THEY GOT THE WRONG GUYS
By Jeff Archer
Ali Majid: another victim of an illegal and fixed trial
January 25, 2010
On Monday, January 25, 2010, Ali Hassain al-Majid, was hanged by Iranian-backed Iraqi stooges. Slightly more than thee years ago, Iraq’sPresident, Saddam Hussein, was executed as well be the same Iran-lovers. Both shared the dubious title of having gassed Iraq’s Kurdish population at Halabjah in 1988. However, few people in the West checked out any facts to verify the guilt or innocence of the two Iraqi leaders.
The most damaging and damning incident for the Iraqi leadership was the gassing of Halabjah, a Kurdish town, in 1988. Halabjah came under attack with chemicals and the world saw the tragedy as people were strewn on the streets. However, the media did not pay a great amount of attention to the incident and it quickly was replaced in the international press.
In the buildup to Desert Storm, Bush I took the Halabjah gassing out of the closet and he made great strides in gaining support for a military conclusion to the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. All of a sudden we heard him tell the world, “He gasses his own people.”
That statement was made so many times by administration officials that it became a household cliché. The problem is that no one ever checked out its authenticity. A few months after Desert Storm, Greenpeace published an in-depth study called On Impact about the reasons for the Gulf War massacre and how, in the future, war should be a last option instead of a first choice. A portion of the report covered the demonizing of the Iraqi leadership. It brought out many lies Bush used to persuade the world to support military intervention. Then, it addressed the Halabjah incident and threw doubt on whose military forces attacked the town with chemical weapons. On Impact quoted two writers from the U.S. Army War College who wrote a book called Iraqi Power and Security in the Middle East. They concluded:
The first attack occurred at Halabjah in north-central Iraq. All accounts of this incident agree that the victims’ mouths and extremities were blue. This is consonant with the use of a blood agent. Iraq never used blood agents throughout the war (Iran-Iraq War). Iran did … hence, we concluded it was the Iranian’s gas that killed the Kurds.
This short statement is devastating in many aspects. If doubt is cast on who gassed the Kurds, many people in American politics will not come out smelling squeaky clean on the issue of integrity. A considerable number of persons stated: “I would not support a war except that Saddam gassed his own people.” .
A document from the U.S. Marine Corps contradicted the popular belief of Saddam Hussein being the perpetrator of the gassing incident at Halabjah. On December 10, 1990, a little over a month before Desert Storm began, a document titled “Marine Corps Historical Publication FMFRP 3-203” was released. The main topic was “Lessons Learned: Iran-Iraq War.” Appendix B referred to “Chemical Weapons.” The report went into the Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War and concluded that Iraq used mustard gas, a non-lethal agent, to disperse human waves of Iranian soldiers. Then, it approached the gassing of the Kurds at Halbjah:
Similarly, we find no evidence whatsoever that the Iraqis have ever employed blood gasses such as cyanogen chloride or hydrogen cyanide.
Blood agents were allegedly responsible for the most infamous use of chemicals in the war — the killing of Kurds at Halabjah. Since the Iraqis have no history of using these two agents — and the Iranians do — we conclude that the Iranians perpetrated this attack. It is also worth noting that lethal concentrations of cyanogen are difficult to obtain over an area target, thus the reports of 5,000 Kurds dead in Halabjah are suspect.
It is unlikely that the U.S. Marine Corps would tell its troops, who were about to face combat, a lie perpetrated by propaganda. It was okay for Bush to con the world, but the Marines attempted to research the incident and get its people ready for battle.
The fact that the U.S. Marines “concluded” that Iran gassed the Kurds of Halbjah was not the only striking portion of this document. It questioned the number of deaths. Researchers have come forward who state that several hundred bodies were found, not 5,000.
By 2002, various individuals had time to dissect the reality of Halabjah and in the buildup to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, many came forward to challenge the “he gasses his own people” statement. Included in the naysayers were retired CIA analysts, retired military personnel, journalists and others. They uncovered much proof to show that Iran may have gassed the Halabjah Kurds.
Stephen Pelletiere was the CIA senior analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. From the gassing incident at Halabjah until today, he maintains that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds. On January 31, 2003, the New York Times published a commentary by Pelletiere called “A War Crime or an Act of War?” The article dispelled many myths about the “he gasses his own people” statement:
The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq’s “gassing its own people,” specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.
But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.
I am in a position to know because, 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.
Pelletiere mentioned many other aspects of the battle in which Halabjah was positioned between the Iraqi and Iranian forces. He also delved into the importance of Halabjah’s location because of water systems and the nearby Darbandikhan Dam. Pelletiere added:
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.
