Apparently US intelligence has picked up “chatter” in Baghdad about a possible last-ditch plan to let Saddam and his sons and cronies escape into Syria in order to prevent thousands of more civilian deaths.

General Tommy Franks, while not answering this question yesterday, has been briefed by intelligence on this possibility.

Under no circumstances can the United States allow Saddam to go into exile anywhere.

Why not?

Because if he survives this war and goes into exile in some nearby Arab nation, he will still be a mortal threat to the United States. He will still have command of his international network of spies, ‘sleepers,’ and ‘embedded’ agents. He will probably take some of the chem/bio weapons of mass destruction with him. And, most of all, he will be fomenting trouble in the ‘new’ Iraq – trying to destabilize the new government and return to power.

Let us remember the 1979 scenes of the Ayatollah Khomeini – living in a tent on the outskirts of Paris – leading the Iranian revolution thousands of miles away.

Saddam, while not the same type of religious leader, is being elevated in Muslin/Arab eyes as a ‘hero’ for confronting the Great Satan – and for surviving longer than expected. He is the Muslim ROCKY - who did not win but was lionized for lasting longer than anyone ever could have imagined.

US intelligence has also picked up talk of a last minute Saddam ploy: threaten the mass death of 30,000 civilians and US military in some last-ditch use of WMD unless Saddam is allowed to go into exile.

Such a ‘deal’ would be difficult to turn down.

On the other hand, we could accept the deal, save the 30,000 people, and then go kill Saddam anyway. A just reward for him!

The point is this: we entered this war on the claim that Saddam was a threat to America. That threat was that Saddam might give his WMD to a terrorist group to use against us. Well, Saddam in exile is the very same threat - with an even great motive driven by bitterness over our invasion.

No, the war’s beginning should have meant no more possible deals for Saddam. He had his chance – and he blew it off.

Now the goal of the coalition is simple: hunt down Saddam and his two sons and kill them.

Until that is accomplished, those malignant cancer cells will be spreading their deadly disease wherever they travel.

Let’s us not allow Saddam to be another Osama bin Laden: on the run, causing trouble and seen among millions of Muslims as a ‘hero’ for defying the United States.


On Feb 14, 1956 Iraq ratified the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. That 1949 convention had two articles – III & IV – which specifically detailed every aspect of how captured POW’s are to be treated.

Guess what?

Every enemy the US has fought has violated this Geneva Convention – and gotten away with it!

Vietnam? They signed it on June 28, 1957 – and within a few years they were torturing US POW’s and violating virtually every single clause of this toothless treaty.

Iran? On December 8, 1949 they were one of the first nations to sign this treaty. Yet in 1979 they seized US hostages, tortured them, exploited them and in every way violated this treaty.

Lebanon, where US hostages were held in the 1980’s? They also signed it on December 8, 1949. And yet they participated in the torture of US hostages.

Russia? They have had information – and perhaps living POW’s, too – from the Cold War and Vietnam. They signed it on December 12, 1949.

In the Gulf War I, Iraq captured US POW’s. They tortured and beat them and broadcast their pictures on international TV. And they got away with it!

No Iraqi officials were punished back in 1991 for what they did. No wonder they’re doing it again.

Our politicians and military spokesmen love to accuse our enemies of “violating the Geneva Convention.” Duh! The convention – like almost all other international agreements, treaties and organizations – are worthless pieces of paper that dictators and tyrants love to flaunt.

The only way the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War could or would ever work is if the following occurs:

When this war is over, US troops need to hunt down each and every Iraqi soldier and government official – up and down the chain of command – who had anything to do with the execution, torture or mistreatment of US POW’s. Then those Iraqis need to be put on trial in a sanctioned War Crimes trial – for all the world to see.

If this is done – and done swiftly, fairly and with appropriate punishment including the death penalty for all involved in the cold-blooded execution of US POW’s - then future enemies of the United States might treat our POW’s the proper and lawful way we treat their POW’s.

The lack of ‘teeth’ to enforce international treaties is exactly why Saddam, Hanoi, Moscow and others flaunt the rules. Only the threat of punishment – including death for individual leaders and subordinates – can make these barbarians even think about behaving properly.


