Allen Robert Allsworth

CJRColumbia Journalism Review March/April 1993 | Contents

The Big One That (Almost) Got Away

by Russ W. Baker
Baker is a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Research assistance was provided by Daniel Eisenberg.

ABC News Nightline opened last June 9 with words to make the heart stop. "It is becoming increasingly clear," said a grave Ted Koppel, "that George Bush, operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."

Is this accurate? Just about every reporter following the story thinks so. Most say that the so-called Iraqgate scandal is far more significant then either Watergate or Iran-contra.

Meanwhile, The Village Voice published a major investigation by free-lancer Murray Waas in its December 18, 1990, issue. Under the headline GULFGATE: HOW THE U.S. SECRETLY ARMED IRAQ, Waas pulled together a massive amount of information proving that George Bush was an advocate of a pro-Iraq tilt.

In another unusual and productive partnership, Douglas Frantz teamed up with Murray Waas. The Times published a three-part series on February 23, 1992. "Classified documents show . . . a long-secret pattern of personal efforts by Bush --- to support and placate the Iraqi dictator,"