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CBS interviews Saddam
February 25, 2003 5:39 AM   Subscribe

How come Dan Rather can get to him, but the CIA can't?
posted by luser (32 comments total)

 
Luser - simple! - Saddam Hussein doesn't exist. He is a role, played by trained stage actors.....

Or - Hussein is very, very well guarded: Dan Rather is a CIA asset scoping out the situation, looking for weakness in Saddam's personal defense methods.

Or - Saddam will die soon from the biological agents which wafted off Dan Rather's hair creme.

Or - The CIA doesn't want to get to him (your predilection as an explanation, I'd bet - but the most boring, unlike.....).

Don Rumsfeld is protecting Saddam, his secret lover.
posted by troutfishing at 5:50 AM on February 25, 2003


If you don't have an enemy then you don't have anyone to fight. If you don't have anyone to fight, then you can't fight. If you aren't fighting then no one will be watching the fight. If no one is watching the fight, then they'll be watching something else. If they're watching something else, then they might be watching
a) the economy
b) our civil liberties
c) your lies
posted by goneill at 5:53 AM on February 25, 2003


Remember Ahmed Shah Massoud, the anti-Taliban chap who was assasinated by two suicide bombers posing as TV journalists?

I'm Dan Rather. Tonight on Sixty Minutes: watch me die.

Oh, imagine the ratings!
posted by humuhumu at 6:10 AM on February 25, 2003


Did you see the part where Saddam challenges Bush to a live debate? Think of the hilarious possibilities!

It could be on Fox, and the undercard could have a debate between Manute Bol and Mike Tyson. I'm just throwing ideas out here.
posted by Samsonov14 at 6:26 AM on February 25, 2003


Humuhumu's post got me thinking about the debate over journalists carrying weapons and participating the attainment of military objectives.

Questionable under the rules of war and definitely compromising of objectivity perhaps but I'm under the impression that this started in earnest back in Vietnam. Besides, in the age of aggressive media management in warfare, is the notion of journalistic objectivity something of a moot point?
posted by dmt at 6:28 AM on February 25, 2003


And now, from planet Earth, the real reason:

Since the early 1970's, the CIA has been forbidden to assassinate foreign leaders.

We return you now to our regularly-scheduled program of random Bush-bashing and free-floating paranoia.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:31 AM on February 25, 2003


We return you now to our regularly-scheduled program of random Bush-bashing and free-floating paranoia.

Not so fast, Mr. Tove.
posted by luser at 6:52 AM on February 25, 2003


Ahem.

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) said that in a recent conversation with Bush the prez said he "would order the assassination of Saddam Hussein 'if we had intelligence on where he was now and we had a clear shot.'"
Fitzgerald quickly added, "I assumed he had said that somewhere else. But maybe if he didn't say that anywhere else, I shouldn't have said that just now." - today's Arlington Heights Daily Herald
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:53 AM on February 25, 2003


Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) said that in a recent conversation with Bush the prez said he "would order the assassination of Saddam Hussein 'if we had intelligence on where he was now and we had a clear shot.'"

If President Bartlett can do it, so can Bush!
posted by Plunge at 7:03 AM on February 25, 2003


Why is there controversey about this, Cunning? You read this and this, and then your link...it's like a parallel universe in which something that happened, didn't.

More evidence that this is all just a lucid dream.
posted by luser at 7:04 AM on February 25, 2003


(it's like a parallel universe in which something that happened, didn't. )

What happened was you zipped in and posted right between me hitting "preview" and hitting "post," making my contribution look moronic. Damn your speediness!
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:12 AM on February 25, 2003


Since the early 1970's, the CIA has been forbidden to assassinate foreign leaders..

That is unless we're at war, then it's not an assasination but rather a 'targeted strike'. Additionally the transcript of the Church report you cite is simply Helms (then CIA Director) stating he issued a memo forbidding it. In essence they forbade themselves, just like I quit smoking three times last week. That's not exactly a law and what prevents subsequent directors from issuing another memo saying, "Nevermind. We changed our minds," ?

There is also Presidential Directive concerning this, but once again, that is easily overidden by another directive. Considering the secretiveness of the current administration such a directive could well be made without our knowledge. As others have pointed out there are indications that this policy isn't exactly carved in stone, these are extraordinary times as we keep being reminded.

Even though the CIA is mentioned in the initial post, why not extend this discussion to other arms of the government? The precedent for the targeting of individuals was set last November with the killing of six terrorists in Yemen. The precedent for strikes against foreign leaders was set with the targeting of Quaddafis residence in Libya several years ago.

