By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Saddam Hussein’s regime was crushed by the combined military might of American and British forces in a lightning-quick, three-week war. But there’s still more work to be done, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon this month.
"We still need to find and secure Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities," said Rumsfeld. "We still must find out everything we can about how the Iraqi regime acquired its capabilities, and the proliferation that took place by countries in the industrialized world."
A glance at his datebook would provide some of the answers. In 1983, Rumsfeld, then a private citizen, traveled to Baghdad to meet with the Iraqi dictator. Rumsfeld delivered President Ronald Reagan’s personal message of support to Hussein, who was already three years into his eventual eight-year war with Iran. The American envoy also discussed a proposed joint-venture oil pipeline with the Iraqi leader. That project, also championed by the San Francisco–based Bechtel Group, never materialized, but Rumsfeld’s mission underscored the reality that for more than 30 years the economic interests of American industry were firmly embedded into the geopolitical goals of U.S. policymakers.
Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. Commerce Department approved at least $1.5 billion in exports with possible military applications from U.S. companies to Iraq, and the Agriculture Department administered a U.S.-goverment-guaranteed loan program that provided billions to Iraq. Thanks largely to the first George Bush, American taxpayers unwittingly co-signed for much of the loan money, and the government had to make good on these loans when Iraq later defaulted. Almost all of the transactions were legal under U.S. and international law at the time, even when the transactions either had direct military or dual-use (civilian and military) applications. Over and over again, the deals were encouraged and even abetted by the U.S. government, even after American officials had proof that Iraq was using chemical weapons to kill Iranian troops and subdue Kurdish uprisings. In fact, the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration even provided Hussein’s regime with military intelligence during his bloody eight-year war with Iran.
American officials tolerated Hussein’s despotism because they viewed his regime as a secular bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalist revolution spawned by the Iranian revolution. That is, until Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait in 1990. Most, though not all, of Iraq’s commerce with American companies ended after the first Gulf War in 1991.
Now the business cycle is starting all over again. Last week, the Bechtel corporation received a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure. The contract, initially worth $34.6 million, could eventually total nearly $700 million over the next 18 months. Perhaps Bechtel’s institutional knowledge was a plus, given its status as a major player in Hussein’s Iraq — during the time when doing business with Hussein was endorsed by U.S. policy. At the very least, Bechtel’s ties to the old regime are not being held against it.HOW TO NAVIGATE THE LIST:
Click on a company name or U.S. government agency from the list below to go directly to a description of their acknowledged or documented involvement with Iraq.
Some of these businesses are no longer operating. A number of these companies did not respond to the Weekly’s calls for comment. All who did denied wrongdoing, even when they confirmed their exports to Iraq. Some companies have since changed hands, and representatives of the new businesses said they had no information on exports by the old firms. Nearly all of the documentation for this list comes from official sources, investigations and multiple interviews with authoritative sources. Some of the source material is presented at the end of the entire list.
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONS LABORATORIES
Partial Source List:
(Number of foreign firms by country — note: Some of these firms receive substantial financial support from their governments):
GREAT BRITAIN: 24
SINGAPORE: 1 (Note: This company, KIM AL-KHALEEJ, also has links to Dubai.)
1992 hearing report and transcripts from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs: United States Export Policy Toward Iraq Prior to Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait.
Banca Nazionale del Lavoro records of letters of credit and loans issued to Iraq and its corporate exporters.
Reports of United Nations weapons inspectors (UNSCOM) provided to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Information from databases compiled by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a Washington D.C.–based nonprofit foundation that monitors the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile technology.
News articles and op-eds written by Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project.
Information from Iraq’s 1997 Full, Final and Complete Weapons Declaration to the U.N.–UNSCOM, provided by Gary Pitts, a Texas-based attorney suing a number of American and international companies who allegedly supplied Iraq with technology, materials and equipment for its chemical and biological weapons program. Pitts is representing approximately 3,500 Gulf War veterans allegedly suffering from Gulf War syndrome.
Research material and government documents compiled by Washington, D.C.–based National Security Archives, a nonprofit research group.
1995 letter from Dr. David Satcher, then the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to U.S. Senator Donald Riegle (D-Michigan), chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Letter detailed shipments of "viruses, retroviruses, bacteria and fungi" to Iraq by the CDC.
Information compiled by the Washington D.C.–based Institute for Science and International Security, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public education and policy group.
Congressional testimony of Kenneth Timmerman, author of The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Saddam (1991).
Information from The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Saddam(1991), by Kenneth Timmerman.
Congressional statements by Representative Sam Gejdenson (D-Connecticut), Chair of the House Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, 1991.
Congressional statements by Representative Henry Gonzalez (D-Texas), 1991, 1992.
Interviews with Gary Pitts.
Interviews with Andreas Zumach, a Swiss-based reporter for the Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung. Zumach was leaked portions of the 2002 Full, Final and Complete Weapons Declaration (UNMOVIC). Zumach published the list of weapons suppliers in a December 2002 series of articles.
Interviews with Jeff Hodges, a former investigator for the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired in 1991 by Representative John Dingell (D-Michigan).
Interview with Jim Tuite, a former investigator for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, chaired by U.S. Senator Donald Riegle (D-Michigan).
Interviews with government-based and other sources, who requested anonymity.
Web sites and corporate filings for listed companies.
Various other U.S. congressional hearing reports; congressional testimony; government reports; Department of Commerce records; Department of Agriculture records.
Various state-records databases, including information from various Secretary of State offices and Departments of Corporations.