Shaping Saddam: How the Media Mythologized A Monster — Honorable Mention

This essay first appeared in the Acheson Prize 2018 Issue of the Yale Review of International Studies.


Saddam Hussein was not involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This was known in the chaotic aftermath of 9/11, when mis- and disinformation ran rampant. Most of the hijackers who had attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, after all, were Saudi Arabian nationals affiliated with Al-Qaeda, itself a long standing enemy of a secular dictator like Hussein. And yet a September 2003 Washington Post poll found that 69 percent of Americans believed it likely that “Saddam was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.”[1] By 2007, a Princeton Survey Research showed that the number of people carrying this erroneous impression had decreased, but only to 41 percent.[2] The passage of four years didn’t help much: in 2011, 38 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein had worked closely with Al-Qaeda in some capacity.[3] That a significant, non-diminishing minority of Americans continues to believe in such a thoroughly debunked myth demands explanation. Even if we adopt the pessimistic view of American citizens as foreign-policy ignoramuses, that does not full explain this predilection to link a secular dictator like Hussein with Islamist fundamentalists like Al-Qaeda—two political forces that are not just incompatible, but outright hostile to one another.

In the years after 9/11, when U.S. suspicion of Hussein was at its peak, many public opinion experts suggested that Hussein was an easy target due to his brutal authoritarianism. Political scientist John Mueller claimed that “it’s very easy to picture Saddam as a demon.”[4]  Public opinion researcher Karlyn H. Bowman concurred: “[Americans have] known that Saddam was a thug for a long time and that may contribute to a belief that he was somehow involved, given other things he’s done.”[5]

Whether or not these assessments are accurate is less important than the image of Saddam Hussein that they presume, and that they presume the American public presumes. Why, exactly, should it have been easy for an American “to picture Saddam as a demon?” Because he was a dictator who slaughtered thousands of people? Most Middle-Eastern autocrats would just as easily fit that bill, and yet they didn’t enjoy the widespread infamy that Hussein enjoyed then and still does today. That the American public could so reflexively tar Hussein with a crime that he (for once) didn’t commit raises fundamental questions about not just how his public image developed in the American political and cultural consciousness, but how American perceptions of foreign personalities more generally are formulated and entrenched.

Modern societal perceptions of particular individuals are rarely arrived at “organically” or “naturally;” instead, they are highly mediated images that arise from a confluence of random and intentional factors. Saddam Hussein did not noticeably increase in power between his time as US ally in the Iran-Iraq War and his 2003 capture by U.S. forces. Hussein’s rising prominence in the American imagination, therefore, did not correspond to the state of his material power or influence. Understanding how Hussein, a nobody as far as the 1980s American public was concerned, could in the span of two decade attain a mythical status as a monster so uniquely bloodthirsty that 9/11 just seemed like “something he would do” is critical—not just because this image played an essential role in twice justifying war, but because of the insight it gives us into how Americans develop enduring perceptions of foreign figures.

In this paper, I argue that Hussein’s meteoric rise in the American consciousness from generic Middle-Eastern dictator to omnipotent threat was enabled and fueled by the intersection of three critical factors: the idiosyncratic biases (and failures) of the American press, government propaganda, and the intoxicating specter of war. The U.S. media’s tendency, born out of particular institutional practices, to uncritically accept and even cheerlead government claims in wartime helped produce the popular perception of Saddam Hussein as a mad, insane, terroristic demon. I will first outline the various in-built weaknesses of American journalism as it has been practiced since its professionalization in the mid-twentieth century. I will then demonstrate the ways in which war allows the government to exploit these weaknesses in the service of agenda-driven public relations. Finally, I will outline how these broad dynamics applied to the creation of Saddam Hussein in the American mind. Three critical war or war-like “events” provide useful touchstones upon which to trace the malleable formation of Saddam’s image: the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 to 1988, the Gulf War of 1991, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Then, I conclude by pondering the implications of the processes discussed in the essay.

The Real Biases of American Journalism

Critics of the American press, especially those on the political right, often accuse it of partisanship. Such charges have only intensified in the Trump era of “fake news.”[6] However, I contend that the debate over partisan bias in CNN or Fox News ultimately acts as a smokescreen for the deeper failings of the U.S. media. The press, or parts of it, may indeed lean “conservative” or “liberal.” But such biases, if they do exist, are less important than the institutional biases, borne out of traditional journalistic practices, which encompass the U.S. media as a whole.

The first of these is the most invisible. Journalists often fail to acknowledge the lens through which they perceive and interpret reality. The existence of overarching themes that define political press coverage, what the Pew Research Center deems “metanarratives,” is made possible by the enduring tradition of pack journalism. Timothy Crouse describes this phenomenon—where campaign journalists spoke with the same people, wrote the same things, and so arrived at the same conclusions—in his classic book on the 1972 presidential campaign, The Boys on the Bus. Newspaper editors would primarily focus on matching their coverage to their competitors; or, as one of Crouse’s interviewees succinctly put it, “making sure that nobody else has got anything they don’t have, not getting something that nobody else has.”[7] This phenomenon survives even today in the form of social media platforms like Twitter, where Washington insiders and journalists tweet and re-tweet each other’s content, rapidly formulate an interpretive lens through which to understand major new developments.[8] The resulting echo chamber, one populated by the elite pundits and reporters that convey political information to the rest of the country, builds consensus rather than dialogue.

This “groupthink” is how metanarratives form.[9] A metanarrative tends to be simple but totalizing, coloring news coverage so that every new piece of information is interpreted against its backdrop. This is why crude characterizations of presidential candidates (ex. “Biden is a plagiarizer” and “Clinton is untrustworthy”) are difficult to dispel once they have been established. Reporters interpret news involving any given subject through the lens of the agreed-upon metanarrative, even if such interpretations result in factual distortions or blatant double standards. For example, the press framed Obama’s position change on same-sex marriage ahead of the 2012 election as an “evolution,” whereas Romney’s changes in position were seen as “flip-flops,” which fit more neatly into the dominant character narrative of Romney as an inauthentic politician.[10]

Reporters usually formulate political metanarratives via access to political figures. Political reporters, in particular, value access to government officials because they provide them with “inside information;” as such, most journalists are wary of endangering their relationship with office-holding elites. Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys with George, a home video documentary of her time covering Bush as an embed in the 2000 campaign, is instructive as to the superficial reporting such a dynamic of dependency facilitates. Pelosi’s movie features disarming footage of Bush flirting with her and accommodating wild parties on the campaign plane, actions that notably endeared him to the press corps.[11] Once Pelosi lobs a tough question at Bush regarding the executions he oversaw as governor of Texas, however, he punishes her with a cold shoulder that highlights the contradiction of their access-based relationship: Pelosi can only maintain intimacy with Bush by restricting their interactions to shallow pleasantries rather than the penetrating questions which would yield real political insight.

