Jewish World Review August 31, 2002 / 22 Elul, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | On August 21, an anti-Saddam group nobody had ever heard of, the Iraqi Democratic Opposition of Germany, seized the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, taking four hostages, including acting Ambassador Shamel Abdul-Aziz Muhammed. The dissidents surrendered peacefully to German police hours after making a few token demands.

The dissidents -- who apparently were armed only with pepper spray -- were either incredibly lucky or incredibly good. Embassies, particularly those of police states, tend to be well-guarded. And Abdul-Aziz Muhammed, who is married to one of Saddam Hussein's cousins, is an Iraqi intelligence officer.

Because no one had heard of the group the dissidents belonged to; because their "demands" were so trivial; because of the skill they displayed in seizing the embassy, and because they surrendered so meekly, some think this was an intelligence-gathering operation conducted by professionals.

Among those who think so is an official of the Iraqi foreign ministry, who told the Associated Press that "armed terrorists of the American and Zionist intelligence mercenaries attacked our embassy building."

If this was an intelligence operation, what were they looking for, and what did they find?

Hijack leader Mohammed Atta and several of his confederates lived in Germany prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. If there were contacts between Atta and Iraqi intelligence, presumably there might be records of them in the embassy. If this was an intelligence mission, and anything was found, we may be hearing about it sooner or later.

The Bush administration has been signaling that it has more to tell us about Iraq than it has so far. "We believe we will ultimately be able to make a compelling case and, in the course of time, will be moving forward," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said at a news conference in Tokyo Aug. 28. This could be significant, because Armitage is thought to be one of the "doves" in the administration.

The president says he has yet to make up his mind about what to do about Iraq. But people who have been listening to what Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice have been saying lately have a pretty clear idea of how he is leaning.

Critics say the president hasn't made the case for war. That's true. But it isn't time yet. Congress isn't in session. And when Congress does come back, it has appropriations bills to pass, a Homeland Security Department to create. And the president may seek action on measures to stimulate a sluggish economy. Military preparations may not be complete. Iraqi opposition groups are still squabbling. And it's too hot in Iraq in September to be running around in chemical protective gear.

Critics want to have a congressional debate on Iraq because they hope it will forestall action against Iraq. The critics almost certainly will get the debate they want, and likely will regret it.

Suppose that sometime in October the president goes on national television to make the case for war against Iraq. A compelling argument can be made from information already on the public record. The hints we've been getting suggest Bush will be able to add to it heretofore undisclosed details about Saddam's weapons programs and his support for international terror.

A nationally televised address should boost support among Americans already predisposed to support the president. Polls taken in early August for CBS News and for ABC News showed 66 percent support and 69 percent support, respectively, for military action against Iraq.

The president could end his address by calling Congress into special session to pass a resolution authorizing him once again to take military action. (The president's lawyers argue Bush already has this authority under UN resolutions still in force, and the resolution on the war on terror Congress passed last fall.)

The attention of the nation would be focused on this debate. Fence-sitters and bet-hedgers in Congress would be forced to declare. And how lawmakers voted would be THE issue in the November elections. That's not a prospect that puts smiles on many Democratic faces.

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08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly