- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2003

If Howard Dean doesn’t yet wish that the 4th Infantry Division soldiers who captured Saddam had tossed a grenade down the spider hole first, he soon will.

Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and Kobe Bryant, step aside. Saddam’s trial will be the trial of the year, perhaps of the century, with a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions. It will change the nature of news coverage from Iraq, to the grave detriment of Mr. Dean and other antiwar Democrats.

The news media and the Democratic presidential contenders have been doing their best to ignore the evidence of Saddam Hussein’s crimes. It now will be very difficult to do so.

The news coverage from Iraq has consisted almost exclusively of highlighting the casualties of the day from this ambush or that suicide bombing. But Saddam’s trial will supersede that. It will be easy for television to cover, impossible for television to ignore.

And the capture of Saddam means there will be eventually — and may be immediately — far fewer ambushes and suicide bombings for the media to report.

Intelligence is additive. Already there have been a number of arrests based on information obtained from Saddam in his initial interrogation, and from documents captured with him.

If I were a former regime loyalist, I would be worried sick about what Saddam knew about me and my whereabouts, and what he may have committed to paper.

I would be so busy trying to cover my tracks I wouldn’t have time to plan any new attacks.

And if I were an FRL, and I had seen the meek and cowardly way Saddam surrendered, my eagerness to risk my life in what now is obviously a lost cause would substantially diminish.

The most immediate effect of Saddam’s capture will be a huge increase in Iraqis willing to come forward with information, now that they know for sure Saddam will not be coming back to wreak vengeance upon them.

Saddam’s capture also means the tongues of his senior officials already in custody will be loosened. They now have no hope of a Ba’athist restoration, and a greater incentive to cut deals to preserve their own lives. Expect some of the face cards in the deck of 55 to become witnesses for the prosecution at Saddam’s trial.

And what a show the trial will be, with Iraqi prosecutors eliciting from Iraqi witnesses evidence of the enormity of the crimes Saddam committed in 23 years of murder, oppression and theft.

The trial is likely to begin in March or April, the worst possible time for Democrats. April 7, the anniversary of the day Saddam’s statue fell in Fardous Square, would be a good symbolic date. And the trial probably will last for months.

With Iraqi witnesses reminding the world of what a monster Saddam was, Democrats will seem petty, small and more than a little cruel if they continue to argue the vicious dictator should have been left in power to oppress his people.

Democrats don’t need Iraqi help to appear petty and small. If Mr. Dean was gracious and dignified in his response to the capture of Saddam, many of his supporters were not.

“I’m crying here,” wrote “Carrie” on the Dean for America weblog. “I feel that now we don’t have a chance in this election.”

“If Bush will not bring our boys home, then they will have to die so that Howard Dean can win,” said “Johnny Smith.”

“I think it is shameful that the ACLU has not commented on the obvious mistreatment Hussein has suffered at the hands of the American military,” said “Leslie in SF.”

Rep. James McDermott, Washington Democrat, charged on a radio show in Seattle that the Army had timed Saddam’s capture to give Mr. Bush a political boost.

Democrats complain Republicans accuse them of being unpatriotic. This is untrue and unnecessary. Democrats do a good job of demonstrating their lack of patriotism all by themselves.

Jack Kelly, a syndicated columnist, is a former Marine and Green Beret and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. He is national security writer for the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette.

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