Now that the Evil Prince of Iraqi Darkness has been
captured by valiant US military forces, the Middle East
is free to democratize and the world at large is a much
safer place. As Bush put it, Hussein's capture means "sovereignty" for Iraq, "dignity for ... every Iraqi citizen, the opportunity for a better life. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence."
Any problems with this rosy assessment? Maybe my
bullshit detectors go into overdrive every time the
Bush administration announces a success, but this
latest scenario just doesn't stack up.
For one, how do we know that the dusty old guy dragged
out of the ground really is Saddam? Hussein was known
to have had multiple "doubles," exact lookalikes who,
for security reasons, took his place in meeting foreign dignitaries and in mingling with the public. Could the famous prisoner just be a double? A stooge set up to take the heat while Hussein lives lavishly-ever-after in some other country?
DNA tests will apparently be conducted on the prisoner
to prove he's Hussein, but it's unclear where the
necessary comparative DNA samples will be obtained or
how independent the verification process will be.
One could argue, of course, that the Bush
administration would look pretty dumb later on if an
impostor testified in court, so the prisoner must be
Saddam. But face it: if Hussein ever does go on trial,
how public will it be? Imagine the testimony:
"Well Your Honor, during the 80's I got all kinds of battlefield intelligence and weaponry from my buddies in the White House. Reagan and Poppy Bush gave me billions of dollars in credits for US agricultural products, so I could buy more weapons on the side, and a whole slew of stateside corporations sold me biological and other weaponry. Gassing Kurds, crushing Shiite uprisings ... no problem for my American friends! Wanna see a picture of me and Donald Rumsfeld?"
Won't happen. We will not be hearing detailed
depositions from Hussein, any more than we'll be seeing
open trials for Guantanamo inmates.
But suspend doubt for a moment and assume the prisoner
really is Hussein. Imagine he didn't escape with untold
wealth to a mansion in Moscow, a villa in Naples,
wherever, and really did end up moving from hovel to underground hovel in bombed-out Iraq. Then who revealed his location and what were the true circumstances of his capture?
The official version (brought to us by the same folks
who presented Jessica Lynch as a Barbie action figure)
is that superior US intelligence led Operation "Red
Dawn" forces to their dusty prey. Little mention is
made of the $25 million bounty on Hussein's head
(namely if it was forked over, as was the $30 million
for information on his two sons), but the fact that
information was reportedly obtained "under duress" to
discover his whereabouts would indicate harsh
interrogation, if not torture, was used to find him.
The L.A. Times reported a US official saying, "Some
people were impossible to find, but we'd find their
relatives. One interrogation led to another raid, which
led to another interrogation."
And then there's the matter of Hussein's spaced out,
arguably drugged, appearance upon capture. Conspiracy
theory has it he was actually being held prisoner, and
the White House was just waiting for the most
politically expedient time to "find" him. None other
than Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
recently told a Fox news analyst she suspects Bush
knows where Osama Bin Laden is too.
Bribery, mass raids/interrogations, political
kidnappings? Who knows the truth behind this sordid
affair, but it appears "sovereignty" and "dignity" for
Iraqis were not the operating principles in capturing
Bottom line: Prisoner Saddam is nothing more than a distraction, a prop used to bolster sagging White House ratings, much like the plastic turkey Bush offered troops in photo-ops last Thanksgiving. Hussein will be dangled every now and then (just in time for Christmas, next year's elections, Halliburton's latest accusation of corruption ...) and then locked away in a dungeon for life, or maybe even bumped off, "Jack Ruby" style.
Because surely the White House won't need him for long.
The US will soon invade other countries way more evil,
depose their dastardly leaders, and win more hearts,
minds, respect and security in the process.
Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer. She can be
contacted via her web site: www.heatherwokusch.com