When it comes to attacking Iraq, lots of people — from overseas editorial writers and politicians to U.S. senators who wear dovish feathers — have demanded that President Bush produce a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Up until now, the administration has been leaning on the weapons of mass destruction excuse for going after Saddam. But there is, or might be, a 9/11 connection out there for anybody to see.

I think the smart guys at the FBI and CIA, who are themselves smarting from recent national lashings, are thinking along these lines. We may soon see the part of the iceberg that is below the water line...

In the last couple of days, we've heard about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the Al Qaeda quartermaster who is said to have plotted the Sept. 11 attacks and financed the hijackers with money. He is also said to be a close associate and even relative of Ramzi Yousef, who is presently sitting in the federal slammer for the first World Trade Center bombing.

If we buy Laurie Mylroie's painstaking investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — as Paul Wolfowitz and James Woolsey evidently do — that concludes that Yousef was an Iraqi intelligence agent, and if we know that a relative of Yousef's was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 plot, the question arises: Why wouldn't we think that Saddam was involved in both attacks on the World Trade Center?

Sure, Usama bin Laden was evidently running this latest attack, but it was clearly designed to finish the 1993 job. If the CIA and the FBI can do this country a good service, this is it: Find the connection. We have now reasonable grounds to suspect it is true. If we can prove it, the reason to bunker-bust the butcher of Baghdad becomes not a simple choice — do it or don't — but an imperative.

With a connection established, it can be shouted from the rooftops that Saddam never ended his side of the Gulf War... that the Sept. 11  attacks were simply a riposte for his losses in 1991 and that we must go back to finish the job President Bush's dad left undone.

That's My Word.

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