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SADDAM HUSSEIN’S GREATEST LEGACY: DECEMBER 2003 TO DECEMBER 2006 (PART ONE OF THREE)

Malcom Lagauche

saddam71029895c.jpg

December 21, 2007

Saddam Hussein was Iraq’s leader from 1973 (officially becoming Iraq’s president in 1979) to April 2003. His legacy is two-fold. On the one hand, he and the Ba’ath Party were the impetus behind turning Iraq from an Arab nation indistinguishable from its Arab neighbors to the most advanced Arab country in history. From 1973 to 1990, the literacy rate in Iraq rose from 35% to over 90%. Thousands of miles of roads were built and the country was completely electrified. Excellent universal health care, as well as education from primary school to university, was offered free-of-charge. Foreign scholars and writers were invited to visit Iraq and write about the country, as well as the Arab world. The Iraqi government gave them housing and paid their salaries so they could gain and disseminate information. In 1987, the New York Times called Baghdad "The Paris of the Middle East.

On the other hand, after the U.S. attack on Iraq in 1991 that destroyed much of the country, and a 12-year devastating embargo, Saddam Hussein’s critics blamed him for the demise of the country that once was the jewel of the Arab world: the country his leadership produced.

Saddam Hussein’s name was used by mainstream Western media to depict a barbaric and sadistic person. The scribes conveniently forgot, or did not take the time to learn about, the years in which Iraq was the premier Arab state that offered more human rights to its public than other Arab nations, especially in the area of freedom of religion and the liberation of women.

This is not a history of his regime, but a view of him and his steadfastness after April 9, 2003, the date to which many people refer to as "The Fall of Baghdad."

On April 9, 2003, Saddam Hussein made his last public appearance. He was surrounded by tens of thousands of supporters in Baghdad who raised him up to the roof of his car so he could wave to them all. Then, the car sped away.

Speculation was rampant for the next few months. Was Saddam alive or dead? Was he involved with the quickly-growing resistance? Nobody seemed to know.

Then, in December 2003, we all saw the photos of a disheveled Saddam Hussein after he was pulled out of a "spider hole" in a town near Tikrit. The administration laughed and the U.S. made public jokes about him and his hiding place.

The room was dirty. There was an empty can of Spam. The story was that he was holed up there and was totally irrelevant to Iraq. His day was done and he was now in the hands of Iraq’s liberators. What you saw wasn’t real. Nothing of this scenario was true.

On March 8, 2005, United Press International (UPI) ran a short press release titled "Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction." It received little publicity in the U.S., but some foreign news agencies did run the story. I researched and found only one U.S. news outlet that carried the article: WHAM Channel 13 of Rochester, New York.

The UPI press release consisted of quotes from an ex-U.S. Marine of Lebanese descent, Nadim Rabeh. In addition to the U.S. version of the capture date being off by two days, during an interview in Lebanon, Rabeh stated:

I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced. We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed.

Rabeh recounted how Saddam fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then, the Marines shouted at him in Arabic, "You have to surrender. There is no point in resisting."

How did we come to see the pictures of the hole and a scruffy-looking Saddam Hussein? According to Rabeh, "Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam’s capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well."

The former Marine’s account mixes with the rendition Saddam Hussein gave his lawyer when they had their first meeting. Saddam told him that he was captured in a friend’s house and that he was drugged and tortured for two days, hence the pictures of Saddam looking bedraggled.

All the major news networks and publications showed pictures of the hole and a beleaguered Saddam: Time Magazine, CNN News, magazines, daily newspapers, etc. You name it and they published it. But, they were all wrong. Not one publication took the time to research the story. They ran the pictures supplied by the U.S. military and parroted the lines they were given.

This was not the first time something similar has occurred. After the 1989 invasion of Panama, the U.S. allowed the press to enter Manuel Noriega’s office. He was portrayed as a sexual pervert. In the office were pictures of young boys, a picture of Hitler, red underpants and pornographic magazines.

A few months later, the first Marine to enter Noriega’s office was released from the Corps. He eventually talked to a reporter and gave his story of the encounter. He maintained that the contents of the office included only a desk, a telephone, a chair, and a typewriter.

With Saddam, the props were changed. They were made to make Saddam look like a caged animal on the run who only had the basic elements to survive. No one asked questions of what should have been obvious. For instance, how did Saddam Hussein come into possession of a can of Spam? There was absolutely no place in Iraq where Spam was sold. In addition, it contains pork, a food forbidden from a Moslem’s diet.

A few months after his capture, a picture was widely distributed that gained much publicity. It showed a bunch of U.S. soldiers standing next to an Iraqi building on which a painted illustration depicted the blowing up of the World Trade Center. The inference was that Iraqis took glee in the acts of the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001.

