The FBI has released reports on 20 interviews and five conversations conducted with Iraq’s deposed dictator Saddam Hussein before he was put to death, but none of the disclosed Q and A deals with the role of the Reagan administration in delivering key components for Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s.

Either those questions weren’t asked or they are still being hidden by the U.S. government. The contents of one interview on March 21, 2004, were almost entirely redacted for supposed national security reasons.

As the National Security Archive, a private non-profit group that obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, wrote:

“Not included in these FBI reports are issues of particular interest to students of Iraq’s complicated relationship with the U.S. – the reported role of the CIA in facilitating the Ba’ath party’s rise to power, the uneasy alliance forged between Iraq and the U.S. during the Iran-Iraq war, and the precise nature of U.S. views regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons policy during that conflict, given its contemporaneous knowledge of their repeated use against Iranians and the Kurds.”

The gaps in the FBI reports also underscore the historical travesty that resulted from the Bush administration’s handling of Saddam Hussein after his capture on Dec. 13, 2003, near Tikrit, eight months after the U.S.-led invasion toppled his government.

Instead of being turned over to the international criminal court at The Hague, where he could have been thoroughly interrogated, Hussein was kept under tight U.S. control until he was handed over to his Iraqi enemies on Dec. 30, 2006, for a chaotic hanging.

While President George W. Bush and many of his supporters were thrilled with the execution – what the New York Times called Bush’s “triumphal bookend” to the Iraq invasion – the hanging was not just rough justice meted out to a harsh dictator. It also snuffed out a dangerous witness who could have implicated senior Republicans, including Bush’s father.

Important chapters of history died with Hussein on the gallows. Hussein was a unique witness with the broadest knowledge about who arranged and sold the precursor components for his unconventional weapons that were used to kill Iranian troops and Iraqi civilians.

In death, Hussein couldn’t disclose what George W. Bush’s first Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during that famous hand-shake meeting in 1983, nor whether he got an alleged message from Vice President George H.W. Bush in the mid-1980s about how best to deploy Iraq’s air force against Iran, nor if then-deputy CIA director Robert Gates was running interference for Iraq’s military supply line in the 1980s.

It was the elder George Bush, as Vice President, who allegedly oversaw the covert U.S. operation to assist Hussein’s war machine during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War; Rumsfeld, as special U.S. envoy to the Middle East, held private chats with the Iraqi dictator about his war needs; and Gates, as a senior CIA official, reportedly rebuffed Israeli protests about U.S. tolerance for third-country military shipments to Iraq, including precursor chemicals.

All those important Republicans and more could breathe a little easier after the hangman’s noose choked the life out of Hussein. (Gates remains in government as President Barack Obama's defense secretary.)

 [For more details on what Hussein might have revealed, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or Consortiumnews.com’s “Missing U.S.-Iraq History” or “The Secret World of Robert Gates.”]

Captured Documents

George W. Bush’s administration successfully concealed other evidence that might have shed light on what the senior Bush, Rumsfeld and Gates did during the 1980s. The U.S. government is still sitting on key Iraqi documents seized during the invasion in 2003.

The Bush administration exploited those documents in an effort to discredit the United Nations over its handling of the Iraq “oil for food” program in the 1990s. That right-wing cause célèbre held that Hussein might have diverted money from the U.N. program to manufacture more WMD (although it turned out that he didn’t produce any WMD at that point).

However, the Bush administration withheld records from the 1980s when Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.

In an example of how the Bush team never ceased playing games with information, the CIA released the so-called Duelfer report in 2004, acknowledging that the administration’s pre-invasion assertions about Hussein hiding WMD stockpiles were “almost all wrong.”

But a curious feature of the Duelfer report was that it included a long section about Hussein’s abuse of the U.N.’s “oil for food” program in the 1990s, while acknowledging that those diverted funds had not gone to build illegal weapons.

Regarding the 1980s, however, the report did the opposite, acknowledging the existence of a robust WMD program but offering no documentary perspective on how that operation was organized and who was involved in delivering the crucial equipment and precursor chemicals.

In other words, the CIA’s WMD report didn’t identify the Americans or other non-Iraqis who made Iraq’s WMD arsenal possible in the 1980s.

One source who has seen the documents told me that it contains information about the role of Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen, who has been identified as a key link between the CIA and Iraq for the procurement of dangerous weapons in the 1980s. But that evidence remains locked away from the public.

It also seems that the FBI either didn’t bother to ask Hussein about the U.S. officials who may have had a hand in helping him build his deadly arsenal or Hussein’s answers have been redacted out of “national security” concerns.

That singular figure who perhaps could have put the era in its fullest perspective – and provided the most damning evidence about the Bush Family’s role – was silenced for good on Dec. 30, 2006, as he dropped through a trap door of a gallows and was made to twitch at the end of a noose fashioned from hemp.

The White House announced that George W. Bush didn’t wait up for the happy news of Hussein’s hanging. After the U.S. military turned Hussein over to his Iraqi executioners, Bush went to bed at his Crawford, Texas, ranch and slept through the night.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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