The FBI has released reports on 20 interviews and five conversations conducted with Iraq's deposed dictator Saddam Hussein before he was put to death, but none of the disclosed Q and A deals with the role of the Reagan administration in delivering key components for Iraq's chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s.
Either those questions weren't asked or they are still being hidden by the U.S. government. The contents of one interview on March 21, 2004, were almost entirely redacted for supposed national security reasons.
As the National Security Archive, a private non-profit group that obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, wrote:
"Not included in these FBI reports are issues of particular interest to students of Iraq's complicated relationship with the U.S. the reported role of the CIA in facilitating the Ba'ath party's rise to power, the uneasy alliance forged between Iraq and the U.S. during the Iran-Iraq war, and the precise nature of U.S. views regarding Iraq's chemical weapons policy during that conflict, given its contemporaneous knowledge of their repeated use against Iranians and the Kurds."
The gaps in the FBI reports also underscore the historical travesty that resulted from the Bush administration's handling of Saddam Hussein after his capture on Dec. 13, 2003, near Tikrit, eight months after the U.S.-led invasion toppled his government.
Instead of being turned over to the international criminal court at The Hague, where he could have been thoroughly interrogated, Hussein was kept under tight U.S. control until he was handed over to his Iraqi enemies on Dec. 30, 2006, for a chaotic hanging.
While President George W. Bush and many of his supporters were thrilled with the execution what the New York Times called Bush's "triumphal bookend" to the Iraq invasion the hanging was not just rough justice meted out to a harsh dictator. It also snuffed out a dangerous witness who could have implicated senior Republicans, including Bush's father.
Important chapters of history died with Hussein on the gallows. Hussein was a unique witness with the broadest knowledge about who arranged and sold the precursor components for his unconventional weapons that were used to kill Iranian troops and Iraqi civilians.
In death, Hussein couldn't disclose what George W. Bush's first Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during that famous hand-shake meeting in 1983, nor whether he got an alleged message from Vice President George H.W. Bush in the mid-1980s about how best to deploy Iraq's air force against Iran, nor if then-deputy CIA director Robert Gates was running interference for Iraq's military supply line in the 1980s.
It was the elder George Bush, as Vice President, who allegedly oversaw the covert U.S. operation to assist Hussein's war machine during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War; Rumsfeld, as special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, held private chats with the Iraqi dictator about his war needs; and Gates, as a senior CIA official, reportedly rebuffed Israeli protests about U.S. tolerance for third-country military shipments to Iraq, including precursor chemicals.
All those important Republicans and more could breathe a little easier after the hangman's noose choked the life out of Hussein. (Gates remains in government as President Barack Obama's defense secretary.)
George W. Bush's administration successfully concealed other evidence that might have shed light on what the senior Bush, Rumsfeld and Gates did during the 1980s. The U.S. government is still sitting on key Iraqi documents seized during the invasion in 2003.
The Bush administration exploited those documents in an effort to discredit the United Nations over its handling of the Iraq "oil for food" program in the 1990s. That right-wing cause ce'lèbre held that Hussein might have diverted money from the U.N. program to manufacture more WMD (although it turned out that he didn't produce any WMD at that point).
However, the Bush administration withheld records from the 1980s when Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.
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