Twenty years ago, while on a Congressional trip to Thailand to look into the POW’s left behind in Vietnam, a senior Thai general told me, “Of course, the Vietnamese have your men. They know your weakness.”

Looking baffled, I asked, “What do you mean?”

The crafty Asian general smiled and said, “Your women! The wives and mothers!”

Indeed, the Vietnamese – and the Iraqis – know full well that we Americans care about our missing soldiers. In other societies – especially in barbaric societies like Iraq and Vietnam – they could care less about losing soldiers. But we Americans are a kind people – and our ‘women’ – our mothers and wives are very important factors to all of us.

So the Iraqi game plan is simple: seize US POW’s and use them for leverage in future negotiations.

That is right from the Communist handbook on fighting wars against the United States.

Hanoi gathered – and protected – the POW’s with more care than their own people. Why? Because they knew that at the end of the war we would pay Big Bucks for our men.

Iraq learned in the 1991 Gulf War that there was no penalty for seizing, torturing, exploiting and then releasing POW’s. In fact, they also probably kept Navy Commander Scott Speicher – and so far have never been punished for that either. (Nor has Washington DC been punished for its perfidious behavior in leaving that pilot behind.)

Of course, that leads to bigger questions: why wasn’t the Saddam Hussein regime removed in 1991 when we had 500,000 troops in the region and we had Iraqi soldiers on the run?

That failure in 1991 to finish the job has only made this Gulf War II all the more tragic and difficult.

Still, we are on the move. We can and will win this war. But some important lessons need to be taught to outlaw regimes worldwide:

1) Instead of just talking about it, we finally need to make an example of those who mistreat US POW’s. (Not one Vietnamese official has ever been punished for the torture of US POW’s.) When we conquer Iraq, we need to hunt down each and every guard and officer who had anything to do with the execution of those 5 US POW’s and put them on trial in a sanctioned War Crimes trial. That proceeding should be televised worldwide.

2) Similarly, Iraqi leaders need to be captured and tried for their participation in the exploitation of POW’s.

3) So, too, the interrogators of POW’s need to be caught and punished.

4) US military tribunals should be used with the death penalty a viable punishment.

For far too long, the USA has cavalierly treated its own missing and captured POW’s. Our government officials pay mere lip service to our POW’s. They talk a good game – and then do nothing to bring our troops home. All recent presidents – from Nixon through this Bush – have talked a good game to mollify our ‘women..our wives and mothers’ – and then done nothing to solve the awful, wrenching agony of the men missing from our previous wars.

Maybe this war – which we are certain to win – will be a turning point. No more barbaric states are going to get away with their threats to us; and hopefully we will no longer tolerate the cruel treatment of American POW’s.

Most of all, we Americans must not allow our own government to leave them behind.


Of all the things we hope to soon see – for example Saddam and his sons either in US hands or dead – none is more important than the rescue from an underground cell of Michael Scott Speicher, the Gulf War’s first casualty.

Back in January of 1991 when Navy pilot Speicher was shot down in Iraq on the first day of the Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell immediately declared him ‘dead.’ No investigation; no search teams; no attempt to discover what had happened to our pilot.

It was not until several years into the Clinton Administration that more evidence came to light. Indeed, it looked as if Speicher had survived the shoot-down – and had been driven in a truck to Baghdad.

A steady stream of Iraqi defectors subsequently reported the same thing: a US pilot – presumably Speicher – was being kept in an underground prison complex at Salmon Pak under the personal control of Saddam’s elder son, Uday. (This is the same suburban Baghdad location where hijackers have been trained in ajet easily visible to satellites passing overhead.)

Only this past summer did the Bush Administration finally acknowledge the likelihood that Michael Scott Speicher may very well still be alive.

Now comes the key question: will he still be alive after we take down the Saddam Hussein government?

What will the butcher and his two butcher sons do to poor Speicher?

Will they try to use him as leverage to gain their own freedom?

Or will they kill him to avoid yet another certain ‘war crimes’ trial?

Will we prosecute those who have been holding him all this time?

