January 14, 2004
Bush Finally Speaks His Mind On Paul O'Neill Flap

By Al Kamen
Washington Post
Wednesday, January 14, 2004; Page A17

Asked Monday about former Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill's allegation that the administration was preparing to attack Iraq from its first days in office, President Bush told reporters that "we were dealing with Desert Badger or flyovers and fly-betweens and looks, and we were fashioning policy along those lines."

Desert Badger? This led to some head scratching around town. A Nexis search reveals no public mention of a recent operation called Desert Badger, although there are references to the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

So it seemed we're left with several alternatives:

1. Bush has revealed a heretofore undisclosed Pentagon name for some campaign in Iraq, maybe to enforce the "no-fly" zones or to suppress antiaircraft operations.

2. He's thinking of the famous Project Badger, a biological warfare vaccine study.

3. He was recalling those Iraqi TU-16 "Badger" bombers.

4. He's confusing his foxes and his badgers -- Operation Desert Fox was the name for a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq in December 1998.

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