Saddam in Exile! (Oh my, Oh my!)

This week, new information surfaced that provides a deeper look into governmental action prior to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Less than a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein signaled that he was willing to go into exile as long as he could take with him $1 billion and information on weapons of mass destruction, according to a report of a Feb. 22, 2003, meeting between President Bush and his Spanish counterpart published by a Spanish newspaper yesterday.

Apparently, the meeting was held at Bush’s ranch; it was planned as a strategic coordinating session to discuss giving Iraq a final diplomatic nudge.

Spain’s prime minister at the time, Jose Maria Aznar, expressed hope that war might be avoided – or at least supported by a U.N. majority – and Bush said that outcome would be “the best solution for us” and “would also save us $50 billion,” referring to the initial U.S. estimate of what the Iraq war would cost. But Bush made it clear in the meeting that he expected to “be in Baghdad at the end of March.”

Of course, nobody in the administration or at Washington’s Spanish Embassy offered any viable commentary on the alleged meeting in which Bush likened U.N. negotiations to “Chinese water torture.”

El Pais – a leading Spanish paper and vocal critic of the Iraq war had acquired a copy of the transcript from the meeting. Aside from the claim that Hussein may have opted to go into exile, Bush also mentioned a possible assassination of the former Iraqi leader:

“It’s also possible he could be assassinated.” In any case, Bush said, there would be “no guarantee” for Hussein. “He’s a thief, a terrorist and a war criminal. Compared to Saddam, [former Yugoslav president Slobodan] Milosevic would be a Mother Teresa.”

If you’re intrigued, read about it in the Washington Post.  I’m withholding further comment on this one!