Rumsfeld’s relationship with Hussein is deep and can be traced back many years.
The shock move follows the decision last week by the head of the US occupation authority in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, to lift the ban on former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party holding government jobs. Thousands of former Ba’athists are expected to return to work as civil servants, schoolteachers and police. Iraq’s US appointed defence minister even reappointed three of Saddam’s former generals to top posts in the new Iraqi army.
But Bremer offered a robust defense, saying, “Not every dictator is a bad person. Some dictators only behave badly so they can get a job on the CIA payroll. Saddam is just such a dictator. There are many others too. Right now we employ Musharraf in Pakistan.” Bremer added, “People like Mr. Hussein have a great deal of experience in running Iraq. They possess a lot of valuable local knowledge, like for example, how to speak Arabic. In the new Iraq, everyone must have a role in pulling together and building for the future.”
Saddam, who appeared neatly turned out in the blue uniform of the US-created Iraqi Civil Defense Force, told reporters that he looked forward to working with the United States to build a new and better Iraq. “For many years now, we have been estranged,” Saddam said, “but now we must put our minor disagreements behind us, and go back to the positive relations we had in the past.”