Although Iraq's past collaborations with terrorist groups like al Qaeda are difficult to completely discern, it looks like Saddam Hussein's connections to leftist United States congressmen are easier to track.

Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.

Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam's regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators "have no information whatsoever" any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

"Obviously, we didn't know it at the time," McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. "The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That's the only reason we went."

Obviously! We're supposed to believe that these congresscritters were smart enough get elected to national office but were completely unaware of who paid for their trip to Iraq in the run-up to our invasion. What's more, we're supposed to believe that these vermin didn't knowingly use their public offices to lend legitimacy to the murderous tyrant Saddam Hussein. It's just a coincidence! It's all so obvious!

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