> Monday December 15, 8:15 AM
> US singer blasts Catholic Church at Vatican Christmas concert
> US hip-hop singer Lauryn Hill stunned leading members of the Roman
> Catholic Church when she accused them of moral corruption,
> exploitation and abuse from the stage during a Christmas concert at
> the Vatican.
> Hill, 28, launched her diatribe in front of an audience of 7,500
> guests at a packed Paul VI hall, used by Pope John Paul II for indoor
> public audiences.
> "I'm not here to celebrate, like you, the birth of Christ, but to ask
> you why you are not in mourning for his death in this place," Hill
> said, reading from a prepared statement as she came on stage for her
> performance as part of a all-star gala concert.
> "Holy God has witnessed the corruption of your leadership, of the
> exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the
> clergy," she added, calling on the hierarchy to "repent".
> Stunned hierarchy in the front row at Saturday night's concert
> included one of the most senior figures in the Church, Cardinal
> Camillo Ruini, who is head of the Italian bishops conference.
> An aide to Ruini, Bishop Rino Fisichella, described the singer's
> speech as "a rash outburst. An uneducated act showing a lack of
> respect for the place she was a guest and for those who invited her."
> The Holy See has been widely accused of failing to respond adequately
> to a pedophile scandal involving priests, particularly in the United
> The US Church has been under intense fire over the policy of some
> archdioceses of moving known child abusing priests from parish to
> parish over decades.
> Hill, a former member of The Fugees and winner of five Grammy Awards,
> said she was not speaking as a representative of any
> religious organization.
> Italian press reports Sunday said her attack was unlikely to be
> included when the concert is broadcast on Italian television on
> December 24, Christmas Eve.
> Other artists performing at the event, now in its 11th year, included
> Ronan Keating, Khaled, Randy Crawford, Solomon Burke, Kelly Joyce,
> Polish singer Natalia Kukulska, and American Gospel and Italian
Missing U.S.-Iraq History
By Robert Parry
In These Times -- Dec. 16, 2003
With all the hoopla surrounding the capture of Saddam Hussein -
"caught like a rat," read the Chicago Tribune headline - it is time to
take a step back and consider the full story of the Saddam Hussein and
his long time relationship with the U.S. government, beginning in
1959, when the CIA put Saddam on its covert operations payroll in a
plot to assassinate then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
In almost all of the instant histories that filled the news pages and
the airwaves after his capture, the relationship between Saddam and
successive U.S. presidential administrations has been ignored.
National Public Radio, the Washington Post, the New York Times, all
ignored the documented fact that for the decade of the ?80s, Saddam
was a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.
What follows is an article by investigative reporter Bob Parry, in
which he fills in some of the missing pieces. It originally appeared
February 23, 2003, before the war started, on Consortiumnews.com. As a
correspondent for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s,
Robert Parry broke many of the stories now known as the Iran-Contra
Affair. His latest book, Lost History, is available on the
Consortiumnews.com order page. - Joel Bleifuss
Before George W. Bush gives the final order to invade Iraq - a nation
that has not threatened the United States - the American people might
want a few facts about the real history of U.S.-Iraq relations.
Missing chapters from 1980 to the present would be crucial in judging
Bush?s case for war.
But Americans don?t have those facts because Bush and his predecessors
in the White House have kept this history hidden from the American
people. When parts of the story have emerged, administrations of both
parties have taken steps to suppress or discredit the disclosures. So
instead of knowing the truth, Americans have been fed a steady diet of
distortions, simplifications and outright lies.
This missing history also is not just about minor details. It goes to
the heart of the case against Saddam Hussein, including whether he is
an especially "aggressive" and "unpredictable" dictator who must be
removed from power even at the risk of America?s standing in the world
and the chance that a war will lead to more terrorism against U.S.
For instance, George W. Bush has frequently cited Saddam Hussein?s
invasions of neighbors, Iran and Kuwait, as justification for the
looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. "By defeating this threat, we will show
other dictators that the path of aggression will lead to their own
ruin," Bush declared during a speech in Atlanta on Feb. 20.
Leaving aside whether Bush?s formulation is Orwellian double-speak -
aggression to discourage aggression - there is the historical question
of whether Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
actually encouraged Saddam?s aggressions for geopolitical reasons or
out of diplomatic incompetence.
Carter?s ?Green Light??
This intersection of Saddam?s wars and U.S. foreign policy dates back
at least to 1980 when Iran?s radical Islamic government held 52
Americans hostage in Tehran and the sheiks of the oil-rich Persian
Gulf feared that Ruhollah Khomeini?s radical breed of Islam might
sweep them from power just as it had the Shah of Iran a year earlier.