Where the random Bush-bashing and free-floating paranoia comes in, I'm not too sure. The right seems mighty quick on the partisan trigger these days. I wonder if the dwindling support for war and growing awareness that there are more important issues facing this country than some Middle East despot might be making ya'll a little, shall we say... paranoid?
posted by cedar at 7:13 AM on February 25, 2003


such a directive could well be made without our knowledge

Jesus. Is it too much trouble to read the thread before posting?
posted by luser at 7:16 AM on February 25, 2003


The Guardian reports on Saddam's protective apparatus. A bit speculative at the end, but nonetheless informative.

I would expect that Rather was pretty closely inspected before getting into Saddam's presence. Nonetheless, I bet there were handlers worried about the Massoud-style exploding journalist scenario.

Of course, the real reason that the US hasn't been able to kill Saddam is that it hasn't gotten as lucky as it needed to. On Frontline a while back, Schwartzkopf told a story of bombing Saddam's convoy back in 1991 and hitting the car in front of Saddam's and the car behind his, but missing the man himself.
posted by ednopantz at 7:18 AM on February 25, 2003


Jesus. Is it too much trouble to read the thread before posting?

Heh? I thought the thread was about the CIA targeting Saddam. I was just thinking along the lines that a Presidential Directive either forbidding it or allowing it was relevant.

If I'm mistaken about this, please feel free explain how; if not, please feel free to shut the fuck up.
posted by cedar at 7:21 AM on February 25, 2003


They should have sent Geraldo to do the interview. Remember how he was all rigged out with *gasp* a pistol in Afghanistan, saying he was 'prepared to take down Osama'?
posted by holycola at 7:26 AM on February 25, 2003


Look, here's the point. Bush has authorized the killing of Saddam in "self defense" and the White House says Ford's order against assassination still stands. However, cedar is right that Bush could easily override that, and according to this looselipped congressman, he plans to.

"I have personally talked to the president about this and if we had intelligence on where he was now, and we had a clear shot to assassinate him, we would probably do that. President Bush would probably sign an executive order repealing the executive order put in place by President Ford that forbid the assassination of foreign leaders," Fitzgerald told the Illinois paper linked above.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:30 AM on February 25, 2003


On Frontline a while back, Schwartzkopf told a story of bombing Saddam's convoy back in 1991 and hitting the car in front of Saddam's and the car behind his, but missing the man himself.

That makes Dubya's whining about "he tried to kill ma pappy" seem rather weak, no?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:51 AM on February 25, 2003


luser: In the links provided, there is talk about killing Saddam Hussein 'in self-defense', whatever that means, and about encouraging his opponents to kill him. Neither is assassination.

Cunninglinguist, in your linked article the administration says that the Ford 'no assassination' executive order 'remains in place.'

cedar: Where the random Bush-bashing and free-floating paranoia comes in, I'm not too sure. Hint: remember this? It was only 9 posts ago.

In essence they forbade themselves, just like I quit smoking three times last week. Uh, no. It's just like I quit smoking in 1978. It's been settled US policy for a generation, and seven administrations.

If it's reversed, it's not something that's going to be done lightly, or without uproar, if it's done at all. The policy is in place because of general revulsion on the part of the US for assassination as a diplomatic tool.

I'm not sure it should be reversed. I'm not sure assassinating Saddam, or any foreign leader, regardless of its ethics, is going to do much to advance US policy. If Saddam were assassinated, for example, what would happen in Iraq? Takeover by his kid, Uday, who is reported to be even worse. Would assassinating Soviet leaders have brought down the USSR any sooner? Probably not, there were always one or two in the wings. Assassination of US presidents didn't bring down the US. Assassination of MLK didn't stop the civil rights movement. I guess the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand did something, but I'll bet it wasn't what his killer wanted.

I don't think assassination works.

"Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" Oops.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:01 AM on February 25, 2003



a) the economy
b) our civil liberties
c) your lies


well said goneill.


id like to see bush get some balls and do an interview with someone other than matt lauer. it will never happen. neither will reelection.
posted by specialk420 at 8:15 AM on February 25, 2003


I don't think assassination works
sure they do.

so, do you (who ever) think Danny boy is just window dressing?
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 AM on February 25, 2003


I was just thinking along the lines that a Presidential Directive either forbidding it or allowing it was relevant.

cedar, of course it's relevant. Also relevant, as I pointed out, is that Bush last year in fact directed the CIA to kill Saddam, and you responded that such a directive could potentially be "made without our knowledge." Huh?

You tell me, but it just seemed to me you weren't really participating in the thread, just posting. Again, I could have been clearer, and less impatient. In future please don't tell me to shut the fuck up.

Slithy, last year's directive authorized the CIA to kill Saddam "in self-defense." Come on -- do you seriously believe that does not reverse the Ford-era ban? Is the CIA going to shoot only if Saddam shoots first?? Is the widespread support of this directive conditional on self-defense, do you think? And as for

general revulsion on the part of the US for assassination as a diplomatic tool.

as I linked, the only uproar re: the Bush directive has been one of massive approval -- of Democrats in Congress and of Americans, male AND female, in polls. Asked about using deadly force to remove Saddam, only 14% disapproved, with three-quarters all for it. When the wording uses the loaded word "assassination," the disapprovals double but you still see 55% in favor of that.

