Tuesday, June 7, 2016

REALPOLITIK: Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984

A US firm, American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) was found to have provided biological weapons stock, exempt from export laws because the White House and State Department intervened to allow the sale to Iraq

VIDEO: Donald Rumsfeld Shakes Hands with Saddam Dec 20, 1983

Congressional Record Reflects Aid Given To Saddam Hussein

Congressional Record: September 20, 2002 (Senate)
Page S8987-S8998
  The last time Donald Rumsfeld saw Saddam Hussein, he gave 
     him a cordial handshake. The date was almost 20 years ago, 
     Dec. 20, 1983; an official Iraqi television crew recorded the 
     historic moment.
  It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s, 
     America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission 
     to import bacterial cultures that might be used to build 
     biological weapons. But it happened.
       America's past stumbles, while embarrassing, are not an 
     argument for inaction in the future. Saddam probably is the 
     "grave and gathering danger" described by President Bush in 
     his speech to the United Nations last week. It may also be 
     true that "whoever replaces Saddam is not going to be 
     worse," as a senior administration official put it to 
  After Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad in 1983, U.S. 
     intelligence began supplying the Iraqi dictator with 
     satellite photos showing Iranian deployments. Official 
     documents suggest that America may also have secretly 
     arranged for tanks and other military hardware to be shipped 
     to Iraq in a swap deal--American tanks to Egypt, Egyptian 
     tanks to Iraq. Over the protest of some Pentagon skeptics, 
     the Reagan administration began allowing the Iraqis to buy a 
     wide variety of "dual use" equipment and materials from 
     American suppliers. According to confidential Commerce 
     Department export-control documents obtained by NEWSWEEK, the 
     shopping list included a computerized database for Saddam's 
     Interior Ministry (presumably to help keep track of political 
     opponents); helicopters to transport Iraqi officials; 
     television cameras for "video surveillance applications"; 
     chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraq Atomic Energy 
     Commission (IAEC), and, most unsettling, numerous shipments 
     of "bacteria/fungi/protozoa" to the IAEC. According to 
     former officials, the bacterial cultures could be used to 
     make biological weapons, including anthrax. The State 
     Department also approved the shipment of 1.5 million atropine 
     injectors, for use against the effects of chemical weapons, 
     but the Pentagon blocked the sale. The helicopters, some 
     American officials later surmised, were used to spray poison 
     gas on the Kurds.
       The United States almost certainly knew from its own 
     satellite imagery that Saddam was using chemical weapons 
     against Iranian troops. When Saddam bombed Kurdish rebels and 
     civilians with a lethal cocktail of mustard gas, sarin, tabun 
     and VX in 1988, the

[[Page S8988]]

     Reagan administration first blamed Iran, before 
     acknowledging, under pressure from congressional Democrats, 
     that the culprits were Saddam's own forces.
 Riegle_Report  a list of exports to Iraq by US Companies
Profile: Helping Saddam; Iraqi government ordered anthrax and botulism-
producing bacteria from United States in late 1980s


60 Minutes

CBS, Inc. Burrelle's Information Services

(Copyright (c) 1998 CBS, Inc. All rights reserved.)


MORLEY SAFER, co-host:

Exactly what weapons Saddam is hiding and where he's hiding them
remains a mystery. Where he got them and how he developed them is not.
He got a lot of help from the British, the French, the Germans, the
Russians and from us. Back in the late '80s when Saddam was considered
by some as our friend or at least the enemy of our enemy Iran, we
provided Iraq with two of the deadliest substances known to man,
bacteria that produces botulism and anthrax . Among those who thought
that what we were doing was all wrong was a former deputy
undersecretary of defense named Dr. Steven Bryen.

Dr. STEVEN BRYEN (Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense): Well, it
was very complicated before the Gulf War because the administration was
trying very hard to be friends with Saddam Hussein, largely because of
the great concern about Iran and the fear of Iran. And Iraq was seen as
a--a balancer and as a moderate force, whereas Iran was an Islamic
force. So there was a lot of pressure to release technology to Iraq ;
technology that shouldn't go there, in my opinion.

SAFER: Were people out saying, `Look, this guy is not a very stable

Dr. BRYEN: People were not saying, `This guy is not a very stable
ally.' That was the problem. Official Washington turned a blind eye to
that sort of thing because it really wanted very badly to establish a
positive relationship with Saddam.

