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'Where's Saddam?' Asks Pentagon - 2003-03-31


A top U.S. defense official has again taunted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in what may be an effort to draw him into public.

First it was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, Chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now it's top Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke - all admitting they don't know if Saddam Hussein is dead or alive, but all raising doubts about his grip on power in Iraq. Ms. Clarke notes he has not been seen since the opening night of the war.

"The world has neither seen his hide nor hair, only tapes. We have not seen his sons. We have seen evidence that family members are fleeing the country," she said.

A senior military official said the taunting of Saddam has both political and military goals. On the political side, even if coalition forces failed to kill him at the start of the war, maybe they can now bury him with words, scoring a psychological blow.

From the military perspective, the same official continues, if Saddam is alive and decides to rise to the challenges, then maybe coalition commanders will get a firm fix on his location, triggering a new series of attacks.