As most of you already know, Bush has tapped former Director of Central Intelligence, Robert Gates, to replace Donald Rumsfeld.
Like many of the people Bush has appointed to crucial positions during his administration (Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich, John Negroponte, and John Poindexter), Robert Gates is an Iran-Contra alumnus, part of the shadowy cabal that subverted the Constitution, defied Congressional authority, sold crack in the ghettos of Los Angeles fueling the escalation of gang violence there, supported particularly brutal terrorism in Nicaragua, and was otherwise involved in black ops of dubious value and even more dubious morality during the days of Ronald Reagan.
He was also instrumental in providing intelligence support to Saddam Hussein back in the 1980s, when he was a key US ally in the Middle East. From his nomination hearings
(for the DCI position) in 1991:"Robert Gates served as assistant to the Director of the CIA in 1981 and as Deputy Director for Intelligence for 1982 to 1986. In that capacity he helped develop options in dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, which eventually involved into a secret intelligence liaison relationship with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Gates was in charge of the directorate that prepared the intelligence information that was passed on to Iraq. He testified that he was also an active participant in the operation during 1986."
1986, mind you, was when Saddam Hussein began the al-Anfal Campaign, an ethnic cleansing program conducted against the Kurdish minority in Iraq, which went on for three years and killed at least 50,000, and possibly as many as 180,000, Kurds. The program was headed by Ali Hasan al-Majid, who earned his nickname "Chemical Ali" by using chemical weapons against Kurdish peshmerga militiamen and the civilian population.
US intelligence helped the Iraqi regime by providing helicopters and logistical support used in the campaign, as well as helping them acquire the necessary chemical components of the gas used. Gates also passed on satellite photos and other intelligence information to Saddam Hussein's regime, which they used to camouflage their own nuclear program until it was dismantled after the Gulf War. The US also worked to suppress information about the regime's genocidal activities, until 1991, when it became politically expedient to bring them up to justify the Gulf War.
Oh, and it gets better. In his memoir, From the Shadows
, Gates admitted that American intelligence services began a program of covert aid to the mujahideen rebels fighting the communist government of Afghanistan in early July of 1979, nearly six months before
the Soviet invasion in late December of that same year. The plan was to lure the Soviets into invading to support the crumbling regime of Hafizullah Amin, and it worked exactly as planned. An intelligence aide to President Carter summed it up like this in a 1998 interview:"That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap..." [...]"The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."
Gates was on the National Security Council at the time, moved back to the CIA later that year and was involved in operations to support the mujahideen during the Reagan administration. Among the leaders of the mujahideen was a young Saudi militant named Osama bin Laden, who turned the connections, funding and experience he developed during the Afghan conflict into his more well-known later venture, al-Qaeda.
The US plan worked exceedingly well. The Soviets were bogged down in Afghanistan until 1989, and were eventually forced to retreat in a humiliating defeat. Approximately two million Afghan civilians and combatants were killed. The power vacuum left by the Soviet withdrawal led to the Afghan Civil War, in which the mujahideen leaders turned on each other and the Najibullah regime. The war continued through various phases until 1996, when the final victors emerged: the Taliban.
The defeat in Afghanistan is generally credited with hastening the collapse of the Soviet Union, which in turn is credited with the explosion in the trade of nuclear materials and nuclear science secrets on the black market. It is likely that the dispersal of Soviet nuclear secrets contributed to the development of nuclear weapons programs in Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran.
Loyalty to the Bush family and willingness to get one's hands dirty with its shady business goes a long way with this administration, and I can't say that I'm surprised that, even when faced with the public fallout over Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, the CIA black sites, the wiretapping issue, the mass murder of civilians, and the manipulation of intelligence in the leadup to the Iraq War, Bush has nominated someone with an extraordinary track record of exactly that type of dirty dealing and those sorts of gross human rights violations.
It's doubly amusing/horrifying that Gates was deeply personally involved in the creation of al-Qaeda and in Saddam Hussein's atrocities against his own people and his development of WMD. Essentially, Bush has nominated someone who was deeply involved in the creation of both of the threats Bush himself later dragged the US into war with.(thanks to Lepidopteran and the other fine 'lithers whose thread inspired and informed this post)