Saddam Hussein, Donald Rumsfeld, and Torture in Iraq

That was then: Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983.
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Strange how we forget or choose to ignore history. Today we find ourselves in the middle of a war based on various layers of deception by the Bush administration. We have reports of torture by the U.S. military and CIA in Iraq and elsewhere. We have reports of torture by the newly installed government in Iraq. We have reports of use of White Phosphorus as a chemical weapon by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Finally, today we see CNN reporting on Saddam’s trial: Witness at Hussein trial describes alleged torture:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — The trial of Saddam Hussein adjourned Monday afternoon, concluding a day of delays and testimony by a witness describing the alleged torture of a man from a Shiite village in 1982: “They broke all his body parts.”

Hmmmm. Saddam was torturing in 1982? Using chemical weapons as well? So how do we deal with our relationship with him during that time? We ignore it, pretend it did not exist. You really should read this. Really. Via the National Security Archive, a glimpse of U.S. relations with Iraq and Saddam during the 1980’s. Many details worth exploring. Here’s one little nugget:

By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints [Note 1]. It intensified its accusations in October 1983, however, and in November asked for a United Nations Security Council investigation.

The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran’s accusations, and describing Iraq’s “almost daily” use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war [Document 24]. The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against “Kurdish insurgents” as well [Document 25].

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