Donald Rumsfeld Shakes Hands With Saddam Hussein

Behind the camera: Iraqi State TV
Where: Baghdad, Iraq
Photo Summary: Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein surrounded by aides from both parties.

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Picture Taken: Dec 20, 1983
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

America has had a love-hate relationship with Iraq. After the Iranian revolution, Iraq became America’s best friend in the Persian Gulf. That all changed after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. When this video was first released, in 1983, it quietly slid into oblivion. As government “Hawks” used Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) as reasons to overthrow his government the footage saw a resurgence in popularity. Critics like to use the video to illustrate how Donald Rumsfeld was shaking hands with Saddam in 1983, even though government intelligence knew he was using WMDs against Iran and his own people. The argument being: why is America taking the moral stance now when as shown by this video the American government had no problems with him using WMDs and selling him the means to make more.

America Backs Iraq

httpv://youtu.be/iI_gZBpeP2s

When the Iraq-Iran War broke out in September 1980 it was American policy to let the two nations fight it out. America had turned anti-Iran since the Iranian revolution and its hostage crisis. America had no love for Saddam in Iraq either, at the time he was part of the Soviet sphere of influence and backed terrorist attacks against the US’s close ally, Israel.
This all changed when Iran started to make significant gains in the war. President Ronald Reagan saw disaster if Iran’s revolutionary government overran Iraq and so Reagan created the National Security Decision Directive 114 on Nov. 26, 1983. This directive changed US policy from neutral observer to active supplier of military supplies, battlefield intelligence, and most controversially, the dual-use technology that allowed Saddam to create WMDs. Howard Teicher, who served on Reagan’s National Security Council described in sworn statements how, “CIA Director Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war,”

Special Envoy Rumsfeld

During his period as Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East (November 1983 – May 1984), Rumsfeld was the main conduit for crucial American military intelligence, hardware and strategic advice to Saddam Hussein, while Iraq was fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. His first visit was when this footage was taken, from December 19 – December 20, 1983. He and Saddam Hussein had a 90-minute discussion that covered Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, preventing Syrian and Iranian expansion, preventing arms sales to Iran by foreign countries, and increasing Iraqi oil production via a possible new oil pipeline across Jordan (Syria had shut down a Syrian-Iraqi pipeline).
Later Rumsfeld would try and claim that in his “head to head” meeting with Saddam he brought up Saddam’s use of Chemical weapons on the battlefield. However, it was later revealed that Rumsfeld didn’t discuss the issue with Saddam but instead brought it up at a later meeting with Tariq Aziz (Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) in passing as part of a list of issues that “inhibited” US assistance.

Republican Presidential nomination

In 1988 when Rumsfeld made a short-lived run for President he campaign was quoted as saying that one of his great achievements while in office was to “reopen U.S. relations with Iraq.” Even though by 1988 Iraq had been actively using chemical weapons against Iran and even his own people for years.
Golden Spurs

Rumsfeld didn’t come empty-handed on his trips to Iraq bringing a wide range of gifts from the Reagan administration including pistols, medieval spiked hammers even a pair of golden cowboy spurs. These were all displayed in at Saddam’s Victory Museum in Baghdad, which held all the gifts bestowed on Saddam by world leaders.
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Other Political Scandal pictures

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Jessica Lynch

Behind the camera: US Military
Where: Military Photographer
Photo Summary: DoD portrait
Picture Taken: Undated
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee
Jessica Lynch became one of the main news stories of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Media jumped on the story of a cute little blond soldier who was plucked from behind enemy lines by US Special Forces. The American military filmed the rescue attempt and footage from the official military cut and stills from the footage became one of the most viewed pictures of the war. When talking about Jessica the media would also cut to a DoD portrait of her probably the most famous soldier of the war.

Jessica Dawn Lynch




Andy Stumpf a member of the team who rescused Jessica interviewed her in July 2, 2018


Jessica Dawn Lynch was born on April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia. She joined the army hoping to see the world after being turned down for a job at Walmart. She was assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company (based in Fort Bliss, Texas) as a Quartermaster Corps Private First Class (PFC).

