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Saddam and Bin Laden: Really lost or just can't be found?

post #1 of 4
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Just when U.S. officials began to believe they'd heard the last from Saddam Hussein, there he was again -- maybe -- greeting a crowd in video footage supposedly taken days after a bomb strike that was meant to finish him off.

The Bush administration may be wondering whether Saddam, like Osama bin Laden before him, may never really go away but will just keep popping up on tape. The administration has a lot of credibility staked on its hunt for the two.

"Many Americans would welcome some closure on Saddam, but we may not be able to get it," said Heritage Foundation Middle East expert Jim Phillips. "If he did go up in a puff of smoke, it may be difficult to recover his DNA. So there may be no final accounting of Saddam. But I think he's probably dead."

Indeed, plenty of people say they believe Saddam is dead. They range from some high-ranking U.S. officials, like White House chief of staff Andrew Card, to Iraq's own ambassador to Serbia-Montenegro, Sami Sadoun, a Saddam loyalist who said Friday that Baghdad would not have fallen so quickly if the leader were alive.

Which raises questions: Was that really Saddam depicted on Abu Dhabi TV? Did he actually tell his supporters, "Aggressors are always defeated"? After all, Saddam is said to use stand-ins as a means of thwarting possible assassins.

"Even if the U.S. recovered Saddam's body and established it conclusively with his DNA, there would still be conspiracy theories in the Middle East," Phillips said. "There are [people] who would try to . . . revive Saddam's legacy."

Pentagon officials said Friday that, while they haven't fully evaluated the tapes, the question of authenticity matters little because Saddam is so obviously out of power.

Authentic or not, Saddam on tape creates uncertainty about U.S. ability to nab him, just as it does for Bin Laden, the target of bombing strikes in remote, mountainous areas of Afghanistan.

Friday's tapes could undercut U.S. political efforts by feeding hope to the remnants of Saddam's government, said Joe Montville, director of the preventive diplomacy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It actually sounds like a page out of the Bin Laden book," Montville said. "If people don't show up for a while, they're dead. But if nothing else, by putting Saddam tapes out, it antagonizes [the Bush administration] and keeps alive the idea of Arab defiance of the overwhelming force of the U.S. military."

Abu Dhabi TV says the source that provided both tapes said they were made April 9, two days after a U.S. strike on a building where Saddam was thought to be. If so, why didn't Saddam comment on the happenings of the day -- like the fact that statues and other images of him were being trashed all over Baghdad?

That, in itself, puts the onus on Saddam, not the Bush administration, to prove he is alive, Montville said.

The U.S. case also is helped by the fact that Saddam's tapes -- and really, Bin Laden's as well -- may seem less credible to Arabs now that there is no repressive government controlling what they see on television.

"Psychological distances between Arabs and Americans have been closed big time, despite the loss of life," Montville said. "People realize there are some political actors trying to play with us, but we don't have to play."

post #2 of 4
The tape doesn't look very convincing - there's no smoke or dust in the air. This was supposedly shot on the day that Baghdad fell. In addition, no one has come forward and said, "I was there and I saw him."
post #3 of 4
I think both are dead.if they were alive,I think we would have had strike's on the US.On US land.
post #4 of 4
I just don't know. I think it's likely that bin Laden is still alive, holed up somewhere in Pakistan. As far as Saddam is concerned, I thought that he'd either gotten out of the country before the war actually started (particularly because his palaces were in many instances stripped of their furnishings) or had been killed. But now several of his cohorts have been apprehended in Iraq, so maybe he is still there. I'd like to see bin Laden dead, or buried alive till the end of his days in the underground prison in Colorado. Saddam really didn't do anything to the U.S. directly, so it should be up to the Iraqis, Kuwaitis or Iranians to mete out justice if he's ever caught. Israel, which suffered the Scud attacks in Gulf War I, wouldn't be able to for obvious reasons.
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