The Iranian government began its expansionist drive by putting
pressure on the secular government of Iraq, instigating border clashes
and encouraging Iraq?s Shiite and Kurdish populations to rise up.
Iranian operatives sought to destabilize Saddam?s government by
assassinating Iraqi leaders. [For details, see "An Unnecessary War,"
Foreign Policy, January/February 2003.]
On Aug. 5, 1980, as tensions mounted on the Iran-Iraq border, Saudi
rulers welcomed Saddam to Riyadh for the first state visit ever by an
Iraqi president to Saudi Arabia. During meetings at the kingdom?s
ornate palaces, the Saudis feted Saddam whose formidable Soviet-
supplied army was viewed as a bulwark against Iran.
Saudi leaders also say they urged Saddam to take the fight to Iran?s
fundamentalist regime, advice that they say included a "green light"
for the invasion from President Carter.
Less than two months after Saddam?s trip, with Carter still frustrated
by his inability to win release of the 52 Americans imprisoned in
Iran, Saddam invaded Iran on Sept. 22, 1980. The war would rage for
eight years and kill an estimated one million people.
The claim of Carter?s "green light" for the invasion was made by
senior Arab leaders, including King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, to President
Reagan?s first secretary of state, Alexander Haig, when Haig traveled
to the Middle East in April 1981, according to "top secret" talking
points that Haig prepared for a post-trip briefing of Reagan.
Haig wrote that he was impressed with "bits of useful intelligence"
that he had learned. "Both [Egypt?s Anwar] Sadat and [Saudi then-
Prince] Fahd [explained that] Iran is receiving military spares for
U.S. equipment from Israel," Haig noted. "It was also interesting to
confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch
the war against Iran through Fahd."
Haig?s "talking points" were first disclosed at Consortiumnews.com in
1995 after I discovered the document amid records from a congressional
investigation into the early history of the Reagan administration?s
contacts with Iran. At that time, Haig refused to answer questions
about the "talking points" because they were still classified. Though
not responding to direct questions about the "talking points," Carter
has pooh-poohed other claims that he gave Saddam encouragement for the
But before the U.S. heads to war in 2003, both Carter and Haig might
be asked to explain what they know about any direct or indirect
contacts that would explain the Saudi statements about the alleged
"green light." Saudi Arabia?s longtime ambassador to the United
States, Prince Bandar also might be asked to give a complete account
of what the Saudi government knows and what its leaders told Saddam in
[Haig?s "top secret" talking points have been posted on the Web for
the first time here.]
Reagan?s Iraqi Tilt
Through the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, as first one side and then the
other gained the upper hand, the Reagan administration was officially
neutral but behind the scenes tilted from one side to the other.
When Iran appeared to be winning in 1982, Reagan and his advisers made
a fateful decision to secretly supply Saddam?s military, including
permitting shipments of dual-use technology that Iraq then used to
build chemical and biological weapons. Tactical military assistance
also was provided, including satellite photos of the battlefield.
While congressional inquiries and press accounts have sketched out
some of these facts over the years, the current Bush administration
continues to plead ignorance or question the reliability of the
Last September, for example, Newsweek reported that the Reagan
administration in the 1980s had allowed sales to Iraq of computer
databases that Saddam could use to track political opponents and
shipments of "bacteria/fungi/protozoa" that could help produce anthrax
and other biological weapons. [Newsweek issue dated Sept. 23, 2002]
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va,, asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
about the Newsweek story at a Senate hearing on Sept. 19. "Did the
United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological
weapons during the Iran-Iraq war?" Byrd inquired. "Are we, in fact,
now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown."
"Certainly not to my knowledge," Rumsfeld responded. "I have no
knowledge of United States companies or government being involved in
assisting Iraq develop chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."
So even the current U.S. secretary of defense - who served the Reagan
administration as a special envoy to the Middle East in 1983-84 and
personally met with Saddam - says he doesn?t know about this secret
history. Promises of further investigation last September also haven?t
brought answers to Byrd?s questions.
Senior Bush?s Advice
Beyond those "dual-use" supplies, other unanswered questions relate to
whether then-Vice President George H.W. Bush urged Saddam to use
greater ferocity in waging his war with Iran, advice that led the
Iraqi air force to bomb civilian centers in Tehran and other Iranian
cities in 1986.
A lengthy article by Murray Waas and Craig Unger in the New Yorker in
1992 described the senior Bush passing on advice to Saddam, through
Arab intermediaries, for this more aggressive bombing campaign. Yet
the historical question has never been settled. The senior Bush has
never been subjected to a careful questioning, though it is true that
Saddam did intensify his air campaign after Bush?s trip.
