As you’ve no doubt figured out by now, I love conspiracy theories. I give this one only a 10% – 20% chance of actually being true, but it still makes for an interesting thought experiment.
As described in an opinion piece by the Detroit Times’ Jack Lessenberry, the idea is this: that the US might have secretly entered into a deal with Saddam to let him take the money and run, setting himself up in some out-of-the-way place in return for a promise from us not to look for him too hard.
The reason I don’t think it’s especially likely to be true is that it doesn’t fit with the image of Bush as having a personal vendetta against Saddam, being annoyed about that whole “he tried to kill my daddy” thing, wanting to “fuck” him by “taking him out,” and so on.
But, as Lessenberry points out, there are aspects of the theory that fit the known facts pretty well, especially the sudden disinterest on the part of the powers that be in Saddam’s location after the (staged?) decapitation strike on the restaurant. And it would make all kinds of sense in terms of the overall war plan, what with its emphasis on toppling the regime with a minimum of bloody Baghdad street fighting.
Anyway, make of it what you will.