Paying for Someone Else's Miscalculation

US Miscalculated by Arming Iraq

Arutz-7 News - January 3, 2003

The Washington Post recently reported that though the U.S. is now infuriated to the point of war by Saddam Hussein's chemical, nuclear and biological programs, and by his contacts with international terrorists, the U.S. itself highly valued Iraq as an ally when these programs began.

The Post's Michael Dobbs wrote on Monday that U.S. involvement with Saddam in the 1980's included large-scale intelligence sharing, supplying him with cluster bombs through a Chilean front company, and facilitating Iraq's acquisition of chemical and biological precursors. The Reagan and Bush-the-father administrations authorized the sale to Iraq of poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, because Iraq was viewed as the "good guy," as opposed to Iran, with which it was warring at the time.

The dangerous policies of then are issues for academic debate today. "It was a horrible mistake [at the time], but we have got it right now," says Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA military analyst and proponent of war with Iraq. "My fellow [CIA] analysts and I were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We were constantly fighting the State Department." For at least one person, however, the policy of the 1980's, and the attempt to cover it up, has had - and still has - a most critical effect: Jonathan Pollard.

The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization notes that Pollard was thrown into prison in 1985 largely because of the fear that his actions would shine an "unwelcome light on the involvement of the US and its key officials in arming Iraq with non-conventional weapons of war, at a time that this was a closely guarded secret from Congress and from the American people." The organization says that the American establishment, fearing exposure, "directed its unbridled fury at Pollard, securing an unjust and grossly disproportionate life sentence for him" in an attempt to "bury Pollard and the government's dirty secrets about Iraq forever. Pollard continues to languish in prison in his 18th year of a life sentence with no end in sight. But the government's dirty secrets are coming out all the same..."

Pollard himself, in a letter that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 15, 1991, wrote the following: "Many of the photos that I turned over to the Israelis were of a number of Iraqi chemical weapons manufacturing plants which the government did not want to admit existed. Why? Well, if no one knew about these facilities the State and Defense Departments would have been spared the embarrassing task of confronting Iraq over its violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which banned the use of chemical weapons in war... [These photos] would have jeopardized the administration's policy of callous indifference to this issue, in that they constituted hard, irrefutable proof that Iraq was indeed engaged in the production and wide scale use of chemical weapons. What the administration was really concerned about was being placed in a position where it would have to admit that it had tacitly condoned the creation of an Iraqi chemical weapons manufacturing capability."

"Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam," said Joe Wilson, a former deputy at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and the last U.S. official to meet with Hussein. "Everybody in the Arab world told us that the best way to deal with Saddam was to develop a set of economic and commercial relationships that would have the effect of moderating his behavior. History will demonstrate that this was a miscalculation."

Pollard, who tried to warn Israel that this "miscalculation" (Wilson) and "horrible mistake" (Pollack) might prove fatal to tens of thousands of its citizens, is now in ill health in his 18th year of a life sentence in a North Carolina prison.

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