East Watch, Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds, New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993.)
The response of the new Bush administration was to increase
[As part of the U.S.-led attack, the civilian infrastructure of Iraq was intentionally targeted (Barton Gellman, "Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq; Officials Acknowledge Strategy Went Beyond Purely Military Targets," Washington Post, 23 June 1991, p. A1; Thomas J. Nagy, "The Secret Behind the Sanctions," Progressive, Sept. 2001), which together with more than a decade of economic sanctions would lead to hundreds of thousands of excess deaths. (See Richard Garfield, "Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children From 1990 through 1998: Assessing the Impact of the Gulf War and Economic Sanctions," March 1999, http://www.fourthfreedom.org/php/t-si-index.php?hinc=garf-index.hinc.)]
March, 1991 -- Crushes Shiite revolt in south and Kurd revolt in north.
[After urging Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein, the
[The bombing was conducted without Security Council approval and without consultations with allies. The withdrawal of the inspectors was ordered by Richard Butler, the head of UNSCOM. "
Nov. 8, 2002 -- Threatened with "serious consequences" if he does not disarm in U.N. Security Council resolution.
Nov. 27, 2002 -- Allows U.N. experts to begin work in Iraq for first time since 1998.
Dec. 7, 2002 -- Delivers to United Nations declaration denying Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; later, United States says declaration is untruthful and United Nations says it is incomplete.
March 1, 2003 -- United Arab Emirates, at an Arab League summit, becomes first Arab nation to propose publicly that Saddam step down.
March 7 -- United States, Britain and Spain propose ordering Saddam to give up banned weapons by March 17 or face war; other nations led by France on polarized U.N. Security Council oppose any new resolution that would authorize military action.
March 17 -- United States, Britain and Spain declare time for diplomacy over, withdraw proposed resolution. President Bush gives Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq.
[Actually, U.S. officials made clear that U.S. troops would enter Iraq whether or not Saddam and his sons left the country. (Michael R. Gordon, "Allies Will Move In, Even if Saddam Hussein Moves Out," New York Times, March 18, 2003, p. A16.)]
March 18 -- Iraq's leadership rejects Bush's ultimatum.
["On the eve of war, Iraq publicly offered unlimited access for American and British weapons hunters." (David Rennie, "Saddam 'offered Bush a huge oil deal to avert war'," Daily Telegraph [London], Nov. 7, 2003, p. 17) And privately Iraq went well beyond this. In several back-channel contacts with U.S. officials, Iraq offered the U.S. "direct U.S. involvement on the ground in disarming Iraq," oil concessions, the turn-over of a wanted terrorist, cooperation on the Israeli-Palestinian peace-process, and even internationally-supervised elections within two years. (James Risen, "Iraq Said to Have Tried to Reach Last-Minute Deal to Avert War," New York Times, Nov. 6, 2003, p. A1) One doesn't know where these offers may have led, since they were rejected by the U.S.: "A US intelligence source insisted that the decision not to negotiate came from the White House, which was demanding complete surrender. According to an Arab source, [a U.S. intermediary] sent a Saudi official a set of requirements he believed Iraq would have to fulfill. Those demands included Saddam's abdication and departure, first to a US military base for interrogation and then into supervised exile, a surrender of Iraqi troops, and the admission that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. (Julian Borger, Brian Whitaker, and Vikram Dodd "Saddam's desperate offers to stave off war," Guardian, Nov. 7, 2003, p. 3.)]
March 20 -- U.S. forces open war with military strike on Dora Farms, a target south of Baghdad where Saddam and his sons are said to be. Saddam appears on Iraqi television later in the day.
April 4 -- Iraqi television shows video of Saddam walking a Baghdad street.
April 7 -- U.S. warplanes bomb a section of the Mansour district in Baghdad where Saddam and his sons were said to be meeting.
April 9 -- Jubilant crowds greet U.S. troops in Baghdad, go on looting rampages, topple 40-foot statue of Saddam.
July 22 -- Saddam's sons, Qusai and Odai, killed in gunbattle with U.S. troops. American forces then raid the northern city of Mosul and later say they missed Saddam "by a matter of hours."
July 27 -- U.S. troops raid three farms in Tikrit. Again, officials later say they missed Saddam by 24 hours.
July 31 -- Two of Saddam's daughters, Raghad and Rana, and their nine children are given asylum by Jordan's King Abdullah II.
[That they would need asylum follows from the U.S. policy of detaining family members of those they are seeking, in violation of elementary standards of justice. ("The arrest of close relatives of fugitive regime members has been used by US forces in the past both as a way to gather intelligence - through interrogation - and to put emotional pressure on the hunted men to surrender." Colin Nickerson, "US Troops Detain Wife, Daughter Of Key Hussein Aide Ex-Deputy Suspected Of Plotting Attacks In Iraqi Insurgency," Boston Globe, Nov. 27, 2003, p. A40.)]
Sept. 5 -- Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno of the 4th Infantry Division says his troops have captured several of Saddam's former bodyguards in the Tikrit area in the past month and may be closing in on the deposed Iraqi dictator.
Nov. 16 -- The last of nine tapes attributed to Saddam Hussein since he was removed from power is released. It tells Iraqis to step up their resistance to the U.S.-led occupation, saying the United States and its allies misjudged the difficulty of occupying Iraq.
[It didn't take a genius to note that "the United States and its allies misjudged the difficulty of occupying Iraq."]
Dec. 13 -- Saddam is captured at 8:30 p.m. in the town of Adwar, 10 miles south of Tikrit. He is hiding in a specially prepared "spider hole."