Writing the Wrongs
Capturing Saddam: Hooray for Hollywood!
By Sydney White

Bush was between Iraq and a hard place as the war wagons creaked on, supported by an increasing number of body bags filled with American high school graduates. The mythical weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found and Europe pronounced the invasion to be the most likely cause of future terrorist attacks. Thinking Americans were demanding to know why they had been "set up" just to fill the coffers of Chalabi and the Forty Washington Thieves who were dividing the spoils in Iraq. The coming election was not looking good for George 43.

Suddenly, on December 13, Saddam was captured! What a fortuitous event! His dental work and tonsils were exposed for days to an amazed audience. He spoke not; but was "bewildered", as fingers ran through his grizzled hair, searching for lice. Hundreds of headlines announced: "He was caught like a rat in a trap." Apparently he was hauled out of a deep hole in the ground where he was found sitting beside $750,000 U.S. and a gun, which he "did not use".

Two days later, December 15, it was disclosed that he had not been so bewildered: he had greeted his captors with the words, "I am the President of Iraq and I want to negotiate."

In Baghdad's local gathering places, Kurds were shown celebrating wildly on Iraqi television while Iraqis looked on in stoney silence. (Apparently even the Kurds believe that Saddam gassed them, though it has been proven conclusively that the gas was Iranian.) Saddam, who was a proud and arrogant man with a penchant for dressing spiffy, was indeed found "Dishevelled, Disoriented and Defeated." Apparently one of the Iraqi families called in by the U.S. told them where to find their bad guy.

Let's see, what did I miss here? Saddam, first of all, was a military man and fastidious in the extreme; his cleansing rituals and germ phobia were second only to Michael Jackson's. He would not have needed a beard for disguise, as he had so many willing dopplegangers in his employ. In fact, according to Bremer, all the resistance they encountered were Bathists and Saddam supporters.

So how was Saddam found alone and destitute, in a deep hole where he had to be "pulled out", with no supplies, not one comrade, and no alternate exit? Maybe he told his supporters that every last man was needed to halt the invasion and he would take care of himself. Maybe he was so spoiled by his cosmetic team that he had forgotten how to shave himself or have an APC wash. Maybe all of his uniforms were at the cleaners when he first left the palace and, altruistic as he was, he would not even spend a hundred of the $750,000 in cash on a shave and haircut, not to mention food.

I don't think so.

Anyone who can entertain a thought, would strongly suspect that Saddam was in the custody of the United States long enough to grow that "dishevelled" beard and to be reduced to a state of speechless "bewilderment". How was the former arrogant and perfectly groomed dictator rendered speechless and pathetic? Just think of the specialists at GITMO.

The lesson was one in humiliation for a former corporate associate who just wouldn't complete his final tasks. He had followed all the orders: a war with Iran which filled those 400,000 mass graves that are currently blamed on Saddam himself. He generally behaved like all the other dictators the U.S. has backed, killing and maiming all opposition while entertaining benefactors like Rumsfeld. But then, after he caught Kuwait slant-drilling into Iraq, his ire was up and he took the Glaspie bait, which brought his nation the Highway of Hell. This led to 11 years of sanctions and uranium bombing, making Iraq a death trap for both Iraqis and Americans.

But more recent follies were even more provocative than his refusal to privatize the oil, the most publicized being his compensation of Palestinians whose homes and children were taken by Israel.

In Saddam's official biography on the screen, there was no mention of his 27-year affiliation with the U.S. government and the CIA. Will Saddam actually get to any court to spill the beans? He may be so "bewildered" that he is declared incompetent to stand trial. He may even die in prison from a cancer or a fall on his head or, like Timothy McVeigh, he may hold a national press conference demanding that he be executed immediately because it's really all his fault.

Will Bin Laden be captured in his cave on his dialysis machine in time to quell the next wave of dissatisfaction with Bush? Wait for it.

Sydney White is a member of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform.