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INGRATES

Malcom Lagauche

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 Clintonís 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 'Provocativeí North Korea." Remember Obama the anti-war person of a couple of years ago? Heís 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 Speicherís 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 of Iraqis.

Over the years, many groups were founded for the purpose of gaining Speicherís 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 Speicherís supposed capture and imprisonment permeated the subject. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida was at the forefront of denigrating the Baíath 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 Speicherís 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 Speicherís 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. Not one.

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 administrationís 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 pairís 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. Saddamís 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)
  • " Ö and multilateral sanctions are central to our efforts to contain Saddam." (March 1999)
  • "But I also believe it is important that Saddamís oil revenues be used to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people rather than by Saddam Hussein for his own criminal purposes." (December 2002)
  • "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.í" (December 2002)

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 Richardonís 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 Baíath 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 ó posing with you?"

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:: Article nr. 56728 sent on 07-aug-2009 02:40 ECT

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