Didn't we try to assasinate Saddam first?

I finally spoke out. Something in the recess of my brain seemed to recall that we attempted to rub out Saddam at the end of Gulf War I. In this thread I put those murky memories into words.

But I spoke out at the tail end of a thread that had an OP that was only slightly related. One other poster recalled the same thing, but also had only a murky memory.

Since the “Saddam tried to rub out H.W.Bush” argument seems to be making the rounds as a grounds for war, isn’t a “But H.W. Bush started it” one of the many possible replies? A google of “Bunker Buster” and “Saddam” brings copious amounts of net chaff. My question is: Am I losing it? Does any one else recall this?

Trying to assassinate your enemy after the cessation of hostilities during which you got your ass whooped is bad form no matter what happened prior.

According to Frontine, the US was involved in an attempt to kill Saddam in 1996.


Unsubstantiated anecdote:

A college friend – a Marine – told us that either during or just after the Gulf War, a U.S. sniper barely missed a head shot of the real Saddam Hussein (as opposed to a double). This was a rumor apparently being tossed around the military in the early '90s, as I’ve heard it from about a half-dozen other servicemen, in different branches. Can any military Dopers confirm at least hearing this rumor?

Does the term “all’s fair in love and war” sound familiar? :slight_smile:

Here’s the thing: officially, the United States does not condone, nor practice assassination. What they do unofficially is left to the imagination of conspiracy theorists. In wartime, however, it’s not considered assassination if you strike an important military complex with the idea of say, “disrupting command and control.” Thus if you hit a bunker containing suspected weapons munitions, or a command center, and Saddam happens to be in residence, well, it’s simply a “lucky coincidence.” What’s important is that you’re not singling out one specific individual as a target. It’s all in the wording.

Of course, this doesn’t explain snipers. Typically, snipers are after targets of opportunity rather than a specific individual. Their goal is to disrupt enemy command and undermine troop morale. If they just “happen” to be in an area frequented by an enemy leader, how…lucky. Again, it’s all in the wording.

Make no mistake, during wartime, both sides are trying very hard to locate the top commanders so that they can kill them. It’s part of war, and both sides are in on the fun. You want to talk about wording? War is murder on a massive scale. Because it’s called “war,” however, it’s okay to kill your fellow man. War gives us license to do, as a group, what we would not do as individuals.

Without running off to the search engines myself, does anyone recall when Saddam tried to assassinate President Bush? My guess is that it was after Desert Storm had ended. That takes it out of the wartime arena, with all of it’s rule bending, and places it firmly in the illegal catagory.

There might also be some distinction as to the method involved. Is a bomb dropped from a plane the same as a bomb strapped to the underside of the President’s car? I think so. My guess is that most Americans would consider it bad form if we had strapped a bomb to Saddam’s private car, even during the Persian Gulf War. America prides itself in being the good guy, and car bombs seem underhanded compared with a laser guided bomb.

I also recall the US bombing installations where Saddamn may have been. I don’t think they were actively targeting him, but if he happened to be a casuality, nobody was going to lose sleep over it at the Pentagon.

This is a little off topic, but I’m sure the US is trying to assassinate him right now. If successful, the US can claim Saddam was “overthrown” and we avoid a war (we hope).

Military guys are full of wild tales. Some of them take on a legitamacy by being passed on from one grunt to the next. Soon, everyone knows someone that knows someone that knows the someone the story is about. Having been in the military, I can tell you that there’s some great urban legends out there. Many of them are used as training tools - incidents that underline the importance of doing (or not doing) some task. I wouldn’t give the story about a Marine sniper any credence until you saw it from a respected news source - and they better have some good resources as well.

As for the Marine sniper with a shot, I’ve never heard that one. Coallition forces never got that close to Baghdad, where Saddam was likely holed up, during the war. That’s not to say that some special forces might not have infiltrated the city, but I doubt it. If it happened after the war, no Marine sniper would’ve have taken such a shot, since they would’ve faced court martial - at a minimum. Besides, what’s so special about getting a bead on someone during peacetime? It’s hardly a worthy story to say that someone got a chance to shoot at someone with hardly any risk to the endeavor.

More likely, they’re trying to convince factions inside Iraq to assassinate Saddam. That would be the only way to lend legitimacy to the notion that he was overthrown by political enemies within his own country and the U.S. could keep it’s hands clean.

The only problem with any such gamble is that it does not insure a beneficial regime change. Killing Saddam merely opens the door for one of his subordinates to take charge, or even a rival faction. Believe it or not, there are actually worse leaders than Saddam that could take control. That’s one of the reasons that Dubbyah is pushing for a democracy to follow his proposed war.