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[casi] Rumsfeld Offered Saddam Help

Guardian. 31 December 2002. Rumsfeld 'offered help to Saddam.'

WASHINGTON -- The Reagan administration and its special Middle East envoy,
Donald Rumsfeld, did little to stop Iraq developing weapons of mass
destruction in the 1980s, even though they knew Saddam Hussein was using
chemical weapons "almost daily" against Iran, it was reported yesterday.

US support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war as a bulwark against Shi'ite
militancy has been well known for some time, but using declassified
government documents, the Washington Post provided new details yesterday
about Rumsfeld's role, and about the extent of the Reagan administration's
knowledge of the use of chemical weapons.

The details will embarrass Rumsfeld, who as defence secretary in the Bush
administration is one of the leading hawks on Iraq, frequently denouncing it
for its past use of such weapons.

The US provided less conventional military equipment than British or German
companies but it did allow the export of biological agents, including
anthrax; vital ingredients for chemical weapons; and cluster bombs sold by a
CIA front organisation in Chile, the report says.

In December Rumsfeld, hired by President Reagan to serve as a Middle East
troubleshooter, met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and passed on the US
willingness to help his regime and restore full diplomatic relations.

Rumsfeld has said that he "cautioned" the Iraqi leader against using banned

But there was no mention of such a warning in state department notes of the

Howard Teicher, an Iraq specialist in the Reagan White House, testified in a
1995 affidavit that the then CIA director, William Casey, used a Chilean
firm, Cardoen, to send cluster bombs to use against Iran's "human wave"

A 1994 congressional inquiry also found that dozens of biological agents,
including various strains of anthrax, had been shipped to Iraq by US
companies, under licence from the commerce department.

Furthermore, in 1988, the Dow Chemical company sold $1.5m-worth of pesticides
to Iraq despite suspicions they would be used for chemical warfare.

The only occasion that Iraq's use of banned weapons seems to have worried the
Reagan administration came in 1988, after Lt Col Rick Francona toured the
battlefield on the al-Faw peninsula in southern Iraq and reported signs of
sarin gas.

"When I was walking around I saw atropine injectors lying around. We saw
decontamination fluid on vehicles, there were no insects," said Francona, who
has written a book on shifting US policy to Iraq titled Ally to Adversary.

"There was a very quick response from Washington saying, 'Let's stop our
cooperation' but it didn't last long -- just weeks."

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