Saddam Hussein is hiding in a little yellow house on East Akbar Street in Tikrit. You can't miss it. It's on the right-hand side, just before you reach the Tigris River. There are two muscular guys standing out front. They're both whistling and looking up at the sky in an attempt to appear nonchalant. Saddam is in the back bedroom.
I have no idea where Saddam is, but I figured that, with a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture, speculating aloud is like buying a lottery ticket.
Since Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay lost an argument with an American missile a few weeks ago, the press has been filled with reports about how our forces are closing in on Saddam and that his capture is imminent.
I would love to be proven wrong and hope that Saddam is captured before this column is even printed. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that all this talk of Saddam being nabbed any minute now is bullshit. We heard the exact same speculation about Osama bin Laden. You remember Osama, right? He's that tall guy who, unlike Saddam Hussein, actually attacked the United States. We supposedly had him cornered in some mountain hideout. While the media yammered on about his imminent capture, it seems Osama was on the late-night donkey train to safety in Pakistan.
Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division that is in and around Saddam's hometown Tikrit, says that Saddam is "clearly moving three or four times every single day" and that the numerous raids that U.S. forces have been conducting are turning up evidence that they're on Saddam's trail.
How can they tell that it's Saddam's trail? Saddam prints? Saddam droppings? "Saddam wuz here" spray painted on the walls? He didn't elaborate.
The plan to nab Saddam seems to be working thusly. We figure that to evade U.S. capture that Saddam has to rely on his strongest supporters to hide him. We've concluded that since Saddam's strongest supporters come from Tikrit, a town filled with loyal Saddamites who were complicit in Hussein's systematic rape of Iraq, that Tikrit is where we'll find him. How that conclusion stands up after the discovery of Uday and Qusay several hundred miles away from Tikrit in Mosul isn't really clear to me. I'm not saying that Saddam's not in Tikrit. I am saying that if his hiding places were so damned predictable, that perhaps he would have been caught already.
Based on the "Saddam's in Tikrit" theory, we're launching raids on suspected Saddam loyalist hideouts in and around Tikrit. The 4th Infantry Division just completed a series of raids code-named Operation Ivy Lightning. Other than proving that the people who come up with army code names have a sense of humor (O.I.L.), the operation nabbed us some lower-level folk and some arms, but no Saddam.
If we do capture Saddam, the first thing we'll do is take away his tape recorder -- the one he's been making all those obnoxious "kill Americans" tapes with. Then, we'll probably interrogate him for a while. In the Aug. 11 issue of The New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson describes how we've turned one of Uday Hussein's palaces into an Army base, complete with a holding pen for prisoners. Perhaps we'll hold Saddam captive in the basement of one of his own palaces. Now that would be funny. Then maybe we can put him in a cage and raise money to pay for the war by charging people $5 to gawk at him.
Actually, the State Department says that if we catch him that we'll turn him over to a tribunal of Iraqi judges who will give him a fair trial and then execute him. That's assuming, of course, that we catch him alive. If the way his sons died is any indication, it's hard to believe that Saddam will miss the chance to lose one last battle to the U.S. Army.
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