igloo Posted July 15 Report Share Posted July 15 Making Saddam's dayFrank J. Gaffney, Jr. (archive)July 15, 2003 | Print | SendSomewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations, second-guessing and political power-plays that are currently assailing his nemeses: President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The hysteria surrounding charges that faulty British intelligence about one aspect of Saddamâ€™s nuclear weapons program -- and a Bush 2003 State of the Union allusion thereto -- may even be emboldening Saddam to believe the unimaginable: He might yet survive (physically and perhaps politically) the current pair of U.S. and U.K. leaders, just as he did their predecessors in the wake of Operation Desert Storm. It is hard to believe that Americans of any political persuasion would actually want to gladden the heart of so vile a tyrant as Saddam Hussein, let alone to encourage those who seek his return to power. This is particularly true in light of the evidence of his regimeâ€™s odious predations that has come to light since Iraqâ€™s liberation. Unfortunately, such is the extent of the animus towards this President (especially among Democrats running to succeed him and their partyâ€™s left-wing base for which they are competing) that a concerted effort is being mounted to savage his reputation. The focus of this partisan attack, not surprisingly, is Mr. Bushâ€™s stewardship of the one portfolio that has thus far seriously impeded efforts to unseat him -- namely, his outstanding performance as wartime Commander-in-Chief. Toward that end, Democratic critics and journalists either sympathetic to their agenda or simply savoring the prospect of fresh grist for the reportorial mill have been desperately spinning the story that President Bush misled the Nation during his annual address to Congress last winter. The specific charge is that he knowingly dissembled by quoting a finding of Her Majestyâ€™s intelligence services to the effect that Saddam had sought to purchase uranium yellowcake in Africa. Some go so far as to contend that this act amounts to an impeachable offense. Such hyperbole, of course, ignores the fact that the Presidentâ€™s statement was actually correct. The Brits had indeed concluded that Saddam went uranium-shopping in Africa -- a practice utterly consistent with his pattern of seeking to import from wherever he could weapons of mass destruction-related technology, materials and know-how. Indeed, the U.K. continues to stand by this assessment based on multiple sources, notwithstanding the dubious provenance of one particular document that purports to confirm a specific uranium sale to Saddamâ€™s Iraq by Niger. The hysteria also obscures a noteworthy admission by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. Last Friday, he revealed that the official U.S. National Intelligence Assessment (NIE) on Iraqi WMD published in October 2002 â€œcited reports that Iraq began â€˜vigorously trying to procureâ€™ more uranium from Niger and two other African countries, which would shorten the time Baghdad needed to produce nuclear weapons.â€ Since such reports were not universally accepted as authoritative by every component of our intelligence community, however, Tenet apologized for allowing reference to them to appear in the Presidentâ€™s State of the Union address. Most significantly, the Presidentâ€™s critics seem determined to ignore the reality that virtually everyone who had monitored Saddam Husseinâ€™s activities since the first Persian Gulf War (notably, the United Nations, the French, German and Russian intelligence services, the U.S. Congress, most of the Democratic presidential contenders, etc.), had concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was seeking to increase their numbers and lethal capabilities. In light of Saddamâ€™s declared desire for revenge against the United States and his ties to terror, this was a legitimate source of concern in the post-9/11 strategic environment -- whether Saddam had indeed augmented his 550 metric ton uranium stockpile with yellowcake from Niger or not. In short, the overheated rhetoric about the 16 words concerning Saddamâ€™s shopping sprees in Africa tucked into the State of the Unionâ€™s lengthy discussion of his WMD programs amounts to much ado about not very much. Actually, it is rank partisanship of the most unseemly kind. Unfortunately, the current fandango cannot be written off as merely a domestic political cat fight -- tawdry but the sort of thing to be expected in the course of an election season. It would be an international setback of the worst kind if it also has the effect of: stiffening resistence towards the U.S.-led interim authority in Iraq; inviting further attacks on our military personnel; increasing the reluctance of allies to participate in Iraqâ€™s rebuilding; and intensifying efforts to sabotage progress being made in rebuilding a functioning Iraqi society and economy. The mischaracterization of the substance and import of George W. Bushâ€™s most recent State of the Union address is bad enough. The hyperbole now being unleashed impugning the Presidentâ€™s credibility and integrity seems calculated to undermine his leadership at a critical moment. It is all too reminiscent of the Leftâ€™s past, highly divisive attacks on the authority of the U.S. government -- especially those associated with the Vietnam war. Now, as then, signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of our armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged to believe that additional, murderous assaults on Americans and their Iraqi partners will improve the chances for a restoration of something like the previous order. Scurrilous attacks on George W. Bushâ€™s case for war may gratify his partisan foes even as they make Saddam Husseinâ€™s day. But they are highly unlikely to make Iraq more stable or secure -- or the world a safer place.Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., is President of the Center for Security Policy, a TownHall.com member organization Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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