Let us pray that we soon see the following TV scene: a group of Delta Force troops emerging from some underground facility with a living Michael Scott Speicher.

When – and if – that wonderful day comes, then another series of questions will loom:

How could we ever have left him there in the first place?

Why was no effort made the day he was shot down to rescue him?

Why were Cheney and Powell so quickly willing to write Speicher off?

If indeed Speicher has been held alive against his will for twelve years, what exactly has our intelligence community known about it? If they say that they did not know, then we need to find out exactly why they didn’t know. What do we spend over $60 billion a year on intelligence gathering for?

And then comes an even bigger question: if Speicher has been alive all this time, what of the US POW’s from the Vietnam War? What has happened to them? Has the same shoddy disregard for their fates also corrupted the truth about their survival?

A lot rests on the next few days.


Let me ask you something: do you raise an eyebrow when this so-far untreatable new respiratory disease - S.A.R.S.
(severe atypical respiratory syndrome) – starts spreading all over the world?

Does it strike you as odd that within two weeks of Al Qaeda’s operational head being captured that this new ‘syndrome’ suddenly crops up all over the world?

And, of course, this is also within days of our attack on Iraq.

Is it possible – despite what government officials tell us – that this is indeed bio-terrorism. For example, today’s New York Times report says, “Tests of victims' samples have found no evidence of mycoplasma or similar microbes that are the usual causes of atypical pneumonia. Additional tests have shown no evidence of Ebola or any of the other viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers, hanta virus and bacteria.

“As a result, laboratory scientists are focusing on the possibility of a previously unknown infectious agent.

A ‘previously unkown infectious agent’?

Amazing timing, isn’t it? An infectious agent spreading all over the world right in the middle of the war on terror and on the eve of the war against Iraq?

We have yet to solve the riddle of West Nile Fever which first cropped up on the East River of New York City right across from the United Nations – at a time when Saddam was bitterly complaining about UN-imposed economic sanctions. West Nile Fever also soon appeared in Israel and other European nations who assisted us in isolating Baghdad.

Yet no government official anywhere has ever even raised the possibility that West Nile Fever could have been engineered and introduced by either Iraq or some other enemy of the United States.

Similarly, when the first Floridian victim of 2001’s anthrax outbreak took ill, Health and Human Services’ Secretary Tommy Thompson immediately dismissed it by saying, “Oh…he drank some contaminated ground water up in North Carolina.”

It actually took several deaths before Washington DC took it seriously!

And to this day we have yet to pin that anthrax attack on anybody or any country.

Already with SARS we see the same false assurances and dismissive attitudes. Yet, unlike these previous outbreaks and deaths, this time the Centers for Disease Control is taking this seriously.

Maybe, in the end, SARS will indeed turn out to be a naturally developing flu-like disease.

Or maybe it is another attempt to cripple the west – without a traceable return address on the weapon.


The so-called War on Drugs in this country is a total failure. Drug use is all around us – more than we know.

Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign – well intentioned as it was – did not do the job either.

So some advocate ‘legalizing’ drug use, claiming that will take the profit out of the drug business – and also provide debt-ridden governments with more tax revenue.

But – money aside – it is the health effects of all drug use that need to be the focus of a legitimate campaign against a reliance on chemicals.

A new study recently concluded that “cocaine attacks and destroys the same brain cells that trigger the ‘high’ that cocaine users get from the drug.”

“This is the clearest evidence to date that the specific neurons cocaine interacts with don’t like it,” said Dr. Karley Little, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.

In other words, this study yet again shows that the price a user pays for that ‘high’ is brain damage.

But, guess what? The same thing occurs with some legal, prescription drugs. The most villainous example is the ‘fad drug’ of the 1970’s: Valium. Back in the early and mid-1970’s doctors were prescribing Valium left and right.

A few years went by and suddenly it was discovered that Valium was the single most difficult drug to stop taking – including heroin, cocaine and morphine. In fact, hard-core drug users who multiplied their addictions by drinking booze, smoking marijuana and popping pills will tell you that Valium was by far and away the hardest drug to stop taking. Valium is the only drug from which you cannot go ‘Cold Turkey.’ You have to do a gradual, phased lowering of your intake – and even then you will suffer severe psychological effects including paranoia. If you do not do this gradual ‘step down’ you will die. And it was a totally legalized drug!

