Bush Silences a Dangerous Witness
By Robert Parry
December 30, 2006
Like a blue-blood version of a Mob family with global reach, the Bushes have eliminated one more key witness to the important historical events that led the U.S. military into a bloody stalemate in Iraq and pushed the Middle East to the brink of calamity.
The hanging of Saddam Hussein was supposed to be – as the New York Times observed – the “triumphal bookend” to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. If all had gone as planned, Bush might have staged another celebration as he did after the end of “major combat,” posing under the “Mission Accomplished” banner on May 1, 2003.
But now with nearly 3,000 American soldiers killed and the Iraqi death toll exceeding 600,000 by some estimates, Bush may be forced to savor the image of Hussein dangling at the end of a rope a little more privately.
Still, Bush has done his family’s legacy a great service while also protecting secrets that could have embarrassed other senior U.S. government officials.
He has silenced a unique witness to crucial chapters of the secret history that stretched from Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 to the alleged American-Saudi “green light” for Hussein to attack Iran in 1980, through the eight years of the Iran-Iraq War during which high-ranking U.S. intermediaries, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, allegedly helped broker supplies of war materiel for Hussein.
Hussein now won’t be around to give troublesome testimony about how he obtained the chemical and biological agents that his scientists used to produce the unconventional weapons that were deployed against Iranian forces and Iraqi civilians. He can’t give his perspective on who got the money and who facilitated the deals.
Nor will Hussein be available to give his account of the mixed messages delivered by George H.W. Bush’s ambassador April Glaspie before Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Was there another American “green light” or did Hussein just hear what he wanted to hear?
Like the climactic scene from the Mafia movie “Casino” in which nervous Mob bosses eliminate everyone who knows too much, George W. Bush has now guaranteed that there will be no public tribunal where Hussein gives testimony on these potentially devastating historical scandals, which could threaten the Bush Family legacy.
That could have happened if Hussein had been turned over to an international tribunal at the Hague as was done with other tyrants, such as Yugoslavia’s late dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Instead Bush insisted that Hussein be tried in Iraq despite the obvious fact that the Iraqi dictator would receive nothing close to a fair trial before being put to death.
Hussein's hanging followed his trial for executing 148 men and boys from the town of Dujail in 1982 after a foiled assassination attempt on Hussein and his entourage. Hussein's death effectively moots other cases that were supposed to deal with his alleged use of chemical weapons to kill Iraqi civilians and other crimes that might have exposed the U.S. role.
[For details on what Hussein might have revealed, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or Consortiumnews.com’s “Missing U.S.-Iraq History” or “The Secret World of Robert Gates.”]
Thrill of the Kill
Some observers think that Bush simply wanted the personal satisfaction of seeing Hussein hanged, which would not have happened if he had been sent to the Hague. As Texas governor, Bush sometimes took what appeared to be perverse pleasure at his power to execute prisoners.
In a 1999 interview with conservative writer Tucker Carlson for Talk magazine, Bush ridiculed convicted murderer Karla Faye Tucker and her unsuccessful plea to Bush to spare her life.
Asked about Karla Faye Tucker’s clemency appeal, Bush mimicked what he claimed was the condemned woman’s message to him. “With pursed lips in mock desperation, [Bush said]: ‘Please don’t kill me.’”
But a more powerful motive was always Hussein’s potential threat to the Bush Family legacy if he ever had a forum where he could offer detailed testimony about the historic events of the past several decades.
Since stepping into the White House on Jan. 20, 2001, George W. Bush has made it a top priority to conceal the history of his father’s 12 years as Vice President and President and to wrap his own presidency in a thick cloak of secrecy.
One of Bush’s first acts as President was to sign an executive order that blocked the scheduled release of historic records from his father’s years. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush expanded his secrecy mandate to grant his family the power to withhold those documents from the American public in perpetuity, passing down the authority to keep the secrets to future Bush generations.
So, even after George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are dead, those noted historians Jenna and Barbara Bush will control key government documents covering a 20-year swath of U.S. history.
Already, every document at the George H.W. Bush presidential library must not only be cleared for release by specialists at the National Archives and – if classified – by the affected agencies, but also by the personal representatives of both the senior and junior George Bush.
With their backgrounds in secret societies like Skull and Bones – and with George H.W. Bush’s work at the CIA – the Bushes are keenly aware of the power that comes from controlling information. By keeping crucial facts from the American people, the Bushes feel they can turn the voters into easily manipulated children.
When there is a potential rupture of valuable information, the Bushes intervene, turning to influential friends to discredit some witness or relying on the U.S. military to make the threat go away. The Bushes have been helped immeasurably, too, by the credulity and cowardice of the modern U.S. news media and the Democratic Party.
What Can Be Done
Still, even with Hussein’s execution, there are actions that the American people can take to finally recover the lost history of the 1980s.
The U.S. military is now sitting on a treasure trove of documents seized during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration exploited these documents to discredit the United Nations over the “oil for food” scandal of the 1990s, ironically when Hussein wasn’t building weapons of mass destruction. But the Bush administration has withheld the records from the 1980s when Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.
In 2004, for instance the CIA released the so-called Duelfer report, which acknowledged that the administration’s pre-invasion assertions about Hussein hiding WMD stockpiles were “almost all wrong.” But a curious feature of the report was that it included a long section about Hussein’s abuse of the U.N.’s “oil for food” program, although the report acknowledged that the diverted funds had not gone to build illegal weapons.
Meanwhile, the report noted the existence of a robust WMD program in the 1980s but offered no documentary perspective on how that operation had occurred and who was responsible for the delivery of crucial equipment and precursor chemicals. In other words, the CIA’s WMD report didn’t identify the non-Iraqis who made Iraq’s WMD arsenal possible.
One source who has seen the evidence told me that it contains information about the role of Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen, who has been identified as a key link between the CIA and Iraq for the procurement of dangerous weapons in the 1980s. But that evidence has remained locked away.
With the Democrats taking control of Congress on Jan. 4, 2007, there could finally be an opportunity to force out more of the full story, assuming the Democrats don’t opt for their usual course of putting “bipartisanship” ahead of oversight and truth.
The American people also could demand that the surviving members of Hussein’s regime be fully debriefed on their historical knowledge before their voices also fall silent either from natural causes or additional executions.
But the singular figure who could have put the era in its fullest perspective – and provided the most damning evidence about the Bush Family’s role – has been silenced for good, dropped through a trap door of a gallows and made to twitch at the end of a noose fashioned from hemp.
The White House announced that George W. Bush didn’t wait up for the happy news of Hussein’s hanging. After the U.S. military turned Hussein over to his Iraqi executioners, Bush went to bed at his Crawford, Texas, ranch and slept through the night.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'