(Footage of Steven Bryen; Department of State building; Saddam Hussein;
vintage footage of Kurdish village after nerve gas attack)

SAFER: (Voiceover) Dr. Bryen was the Pentagon's top cop, the man whose
job it was to ensure that sensitive technology would be kept from
enemies, potential enemies and questionable allies. But he was up
against a formidable adversary: the US State Department, who wanted to
satisfy Saddam's appetite despite the clear and present danger.

Dr. BRYEN: (Voiceover) Even as late as 1988 when the Kurdish village in-
-in Iraq was attacked by helicopters carrying nerve gas, the
Washington reaction was still hands off.

SAFER: He realized `Look, I could bomb Kurdish villages with nerve gas,
I could use chemical agents against the Iranians.'

Dr. BRYEN: `And the Americans won't say anything about it.' There was
no official condemnation by the United States of these attacks. At that
point, Saddam had to think we were a heck of a good ally because here
we are letting him get away with these things.

(Footage of American Type Culture Collection building; ATCC sign; vials
of cultures; storage containers; infectious substance label; photograph
of document with close-up of text: 881215 Iraq Atomic Energy

SAFER: (Voiceover) Getting away with it was easy. The bacteria was
simply ordered from this facility, The American Type Culture Collection
of Rockville, Maryland, a non-profit supplier of microbes to the world.
They're generally used for public health research. The Iraqi orders,
including 34 batches of the deadliest bacteria, did not pass through
Pentagon watchdogs. They were simply approved by the Commerce

Dr. BRYEN: I was shocked to see that biological samples would be going
to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission because in--it was absolutely
clear that--that--that the at--Is--Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission was
involved in their nuclear weapons programs and God knows what other
weapons programs.

SAFER: I--in very precise terms, what was the--the policy about
shipping bacterial cultures like anthrax and botulism to Iraq ?

Dr. BRYEN: I don't think there was a policy in--in--in the
administration at the time. I think there was a--a general
understanding that a shipment of these kinds of materials was
sensitive, required a license.

SAFER: And yet the Commerce Department signed off on them?

Dr. BRYEN: The Commerce Department approved all these licenses. There
were a number of licenses. We're not talking about one got through and
the others got stopped; we're talking about they all got through, un--
untouched, unstopped.

(Footage of person at computer; ATCC order form coming out of printer;
anthrax )

SAFER: (Voiceover) And to find out how to order up some anthrax , just
dial up ATCC 's Web site, as we did today, and with the flip of a
printer, your order form. Visa and MasterCard accepted. By the way, the
effect of inhaled anthrax : one day of flu symptoms, followed by a few
days of pneumonia symptoms, followed by death.

Dr. BRYEN: The one experience we have with anthrax in Sverdlovsk in
Russia where some of this leaked into the air is that it killed people
and animals for over 40 miles from where--where the damage occurred.

SAFER: We do know it was a relatively small amount.

Dr. BRYEN: A relatively small amount and it wasn't because the place
was bombed; it was because something leaked and it escaped into the a--
air. So when you hit it with a bomb, you potentially could release
everything. So it's worrisome to me that we might set loose some of
this kind of material.

SAFER: When you were in that job as--as the--the Pentagon's cop to
oversee what was going where, did you get into any confrontations?

Dr. BRYEN: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. I had a big confrontation over the
shipment of atropine injectors to Iraq . I blocked it. And atropine is
an antidote for nerve gas. And so far as I knew, the only nerve gas in
the region was Iraqi nerve gas, so it was clear that they wanted one--
they wanted this for offensive purposes, not for defense.

SAFER: To protect their own troops?

Dr. BRYEN: To protect their own troops, and--and to allow them to use
it in fairly close-in situations against--against other forces,
Iranians or Americans or whoever.

SAFER: You got into confrontations with whom?

Dr. BRYEN: Well, the--the--the fight was mostly with the State
Department. It was a million and a half injectors they were talking
about, 1.5 million injectors, and these were militarized injectors; the
same ones are used by the US Army. And I will--I just said no. It took
me three months of--of quarreling, and--and--and finally, I threatened
to have a press conference if they wouldn't stop. But in the
intervening period, the news of the Kurdish attacks came out, and I
think that discouraged the enthusiasm in the State Department for
promoting this transaction.

(Footage of Bryen with Safer)

SAFER: (Voiceover) But the export of biochemical technology was not the
only source of conflict with the State Department.

Dr. BRYEN: Well, there were a number of licenses that we had blocked
for the Iraqi missile programs. Some of them were computers that were
used for testing this--the missile track and trajectory. Some of them
were equipment to build missile cases and things like that. And--and we
blocked them. The State Department didn't like that very much. This

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