' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review July 15, 2003 / 15 Tamuz, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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Making Saddam's day

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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.

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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.

The hysteria also obscures a noteworthy admission by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. Last Friday, he revealed that the official U.S. National Intelligence Assessment (NIE) on Iraqi WMD published in October 2002 "cited reports that Iraq began 'vigorously trying to procure' more uranium from Niger and two other African countries, which would shorten the time Baghdad needed to produce nuclear weapons." Since such reports were not universally accepted as authoritative by every component of our intelligence community, however, Tenet apologized for allowing reference to them to appear in the President's State of the Union address.

Most significantly, the President's critics seem determined to ignore the reality that virtually everyone who had monitored Saddam Hussein's activities since the first Persian Gulf War (notably, the United Nations, the French, German and Russian intelligence services, the U.S. Congress, most of the Democratic presidential contenders, etc.), had concluded that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was seeking to increase their numbers and lethal capabilities. In light of Saddam's declared desire for revenge against the United States and his ties to terror, this was a legitimate source of concern in the post-9/11 strategic environment -- whether Saddam had indeed augmented his 550 metric ton uranium stockpile with yellowcake from Niger or not.

In short, the overheated rhetoric about the 16 words concerning Saddam's shopping sprees in Africa tucked into the State of the Union's lengthy discussion of his WMD programs amounts to much ado about not very much. Actually, it is rank partisanship of the most unseemly kind.

Unfortunately, the current fandango cannot be written off as merely a domestic political cat fight -- tawdry but the sort of thing to be expected in the course of an election season. It would be an international setback of the worst kind if it also has the effect of: stiffening resistence towards the U.S.-led interim authority in Iraq; inviting further attacks on our military personnel; increasing the reluctance of allies to participate in Iraq's rebuilding; and intensifying efforts to sabotage progress being made in rebuilding a functioning Iraqi society and economy.

The mischaracterization of the substance and import of George W. Bush's most recent State of the Union address is bad enough. The hyperbole now being unleashed impugning the President's credibility and integrity seems calculated to undermine his leadership at a critical moment.

It is all too reminiscent of the Left's past, highly divisive attacks on the authority of the U.S. government -- especially those associated with the Vietnam war. Now, as then, signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of our armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged to believe that additional, murderous assaults on Americans and their Iraqi partners will improve the chances for a restoration of something like the previous order.

Scurrilous attacks on George W. Bush's case for war may gratify his partisan foes even as they make Saddam Hussein's day. But they are highly unlikely to make Iraq more stable or secure -- or the world a safer place.

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


05/20/03: Saudi terror watch 05/13/03: 'Transformation, part deux'
04/29/03: Shooting the messenger
04/15/03: Who's next?
04/08/03: Winning the peace
03/05/03: A friend in need
02/25/03: The plot thickens
02/18/03: Who's 'with' President Bush?
02/11/03: Islamists' White House gatekeeper
02/04/03: The Powell report
01/28/03: Bush's finest hour
01/14/03: North Korean scorecard
01/07/03: Nuclear meltdown
12/17/02: Serious about defending America
12/03/02: Defining 'regime change'
11/26/02: With friends like the Saudis...
11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.