In case there was any confusion about what Donald Trump thought about tyranny, he went ahead and cleared that up yesterday. He’s in favor of authoritarianism, and seems to make no secret of his admiration for one of the worst war criminals of the 21st century. He praised Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein while disparaging the “rights” granted to Americans under the Bill of Rights.
“He was a bad guy — really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism,” Trump said of the dictator who was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity.
While it is unlikely that ISIS would have flourished under the Saddam Hussein regime, it is well documented that Hussein fostered a variety of different terrorist activities. He famously offered a bounties of $25,000 to the families of any Palestinian suicide bomber that killed Israelis.
The Council on Foreign Relations had this to say in 2005:
Has Iraq sponsored terrorism?
Yes. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship provided headquarters, operating bases, training camps, and other support to terrorist groups fighting the governments of neighboring Turkey and Iran, as well as to hard-line Palestinian groups. During the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam commissioned several failed terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the State Department listed Iraq as a state sponsor of terrorism. The question of Iraq’s link to terrorism grew more urgent with Saddam’s suspected determination to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which Bush administration officials feared he might share with terrorists who could launch devastating attacks against the United States…
What type of terrorist groups did Iraq support under Saddam Hussein’s regime?
Primarily groups that could hurt Saddam’s regional foes. Saddam has aided the Iranian dissident group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (known by its Turkish initials, PKK), a separatist group fighting the Turkish government. Moreover, Iraq has hosted several Palestinian splinter groups that oppose peace with Israel , including the mercenary Abu Nidal Organization, whose leader, Abu Nidal, was found dead in Baghdad in August 2002. Iraq has also supported the Islamist Hamas movement and reportedly channeled money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. A secular dictator, however, Saddam tended to support secular terrorist groups rather than Islamist ones such as al-Qaeda, experts say.
Hussein’s regime committed acts of terrorism as a matter of course. Chemical weapons were used on the Kurdish minority in the north of Iraq. Political dissidents were abducted, tortured and killed. In 2002 Iraq was designated as one of just seven countries that the State Department called a “state sponsor of international terrorism.”
So no, Donald Trump, Hussein didn’t kill terrorists “so good.” In fact, Iraq under Hussein was a haven for terrorists and a brutal dictatorship at the very other end of the spectrum for values of American freedom and liberty. It is distressing that a man who aspires to uphold the protections of the Constitution would gleefully abandon those protections of the Bill of Rights for the in order to suspected terrorists.