Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation


Donald Rumsfeld and the Use of Chemical weapons

against Iraqi civilians

by Stephen James Kerr

www.globalresearch.ca   2 March 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KER303A.html

Take a glimpse into the future being prepared for the people of Iraq.

Farah is one of hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming out of American Occupied Iraq. She is enraged and humiliated and she is grieving. Her brother was buried when their apartment was bombed during the 'shock and awe'. She can't find her mother. Her father died in the first Gulf War. Farah is alone with her bitterness, and half a million Iraqis walking down a highway into Jordan.

Farah is 15 years old.

As she rushes towards the temporary refugee camp, she cannot contain her anger or her tears. The hungry refugees riot when a shipment of food arrives as they have not eaten in two weeks. US forces cannot control the unexpected rage of the hungry Iraqis. Farah surges towards the US troops who don their gas masks. From 150 feet overhead an American Predator UAV sprays the angry people with a fine mist of Fentanyl gas, and within 5 minutes those who had been raising their fists are struggling to keep their eyes open. Farah falls into a drugged stupor. Others fall on top of her in the panic. She vomits bile.

And then Farah stops breathing.

This horrific scenario is being planned by Donald Rumsfeld, the culmination of his long struggle to remove a 'straightjacket' from the Pentagon. That straightjacket is called the Chemical Weapons Convention, (CWC) the international treaty that outlaws chemical warfare and chemical weapons, as well as the act of planning to use them.

According to Rumsfeld, "General Franks has a plan that addresses a host of very unpleasant contingencies, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong, that can be unpleasant…"

It may seem strange that the man who demands the complete disarmament of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons would actively plan to use them himself.

But it's not.

Hold your breath, and grab your gas mask, because on Wednesday February 5thwhile testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Donald Rumsfeld revealed just how the Pentagon plans to deal with a hostile and armed Iraqi population, of "between one and seven million civilians with semi-automatic rifles, rocket launchers and other military weapons."

Congressman Meehan quizzed the Secretary of Defence, "…assuming for a moment that our troops do have to engage armed civilians in the streets of Baghdad, are there any plans currently to use 'non-lethal technologies' to disarm and disperse?"

For those who have never heard of a misnomer called the 'non-lethal weapon,' a short primer.

The United States military has been busy transforming powerful synthetic opiates such as Fentanyl into an aerosol chemical weapon that knocks troublesome civilians unconscious. They have also developed improved stink bombs that target specific ethnic groups with something called 'US Government Standard Bathroom Odour,' and other noxious smells.

No kidding.

A US German NGO, the Sunshine Project has revealed how The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, (JNLWD) working with scientists at Penn State University's Marine Corps Research facility and the US Army Edgewood Biological and Chemical Center have been researching and developing a chemical weapon similar to that which killed 20% of those who were exposed to it at the Palace of Culture Theatre in Moscow in October 2002. A trail of declassified documents Donald Rumsfeld would rather not discuss clearly illustrates the process, and you can find some of them on the website of the Sunshine Project at www.sunshine-project.org.

Fentanyl, a powerful sedative drug is used as a surgical anesthetic and is also known as Sublimaze, increasingly a street drug of abuse. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that JNLWD has transformed this narcotic and others such as Ketamine (Special K) into a new 'non-lethal' weapon which will "put everyone in a room to sleep, combatants, and non combatants," according to a JNLWD commander. Another document identifies "hungry refugees, unwilling to wait" for the distribution of emergency food as a target for these new 'non-lethal' chemical weapons.

And according to Defence Department Directive 3000.3, the 'non-lethal' part of the weapon isn't 100%.

So Congressman Meehan wanted to know if America had any plans for the hostile use of Fentanyl or other novel gasses on Iraqi civilians, though he didn't put it quite that way.

After and long pause, and the standard reminder about how Saddam Hussein "lies about every single thing he says," Rumsfeld made a startling admission; the United States is planning for the use of gas against any Iraqis who resist the American invasion, and has already employed such illegal weapons in the War on Terror.

Rumsfeld knows the law is not on his side.

He admitted as much when he stated "With respect to the use of non-lethal riot agents I regret to say that we are in a very difficult situation. There is a treaty that the United States signed [the Chemical Weapons Convention www.opcw.org ]" Rumsfeld pauses, then " …let me put it this way, absent a Presidential waiver… in many instances our forces are allowed to shoot somebody and kill them, but they are not allowed to use a non-lethal riot control agent."

No they are not allowed. The CWC outlaws the hostile use of chemistry, and in the case of 'non-lethal' riot control agents, forbids states "from using riot control agents as means of warfare."

