American Politics Journal

Guest Editorial
Blast to the Future: Iraqgate
by Ryan Oblivion

Feb. 20, 2001 (APJP) -- With news of President George W. Bush's bombing of Iraq on February 16th, here are some historical reminders as to who helped build Saddam Hussein's power -- former President George H. W. Bush, with the assistance of Secretary of State James Baker.

Also included is information about Dick Cheney and George W.'s business dealings in the Gulf region. (Unless otherwise indicated, all quoted excerpts are from the article linked at the bottom of that section.)


Arming his "Hitler"

Dick Cheney was Bush's Defense Secretary while Bush Sr. covertly armed and funded Hussein's military right up to the Kuwaiti invasion in August 1990, eventually leaving the American taxpayers holding $2 Billion in defaulted Iraqi debt. Was Cheney simply "out of the loop" or asleep at the wheel? Or something worse?

Secretary of State James Baker was Bush's right hand man in the Iraqgate scheme. "And it emphasized the striking fact -- buried deep in a 1991 Washington Press piece -- that Secretary of State James Baker, after meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in October 1989, intervened personally to support U.S. government loan guarantees to Iraq."

Prior to the invasion, Kuwait had been slant drilling at the Iraq-Kuwait border into Iraq's oil, with equipment from National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft's former company. Bush's ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, told Hussein that the US "took no position" on Iraq's dispute with Kuwait. Five Days later, Iraq invaded. Then Bush ramped up Operation Desert Shield. During this phase Bush refused any offers from Hussein to withdraw and save face. The result was full-scale war -- Desert Storm.

Although Bush's propaganda apparatus told the Iraqi people to rise up against Hussein -- and our troops would support them -- Bush reneged and pulled back our troops. Ultimately, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens were injured or killed, with an environmental holocaust as a result of oil spills in the Gulf, and Hussein's troops setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells. Tragically, Hussein remained in power, and continued to oppress his citizens and slaughter the Kurdish people (see Mark Zepezauer's "The CIA's Greatest Hits" and Alan Friedman's "Spider's Web").

Columbia Journalism Review: "Iraqgate: The Big One That (almost) Got Away"


The Teicher Affidavit

"Howard Teicher, who served on Reagan's National Security Council staff, offered an affidavit in the Teledyne case that declared that CIA director William J. Casey and his deputy, Robert M. Gates, 'authorized, approved and assisted' delivery of cluster bombs to Iraq through Cardoen (In These Times, 3/6/95)." Years earlier, during his 1991 confirmation hearings for Bush's CIA Director, "Gates denied under oath that he had played a role in Cardoen cluster bomb sales to Iraq, as arms dealers had charged. Teicher's affidavit provides new evidence that Gates misled the Senate." The government promptly sealed the Teicher affidavit as a "state secret".

Dating back to the early '80's, the Iraqgate scheme was directed by then-Vice President George Bush (see above-linked CJR article). "Teicher's affidavit also bolsters a New Yorker article (11/2/92) by reporters Murray Waas and Craig Unger, which asserted that Vice President George Bush in 1986 urged Saddam Hussein to intensify his air war against Iran -- in order to increase Iran's demand for U.S.- made anti-aircraft weapons."

In other words, Bush was running the Iraqgate operation while "in the loop" of Iran-Contra, as Weinberger's notes proved. And Iran-Contra was far from a noble operation to "rescue hostages" and "fight communism".

FAIR: "Iraqgate -- Confession and Cover-up"


Media Blackout

"Given the significance of the Teledyne trial and Teicher's affidavit in judging the actions and integrity of the Reagan/Bush and Clinton administrations, why the near-total press blackout? Part of it is the power of 'conventional wisdom' -- Washington insiders have decided that Iraqgate didn't happen, so any evidence to the contrary doesn't register. Another reason might be the residual fear of conservative attacks against journalists who plumb the crimes of the Reagan/Bush era too deeply. It's easier to dismiss such issues as 'ancient history' -- a term that somehow doesn't get applied to stories about 15-year-old Arkansas land deals."

Indeed, a recent article by the otherwise exemplary Sean Wilentz inaccurately labeled as a "pseudo-scandal" the Bush scheme to fund Iraq through the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL). Nothing could be further from the truth, as the above-linked Columbia Journalism article states, "Most [reporters] say that the so-called Iraqgate scandal is far more significant then either Watergate or Iran-Contra, both in its scope and its consequences."

