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1992: The U.S. Lied About Saddam’s Soldiers Tossing Babies Out of Incubators to Die

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Deception on Capitol Hill        

           

 Published: January 15, 1992

It’s plainly wrong for a member of Congress to collaborate with a public relations firm to produce knowingly deceptive testimony on an important issue. Yet Representative Tom Lantos of California has been caught doing exactly that. His behavior warrants a searching inquiry by the House Ethics Committee.

Mr. Lantos is co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. An article last week on The Times’s Op-Ed page by John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s magazine, revealed the identity of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl who told the caucus that Iraqi soldiers had removed scores of babies from incubators and left them to die.

The girl, whose testimony helped build support for the Persian Gulf war, was identified only as “Nayirah,” supposedly to protect family members still in Kuwait. Another piece of information was also withheld: that she is not just some Kuwaiti but the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S.

Saddam Hussein committed plenty of atrocities, but not, apparently, this one. The teen-ager’s accusation, at first verified by Amnesty International, was later refuted by that group as well as by other independent human rights monitors. But the issue is not so much the accuracy of the testimony as the identity and undisclosed bias of the witness.

How did the girl’s testimony come about? It was arranged by the big public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton on behalf of a client, the Kuwaiti-sponsored Citizens for a Free Kuwait, which was then pressing Congress for military intervention. Mr. Lantos knew the girl’s identity but concealed it from the public and from the other caucus co-chairman, Representative John E. Porter of Illinois.

Mr. Lantos says that the fact that Nayirah is the Ambassador’s daughter did not alter her credibility. That doesn’t wash. Had her identity been known, her accusations surely would have faced greater skepticism and been questioned more closely. Mr. Porter isn’t angered that he was misled. But his complacency is far less troubling than Mr. Lantos’s lack of candor and lapse of judgment.

Until recently, for example, Mr. Lantos and Mr. Porter headed the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. It rents space in Hill & Knowlton’s Washington headquarters at a reduced rate. The same Citizens for a Free Kuwait that produced the mysterious Nayirah also gave $50,000 to the foundation sometime after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The foundation has financed caucus travel, including trips by Mr. Lantos and his wife.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/15/opinion/deception-on-capitol-hill.html

How the War Party Sold the 1991 Bombing of Iraq to US
by Mitchel Cohen
            December 30, 2002

“The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes.”

– President George Bush,  NBC Nightly News, Feb. 2, 1991

 

In October, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, identified only as Nayirah, appeared in Washington before the House of Representatives’ Human Rights Caucus. She testified that Iraqi soldiers who had invaded Kuwait on August 2nd tore hundreds of babies from hospital incubators and killed them.

Television flashed her testimony around the world. It electrified opposition to Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, who was now portrayed by U.S. president George Bush not only as “the Butcher of Baghdad” but – so much for old friends – “a tyrant worse than Hitler.”

 

Bush quoted Nayirah at every opportunity. Six times in one month he referred to “312 premature babies at Kuwait City’s maternity hospital who died after Iraqi soldiers stole their incubators and left the infants on the floor,”(1) and of “babies pulled from incubators and scattered like firewood across the floor.” Bush used Nayirah’s testimony to lambaste Senate Democrats still supporting “only” sanctions against Iraq – the blockade of trade which alone would cause hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to die of hunger and disease – but who waffled on endorsing the policy Bush wanted to implement: outright bombardment. Republicans and pro-war Democrats used Nayirah’s tale to hammer their fellow politicians into line behind Bush’s war in the Persian Gulf.(2)

 

Nayirah, though, was no impartial eyewitness, a fact carefully concealed by her handlers. She was the daughter of one Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States. A few key Congressional leaders and reporters knew who Nayirah was, but none of them thought of sharing that minor detail with Congress, let alone the American people.

 

Everything Nayirah said, as it turned out, was a lie. There were, in actuality, only a handful of incubators in all of Kuwait, certainly not the “hundreds” she claimed. According to Dr. Mohammed Matar, director of Kuwait’s primary care system, and his wife, Dr. Fayeza Youssef, who ran the obstetrics unit at the maternity hospital, there were few if any babies in the incubators at the time of the Iraqi invasion. Nayirah’s charges, they said, were totally false. “I think it was just something for propaganda,” Dr. Matar said. In an ABC-TV News account after the war, John Martin reported that although “patients, including premature babies, did die,” this occurred “when many of Kuwait’s nurses and doctors stopped working or fled the country” – a far cry from Bush’s original assertion that hundreds of babies were murdered by Iraqi troops.(3) Subsequent investigations, including one by Amnesty International, found no evidence for the incubator claims.

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/cohen1.html

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Written by voiceoftruthusa

January 28, 2014 at 3:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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