February 27, 2003


MEMO TO PETER FITZGERALD-- SHUT UP: Did President Bush tell Sen. Fitzgerald that he'd order an assassination of Saddam Hussein if "we had a clear shot?" Probably. The White House has to have considered the costs, benefits, and feasibility of assassination, and Bush might mention it in a conversation with a Senator. That Senator would also be expected not to repeat such a conversation.

Assassination is extremely controversial issue, and we're currently in the midst of the very touchiest of geopolitical maneuvers-- the wrestling match to save the UN from itself, and (more importantly) provide political coverage for our allies. Would we assassinate Saddam if we could? Of course. For various reasons we can't, and there is nothing to be gained by talking about it publicly.

Since Fitzgerald reported this conversation to the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, it's likely that he didn't think this was a big deal, and was surprised when ABC picked the story up. This shows inexcusably bad judgement. The geopolitical situation means that the White House had to deny Fitzgerald's story. The administration wants to retain its credibility only a bit less than it wants to persuade other countries to view the US as a responsible ally; Fitzgerald basically made them choose between those two goals, and forced them to lie. It's hard to tell how much of splash this story has made-- it's still filtering through the foreign media, but it doesn't look like it'll throw anything too much off track on the global level. Still, it was enormously stupid of Fitzgerald to say such a thing.

I'll have a post on PSR later on how this might affect Fitzgerald's political future. UPDATE: Here it is.

Posted by John Tabin at February 27, 2003 05:29 PM