August 6, 2009
I have lived in three countries and have spoken to people from many
nationalities. All consider human life to be valuable and all are protective of their own countrypeople. However, I have yet
to meet someone of non-U.S. origin who holds the opinion that one life is more important that those of millions of people
who do not share his/her nationality. Welcome to the U.S., a country that not only considers the life of one U.S. citizen
to be superior to multitudes of lives of foreign nationals, but threatens nations who assist the U.S. in returning U.S. nationals
to their homes, even though they have been held under criminal charges.
A couple of days ago, former President Bill Clinton became a national
hero once again (he had previously achieved this status with talk show comedians during the Monica Lewinsky affair). He went
to North Korea and gained the release of two U.S. journalists who had been tried and convicted for crimes against the nation
of North Korea. There are those who maintain the two women were innocent, while others point to activities that show their
guilt. One thing is sure: North Korea acted in a benevolent manner in releasing the two reporters.
For a few days prior to Clinton’s arriving back in the U.S.
with the former prisoners, we did not hear too much about U.S. gripes against the Koreans. But, it did not take long for the
administration to once again denigrate the same country that released the U.S. citizens.
Less than 24 hours after all the news networks reported on the return
of the women, headlines of the day read, "U.S. Warns 'Provocative’ North Korea." Remember Obama the anti-war person
of a couple of years ago? He’s now the one publicly denigrating North Korea. He could have had the decency to wait a
few days before he began his anti-North Korea tirades, but that would have been un-American.
Recently, another event occurred that showed once again that the U.S.
will go to any means to denigrate innocent governments. On August 2, 2009, the U.S. Navy announced that the body of Michael
Speicher had been found in the desert in Iraq.
If you remember, Speicher was officially the first member of the U.S.
military to be killed in action in the Gulf War of 1991. It seemed the case was closed. However, over the years, the truth
was turned around and shortly before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government had rewritten history to say that
Speicher was alive in an Iraqi prison. Administration officials brought up instances of Iraqis seeing him, limping and in
terrible health. In a speech to the U.N. on September 12, 2002, George Bush used the rumors of Speicher’s being held
prisoner as one of the reasons for invading Iraq. Again, the life of one U.S. citizen was worth more than the 26 million lives
Over the years, many groups were founded for the purpose of gaining
Speicher’s release from an Iraqi prison. Millions of Americans took up the cause. Then, in August 2009, a Bedouin stumbled
across his body in the desert. Speicher was never captured. He was never a prisoner and the Iraqis never tortured him. His
plane was shot down over the western part of Iraq and an unknown local person buried it out of respect.
Even after the March 2003 invasion when the U.S. had access to all
of Iraq, harsh words about Speicher’s supposed capture and imprisonment permeated the subject. Senator Bill Nelson of
Florida was at the forefront of denigrating the Ba’ath regime. According to an April 24, 2003 CNN article, "Initials
May Offer Clue to Missing Gulf War Pilot:"
"My opinion is that certain ones in this group of 55 (most wanted
Iraqis) have the knowledge of the secret prison system for high-value prisoners, and wherever they find those, that's going
to unlock the secrets of Speicher's fate," Nelson told CNN.
For years, we heard, "Saddam did it." But, the reality of Speicher’s
death and the discovery of his body were much more mundane than all the conspiracy theories thrust against the Iraqi government.
From January 18, 1991 until April 9, 2003, the Iraqi government always
maintained it did not recover Speicher’s body and that he was never captured. With all the years of speculation and
the obligatory blaming of Saddam Hussein, now that the truth is out, I have yet to hear one person in the U.S. government
apologize to the former Iraqi government for the fiasco that was created by the U.S. government and a portion of its population.
In 1995, there was a case of Iraqi benevolence that gained much publicity,
yet still highlighted the ungrateful attitude of the U.S.
On March 13, 1995, two U.S. citizens (William Barloon and David Daliberti)
were captured inside Iraq. Both worked for U.S. civilian contractors and maintained they lost their way trying to visit a
friend in Kuwait.
At that time, the Iraq/Kuwait border was heavily reinforced by a deep
ditch with towering fences on each side. The pair was well inside Iraq and it would have been almost impossible for them to
have accidentally wandered into Iraqi territory.
They were taken to Baghdad and tried on charges of espionage. The
couple received a sentence of eight years in prison. The Clinton administration then began its cover-up efforts. Spokespeople
said the Americans were not spies because they did not have road maps with them at the time of their arrest. Most of the U.S.
public believed the administration’s assessment. There is one aspect that few people took into consideration: spies
do not go on a mission with roadmaps. They have memorized exact locations. If a spy used a roadmap, he/she would be put in
the same category as Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther notoriety.