Aside from encouraging softball reporting, this overvaluation of Beltway sources almost inevitably leads to an overreliance on government officials for information, in effect ensuring that any narrative peddled by said officials eventually makes its way to the American public but with the imprimatur of legitimacy provided by the press.[12] The mechanism of pack journalism then ensures that government claims are broadcast on a massive scale, effectively framing subsequent discussion of the subject. Thereafter, any opinions voiced on politically sensitive topics must be formulated in reference to, whether for or against, the “official” government narrative.  Thus political  pundits, columnists, editorialists, and all the other opinion-makers necessarily situate their commentary within the frame provided by the government.

This problematic system is exacerbated by “he said, she said” journalism. Also known as “false balance,” this is the practice by which reporters attempt to attain the coveted journalistic ideal of “objectivity.” Whenever dispute on a matter exists, a reporter will quote people on both sides but offer the reader no guidance as to who is the more truthful. This shields the reporter from accusations of bias.[13] Unfortunately, while this journalistic tactic may be “objective,” it is not fair: the words of a liar are granted the same validity as the words of a truth-teller, thus obfuscating the debate and confusing readers rather than enlightening them—after all, how is the reader, in the absence of contextual information, supposed to determine who is telling the truth? “He said she said” journalism tends to facilitate two separate, equally undesirable outcomes: where controversy exists, it lets both sides off the hook while clarifying nothing; where controversy doesn’t, it celebrates consensus rather than challenge it.[14]

Reporters are most vulnerable to these in-built institutional weaknesses—pack journalism, Beltway sourcing, and false balance—during times of war. War cultivates a national environment of borderline patriotic hysteria antagonistic to skeptical reporting. The Vietnam War, for example, vividly demonstrates how wartime distorts productive reportage. Journalists, afraid to damage the country’s war effort via critical coverage, were even less willing to challenge government officials than usual; as such, media coverage during the first few years of the war was almost determinedly uncritical of the U.S. war effort.[15] Major newspapers like the New York Times even published editorials praising the war against “Communist aggression.”[16] The “official” war narrative espoused by the Johnson administration was thus unquestioningly accepted as fact. The press collapsed the distance between the government’s version of events and its own, cultivating a metanarrative indistinguishable from the one touted by Washington. The few journalists who wrote potentially subversive articles critical of government claims, such as David Halberstam, had their coverage actively undermined by their editors.[17] Reporters self-censored themselves, described the slaughter of civilians as “collateral damage.”[18] Media coverage, as it tends to be in wartime, essentially became state propaganda.

Such jingoistic metamorphosis is readily observable even today. When President Donald Trump launched two missiles at Syria in April 2017, the media establishment rushed to praise his actions, even the reporters who had spent months denouncing him as a threat to American democracy. Brian Williams, an anchor for the notoriously liberal MSNBC, marveled at the “beauty” of the missile footage, while Fareed Zakaria, on CNN, opinionated that “Donald Trump became President of the United States” when he launched the missiles.[19] Not even war, but just the mere taste of war, induced print and broadcast journalists alike to fall in line behind an administration that many of them had hitherto despised.

The U.S. government and military have developed their own efficient PR machines, selling war as necessary. American commander General David Patreus once described Afghanistan as a “war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media,” and this holds true for other wars as well. Indeed, since the Vietnam War, the U.S. military has instituted a “censorship regime” that includes “pooling arrangements, the denial of access to the front to journalists, [and] the intimidation of reporters.”[20] Meanwhile, the government dishes out the necessary rhetoric to justify any and all international conflict.

By placing in historical context the deferential dynamic between the press and government, and citing instances of its occurrence outside of situations involving either Iraq or Saddam Hussein, I hope to demonstrate that these are enduring problems inherent to the field of journalism and the practice of government as they transpire in the U.S. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, these longstanding institutional dynamics (and deficiencies) combined to create the mythical beast that is Saddam Hussein as he currently lives in the American imagination. His image was forged on the anvil of war, at the moments when the U.S. media was at its most pliable and thus most willing to bring government propaganda into the homes of millions of Americans. Hussein himself, being an awful dictator in his own right, simply helped the process move along.

The bombing of Halabja: Saving Saddam

When the Iran-Iraq War began in 1980, Saddam Hussein was nobody. When it ended in 1988, he was still nobody. In between those years he killed about 260,000 Iranians and at least 13,000 of his own citizens, but as far as the American press was concerned, he was nobody. Indeed, Saddam Hussein was such a non-factor in U.S. coverage that as late as July 1990, a Canadian military analyst could note that Hussein “was not a problem that kept anybody awake.”[21] This is not to suggest that the media did not report on Hussein; rather, it was that the press, in its coverage of him throughout the 1980s, portrayed him as just another Middle-Eastern dictator—a far cry from the Hitler-like figure he would eventually become. That Hussein committed the worst atrocities he ever would in the 1980s, when his U.S. media coverage was at its most muted, foreshadowed the contrived agenda-driven formulation of his public image in the U.S.

