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Time Is Running Out

The Bush administration speaks with a single voice on Iraq.

Feb 3, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 20 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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By Thursday, however, no one in the Bush administration entertained any illusion that the French and the others were serious about those consequences. That afternoon, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. The speech, "What Disarmament Looks Like," contrasted past successful disarmament efforts with the decade of Iraqi deception. The second half of his speech read like a bulleted list of Iraqi noncompliance and was the strongest case against Saddam made by an administration official since President Bush's address to the U.N. General Assembly.

At the same time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Powell went to Capitol Hill to share intelligence on Iraq with the Senate. The administration officials consulted with senators, and at one point asked their views about what intelligence should be made available to the public. Sources say the briefing involved intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda.

Some of that intelligence is likely to end up in the State of the Union on Tuesday. The president will use that speech to begin to make the case for war in Iraq, administration officials say, but he will wait until after the Security Council meetings later in the week to finish it.

Few, if any, of the administration officials who deal with Iraq now believe war can be avoided. Perhaps the clearest indication of American intentions came last week when President Bush warned Iraqi soldiers against fighting for Saddam. "Should any Iraqi officer or soldier receive an order from Saddam Hussein or his sons or any of the killers who occupy the high levels of their government," the president said, "my advice is don't follow that order."

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.