Amy woke me up around 8:00 this morning so I could look at the weather and decide if she should start getting ready for church. There was already quite a bit of snow on the ground, and it was coming down fast. It was the small, wet snow which makes the roads particularly slick. I called the church and everything was canceled, which saved me from having to choose between church and the comfort of a warm, snow-free home. Anyway, when she came to wake me, she asked me to come check out the weather. As I laid there trying to shake off the haze of having been up until around 2:00 and figure out some way to answer her question without having to actually rise from the bed, she mentioned in sort of an oh-by-the-way tone, “They caught Saddam Hussein.” Oh…..by the way.
So, after I discovered church was canceled, I ended up laying in bed for an hour or more watching coverage of the spider hole and the beard and the parties in the streets of Baghdad. Then I slept a little more. Then I woke up and watched some more coverage as I checked for breaking NFL news so I could finalize my lineups for my three fantasy teams in the playoffs. I don’t usually get all that caught up in the news-o-the-day, but this has been nice. One of the really bad dudes actually got cheesed. Of all that I saw and heard today, here are my top three thoughts and observations:
- Eventually, they’ve gotta teach the newly freed Iraqi people that bottle rockets are far more appropriate celebratory devices than AK-47s. I mean, in most places in the US you can’t even shoot bottle rockets in the city limits, and these cats are in the streets firing Russian machine guns into the air like it’s the first day of dove season in West Texas. They say several people were killed by stray shells when this happened after Baghdad fell. I know it’s early, but that seems like a lesson the new Iraqi leadership might want to push toward the top of the agenda. Well, that and maybe a little bit of gun control…or maybe a “well-regulated Militia” in Iraq includes automatic rifles. I think I’d want one if I lived in Baghdad.
- My favorite visual of the day was the reaction of the Iraqi journalists at the news conference when the video of Saddam lit up the screen. Think about the many layers of that moment. Here are guys doing a job that wasn’t even legal under Saddam, now free to report and write the truth…guys who probably had friends and family tortured and murdered by this guy and his assorted under-thugs…guys who, even though they were there to do the jobs they’ve been waiting decades to do, couldn’t contain their emotions. Not only did their jobs become an afterthought, but suddenly the other reporters, each of whom was probably covering the biggest moment they’ll ever cover in their careers, turned their attention from the startling images of Saddam on the screen and the information being shared by Bremer and Sanchez to their colleagues who were jumping up and down, shouting their “greetings” to Saddam on the video screen. They got them calmed down (sort of), but they could only sit still for short periods of time. Every now and then they’d have to jump up and holler a little more. It was great. Good thing for everyone else in the room that they weren’t packing AKs. I have a feeling that, even though they were yelling at the screen, Saddam heard them wherever he was. I’ve probably seen that footage ten times today, and I still smile and laugh every time I see it.
- There are obviously about a billion articles already online about all of this, but this one about the confrontation between Saddam and four members of the new Iraqi Governing Council is the best one I’ve read. What a scene…
Following Mr. Hussein’s capture — in an eight-foot hole that one council member said was filled with “rats and mice”— the four council members were taken by helicopter this afternoon to a military base, at a site they would not disclose. Two other council members, in addition to Mr. Rubaie and Dr. Chalabi, were aboard: Adnan Pachachi, the foreign minister before Mr. Hussein came to power; and Adel Abdel Mahdi, who represents the Shia religious body, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Two of Iraq’s other new leaders were there, too: L. Paul Bremer III, the American civilian administrator of Iraq; and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq. The room was small, Mr. Rubaie said, and General Sanchez asked the men if they would like to see him through a window or by camera.
“We said, `No, we want to talk to him,’ ” Mr. Rubaie said.
And here’s a nice sample of what went down…
Mr. Rubaie said: “One thing which is very important is that this man had with him underground when they arrested him two AK-47’s and did not shoot one bullet. I told him, `You keep on saying that you are a brave man and a proud Arab.’ I said, `When they arrested you why didn’t you shoot one bullet? You are a coward.’
“And he started to use very colorful language. Basically, he used all his French.”
Mr. Rubaie added: “I was so angry because this guy has caused so much damage. He has ruined the whole country. He has ruined 25 million people.
“And I have to confess that the last word was for me: I was the last to leave the room and I said, `May God curse you. Tell me, when are you going to be accountable to God and the day of judgment? What are you going to tell Him about Halabja and the mass graves, the Iran-Iraq war, thousands and thousands executed? What are you going to tell God?’ He was exercising his French language.”
I have a feeling Mr. Rubaie enjoyed using the word “French” in that context. Read the whole article (the NYT website requires registration, but it’s free, takes about ten seconds, and they don’t send you any junk. It’s worth it.)
Oh, and I’ve definitely won two of my three fantasy games. Barring a career night by Donovan McNabb tomorrow in Miami, I’ll be in the Superbowl in all three of my fantasy leagues. Just because I know that kind of information is important to you…