That’s just the point: all drugs taken for pleasure or mood changes can potentially cause trouble – whether the FDA has approved them or not.

Whether they are legal or not misses the point: when you are altering brain chemistry, you are flirting with trouble.

And that is exactly what the focus of an anti-drug campaign should be. We need to start teaching all people – young, middle aged and older – exactly what a specific drug does to your brain. We have pretty much proven that tobacco wrecks your lungs, but we haven’t even begun to make the case that drugs destroy brain cells.

This is the only way to begin winning the war against devastating drug use.

And even then the ‘addictive gene’ may not allow a rational decision to stop taking a drug that makes you “high”. Most tobacco smokers know they might get lung cancer and die and they smoke anyway.

We need to have people understand that – like present-day fad drug Ecstasy or crack cocaine - taking it just once may cause brain damage from which the user will never recover!

This should be the focus of our national campaign to stop drug use for pleasure.


Three years ago –during the 2000 Presidential campaign – then-Governor George W. Bush very clearly articulated the conservative Republican position on foreign policy. In an era of Clinton’s massive and widespread military deployments – from Africa to Southeast Asia – the GOP position was against the use of our soldiers as ‘nation-builders.’

Candidate G.W. Bush correctly criticized Clinton’s troop deployments. Furthermore, Mr. Bush claimed he would have a “humble foreign policy.”

This was said in the context of Clinton butting into the Middle East – especially Israel’s elections – and pushing them around. The Republican answer was one of less involvement.

Now – a mere three years later – President George Bush is seen around the world as the most arrogant, bullying US president ever. Humility has been replaced by a strutting arrogance perfectly personified by Bush’s ‘John Wayne walk’ and his “my way or the highway” proclamations.

Quite simply stated, the world today hates George Bush. They see in him the personification of the 2003 version of the “Ugly American” – loud, rude, pushy, a know-it-all who doesn’t really know as much as he thinks.

How else to explain the overwhelming disapproval of our Iraq policy in almost every nation everywhere – North, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and even the Middle East where Saddam’s neighbors have been attacked by him?

Bush has taken a post-9/11 world that was in total sympathy with the United States and supported our Afghan campaign 100% and totally frittered that support away.

Instead of the certain-to-succeed Teddy Roosevelt formula of “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Bush has gone the other way: boast, brag, dare and generally talk this thing to death. He has shown that his personal pique toward some world leaders and a giant chip on his shoulder are influencing American policy – a big no-no. In the process he has seen the state of the American economy decline due to war fear and his own poll ratings decline, too. His reelect number is down to a weak 42%. Consumer confidence is way down and unemployment is way up.

This is certainly the most mishandled foreign affairs event since Vietnam.

Prediction: we will not get 9 votes in the United Nations Security Council – and we will go to war anyway. We will defeat and vanquish Saddam. Bush's’ ratings - for a time – will improve, as his father’s did in 1991. Perhaps the economy will rebound – for a while - too.

But the way we ran roughshod over our allies will engender bad feeling worldwide. Other problems will soon loom – particularly North Korea – and the very leaders Bush has gone out of his way to diss will be looking for payback.

What a mess.

And it all could have easily been avoided.

A “humble” foreign policy?

US troops not used as ‘nation-builders’?

Looks like those campaign pledges – like so many others – go on the ash heap of broken pledges.


Despite the recent spate of rumors and published stories claiming that the United States and Great Britain will “go it alone” and kick off a war against Iraq next week, it is not going to happen – yet.

Why not?

Because too many nations – including our real allies - do not yet want this war. And too few countries want it right away.

Thus the future is to be gleamed from a series of ongoing diplomatic ‘trial balloons’ being floated publicly and privately:

1) The Canadian Plan: Prime Minister Jean Chretien, in meetings with Mexico’s Vincente Fox, has offered up this compromise plan: a fixed deadline date coupled with a list of ‘must do’s’ from the UN inspectors to Iraq. “You must do X,Y & Z by X date – or else we all agree to the war option.” This option is gaining support inside the UN Security Council – even though Canada is not presently sitting there; but Mexico is and, despite Fox’s friendship with President Bush, our southern neighbor wants to be in the UN mainstream, not out alone on the edge of a branch.

