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The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet-What Was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Doing in Iraq in 1983?

August 05, 2002


Five years before Saddam Hussein’s now infamous 1988 gassing of the Kurds, a key meeting took place in Baghdad that would play a significant role in forging close ties between Saddam Hussein and Washington. It happened at a time when Saddam was first alleged to have used chemical weapons. The meeting in late December 1983 paved the way for an official restoration of relations between Iraq and the US, which had been severed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

With the Iran-Iraq war escalating, President Ronald Reagan dispatched his Middle East envoy, a former secretary of defense, to Baghdad with a hand-written letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and a message that Washington was willing at any moment to resume diplomatic relations.

That envoy was Donald Rumsfeld.


  • Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist who reports frequently for Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News. His investigative report "The Saddam in Rumsfeld’s Closet" was published on, Z-Net and Counterpunch.

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Tomorrow is the 57th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It is also the 12th anniversary of the imposition of sanctions on Iraq just months before the start of the 1991 Gulf War. This anniversary comes as another Bush sits in the White House, again threatening an all-out war against Iraq. Today, activists from Voices in the Wilderness are beginning a 40-day fast outside the UN on Saturday, which is timed to end on September 11th. They hope to encourage member states of the UN to "break ranks" with the US in its sanctions against Iraq and oppose any new military onslaught against Iraq.


  • Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end the economic sanctions against Iraq.

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