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Beyond a reasonable doubt

The only member of the New York Times' editorial board not on Saddam Hussein's payroll reiterates his contention that Saddam is a supporter of terrorism, describing intelligence gathered from captured Iraqi agents:

However, the terrorist mission to set up facilities to weaponize poisons in Iraqi Kurdistan's mountainous equivalent of Afghanistan's Tora Bora has been more successful. One produces a form of cyanide cream that kills on contact. A shipment of this rudimentary panic-spreader, produced by what interrogators say is a Qaeda-Saddam joint venture, was recently intercepted in Turkey on its way to terror cells in the West. The chemicals are not weapons of mass destruction, but for individuals who touch it — 'tis enough, 'twill do.

Such verification of data obtained from the captured terrorists awakened C.I.A. bureaucrats who for nearly a year waved reporters away from evidence of Qaeda-Iraqi links lest it justify U.S. action. Belatedly, a C.I.A. team interrogated some of the terrorists held in northern Iraq — comparing what they found with information gleaned from Al Qaeda prisoners at Guantánamo and elsewhere.

Even religiously motivated terrorists crack in dismay at how much the interrogator already knows. When added to prisoners' family details provided by Kurdish sources, the scope of our knowledge led captives in Kurdistan to talk about poison production and Iraqi links because they figured there was little left to hide.

The new information has changed much intelligence analysis. The C.I.A. has even stopped discrediting reports from Czech intelligence about a different point of Qaeda-Saddam contact: the meeting between the Sept. 11 hijackers' leader, Mohamed Atta, and a top Saddam spymaster in Prague.

And that's without even mentioning the organized, systematic payments made by Hussein to the families of Palestinian homicide-bombers.

The idea that ousting Saddam Hussein could "hurt the war on terror," as some have argued, is insane. Ousting Saddam Hussein is the single most important step the U.S. can take in the war on terror.


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