Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday released an “unusual” and “shock[ing]” video given to him by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein nearly two decades ago.
The three-minute film, which Rumsfeld said he got from Hussein when he visited Baghdad as President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, shows what Rumsfeld called “alleged Syrian ‘atrocities.'”
Young Syrians are shown biting the heads off snakes and stabbing puppies to what appears to be applause coming from Hafez al-Assad, who was Syria’s president for three decades until his death in 2000.
Rumsfeld said the tape was “a diplomatic gift” from the now-dead Hussein after they met in December 1983. Gifts from foreign leaders “can be unusual,” Rumsfeld said, “but even so I was shocked by this one.”
With the video, he added, “Saddam’s message was clear: The Syrian regime was barbaric. Though his evidence was hardly convincing, his conclusion was a tough one to dispute.”
The video was posted on Rumsfeld.com, where the former defense secretary is publishing previously classified documents and other materials as he promotes his memoir, “Known and Unknown.” Also on Tuesday, Rumsfeld released diplomatic cables – many recently declassified – from his time as Reagan’s Middle East envoy, most focusing on his efforts to relieve tensions in Lebanon.