Thursday, November 06, 2003

Let's make a deal?

Saddam tried to beg his way out of it, according to the NY Times:

As American soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal.

Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.

And interestingly enough, Richard Perle was involved, meeting with "the business man" in London.

The overtures, after a decade of evasions and deceptions by Iraq, were ultimately rebuffed. But the messages raised enough interest that in early March, Richard N. Perle, an influential adviser to top Pentagon officials, met in London with the Lebanese-American businessman, Imad Hage.

According to both men, Mr. Hage laid out the Iraqis' position to Mr. Perle, and he pressed the Iraqi request for a direct meeting with Mr. Perle or another representative of the United States.

"I was dubious that this would work," said Mr. Perle, widely recognized as an intellectual architect of the Bush administration's hawkish policy toward Iraq, "but I agreed to talk to people in Washington."

Mr. Perle said he sought authorization from C.I.A. officials to meet with the Iraqis, but the officials told him they did not want to pursue this channel, and they indicated they had already engaged in separate contacts with Baghdad. Mr. Perle said, "The message was, `Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad.' "

That doesn't seem to match the profile that the Angry Left and the moonbats have of Perle as a "neo-con war monger."


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