Saddam's Colleagues Given Passports To Escape Into Europe

And now the most telling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:

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Procuring Passports?
A week after reports accused some French officials of keeping the old Iraqi regime updated on their "secret" dealings with American officials, a new report says the French government gave members of the Baghdad regime passports (search) that would allow them to escape into Europe after the war started. The Washington Times says an unknown number of Saddam's colleagues who escaped into Syria (search) had obtained French passports, leaving the Iraqis free to roam 12 countries in the European Union that have an unrestricted travel agreement. A spokeswoman for the French embassy did not deny that escaping Iraqi officials had French passports, but did deny that they got them after the war began.

Museum Was Empty Before War Started?
First it was 170,000, then it was 120,000, then 90,000, and now it seems the true number of items missing from the Baghdad Museum (search) is 25. The New York Times is now corroborating story in Archaeology Magazine, which FOX News reported earlier, saying that leading up to the war, the Baghdad Museum's staff had been prepared by Saddam to take artifacts into safe hiding should a war break out. The New York Times, however, goes a step further, saying the staff acted on its training at the behest of Saddam, emptying most of the museum's display cases months before the war started.

Scenic Sales
The Nature Conservancy, whose motto is "Saving the last great places on Earth," is apparently selling some of those "great places" -- at a loss -- to trustees and supporters, who are then permitted to build houses as big as they want on the land, complete in some cases with tennis courts, swimming pools and guest cottages. The Washington Post says these trustees and supporters then cover the Conservancy's loss by giving it a charitable and tax deductible contribution in roughly the amount they saved on the purchase price. But the Conservancy insists it's all in the name of conservation, saying intrusive development is reduced because the land's value drops with all the permanent restrictions it places on the land.

Labor Party Layoff?
British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who was accused by London's Daily Telegraph of being on Saddam's Payroll to the tune of $500,000 a year, has been suspended from the Labor Party. The Labor Party says his suspension has nothing to do with the Telegraph's story, but instead has to do with remarks he made during the war in Iraq, including calling British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush "wolves." The Daily Telegraph, though, says the Labor Party was more angered by an appearance on Arab Television in late March, in which Galloway "seemingly invited other Arab nations to fight against the British Army." Meanhwile, Galloway is calling his suspension "grotesque" and "tantamount to political exile."

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume