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Rumsfeld: Some Iraqis Could Overthrow Saddam - 2002-10-07

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he does not doubt that some Iraqis would favor overthrowing Saddam Hussein, a move than could forestall any U.S.-led military action against Baghdad.

Mr. Rumsfeld refuses to discuss whether the Bush administration has collected intelligence indicating dissident elements in the military and elsewhere in Iraq might revolt against Saddam Hussein.

But responding to reporters' questions during a Pentagon news briefing Monday, Mr. Rumsfeld says he does not doubt that some Iraqis favor toppling the Iraqi leader. "There have to be people there, who, despite the fact that they have been repressed for many, many decades, who would prefer to live a different life, and I don't doubt for a minute, but that that's the case. But it's not for me to get into intelligence that discusses that," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

His comment came shortly after White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer urged Iraqi military commanders to defy Saddam Hussein, if he orders biological or chemical weapons attacks on U.S. forces.

Mr. Fleischer said the message to Iraqi commanders is "think before you act."

U.S. aircraft recently dropped leaflets on Iraqi air defense units in the south of the country, urging them not to fire on coalition aircraft patrolling what is called the southern no-fly zone.

It was the first such appeal to Iraqi soldiers to disobey their commanders this year. The plane dropping the leaflets was fired on.

But defense sources say the Pentagon is preparing a major so-called psychological operations campaign, aimed at Iraqi military units, especially those that might be equipped with chemical or biological weapons.

The sources say the campaign would be designed to convince commanders not to use such weapons, if Iraq is attacked.