Indeed, the media’s cooperation with the government in its coverage of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s very effectively set the stage for their institutional collusion in the 1991 Gulf War. The press’s most significant failure when reporting on Iraq during this era was the negligible coverage it afforded the Halabja massacre. In March 1988, Saddam Hussein launched a chemical attack on the remote Kurdistani village that killed more than 4,000 civilians. News of this brutal genocide did reach the shore of the U.S. media, and it did ignite outrage. However, while the bombing of Halabja received extensive coverage, it was not necessarily good coverage. This is because a straightforward story—Iraq used chemical weapons to kill thousands of Kurds—was quickly complicated and obfuscated by the Reagan administration.  State Department spokesman Charles Redman immediately relativized the conflict, condemning Iraq for violating the Geneva Convention even as he suggested that there existed “indications that Iran may also have used chemical artillery shells in this fighting.”[22] In other words: both are equally bad, so don’t blame Iraq. The government never substantiated this claim with evidence, but at the time that hardly mattered. Reporters, quoting anonymous government officials, spread the Reagan administration’s groundless claims. Here we see, in early form, the institutional failure so critical to the press’s eventual parroting of government propaganda during the Gulf War: overreliance on, and overconfidence in, the federal administration. This was paired with a devastating resort to “he said, she said” journalism—reporters noted the charges of chemical warfare that Iran and Iraq lobbed at one another but made no effort to determine the merit of either side’s accusations.[23] Halabja thus receded into the waters of forgotten memory nearly as quickly as it had arrived on American shores. As the Iran-Iraq war dragged on, reporters moved on.

That the Reagan administration’s misleading comments effectively helped to kill the Halabja story, reducing a humans right catastrophe to a casual collateral of war, was neither accidental nor well-intentioned; it was deliberately malicious. U.S. intelligence agencies like the CIA knew Iraq was employing chemical weapons against Iran as early as 1983, and in 1987 the U.S. government began providing the Iraqi regime with detailed intelligence on the Iranian combat units.[24] Since the Reagan administration knew about Hussein’s use of chemical weaponry, feeding him such detailed intelligence rendered it complicit in his inhumane and illegal gassing. U.S. intelligence directly led to the bombing of Halabja, leaving the blood of its victims (though they didn’t bleed) as splattered on the U.S. government as it was on Hussein. However, despite its partial responsibility Hussein’s genocide, the U.S. government, under subsequent administrations, would point to Halabja as a key indicator of Hussein’s uniquely sadistic evil.[25]

Making the Monster: The Invasion of Kuwait

The Saddam Hussein that is remembered today—the ruthless sadist, the brutal dictator, the unhinged madman, the terrorist sponsor—was created in the lead-up to and during the Gulf War of 1991, through a combination of self-induced demonization, government propaganda, and a pliant and sensationalistic media. The 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union had left the U.S. without a rival superpower upon which to focus its militaristic energies.[26] Hussein’s needless aggressions in the build-up to his invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 thus came at the perfect time, intersecting with then-President Bush’s apparent enthusiasm for war. The resulting patriotically charged political environment encouraged the media to propagate a government-produced narrative as groundless as it was spectacular.

To be clear, Saddam Hussein himself played a critical role in setting the foundation upon which the U.S. government and media would build a monument to his horror. After emerging from the disastrous Iran-Iraq War in 1988 with an international image that was, if not exactly rosy, at least not cataclysmic, Hussein undertook a series of ill-advised actions that focused hostile international attention on him where none had existed before. In the West, Hussein found himself abruptly promoted from distasteful but generic Third World strongman to the new post-Soviet threat.

In 1989, the Iraqi secret police detained Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft at the Baghdad airport, where he was awaiting his flight back to London following the completion of a reporting assignment. Six months later, the Iranian-born British journalist was put on trial in Baghdad and found “guilty” of being an Israeli spy. Hussein ordered him executed. This brazen murder of a British journalist provoked international outrage.[27] The Western media, including that of the U.S., responded with virulently anti-Hussein coverage,[28] the tenor of which is revealed in column headlines like “Butchery in Baghdad.”[29] Hussein exacerbated this negative media attention by taking American and British hostages in August 1990 and then staging a videotaped meeting with them to improve his image.[30] This backfired, to say the least: an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 86 percent of Americans who had seen media coverage of the meeting believed it “hurt” Hussein’s image.[31]

Whereas Hussein’s tangles with neighboring countries like Iran could be safely ignored by the American people as irrelevant foreign squabbling, his execution of a European journalist and holding of American and British hostages rendered his villainy “personal.” The ensuing media coverage, almost entirely negative in tone, helped create an American public receptive to anti-Hussein sentiment. By the time the Bush administration began demonizing Saddam Hussein with ruthless propaganda, loyally transmitted by the American press, the public was primed to receive it.

Receive it they did. Between Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the beginning of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, Bush launched a scorched-earth campaign to paint Hussein as no less than the Hitler of the Arab world, if not the world period. He claimed that Hussein’s troops had undertaken “outrageous acts of barbarism that even Adolf Hitler never committed,”[32] that indeed Hussein had surpassed Hitler in sheer brutality.[33] Other government officials, from State Representative Newt Gingrich to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clairbone Pell, echoed the Hitler rhetoric.[34]

The U.S. media, far from challenging the Hitler analogies, in fact internalized and propagated them. A Gallant Foundation study found that, between 1 August 1990 and 28 February 1991, the U.S. print media compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler 1,035 times.[35] The New Republic doctored a Times cover image on the Iraqi strongman, shortening Hussein’s mustache so that he resembled Hitler.[36] Reporters didn’t just accept Hussein as Hitler; they admired Bush for having the courage to confront such a foe. [37]  The turnaround in the popular American perception of Saddam Hussein was so abrupt and so total that a Washington Post columnist, a mere week after the Iraqi dictator invaded Kuwait, marveled that though “once a dictator whom most Americans could not identify, but with whom the United States has sided for most of the past decade, Saddam Hussein is now suddenly revealed as a Fiend in Human Form.”[38]

Much as Bush personally attacked Hussein, so to did the media personalize its coverage of the Iraqi dictator. As observed by Professor Richard Keeble, this personalization essentially de-contextualized the Gulf War by erasing its economic, sociopolitical, and geostrategic factors in favor of Hussein’s character traits.[39] The war against Iraq thus became a war against Hussein, which in turn enhanced and legitimized the Bush administration’s anti-Hussein rhetoric.

