‘Our president is off course’


Minister Louis Farrakhan

(Editor’s note: The following is an edited transcript of an October 8, 2002 radio interview in Detroit with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan conducted by host Mildred Gaddis and guest host Angelo Henderson, of the Detroit News, on radio station WCHB-AM on the Radio One network. Later that evening, the Minister spoke at Little Rock Baptist Church and was hosted by the Rev. Jim Holley. The Nation of Islam leader’s radio interview occurred the day after a prime time television address by President George W. Bush. The president sought public support for military action against Iraq.)


In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.


MILDRED GADDIS (MG):  Minister Louis Farrakhan.


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (MLF): Mildred, how are you?

MG:  It has been such a long time.


MLF:  Too long.


MG:  How have you been? I’ve been reading about you, so I know how you’ve been.


MLF:  I am fine and I am happy to be in the great city of Detroit. I will be with the Rev. Holley at Little Rock Baptist Church tonight and will address the issue of war and peace.


MG:  Minister, we have Angelo Henderson from the Detroit News who is co-hosting with me this week. I don’t have to tell you about the many confusing messages that are going out across this country pertaining to what the President is calling an “Urgent Duty” for this country to attack Iraq. What is your view on this and what is it that Americans ought to be concerned about in such an attack?


MLF: I don’t think that any American who loves this country takes pleasure in being opposite the President of the United States. But this is the most serious time in the history of this nation and in the history of the world. We cannot afford to be silent if, in fact, we disagree with the head of the house. Part of the beauty of living in America is you have the right to free speech. This right should be exercised responsibly, in this hour, in the time of grief of a nation. The American people have not gotten over the grief and the horror of what we saw on September 11, 2001.


Now, we have to be careful because when we’re grieving, we don’t usually make good decisions. When we lose a loved one and we’re in shock or we’re in pain, or we’re in grief, somebody else helps us in that hour through the time of grief so that we don’t make bad decisions, because grief makes us see things improperly.  When one is crying, the water in your eyes causes the light to give different shapes to images so you don’t see things clearly and neither do we see things clearly when our nation is in grief.  This is why the President of the United States, who is in the most powerful position on the earth today, must seek wise counsel. 

In my humble judgment, our President is off course and is victimized by the greatness of the power of America. The kind of rhetoric he put before the American people last night made a tremendous case that would convince a brass monkey that we should go to war. But what is the substance of what he said? If you look at what the man said, and find truth, then you’ll find very little truth but a whole lot of “half truths,” “outright lies,” “assumptions,” “maybes,” “possiblys,”  and “ifs.” No nation should commit its resources to war on assumptions, maybes and ifs without actual facts to support a conclusion that will lead to the loss of tens of thousands of Americans lives, the loss of lives of the Iraqi people and others.


MG:  We know that last night when the President gave his speech and, as cameras tend not to do sometimes, Americans didn’t get to see the nearly 1,000 protestors who were on the outside protesting this war. We also know there were ministers in pulpits who  this past Sunday spoke out against war. Is there enough time, and if there is, what can be done for the American people to stand and say this is not right for America?


MLF: First, the members of Congress are our representatives, and these representatives must not be hijacked by powerful lobbies. In Washington, there is a powerful pro-Israel lobby that is pushing for war with Iraq. Less than three weeks ago, the former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in the halls of Congress, in the U.S. Senate, pushing American Senators to vote to go to war with Iraq. This is arrogance for a foreign national to tell those whom we elected to represent us to send our boys and girls off to war. 


Who is Saddam Hussein threatening? Let’s be real. Here is a man 6,000 or more miles away. He has no planes to reach here; no bombs to reach here; no missiles to reach here. They say he has weapons of mass destruction and they put on the television an aerial photo of places that he has so-called re-commissioned, okay.  Then let the inspectors in and let them go and prove what he (the President) has asserted. You will find that they (the Iraqis) are unable to defend themselves. 

Last night, the President said they (Iraqis) have shot at American planes and British planes 700 or more times. But he never said that the no-fly zones were set up without the United Nations giving America and Britain the right to patrol this air space over a sovereign nation.  For 12 years, America and Britain have been bombing Iraq at will and every time the Iraqis try to defend their air space and shoot down British and American planes, their radar installations have been destroyed. 

America has said, and Britain has said, that in 12 years they have never lost one plane. How then is Saddam Hussein a threat? Now, they say he’s gaining weapons of mass destruction. In 1991, when the war in the Persian Gulf was over, and these resolutions were passed, a part of the truce was that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction would be discovered and destroyed. Inspectors went in and found a tremendous amount of weapons of mass destruction.  There were 32 nations and 28 armies against Saddam Hussein, and he had weapons of mass destruction, but he never used them. 


He never used weapons of mass destruction when he was greatly threatened. Inspectors removed 95 percent of those weapons of mass destruction up until the time that they were not kicked out, they were told to get out by President Clinton’s administration. The U.S. bombed all of the installations of conventional weapons because America had spies among the so-called weapons inspectors who were spying for the government of the United States. When the weapons inspectors were taken out, America bombed Iraq for four days—never losing one plane.


With 112 billion barrels of oil in reserve and Saddam Hussein weak and unable to stop America, America now wants to take that nation, set up a new regime, control the oil and dictate the direction of that area of the world. I think it’s a grave mistake. 


I think that if the president does this, he will lead this nation into that terrible war of Armageddon.  And the American people, you cannot sit by silently and let this happen, if God puts it on your heart to stand and speak, stand up and speak. If we don’t, America will march off to war and take our sons and daughters and body bags will come back. If you think there was grief over Sept. 11, when body bags start coming back to American families whose sons and daughters were sent to war, it will be a grievous, grievous day for us. It’s time to speak and think. If there is going to be a regime change, that regime change should be right here in the United States of America and get the warmonger, war-making person out of office. Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the ones who shall be called the children of God.


ANGELO HENDERSON (AH):  Min. Farrakhan, yesterday, the President of the United States in talking about Sept. 11, actually compared Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden. What did you think of that comparison and what do you think of our overall sort of quest for Osama bin Laden and really unsuccessful search for him?


MLF:  Always remember that whenever America decides to go to war, they must create a boogieman. I am a Black man in America and I have watched in my years on this planet how whenever a Black leader would rise to speak truth to power, the media would make that man look like an evil man, and only after he was dead and gone, did we find out that he was a good man.  I can’t speak for Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. But if we look at this last year, President Bush started off after Sept. 11 brilliantly and he spoke of these terrorists, that he would find them and bring them to justice. He went to war in Afghanistan. He removed the Taliban, and all of a sudden, it appears that Osama bin Laden escaped.  Mullah Omar escaped. Where are they? We don’t know. Osama bin Laden is no longer the target. He has dropped off the radar screen.


AH:  Right.


MLF:  Some say he’s dead, but the FBI said he may be dead.  Others say they think he’s alive, but no one is concerned now about Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein has taken the spotlight. The President artfully is trying to link him to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda when their own intelligence said there is no evidence to prove that Saddam Hussein has been linked to al-Qaeda, or had anything to do with Sept. 11. This is why I said at the beginning of our talk today that when a person is in grief, you can manipulate a grieving person.


I believe the President of the United States is manipulating a grieving nation and moving Congress at a time when he knows it’s an election period. Congressmen would not want to go back home and look like they are against the President of the United States.


Here is our country since Sept. 11th. How many alerts have we had from our government that terrorists are going to strike? And last night the President said, “We will not live in fear.” But the American people have been living in fear for one year on these false alarms put up by the government. Now laws have been passed to take away the precious rights that so many Americans have fought, bled and died to maintain.


In Maryland, people are in fear because there’s a sniper. The elderly are in fear because their 401 (k) pensions have been destroyed by the corruption of Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Anderson. Where is addressing of the problems in America that keep the American people fearing for their future? An attack on Iraq will only increase the fear because it will increase the hatred for America. Not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but her own European allies will become afraid because America is seeing how she can justify a pre-emptive strike.


Well, if it’s Iraq today, if it’s Syria tomorrow, Iran the next day, is it Libya the day after? Is it a regime change in China or in North Korea, where will it stop? It will never stop once it starts. May God bless the American people to open their eyes and rise up and speak truth to power. But if you don’t do it, I will, regardless of the consequences, speak truth to power because if I don’t the blood of the American people and the fall of this nation will be on my hands. President Bush will have to say, when the matter is finally decided, “We were warned, but we didn’t pay attention.”


MG:  Min. Farrakhan, speaking of warnings, were you surprised to know that the Bush White House had received 33 warnings. It’s been documented, at least 33 warnings pertaining to the Sept. 11th attacks, and four of them came two days prior to the attack, and there was no action at all?


MLF:  No, I’m not.


MG:  Minister Farrakhan, it is always delightful to have the opportunity to talk with you.


MLF:  I’m honored to be on your show to talk with you and the brother from The Detroit News. Thank you so much for your questions and I want to thank the audience for listening. May God bless you all.