So, to summarize, the CIA is in fact trying to kill Saddam, is authorized to do so, Dan Rather is making them look completely inept, and judging by the posters here, Bush can do whatever the hell he wants with full confidence that we will all forget about it in six months.

Sorry for the post moderating.
posted by luser at 8:35 AM on February 25, 2003


so, do you (who ever) think Danny boy is just window dressing?

as in, "do you think Saddam is still working for his old American employers?"
if that's what you mean, it's a very good question, and I'd be inclined to answer "maybe". it's one intriguing hypothesis
posted by matteo at 9:27 AM on February 25, 2003


Sorry for the post moderating.

It's okay. Surely you're allowed to contribute to your own thread.

I don't know what 'in self-defense' means. It could mean 'in time of war', i.e., once a war has started, the CIA can unleash the Predators, but not before. I dunno.

Yes, a majority of Americans do seem to be in favor of assassinating Hussein. I'm still not sure we're going to abruptly reverse thirty years of policy.

But have we considered that maybe even Dan Rather didn't get to him him? Saddam has been reported to use several doubles. Who knows who Rather really talked to.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:28 AM on February 25, 2003


cedar, of course it's relevant. Also relevant, as I pointed out, is that Bush last year in fact directed the CIA to kill Saddam, and you responded that such a directive could potentially be "made without our knowledge." Huh?

You tell me, but it just seemed to me you weren't really participating in the thread, just posting. Again, I could have been clearer, and less impatient. In future please don't tell me to shut the fuck up.


Please accept my apologies for the overreaction.

My point was that the directives forbidding assination are just that, directives. They don't carry the force of law and can be overridden as easily as they were issued.

As far the 'without our knowledge' part goes, I'm quite certain that directives by the President to the CIA may not necessarily be made public. It strikes me as entirely possible that the policy may have changed without our knowledge, post 9/11 legislation allows a great deal of discretion on matters concerning national security and I don't for a moment think that the public is privy to a tenth of what is really going on.

As I pointed out in my original post the precedent is there. Libya...foreign leader (even though we missed). Yemen....terrorists. Surely Saddam fits one category or another and the past shows that despite previous policy there is room for exceptions.
posted by cedar at 9:36 AM on February 25, 2003


It strikes me as entirely possible that the policy may have changed without our knowledge

More than possible, my friend. From the BBC in June 2002:

US officials have confirmed a Washington Post report that Mr Bush had authorised operations to capture - or kill - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

More on this can be found here and here.
posted by luser at 11:36 AM on February 25, 2003


From today's briefing by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer:

Q: Ari, given the fact that the president has talked about the potential conflict with Iraq as a continuation of the war on terror, if an opportunity presented itself, would the president authorize the assassination of Saddam Hussein? And did he tell a U.S. senator that, in fact, he would do that?

MR. FLEISCHER: The executive order that deals with these matters remains in place, and that guides --

Q: What is that?

MR. FLEISCHER: There's an executive order that prohibits the assassination of foreign leaders, and that remains -- and that remains in place. So, that's the answer to your question.

Now, of course, in the event of military conflict, command and control are different matters, as is well known, in accordance with previous practice of the law. And that is reflected in anything the president would have done or said.

Q: But the question is, if the opportunity presented itself, would he rescind that order and take that shot? And did he say that to Senator Fitzgerald?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, I've looked into it. I can't confirm that he did say it. I did not see that --

Q: Did you ask him about it?

MR. FLEISCHER: The president doesn't recall if he said it or didn't say it. The staff doesn't recall the president saying it. But bottom line, it remains the same; the executive order is in place, and so it's a hypothetical that doesn't exist.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:09 PM on February 25, 2003


"How come Dan Rather can get to him, but the CIA can't?"

because Saddam suspects the CIA would kill him but he would be stunned if Dan Rather killed him.
posted by RobbieFal at 5:01 PM on February 25, 2003


Tonight's Nightline is going to look at the assassination question.
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on February 25, 2003


....and where was Rather on November 22, 1963....
posted by clavdivs at 6:11 PM on February 25, 2003


So when is Bush going to be on Iraq TV? It's a free country, isn't it?
posted by BubbaDude at 3:39 AM on February 26, 2003


i thought the interview was an eye opener. the man may be and evil piece of s**t - never the less the interview was fair - balanced - unscripted look into the mind of the man targeted for "regime change" at untold cost to the american taxpayer both in real dollars and in americas standing in the world - is he a madman bent on attacking the United States - it sure as f**k didnt appear so....

will gw ever sit down with journalist and answer some real questions about his leadership and policies? unscripted - unprepared? i dont think so.

rather did a hell of a job.
posted by specialk420 at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2003


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