Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein

Donald Rumsfeld meets Saddam Hussein

One of the disclosed doucments is an U.S. cable recording the December 20, 1983 conversation between Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein.
Although Rumsfeld said during a September 21, 2002 CNN interview, "In that visit, I cautioned him about the use of chemical weapons, as a matter of fact, and discussed a host of other things," the document indicates there was no mention of chemical weapons.


(Click to go the National Security Archive)

Embracing Saddam Hussein

The National Security Archive at George Washington University in February 2003 published on the Web a series of declassified US documents detailing the US embrace of Saddam Hussein in the early 1980's, including the renewal of diplomatic relations that had been suspended since 1967.

The documents show that during this period of renewed US support for Saddam, he had invaded his Iran, had long-range nuclear aspirations that would "probably" include "an eventual nuclear weapon capability," harbored known terrorists in Baghdad, abused the human rights of his citizens, and possessed and used chemical weapons on Iranians and on the Kurds in his own country.

The US response was to renew ties, to provide intelligence and aid to ensure Iraq would not be defeated by Iran, and to send a high-level presidential envoy named Donald Rumsfeld to shake hands with Saddam (20 December 1983).

The declassified documents include the briefing materials and diplomatic reporting on two Rumsfeld trips to Baghdad, and decision directives signed by President Reagan that reveal the specific US priorities for the region: preserving access to oil, expanding US ability to project military power in the region, and protecting local allies from internal and external threats.