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(This article appeared in the 3/31/03 joke issue)

Communication came to a standstill across campus early Saturday morning when an elusive computer virus swept through the University's Internet service provider, infecting thousands of individual computers and leaving students without access to Webmail for over 48 hours.

Penn's Webmail server was among those at more than two dozen schools throughout the country that was hit with the worm-like virus this weekend. But according to some, the attack was originally intended to have even more far-reaching effects.

Although Federal Bureau of Investigation experts, who arrived on campus Saturday, were unaware of the root of the problem for hours following the initial strike, it now appears it may have originated from an international server operated by Saddam Hussein, who in his home country is known for his technological prowess.

While it is rumored she may have ties to the Iraqi government, University President Judith Rodin said she was outraged by the attack. "First harboring nuclear weapons, and now this. I can't allow this. That president of ours may not be able to do it, but, dictator or no dictator, I plan on stopping that crazy Saddam character."

President George W. Bush also responded to the incident, referring to the Iraqi dictator as "little, evil Saddam." In a televised address, Bush ridiculed Saddam, saying "nuclear weapons are one thing, but when you mess with Penn's e-mail, you mess directly with me."

Saddam did not return repeated calls for comment last night, but he -- or someone whose mustache resembled his -- appeared on Iraqi television last night, when he denied any involvement, but, repressing giggles, called the cyber scheme a "real cool idea" and an "inventive way to support of the axis of evil."

According to several criminology professors, there is reason to believe that Saddam may be lying.

For instance, prior to the computer collapse, a warning message appeared on the screens reading, "In 10 seconds, this system will self-destruct, compliments of your favorite Middle Eastern dictator." The message also contained a photograph of a young, winking Saddam with a devilish grin on his face.

One senior White House official said he is convinced Saddam -- possibly in cooperation with Rodin and other University officials -- is behind the attack.

For Penn students, the incident has certainly hit home.

"This whole cyber war thing is, like, interfering with my social life," College freshman Annie Sussein said. "I understand people are dying and fighting, but I've been hit the hardest. Can't we just keep this war in Baghdad where it belongs and off the computer screen?"

Beyond these recent allegations, Saddam is also said to be linked to the Owl Society, a so-called "pseudo-Greek" organization, according to an anonymous source in the Greek system.

However, he was recently cleared of all charges involving the alleged assault of a Princeton student when his lawyer argued that the incident was a "frat frolic," not a malicious crime.

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