This personalization is why assessments of Hussein’s character dominated the press. He was not just Hiter. He was, alternatively, a “monster,” a “beast,” and a “madman.”[40] In fact, the notion that Hussein was a madman become so widespread so quickly that in December 1990, when presenting his psychological profile of Saddam Hussein to the House Armed Services Committee, Dr. Jerrold M. Post felt the need to emphasize, early on, that the “[madman] diagnosis is not only inaccurate but is also dangerous” because it “can mislead decision-makers into believing he is unpredictable when in fact he is not.”[41] His words appear to have had little impact, as media coverage of Hussein persisted in its sensationalizing and personalizing focus through the Gulf War. Even his name was mis-pronounced as Sad-dam Hussein, associating him with sadism[42] (and may be why the media and the public developed a tendency to call him by his first name rather than his last).

The government of Kuwait funded numerous public relations firms to help the U.S. government and the U.S. media drum up public support for war against Saddam Hussein. It was one of those firms, the massive and politically connected Hill & Knowlton (H&K), that helped manufacture the incident which best crystallized the U.S. government’s propagandistic manipulation of the American populace, and the U.S. media’s meek obedience to such manipulation before and during the Gulf War. On October 10, 1990, the Congressional Humans Rights Caucus held a hearing on Capitol Hill for presentations on Iraqi humans rights violations. The most horrifying testimony came from a 15-year-old girl who identified herself only as “Nayirah.” She claimed, tearfully, that while volunteering at a Kuwaiti hospital she had seen Iraqi soldiers take “babies out of the incubators… and [leave] the babies on the cold floor to die.”[43] Bush immediately seized on this outrageous tale of human depravity, endlessly repeating Nayirah’s account in speeches and even in an open letter to college students. The story had a major impact on public opinion of Hussein—who now did seem evil enough to warrant the Hitler label—and public support for the war. Six of the senators who eventually voted to authorize the Gulf War specifically cited the baby incubator story as the reason for their stance.[44]

The Iraqi army likely did commit numerous atrocities in Kuwait. The baby incubator story, however, was nonsense. The girl who originated it, “Nayirah,” was none other than the daughter of Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S.[45] John Martin of ABC News conducted numerous interviews that demonstrated, conclusively, that the story had no basis in fact.[46] His investigation, however, did not occur until after the Gulf War ended. Before then, American journalists appeared to have reported the allegations as fact. This failure, aside from once again demonstrating the U.S. media’s blind obedience to the official government line on Kuwait, provides a sobering example of the self-reinforcing nature of the metanarrative. The press, by parroting Bush’s Hussein-is-Hitler rhetoric, had cultivated a social and political environment wherein the incubator story could appear plausible, even reasonable, to both reporters and the public. By not challenging the government narrative, journalists had, in a very real sense, fooled not just the public but also themselves.

This dynamic continued to color press coverage of Hussein after the Gulf War and before 9/11. In those years, the U.S. media no longer needed prompting by the government to propagate the “Fuhrer Saddam” mythology, and the U.S. public no longer needed prompting to accept it. Indeed, significant percentages of Americans, once the Gulf War had ended, still believed that Saddam Hussein should be removed from power.[47] Reporters throughout the 1990s continued to interpret Hussein’s actions through the hostile lens developed during the Gulf War. For example, in 1999, ABC News broadcast a TV story suggesting a developing alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.[48] The broadcast network’s evidence for this major claim was thin—mostly speculation about the fact that a couple of Al Qaeda operatives had once used Iraq as base of operations. As was typical during coverage of Hussein during the Gulf War, the broadcast network totally neglected to contextualize his and Bin Laden’s divergent ideological commitments, lumping them both under the generic umbrella of “terrorism” and therefore leaving viewers unaware of their historical hostilities but more certain than ever of Hussein’s enduring monstrousness. These stories commutatively entrenched the image of Saddam Hussein as a terroristic madman in the U.S. public consciousness, even when he posed no material threat. Again, in the decade of the 1990s, neither the U.S. government nor the U.S. media had to set an intentional agenda to demonize Hussein. No, what occurred in that decade was sheer inertia. Such is the power of the metanarrative; once set, it reinforces itself. The seeds for Hussein’s post-9/11 renaissance had been planted.

Bringing Back the Beast: 9/11 and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

If the first Bush administration created Saddam Hussein, the second Bush administration revived him. In the years after 9/11, when George W. Bush and his team sought to justify war with Iraq, they did not need to elevate Hussein from pedestrian dictator to supreme evil; they merely needed to allude to an image that already possessed broad currency in U.S. politics. Americans, even a decade after the Gulf War, had never stopped hating Hussein. Indeed, the astonishing speed with which Americans suspected Hussein’s involvement in 9/11, despite absolutely zero evidence and with almost no initial prompting from the Bush administration, evidences this quite conclusively. A TIME/CNN poll conducted a mere two days after the terrorist attacks found that 78 percent of Americans suspected Hussein’s personal involvement.[49] A September 21-22 Gallup poll found that more than 68 percent of respondents supported removing Hussein from power.[50] Another Gallup poll conducted earlier in the year, in February 2001, found that 85 percent of Americans had an “unfavorable” opinion of Iraq, which ranked last out of the total 26 countries that the poll asked about (far lower than Saudi Arabia, which would produce most of the 9/11 hijackers).[51] Thus anti-Hussein, and anti-Iraq, sentiment was already widespread in the American populace even before the second Bush administration began to step up its public-relations campaign to link Hussein to Al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11. Hussein, diabolized as Hitler during the Gulf War and consistently portrayed as a shady sponsor of terrorism after (as demonstrated by the 1999 ABC News story), had already become an irredeemable “bad guy” in the imagination of the American public.

Bush, then, already had an audience receptive to anti-Hussein rhetoric. He and his team began selling the war on Iraq almost instantly. On September 17, 2001, a mere six days after the attack, Bush reportedly told his advisors that “I believe Iraq was involved.” Although by September 21 the CIA had informed him that no Al-Qaeda-Hussein link existed, Bush would continue to pressure his intelligence agencies in the coming years to find some kind of connection.[52] In August 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld floated the possibility of Iraq harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists.[53] Of the 13 speeches that Bush gave between September 12, 2002, when he appeared before the United Nations to argue the Iraqi threat, and May 2003, twelve mentioned Iraq and terrorism in the same paragraph and ten placed them in the same sentence.[54] Note that Bush never outright claimed a causal link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Instead, he simply tarried both Hussein and Al-Qaeda with the same terroristic brush to imply a relationship. The persistence of such insinuation effectively allowed the Bush administration to claim that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda worked together, and that Hussein was involved in 9/11, without ever outright saying so.

