Tuesday, February 03, 2004

OK -- is this story going to be part of the administration's Saddam = al-Qaeda = ricin terrorism case? (Or, at least, part of an attempt to blur the distinctions in people's minds?)

A 7-pound block of cyanide salt was discovered by U.S. troops in Baghdad at the end of January, officials confirmed to Fox News.

The potentially lethal compound was located in what was believed to be the safe house of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a poisons specialist described by some U.S. intelligence officials as having been a key link between deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Al Qaeda terror network.

...Zarqawi, believed to have been operating in Iraq before March's invasion, was still being sought by coalition forces. It was not clear if anyone had been apprehended in connection with last month's find....

U.S. officials, who said they were getting new intelligence in the hunt for Zarqawi, also believe he had been attempting to produce large quantities of the toxin ricin in northern Iraq.

--Fox News (emphasis mine)

First, cyanide salts: I don't know much about 'em, but I guess they're used in electroplating, so you might want to tell the FBI if you have any neighbors who are jewelers.

Now, as for Zarqawi: You might have heard of him because he's an alleged al-Qaeda operative who once got medical treatment in Baghdad; as a result, right-wingers see him as a human smoking gun, a Saddam-Osama link. But a lot of other people think (a) he may not have had strong al-Qaeda ties and (b) his presence in Iraq, even in Baghdad, may not be a sign of a Saddam endorsement -- possibly it's a sign of Iraq's instability just before the war. (Zarqawi was captured near Baghdad last April, yet the capture somehow hasn't managed to generate proof of any of the Bushies' more melodramatic theories.)

And meanwhile, the Senate ricin mailer might just be an American trucking company owner, so go figure.

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