Wrong Turn

The 507th Maintenance Company is based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. Made up of cooks, clerks, mechanics and other support staff provided they keep the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) running.
A trailing vehicle convoy of this unit got lost during the rapid advance towards Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 23, 2003. The 507th was last in a marching column of over 600 vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Division. This element which included the heavier, slower vehicles of the 507th, made a wrong turn into Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates River northwest of Basra. After the war, a U.S. Army investigation concluded that this wrong turn was the result of a navigational error compounded by a lack of rest, limited communications and human error.
Nasiriyah was still under Iraqi control and as the 507th drove around its crowded streets desperately trying to find their way out of the city they drove into an ambush where most in the unit were gunned down. Five members were able to get away but six either too wounded to run or totally surrounded by enemy forces surrendered after their weapons jammed from the Iraqi sand. Those taken prisoners were:

  • Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas, was hit in the biceps of his right arm.
  • Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, New Mexico, was shot three times, twice in the ribs and once in the upper left buttocks.
  • Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 32, a naturalized American from Panama, was shot with a single bullet that sliced through both ankles. She was the first black women ever taken prisoner in American military history.
  • Private First Class Patrick Miller, 23, of Wichita, Kansas
  • Sgt. James Riley – 31-year-old bachelor from Pennsauken, New Jersey. As the senior soldier present, it was he who ordered the surrender.
  • Jessica Lynch born April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia suffered a head laceration, an injury to her spine, and fractures to her right arm, both legs, and her right foot and ankle. She was knocked unconscious after her Humvee crashed. In the book, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story by Rick Bragg, the author alleges that Lynch was sodomized during her captivity. This was based on the medical records and her pattern of injuries. She would become a media sensation after her April 1, 2003 rescue and one of the main events of the Iraqi invasion.
  • When they surrendered, they feared the worse. Private First Class Patrick Miller held out little hope for mercy. “I thought they were going to kill me,” he said. “That was the first thing I asked when they captured me: ‘Are you going to kill me?’ They said no. . . . I still didn’t believe them.”

    Best Friend, Lori Ann Piestewa

    Are you going to kill me?
    -Private First Class Patrick Miller

    While the other members of her unit were taken into Iraqi custody two heavily injured American POWs, Jessica Lynch and her best friend in the army, Lori Ann Piestewa was taken first to a Military Field Hospital, a few hundred meters from the ambush site at 8 am, about an hour after the attack. A few hours later, she was brought to the al-Nasiriyah general hospital. Footage later emerged of the two receiving medical aid. When the footage was shot, Lori Ann Piestewa was still alive and when the Iraqi TV adjusted her body for the camera’s she appeared to grimace in pain although the footage didn’t seem to show was aware of what was going on. The footage was never aired in Iraq and only surfaced months later when an employee of the state-run Iraqi TV handed over a copy to American forces. While doctors were able to save Jessica Lynch, Lori Ann Piestewa died from severe head injuries.

    Al-Nasiriyah General Hospital

    no bullet … no stab wound, no other thing, merely … road traffic accident
    -Jessica’s Doctor

    When the American military rescued Lynch they reported that she had received several bullets and stab wounds from “valiantly” fighting the Iraqis until she ran out of ammunition. She herself claims that she never fired a shot as her gun jammed when the first bullet was fired, “I did not shoot – not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees – that’s the last thing I remember.” Also, Dr Harith Al-Houssona, 24, the doctor who first treated her at the hospital remembers her injuries, “I examine her, I see she has a broken arm… and broken thigh, with a dislocated ankle. Then we do another examination. There is no shooting, no bullet inside her body… no stab wound, no other thing, merely RTA. Only road traffic accident … She was very frightened when she woke up,… She kept saying: ‘Please don’t hurt me, don’t touch me.’ I told her that she was safe, she was in a hospital and that I was a doctor, and I never hurt a patient.” After gaining her trust Jessica had a number of conversations with the doctor discussing her boyfriend back home and fighting with her family. Dr Harith even went outside the hospital to get her some orange juice as she wouldn’t eat anything, “I told her she needed to eat to recover, and I brought her crackers, but her stomach was upset. She said as a joke: ‘I want to be slim.’ ”

    In the time between her capture and being taken to the hospital, reports from American doctors who examined her after her rescue claimed that she had been raped. Mahdi Khafazji, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nasiriyah hospital disputed these claims. He was the doctor who performed surgery on Lynch to repair a fractured femur. He claims he found no sign of rape and protected Jessica when she arrived at the hospital, “She was injured at about 7 in the morning,” he said. “What kind of animal would do it to a person suffering from multiple injuries?”
    As her condition stabilized Jessica’s military captors ordered staff to transfer her to another hospital but on March 30, 2003, Dr. Harith instead told the ambulance driver to take her to the advancing American forces but when the ambulance driver approached American forces they were fired upon forcing him to return Jessica to the hospital. Dr. Harith was then able to hide her in the hospital and when retreating Iraqi forces abandoned their positions and fell back to Baghdad without taking her thinking that she wasn’t at the hospital. By this time Iraqi informants had told American forces that an American POW was being held at the hospital.
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    Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief

    The US military has claimed that several Iraqi informants were able to get in touch with American forces but the one that got the most media attention was Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief. According to Mohammed, he was visiting his wife who was a nurse in the hospital in an effort to get her to leave with him to a safer area while the fighting was going on:

    I went to see my wife [and] What caught my attention was that there were some bodyguards at a door, and there was a rumor going around Nasariya that one of the Baath party leaders was in the hospital. But when passed nearby [Lynch’s room,] I heard the door slam hard. And the guards in front of the door were talking very loudly. That is not a common thing to do when there is a big leader in the room—doors close nicely, you talk quietly. There were no flowers, no gifts, and it didn’t like anybody was paying attention to that room. When there is a VIP, lots of doctors and nurses are around. I went in, I saw Jessica and three people—one was a fedayeen
    [militia] officer, one a translator and a third one was writing. I saw the fedayeen officer slapping her face. She was answering to the translator instead of to him, that’s when he hit her … Because there was a young lady facing death. It was my duty to humanity to help her. The Americans came there to help us, and I looked at her like she was a savior for us. We were living under a very cruel dictatorship for 35 years. — Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief

    Mohammed went on to say that he returned twice to American forces to give them information on the layout of the hospital and Jessica’s location. It was during one of these crossings between fighting Iraqi and American forces that his car was hit by shrapnel and Mohammed was hit in the face losing vision in his left eye.
    After the successful rescue of Jessica on April 10 Mohammed his wife and then five-year-old daughter were taken to America from a refugee camp in Iraq. They were granted, “humanitarian parole, a status typically awarded for urgent humanitarian cases, such as foreigners needing urgent medical care.” Mohammed and his family were given this type of special treatment because the American’s could not guarantee his safety in Iraq.
    After the end of combat operations, many other accounts of what happened began to cast doubt on Mohammed’s story with even his wife describing him as overly influenced by John Wayne movies. He still lives in the Washington D.C. area of the United States and as of 2006 works for The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston.




    Rescue


    Jessica Lynch Rescue

    US Special forces tasked with her rescue carrying Lynch out of the Saddam Hospital or Al-Nasiriyah general Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq on the night of April 01, 2003


    On April 1, 2003, with information from Mohammed and other informants the military made their move to rescue Jessica. Earlier in the day Marines staged a diversionary attack against Iraqi forces in an effort to draw soldiers away from the hospital. While the Marines forces attacked a joint assault unit of Navy Seal’s and Army Rangers landed with BlackHawk helicopters and secured the hospital and took Jessica out. The military created a video and the footage shows a terrified Jessica in the hospital with what appears to be patients herded into one room.

    It was the first time in decades that a military operation to rescue POWs behind enemy lines had been pulled off and Special Forces officials justified videotaping the operation for the historical value, and also for future educational purposes. When reports emerged that blanks were used during the raid Special forces personal bristled and went on to say that, “no shots — blanks or otherwise — were fired by the Navy SEAL-led team inside Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad.” In fact, officials said there was no resistance by any of the Iraqi’s present in the hospital but that treating those present as potential threats is part of their operating procedure.
    Another part of the operation that is not often reported was that while Jessica was being brought down from hospital a team of soldiers was digging up the nine members of Jessica’s unit that had been killed, some of which had been killed with a shot to the forehead.

    Jessica Returns

    They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong
    -Jessica Lynch

    Jessica returned to America with a hero’s welcome in her hometown, Palestine, West Virginia and her family and fiancé, Sgt. Ruben Contreras, who was also in the army. By the time she came back to America, Jessica Lynch was a media star. Offers for book deals poured in and eventually she signed a one for over a million dollars which went on to become a best seller and later became a movie, Saving Jessica Lynch.

    On August 27, 2003, Lynch was given a medical honorable discharge and after months of physical therapy, Lynch began to feel confident about her ordeal and the Pentagon’s spin of the events surrounding her capture. While doing an interview with Diane Sawyer she again denied that she went down fighting and while expressing gratitude for her rescue said the way the Pentagon portrayed the rescue bothered her, “Yes, it does. They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong.”

