22 December 2003

US Saddam claims being challenged

US intelligence officers have concluded that Saddam was directing the postwar insurgency inside Iraq, playing a far more active role than thought.

Despite his bewildered appearance when he was hauled from his hiding hole last weekend, he is believed to have been issuing regular instructions on targets and tactics through five trusted lieutenants.

Documents found in Saddam's briefcase indicated that he had been kept informed of the progress of the insurgency, but did not suggest he had overall control of operations by former Baath Party loyalists. But since the arrest and interrogation of guerilla leaders named in the paperwork, US investigators now believe Saddam headed an elaborate network of rebel cells.

The investigators have put together a picture of Saddam's support structure, enabling him to issue commands without using satellite phones, which monitoring devices can hear.

McGeough stayed in Baghdad throughout the war as an independent journalist. His analysis has generally been reliable. It's another question that will play out over the next few weeks. My first impulse is to ask how Saddam, a strategic and tactical moron who had alienated most of his armed forces by privileging the SRG, somehow turned into a competent guerilla commander with the loyalty of his irregulars.

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