With two of its citizens, accused spies, in Iraqi hands, one would
think the U.S. would have been a little humble in its attempts to get them released. No such luck.
According to Douglas Jehl, author of "Americans in Iraq Given 8-Year
Term," in the March 26, 1995 edition of the New York Times:
The swiftness and severity of their punishment prompted strong condemnation
from the Clinton administration, which had warned only on Friday that Iraq could serve no purpose in holding the men.
On March 27, 1995, the ante was raised. Steven Greenhouse wrote an
article for the New York Times, "U.S. Vows to Press Hard on Iraq to Free Americans," in which he said:
Two Republican presidential candidates, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana
and Patrick Buchanan, said that the United States should consider using military force to release the two men.
For the entire time this story gained headlines, the U.S. press called
Barloon and Daliberti "hostages." There is a substantial difference in meaning between the words "hostages" and "prisoners,"
but the subliminal message created by calling them hostages raised the ire of the U.S. citizens.
On March 30, 1995, the Iraqi government allowed a Polish diplomat
and a reporter for CNN to visit the pair in prison. They stated that the prisoners were in good health.
On July 17, 1995, Bill Richardson, at the time a U.S. congressman,
visited Baghdad to try to obtain the release of the pair. Saddam Hussein granted a pardon and allowed them to leave Iraq.
Despite the act of goodwill on behalf of the Iraqi government, the
U.S. continued a barrage of insults toward the country. Warren Christopher, the U.S. Secretary of State at the time, assured
the public that the U.S. promised nothing in return for the pair’s release.
Bill Richardson returned to the U.S. as a hero and was in the media
spotlight, but, his statements about Saddam Hussein changed immensely and he made many jokes about the Iraqi president.
During the negotiations, Richardson crossed his legs and had the bottom
of one shoe pointing right at Saddam, who left the room and returned so see Richardson with both feet on the floor. Saddam’s
aides explained to Richardson that the bottom of a shoe was one of the gravest insults in the Arab world. A similar effect
would occur if someone negotiating with the U.S. president held his middle finger aloft during the conversation. When Saddam
returned, the negotiations continued. He was gracious enough to leave the room and allow his assistants to quickly explain
this aspect of Arab culture to the congressman.
When interviewed by PBS, Richardson mentioned the incident. Then he
made fun of the affair and said he thought his life may have been in danger and that his Iraqi hosts may have imprisoned and
tortured him for the gaffe. Richardson and the program host laughed and made fun of the Iraqis.
Over the next few years, Richardson made many disparaging remarks
about Saddam Hussein:
- "This allowed Iraq to starve its own people and blame the sanctions
for their suffering. Under the oil-for-food program, we have taken this excuse away from Saddam." (March 1999)
- " … and multilateral sanctions are central to our efforts to
contain Saddam." (March 1999)
- "But I also believe it is important that Saddam’s oil revenues
be used to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people rather than by Saddam Hussein for his own criminal purposes." (December
- "Well, Saddam Hussein, you can never predict what he is going to
do, but it is obvious that he is going to put his foot forward; he is going to say, 'We have no illegal weapons.’"
Very few national leaders would have released two convicted spies
with nothing to show in return. There were no "thanks, Saddam" messages coming from the U.S. Instead, Iraq received more threats
and many denigrating remarks from the person who visited the country to secure the release of the two prisoners. Until the
obvious became clear, Richardson maintained that Iraq had stockpiles of doomsday military equipment.
One aspect of this scenario was not put in place until long after
Richardon’s visit to Iraq. While he was negotiating with Saddam Hussein, cinemas, bus stops, schools and other venues
were being blown up in Baghdad by terrorists. The perpetrators were eventually caught. They were members of the CIA-backed
Iraqi National Accord (INA), a group of Iraqi exiles who attempted to create chaos in Baghdad in an effort to ripen discord
and sow the seeds for a coup against Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath government.
The leader of the exile group was Ilyad Allawi, who later became a
U.S.-appointed prime minister of Iraq. By the time the terrorist attacks in Baghdad were thwarted, about 150 Iraqi civilians
were killed. This reign of terrorism was financed and supported by the U.S. administration.
While Iraqi civilians were being killed by a U.S.-sponsored program,
Richardson gained the release of two U.S. prisoners held in Iraq. The current version of Western history of this time makes
Saddam Hussein look like the bad guy and Richardson the good guy. The facts contradict the history.
There was one moment in which Saddam Hussein claimed verbal victory
over Richardson. Laura Blumenfeld wrote an article, "A Little Diplomacy Goes a Long Way," for the Washington Post of
December 13, 1996. She stated:
After 90 minutes, Saddam granted a pardon. They took pictures and
Richardson joked, "This picture is going to cost me some votes." The Iraqi president retorted, "And you think I look good
— posing with you?"
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