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Willie Horton, 2006?

Grainy photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hand of Saddam Hussein, 1983

OK, does everyone know that the US forces in Iraq today released two of Saddam Hussein's top biological weapons experts? An Associated Press account and a Reuters account make very little fuss, but include more than a few jaw-dropping details about the release of "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax".

According to the two stories, the US and Iraq freed Rihab Taha, "a British-educated biological weapons expert, known as 'Dr. Germ' for her role in making bio-weapons in the 1980s" (AP) as well as "US-educated genetic engineer" (Reuters), Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, "known as 'Mrs. Anthrax,' a former top Baath Party official and biotech researcher" (AP). Reuters describes them as "two of Saddam Hussein's leading biological warfare experts". The AP notes that Mrs. Anthrax, who like Dr. Germ was captured in May 2003, was number 39 (the five of hearts) on the US armed forces deck of cards list. According to Reuters, both "admitted working on Saddam's biological and germ warfare projects but said such weapons were destroyed long before the U.S. invasion."

The AP cites a US military spokesman in Baghdad, who declined to provide the identities of eight formerly designated "high-value detainees" who were released. The spokesman said only that "a board process found they were no longer a security threat and no charges would be filed against them."

Now, didn't we invade Iraq to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction against us? How is the release of two of Hussein's top bio-warfare experts supposed to be making us safer? And, now that we know that Hussein did not have any weapons of mass destruction, didn't we invade in order to bring down a tyrant and bring his regime to justice? Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax are, at least it would seem at face value, two of the people who made it possible for Hussein "to use chemical and biological weapons against his own people", as we heard so many times in the run-up to the invasion. Why aren't they being tried for these crimes?

Its hard not to wonder if an important reason that they're being released without charges is because part of their defense would involve establishing the complicity of the US government and high-level Reagan-administration officials such as Donald Rumsfeld in the development of Iraq's chemical and biological warfare capability in the first place.

If we only had a Karl Rove on our side, this would be enough to cost the Republicans the House of Representatives next November. Why isn't a prominent Democrat out there demagoguing the hell out of this issue? Someone like Joe Lieberman should be hitting Bush from the right, demanding to know how it is that US forces have released two of "Saddam's" leading biochemical-warfare experts, at least one of whom was involved in the program that "Saddam" used "against his own people" in the 1980s? Why aren't the liberal bloggers pressuring Lieberman and the mainstream media to do this? Why hasn't MoveOn already commissioned a Willie-Horton-style ad that shows images of the newly released Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax boarding planes for destinations unknown, with a sinister voice over asking how soon it will be before they hook up with Osama Bin Laden?