Somewhere, 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 Saddam’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 regime’s odious predations that has come to light since Iraq’s liberation.
Unfortunately, such is the extent of the animus towards this President (especially among Democrats running to succeed him and their party’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. Bush’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 Majesty’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 President’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 Saddam’s Iraq by Niger.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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