"From the first moment of life," one news commercial pointed out, "we seek to understand the world. As we grow, so does our need to acquire and act on this information. We soon discover a complex world, a place of wonder and danger, of tragedy and hope, a place where news is born, nurtured and understood." In August 1990, Saddam Hussein sparked an international crisis with the military takeover of Kuwait. Some 66% Americans The Times Mirror Center for The People & The Press surveyed admitted they were following the Persian Gulf Crisis story, making it the most closely followed story at the time. In all 85% conceded the Middle East Crisis was the most important news story of August 1990. 

On television, soap operas such as 'Days of our Lives' went off air to give way to the developments in the Middle East as the gravity of the situation hit home. At a news conference, then President George Bush senior stated, "A line has been drawn in the sand. This is not an American problem or a European problem or a Middle East problem. It is the world’s problem." Then Iraqi Ambassador to France, Abdul Razzak al-Hashimi told British television, "If you really care about your nationals so talk to those who are responsible for this unfortunate situation." 

Dan Rather interrupted his vacation in the south of France to fly to Amman, Jordan to cover the crisis. He became the first U.S. journalist Saddam Hussein granted an exclusive hour-long interview since Iraq annexed Kuwait. Colonel Alaa Hussein Ali was appointed the Prime Minister. Saddam told Dan, "Kuwait is part of Iraq. We have said this, and the legislative bodies in Iraq have issued a clear decree saying that Kuwait is an Iraqi province."

'The Cincinnati Enquirer' observed, "In a relaxed, engaging manner, Saddam Hussein is able to present his case to the American people. He does so, moreover, with no reciprocity. Any message President Bush might want to put before the Iraqi people is distorted and challenged because Iraq is a closed society in which the official view – the Hussein view – is unchallenged in what passes for Iraq's marketplace of ideas. 

"Americans believe in the free flow of information; they want to know all they can learn about Saddam Hussein and what makes him tick. Perhaps Dan Rather has made a praiseworthy contribution to answering their questions. It's important to remember, though, that Saddam Hussein is one of the bloodiest, most murderous, most ruthless tyrants of the (20th) century. He has brutalized his own lieutenants, murdered his own people, terrorized an entire nation. Just the same, the public can't help wondering about the media's responsibility when the nation is on the brink of war with so patent a villain." 

In November 1979, Ted Koppel covered the Iran Hostage Crisis, the so-called 444 days in Tehran that changed the course of history. In 1990, Ted Koppel was the first American journalist Saddam Hussein permitted inside Baghdad since Iraq annexed Kuwait which the Revolution Command Council later described on Baghdad television as "a comprehensive and eternal merger" as translated by the Iraqi news agency, INA. Ted won an interview with Tariq Aziz. 

In a video-taped interview transmitted via satellite to the American people, Tariq Aziz told Ted Koppel, "They (Kuwait) flooded the market with a glut of oil. They brought down the prices from $18 a barrel to almost $11 a barrel. And that is a conspiracy! That's a war … War can be done by arms, war can be done by economy. So we reached the conclusion that this handful of shieks, corrupt shieks, selfish shieks, wanted to destroy this nation (Iraq)."

Economically, Iraq at the time had the world's second-largest oil reserves and, with its takeover of Kuwait was controlling roughly 8% of the world daily oil production. It was reported the U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by15% on average since Iraq annexed Kuwait. The crisis eventually forced the U.S. to enforce a United Nation embargo which also was requested by Kuwait's exiled leader, Shiek Jaber Alahmed Al-Saba with "military buildup to blockade Iraq" and to "reinforce neighboring Saudi Arabia." 

In July 1990, Diane Sawyer was the last American journalist to interview Saddam Hussein before Iraq annexed Kuwait. In that interview, Saddam told Diane he had transformed Iraq into a modern nation. Born in 1937, Saddam Hussein grew up in a village not far away from where ancient Babylon located. The Middle East expert, Fred Halliday told 'ABC News', "He (Saddam Hussein) sees himself as a kind of Arab Stalin, somebody who rules by a combination of terror, some degree of social welfare - distributing the wealth that you get from oil and by military confrontations with enemies outside."

The networks were credited with doing a solid job of putting the events of the Mideast Crisis in perspective. Dan Rather also secured an interview with King Hussein of Jordan for the '60 Minutes' program. Eason Jordan of CNN remarked, "The Iraqis very much want the Western media to remain in Baghdad." It was explained so their side of the story could be told to the outside world. 

At the time, Associated Press reporters in Baghdad included Dilip Ganguly, an Indian national, Salah Nasrawi - an Iraqi and photographer Dominique Mollard, a French national. In July 1990, convicted German terrorist Peter-Jurgen Boock told 'CBS News' chief European correspondent Tom Fenton, "I think the terrorist international business is going to dry out."

The American public first learnt of the war on day one from reporters stationed in Baghdad's Al-Rashid Hotel. Of his interview with Saddam Hussein, Dan Rather told Lesley Stahl Saddam Hussein selected him because of "proximity and persistence." Tom Brokaw acknowledged, "Dan hit a grand slam with this one." Paul Friedman added, "He's been there a long time. Good for him."

After waited 10 hours in his Baghdad hotel, Dan Rather learnt Saddam Hussein had granted him the interview at 10:00pm Baghdad time on August 29, 1990. An Iraqi guard came and drove Dan to the Presidential Palace. Dan was told Iraqi TV cameras would be used in a "take-it-or-leave-it" interview. Armed with a notebook, Dan tried to press Saddam on hard issues for most of the interview but Saddam was unflappable. The Iraqis demanded at least one hour of the allowed 90-minute interview be aired in full on U.S. television. 

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