If one looked close, it was evident that the soldiers were standing on the base path of a disused baseball field. There were no baseball fields in Iraq. Upon closer scrutinizing, the trees were typical southeastern U.S. types that are not indigenous to Iraq.

The photo was bogus. It was filmed in the U.S., but, the harm had been done. Many news agencies had distributed the picture. Its contents inflamed U.S. citizens even more about the Iraqi people.

When Saddam was captured, U.S. authorities said he was a spent force and he had no say in the ever-growing resistance. This was another propaganda exercise because subsequent information shows he was heading the resistance and called many shots. For instance, on Paul Wolfowitz’ first visit to Baghdad, he stayed at the Hotel al-Rashid. A rocket fired at the building killed a U.S. colonel on the floor just above that of Wolfowitz, who was visibly shaken by the incident. Saddam Hussein personally ordered that strike.

Many Iraqis challenged the scenario of Saddam’s capture. The U.S. administration thought that by humiliating him, the Iraqi public would discount his presence. Just the opposite occurred. On the evening of the announcement of Saddam’s capture, pro-Saddam Hussein rallies sprung up. His supporters, who, instead of looking at him as a humiliated ex-leader, showed their admiration for him because they knew the U.S. story of his capture was fabricated. Students in schools brought pictures of Saddam to class. In one instance, U.S. military personnel surrounded a Baghdad school and apprehended a few dozen 14-year-old students, whom they tortured for a few hours.

The image of a cowardly Saddam giving up without a fight did not set well with Iraqis. A retired colonel in the Iraqi army sent me the following responses to the capture:

  • Saddam’s inside wear was very clean, which gives the impression he was not in a hole.
  • At the time they said the captured him, no dates were available, but the trees they showed in the films had fresh dates on the palm trees and this was not possible.
  • My house is in the Adhamiya and I can say that I saw Saddam after they announced the fall of Baghdad. I saw him myself. He was standing on the bonnet of a car. He was giving smiles to the people around him who were encouraging him by their loyalty, which they always had.
  • As I know, Saddam was on top of the battle at the airport.
  • What I heard was that he was on top of many assaults against the Americans.

Iraq Screen published an article shortly before Saddam Hussein’s assassination. The author interviewed an Iraqi officer of the Republican Guard who participated in the battle for the airport in Baghdad in April 2003. The officer recalled:

While I was busy shooting with my colleagues, all of a sudden, we found Saddam Hussein with a number of his assistants inside the airport, we were really surprised because we did not expect such a thing, but Saddam went forward and took an RPG and put it on his shoulder and began to shoot by himself. We gathered around him and begged him to stay aside and leave us fighting because if we would be killed, we are common officers, but if he is killed, we would lose our leader. Saddam turned to us and said, "Look, I am no better than any one of you and this is the high time to defend our great Iraq and it would be a great honor to be killed as a martyr for the sake of Iraq."

From various sources, we now have a totally different story from the one force-fed to us by the U.S. administration. Instead of Saddam Hussein being a coward who fled and was caught in a hole in the ground, he was now the president, who, under siege, met publicly with his people on April 9, 2003 (video of this was shown on U.S. television) after personally being involved with several battles against the invaders, and who created a network of resistance while tens of thousands of U.S. military people were looking for him.

Shortly before his hanging, Saddam spoke of his days on the run with his lawyers. For nine months, he openly conducted the resistance, many times right under the noses of his would-be captors. He told of swimming in the Tigris River or using a small boat if he needed to maneuver in the area.

One thing is sure. Most 66-year-old men would be contemplating retirement. But, Saddam Hussein lived off his wits, the land, and with comrades for nine months, all the time coordinating a resistance against illegal invaders of his country. Most men half his age would not be able to withstand the physical challenges of such a routine.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government is in possession of all of Iraq’s records prior to April 2003. Not one word will be mentioned that will contradict the U.S. rewriting of Iraq’s history. At best, we will have to rely on anecdotal accounts and eye witnesses. It is neither the best nor the most accurate form of history, but it’s all we have now.

On November 5, 2006, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict came after what could possibly be called the worst travesty of justice ever seen in a courtroom. It is hard to conceive how a man of his age endured more than a lifetime of hardship, torture and personal bereavement in just three-and-a –half years without losing his mental faculties or selling out to his opponents.

In July 2003, Saddam Hussein saw photos of his two dead sons on television. Their bodies were ridden with bullet holes. His 14-year-old grandson was killed along with his sons in an hours-long attack on a house by hundreds of U.S. military personnel in Mosul, northern Iraq.

For his first few months in captivity, he was not allowed to see a lawyer. In that time, he was tortured and questioned. He also was offered deals by the U.S. that would have obtained him a "get out of jail free" pass if he cooperated and gave the captors information about the resistance. He never capitulated.