The answer would be relevant now as the younger Bush asserts that
Saddam?s penchant for military aggression justifies a new war. If
Bush?s father actually was counseling Saddam to be more aggressive,
that?s a fact that the American people ought to know.
Waas and Unger described the motive for the Reagan administration?s
tactical advice as a kind of diplomatic billiard shot. By getting Iraq
to expand use of its air force, the Iranians would be more desperate
for U.S.-made HAWK anti-aircraft missile parts, giving Washington more
leverage with the Iranians. Iran?s need to protect their cities from
Iraqi air attacks gave impetus to the Reagan administration?s arms-
for-hostage scheme, which later became known as the Iran-contra
affair. [See The New Yorker, Nov. 2, 1992.]
Another ?Green Light??
The devastation from the Iran-Iraq war, which finally ended in 1988,
also set the stage for the Gulf War of 1990-91. The eight-year war had
crippled the Iraqi economy and left Saddam?s government deeply in
Having been egged on by the oil-rich sheikdoms to blunt the
revolutionary zeal of Iran, Saddam felt betrayed when Kuwait wouldn?t
write off Iraq?s debts and rejected a $10 billion loan. Beyond that,
Saddam was furious with Kuwait for driving down world oil prices by
overproducing and for slant-drilling into Iraqi oil fields. Many
Iraqis also considered Kuwait, historically, a part of Iraq.
Before attacking Kuwait, however, Saddam consulted George H.W. Bush?s
administration. First, the U.S. State Department informed Saddam that
Washington had "no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait."
Then, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam, "we have no opinion
on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with
As Foreign Policy magazine observed, "the United States may not have
intended to give Iraq a green light, but that is effectively what it
did." [Foreign Policy, Jan.-Feb. 2003]
While Glaspie?s strange diplomacy drew some congressional and press
attention during the previous Gulf crisis, the full context of George
H.W. Bush?s relationship with Saddam - which might help explain why
the Iraqi dictator so disastrously misread the U.S. signals - has
never been made explained.
A Clinton Cover-up?
Beyond that missing history of U.S.-Iraq relations, there?s the
secondary issue of cover-ups conducted by the administrations of Bill
Clinton and George W. Bush.
Democratic sources say Clinton heeded personal appeals from the elder
Bush and other top Republicans to close the books on the so-called
"Iraqgate" investigation - as well as probes into secret Reagan-Bush
dealings with Iran - soon after the Democrat defeated Bush in the 1992
election. Some Democrats say Clinton agreed to shelve the
investigations out of concern for national security and the country?s
unity. Others suggest that Clinton was tricked by the wily elder Bush
with promises that a pullback on the Iran-Iraq investigations might
win Clinton some bipartisanship with the Republicans in Congress, a
tantalizing prospect that turned out to be a mirage.
Whatever the reasons, Clinton?s Justice Department did bail out the
Reagan-Bush team in the mid-1990s when more disclosures about the
secret dealings with Iraq flooded to the surface. Perhaps the most
important disclosure was an affidavit by former Reagan administration
official Howard Teicher that was filed in connection with a criminal
trial in Miami in 1995. The Teicher affidavit was the first sworn
public account by a Reagan insider of the covert U.S.-Iraq
Teicher, who served on Reagan?s National Security Council staff,
traced the U.S. tilt to Iraq to a turning point in the war in 1982
when Iran gained the offensive and fears swept through the U.S.
government that Iran?s army might slice through Iraq to the oil fields
of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
"In June 1982, President Reagan decided that the United States could
not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran," Teicher wrote in
his affidavit. Teicher said he helped draft a secret national security
decision directive that Reagan signed to authorize covert U.S.
assistance to Saddam Hussein?s military.
"The NSDD, including even its identifying number, is classified,"
Teicher wrote in 1995.
The effort to arm the Iraqis was "spearheaded" by CIA Director William
Casey and involved his deputy, Robert Gates, according to Teicher?s
affidavit. "The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy
Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-
U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq,"
In 1984, Teicher said he went to Iraq with Rumsfeld to convey a secret
Israeli offer to assist Iraq after Israel had concluded that Iran was
becoming a greater danger. "I traveled with Rumsfeld to Baghdad and
was present at the meeting in which Rumsfeld told Iraqi Foreign
Minister Tariq Aziz about Israel?s offer of assistance," Teicher
wrote. "Aziz refused even to accept the Israelis? letter to Hussein
offering assistance because Aziz told us that he would be executed on
the spot by Hussein if he did so."
