Mid-summer madness

Posted: Jul 25, 2003 12:00 AM

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.

Sen. John Kerry says President Bush "misled every one of us. ... I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me because he lied to me personally."

Sen. John Edwards now likes to roll his eyes and declare, without offering examples, that the Bush administration "has a problem with the truth."

Howard Dean stokes his Woodstock '60s radical base with grand conspiracy theories on the Internet that would make a UFO buff blush. His favorite line: "I am now convinced more than ever that it was a mistake to have given this administration a blank check to engage in this war."

Al Gore's protege, Joe Lieberman, languishing in financial and political obscurity, seems to have changed his mind about the war he voted to support. He now describes efforts to restore power, distribute water, feed people, rebuild infrastructure, train police, recruit soldiers and create a new Iraqi currency as "stunningly inept."

Al Sharpton, whose mouth is as big as his appetite, likens President Bush to a "gang leader in South Central Los Angeles."

Dennis Kucinich, whose own integrity was questioned for falsely accusing Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., of wanting to send women who have had abortions to jail, accuses the Bush administration of engaging "in a pattern of deceit."

Yet, the most egregious disparagement now comes from Dick Gephardt who condemns our military as a "global vigilante" that is "cracking heads but unwilling to address the real causes of terror." Candidate Dick now labels the war in Iraq as "momentary machismo" before getting personal and claiming that "this president" is "not up to the job" of protecting the public from terrorists.

Then, as if to make sure his listeners know who he is talking about, he adds, "I believe George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago." Apparently believing there may still be uncertainty on where he stands, he reminds his audience that "George Bush is the worst president I have ever served with."

Try telling that to the Iraqi people, Dick. They sleep easier tonight because, thanks to George Bush, Uday and Qusay Hussein are in a place that makes the 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Baghdad feel like a summer breeze.

But Dick Gephardt isn't impressed. He wants us to know that "Foreign policy isn't a John Wayne movie, where we catch the bad guys (and) hoist a few cold ones." Having brought The Duke into this, Candidate Dick needs to become familiar with one of John Wayne's more notable quotes: "Life is hard. It's even harder if you're stupid."