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Donald & Saddam
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E. Wayne Ross
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Donald & Saddam
S addam Hussein has gone on trial, but questions remain unasked by mainstream U.S. journalists about Donald Rumsfeld’s 1983 meeting with Hussein in Baghdad on behalf of the Reagan administration. The initial trial of Saddam and co-defendants is focusing on grisly crimes that occurred the year before Rumsfeld shook Saddam Hussein’s hand. “The first witness, Ahmad Hassan Muhammad, riveted the courtroom with scenes of torture he witnessed after his arrest in 1982, including a meat grinder with human hair and blood under it,” the New York Times reported on December 6.
The victims were Shiites—143 men and adolescent boys, according to the charges—tortured and killed in the Iraqi town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against Hussein in early July 1982.
On December 20, 1983 the Washington Post reported that Rumsfeld “visited Iraq in what U.S. officials said was an attempt to bolster the already improving U.S. relations with that country.” A couple of days later, the New York Times cited a “senior American official” who “said that the United States remained ready to establish full diplomatic relations with Iraq and that it was up to the Iraqis.”
On March 29, 1984 the Times reported: “American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with relations between Iraq and the United States and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been restored in all but name.” Washington had some goodies for Hussein’s regime, the Times account noted, including “agricultural-commodity credits totaling $840 million.”
A few months later, on July 17, 1984, a Times article with a Baghdad dateline reported that the U.S. “granted Iraq about $2 billion in commodity credits to buy food over the last two years.” The story recalled that “Donald Rumsfeld, the former Middle East special envoy, held two private meetings with the Iraqi president here,” and the dispatch mentioned in passing, “State Department human rights reports have been uniformly critical of the Iraqi President, contending that he ran a police state.”
Full diplomatic relations between Washington and Baghdad were restored 11 months after Rumsfeld’s December 1983 visit with Saddam.
As the most senior U.S. official to visit Iraq in six years, Rumsfeld served as Reagan’s point man for warming relations with Hussein. In 1984, the Administration engineered the sale to Baghdad of 45 ostensibly civilian-use Bell 214ST helicopters. Hussein’s military found them useful for attacking Kurdish civilians with poison gas in 1988, according to U.S. intelligence sources. “In response to the gassing,” journalist Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, “sweeping sanctions were unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate that would have denied Iraq access to most U.S. technology. The measure was killed by the White House.”
U.S. big media institutions did little to illuminate how Washington and business interests combined to strengthen and arm Saddam Hussein during many of his worst crimes. “In the 1980s and afterward, the United States underwrote 24 corporations so they could sell to Saddam Hussein weapons of mass destruction, which he used against Iran, at that time the prime Middle Eastern enemy of the United States,” writes Ben Bagdikian, former assistant managing editor of the Washington Post , in his book The New Media Monopoly . “Hussein used U.S.-supplied poison gas” against Iranians and Kurds “while the United States looked the other way.”
Of course the crimes of the Saddam Hussein regime were not just in the future when Rumsfeld came bearing gifts in 1983. Saddam’s large-scale atrocities had been going on for a long time.
A photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Hussein’s hand on December 20, 1983, is easily available. But the picture has been absent from the array of historic images that U.S. media outlets are providing to viewers and readers in their coverage of the Saddam Hussein trial. Journalistic mention of Rumsfeld’s key role in aiding the Iraqi tyrant has been similarly absent. Apparently, in the world according to U.S. mass media, some history matters profoundly and some doesn’t matter at all.
Norman Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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