- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2001

Americans overwhelmingly support making Saddam Hussein a target of the U.S. war on terrorism, with three-quarters of those contacted saying the Iraqi dictator should be attacked, according to a new Reuters/Zogby poll.

The survey of 1,023 registered voters found that 56 percent of respondents “strongly agree” and 18 percent “somewhat agree” the war against terrorism now focused on Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan’s Taliban regime should be expanded to include Saddam’s regime in Iraq.

In contrast, 10 percent said they “strongly disagree” and 12 percent said they “somewhat disagree” with the idea of going after Saddam. Four percent of respondents said they were not sure how they felt.

Neal Boortz, talk-show host on Radio WSB-AM in Atlanta, is not surprised by those findings. “My callers say that if the war on terrorism doesn’t include Saddam, it’s a fraud,” Mr. Boortz, one of the nation’s most-listened-to radio-talk hosts, said in an interview yesterday.

Mr. Boortz said he has not heard from one caller who favors giving Saddam a pass in the U.S.-led anti-terrorist campaign.

In fact, he said, “They all say we should be taking care of Saddam at the same time” as U.S. troops attack Afghanistan.

Mr. Boortz said his callers compare the current situation to one in which there is a neighborhood fire in which a house is threatened by houses on both sides that are burning.

It doesn’t make sense to put out one fire and delay acting on the second, he said.

Some members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have also called for the elimination of Saddam and his regime as vital objectives in the war against terrorism begun in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

But the Bush administration remains split over the issue. The Pentagon favors the use of force to topple Saddam, while the State Department opposes launching strikes on Iraq.

Some key Republicans in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi; Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a member of the Armed Services Committee; and Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, are all advocates of targeting and toppling Saddam.

However, some of the most forceful calls for making Saddam a target of the anti-terror war have come from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat.

“As long as Saddam Hussein is in power in Iraq, the United States is in danger,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Lieberman alluded to evidence that “suggests Saddam Hussein may have had contact with bin Laden and the al Qaeda network, perhaps [was] even involved in the September 11 attack.”

Even more important is that Saddam “has worked on chemical and biological weapons and has used them against his own people and against the Iranians,” Mr. Lieberman said.

“Therefore, in my opinion, Saddam is a terrorist and it should be a centerpiece of our policy, after we’ve finished the business in Afghanistan and bin Laden, to end that regime [in Baghdad],” he added.

There’s been some suspicion that Iraq may have supplied the anthrax that’s been used to harm Americans in a bioterrorism campaign through the mail system in recent weeks. Although Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition,” said he doesn’t “put it past Iraq” to have provided the bacterium being used in the biological attacks, he and other U.S. officials say there is no definitive evidence of Saddam’s involvement.

The chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees, in appearances yesterday at the National Press Club, said no clear Baghdad connection to either the Sept. 11 attacks or the ongoing anthrax scare has emerged.

Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican and chairman of the House intelligence panel, are regularly briefed by FBI and CIA officials.

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