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CIA Launches Covert Op to Oust Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein

HeadlineJun 17, 2002

The CIA has launched a covert operation to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and has been given explicit permission by the White House to kill him if necessary, this according to anonymous officials quoted in a Sunday Washington Post exposé by Bob Woodward. President Bush signed the classified order earlier this year. The administration has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to the program. But the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, has told President Bush and his war cabinet that without companion military action, the CIA has only a small chance of succeeding in toppling the Iraqi leader. One source says the covert action is actually largely in preparation for a military strike so the agency can identify targets, intensify intelligence gathering on the ground and build relations with alternative future leaders and groups if Saddam Hussein is ousted. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and other prominent congressional Democrats endorsed the plan on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration ordered the expulsion of a U.N.-based Iraqi diplomat Saturday, alleging that he spied on the U.S.

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