Saddam: a career in service to the CIA


Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 13:47:56 -0300
To: •••@••.•••
From: •••@••.•••

Mondo Washington
by James Ridgeway
    Our Man in Baghdad
      That's Saddam We're Talking About
    April 15th, 2003 12:00 PM

It's unlikely we will ever know for sure what the U.S.
government has been doing with Saddam Hussein over the
past 40 or so years. According to documents unearthed
from the Reagan era, we know that Reagan sent Donald
Rumsfeld to Baghdad to egg on the dictator in his war
with Iran. At the time, the U.S. provided Saddam with
loans, military intelligence, and other assistance
[including bio-warfare materials -rkm]

One story has it that Rumsfeld, then a drug company
CEO, also was acting as a messenger boy for high
officials in the Reagan administration who wanted to
get rich building an oil pipeline from Iraq to Jordan.
Secretary of State George Schultz, a former top
official of Bechtel, was chief among them. He
supposedly hoped to cash in on the deal if Bechtel got
to build the pipeline.

Now comes a UPI story, based on interviews with various
British and U.S. intelligence sources, claiming that
from Jack Kennedy in the early 1960s on up to the first
Persian Gulf War in 1991, Saddam was in the hands of
the CIA. In his early twenties, Saddam was recruited to
kill Iraqi prime minister Abd al-Karim Qasim, UPI
reports. He had given the U.S. a fright by backing out
of the pro-West Baghdad Pact, which brought together
Turkey, Britain, Iran, and Pakistan in a defensive
alliance against the Soviets. Having ditched the pact,
Qasim started buying Soviet arms and installing
Communists in top positions, all of which led then CIA
chief Allen Dulles to say Iraq was "the most dangerous
spot in the world."

According to the UPI report, Saddam led a farcical
attempt to kill Qasim. Saddam and his six-man hit squad
took up residence in a Baghdad apartment, but when the
moment arrived, they got nervous and started shooting
too soon, missing Qasim and ending up grazing Saddam.
One of the hit men got a grenade stuck in the lining of
his coat, and another put the wrong kind of bullets in
his gun. Eventually Qasim was killed in a coup, rumored
to have been encouraged by the CIA. Whether true or
not, once the minister was killed, the CIA men gave the
Baathist hierarchy lists of names of suspected
Communists, whom they rounded up and murdered. A former
senior U.S. State Department official told UPI: "We
were frankly glad to be rid of them." Saddam became
head of the Baathist intelligence apparatus.

Ever after, the CIA took care of Saddam, helping to
spirit him out of Baghdad to Tikrit, and from there to
Syria and Beirut, and on to Egypt. He seems never to
have been popular among the spies because he was
thuggish and too low-class.

During the 1980s the CIA drew close to Saddam's
Baathist party, currently reviled as a bunch of vicious
killer thugs, but then warmly regarded as our allies
against the wacko ayatollahs in Iran. The CIA was
providing Iraq with battlefield intelligence gained
from a Saudi AWACS plane. It was during this period
that Rumsfeld visited the dictator to see if there was
anything the U.S. could do to help out.

The U.S. manipulations in the Middle East then became
more and more confusing as the CIA provided
intelligence reports to both Iraq and its Iranian
enemy. One former official told UPI that he personally
had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite
intelligence with both Iraq and Iran "in an attempt to
produce a military stalemate." On doing so, he said, "I
thought I was losing my mind."
. . . . . . .
Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Joanna Khenkine

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