IRAQ: Inside the Hunt for Saddam (p. 36) American commanders tell TIME they have picked up a rush of new intelligence that suggests Saddam is moving through the arid plains outside the northwestern city of Mosul, seeking sanctuary with Bedouin loyalists he hoped would defend him to the death. "He said this week his sons were martyred by infidels," a senior military official tells TIME. "He has to avenge them. I don’t care what kind of guy this is. Once you’ve lost your sons and a grandson, what’s left?" The official, who is involved in the operations to track down Saddam, is convinced that Saddam’s game now is for Arab history; the aim: to create a lasting impression as a heroic martyr. "The sons fought hard. They went out tough. He can do no less." Saddam disappeared so effortlessly in the days following the fall of Baghdad that U.S. officials have come to believe he plotted the escape months in advance, choosing safe houses and dispensing supplies and money to his most trusted henchmen—and offering rich bounties for dead American GIs, TIME’s Romesh Ratnesar, who recently returned from Baghdad, reports. "He knew he might have to just hunker down, try to beat us and hope the situation changes," says a military official. The plan worked well until U.S. forces began seizing caches of the dictator’s money, raiding his safe houses and rounding up his associates. "Saddam has to have some kind of communication," says a Pentagon official. "He has to live somewhere. And he needs money."
HUSSEIN’S DAUGHTERS: The Rules of Their Exile (p. 16) Jordanian sources close to Saddam Hussein’s family say Raghad and Rana Hussein had sent feelers to several Arab capitals weeks before their siblings Uday and Qusay were killed in Mosul; but their brothers’ grisly end inspired the sisters to speed up their search for a safe haven, TIME’s Aparisim Ghosh reports. Jordan, with its long and close ties to the Saddam regime, was a logical choice. But King Abdullah hesitated, first seeking American approval for any exile deal. Only when he had the nod from Washington did the King offer the sisters his hospitality and protection. The terms of exile may not be in writing--one source described it as a "gentleman’s agreement"--but they are nonetheless precise. The sisters are to maintain the lowest possible profile and steer clear of any activity that may be construed as political. That includes talking to the media— they were permitted only two interviews, one each with an Arab and a Western outlet, TIME reports.
OSAMA BIN LADEN: Letting Up on Osama (p. 15) Last fall, as the U.S. began planning the invasion of Iraq, Washington shifted many of its highly classified special forces units and officers who had been hunting bin Laden in Afghanistan and moved them to Iraq, where they performed covert operations before the war began, TIME’s Massimo Calabresi and Michael Duffy report. By December, many of the 800 special forces personnel who had been chasing al Qaeda for a year were quietly brought back home, given a few weeks rest, and then shipped out to Iraq. "They all basically picked up and moved," said a senior U.S. official. When the A-team left, they took a lot of their high-tech equipment (and Arabic speakers) with them. And while they were replaced by fresh troops, many of the new units were comprised of reservists who, rather than specializing in Islamic threats, were trained for operations in Russian- and Spanish-speaking countries, TIME reports.
SARS FUTURES-TRADING PROGRAM LOSES FUNDING (p. 18) Sources tell TIME that a prototype market for health officials to wager on a SARS outbreak—to help pinpoint hot spots—lost funding in the process of shutting down the Pentagon’s controversial proposal to run a terrorism futures-trading market, TIME’s Daniel Kadlec reports.
JOE KLEIN: California Karma (p. 21) Feral fund-raising, negative ads and visionless governance are not unique to Sacramento, nor are the efforts of right-wing populist extremists to use constitutional gimmickry to subvert democracy, TIME’s Joe Klein writes in his column, In the Arena. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was part of the latter trend, as is the current effort in the Texas state legislature—orchestrated by Congressman Tom DeLay—to redraw district lines. As a nation, we seem to be losing the habits of civility and citizenship; public life is becoming a pricey boutique, catering only to special interests and political eccentrics. The California recall is goofy, irresponsible—and not a bad way to remind politicians that their work involves more than raising money and spending it on nasty nonsense, Klein writes.
ANDREW SULLIVAN: Beware the Straight Backlash (p. 35) Sullivan writes that Queer Eye takes a step forward, but the conflict over gay marriage could get ugly.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Felix Baumgartner (p. 16) There was more than blue skies over the white cliffs of Dover last week when Felix Baumgartner jumped from a plane at 30,000 feet. With a 6-ft., carbon-fiber wing strapped to his back and a supply of oxygen handy, the Austrian stuntman glided the 22 mi. to Calais, France, reaching speeds of 217 m.p.h. Of his 14-min. jaunt, he remarked, "It’s very cold up there."
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