FAIR: "Iraqgate -- Confession and Cover-up"


"The Shadow CIA"

In a Spy article ("Inside the Shadow CIA", Sept. 1992), investigative journalist John Connolly exposed that the Wackenhut Corporation had been involved in the Iraqgate scheme. "...after a six-month investigation, in the course of which we spoke to more than 300 people, we believe we know what the [Wackenhut] truck did contain-equipment necessary for the manufacture of chemical weapons-and where it was headed [in the Winter of 1990]: to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And the Wackenhut Corporation -- a publicly traded company with strong ties to the CIA and federal contracts worth $200 million a year -- was making sure Saddam would be getting his equipment intact." Could it be that Gulf War Syndrome is somehow related to such chemical weaponry?

George Wackenhut is a long-time friend of George Bush Sr., and he has contributed generously to the campaigns of George Sr., George W. and especially his state's governor -- Jeb Bush. Has Wackenhut Corp helped the Bushes with other operations as well -- especially a recent biggie in Florida?

Spy: "Inside the Shadow CIA"


Dubya and BCCI

George W's obscure little Harken Energy was awarded an incredible contract by the Bahraini government to drill in the Persian Gulf. But like everything Junior touches, it soon turned to fool's gold.

"On June 22, 1990, George Jr. sold two-thirds of his Harken stock for $848,560 -- a cool 200 percent profit. The move was well timed. One week after Junior sold his stock, Harken announced a $23.2 million loss in quarterly earnings and Harken stock dropped sharply, losing 60 percent of its value over the next six months. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops moved into Kuwait and 541,000 U.S. forces were deployed to the Gulf. There is substantial evidence to suggest that Bush knew Harken was in dire straits in the weeks before he sold the $848,560 of Harken stock."

"George Jr. also violated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations which require 'insider' stock deals to be reported promptly, in Bush's case by July 10, 1990. He didn't file the stock sale with the SEC until the first week of March 1991." Nevertheless, the Bush I Administration SEC eventually cleared Dubya.

The below article also mentions Jr's ties to BCCI -- the CIA/Syndicate banking laundromat -- which has been linked to BNL and Iraqgate. "Meanwhile, a cloak-and-dagger aura surrounds Junior's business dealings. [Long-time George W. pal] James Bath, a Texas entrepreneur who invested $50,000 in Arbusto Energy, may be a business cutout for the CIA. Bath also acted as an investment 'adviser' to Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs, linked to the outlaw BCCI, which also has ties to the CIA."

Sadly, we will never know into whose secret bank accounts disappeared all those billions skimmed from the Iran-Contra & Iraqgate arms sales, Contra drug running, BCCI money laundering and the Savings and Loans lootings. Before he met his untimely demise, investigative reporter Danny Casolaro was trying to untangle what he called "The Octopus" linking these and other CIA-based criminal operations during the Reagan-Bush years. Perhaps some of those laundered megabucks went to the accounts of the family of a certain former CIA Director for whom the Langley headquarters' is named?

Covert Action Quarterly: "The Bush Family Preys Together" (best viewed with Netscape)


General McCaffrey -- War Criminal?

"An investigative report for the New Yorker by veteran muckraker Seymour Hersh alleges that Clinton drug czar Barry McCaffrey orchestrated a 1991 massacre of hundreds of Iraqi troops [while a General under Bush], two days after a cease-fire went into effect at the end of the Gulf War."

Salon: "Gulf War Crimes?"


Cheney Plunders

Still Trading With The Enemy: "During former defense secretary Richard Cheney's five-year tenure as chief executive of Halliburton, Inc., his oil services firm raked in big bucks from dubious commercial dealings with Iraq. Cheney left Halliburton with a $34 million retirement package last July when he became the GOP's vice-presidential candidate." Cheney and Halliburton exploited loopholes in the US sanction orders that enabled them to deal with Iraq.

Lately, the Bush-Cheney Administration has announced that they are backing Iraqi opposition groups. But as with any Bush Administration, public proclamations are often at variance with actual policy. As this report documents, the earlier Reagan-Bush administrations were guilty of double-dealing -- especially in backing both Iraq AND Iran while they were at war. By the way, George W. has appointed various foreign policy advisors from the Reagan-Bush Administrations -- such as Condoleeza Rice, Richard Armitage, Colin Powell and Robert Zoellick. Just what exactly were they doing while Iraqgate was going on? We already know that Powell and Armitage were up to their eyeballs in Iran-Contra. (Read more about Cheney and Halliburton's profiting in the aftermath of the Gulf War and in other hot spots at Cheney Led Halliburton To Feast at Federal Trough and Who is Dick Cheney?)

San Franciso Bay Guardian: "The Campaign Issue That Wasn't"

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ISSN No. 1523-1690