Sins of Saddam
BY SETH GITELL
THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2002 — If ever there was a piece of journalism that should give pause to anyone arguing against the expansion of the war to Iraq, it is Jeffrey Goldberg’s chilling story in the latest issue of the New Yorker. Goldberg, who penetrated Iraqi Kurdistan via Syria, provides a damning account of Saddam Hussein’s current and past misdeeds in the region (for Goldberg’s account of how he got into the region, see http://www.newyorker.com/online/content/?020325on_onlineonly01). The article has already set off something of a policy debate in Washington (see, for example, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42471-2002Mar17.html).
Goldberg is a reporter’s reporter who eschews polemics and doesn’t seem to enjoy appearing on cable news programs all that much. I caught him last night on CNBC’s America Now with Lawrence Kudrow and James Cramer. While both hosts hyperventilated, Goldberg just gave them the facts. "It’s just reporting," Goldberg said. "It’s just reporting."
Goldberg’s story may be just reporting, but what a story he tells. The first section details the gruesome tale of Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on the Kurds in May 1988 — a story that has to go down as one of our era's most underreported acts of inhumanity. The second, and perhaps more relevant, section traces real contacts — through a militant Islamist group called Ansar al-Islam — between Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and the Iraqi secret service. Add the points together and you come up with a simple conclusion: Saddam Hussein has used unconventional weapons against his own people, is working on more dangerous weapons, and may be in league with the people who destroyed the World Trade Center.
Issue Date: March 21, 2002
Back to the News and Features table of contents.