Saddam Hussein was not allowed to see his family. Most of his correspondence to them was either not delivered, or highly censored. By now, most human beings would be willing to say anything their kidnappers desired.

In 2004, Frank Morrow, producer of one of the finest political shows ever seen on U.S. TV screens, Alternative Views, was asked about Saddam’s plight in comparison to that of another president kidnapped by the U.S., Manuel Noriega. Morrow discussed how Noriega collapsed in a few days of U.S. incarceration and spilled his guts. Morrow then stated, "Saddam is made of sterner stuff."

On his first day in court, Saddam was a few minutes late. The judge asked him why he was not on time and Saddam told him that the elevators of the building were not working. The judge then said he would ask the Americans to try to fix the faulty lifts. Saddam looked the judge in the eye and said, "Don’t ask them. You tell them. You are an Iraqi." The judge was silent. The accused gave him a lesson in citizenship.

This was Saddam Hussein’s first court appearance and it was televised. The U.S.-appointed collaborators thought by televising the trial, he would be held in humiliation by the Iraqi public. The ploy backfired. Saddam’s chastising of the judge intrigued the viewers. In future sessions, the sound of the broadcasts were cut if the judge did not want the public to hear what Saddam had to say. The first judge must be given credit for fairness. It appeared that he was giving both sides time to present their cases. Then, he resigned. He publicly stated that the Iraqi government had pressured him and given him instructions not to be impartial with Saddam. The next judge was a travesty and he made it be known from his first day that there would not be an honest trial for Saddam Hussein.

We have read page-after-page of the illegality of Saddam’s trial in various media. The anomalies are for too many to address here. However, with each preposterous turn, Saddam kept his ground and never capitulated to the court.

For months, every conceivable scenario emerged: Saddam was dragged out of court; his lawyers were kicked out of court; defense witnesses were tortured by the court; the judge destroyed a videotape that clearly showed the head prosecutor was lying; and Saddam and a few of his comrades went on hunger strikes.

Still, he showed up in court with the wit and physical appearance of a man decades younger. All the atrocities committed against him never made him appear to be desperate and he never showed signs of caving in.

Several times, Saddam was approached by U.S. officials to make a deal. The Iraqi resistance had grown to a formidable foe that was on the verge of forcing a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the U.S. knew that Saddam still held enough power to persuade a major portion of the resistance to lay down its weapons. Instead of accepting an offer for his freedom on some small island in the Pacific, Saddam retained his dignity. Other Ba’ath Party members who were imprisoned were given chances to be freed and made wealthy if they testified against Saddam. They all refused to sell out.

When the verdict of death for Saddam was announced on November 5, 2006, many groups, individuals and governments were outraged. They tried to get the U.N. to intervene, but to no avail.

Many quotes came forth from foe and friend of Saddam. The most preposterous came from Nouri al-Maliki, the so-called Iraqi prime minister:

This ruler has committed the most horrible crimes. He executed the best scientists, academics and thinkers.

That statement was outrageous, but many people who read it will believe it. For the preceding year, hundreds, if not thousands, of professors, scientists and doctors were killed in Iraq by agents of the Maliki government. During Saddam’s time, these professionals flourished and were the pride of Iraq. Maliki added them to the long list of fictitious victims of Saddam Hussein’s rule.

The announcement of the verdict backfired. The U.S. thought it would further erode Saddam’s importance to the Iraqi public, but just the opposite occurred. The website www.al-moharer.net posted this message shortly after the announcement:

We learned that demonstrators are all over Iraq in protest of the sentence. In Baghdad, American soldiers are busy painting over the slogans that people wrote on the walls and in intersections.

The U.S. media failed to show photos of these incidents, yet the international press displayed many. Within a few more hours, the demonstrations escalated and U.S. vehicles were targeted by the crowds.

The only hope that Saddam Hussein had to stop his date with the gallows was an appeal from his defense team to an appeals court. The defense had a time limit in which to file the appeal, yet the court that tried Saddam did not give his defense the necessary information to file the appeal. Weeks went by without the court even giving the defense team a summary of the charges. When Saddam’s team received the necessary information, it only had a few days to file an appeal. The defenders had to create an appeal in a few days that normally would take a month or two to construct. Every obstacle was put in place to keep justice from seeing even a ray of daylight.

The appeals court took two days to read 1,500 pages of documents presented by the defense and then issued a denial for the appeal on December 26, 2006.. No court in the world can decipher this number of pages in such a short time, not even a legitimate court.

Despite there being no time limit for the appeals court to reach a decision, it made one in two days. The next step was to affix a date for the execution. It had to be within 30 days of the announcement of December 26th.


:: Article nr. 39457 sent on 22-dec-2007 04:19 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=39457

Link: www.malcomlagauche.com/id1.html



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