A brutal bombing at a police station west of Baghdad killed 17 today - a sign of just how dangerous Iraq still is.
Will Saddam’s capture now cut the heart out of the insurgency? Officials say, in the short term, it could have the opposite effect. “People might want to send a message that ‘they’re still alive and well and able to resist us,'” said former State Department official Richard Hass of the Council on Foreign Relations.
But long term today could mark a turning point according to NBC News analyst Gen. Wayne Downing: “It may well slow down some of the recruits, the foreign recruits who are coming to join the insurgency.”
Was Saddam running the rebellion out of his spider hole? The military says it found no cell phones, so doubt he was in charge. But they found documents that could lead them to the leaders of rebel cells.
The real brains behind the insurgency, Saddam’s deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is still at large. But even on the run, Saddam was the symbolic leader of the resistance. The U.S. hopes these images might destroy his appeal.
“The fact that the first pictures of him on middle-eastern networks like al-Jazeera were this disheveled man looking almost like a homeless person, that goes a long way toward saying this guy is not going to be in control of anything,” said former CIA Director James Woolsey.
But, the insurgency is still such a threat, that the Pentagon has taken some of the forces hunting for weapons of mass destruction to combat the rebels instead. That could force the CIA to scale back the weapons search.