The laws of armed conflict are quite clear that weapons systems and the soldiers who employ them must discriminate between soldiers and civilians. Chemical weapons can't tell the difference, which is one major reason why they're illegal. A second reason was aptly demonstrated last October by Russian Special Forces at the Palace of Culture Theatre, who summarily executed 50 Chechen hostage takers, after the sedative gas put them to sleep. US troops employed tear gas in Vietnam to similar effect.

But Donald Rumsfeld wants to remove the ban on chemical weapons, the better to police the Pax Americana.

"We are doing our best to live within the straightjacket of that has been imposed on us on this subject [the Chemical Weapons Convention] that we can write things [rules of engagement for employing chemical weapons] in a way that people [US troops] can understand them and function and not break the law, and still in certain instances be able to use non-lethal riot agents," he said.

And in 'certain instances,' Rumsfeld inferred that the American government is already playing by these new rules of engagement, on which Rumsfeld stated that he had spent "at least an hour and a half," in one week with General Richard Myers.

"There are times when the use of non-lethal riot agents is perfectly appropriate...when transporting dangerous people in a confined space, in an airplane for example, when there are enemy troops in a cave in Afghanistan and you know that there are women and children in there with them, and they are firing out at you, and you have the task of getting at them, and you'd prefer to get at them without also getting at women and children, and non-combatants," said Rumsfeld, hesitating several times.

This deeply cynical statement obscures the reality that it is precisely non-combatants who may not be targeted by weapons under international law. The Geneva Convention explicitly states that "The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character," thus the civilian population may not be drugged against their will with an indiscriminate chemical weapon to allow US troops to 'sort the wheat from the chaff' as contemplated in US military planning papers, and admitted by Donald Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld pretends to speak up for the rights of the women, children and civilian freedom fighters he plans deliberately to gas with a toxic substance. This is consistent with the published opinions of a think tank with which he is closely associated, The Center for Security Policy, (www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/ ) whose motto is "Peace through Strength."

According to the CSP, "the Geneva Convention is not a suicide pact." On the Geneva Convention, the CSP opines that armed civilians are "…not soldiers; they are illegal combatants, not entitled to the protections of the Convention. Breaking down this distinction -- as the human rights groups wish to do -- would have the effect of legitimatising terrorists and giving them more incentives to hide among civilians and go after civilian targets." The entire briefing is called "Worried about civilian casualties in the War on Terror? Don't allow terrorists to masquerade as non-combatants."

The above gross misrepresentation of the legal rights of civilians under the Convention has been transformed from right wing fantasy into the explicit policy of the American government.

Thus the conclusion can be drawn that the Iraqi civilian militia, armed with guns to defend their country from an illegal American invasion and occupation, will not be afforded their legally required protections under international law, according to the Bush regime, which now openly plans to gas these resisters.

But the Chemical Weapons Convention stands in Rumsfeld's way and in the way of those whose interests Rumsfeld has long represented: the military industrial complex.

Scraps of paper

On Tuesday, April 8, 1997, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations met in Washington DC, to discuss the ratification by the United States of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The meeting opened with fine sounding words from the chairman, Senator Jesse Helms, who stated, "I believe today is the first time that three distinguished, former U.S. Secretaries of Defense have ever appeared together before a Senate committee to oppose ratification of an arms control treaty. And if ever a treaty deserved such highly respected opposition, it is the dangerous and defective so-called Chemical Weapons Convention."

The three men who had come together to oppose the CWC were James Schlesinger, Caspar Weinberger and Donald Rumsfeld.

Dick Cheney couldn't be there, but that didn't stop him from sending his best wishes, explained Senator Helms. "Secretary Cheney's schedule precluded him from being here in person today. But he has asked Secretary Schlesinger to read into the record Secretary Cheney's strong opposition to Senate ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention."

Cap, Jim, Dick, and Donald were not alone, as Senator Helms made pains to point out. "These distinguished Americans are by no means alone. More than 50--more than 50--generals, admirals, and senior officials from previous administrations have joined them in opposing the Chemical Weapons Convention, and if that does not send a clear signal on just how dangerous this treaty really is, I cannot imagine what would."

Back in 1997, signatories like Richard Pearle, Frank Gaffney, Douglas Feith and Donald Rumsfeld were on the political fringe, and they spoke with more candour than they do today.

This is what the assembled epaulets and their Republican masters found so "dangerous and defective."

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) forbids "any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere." "Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never under any circumstances: (a) To develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone; (b) To use chemical weapons; (c) To engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons;"

Of course the three respected men had their reasons to oppose a genuine multilateral process to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons.

