Letter to the Editor: U.S. did not supply chemical weapons

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Editor:
This letter responds to the article printed in this publication on Friday, Sept. 6 titled “Syria & Sarin” (posted online as “U.S. debate of Syria attack hypocritical”, on Sept. 5) by Rose Jones. Specifically, this letter addresses the false accusations on which Jones based her article, accusations that confuse this critical debate, mislead readers and must surely fall far below the standards of accuracy of The Daily Utah Chronicle.
Her most egregious offense lies in the citation of a Foreign Policy Magazine article published on Aug. 26 as “He Gassed Iran,” by Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid. Jones writes, “According to newly unclassified CIA documents, made public in Foreign Policy Magazine, not only did the United States plot the excruciating demise of innocent Iranian families in 1987, with satellite imagery delivered to Saddam Hussein, but we also supplied the chemical weapons for the attack.” While this reference is both odious and inflammatory, the CIA documents offer simply no support for her claim, even as the article that Jones references advances the same fallacy.
Consider that the most recent declassified file included in the article dates from Jan. 1985. All incriminating accusations that these declassified documents supposedly prove, according to Jones and FP, are from 1987 and 1988, nearly three years after the last document was written. In the content of the FP article, all damning allegations are based not on declassified CIA material, as its title asserts, but rather on an interview from one retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Rick Francona.
The article’s significant accusations contain no citations from the CIA documents that supposedly prove U.S. complicity. Nowhere do these documents mention direct U.S. contact with Hussein, nor is there any mention of providing him with intelligence, let alone chemical weapons. Indeed, the last CIA document, “The Iraqi Chemical Weapons Program in Perspective,” describes a U.S. embargo on derivative chemicals and equipment against Iraq. From these documents, the only crime that the U.S. can be accused of is knowing about Hussein’s chemical attacks and not intervening to uphold international law, ironically the exact same stance that Jones advocates regarding Syria. These documents prove none of Jones’ and FP’s accusations, and saying that they do is simply untrue.
In closing, I would like to offer a thought to the reader. The vast majority of the world has banned the use of chemical weapons, and has abided by that international norm. Only two people before Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have so blatantly disregarded the 1925 Geneva Convention ban on chemical weapons and subsequent international regulations: Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein. It may seem obvious, but many seem to have forgotten who held both of these sadistic murders accountable; in the case of Hitler, the United States, the U.S.S.R., and their allies; and in the case of Saddam Hussein, the United States and our allies … twice.
Accusing the U.S. of facilitating chemical weapons attacks against Iranian families, as Jones does in her article, is a despicable allegation based on shoddy research. Further claims in her article are equally erroneous, including her nonsensical description of sarin poisoning (compare the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Facts About Sarin” with the State Department video released yesterday morning to see that the symptoms indeed match) although the accusation addressed above constitutes the most offensive. The propagandistic qualities and misguided bias of this article obviously trump any research method that may have been haphazardly applied. Out of consideration for readers attempting to engage in a well-informed debate, Jones’ article should not have made it across the editor’s desk.

Adrian Bushman
B.A. History
Hyrum, Utah