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This was a guilty verdict on America as well

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com This was a guilty verdict on America as well
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 10, 2006
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com

      This was a guilty verdict on America as well
      Robert Fisk
      Independent.co.uk
      06 November 2006

      So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war
      crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab
      world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the
      gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were
      yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words,
      another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when
      Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December
      2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great
      day.

      Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It
      couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's
      difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows,
      preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous
      hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his
      victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader
      of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu
      Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a
      bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned
      man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have
      followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And
      so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we? - to look better
      than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under
      Saddam.

      Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon
      Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather,
      death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to
      inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places -
      his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if
      Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against
      which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We
      only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered
      some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a
      country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as
      George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000).
      Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.

      "Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise
      there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon
      the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the
      government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former
      Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his
      relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of
      Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted
      to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the
      current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi
      officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to
      sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.

      Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans,
      Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must
      be "smoking rope". Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of
      rope it might be. Snow, after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam
      verdict - not the trial itself, please note - was "scrupulous and
      fair". The judges will publish "everything they used to come to
      their verdict."

      No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not
      allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime
      so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on a
      localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of
      Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were
      so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it
      in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of
      course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking,
      Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States
      Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and
      their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the
      Persian Gulf War".

      This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and
      the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments
      of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or
      earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax;
      Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis;
      Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated
      that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which
      assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-
      system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production
      facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide
      production facility plans).

      Yes, well I can well see why Saddam wasn't permitted to talk about
      this. John Reid, the British Home Secretary, said that Saddam's
      hanging "was a sovereign decision by a sovereign nation". Thank
      heavens he didn't mention the £200,000 worth of thiodiglycol, one of
      two components of mustard gas we exported to Baghdad in 1988, and
      another £50,000 worth of the same vile substances the following year.

      We also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 at a price of only
      £26,000. Yes, I know these could be used to make ballpoint ink and
      fabric dyes. But this was the same country - Britain - that would,
      eight years later, prohibit the sale of diphtheria vaccine to Iraqi
      children on the grounds that it could be used for - you guessed it -
      "weapons of mass destruction".

      Now in theory, I know, the Kurds have a chance for their own trial
      of Saddam, to hang him high for the thousands of Kurds gassed at
      Halabja. This would certainly keep him alive beyond the 30-day death
      sentence review period. But would the Americans and British dare
      touch a trial in which we would have not only to describe how Saddam
      got his filthy gas but why the CIA - in the immediate aftermath of
      the Iraqi war crimes against Halabja - told US diplomats in the
      Middle East to claim that the gas used on the Kurds was dropped by
      the Iranians rather than the Iraqis (Saddam still being at the time
      our favourite ally rather than our favourite war criminal). Just as
      we in the West were silent when Saddam massacred 180,000 Kurds
      during the great ethnic cleansing of 1987 and 1988.

      And - dare we go so deep into this betrayal of the Iraqis we loved
      so much that we invaded their country? - then we would have to
      convict Saddam of murdering countless thousands of Shia Muslims as
      well as Kurds after they staged an uprising against the Baathist
      regime at our specific request - thousands whom webetrayed by
      leaving them to fight off Saddam's brutal hordes on their
      own. "Rioting," is how Lord Blair's meretricious "dodgy dossier"
      described these atrocities in 2002 - because, of course, to call
      them an "uprising" (which they were) would invite us to ask
      ourselves who contrived to provoke this bloodbath. Answer: us.

      I and my colleagues watched this tragedy. I travelled on the
      hospital trains that brought the Iranians back from the 1980-88 war
      front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and
      faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their
      wounds. The British and Americans didn't want to know. I talked to
      the victims of Halabja. The Americans didn't want to know. My
      Associated Press colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying
      gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The
      Americans and the British didn't care.

      But now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the
      final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We
      have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we
      invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no
      sympathy for this man. "President Saddam Hussein has no fear of
      being executed," Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said
      in Beirut a few days ago. "He will not come out of prison to count
      his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will
      come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave." It
      looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there.
      Milosevic escaped sentence.

      The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers,
      guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the
      years since our "liberation" of Iraq. Many of them work for the
      Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically
      elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid
      by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic
      government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the
      extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and
      hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?

      So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war
      crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab
      world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the
      gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were
      yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words,
      another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when
      Saddam Hussein was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December
      2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great
      day.

      Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It
      couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's
      difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows,
      preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous
      hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike his
      victims on the head with an axe if they dared to condemn the leader
      of the Iraqi Socialist Baath Party before he hanged them. But Abu
      Widad was himself hanged at Abu Ghraib in 1985 after accepting a
      bribe to put a reprieved prisoner to death instead of the condemned
      man. But we can't mention Abu Ghraib these days because we have
      followed Saddam's trail of shame into the very same institution. And
      so by hanging this awful man, we hope - don't we? - to look better
      than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under
      Saddam.

      Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon
      Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather,
      death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to
      inflict on his Shias and Kurds and - yes, in Fallujah of all places -
      his Sunnis, too. So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if
      Saddam's immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against
      which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We
      only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered
      some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a
      country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives ("more or less", as
      George Bush Jnr said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000).
      Saddam was much worse. We can't be put on trial. We can't be hanged.

      "Allahu Akbar," the awful man shouted - God is greater. No surprise
      there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon
      the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the
      government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former
      Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his
      relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush's Secretary of
      Defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted
      to talk about the support he received from George Bush Snr, the
      current US President's father. Little wonder, then, that Iraqi
      officials claimed last week the Americans had been urging them to
      sentence Saddam before the mid-term US elections.

      Anyone who said the verdict was designed to help the Republicans,
      Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, blurted out yesterday, must
      be "smoking rope". Well, Tony, that rather depends on what kind of
      rope it might be. Snow, after all, claimed yesterday that the Saddam
      verdict - not the trial itself, please note - was "scrupulous and
      fair". The judges will publish "everything they used to come to
      their verdict."

      No doubt. Because here are a few of the things that Saddam was not
      allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime
      so blatant - so appalling - that he has been sentenced to hang on a
      localised massacre of Shias rather than the wholesale gassing of
      Kurds over which George W Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were
      so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 - or was it
      in 2002? Or 2001? Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of
      course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking,
      Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States
      Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and
      their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the
      Persian Gulf War".

      This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and
      the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments
      of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or
      earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax;
      Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis;
      Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated
      that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which
      assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-
      system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production
      facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide
      production facility plans).
      Yes, well I can well see why Saddam wasn't permitted to talk about
      this. John Reid, the British Home Secretary, said that Saddam's
      hanging "was a sovereign decision by a sovereign nation". Thank
      heavens he didn't mention the £200,000 worth of thiodiglycol, one of
      two components of mustard gas we exported to Baghdad in 1988, and
      another £50,000 worth of the same vile substances the following year.

      We also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 at a price of only
      £26,000. Yes, I know these could be used to make ballpoint ink and
      fabric dyes. But this was the same country - Britain - that would,
      eight years later, prohibit the sale of diphtheria vaccine to Iraqi
      children on the grounds that it could be used for - you guessed it -
      "weapons of mass destruction".

      Now in theory, I know, the Kurds have a chance for their own trial
      of Saddam, to hang him high for the thousands of Kurds gassed at
      Halabja. This would certainly keep him alive beyond the 30-day death
      sentence review period. But would the Americans and British dare
      touch a trial in which we would have not only to describe how Saddam
      got his filthy gas but why the CIA - in the immediate aftermath of
      the Iraqi war crimes against Halabja - told US diplomats in the
      Middle East to claim that the gas used on the Kurds was dropped by
      the Iranians rather than the Iraqis (Saddam still being at the time
      our favourite ally rather than our favourite war criminal). Just as
      we in the West were silent when Saddam massacred 180,000 Kurds
      during the great ethnic cleansing of 1987 and 1988.

      And - dare we go so deep into this betrayal of the Iraqis we loved
      so much that we invaded their country? - then we would have to
      convict Saddam of murdering countless thousands of Shia Muslims as
      well as Kurds after they staged an uprising against the Baathist
      regime at our specific request - thousands whom webetrayed by
      leaving them to fight off Saddam's brutal hordes on their
      own. "Rioting," is how Lord Blair's meretricious "dodgy dossier"
      described these atrocities in 2002 - because, of course, to call
      them an "uprising" (which they were) would invite us to ask
      ourselves who contrived to provoke this bloodbath. Answer: us.

      I and my colleagues watched this tragedy. I travelled on the
      hospital trains that brought the Iranians back from the 1980-88 war
      front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and
      faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their
      wounds. The British and Americans didn't want to know. I talked to
      the victims of Halabja. The Americans didn't want to know. My
      Associated Press colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying
      gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The
      Americans and the British didn't care.

      But now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the
      final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We
      have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we
      invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no
      sympathy for this man. "President Saddam Hussein has no fear of
      being executed," Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said
      in Beirut a few days ago. "He will not come out of prison to count
      his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will
      come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave." It
      looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there.
      Milosevic escaped sentence.

      The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers,
      guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the
      years since our "liberation" of Iraq. Many of them work for the
      Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically
      elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid
      by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic
      government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the
      extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and
      hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?
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