As an envoy from President Reagan 19 years ago, Rumsfeld had a secret meeting with the Iraqi dictator and arranged enormous military assistance for his war with Iran.
On November 1, 1983, a full month before Mr Rumsfeld’s visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State George Shultz was officially informed that the CIA had discovered Iraqi troops were resorting to ‘almost daily use of chemical weapons’ against the Iranians.
Nevertheless, Mr Rumsfeld arranged for the Iraqis to receive billions of pounds in loans to buy weapons and CIA Director William Casey used a Chilean front company to supply Iraq with cluster bombs.
According to the Washington Post, a Senate committee investigating the relationship between the US and Iraq discovered that in the mid-1980s – following the Rumsfeld visit – dozens of biological agents were shipped to Iraq under licence from the Commerce Department.
They included anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare programme.