If Only Saddam Hussein Had Called 411 By Scott Ott

The New York Times revealed today that Saddam Hussein desperately tried to avert the Coalition attack on Iraq in March but could not find the phone number to the White House, or No. 10 Downing Street.

The Iraqi dictator reportedly wanted to offer sweeping concessions, and even “unconditional terms”, but his intelligence officers could not find a way to directly contact Prime Minister Tony Blair or U.S. President George Bush.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” said retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who is running for president as a Democrat. “The Bush administration didn’t do enough to publicize the White House phone number. This New York Times report clearly shows that Saddam was contrite and ready to cooperate with any and all U.S. demands. We have no one to blame but George Bush for overthrowing this repentant man.”

According to the Times story, Saddam Hussein attempted to contact the White House by…
— sending Hassan al-Obeidi, chief of foreign operations of the Iraqi Intelligence Service,
— to speak with a Lebanese-American businessman, Imad Hage,
— who spoke with Michael Maloof a Lebanese-American working as an analyst in the Pentagon,
— who introduced Mr. Hage to Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle.

Eventually, Mr. Hage met with Tahir Jalil Habbush, the director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service who offered, among other concessions, to turn over al Qaeda operative Abdul Rahman Yasin, an indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said his office had monitored Mr. Hage’s contacts with Saddam’s government, but eventually rejected the information as unreliable.

“After all,” said Mr. Rumsfeld, “Everyone knows that Saddam had no ties to al Qaeda or any other global terror network.”

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