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Baby Killing Lies and the 1991 Gulf War
How war profiteers orchestrated a singly monstrous lie against Saddam Hussein order to brainwash Americans into supporting the 1991 Gulf war.
With billions of bucks at their disposal the Kuwaiti government, with the help of a NY PR firm, phony witnesses, the mainstream media, war mongering politicians, the U.S.-Israeli propaganda machine and other various war profiteers, were able to completely deceived the American people. To date, no one has ever been charged for this terrible crime. The sad facts follow:
INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT AND THE MEDIA
by Andrew F. Smith
This guide was partially funded by the United States Institute for Peace and the Longview Foundation.
The Incubator Baby Incident
READING 18A: Incubator Baby Incident
The London Daily Telegraph, on September 5, 1990, reported the claim by the exiled Kuwaiti housing minister, Yahya al-Sumait, that "babies in the premature unit of one hospital had been removed from their incubators so that these, too, could be carried off." The story was repeated on Reuters, an electronic press service. Two days later the Los Angeles Times published the Reuters story about the atrocity accounts of a San Francisco woman identified as "Cindy" and her traveling companion "Rudy" who had been evacuated from occupied Kuwait. "Iraqis are . . . taking hospital equipment, babies out of incubators. Life-support systems are turned off."
READING18B: Nayirah's Testimony
On October 10, 1990, the congressional Human Rights Caucus provided an opportunity for Amnesty International to present their evidence against Iraq on Capitol Hill. The Caucus is not a committee of Congress and therefore does not require that a witness take an oath. An anonymous fifteen year old "Nayirah" allegedly a Kuwaiti with first hand knowledge of the crimes witnessed by "Cindy" from San Francisco. Nayirah reportedly could not give her last name because of fear of reprisals against her family. She testified tearfully:
"I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital. While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where 15 babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die. It was horrifying."
All major television networks, CNN and many local television stations replayed this testimony. Many newspapers reported on the hearing, and offer Nayirah's testimony.
READING 18C: President Bush
President Bush watched the hearings of the congressional Human Rights Caucus. In these hearings "Nayirah" reported on the Iraqis taking baby incubators in Kuwait. He was delighted with them. On October 15, 1990, President Bush reported that he had met with the Emir of Kuwait, who had told the President horrible tales about "newborn babies thrown out of incubators and the incubators then being shipped to Baghdad." He referred to the story five more times during the next five weeks, once in an interview with David Frost
READING 18D: The U.N. Security Council
On November 27, 1990, the U. N. Security Council heard "Dr. Issah Ibrahim," who explained that after the Iraqis took over "the hardest thing was burying the babies. Under my supervision, 120 newborn babies were buried the second week of the invasion. I myself buried 40 newborn babies that had been taken from their incubators by soldiers." An unidentified Kuwaiti refugee supported the testimony. The next day newspapers all over America reported on the testimony of this witness.
READING 18E: Middle East Watch's Report
Middle East Watch, a New York based human rights group, also pursued these reports. They cited a Dr. Ahmed al-Shatti who related the stories of Iraqi torture at a press conference in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on October 14, 1990. The doctor was unable to document his claims, but other physicians gave similar reports. A Kuwaiti physician, Dr. Ali al-Hawil, said that between 60 to 70 babies had died in the Kuwait City maternity hospital after soldiers dismantled the premature-babies unit. He claimed that he and his colleagues buried 50 babies on August 20.
READING 18F: Amnesty International's Report
On December 19, 1990, Amnesty International published an 84-page report on the Human Rights violations in occupied Kuwait. The report stated, "In addition, over 300 premature babies were reported to have died after Iraqi soldiers removed them from incubators, which were then looted." The report cited three supports for this allegation. First, it reported that an unnamed Red Crescent doctor as saying that 312 premature babies at Maternity Hospital in al Sabah Medical Complex died after being taken from incubators and that he personally had buried 72. Second, the report also quoted the previous statement made before the Human Right Caucus offered by the anonymous fifteen year old "Nayirah." Third, the report mentioned a woman who had quadruplets at al Razi Hospital, who had gone home and then returned to find them out of their incubators. They died a day later at home. On January 8, 1991, U.S. executive director of Amnesty International reported the story in testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
READING 18G: Additional Support
On January 8, 1991, Stephen Solaraz, a leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, quoted verbatim the Amnesty International Report on this story. On the following day President Bush cited the Amnesty International Report in a letter sent to campus newspapers all over the country. In the Senate, six senators specifically cited the baby incubator story in their speeches supporting the resolution to give President Bush power to use American forces in Kuwait. On February 15, Vice President Dan Quayle declared in a speech that, "There are pictures Saddam doesn't want us to see. Pictures of premature babies in Kuwait that were tossed out of their incubators and left to die."
