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Posted by andreas from ( on Thursday, October 10, 2002 at 6:14PM :



Kevin Dowling

Tony Blair is a liar, the man who headed the CIA's Iraq desk during the
Gulf War said last night.
"Bush and Blair want a war in Iraq and they are both prepared to lie if
necessary, in order to get one," said Dr Stephen Pelletiere, who recently
retired as professor of National Security Affairs at the US Army War
"Blair's so-called dossier is supposed to be based on 'intelligence'," he
"It insults our intelligence by recycling old, discredited propaganda and
presenting it as fact.
"The same canards have recently reappeared in The New Yorker - but The New
Yorker is simply a magazine that lives on advertising.
"When lies appear in an official Government report to a sovereign
Parliament, well then you have to ask yourself just what is going on."
Pelletiere said that crucial claims made in the British Government's
Dossier on Iraq - and repeated by Tony Blair in his statement to the
Commons - were patently false.
"Saddam has used chemical weapons, not only against an enemy state, but
against his own people," the Dossier states.
"Saddam has used chemical weapons both against Iran and his own people,"
the Dossier repeats a page or two further on.
"In 1988 Saddam also used mustard and nerve agents against Iraqi Kurds at
Halabja in northern Iraq.
"Estimates vary but according to Human Rights Watch up to 5,000 people were
Not so, said Pelletiere.
"Most of the civilians killed at Halabja - and it's very unlikely that as
many as 5,000 died - were killed by Iranian poison gas," he said.
"The Iranians made a photo-opportunity out of a catastrophe simply by
blaming the deaths on Saddam, and then the media happily gobbled their
propaganda up.
"The first stories claimed that there were between 80,000 and 100,000 dead,
which was obviously phony," he said last night.
"You can't kill that many people using gas, in a concentrated period, in
terrain such as exists in northern Iraq.
"In fact, it would be very difficult to kill even 5,000 in this way.
"The great majority of the victims seen by reporters and other observers
who attended the scene were blue in their extremities.
"That means that they were killed by a blood agent, probably either
cyanogen chloride or hydrogen cyanide. Iraq never used and lacked any
capacity to produce these chemicals.
"But the Iranians did deploy them. Therefore the Iranians killed the Kurds.
"The Iraqis did fire mustard gas into Halabja, after the Iranians had
attacked and occupied the town, but despite its fearsome reputation mustard
gas is an incapacitating agent, rather than an efficient killer.
"Slightly more than two per cent of those exposed to mustard gas attack can
be expected to die.
"Iran had always supported its 'human wave" attacks by using a
non-persistent form of mustard gas which would allow shock troops to occupy
Iraqi positions once Saddam's troops had retreated.

