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August 1, 2003

Taking the fight to the enemy…

President George Bush met the media this week – and survived! On the subject of Iraq, the President stated plainly, “There is no doubt in my mind… that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States’ security, and a threat to peace in the region. And there’s no doubt in my mind that a free Iraq is important. It’s got strategic consequences for not only achieving peace in the Middle East, but a free Iraq will help change the habits of other nations in the region, which will make America much more secure.”

The President’s remarks come three months after cessation of major hostilities in Iraq. The lights are back on, the water is running and the market shelves are filling up. The new 25-member Iraqi Governing Council is meeting regularly, and will begin drafting a new constitution, with free elections to follow. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi'ite Muslim and leader of the Islamic Dawa Party, is slated to become the first interim president. Asked by some nescient reporter about how long it is taking to put Iraq back on a solid democratic footing, Mr. Bush responded, “I never expected Thomas Jefferson to emerge in Iraq in 90 days time. It took us a while to go from the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution.”

Current estimates of this year’s costs of relief and reconstruction in Iraq are $7.3 billion, in addition to the $4 billion per month to sustain U.S. troops stationed there. Clearly, creating stability through democracy isn’t cheap, but such costs pale in comparison with a nuclear WMD attack against a major U.S. urban center.

Of course, the President was asked about those now-infamous 16 words in his February SOTU. “I take personal responsibility for everything I say,” responded Mr. Bush. “I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace,” he added, “and I analyzed a thorough body of intelligence – good, solid, sound intelligence – that led me to come to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power.”

On that subject, weapons inspector David Kay, fresh back from Iraq, appeared in closed session testimony before the U.S. Senate on Thursday, emerging to hint that those harping over those aforementioned 16 words need prepare for a crow dinner. But the evidence is going to be very thoroughly “vetted” before being made public.

Saddam Hussein also spoke to the press this week in a taped message that intelligence sources indicate is, most likely, really him. He ranted about the “martyrdom” of his progeny, calling their deaths “good news” – which, as Friend of The Federalist Ann Coulter notes, “is more than the Democrats have said.” We anxiously await “good news” of Saddam’s “martyrdom.”

In the wake of the termination of breathing rights for Odai and Qusai Hussein, U.S. Special Forces received hundreds of leads on the whereabouts of Saddam’s other senior Ba'athist principals, capturing 700 in the last week, and closing in on Saddam himself. Asked how close we are to capturing Saddam, President George Bush declared, “Closer than we were yesterday.”

The Army’s 4th Infantry “Digital Division” is using its considerable technical capabilities – surveillance satellites and unmanned aerial drones – to assist in the hunt for Saddam, but Lt. Col. Ted Martin, the division’s operations officer, noted, “I don’t think it’s going to be a satellite that catches Saddam Hussein – I think it’s going to be a soldier with a rifle.”

Since the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 248 American have died in theater – most of them combat-related fatalities. But at least two infantrymen died recently from an illness similar to SARS-related pneumonia, though of unknown origin. Another 19 soldiers are sick with similar conditions and have been evacuated to an isolation unit in Landstuhl, Germany.

In other news…

Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal paid a visit to the White House Wednesday to register his objection to the Bush administration’s refusal to declassify 28 pages of the just-released 900-page congressional report on 9-11 – specifically, the part pertaining to a “foreign nation” that was a key source of funding and support for al-Qa'ida, Saudi Arabia. The President responded that “declassification of that part of the document would reveal sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror…. It would help the enemy….” Take your seat, Prince Saud.

Quote of the week…

“Our coalition forces are taking the fight to the enemy in an unrelenting campaign that is bringing daily results. Saddam Hussein’s sons did not escape the raids, and neither will other members of that despicable regime.” –George W. Bush

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