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Suspecting Saddam

James Woolsey – former CIA director, ambassador, and Pentagon official – is a man on a mission.  The self-described “private citizen” is out to prove that Saddam Hussein is sending murder through our mail.  His latest stop was a London meeting with the Iraqi National Congress, an exiled opposition group.  Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish deputy defense secretary who advocates, “ending state sponsors of terrorism,” approved and funded the trip.

Woolsey cites “substantial and growing indications” that Iraq is behind the anthrax attacks on America.  Prime evidence is a pair of meetings suicide pilot Mohammed Atta had with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Samir al-Ani in Prague shortly before the Sept. 11 tragedy. 

And Woolsey may well be right on track. 

Examine Saddam’s means:  Records suggest that he used chemical agents on 100 Shiite prisoners in 1984, dropped nerve gas on a Kurdish village in 1988, and may have contaminated Kurdish water supplies with typhus.  Khidmir Hamza, former director of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, says, “Iraq still has the capability to produce biowar agents including anthrax,” and when staffers at Sen. Daschle’s office were infected, the Washington Post reported that only three countries were capable of producing this strain:  the U.S., Russia, and Iraq. 

But the case is not clean. The Post now quotes a senior administration official who says, “Everything seems to lean toward a domestic source….Nothing seems to fit with an overseas terrorist operation.” Scott Ritter, who served as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998 writes, “The UN never once found evidence that Iraq had either retained biological weapons or associated production equipment, or was continuing work in the field” and says “It would be irresponsible to speculate about a Baghdad involvement…. There is no verifiable link whatever.” Middle East Newswire reports today that even “Israeli military intelligence has determined that there is insufficient evidence to link Baghdad.” Moreover, for Saddam, means don’t necessarily translate into action.  When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, its extensive biowarfare arsenal apparently went unused.

Look now to motive.  Saddam has it in spades.  His vendetta against the Bushes is certain, and his disdain for America current as his scornful statement of Sept. 12, "Regardless of human feelings on what happened yesterday, America is reaping thorns sown by its rulers in the world.”  But Saddam has other motives.  His driving priority since the humiliation of Desert Storm has been to escape the crippling sanctions imposed by the West.  And he was closer than ever before.  Why now would he trade a decade of trying for the distant satisfaction of killing a few postal workers?

Finally, in best Sherlock-style, opportunity.  For the price of a postage stamp, the option exists for anyone from Baghdad to Baltimore.  But if detection risks colossal retribution against an entire country, would Saddam limit his attack to a few pieces of mail?  Not likely.

We make no apology for Iraq.  Its dictator has earned every evil adjective and would probably post anthrax to America without a pang of conscience.  His henchman and the hijacker probably found plenty to discuss, but we have no evidence that this plot was theirs.

What we do have ample evidence for is the agenda of Wolfowitz & Co.  This band of neo-con hawks is desperate for the slightest cause to bomb Baghdad -- or in some cases, no cause at all.  In his National Review piece subtly entitled “End Iraq,” editor Rich Lowry wrote, “Early indications are that Iraq had a hand in the September 11 attacks. But firm evidence should be unnecessary for the U.S. to act. It doesn't take careful detective work to know that Saddam Hussein is a perpetual enemy of the United States.”

If he is responsible for poisoning our people, Saddam should be taken out and with him any means of perpetuating terror.  Investigators do well to suspect all heads of this Hydra, and should consider Saddam a prime suspect.  But as Mr. Woolsey and his backers continue to, as he calls it, “look under that rock,” do not mistake their motive.  He belongs to the chorus that has, since Sept. 11, attempted to use this atrocity to conscript America into all-out war in the Middle East.  Thus far they have failed, and absent the  “firm evidence” National Review deems “unnecessary,”  we cannot fight their crusade.  

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