Helms offered a preview of their way of thinking. "The Chemical Weapons Convention will…increase rogue regimes' access to dangerous chemical agents and technology while imposing new regulations on American businesses, exposing them to increased danger of industrial espionage and trampling their constitutional rights. Outside of the Beltway, where people do not worship at the altar of arms control, that is what we call ``A bum deal.'' We have been hearing a lot of empty rhetoric from the proponents of the treaty about 'banning chemical weapons from the face of the earth.'''

Then it was Mr. Schlesinger's turn to take a whack. He grounded his arguments in a certain reading of world history.

"The German decision to refrain from using poison gas came not for humanitarian reasons, not for reasons of the treaty, [the Geneva Convention] which German diplomats might well have described as 'a scrap of paper,' but out of concern for the threat of devastating retaliation by the Western allies."

But Schlesinger had to admit that sometimes the behaviour of 'western allies' left a lot to be desired.

"Iraq has been and is a signatory to the Geneva Convention. In the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's, Iraq used poison gas as a way of stemming the ``human wave'' attacks of the Iranians. What was our reaction and the reaction of other Western powers at that time? In brief, it was to avert our gaze.''

The 1980s were all about looking after number one and realpolitik was the order of the day in foreign policy, as Schlesinger recalled.

"After all, Iraq provided protection in the Gulf against the Ayatollah's Iran. For what were regarded as sound geopolitical reasons, we failed to take action to sustain the existing prohibition on the use of poison gas by a signatory--despite Iraq's blatant violation of the Geneva Convention."

A violation facilitated by Donald Rumsfeld, (seated beside Schlesinger) who as Ronald Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East, normalized relations with Iraq based on higher orders, in the form of the Pentagon's NSDD114, which stated that the United States would regard "any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West." Chemical weapons - sold to Iraq by US corporations at a profit - ensured victory over militant Islam, the Geneva Convention be damned.

Schlesinger, dropping his earlier allusions to Nazi Germany, then revealed how force still speaks louder than some 'scraps of paper.'

"What are the lessons learned from these episodes? Treaties alone will do little. To prevent the use or the manufacture of chemical weapons requires a structure for deterrence backed by real capabilities. Above all, enforcement will depend upon the will to take action…" he said. Such words ring in the ear today… from the White House.

Schlesinger had political reasons for opposing the Chemical Weapons Convention. The first reflected the symbiotic relationship between the Pentagon and manufacturers of tear gas, pepper spray, and sedative drugs.

"Non-lethal chemicals are necessary for crowd control, for peacekeeping, for rescuing downed pilots and the like. In the negotiations on the Convention, we were pressed to ban non-lethal chemicals along with lethal chemicals. President Bush, under pressure from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated prior American policy and indicated that use of riot control agents would not be banned."

Chemical weapons are produced to be used for the benefit of the political order. Banning non-lethal chemicals could force the US government into a difficult position, according to Nixon's former Secretary of Defense.

"I trust that the Senate will…insist that the use of tear gas will not be banned either in peace or war. Otherwise, we may wind up placing ourselves in the position of the Chinese Government in dealing with the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. The failure to use tear gas meant that that government only had recourse to the massive use of firepower to disperse the crowd."

Rumsfeld's 'unappealing position' - lobbyist for the death industry

With Schlesinger's toxic thoughts setting the tone of the occasion, Donald Rumsfeld took centre stage and read out part of the Convention's Preamble, only to mock it.

""The States parties to this convention, determined to act with a view to achieving effective progress toward general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, including the prohibition and elimination of all types of weapons of mass destruction..' he read. "That is a goal that can only be described as monumentally ambitious. More to the point, it is not clear to me that that is today the agreed policy of the U.S. government or even that it is realistic. The history of mankind suggests that the achievement of 'complete disarmament' is not a likely prospect, and the idea of 'strict and effective international controls' to assure compliance with 'complete disarmament' is, to put it mildly, a stretch," he editorialised.

Rumsfeld then considered it far more probable that the Chemical Weapons Convention was a threat to the civil rights of Americans.

"It [the CWC] will jeopardise U.S. citizens' constitutional rights by requiring the U.S. government to permit searches without either warrants or probable cause."

At the time, Rumsfeld was a board member of Empower America, (www.empoweramerica.org) a far right think tank which "…is devoted to ensuring that government actions foster growth, economic well-being, freedom and individual responsibility." Empower America supports the USA Patriot Act, which allows the US government to search the homes of Americans without a warrant. They oppose affirmative action. They are big on missile defence. They want George W Bush to attack Iraq hard and fast, without just cause, and Rumsfeld confessed his allegiance to these values when he revealed exactly whose civil rights and 'economic well-being' so concerned him.

