- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Slowly but surely the noose is being tightened around Saddam Hussein's neck. While the evil Iraqi dictator plays hide-and-seek games to thwart U.N. weapons inspectors, the U.S. military buildup in the region is preparing for war to bring him down.

Unlike the Clinton White House, with its short attention span, Saddam faces a much more determined foe in this administration who will not be fooled by his lies, nor deterred by his threats.

As Sunday's U.N.-imposed deadline approaches for Iraq to disclose its weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration is expanding its indictment and delivering a far more detailed case for ending Iraq's reign of terror against its citizens and its neighbors.

In a rapid-fire, multipronged offensive Monday, President Bush left little doubt in his speech at the Pentagon that any Iraqi claims it does not posssess chemical or biological weapons, or nuclear weapons materials, will not be considered credible. "So far the signs are not encouraging," he said.

Mr. Bush also said "any act of delay, deception or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance and has rejected the path of peace."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer made it clear no matter what Saddam claimed by week's end, he was not to be believed. If he admits he has weapons of mass destruction, he is in violation of the U.N.'s resolution and will pay the price for his deceptions. "If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."

At the same time, in a speech to the Air National Guard in Denver, Vice President Richard Cheney, also raised the Sunday deadline as he warned that Saddam's "defiance will invite the severest consequences."

Across the Atlantic, Great Britain simultaneously released a new report detailing countless cases of murder, torture, rape, body mutilations, eye gouging and beheadings that Saddam has inflicted on his people. The 23-page report, based on intelligence findings from major human-rights groups, described Iraq as "a terrifying place to live" where Saddam's brutal regime inflicted grotesque acts of violence against Iraqi citizens.

Amnesty International, the world's foremost human-rights organization, said that more than 170,000 Iraqis have "disappeared" over the past 20 years.

The report details serial rapes and murder by Saddam's oldest son, Uday, and says his youngest son, Qusay, has engaged in the torture of anyone who dares to speak out against Saddam.

Meantime, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in Turkey, seeking its approval to use U.S. air bases there in the coming war against Iraq.

Turkey, which borders northern Iraq, is expected to provide some of its military to handle the expected flow of Iraqi refugees over its border and to help with prisoners of war.

The U.S. wants to be able to attack Iraq from the north as well as from the south, forcing Sadda, to fight a two-front war, which he is ill-equipped to do. One of our most important allies is Turkey. U.S. forces used bases in Turkey when they saved fleeing Iraqi Kurds in the wake of the Gulf war in 1991.

While Democratic critics of the president's war plans have repeatedly attacked his "go it alone" policy, the truth is we have a lot of bilateral support to use military bases throughout the region in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (for refueling, reconnaissance, and command and control operations), Oman and Bahrain.

Surely no one knows Saddam better than his Arab neighbors, whom he has threatened in the past, and their assistance speaks volumes for the rightness and the justification of our cause.

We now have a combined military force of 60,000 in the Persian Gulf that will likely grow to more than 200,000 before the order is given to go to war to disarm this dangerous and evil regime.

The administration's war critics have tried to separate Iraq from the war on terrorism. Al Gore has said a war against Saddam's war-making arsenal will divert attention from the terrorist threat. But make no mistake about it, the war against Iraq is very much part of the search-and-destroy mission against the al Qaeda terrorists elsewhere in the world.

Iraq is, as Mr. Cheney said in his speech Monday, an "outlaw regime" that is "harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror."

This isn't just another bad regime. There are plenty of those that do not require our immediate attention. No, Iraq is part and parcel of the terrorist threat. Saddam's government "has had high-level contacts with al Qaeda going back a decade and has provided training to al Qaeda terrorists," Mr. Cheney said.

That is why when Saddam Hussein's regime falls and is replaced by a democratic government, a significant arm of the terrorist menace will fall with it. And that will send a powerful, paralyzing message to the remaining terrorist armies that their days are indeed numbered, that there is nowhere to hide.

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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