You may note from the datestamp on this post that I am still burning the midnight oil, rather feverishly I might add, on my article on the Iraq debate in Washington, DC.
I couldn't help pointing your attention, however, to Bill Safire's OpEd in today's Times. The subject of the piece is the alleged meeting between Mohamed Atta and a key Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague last year.
As Safire notes, "If the report proves accurate, a connection would exist between Al Qaeda's murder of 3,000 Americans and Iraq's Saddam. That would clearly be a casus belli, calling for our immediate military response, separate from the need to stop a demonstrated mass killer from acquiring nuclear and germ weapons."
Safire goes on to describe how a "protect-Saddam cabal" at the Justice Department and the CIA is scheming to cover this up.
Let me give you a peek at a section of one of the interviews I conducted for my article.
Danielle Pletka was until recently a key staffer to Senator Jesse Helms. She was the Senator's point-person on Iraq. Recently she moved to the American Enterprise Institute. Pletka is feisty, sharp, and very candid. Some of those she's gone up against have an even more expansive package of adjectives. But I enjoyed my conversation with her, so we don't need to go into that.
Pletka thinks there are more than enough reasons to go after Saddam right now. But a hand in September 11th isn't one of them.
When I spoke to her late last month she told me: "Nobody credible makes the case that there's some connection between Saddam Hussein and what happened September 11th." As she puts it, with admirable directness: "The case [against Saddam] has been the same since 1991, hell, since 1988 and that is that Saddam Hussein is a lunatic and he is seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction."
One thing I've learned in reporting on Iraq is how much our policy has been distorted and mangled and generally made a shambles of by mouthy pundits who don't have a clear idea what they're talking about. Safire's piece today looks like a case in point.