Seemingly to render credible the notion of collusion between Hussein and Islamic fundamentalists, the Bush administration almost systematically recalled every myth constructed about Hussein during the Gulf War, from Hussein as Hitler[55] to Hussein the madman.[56] Administration officials played on long-standing but nebulous perceptions of Hussein’s evil, as when Condoleeza Rice, in response to a (false) New York Times story claiming a link between Iraq and terrorists, said “I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.”[57] This strategy—assuming Hussein’s guilt to justify further allegations of his guilt—could only be effective if Americans generally already held negative views of Hussein. The propaganda campaigns of the first Bush administration had already done the heavy lifting; now the second Bush administration was reaping the benefits.

The Bush administration’s PR campaign to connect Iraq to Al-Qaeda—undertaken by top officials like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice—had its desired impact. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted at the dawn of the 2003 invasion, 72 percent of Americans supported war with Iraq.[58] Americans’ strong support for war against Iraq, however, did not appear grounded in any real understanding of why such war was necessary. They similarly did not understand why they thought Hussein was involved in 9/11. In late 2003, when 7 out of 10 Americans believed (not suspected, like in the Sep. 13, 2001 poll) that Hussein had played some role in the attacks, the Washington Post found that “poll respondents were generally unsure why they believed Hussein was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, often describing it as an instinct that came from news reports and their long-standing views of Hussein.”[59] One respondent felt that that people with anti-American sentiment “all kind of cooperated with each other,” while another described her belief in Hussein’s guilt as a “gut feeling” based on what she’d “heard from the media.”[60]  The hazy, emotional, and generally arational character of these sentiments is consistent with the existence of an overriding media and sociocultural metanarrative that took for granted Hussein’s guilt. This metanarrative had already been established prior to 9/11, during the Gulf War. It was subsequently exploited and embellished by the Bush administration to push for war in Iraq, since the American public was already responsive to claims of Iraqi crimes. But as hinted above, the ones who allowed the baseless narrative of Iraqi guilt to gain such credibility, and to remain so unchallenged, were journalists.

In the two years between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, Americans witnessed the near-total collapse of the U.S. media, which not only failed to challenge government officials on bogus claims but actively sought to substantiate them. The years after 9/11 saw high-profile media outlets publish a litany of erroneous reports that fueled support for the U.S. war effort and further demonized Hussein. On November 8, 2001, the New York Times published a front-page article about Islamist terrorists training in Iraq. The source for the story, an alleged Iraqi army defector, was later exposed as a fraud and a liar.[61] On September 12, 2002, the Washington Post published a front-page scoop claiming that the Bush administration had received a “credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al-Qaeda took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month.”[62] The Post never ran a follow-up story to clarify that the report was never confirmed. Possibly the most egregious journalistic failure, though, came in the media’s response to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech before the U.N. Security Council in February 2003, where he presented supposed evidence for Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction. The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Denver Post, The Tampa Tribune, The Oregonian, The Hartford Courant, The San Jose Mercury News, The San Antonio Express-News, USA Today, and of course, the Washington Post and The New York Times—they all published editorials praising Powell and characterizing his evidence as essentially irrefutable, while also parroting the government line on Hussein’s terroristic tendencies.[63] The media’s unquestioning acceptance of the government report would appear foolish just a year later, when Associated Press correspondent Charles J. Hanley thoroughly debunked Powell’s presentation.[64] By then, however, the damage was done. Iraq had already been invaded on the basis of government deceit and journalistic deficiency.

Common to nearly all of these journalistic failures was a propensity to take the government at its word without rigorous fact-checking. The press, by simply reporting and commenting on the claims of top administration officials instead of actually investigating them, reduced itself to a government mouthpiece, amplifying the Bush administration’s dishonest PR campaign so that it became the normative framework by which to understand the events of Iraq. Thus the national debate, as framed by the media, became not a question of whether Hussein was guilty of the Bush administration’s accusations, but rather of what the U.S. should do in response to said guilt. Is it any wonder, then, that so many American citizens continued, and continue, to believe in a link between Al-Qaeda and Hussein despite the utter absence of evidence? The press, far from informing the citizenry, acted in conjunction with the government to misinform it.

Even when major opportunities to highlight the lack of a link between Hussein and Al-Qaeda presented themselves, reporters appeared to almost deliberately sabotage them. After the government-appointed 9/11 commission announced in June 2004 that it had found no evidence of a “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, the New York Times ran a story that featured lengthy quotes from Bush and Cheney contesting the commission’s claims. The problem with the story isn’t that it quoted high-level administration officials; rather, it’s that it offered the reader no way of discerning between these competing truth claims. It represented, in other words, an irresponsible retreat to “she said, he said” journalism, simply reporting on a dispute without clarifying it. Thus, much as it did in the aftermath of Halabja, the press allowed the government to obfuscate the terms of the debate. This abdication of journalistic responsibility was key to the persistence of the Saddam Hussein mythology. Whereas after Halabja such obfuscation served to salvage Hussein’s image, here it savaged it. The U.S., when it turns against an ally, does not deal in half-measures.

Reporters who rebelled against the media metanarrative, and the media’s docility vis-à-vis the state, did of course exist. They simply tended to be either marginalized or exiled. NBC fired Iraqi correspondent Peter Arnett after he dared to suggest, on Iraqi TV, that the U.S. military’s war effort was going poorly.[65] Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle dismissed technology journalist Henry Norr after he protested the war.[66] The prevalence of such a hyper-patriotic environment, in addition to the public antipathy to Hussein that had lingered since the Gulf War, meant that few journalists were likely to challenge the Bush administration’s portrayal of the Iraqi dictator—assuming they themselves didn’t already perpetuate the government narrative.  It was only when public opinion began to turn against the Iraq War that the press began to turn against the government. In this instance, the media did not mold public opinion; it followed it.