Another key player in Reagan?s Iraq tilt was then-Vice President
George H.W. Bush, according to Teicher?s affidavit.
"In 1986, President Reagan sent a secret message to Saddam Hussein
telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran,"
Teicher wrote. "This message was delivered by Vice President Bush who
communicated it to Egyptian President Mubarak, who in turn passed the
message to Saddam Hussein.
"Similar strategic operational military advice was passed to Saddam
Hussein through various meetings with European and Middle Eastern
heads of state. I authored Bush?s talking points for the 1986 meeting
with Mubarak and personally attended numerous meetings with European
and Middle East heads of state where the strategic operational advice
Teicher?s affidavit represented a major break in the historical
mystery of U.S. aid to Iraq. But it complicated a criminal arms-
trafficking case that Clinton?s Justice Department was prosecuting
against Teledyne Industries and a salesman named Ed Johnson. They had
allegedly sold explosive pellets to Chilean arms manufacturer Carlos
Cardoen, who used them to manufacture cluster bombs for Iraq.
Prior to trying the Teledyne case, Clinton?s Justice Department
declared that its investigation "did not find evidence that U.S.
agencies or officials illegally armed Iraq." But the review noted,
curiously, that the CIA had withheld an unknown number of documents
that were contained in "sensitive compartments" that were denied to
the investigators. Despite that denial of access, the Clinton
investigators expressed confidence in their conclusions.
Two weeks after that exonerating report, however, Teicher?s affidavit
was filed in federal court in Miami, embarrassing senior Justice
Department officials. After taking the word of former Reagan-Bush
officials and agreeing not to examine the CIA?s "sensitive
compartments," the Justice Department officials looked gullible,
incompetent or complicit.
They took their fury out on Teicher, insisting that his affidavit was
unreliable and threatening him with dire consequences for coming
forward. Yet, while deeming Teicher?s affidavit false, the Clinton
administration also declared the document a state secret, classifying
it and putting it under court seal. A few copies, however, had been
distributed outside the court and the text was soon posted on the
After officially suppressing the Teicher affidavit, the Justice
Department prosecutors persuaded the judge presiding in the Teledyne-
Johnson case to rule testimony about the Reagan-Bush policies to be
irrelevant. Unable to mount its planned defense, Teledyne agreed to
plead guilty and accept a $13 million fine. Johnson, the salesman who
had earned a modest salary in the mid-$30,000 range, was convicted of
illegal arms trafficking and given a prison term.
Before a U.S. invasion of Iraq begins, former President Clinton might
be asked whether he was approached by George H.W. Bush or a Bush
emissary with an request to drop investigations into Reagan-Bush
policies in the Middle East.
Teicher, who has since 1995 refused to discuss his affidavit, could be
given a congressional forum to testify about his knowledge. So could
other surviving U.S. officials named in Teicher?s affidavit, including
Gates and Rumsfeld. Foreign leaders mentioned in the affidavit also
could be approached, including former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Shamir, Mubarak and Aziz.
Junior Bush?s Hidden Records
George W. Bush also has some questions he should answer before
missiles start crashing into Baghdad. When he took office in 2001, one
of his first acts as president was to block the legally required
release of documents from the Reagan-Bush administration.
Then, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a stunned nation rallied
around him, Bush issued an even more sweeping secrecy order. He
granted former presidents and vice presidents or their surviving
family members the right to stop release of historical records,
including those related to "military, diplomatic or national security
secrets." Bush?s order stripped the Archivist of the United States of
the power to overrule claims of privilege from former presidents and
their representatives. [For details on Bush?s secrecy policies, see
the New York Times, Jan. 3, 2003]
By a twist of history, Bush?s order eventually could give him control
of both his and his father?s records covering 12 years of the Reagan-
Bush era and however long Bush?s own presidential term lasts,
potentially a 20-year swath of documentary evidence.
As the junior Bush now takes the nation to war in the name of freedom
and democracy, he might at least be challenged to reverse that secrecy
and release all relevant documents on the history of the Reagan-Bush
policies in the Middle East. That way, the American people can decide
for themselves whether Saddam Hussein is an aggressive leader whose
behavior is so depraved that a preemptive war is the only reasonable
course of action.
Or they might conclude that Saddam, like many other dictators through
history, operates within a framework of self-preservation, which means
he could be controlled by a combination of tough arms inspections and
the threat of military retaliation.
Without the full history - as embarrassing as that record might be to
the last five U.S. presidents - the American people cannot judge
whether the nation?s security will be enhanced or endangered by Bush?s
decision to put the United States on its own aggressive course of
[As a correspondent for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the
1980s, Robert Parry broke many of the stories now known as the Iran-