"It [the CWC] will impose a costly and complex regulatory burden on U.S. industry. As many as 8,000 companies across the country may be subjected to new reporting requirements entailing uncompensated annual costs of between thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars per year to comply."

The CWC requires that chemical manufacturers of 'dual use' chemicals with potential military applications report to the UN organization which oversees the treaty, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, (OPCW).

But reality forced Rumsfeld to take the side of the 'little guy' as he urged the USA not to sign.

"Small and medium sized companies will be spared the costs and the risks to their proprietary information which would result from U.S. participation. You know, big companies seem to get along just fine with big government. They have the ability, with all their Washington representatives, to deal effectively with bureaucracies."

Rumsfeld knows this from long experience, having been the CEO of several major pharmaceutical companies. But in 1997 he was up against the express desires of the US chemical industry, armed only with straw man arguments.

The CWC was supported by the Chemical Manufacturer's association, representing 193 corporations and accounting for 90% of America's chemical production. The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturer's Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization all supported US ratification of the Convention, as did the US President, Bill Clinton, whom the Republicans were busy plotting to impeach in 1997.

Yet Rumsfeld seemed pained by the difficulty of his position for two reasons.

"First is the issue of not supporting the President. As I indicated, my inclination has always been to try to do that. However, we know the Constitution did not grant sole authority to the President of the United States in the area of foreign policy," he testified in front of the Senate Committee.

Rumsfeld has since had a change of heart on the powers of the executive branch, but his continued support for chemical weapons is hard to hide.

"Certainly in this case, being positioned as appearing to favour chemical weapons, is also not an appealing position," he complained.

Yet it is the position Donald Rumsfeld has consistently chosen. His assistance to the Iraqi government in the 1980s, helping Saddam Hussein acquire chemical and rocket technologies, used to massacre Kurds and Iranians did not stop him from making the following statement.

"The use of various gases during World War I led to the Geneva Protocol of l925, which banned first use of chemical weapons in war. Despite that high standard, that ban has not been observed, witness Iraq's use of such chemicals."

Then Rumsfeld revealed for whom he was talking all this trash.

"I might just point out that the Aerospace Industries Association has stated its strong concern about the treaty, and I hope that since they have said that they have not changed their mind. But they have said it would unnecessarily jeopardise our Nation's ability to protect its national security information and proprietary technological data."

And the AIA has a lot of data to protect. Several of its corporate members sold military technology to Iraq, including Dupont, Honeywell and Rockwell, all prominent contributors to the Republican war chest.

An Aerospace Industry Association document obtained by this reporter states that America must "accept its responsibility for security of the world, ("hegemony")." The words 'Pax Americana' appear on the same page as the words 'famine' and 'global health degeneration.'

Together with war, famine, plague, and the cynicism of Donald Rumsfeld, the aerospace industry has gone global. In 1990, according to the AIA, exports accounted for 29.1% of US aerospace industry sales. By 2000, they had increased to 41%. The share of aerospace industry sales coming from the US Department of Defence fell to 36% from 45% in the same period. The goal of the AIA is to increase sales of weapons systems and aircraft which have fallen as a share of US GDP. A mysterious sales category called 'other' accounted for 18.4% of revenue in 2000, up barely 1% in ten years.

Civil aviation sales, a big deal in 2000, look less attractive with swathes of the commercial airline industry swimming in red ink in 2003.

The mass murder is in the math. Without war to boost sales and drive demand for new acquisition programmes, the future looks bad for aerospace. But Donald Rumsfeld and the military industrial complex have some other calculations to make, before the globalized gas attack for American corporate hegemony can begin.

A major problem then, as now are weapons inspectors and the precedent that strict international arms control treaties like the Chemical Weapons Convention would set for the 'security' of the Pentagon's state and corporate secrets, not to mention the incriminating evidence which could see Mr. Rumsfeld off the Hague, where he might entertain Slobodan Milosevic with idle chit chat about 'scraps of paper.'

Rumsfeld testified "I was told yesterday by an individual who is knowledgeable that the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, for example, personnel from there were involved in one of the mock inspections conducted by the U.S. government. They evaluated the inspection results and some weeks later, from outside the facility, using modern technology, were capable of coming away with classified information and proprietary information from the inspection. So I don't think that it would be wise for us to underestimate the risk that would exist to classified information, to a company's proprietary information."

Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and other military labs are today busy working on new, so-called 'non-lethal' chemical and other weapons. Their endorsement for them, and recommendation for their development, can be found on the website of the National Academies of Science at www.nas.edu .

But in order to put us off the scent of sleeping gas, Donald needed, and still needs a big distraction.

So he reminded the Congressional Committee of that other imminent threat to American liberty, a few of the countries which now comprise the Axis of Evil, waiting in the wings, even back in 1997.

"Countries identified by the United States as possessing chemical weapons that have not signed the CWC, let alone ratified it; include Libya, Syria, Iraq, and North Korea. Certainly these countries are among the most likely to use chemical weapons against our citizens, our soldiers, and our allies," he testified under oath.

No such country has ever attacked America with chemical weapons. Of course Rumsfeld left out Iran, which America's ally Iraq so attacked, with his help.

Attacking the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - first step to war on Iraq

In 2000, the Director-General of the OPCW, José Bustani called on the "Arab states still to join the Chemical Weapons Convention to do so and for Israel to ratify the Convention."

Bustani had big ambitions.

"Mr. Bustani said he hoped the leaders of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen and the UAE would join the CWC as a significant step towards a comprehensive regional peace," according to the OPCW.

But Bustani's peaceful aspirations would soon run up against Donald Rumsfeld's desire for secrecy and full spectrum dominance, for which new chemical weapons are critical, chemistry and medicine being part of the spectrum.

"In his speech Mr. Bustani also welcomed the successful start of inspections by the OPCW of chemical industry plants in the United States, a development he described as "of critical importance." "

But the tough and impartial inspection regime of the CWC would not survive the Bush presidency.

As the April 29, 2002 deadline for the USA to destroy all its chemical weapons production facilities drew near, the US Government called an extraordinary and illegal meeting to dismiss Jose Bustani.

US Undersecretary of State John Bolton smeared his reputation, accusing him of "financial mismanagement, bias and ill considered initiatives."

It was a foretaste of the kind of vague accusation that passes for a causus belli in the Bush White House.

But Jose Bustani had some parting words.

"I could have been just a figurehead, as some Member States wanted. Instead I have chosen, as the Convention requires, to take my responsibilities seriously, amongst other things by being actively involved in the everyday work of the Organisation. I refused to defer to those individuals who some Member States want to be in charge."

Bustani certainly referred to Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush regime's most fervent opponent of arms inspections, and the new Secretary of Defence.

"I am now accused of being biased. What is bias for some, is in reality my commitment to "equal treatment for all". I insist that the scope of access for our inspectors should be the same in all countries. I also insist that States Parties cannot pick and choose those areas which inspectors may or may not verify. I insist that the verification effort, in full accordance with the Convention, should be aimed at inspectable facilities, rather than at certain countries."

The Bush government has decided not to pursue Iraq's chemical weapons through the CWC, but rather through UN Security Council Resolution 1441, in an arena where it maintains a veto, and is able to politicize the process, purchase its support with arms deals, and substitute false sound bites for the facts. Bustani wanted to disarm Iraq under the CWC, as he wanted to disarm America of chemical weapons.

But the Bush government had targeted Iraq for a demonstration of its 'real capabilities,' not membership in the CWC.

"I am blamed for seeking Iraq's membership of the CWC, even though this effort is in full accordance with the decisions of the UN Security Council, and with the mandate issued to me by all of you, to ensure the Convention's universality WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Does dissatisfaction with my actions mean that the universality of the Convention should include some countries, but not others, not Iraq, for example?" demanded Bustani in April, 2002.

Bustani's words put the dishonest remarks of Donald Rumsfeld on February 12, 2003 in their proper context. Rumsfeld threw cold water on a French proposal for more weapons inspections in Iraq, saying "If you need to have inspectors to see whether or not Iraq is cooperating, one or two will do that. If you think you need inspectors to try to cover a country the size of France, then you need thousands and thousands of them."

It took thirteen inspectors to demonstrate the hypocrisy of Donald Rumsfeld to the world, if any doubt remained.

On February 23rd, citizen weapons inspectors organized by Rooting Out Evil (www.rootingoutevil.org ) attempted to inspect the Edgewood chemical weapons facility just north of Washington. While this reporter looked on, access was denied to British, Canadian, Danish and Italian members of Parliament, a leader of a major trade union, an Islamic leader and the Director of the Sunshine Project.

Their letter to Donald Rumsfeld requesting unfettered access to American chemical weapons sites has still not been answered.

 Copyright  Stephen James Kerr  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .