Frontline World

IRAQ - Truth and Lies in Baghdad, November, 2002

Synopsis of "Truth and Lies in Baghdad"

Undercover in Iraq

Saddam's Family Tree and Son Uday

Are They Helping or Hurting?

Reporting from a Closed State

Coverage of Saddam's Regime

Country Profile of Iraq

Human Rights, Politics, Weapons



Links and Resources
Press Freedom in Iraq
The Debate Over Sanctions
Human Rights Conditions
The Iraqi Leader
U.S. Policy on Iraq
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction
Media Resources
Related FRONTLINE Reports on the Web

Press Freedom in Iraq

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
The Iraqi regime, reports the CPJ in its 2001 survey, maintains a "stranglehold" on all of Iraq's media outlets. "Insulting the president or other government authorities is punishable by death. Hagiographic coverage of the country's political leaders and vilifications of their enemies fill the press." The CPJ bases its report on its own independent research and through contacts with foreign correspondents in the field. (Note: Read CPJ's entire 2001 report on press freedom worldwide.)

Reporters Without Borders
"For the past 20 years Saddam Hussein has controlled the media with an iron fist and has given them the single mission of relaying his propaganda," concludes Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group based in France. The group also publishes this index of press freedom, in which Iraq ranks 130th out of 139 countries.

Freedom House
In its 2002 annual survey of press freedom in 187 countries, Freedom House, a New York-based independent human rights monitor, rated Iraq dead last, tied with Burma, Cuba and North Korea. The group notes, however, that "[s]ome criticism of low-level officials and investigations into official corruption are occasionally tolerated provided President Saddam Hussein or major policy issues are not involved." Freedom House's report is based on data from foreign correspondents, human rights organizations, regional experts, U.S. and foreign government reports, and worldwide news sources.

"Iraq Offers West's Reporters a Kinder, Gentler Face"
Read New York Times correspondent John F. Burns's account of the Iraqi government's unpredictable relationship with the Western media. (Registration required.)

"The Dissident"
With his scorching expose of Saddam Hussein's brutality, Kanan Makiya establishes himself as Iraq's leading exile. Now he's talking with powerbrokers in the Bush administration. But can he push democracy to the top of their agenda?

"Air War: How Saddam Manipulates the U.S. Media"
Franklin Foer, an associate editor at The New Republic, writes about the ins and outs of reporting on Iraq and the pitfalls of reading the international media's coverage of events. "The Iraqis have become masters of the Orwellian pantomime -- the state-orchestrated anti-American rally, the state-led tours of alleged chemical weapons sites that turn out to be baby milk factories -- that promotes their distorted reality. And the Iraqi regime has found an audience for these displays in an unlikely place: the U.S. media."

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Human Rights Conditions

Amnesty International
In its 2002 roundup of human rights abuses in Iraq, Amnesty International says that "scores of people were arrested for their suspected antigovernment activities or simply because of their family relationship to people sought by the authorities. Many were held in incommunicado detention without charge or trial." For Amnesty International's complete Iraq coverage, see its library of articles and reports.

Human Rights Watch
A compilation of reports on Iraq, including the HRW's own assessments of the country's human rights conditions. In its 2001 overview of Iraq, the HRW concludes that "the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein perpetrated widespread and gross human rights violations."

Iraq: An Intolerable, Forgotten and Unpunished Repression (pdf file)
The International Federation of Human Rights, along with the Human Rights Alliance in France and the Coalition for Justice in Iraq, interviewed Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers in Jordan and Syria.

UNICEF: Overview of the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq
UNICEF reports on the living conditions in Iraq, especially as they affect women and children. The report states that nutrition surveys carried out by UNICEF over the last four years show that since the introduction of the Oil for Food program in 1996, "the nutritional status of children has stabilized, but has not improved significantly."

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The Iraqi Leader

"Tales of the Tyrant"
Mark Bowden's May 2002 cover story in The Atlantic Monthly draws from the extensive literature about Saddam as well as from Bowden's numerous interviews with Iraqi expatriates who worked close to Saddam. The result is a richly detailed, in-depth portrait of Saddam and what has shaped him. Bowden says that the Iraqi leader's "cruelty has created great waves of hatred and fear, and it has also isolated him. He is out of step. His speeches today play like a broken record. They no longer resonate even in the Arab world, where he is despised by secular liberals and Muslim conservatives alike."

"Principality of Stones"
This excerpt from Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge, by Said K. Aburish, chronicles how after the Gulf War ended, in order to thwart coup attempts, Saddam methodically and brutally set about imposing greater control over the military and the security apparatus as well as increasing his personal protection system.

Saddam's Open Letters to the United States
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Saddam Hussein has written three open letters addressed to "Western nations and their governments." In the first letter, released on Sept. 15, 2001, he wrote, "We say to the American peoples, what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, should be compared to what their government and their armies are doing in the world." In his second letter, released on Sept. 18, 2001, Saddam accused the United States of having made an "assumption tantamount to conclusive verdict, namely, that Islam, with Arabs in the lead of Moslems, are enemies of the U.S." In the third letter, released on Oct. 29, 2001, he criticized U.S. military actions in Afghanistan: "The world now needs to abort the U.S. aggressive schemes, including its aggression on the Afghan people, which must stop."

"Explaining Saddam"
This psychological profile of Saddam Hussein evaluating his personality and political behavior was prepared by Jerrold M. Post, a professor of psychiatry, political psychology and international affairs. Post presented this analysis to the House Armed Services Committee in December 1990, on the brink of the U.S. war with Iraq.

Plan of Action: A Top Secret Internal Memo
To understand how Saddam has remained firmly entrenched as Iraq's leader for 20 years despite wars, sanctions, and coup and assassination attempts, read this government memo issued in 1992. It details ways for Saddam's security apparatus to tighten control of the population and crush opposition. Offering a clear view into Saddam's Orwellian police state, it also shows the many ways his regime parallels the Soviet police state of Joseph Stalin, the leader Saddam most admires.

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U.S. Policy on Iraq

War With Iraq: U.S. Options
This is an interactive overview of the United States' military and political options regarding the conflict in Iraq.

U.S. State Department: "Saddam Hussein's Iraq"
In summarizing the U.S. policy toward Iraq, the State Department says that the "United States wants to see Iraq return as a respected and prosperous member of the international community. As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, however, we don't believe that that's going to happen." This report, which was last updated in March 2000, includes the U.S. assessment of the sanctions and an overview of Iraq's perceived threat to the region.

Speaking of Iraq
In January 1998, the Project for the New American Century, chaired by William Kristol, sent a letter to President Clinton that argued that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power "needs to become the aim of American foreign policy." The letter, sent to Clinton just before he was to give his annual State of the Union address, was signed by many current Bush administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton. Richard Perle and R. James Woolsey also signed the letter.

U.S.-Supported Iraqi Opposition
Many of those who are pushing the United States to include Iraq in the war against terrorism argue that the it should support the attempts of Iraqi opposition groups to topple Saddam Hussein. However, this April 2001 article from Foreign Policy in Focus calls the Iraqi opposition "feckless" and urges the United States to "halt its efforts to arm the opposition and foment a coup in Iraq" and instead "work with the United Nations to enforce international treaties and resolutions."

"Confronting Iraq: U.S. Policy and Use of Force Since the Gulf War"
This RAND analysis of U.S.-Iraq confrontation since the Gulf War reveals that although post-Gulf War U.S. policy toward Iraq is widely viewed as a failure, a closer study shows success when U.S. actions threatened Saddam's relationship with his power base. The authors argue that in dealing with Iraq, policy makers must understand which changes they cannot affect through coercive tactics, as well as how to integrate coercive actions into a long-term strategy.

"Our Interests in the Gulf"
This flashback from The Atlantic Monthly contains two opposing essays on whether fighting Iraq in the Gulf War was in the U.S. national interest. Christopher Layne argues that "since the end of the Second World War, most recently in the Gulf, the United States has chosen to exaggerate minor threats to its security ... and to equate its safety with the maintenance of world order." However, Joseph Nye counters this argument by writing that "in a world of interdependence, Americans cannot afford to define the national interest in domestic or international terms alone."

