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The Father: Truth Teller, The Mother: Aya granny, Daughter 1: Najma, Daughter 2: HNK.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Saddam never gassed his own people

FLASHBACK: Saddam never gassed his own people

Carlton Meyer

1 December 2003 - A Stephen C. Pelletiere commentary appeared in the January 31, 2003 New York Times, yet no one seems to have noticed. Here is part of what he wrote about frequent statements that Saddam Hussein gassed 5000 Kurds at Halabja in 1991:

...as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war.

The Baathist regime did kill thousands of Kurds during fighting to suppress occasional uprisings by what Americans call gangs or terror groups. Iran, Turkey and Syria have also killed thousands of Kurds, and of course the USA has killed thousands of innocent Iraqis to maintain order, albeit unintentionally. A better example of a government leader using chemicals to "gas his own people" occurred in 1993 near Waco, Texas.


Blogger strykerdad said...

TT--in full propaganda mode on this blog, huh? Do you do any research about the people you use as sources? All contrarian views of the Halbja gassing base their claims upon the Pelletierre claims. I read several of his claims and interviews on the subject and found that he backed off the certainty of his statements as time went on--instead of 'we know for certain' he turned to 'we see some evidence, but do not know for sure'to 'we simply don't know' before giving his 'evidence'. At the time the original War College report was 'leaked' the antiAmerican left claimed it was a purposeful deception by the Reagan administration to take the heat off of them for giving limited support to Saddam, by saying that Iran was responsible for the gassing. Some are standing by that claim, others now take a different view to show Saddam was not the monster he was made out to be and discredit Bush--they want it both ways. Pelletiere has a definite agenda and makes his obscure living as a contrarian to the Pentagon, mostly pushing weapon systems for clients--if the Pentagon likes it, he is against it, unless his client has it for sale. He is mostly about promoting himself and his book that takes the position that the Iraq war is all about oil and the control of Iraq's water resources. He could be sincere, but is not taken seriously by anyone except the Bush haters--if he had solid incontrovertible proof for many of his claims, he would be a media star. Very few have any idea who he is outside of the conspiracy cliques.

On the other hand, Human Rights Watch, which is often critical of the US efforts, has volumes of information on the subject with interviews of those who witnessed the attacks, doctors who examined victims and took samples from disinterred bodies of those killed. Perhaps you might take a little time and see what they have to offer. I myself saw a BBC documentary which interviewed victims who gave every appearance of being common, unassuming, mourning villagers who were uniformly certain that Iraqi forces were responsible for the gassing in Halabja and several other villages. I suppose all could be part of a JEWISH-CIA-Kurdish misinformation conspiracy, but the simplest explanation is often the most likely to be true. Either way, it doesn't matter at this point, the war is over and the justification or lack of justification is just a game to be played by those who have no part to play in the future. Saddam will die, and that is a good thing as far as the vast majority are concerned.

Just curious, are you associated with the People's Struggle Movement (Al-Kifah al-Shabi)--I noticed they were a go to source on your previous posts.

10/16/2005 04:39:00 PM

Blogger programmer craig said...

Using poison gas, for whatevr reason, is not a "tragedy of war" - it's a WAR CRIME, by definition. This article, if correct and factual, claims that both Iran and Iraq committed war crimes at Halabja. It doesn't absolve Saddam, it implicates the Iranians and Saddam both.

10/16/2005 05:20:00 PM

Blogger waldschrat said...

TT - I have to hand it to you, when you raise a topic of conversation you do it with the finesse and flair of someone taking the cover off a dish at a dinner party to reveal a live hand grenade. I imagine you chuckling as you prepare each provocative morsel to amaze and entertain your guests!

There are things in this world that are so dangerous that imagining their use as weapons is madness. In my previous job controlling air pollution I consulted with people who had experience in designing equipment to treat the exhaust from a biological warfare laboratory in order to incinerate any germs that might otherwise escape, and I toured another laboratory where the paint was scrubbed from the walls to clean up and make the area safe after animal experiments on the effects of inhaling aerosols of plutonium or uranium.

The chemical weapons used by Saddam might be considered primitive by some people. There are worse things, I have heard, much worse. I consider the use of such things unreasonable and unacceptable regardless of the justification and regardless of who killed who.

10/17/2005 03:09:00 AM

Blogger Tilo Reber said...

"The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time."

At the time of the gasing in Halabja the Iranians held the town. So this propagandist would have us believe that the Iranians gassed their own troops.

10/20/2005 10:06:00 PM


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