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[casi] Revisiting Pelletiere.

Re: claims that Stephen Pelletiere has been totally discredited.

To pretend that Stephen Pelletiere was the only voice expressing these opinions is absurd.  Its is 
reasonable easy to show that it was the official Defense Department view at the time.

To pretend Stephen Pelletiere motivations are protecting Saddam is bizarre to say the least.  I am 
reminded of claims that Scott Ritter was in Saddam Hussein's pay when he started rubbishing WMD 
claims (even more sinister was Ritter being caught in a sting operation involving alledged "sex 
talk" on the Internet with a 16 year old girl - in reality a middleage undercover cop). Anyone in 
his situation, having access to detailed analysis and intelligence reports on Halabja would feel 
impelled to act as he did.

The first news reports of the time from journalists flown into Halabja (by Iran) speak quite 
clearly as cyanogen agent as being a major culprit - eg Headline in Daily Telegraph "Cyanide 
bombers lay waste to a town" by Norman Kirkham - it doesnt get much clearer than that. Another, 
"Kurdish Victims caught unaware by cyanide" in The Guardian by David Hirst 22 March 1988.  Richard 
Beeston of the London Times wrote March 22 1988 "The Iraqi bombers first struck last Wednesday, 
dropping the chemical agents relentlessly and leaving behind the groans of the mustard gas victims, 
the trail of refugees and the haunting waxwork figures frozen by the cyanide vapour"  Certainly 
waxwork figures are not a symptom of mustard gas.

Its worth noting that at this point that Iran had regained control of the town - its not illogical 
to suggest that if the gas used was as powerful and as damaging as claimed, then its difficult to 
see how such a town could have been defended and held.  Defense Department reports of opposing 
chemical barrages with the town first being taken by Iraq and then retaken by Iran with cyanogen 
gas assistance seem at least a credible scenario.  At any rate Iran managed to regain the town 
somehow.  There are a number of reports that detail Iran's chemical weapon capability and its 
reliance of cyanide based gases.  These weapons dont seem to have been an issue in the lengthy WMD 
inquisition of Iraq.

IF, as claimed, it is true that Iraq did not use this cyanogen based gas then Pelletiere's claims 
are fully justified. According to the journalist reports at the time Pelletiere is correct to say 
that the major damage was caused by cyanide gas, whether or not his claim that Iraq did not deploy 
cyanide gas is true I could not say.

On May 3, 1990, referring to yet another study, The Washington Post stated: "A Defense Department 
reconstruction of the final stages of the Iran-Iraq war has assembled what analysts say is 
conclusive intelligence that one of the worst civilian massacres of the war, in the Iraqi Kurdish 
city of Halabja, was caused by repeated chemical bombardments from both belligerent armies."

The Iran-Iraq war was one of horrendous brutality and subsequent emphasis on this fairly small 
incident and an obsession solely with chemical weapons use would seem strange to people who lived 
through it.  We forget the trench warfare, the human wave tactics of the Iranian mullahs, where 
thousands of ill-armed or unarmed teenagers were hurled at iraqi positions attempting to overwhelm 
them with absolutely no concern as to casuatlies.  I read at the time that the Iranian aims were to 
convert Iraq to a Shiite dominated state, ironically an aim that might now be achieved thanks to US 
and Britain intervention.

Whatever one makes of it, one thing is fairly certain, that Stephen Pelletiere genuinely believes 
his claims whether true or not, he was not doing this because he is some kind of Saddam puppet.  
The idea that in 2002 it was the US brief to support Saddam Hussein in anyway is kind of bizarre.  
The only explanation is that he is a victim of CIA and Defense Department misinformation of the 
time, fooled by their own propaganda.

I agree that Defense Department and CIA reports are not independent sources of information.  We 
make a mistake in assuming journalists are - as surely that photo of of a "mass grave" I originally 
posted should deomonstrate.



--------- Original Message ---------

DATE: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 10:49:36
From: "Colin Rowat" <>

>Tom, on Pelletiere, his claims are as thoroughly discredited as any
>that I know on the basis of second-hand knowledge to be.  The
>interpretation seem to be that his brief at the time was to defend
>Saddam in the US public's view: the US was still supporting Saddam at
>the time.  I am not so sure on why he has continued to maintain that
>position.  If you were interested, I would recommend searching through
>the CASI archives for his name, and for Halabja.
>Colin Rowat
>work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of
>| Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | | (+44/0) 121 414
>3754 | (+44/0) 121 414 7377 (fax) |
>personal | (+44/0) 7768 056 984 (mobile) | (+44/0) 7092 378 517 (fax)
>(707) 221 3672 (US fax) |

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