Media coverage of the capture has been as surreal as the Democrats' conspiracy conjectures. After watching jubilant Iraqis celebrating Saddam's apprehension, ABC anchor Peter Jennings saw only sadness and morosely concluded, "There's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment." Jennings "informed" the American public that life for Iraqi citizens is "very chaotic ... beset by violence ... (and) not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power."
The anchors and talking heads pondered Saddam's trial and concluded that it could be "embarrassing" to the United States.
CBS' Leslie Stahl taunted Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld about torturing Saddam. "Would we deprive him of sleep? Would we make it very cold where he is, or very hot? Are there any restrictions on the way we treat him to get him to cooperate more than he has been?"
NBC's Katie Couric said Saddam's capture was only "symbolic." She'd be proved hopelessly wrong less than 24 hours later, as the 1st Armored Division, acting on intelligence secured from Saddam's capture, rounded up three former Iraqi generals who are suspected of supporting the terrorist resistance in Iraq.
All of this twisted, blame-America Bush-bashing and mind-numbing negativism has obscured some very important facts that need to be re-emphasized:
Saddam is responsible for two horrific wars and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. His record is replete with the kind of atrocities that brought the United States into two world wars, a bloody campaign in Korea and the war I fought in -- Vietnam. He raped, tortured, robbed, starved and murdered his own people. He acquired and used weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors and countrymen. He attempted to assassinate an American president. He trained and supported Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizballah, and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who killed Americans. Are we to believe that Al Qaeda was the only Middle Eastern terror group that Saddam did not support?
The image of Saddam as a filthy, decrepit, coward captured -- not killed -- by an American soldier is a powerful message to repressed people all over the globe that this is the way brutal despots go. Placing him on trial before the people of Iraq -- not in The Hague or somewhere else -- sends a clear signal to totalitarians be they in Damascus, Tehran, Pyongyang or Havana -- that they are accountable to the people they have tortured.
Now, the most committed followers of Osama bin Laden have cause to wonder if their bearded leader who wants them to die for his cause would ignominiously surrender himself to the tender mercies of the International Criminal Court to avoid an untimely demise.
Finally, the loopy leftist rhetoric in the aftermath of Saddam's capture obscures the extraordinary courage, training, persistence and discipline of the American soldiers who pursued and caught the Butcher of Baghdad. Rather than wasting time inventing crazy conspiracy theories and efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Democrats and their media allies ought to simply try hanging around with these heroes for a few days. It would be good for their mental health.
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.