All around the world — from the Arab Middle East to Western Europe — there is talk that the U.S. should not go after Saddam Hussein unless it has proof of his involvement in Sept. 11.

That is why the U.S. is trying to argue that Iraq must undergo a regime change, that Saddam must be replaced because he poses a nuclear and chemical threat to us.

The people who are doing oil deals with Saddam don't want us to attack because they think that they can control his belligerence — even if he does have nukes — and because many of them wouldn't mind seeing Israel go away anyway.

But besides all of that, they are trying to ratchet back what little talk there is that Saddam was involved in the terrorist attacks on America.

William Safire writes in The New York Times about attempts to discredit his reporting that Mohammad Atta flew from Florida to Prague to meet with an Iraqi intelligence agent. The Russians, who do oil deals with Saddam, say the meeting never happened. Safire has what we call darn good evidence that it did.

Then there's an intriguing story out of Oklahoma City from a reporter who has done a lot of work on the simple proposition that Tim McVeigh's John Doe no. 2 was an Iraqi, a former soldier from the Gulf War, paroled into the U.S. under a claim of political asylum.

The man in question was known to be in Oklahoma City as of November of '94, almost a year before the Murrah bombing. He was also spotted with McVeigh on numerous occasions and spent recent years working at Logan airport.

We should not forget that Ramzi Yousef, the architect of the '93 World Trade Center bombing, was thought by some to be an Iraqi intelligence agent.

If It were up to me, I would launch based on the connection between Atta and the Iraqi intelligence agent just before Sept. 11.

But for those who would like more evidence, how about John Doe no. 2? It was comforting, I guess, to spend all those years believing it was the crazed Aryan militias, but what if it turns out to be one of Saddam's boys?

The Iraq deal may go way, way back. So why are we letting the Jordanians and the Turks and the French and the Germans and the Russians hold us back? Saddam isn't attacking them. He wants us.

That's My Word.

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