Though brutal in its cynicism, comedian Stephen Colbert’s satirical speech at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner may very well have offered the most honest summary of the irresponsible government-media collusion that enabled the War on Iraq: “The president makes decisions. He’s the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home [and] write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know – fiction!”[67]

A Manufactured Legacy: The Image of Saddam Hussein Today

In an August 2017 article titled “Things Don’t End Well for Madmen,” Foreign Policy magazine pointed to Saddam Hussein as an example of why Trump’s “unpredictable” approach to international diplomacy was doomed to fail. Hussein, the article’s writer argued, was an “unpredictable dictator” who “used chemical weapons against his own people” but eventually ended up “overthrown and executed.”[68] An ABC News editorial a few months after about North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, reflecting on recent arguments that he was rational and therefore would not deploy his nuclear arsenal, warned that Saddam Hussein too had once been “described as a rational actor, not a madman” before proving otherwise. The editorial directly referenced Dr. Post’s 1990 psychological profile to demonstrate how people had once misunderstood Hussein.[69]

Such is the reality of Hussein’s image today: long after his death, the U.S. public and the U.S. media continues to remember him through the distorted prism of the sensationalistic media coverage and aggressive government propaganda campaign of the 1990s and the years immediately preceding the Iraq War. Hussein’s insanity, ruthlessness, and fundamental evil has been accepted as common knowledge, and American reporters and politicians alike continue to use him as the metric by which to measure the villainy of foreign dictators.[70] The complex process by which these particular images of Hussein were constructed have thus come to be forgotten even by those who participated in their construction. The critical nuances of history—that it was the U.S. that enabled Hussein to gas his own people, for example—go largely unacknowledged and unremembered.

Ultimately, this essay’s attempt to understand why Saddam Hussein has settled in the American imagination as a heinous caricature of a madman constitutes more than an intriguing intellectual exercise. It is a question with significant implications for U.S. foreign policy, and the ways that the White House wins popular backing for that foreign policy. Hussein’s alleged tyranny formed much of the popular basis for the 1991 and 2003 wars with Iraq, both of which facilitated the region’s eventual collapse into a state of reigning anarchy. The ghost of the 2003 invasion and its devastating aftermath still haunts both the U.S. and Iraq today, as both have suffered inestimable human and financial losses. That Hussein’s deplorable image in the U.S. helped propel public support for two costly wars is deeply troubling; that said image is still conjured today to inform discussions of foreign policy more disturbing still. If the tragedy of Iraq is to be avoided in the future, we will need to learn to be more critical of the representations that the government and the media construct and then treat as fact. Saddam Hussein does deserve to be remembered as a brutal tyrant; however, it is just as important to remember him as an example of the fragility of reality in an era when it can be so easily manufactured. 

 


Bibliography

Primary Sources

“Ten Years Later, Belief in Iraq Connection With 9/11 Attack Persists.” The Moderate Voice. September 10, 2011. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://themoderatevoice.com/ten-years-later-belief-in-iraq-connection-with-911-attack-persists/.

McGRORY, MARY. “JOURNALISTS, DEAD OR ALIVE.” The Washington Post. March 20, 1990. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1990/03/20/journalists-dead-or-alive/1f8e041f-e488-425a-85a6-e490170f5498/?utm_term=.cae0077bc567.

“Butchery in Baghdad.” The New York Times. March 15, 1990. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/16/opinion/butchery-in-baghdad.html.

ABC News. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/aug-23-1990-british-hostages-iraq-10799747.

Beamish, Rita. “Bush: Saddam Worse Than Hitler — Tough Talk In Campaign Swing Follows Sag In Popularity Polls.” Business | Bush: Saddam Worse Than Hitler — Tough Talk In Campaign Swing Follows Sag In Popularity Polls | Seattle Times Newspaper. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901101&slug=1101632.

HOW BUSH DECIDED: He sees Saddam Hussein as another Hitler. Once the President concluded economic sanctions wouldn’t work — and Iraq wouldn’t back down — his only option was war. – February 11, 1991. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1991/02/11/74659/index.htm.

“How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf.” PR Watch. June 05, 2013. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html?page=1.

“‘Saddam Is The New Hitler’ – Bush Tells Europeans.” Rense. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://rense.com/general32/asd.htm.

Pilger, John. “John Pilger: Why are wars not being reported honestly?” The Guardian. December 10, 2010. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/10/war-media-propaganda-iraq-lies.

Christopher A. Preble February 20, 2004. “The Madman in Iraq.” Cato Institute. February 20, 2004. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/madman-iraq.

Cozens, Claire. “Arnett fired by NBC after Iraqi TV outburst.” The Guardian. March 31, 2003. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/mar/31/broadcasting.Iraqandthemedia1.

“Re-Improved Colbert transcript (now with complete text of Colbert-Thomas video!).” Daily Kos. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2006/4/30/206303/-.

Miller, S.A. “Kim Jong Un is the new Saddam Hussein: John Kerry.” New York Post. December 16, 2013. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://nypost.com/2013/12/15/kim-jong-un-is-the-new-saddam-hessein-john-kerry/.

Walt, Stephen M. “Things Don’t End Well for Madmen.” Foreign Policy. August 16, 2017. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/16/things-dont-end-well-for-madmen-trump-north-korea/.

Abrams, Dan. “ANALYSIS: Anyone counting on Kim Jong Un to avoid suicide should remember Saddam Hussein.” ABC News. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/International/analysis-counting-kim-jong-avoid-suicide-remember-saddam/story?id=50687055.

Williams, Marjorie. “MONSTER IN THE MAKING.” The Washington Post. August 09, 1990. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1990/08/09/monster-in-the-making/ec26d3e1-bd50-4400-9978-c47f490d32bf/?utm_term=.15729b2f0943.

“US public thinks Saddam had role in 9/11.” The Guardian. September 06, 2003. Accessed December 19, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/07/usa.theobserver.

Elder, Janet. “Packaging 9/11, Terror and the War in Iraq.” The New York Times. October 16, 2007. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/us/politics/17web-elder.html.

Patrick E. Tyler. “Pentagon Imagines New Enemies To Fight in Post-Cold-War Era.” The New York Times. February 17, 1992. Accessed April 04, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/17/world/pentagon-imagines-new-enemies-to-fight-in-post-cold-war-era.html.

