WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It was a classic Special Operations mission. Intelligence sources, including Iraqi nationals, indicated that several "HVTs" -- high value targets -- the U.S. military euphemism for everything from an important site to be attacked to a terrorist chieftain or an enemy leader -- were hiding in a Mosul residence.
Within hours, U.S. Central Command approved a raid on the villa by Task Force 20 -- Delta Force commandos and Navy SEALs -- supported by elements of the 101st Airborne. When it was over, Qusay "The Snake" and Uday "The Wolf" Hussein -- ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on the Pentagon's Most Wanted list of Iraqis -- were dead, and Barzan Abd Al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid Al-Tikriti, the commander of the Special Republican Guard, No. 11 on the list, was in U.S. custody.
Soon after the brothers' demise, celebrations broke out in several Iraqi cities. Unfortunately, those running to replace George Bush as commander in chief don't seem to be as appreciative as the Iraqi people.
Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay, had well-deserved reputations for cruelty. Their targets were the Iraqi people and, as the dictator's sons, they got away -- literally -- with rape, torture and murder. Years ago, their father introduced them to the brutal extermination of perceived enemies in some sort of Baath Party father-son bonding experience. They had learned well at the master's knee.
Uday, the elder sibling, partially disabled in a 1996 assassination attempt, apparently enjoyed raping Iraqi women and torturing members of the Iraqi national soccer team for poor performances. Qusay allegedly took pleasure in killing political prisoners by stuffing them into oversized shredders and supervising group executions. The mass graves being exhumed across the Iraqi countryside today evidence their lust for wholesale murder as sport.
In recent weeks, coalition forces have been quietly apprehending low- and mid-level members of Saddam's regime -- those who were likely to have been involved in attacks on U.S. soldiers. As these thugs were brought in, they led investigators closer to senior members of the former Iraqi government and ultimately to the building in Mosul where Uday and Qusay were hiding. U.S. and coalition forces have now captured or eliminated 37 of the 55 Most Wanted Iraqis.
That's real progress, but you wouldn't know it from all of the candidate carping. The Negative Nine, those pessimistic potential presidents from the "loyal opposition," fixated on "those 16 words" and fantasizing about vast right-wing conspiracies, seem to be suffering from mid-summer madness.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.