Very little attention has been paid to Stephen Pelletiere’s op ed piece in the New York Times (Jan. 31, “A War Crime or an Act of War”).
Pelletiere was the CIA’s senior political analyst on Iraq during the 1980s war between Iraq and Iran, and later served as a professor at the US Army War College (1988-2000).
His op ed piece attacks the theory that Saddam gassed the Kurds. You know, “Saddam gassed his own people.” That oft-repeated charge that makes up a significant part of the administration’s argument for war now.
Pelletiere had access to a lot of the classified data that was generated around the Kurd matter. He was in charge of the 1991 Army probe that investigated the question: How would Saddam fight a war against the US?
The major gassing incident occurred in March 1988 at a town called Halabja. “But the truth is,” Pelletiere writes, “all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day.” This occurred near the end of the Iraq-Iran war.
Pelletiere writes, “…immediately after the battle [at Halabja] the United States Defense Information Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.”
Obviously, this report has been intentionally ignored by several presidents and their major mouthpieces.