Third World Traveler Suffer the Little Children:
PR and Lies in Kuwait
exerpted from the book
Toxic Sludge Is Good For You:
Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
"The Torturers' Lobby"
by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to as "the hook." An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response and sticks in the memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the "hook" was invented by Hill & Knowlton. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an uncanny resemblance to England's World War I hearings that accused German soldiers of killing babies.
On October 10, 1990, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a hearing on Capitol Hill which provided the first opportunity for formal presentations of Iraqi human rights violations. Outwardly, the hearing resembled an official congressional proceeding, but appearances were deceiving. In reality, the Human Rights Caucus. chaired by California Democrat Tom Lantos and Illinois Republican John Porter, was simply an association of politicians. Lantos and Porter were also co-chairs of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation, a legally separate entity that occupied free office space valued at $3,000 a year in Hill & Knowlton's Washington, DC office Notwithstanding its congressional trappings, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus served as another Hill & Knowlton front group which-like all front groups-used a noble-sounding name to disguise its true purpose.
Only a few astute observers noticed the hypocrisy in Hill & Knowlton's use of the term "human rights." One of those observers was John MacArthur, author of The Second Front, which remains the best book written about the manipulation of the news media during the Gulf War. In the fall of 1990, MacArthur reported, Hill & Knowlton's Washington switchboard was simultaneously fielding calls for the Human Rights Foundation and for "government representatives of Indonesia, another H&K client. Like H&K client Turkey, Indonesia is a practitioner of naked aggression, having seized . . . the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975. Since the annexation of East Timor, the Indonesian government has killed, by conservative estimate, about 100,000 inhabitants of the region.''
MacArthur also noticed another telling detail about the October 1990 hearings: "The Human Rights Caucus is not a committee of congress, and therefore it is unencumbered by the legal accouterments that would make a witness hesitate before he or she lied . . Lying under oath in front of a congressional committee is a crime; Iying from under the cover of anonymity to a caucus is merely public relations."
In fact, the most emotionally moving testimony on October 10 came from a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah. According to the Caucus, Nayirah's full name was being kept confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, she described what she had seen with her own eyes in a hospital in Kuwait City. Her written testimony was passed out in a media kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait. "I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital," Nayirah said. "While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die."
Three months passed between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. "Of all the accusations made against the dictator," MacArthur observed, none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City."
At the Human Rights Caucus, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos had failed to reveal that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. Her father, in fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait's Ambassador to the US, who sat listening in the hearing room during her testimony. The Caucus also failed to reveal that H&K vice president Lauri Fitz-Pegado had coached Nayirah in what even the Kuwaitis' own investigators later confirmed was false testimony.
If Nayirah's outrageous lie had been exposed at the time it was told, it might have at least caused some in Congress and the news media to soberly reevaluate the extent to which they were being skillfully manipulated to support military action. Public opinion was deeply divided on Bush's Gulf policy. As late as December 1990, a New York Times/CBS News poll indicated that 48 percent of the American people wanted Bush to wait before taking any action if Iraq failed to withdraw from Kuwait by Bush's January 15 deadline. On January 12, the US Senate voted by a narrow, five-vote margin to support the Bush administration in a declaration of war. Given the narrowness of the vote, the babies-thrown-from-incubators story may have turned the tide in Bush's favor.
Following the war, human rights investigators attempted to confirm Nayirah's story and could find no witnesses or other evidence to support it. Amnesty International, which had fallen for the story, was forced to issue an embarrassing retraction. Nayirah herself was unavailable for comment. "This is the first allegation I've had that she was the ambassador's daughter," said Human Rights Caucus co-chair John Porter. "Yes, I think people . . . were entitled to know the source of her testimony." When journalists for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked Nasir al-Sabah for permission to question Nayirah about her story, the ambassador angrily refused.
Toxic Sludge Is Good For You:
Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
Note by Rene: When the lie first surfaced a majority in Congess did not favor war. It started on January 17, 1991.