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The Trial of Saddam Hussein - Selected Highlights From a Future Transcript

Littlest Hobo

TRIBE Member
BAGHDAD--AHMED CHALABI: Good morning, Mr. Hussein. I am Ahmed Chalabi, chairman of the Iraqi National Congress, President-in-Waiting of the Islamic Republic of Occupied Mesopotamia and special prosecutor in The People of Iraq vs. Hussein.

SADDAM HUSSEIN: I know who you are.

AC: Are you Saddam Hussein, most recently to have resided at No. 4 Chicken Run Road, Basement Apt. 1, Ad Dwar, Salahuddin Province?

SH: The one and only!

AC: Very well. As you are aware, you have been charged with a number of serious offenses. Let's begin with your war against Iran, which killed more than a million Iraqis and Iranians between 1980 and 1988 and destroyed our national economy.

SH: Ah, well, I can explain that. I wanted to give up that stupid war as soon as the Iranians began fighting back, but Secretary of State George Schulz kept bugging me about it. He called me up all the time, in the middle of the night--like the whole world is on Washington time, you know? Keep on rockin', Saddie, he said. Don't be a wuss. You're our strategic bulwark against Iran. I admit it. I was flattered. When the Great Satan tells you he needs you to become his "strategic bulwark," what are you gonna do, say no? Plus President Reagan kept sending me cash and bombs.

AC: Did you use a nerve gas called tabun against the Iranians, in violation of the 1925 Geneva protocol against the use of chemical weapons?

SH: Well, yeah, but Donald Rumsfeld gave me a note.

AC: Why don't we just--

SH: You see, Rumsfeld was Reagan's special Middle East envoy--'83, I think it was--and he came over to visit me at the palace. We celebrated Ramadan together, saw a few shows. We were tight, though you'd never know it to hear the way he talks now! Back then, though, Rummy was my dog. He told me that the president had authorized him to do "whatever's necessary" to help me go all the way to Teheran. The Americans knew that I was gassing those Shiite Iranians like nobody's business, and they loved it! You have to understand, they were still pissed about that hostage thing. That's why they offered me full diplomatic relations. I figured hey, it's a tough neighborhood, what with psycho Israelis bombing my brand-nuke plant and the Saudis chopping off their princesses' heads down south--I needed a friend, Rummy needed a friend, it worked out.

AC: You gassed 5,000 Kurds at the town of Halabja in 1988.

JUDGE KATHERINE HARRIS: Phrase queries in the form of a question, counselor. Like in "Jeopardy."

AC: Sorry, your honor. Mr. Hussein, did you gas 5,000 Kurds at Halabja?

SH: Actually, that was the Iranians. Hold on...(fumbles through papers)...here it is. Stephen Pelletiere, the main CIA political analyst on Iraq during the 1980s, wrote about this in The New York Times last January. He says yes, Kurds were gassed during one battle between us and Iranian troops, but the CIA "cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds...The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent--that is, a cyanide-based gas--which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time." Rumsfeld gave me permission to for mustard gas.

AC: Still, your soldiers used poison gas! Didn't you realize that you'd gone too far?

SH: The Americans kept telling me I hadn't gone far enough! I told them I wanted to end the war, but Reagan didn't want me to submit to "regime change"--that was Ayatollah Kholmeini's main demand to stop the fighting. Reagan had his CIA director Bill Casey ship me zillions of Chilean cluster bombs, but they still didn't stop the Iranians. Some "strategic bulwark," huh? (bitter laughter)

AC: Um--OK. When did you decide to invade Kuwait?

SH: That was a terrible misunderstanding. Look, the other OPEC guys were leaning on me to do something about Kuwait because they were exceeding production limits and driving down prices. They're your problem, they said. I figured, why not kill three birds with one stone--reunite with a province artificially partitioned by the Brits, sate OPEC and stop the Kuwaitis' nasty habit of drilling sideways into our oilfields? But I was a good CIA employee. I would never have done something like that without talking to my bosses in the Bush Administration first.

AC: This would be George H.W. Bush?

SH: Yeah, yeah, the slightly smarter one. Anyway, I had my intelligence people analyze statements coming out of the White House to figure out whether they'd mind if I invaded. On July 24, 1990, a week before we went in, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler said, "We do not have any defense treaties with Kuwait, and there are no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait." On July 31, Representative Lee Hamilton asked Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly, testifying before a House foreign affairs subcommittee, whether it was true that the U.S. would not send troops to defend Kuwait if I invaded. "That is correct," Kelly said. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie--they both told me it was OK to take out Kuwait! Then, when I did, they pretended we'd never talked about it first. It all goes to show, never deal with a middleman. I didn't want to bother President Bush during his August vacation. That's what you get for showing a little consideration. By the way, do you think there's any chance I could get my old job back? Tell Rummy I miss him!

AC: Your honor, I'd like to request an adjournment.

SH: But you haven't asked about my weapons of mass destruction!

(Ted Rall is the editor of the new anthology of alternative cartoons "Attitude 2: The New Subversive Social Commentary Cartoonists," containing interviews with and cartoons by 21 of America's best cartoonists. Ordering information is available at amazon.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2003 TED RALL

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