Posted Sunday, June 16, 2002

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Sunday, June 16, 2002

Bush has authorised CIA to assassinate Saddam Hussein

WASHINGTON (June 16) - U.S. President George W. Bush early this year signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to conduct covert operations to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The covert program included authorization to use lethal force to capture Saddam, the Post said, citing informed sources.

Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle said Congress had been consulted about the move by the administration but expressed some reservations about the timing of any such effort.

"There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq," Daschle told the "Fox News Sunday" program. "The question is how do we do it and when do we do it."

Citing the administration's ongoing effort against the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, as well as the continuing efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, Daschle said, "I think the timing of all this is very important but we want to work with the administration and try to find the best way and the best time to do this."

The South Dakota Democrat said, however, he was "satisfied with the degree of consultation there has been so far" between Capitol Hill and the White House over the last few weeks.

Bush has openly declared his desire to remove the Iraqi president, by military force if necessary, but has offered few details of how he plans to accomplish that.

Covert Orders

The Post said the presidential order directs the CIA to use all available tools, including:

  • Increased support to Iraqi opposition groups and forces inside and outside Iraq including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence information.
  • Expanded efforts to collect intelligence within Iraqi government, military, security service and overall population where pockets of intense anti-Saddam sentiment have been detected.
  • Possible use of CIA and U.S. Special Forces teams, similar to those that have been successfully deployed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 airliner attacks. Such forces would be authorized to kill the Iraqi president if they were acting in self-defense.

Sources said CIA Director George Tenet told Bush and his Cabinet that the covert program alone -- without military action or diplomatic and economic pressure -- had only about a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of succeeding, the Post said.

One source said the CIA covert action should be viewed largely as "preparatory" to a military strike so the agency can identify targets, intensify intelligence gathering on the ground in Iraq, and build relations with alternative future leaders and groups if Saddam is ousted, the Post said.

"It is not a silver bullet, but hopes are high and we could get lucky," the Post quoted another source as saying.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment, the Post said.

House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt this month endorsed the use of force to oust Saddam, who has been accused by the administration of backing international terrorism and trying to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

But Arab and European allies in the war on terrorism generally have argued against U.S. military action in Iraq.

© 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Our opinion

 THIS kind of order, if confirmed would seem to justify Saddam Hussein and others of his ilk in using lethal force against Bush, Gephardt, et al. in self defense. What goes around comes around: "Targeted killings," that is what Mr ArielSharon calls them.
   We wonder what History will make of the morality of recent US presidents. As is well known, even Adolf Hitler forbade his intelligence services ever to engage in ssassinations of foreign statesmen or general staffs, as the diary of Colonel Erwin Lahousen testifies.

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