Last updated on: 5/30/2008 1:22:00 PM PST
To what extent did Saddam Hussein receive aid and support from the United States?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
James Woolsey, LLB, MA, former Director of the CIA, on Apr. 2, 2003 stated the following at a teach-in at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA):
"Yes, it’s true. We did. We certainly didn’t put in Saddam, the Ba’athists did that on their own. But we did back him in some limited ways in the 1980s in the war against Iran. He represented himself to be, and the Reagan administration at the time felt that he was, essentially, the lesser of two evils. And what was weighing on American minds very heavily then was the Iranian revolution of 1979, and particularly the seizure of the American hostages, which absolutely enraged this country. And I think enrages a lot of people here still, and is a rather major barrier to an understanding to the American and Iranian people, which is something I would very much like to see take place.
But, yes, we backed Saddam in limited ways, mainly with intelligence information against Iran during the ’80s war between the two. But that shouldn’t mean that when we come to our senses we can’t take a different tact. Whether it was wise or unwise to back him, I think it was unwise, that doesn’t mean that we are forever locked into the proposition that we have to back Saddam Hussein."
Apr. 2, 2003 - James Woolsey, LLB, MA
Said K. Aburish, a former Iraqi government official, stated the following on Public Broadcasting System's (PBS) program Frontline: The Survival of Saddam on Jan. 25, 2000:
"The U.S. involvement in the coup against Kassem [General Abdel Karim Kassem] in Iraq in 1963 was substantial. There is evidence that CIA agents were in touch with army officials who were involved in the coup.
There is evidence that they [CIA] supplied the conspirators with lists of people who had to be eliminated immediately in order to ensure success. The relationship between the Americans and the Ba'ath Party at that moment in time was very close indeed. And that continued for some time after the coup.
I have documented over 700 people who were eliminated, mostly on an individual basis, after the 1963 coup. And they were eliminated based on lists supplied by the CIA to the Ba'ath Party. So the CIA and the Ba'ath were in the business of eliminating communists and leftists who were dangerous to the Ba'ath's takeover.
And what gave the whole program of acquiring unconventional weapons an impetus was in the 1970s. The main aim of the West was to pry Saddam away from Russia. And in order to do that , they were bribing him. They were giving him everything he wanted. In the 1980s, the reasons changed [for helping Saddam]. ...Khomeini appeared on the scene and the West decided that Saddam was the lesser of two evils. And they continued to support him and give him what he wanted. In this case, including credit."
Jan. 25, 2000 - Said K. Aburish
"It was a totally uneven policy. There was not a tilt towards Iraq, there was a wholesale rush to Iraq. Ignore everything. Ignore the state-sponsored terrorism. Take any little piece of propaganda that Saddam Hussein would put out, and it would become a wonderful thing. And right down to the last minute -- right down to his last crossing over -- we had State Department people -- in other words, from '81 right on through -- coming out and mouthing his [Saddam Hussein] lines."
Sep. 11, 1990 - Al D'Amato, JD
"Then in 1986, the relationship began to disintegrate. In war-torn Beirut, pro-Iranian terrorists had seized American hostages. To secure their release, the White House secretly sold arms to Khomeini's government. When the Iran-contra scandal broke, Saddam discovered that behind his back America had been helping his mortal enemy.
His war with Iran had forced Saddam to rely
on America. After Iran-contra, he vowed never to trust the U.S. again.
In 1988, Saddam Hussein's war ended in stalemate. It had cost 100,000
Iraqi lives. His use of chemical weapons against Iran and against a
Kurdish village in northern Iraq had made Saddam Hussein a pariah in
In the spring of 1990, Robert Dole [R-KS] led a Senate delegation to Baghdad. They reassured Saddam that public outrage over his human rights abuses would not be allowed to distort American foreign policy. But Saddam suspected another double-cross."
Jan. 5, 2000 - Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
"[T]he United States and the CIA supported Saddam Hussein, right from the day he came to power, when the Ba'athists first came to power, they even gave lists of the names of people for the Ba'athists to murder, which they did.
The CIA worked very closely with them and United States supported Saddam Hussein at every level -- gave him arms, gave him money, gave him political backing, the military helped him; none of this is really fully understood by the American people. And then the decision when he wouldn't follow orders from Washington, to go to war against Iraq, is an additional crime against the Iraqi people.
Because first we put Saddam Hussein against them, a murderer and torturer, as George Bush says, without ever explaining of course, that politically we supported Saddam Hussein. His father in 1990 even sent a message to Iraq saying what a good job Saddam Hussein was doing. This is after he used poison gas on his people."
Feb. 17, 2004 Peter Camejo
Roger Morris, a journalist, stated in his article "A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making", published in the New York Times on Mar. 14, 2003:
"Forty years ago the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein.
As its instrument the CIA had chosen the authoritarian and anti-Communist Ba'ath Party, in 1963 still a relatively small political faction influential in the Iraqi army. According to the former Ba'athist leader Hani Fkaiki, among party members colluding with the CIA in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein, then a 25-year-old who had fled to Cairo after taking part in a failed assassination of Kassem in 1958."
Michael Dobbs, National Correspondent for the Washington Post, stated in his Dec. 30, 2002 article "U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup," published in the Washington Post:
"The story of U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein in the years before his 1990 attack on Kuwait -- which included large-scale intelligence sharing, supply of cluster bombs through a Chilean front company, and facilitating Iraq's acquisition of chemical and biological precursors -- is a topical example of the under-side of U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. policy of cultivating [Saddam]
Hussein as a moderate and reasonable Arab leader continued right up
until he invaded Kuwait in August 1990, documents show. When the
then-U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, met with Hussein on
July 25, 1990, a week before the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, she assured
him that [President George H.W.] Bush 'wanted better and deeper
relations,' according to an Iraqi transcript of the conversation.
'President Bush is an intelligent man,' the ambassador told Hussein,
referring to the father of the current president. 'He [George H.W.
Bush] is not going to declare an economic war against Iraq.'
'Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam,' said Joe Wilson, Glaspie's 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.'"
Dec. 30, 2002 - Michael Dobbs
Noam Chomsky, PhD, Institute Professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stated the following in his Apr. 4, 1991 article "What We Say Goes," published in Z Magazine:
"Prior to August 2, 1990, the U.S. and its allies found Saddam Hussein an attractive partner. In 1980, they helped prevent U.N. reaction to Iraq's attack on Iran, which they supported throughout. At the time, Iraq was a soviet client, but Reagan, Thatcher and Bush recognized Saddam Hussein as 'our kind of guy' and induced him to switch sides. In 1982, Reagan removed Iraq from the list of states that sponsor terror, permitting it to receive enormous credits for the purchase of U.S. exports while the U.S. became a major market for its oil."
Apr. 4, 1991 - Noam Chomsky, PhD
Neil Livingstone, a journalist, stated on Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) Frontline on Sep. 11, 1990:
"Well, Saddam came here [United States], of course, in 1967 with a group of other young Iraqi military officers, and was taken to all of our principle chemical weapons facilities -- Aberdeen, Edgewood, Dougway and Annistown. And he went through the process of seeing the design of weapons -- at least, seeing something about the design -- the manufacture of weapons, and their actual use and deployment on a battlefield.
I'm sure that no national security secrets were given to Saddam Hussein and his colleagues, but at the same time, it was a course in the effectiveness of chemical weapons, how they can be deployed in a battlefield situation."
Sep. 11, 1990 Neil Livingstone