"The Iraqis had learned to develop a heavier, more persistent form of the
gas which was designed to slow down the enemy advance.
"Unfortunately for the spin-doctors, much of the mustard gas that was used
at Halabja, which is a border town in a much-disputed territory, carried
the Iranian signature."
At Halabja the rebel Kurdish leader, Jalal Talabani, helped Iranian forces
infiltrate the town by night.
In the morning, the Iranians burst from hiding, overwhelmed the Iraqi
garrison, and drove it from the city.
The evicted Iraqi commander called in a barrage of mustard gas, and
regained possession of the place.
Then the Iranians dumped blood agents on the reoccupying Iraqis.
Persistent mustard gas from the Iraqi side, cyanide-based gas from the
Iranian side - and the innocent civilians of Halabja were caught in the
Several hundred Kurdish civilians were horribly killed during successive
attacks and counter-attacks by the opposing armies, - but not because
they'd been specifically targeted for ethnic cleansing by Saddam Hussein,
Pelletiere says.
In 1990, Pelletiere, Professor Leif Rosenberger and Lt Colonel Dr Douglas
Johnson of the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College wrote
"Lessons Learned: The Iran-Iraq War." The report is available at
Their study drew on the first-hand knowledge of US defense attachés, CIA
and Defense Intelligence Agency analysis, field reports and "signals
intelligence"-phone and radio messages sent by the warring armies and
picked up by the National Security Agency.
"This later became the handbook - the bible - that was issued to all US
military units for strategic and tactical guidance during Operation Desert
Storm," Pelletiere said.
"It's been open-source material for 20 years, so there's no way the British
military, the Joint Intelligence Committee, or Tony Blair's staffers can
plead ignorance of its contents and conclusions."
In Lessons Learned, its follow up "Iraqi Power and U.S. Security in the
Middle East," and a 2001 Praeger hardback "Iraq and the International Oil
System: Why America Went to War in the Gulf" - which has sold 30,000 copies
at a pricey $70 each - Pelletiere has pictured Iraq as a Western ally
betrayed and demonized by Big Oil.
"The U.S. did not expect Iraq to win the Iran-Iraq war and when it did,
U.S. leaders were dumbfounded," he told college students.
"As Iraq sought to rebuild itself after the war, the U.S. attempted to
prevent this restructuring by seeking to damage Iraq's credit-worthiness.
"Despite a large debt, Iraq was good for the money because of its oil
resources. Still, in the spring of 1988, Iraq did not have cash reserves
and wished to reschedule its debt payments.
"The media in the U.S. and elsewhere began running stories on Iraq, the
tone of which was extremely hostile.
"Irrational stories do appear on occasion, but not usually so extensively.
This was a deliberate campaign.
"Congress was debating sanctions on Iraq and when sanctions were eventually
declared, Iraq could no longer reschedule its debts."
The spin doctors' contribution to this clandestine economic war was
crucial, he believes. A second alleged gas attack by the Iraqis against the
Kurds at Amadiyyah in the far northern region of Iraq was fabricated five
months after the war had ended.
"No gassing victims were ever produced," he said.
"The only evidence that gas was used is the eye-witness testimony of the
Kurds who fled to Turkey, collected by staffers of the U.S. Senate.
"We showed this testimony to experts in the military who told us it was
worthless. The symptoms described by the Kurds do not conform to any known
chemical or combination of chemicals.
"Lacking any gassing victims, and given the fact that the testimony does
not seem credible we were unwilling to say that in fact the attacks had
"At the same time, throughout the study we cited instances of
Iraqi-instigated chemical attacks against Iranian military units.
"There is no doubt that these occurred; indeed the Iraqis have stated on
occasion that they feel justified in using chemicals tactically under
certain conditions.
"However, they deny using chemicals as a weapon of mass destruction, that
is against civilians.
"What our study concludes is that those who claim they are doing so need to
come up with some more convincing proof."
Pelletiere said that the US military had closely studied eyewitness
testimony collected from Kurdish refugees in Iran by the veteran British
journalist Gwynne Roberts and shown on Channel 4 on November 23,1988.
Survivors described a massacre at Bassay Gorge, in northern Iraq, on August
29, 1988, in which something between 1,500 and 4,000 people, mainly women
and children, were supposedly killed by what appears to have been a mixture
of various nerve gasses while trying to reach the Turkish border.
Their bodies were allegedly piled up and burnt by Iraqi troops wearing gas
masks the following morning.

Roberts claimed to have entered Iraq clandestinely and brought back
fragments of an exploded shell with samples of the surrounding soil, which
were later confirmed by a British laboratory as containing traces of
mustard gas.
"This report meant nothing," Pelletiere said. "We all know that refugees
"We all understand the physics of chemical warfare and the difficulties
involved in disposing of 4,000 dead bodies.
"Roberts wouldn't - or couldn't - tell us where he got the shell fragments
"So what have we got?
Pelletiere's controversial views were echoed by Raju C. J. Thomas, Allis
Chalmers Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at Marquette
University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Author of a dozen books and a graduate of LSE, Thomas has been a Visiting
Fellow at Harvard, U.C.L.A., M.I.T., and the International Institute for
Strategic Studies in London.
"It all boils down to two three-letter words," he said. "Ego and oil
"Blair's dossier includes a photograph which I know for a fact was produced
by the Iranian propaganda machine.
"Claims that Iraqis gassed their own Kurdish civilians are constantly
invoked by the mass media.
"That excuse was used by President Clinton in December 1998 to justify the
further bombing and destruction of Iraq.
"The Halabjah incident is one of the reasons being proposed now by Prime
Minister Blair and President Bush for a full-scale military assault on
"Meanwhile, estimates of the number of innocents who have died in Iraq from
relentless American-dictated U.N. sanctions range between a million and 1.7
million, including more than half a million children.
"Bush and Blair want a 'regime change' simply because if sanctions were to
be lifted then Saddam's regime would favour Russian and French oil
companies rather than US or British multinationals.
"This dispute has little to do with any war on terrorism .
"And it is quite wrong that we should base public policy on propaganda and

-- andreas
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