Pelletiere’s piece raised only a few eyebrows, yet it was comprehensive and accurate. The administration had already put forth so much propaganda that the truth was not going to be approached by the mainstream media. Pelletiere’s account should have been the pivotal subject on all the talk shows and in the print media, but it was largely ignored. He concluded:
Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us proof of Saddam Hussein’s supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds, particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?
The basic facts of what happened in Halabjah have been corroborated by the CIA, the U.S. Army War College, and the United States Intelligence Agency. Mohammed al-Obaidi, a university professor in the United Kingdom, who was born and educated in Baghdad, brings up these facts as well as the more recent assessment of the U.S. government that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds in his article of December 20, 2004, titled “What Happened in Kurdish Halabjah?” that was published by various Internet media:
Iran overran the village and its small Iraqi garrison on 15 March 1988. The gassing took place on 16 March and onwards; who is then responsible for the deaths — Iran or Iraq — and how large was the death toll knowing the Iranian army was in Halabja but never reported any deaths by chemicals?
Having control of the village and its grisly dead, Iran blamed the gas deaths on the Iraqis, and the allegations of Iraqi genocide took root via a credulous international press and, a little later, cynical promotion of the allegations for political purposes by the US State Department and Senate.
After 15 years of support to the allegations of HRW, the CIA finally admitted in its report published in October 2003 that only mustard gas and a nerve agent was used by Iraq.
The CIA now seems to be fully supporting the US Army War College report of April 1990, as a cyanide-based blood agent that Iraq never had, and not mustard gas or a nerve agent, killed the Kurds who died at Halabja and which concludes that the Iranians perpetrated that attack as a media war tactic.
The late Jude Wanniski was relentless in his pursuit of the truth about Iraq. He was an unlikely ally because he was a conservative author and journalist and at one time the associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. However, he possessed unbreakable integrity and truth meant more to him than a political stance.
Wanniski wrote hundreds of thousands of words about Iraq and challenged any journalist who relayed the falsehoods of Iraq to clarify his/her research. None responded. In addition, he issued the same invitation to every U.S. politician who had denigrated Iraq using false information. The result was the same as with the journalists.
On February 18, 2004, Wanniski wrote a column called “Defending Saddam, not President Bush.” He stated:
One of the things history shows us over and over again is that men and women who were thought to be EVIL incarnate in their own day — and had to be exterminated — are not so bad in hindsight. I’ve told my family and friends these last several years that I really wish information would be unearthed to show that Saddam Hussein did all the evil things he has been accused of doing, so I could shed my defense of him. Until that happens, I am stuck with him.
Jude Wanniski was on top of the Iraq issue like no one else. I have written about the date of July 18, 2004 being one of extreme importance because Tony Blair announced to the world that 5,000 bodies had been found in mass graves in Iraq, not the 400,000 he had told the world in November 2004. Before this statement had time to be uploaded to the Internet, Wanniski sent me this message: “I suppose you saw that Downing Street now says “5000” bodies have been unearthed, not 400,000. JW.”
The relentless search for truth was paramount with Wanniski. He died at his computer while writing an article about Iraq on August 29, 2005. The world lost an incredible human being who defied his own acquaintances with his principled stand.
There are a couple of issues that should make anyone with an inquisitive mind question the story-line of various U.S. administrations about Halabjah. First, many pictures and videos have been shown of Iraqi planes and helicopters in the air that supposedly unleashed the gas on the Kurds. The problem with this scenario is that the gas was dispersed by artillery, not from the air. Artillery rounds were found to be the culprit, not bombs.
Secondly, not one person from the Iraqi military has come forth to say he was involved with the operation: not one pilot, nor a supply person, nor a truck driver, nor a clerk. There was, and probably still is, a huge amount of cash awaiting an Iraqi military participant in the gassing of the Kurds who will come forward. The oft-said statement that “Saddam would kill him or his family” is no longer relevant. This lack of someone claiming the bounty is probably the best evidence to refute the general impression that “he gasses his own people.”
Ali Majid got caught up in the propaganda and was dubbed “Chemical Ali” by the Western press. However, no one in Iraq ever called him that. Most Iraqis, whether pro or anti-Saddam did not believe the gassing of the Kurds was committed by Iraqi troops. They were befuddled by such stories put forth by Western news sources.
Those who put the hangman’s noose on both Saddam Hussein and Ali Majid are far more responsible for the gassing of the Kurds than Saddam or Ali ever were.