As expected, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq in his address tonight, or face an attack. Saddam’s oldest son Uday has already attempted to prepare an exit for himself by sending an aide, Adib Shaaban to Syria to set up bank accounts to facilitate fund transfers in February. Shaaban attempted instead to defect to the west, but was returned to Iraq by Syria, which feared that Iraqi oil would be cut off if they did not send him back. Shaaban has not been heard of since.

Uday’s most recent publicly reported crime took place in 1998, when he clubbed a food taster to death for making too much noise during preparations for a party for the wife of Egypt’s president Hosni Murbarak. He has made a career of rape and murder.

After the President’s speech, the US raised the terrorist threat level to orange, indicating a severe danger of terrorist attack. It is expected that a new tape purportedly by Osama bin Laden will be made public as soon as the US attacks Iraq, and will call for the immediate use of ultimate weapons of terror.

A Pentagon memo distributed to all military bases in December, including domestic bases, ordered the preparation of emergency plans. To describe the type of attacks that might be anticipated, the memorandum used the term CBRNE — chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-explosive.

It is believed that Iraqi embassies and facilities worldwide, including the homes of individual Iraqis, have been used as storage spaces for weapons intended to be deployed in the event Iraq is attacked.

Separately, Tony Blair will face a crucial vote in Parliament on March 18. The resignation of Labour Party Parliamentary Leader Robin Cook was greeted with a standing ovation in Parliament today. There will be a Commons debate tomorrow on the government’s position. To carry, the government needs 200 votes. If the Commons votes not to support the government’s position, it is possible that there will be revolution within the Labour Party and Blair will be forced to resign, much as Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign some years ago, without a requirement for new elections.

Saddam Hussein continues to give every indication that he intends to remain in Iraq.

Meanwhile, polls in the US indicate support for the war hovering at around 60%. (To express your opinion, vote in our latest poll. Click here.)

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