Secondary Sources

Hiltermann, Joost R. A poisonous affair: America, Iraq, and the gassing of Halabja. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Darwish, Adel Alexander Gregory. Unholy Babylon: the Secret Story of Saddam’s War. London.

MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005.

Mueller, John E. Policy and opinion in the Gulf War. Chicago u.a.: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1994

Goldstein, Philip. Styles of cultural activism: from theory and pedagogy to women, Indians, and communism. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press u.a., 1994.

Dadge, David, and Danny Schechter. The war in Iraq and why the media failed us. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.

Mitchell, Greg. So wrong for so long: how the press, the pundits– and the president– failed on Iraq. New York: Union Square Press/Sterling Pub., 2008 

“PressThink: PressThink Basics: The Master Narrative in Journalism.” PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://archive.pressthink.org/2003/09/08/basics_master.html.

“Here’s Why Media Outlets Often Serve as Government Megaphones.” Michael Maharrey. January 03, 2017. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://www.michaelmaharrey.com/heres-why-media-outlets-often-serve-as-government-megaphones-2291/.

“Obama ‘evolves,’ Romney ‘flip-flops'” Columbia Journalism Review. Accessed March 27, 2017.

Endnotes

[1] “US public thinks Saddam had role in 9/11.” The Guardian. September 06, 2003. Accessed December 19, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/07/usa.theobserver.

[2] Elder, Janet. “Packaging 9/11, Terror and the War in Iraq.” The New York Times. October 16, 2007. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/us/politics/17web-elder.html.

[3] “Ten Years Later, Belief in Iraq Connection With 9/11 Attack Persists.” The Moderate Voice. September 10, 2011. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://themoderatevoice.com/ten-years-later-belief-in-iraq-connection-with-911-attack-persists/.

[4] “US public thinks Saddam had role in 9/11.” The Guardian. September 06, 2003. Accessed December 19, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/07/usa.theobserver.

[5] Elder, Janet. “Packaging 9/11, Terror and the War in Iraq.” The New York Times. October 16, 2007. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/17/us/politics/17web-elder.html.

[6] “The Great Media Divide.” U.S. News & World Report. Accessed April 05, 2018. https://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/articles/2017-04-12/how-left-and-right-media-models-perpetuate-partisan-politics.

[7] Crouse, Timothy. The Boys on the Bus. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003, p.10

[8] “What I Saw at the South Carolina Debate.” Columbia Journalism Review. Accessed March 24, 2017.

[9] “PressThink: PressThink Basics: The Master Narrative in Journalism.” PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://archive.pressthink.org/2003/09/08/basics_master.html.

[10] “Obama ‘evolves,’ Romney ‘flip-flops'” Columbia Journalism Review. Accessed March 27, 2017.

[11] Thomas, Evan. “The Myth of Objectivity.” Newsweek. March 13, 2010. Accessed March 27, =

[12] “Here’s Why Media Outlets Often Serve as Government Megaphones.” Michael Maharrey. January 03, 2017. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://www.michaelmaharrey.com/heres-why-media-outlets-often-serve-as-government-megaphones-2291/.

[13] “PressThink: He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User.” PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://archive.pressthink.org/2009/04/12/hesaid_shesaid.html.

[14] “PressThink: He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User.” PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://archive.pressthink.org/2009/04/12/hesaid_shesaid.html.

[15] Mueller, John E. Policy and opinion in the Gulf War. Chicago u.a.: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1994, p. 261

[16] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005.

[17] Ibid, p. 121-122

[18] Pilger, John. “John Pilger: Why are wars not being reported honestly?” The Guardian. December 10, 2010. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/dec/10/war-media-propaganda-iraq-lies.

[19] Theintercept. “The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria.” The Intercept. April 07, 2017. Accessed December 20, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/04/07/the-spoils-of-war-trump-lavished-with-media-and-bipartisan-praise-for-bombing-syria/.

[20] Keeble, Richard. “The Myth of Saddam Hussein: New Militarism and the Propaganda Function of the Human Interest Story.” Media Ethics. Ed. Matthew Kieran. New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 67

[21] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005, p. 37-38

[22] Hiltermann, Joost R. A poisonous affair: America, Iraq, and the gassing of Halabja. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

[23] Ibid

[24] Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid. “Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran.” Foreign Policy. August 25, 2013. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/26/exclusive-cia-files-prove-america-helped-saddam-as-he-gassed-iran/.

[25] Hiltermann, Joost R. A poisonous affair: America, Iraq, and the gassing of Halabja. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

[26]  And, Patrick E. Tyler. “Pentagon Imagines New Enemies To Fight in Post-Cold-War Era.” The New York Times. February 17, 1992. Accessed April 04, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/17/world/pentagon-imagines-new-enemies-to-fight-in-post-cold-war-era.html.

[27] Darwish, Adel Alexander Gregory. Unholy Babylon: the Secret Story of Saddam’s War. London, p. 248-249

[28] McGRORY, MARY. “JOURNALISTS, DEAD OR ALIVE.” The Washington Post. March 20, 1990. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1990/03/20/journalists-dead-or-alive/1f8e041f-e488-425a-85a6-e490170f5498/?utm_term=.cae0077bc567.

[29] “Butchery in Baghdad.” The New York Times. March 15, 1990. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/16/opinion/butchery-in-baghdad.html.

[30] ABC News. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/aug-23-1990-british-hostages-iraq-10799747.

[31] Mueller, John E. Policy and opinion in the Gulf War. Chicago u.a.: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1994, p. 261

[32] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005, p. 70

[33] Beamish, Rita. “Bush: Saddam Worse Than Hitler — Tough Talk In Campaign Swing Follows Sag In Popularity Polls.” Business | Bush: Saddam Worse Than Hitler — Tough Talk In Campaign Swing Follows Sag In Popularity Polls | Seattle Times Newspaper. Accessed December 22, 2017.

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901101&slug=1101632.