"America's Iraq Policy: How Did It Come to This?"
Read journalist Robin Wright's analysis of the history of flawed assumptions, lost opportunities, ineptitude and mistakes that have characterized U.S. strategy in dealing with Saddam Hussein since the end of the Gulf War.

"U.S. Policy Toward Iraq"
Dr. John Hillen, a Senior Fellow in political-military studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, assesses the policy options that could guide America's long-term Iraq policy. He evaluates what must be confronted should Saddam Hussein ever acquire nuclear weapons. He also looks at the arguments and challenges for invading Iraq and getting rid of Hussein.

NPR: Iraq After Saddam Hussein
Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan discusses the future of the Iraqi republic with NPR correspondent Kate Seelye; Phebe Marr, specialist on Iraq and former professor at the National Defense University; and Kanan Makiya, professor of Middle East studies at Brandeis University and author of several books, including Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. Conan and his guests talk about the forces that unify and divide the country and about the politics of regime change.

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Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction

CIA: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs
The CIA reports its latest assessment of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities. "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade," the report states.

Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs: A Comparison of Assessments
This is an October 2002 comparison of the CIA's report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction with similar reports from the U.K., the Institute for International Strategic Studies and the Carnegie Endowment.

"Inside Saddam's Secret Nuclear Program"
A former scientific adviser to the chairman of Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission wrote this lengthy article, which appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. "The problem with trying to learn the truth about the Iraqi nuclear weapons program is the complete secrecy and the security measures that surround it," writes Khidhir Hamza. "The movements of insiders, including members of their families, are restricted, and breaking the rules can be a death sentence."

IAEA and Iraq
Complete coverage of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its standoff with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction
This is a summary of what international weapons inspections during the 1990s revealed about Iraq's biochemical and nuclear weapons capability. In 1998, Iraq blocked the weapons inspection agencies, UNSCOM and IAEA, from conducting any more of the U.N.-mandated inspections.

Lessons From the U.N. Experience in Iraq (pdf file)
Jonathan B. Tucker, director for chemical/biological weapons proliferation issues at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, offers a thorough, easy-to-follow analysis of the U.N. experience in Iraq: how the U.N. teams were set up and how they worked; the effectiveness of different kinds of inspections; and a good overview of Iraq's cat-and-mouse game and how it was largely overcome by the U.N. inspectors.

Concealment Techniques
The August 1995 defection of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein al-Kamel enabled UNSCOM and the IAEA to discover Iraq's concealment activities at Al Atheer, a plant dedicated to the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons. This report is from the collection of material on Iraq at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

"Masters of Deception"
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, details how the Iraqis have stalled and stonewalled to keep secret their nuclear weapons program and how the 1995 defection of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law revealed the true extent of Iraq's efforts to mislead U.N. inspectors.

Iraq's Nuclear Infrastructure (pdf file)
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers a detailed rundown of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, showing the areas of nuclear bomb and delivery systems that were close to completion before the Gulf War.

Iraqi Special Weapons Facilities
The Federation of American Scientists offers maps and a detailed list of known Iraqi special-weapon facilities, showing exactly what they produce and house and what other military purposes they provide or provided.

The West's Contributions to the Arsenal
This document, from the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies, tracks how Western countries provided Iraq with material for chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Media Resources

BBC: Conflict With Iraq
The BBC's full coverage of the U.S.-Iraq confrontation includes links to the BBC's most recent articles as well as profiles of the key leaders and snapshot analyses such as "Who Backs War?" and "Iraq's Weapons."

The Guardian: Special Report on Iraq
The Guardian has a compilation of news articles and other features about the current conflict with Iraq, including a pictorial chronology of Iraq since the Gulf War, links to related Web sites, and a picture gallery of Saddam's inner circle.

The Washington Post: The Faces of Iraq
The Washington Post offers an overview of Iraq -- its religion and regions -- and a photo gallery of the people of Baghdad.

New York Times: Standoff With Iraq
Find the latest stories from the Times, along with a special interactive feature showing the many faces of Saddam and links to related documents such as the "Bush doctrine" on pre-emption.

AP: Confrontation With Iraq
This is an interactive guide to Iraq, its leader and the country's inclusion in President George W. Bush's "axis of evil."

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