March 9, 2018

Iraq's chemical weapons - shoddy journalism and me

Every two or three years, without fail, some aspiring journalist will write an article containing research into Iraq's use of nerve agents against Iranian troops in a series of offensives during the last year of the Iran-Iraq War. There is no question that the Iraqis not only used chemical weapons on Iranian troops, but also against Iraqi Kurds in March of 1988. We learned later that the attack on Halajah was actually a test of Iraqi-developed Sarin gas.

Inevitably, my name comes up in the ensuing article. Yes, I was a particpant in the U.S. intelligence support to Iraq in 1987 and 1988 - I was a liaison officer to the Iraqi Directorate of Military Intelligence in Baghdad. No, we did not assist Iraqis in their development of chemical weapons, in fact their use of the weapons almost ended our support for Saddam Husayn.

Here is the latest attempt at castigating American support for the Iraqis against the Iranians during the latter years of the eight-year long war. An article titled "US Continues Massive Military Build Up - America's 'inward turn' is in fact an invention of the mainstream media" by Shane Quinn, appeared on March 8 issue on the website of the rabidly anti-American Global Research, published by the Canadian-based Centre for Research on Globalization.

The opening salvo in the article:

Less than a year into his second term as president, Barack Obama addressed the nation by saying “for nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security”. Among his first words, Obama highlighted Syria and “where we go from here… against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad”.

Obama accused (without a shred of evidence) the Assad government of having “gassed to death over a thousand people”, lamenting “the terrible nature of chemical weapons” which are “a crime against humanity”. Obama neglected to mention how, 25 years before, American policies made possible the most destructive gas attack of the post-World War II period – Saddam Hussein‘s assault on the Kurds of Halabja, northern Iraq, which killed at least 5,000 people.

In March 1988, Halabja – just nine miles from Iran’s border – was targeted by the US-sponsored Iraqi army, due to the city being under the control of the Tehran-allied Kurdish guerrillas. The Reagan administration was heavily supporting Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Iranian nationalists had previously overthrown the US-backed dictatorship of the Shah in 1979, which was at the root of the ensuing war between the neighbors.

The Americans knew as early as 1983 that the Iraqi despot was utilizing chemical and biological warfare upon Iran. It went on for years. Rick Francona, a retired US Air Force colonel, said later that
“the Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew."

Despite this knowledge, the US continued providing significant military aid to the Iraqi dictatorship.

So every two or three years, I have to rebut this incorrect characterization and misquote.

Here are the two previous rebuttals. I tire of this....

Foreign Policy Article - Corrections and Clarifications (August 2013)

Misquoted again - Iran, Iraq, chemical weapons and me (June 2015)

This time it is particularly egregious - I would have happily provided accurate information if asked. I am not hard to find - a Google search will yield my complete contact information.

At the end of his article, Shane Quinn claims to have obtained an "honors journalism" degree. It does not mention the school that awarded the degree, but I suggest he apply for a refund.