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The real trial of the century - Ed Brock

Like I wrote last week, if and when Saddam Hussein goes to trial, certain Americans may well be named as accessories to his crimes.

Specifically, the names might include Donald Rumsfeld, former President Ronald Reagan and the senior George Bush.

That is, unless the Iraqi prosecutors do what I expect they will and simply overlook our involvement in providing Hussein with weapons and support even when he used banned weapons in his war with Iran and on his own people. According to some reports that began in Reagan's administration with a secret message carried by Rumsfeld to Hussein indicating that we would support him in the war he started with Iran. The policies were continued into the first Bush administration.

And let's not forget our government's possible compliance with the invasion of Kuwait. Surely you've heard of the reported conversation between then ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and Hussein in which Glaspie informed the Iraqis that, essentially, we didn't care if they invaded Kuwait.

"We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts," Glaspie supposedly said.

Daddy Bush and his people have officially denied that this conversation occurred, but it's highly reasonable to believe it took place. After all, the United States and, oddly enough, Russia had been major supporters of Iraq since Hussein invaded Iran in the early 1980s. He used chemical weapons then as well, but our support for him carried on until the Kuwait invasion.

Indeed, one reason the current President Bush and Rumsfeld probably felt so confident that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq despite our obviously shaky intelligence is they were very aware that we had provided Hussein with such weapons.

The reports of our support for Hussein have been circulating for some time and have even been addressed by periodicals such as Time and Newsweek. It's old news really, so I don't want to waste space going over the details. I found a lot of information by Google-ing "American aid to Saddam Hussein."

Nor do I want to get caught up defending the veracity of those reports. Some may be true, some not, but in general, knowing our country's history with Iran, it makes sense and I believe that, in general, we either helped Hussein acquire illegal weapons or we knew he had them and continued to support him.

My purpose in writing this column is twofold. First, I am genuinely curious about whether this issue will be addressed when Hussein goes to trial.

I think not, and here's why.

First, the man preparing the case against Saddam is Salem Chalabi, nephew of Ahmad Chalabi, the well-known Pentagon puppet in the Iraqi Governing Council. Thus the Pentagon, and of course the White House, will have a lot of control over what comes out at the trial.

And even Salem Chalabi complained in a recent Reuters story that he is becoming "frustrated" by the United States occupation authority doing things like releasing potential suspects without consulting Chalabi.

"It makes it much harder for us to turn around and arrest the same people we may want to try for war crimes," Chalabi said in the Reuters story. "One of them was definitely someone you would want as a defendant in the war crimes tribunal."

My second reason for writing this column is to point out that nothing has changed. We still selectively support countries like Pakistan that we know has nuclear weapons and a popular support for terrorism. And if Salem Chalabi's uncle somehow rises to the top office in the "new" Iraq, then I will consider that a sign that we are simply back in the same boat as before. That is to say, trying to manipulate the world, to "do what is necessary," blindly oblivious to the problems we are creating for future generations of Americans.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.