[34] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005, p. 72

[35] Keeble, Richard. “The Myth of Saddam Hussein: New Militarism and the Propaganda Function of the Human Interest Story.” Media Ethics. Ed. Matthew Kieran. New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 73

[36] Goldstein, Philip. Styles of cultural activism: from theory and pedagogy to women, Indians, and communism. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press u.a., 1994, p. 114

[37] HOW BUSH DECIDED: He sees Saddam Hussein as another Hitler. Once the President concluded economic sanctions wouldn’t work — and Iraq wouldn’t back down — his only option was war. – February 11, 1991. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1991/02/11/74659/index.htm.

[38] Williams, Marjorie. “MONSTER IN THE MAKING.” The Washington Post. August 09, 1990. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1990/08/09/monster-in-the-making/ec26d3e1-bd50-4400-9978-c47f490d32bf/?utm_term=.15729b2f0943.

[39] Keeble, Richard. “The Myth of Saddam Hussein: New Militarism and the Propaganda Function of the Human Interest Story.” Media Ethics. Ed. Matthew Kieran. New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 72

[40] Goldstein, Philip. Styles of cultural activism: from theory and pedagogy to women, Indians, and communism. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press u.a., 1994, p. 114

[41] Post, Jerrold M. “Explaining Saddam Hussein: a Psychological Profile.” Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/iraq/saddam_post.htm.

[42] Goldstein, Philip. Styles of cultural activism: from theory and pedagogy to women, Indians, and communism. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press u.a., 1994, p. 116

[43] “How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf.” PR Watch. June 05, 2013. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html?page=1.

[44] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005.

[45] “How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf.” PR Watch. June 05, 2013. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.prwatch.org/books/tsigfy10.html?page=1.

[46] MacArthur, John R. Second front: censorship and propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005, p. 73-74

[47] Mueller, John E. Policy and opinion in the Gulf War. Chicago u.a.: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1994, p. 88-89

[48] Pitythefool. “Saddam has a history of supporting terrorists (1999).” YouTube. October 22, 2006. Accessed December 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18uxVYN-5iY.

[49] Milbank, Dana, and Claudia Deane. “Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds.” The Washington Post. September 06, 2003. Accessed December 20, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2003/09/06/hussein-link-to-911-lingers-in-many-minds/7cd31079-21d1-42cf-8651-b67e93350fde/?utm_term=.71694139972a.

[50] Swansbrough, Robert. “Test By Fire: The War Presidency Of George W Bush.” Palgrave Macmillan; 2008, p. 129

[51] Gallup, Inc. “Americans Felt Uneasy Toward Arabs Even Before September 11.” Gallup.com. September 28, 2001. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://news.gallup.com/poll/4939/Americans-Felt-Uneasy-Toward-Arabs-Even-Before-September.aspx?g_source=position4&g_medium=related&g_campaign=tiles.

[52] ‘September 17, 2001: President Bush Tells His Advisers ‘I Believe Iraq Was Involved’ in 9/11 Attacks’. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a091701ibelieveiraq.

[53] Stout, David. “Rumsfeld Says Criticism Won’t Determine Policy on Iraq.” The New York Times. August 20, 2002. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/20/politics/rumsfeld-says-criticism-wont-determine-policy-on-iraq.html.

[54] Gershkoff, Amy, and Shana Kushner. “Shaping Public Opinion: The 9/11-Iraq Connection in the Bush Administration’s Rhetoric | Perspectives on Politics.” Cambridge Core. August 26, 2005. Accessed December 20, 2017. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/shaping-public-opinion-the-911-iraq-connection-in-the-bush-administrations-rhetoric/FBF0272D582863800F770F1AEE276593.

[55] “‘Saddam Is The New Hitler’ – Bush Tells Europeans.” Rense. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://rense.com/general32/asd.htm.

[56]  Christopher A. Preble February 20, 2004. “The Madman in Iraq.” Cato Institute. February 20, 2004. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/madman-iraq.

[57] ‘September 17, 2001: President Bush Tells His Advisers ‘I Believe Iraq Was Involved’ in 9/11 Attacks’. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a091701ibelieveiraq.

[58] Gallup, Inc. “Seventy-Two Percent of Americans Support War Against Iraq.” Gallup.com. March 24, 2003. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://news.gallup.com/poll/8038/seventytwo-percent-americans-support-war-against-iraq.aspx.

[59] Milbank, Dana, and Claudia Deane. “Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds.” The Washington Post. September 06, 2003. Accessed December 20, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2003/09/06/hussein-link-to-911-lingers-in-many-minds/7cd31079-21d1-42cf-8651-b67e93350fde/?utm_term=.71694139972a.

[60] Ibid

[61] Fairweather, Jack. “Heroes in Error.” Mother Jones. June 27, 2017. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/03/heroes-error/.

[62] “U.S. Suspects Al Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis.” The Washington Post. December 12, 2002. Accessed December 20, 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/12/AR2006061200701.html.

[63] Mitchell, Greg. So wrong for so long: how the press, the pundits– and the president– failed on Iraq. New York: Union Square Press/Sterling Pub., 2008, p. 25-27

[64] Ibid, p. 53

[65] Cozens, Claire. “Arnett fired by NBC after Iraqi TV outburst.” The Guardian. March 31, 2003. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/mar/31/broadcasting.Iraqandthemedia1.

[66] Dadge, David, and Danny Schechter. The war in Iraq and why the media failed us. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.

[67] “Re-Improved Colbert transcript (now with complete text of Colbert-Thomas video!).” Daily Kos. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2006/4/30/206303/-.

[68] Walt, Stephen M. “Things Don’t End Well for Madmen.” Foreign Policy. August 16, 2017. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/16/things-dont-end-well-for-madmen-trump-north-korea/.

[69] Abrams, Dan. “ANALYSIS: Anyone counting on Kim Jong Un to avoid suicide should remember Saddam Hussein.” ABC News. Accessed December 23, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/International/analysis-counting-kim-jong-avoid-suicide-remember-saddam/story?id=50687055.

[70] Miller, S.A. “Kim Jong Un is the new Saddam Hussein: John Kerry.” New York Post. December 16, 2013. Accessed December 23, 2017. https://nypost.com/2013/12/15/kim-jong-un-is-the-new-saddam-hessein-john-kerry/.

Comments are closed.

YRIS is a student publication, and Yale University is not responsible for its content.