2) The Putin Plan: never-to-be-trusted former KGB agent Putin – you remember him, the Russian president who has a “soul”? He dispatched former Russian Prime Minister Yvgeny Primakov 10 days ago for a one-day visit with his old pal Saddam Hussein. Primakov presented the Putin Plan: at a key moment in this rapidly unfolding endgame, Iraq is to ask the UN to please insert thousands of UN peace-keeping forces to “back up” the UN inspectors.

Of course this is a ploy to prevent a US-British invasion. Putin – like the French – is desperate to keep American troops from occupying Iraq.

3) Putin’s Back-Up Plan: Insert Russian troops to ‘assist’ the UN inspectors. This idea, too, has been carefully floated of late.

4) Look for more such ‘ideas’ to come from today’s three-way meeting in Paris: the French, Russian and German foreign ministers are meeting in hopes of forestalling a US-British invasion as early as next week.

5) New UN resolution: as of today, Blix’s report this Friday will again offer enough oomph for the pro-inspections side to prevent the US and Britain from garnering the nine votes necessary to pass the new resolution.

6) Turkey’s unexpected parliamentary vote has caused a week-to-ten-day delay in troop deployments. We won’t launch until the northern front option is solved.

7) Former President George Bush, in a speech last week at Tufts University in Boston, said his son would want to enter a war “with many allies.”

Conclusion: thanks to the Bush Administration’s hard-line, Iraq now knows war is coming unless they fess up – and soon. So, too, do all other nations.

This resolve is driving this issue – either to Saddam’s overthrow, exile or defeat in a war.

But that war isn’t quite ready to begin. G.W. Bush’s people will glom together the Canadian proposal with their own and get enough UN support for a strict list of Iraqi must-do’s coupled with a hard date. And that will really be ‘it.’ Most governments will end up agreeing with this compromise.

The date in question? End of March.


September 12, 2001 – one day after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. The President addresses the nation – and the world.

Yesterday we suffered the single worst attacks on our territory – ever – including Pearl Harbor.

Who did it?

Well, we know that Al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, supplied the fanatical suicide pilots. And Bin Laden is taking credit for this horrendous act of mass murder.

But we have combed through our intelligence records of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and determined that Saddam Hussein was the mastermind of that attack – and he was also a partner with AL Qaeda in yesterday’s attack. Having failed in 1993 to bring the Twin Towers down they worked for years to enact another plan to accomplish their goal.

Furthermore, we have been provided with evidence that the lead pilot in yesterday’s attack on the World Trade Center, Mohammed Atta, has previously met with top Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague.

Based on all of this intelligence, I am ordering today a full-scale retaliation against both Al Qaeda and the government of Iraq.

I am ordering the immediate activation of all Armed Force reserve units and our Pentagon will soon announce plans for the movement of over 500,000 troops to fight simultaneously in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are also placing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein on our Most Wanted List.

We aim to capture or kill both – and their leading henchmen, too.

We will dispose of the vile Taliban in Afghanistan – and we will remove Saddam from power and replace him with a UN sponsored administration while paving the way for election of a new government in Baghdad.

We expect the world to support us in avenging yesterday’s mass murder on Americans and others from over 30 nations living and working here in the United States.

Had President Bush done this 18 months ago – when all the world supported us after 9/11 – all of our ‘supposed allies’ – like France and Germany – would have supported anything we wanted to do. All the world was behind us in those sad first days after the attacks.

There would have been none of the friction we see today.

The Bush Administration blew it by initially denying an Iraqi link – and then suddenly claiming one after all.

The result?

We’re losing ground day by day in world opinion precisely because we waited too long to link Osama and Saddam.

The blame goes to both the Bush political advisors and to the intelligence community.

In life timing is everything. And the timing now is bad. On 9/12 2001 it was perfect.