    After returning home her relationship cooled with finance Sgt. Contreras. First, there was a postponement in 2004 and by 2006 the two were just good friends. In August 2005 Lynch started attending West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. In 2006 she announced that she and boyfriend Wes Robinson are expecting a girl which was born in January. The 7 pounds, 10 ounces was given a name inspired by her best friend in the army Lori Piestewa who died when they were attacked, Dakota Ann Robinson. Ann was Lori Piestewa’s middle name and Dakota means friendship or ally.

    In March 22, 2018, Inside Edition reported that Lynch was hired as a 5th-grade teacher in West Virginia.

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    Saddam Hussein Captured

    Behind the camera: US Military
    Where: Adwar, Iraq about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Tikrit, Saddam’s ancestral home
    Photo Summary: Saddam Hussein getting a medical checkup from an unknown US military doctor. He would later be treated by Dr. Sudip Bose
    Picture Taken: December 13, 2003

    Saddam was last seen April 9, 2003, just before American forces overran Baghdad. As the months passed American forces were under intense pressure to capture the former President of Iraq. The Iraqi uprising was escalating and the American government hoped that the capture of Saddam would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even visited the task force charged with finding Saddam. He told the commander in charge of the operation, “I’m dumbfounded when I think about it … The chances of us using that kind of money to find somebody — to figure out how to invest some time and develop a network and produce the information that would do it — I mean, that ought to be doable.” Finally, on December 13, 2003, Paul Bremer the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq held a press conference where he formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying what would become his famous phrase, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” The footage shown at that news conference of a heavily bearded Saddam calmly getting a medical checkup from US military personnel would be shown around the world and become one of his most famous images.

    Operation Red Dawn



    httpv://youtu.be/oEH4sBsazGg

    Saddam had been on the run since April evading American forces by disguise and his network of loyal Iraqi civilians. Slowly though Americans were able to breakdown his security network by arresting security officials and former bodyguards. Finally, a breakthrough when on December 12 Mohamed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit was unexpectedly captured in Baghdad. Mohamed had been a key figure in the President’s special security organization. His arrest leads to other arrests and interrogation of one of these detainees lead to information on Saddam’s whereabouts.
    The informer told American forces that Saddam was located in the village of Ad-Dawr on the outskirts of Tikrit in one of two groups of buildings on a farm codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2.
    Within hours Colonel James Hickey (1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division) together with US Special Operations Forces launched Operation Red Dawn and under cover of darkness made for the target areas. At first, the units didn’t find anything, but under closer inspection, Special Forces found what they called a “spider hole” with Saddam inside. As soldiers removed the cover for of the spider hole they saw Saddam Hussein who seeing he had no option but surrender said, “I am the President of Iraq…” — to which an American soldier replied: “The President of The United States sends his regards.” In his almost tomb-like hole Saddam had two AK-47s, a pistol, $750,000 in $100 bills.

    Death to Saddam! Down with Saddam!
    -Iraqi journalists

    News Breaks

    On December 13, 2003, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran first reported that Saddam Hussein had been arrested, citing Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. These reports were soon confirmed by other members of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, by U.S. military sources, and by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a press conference in Baghdad, shortly afterwards, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” Bremer reported that Saddam had been captured at approximately 8:30 p.m. Iraqi time on December 13.
    At the news conference, Bremer presented video footage of Saddam in custody. Saddam Hussein was shown with a full beard and hair longer and curlier than his familiar appearance, which a barber later restored. His identity was later reportedly confirmed by DNA testing. He was described as being in good health and as “talkative and co-operative”. At the news conference Iraqi journalists rose to their feet and started shouting, “Death to Saddam!” and “Down with Saddam!”
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    Iraqi Soldier

    Iraqi ManBehind the camera: Ken Jarecke
    Where: A lone truck on a highway heading south to Kuwait from Southern Iraq
    Photo Summary: (the corpse) … had been burned alive … I don’t know who he was or what he did. I don’t know if he was a good man, a family man or a bad guy or a terrible soldier or anything like that. But I do know that he fought for his life and thought it was worth fighting for.– Ken Jarecke
    Picture Taken: Hours before the 1991 Gulf war ceasefire on 28 February 1991

    Hours before the 1991 Gulf war ceasefire that would mark the end of the conflict, photographer Ken Jarecke was inside Iraq covering the War. Devastated from a month of heavy American air strikes, the Iraqi army was in total chaos and retreat. American forces had free reign over southern Iraq. Travelling with a US army public affairs officer, Jarecke was heading south to Kuwait when he came across a single truck burnt out in the middle of a double lane highway. When the Public Affairs escort asked why he would take such a gruesome picture Ken Jarecke said the first thing that came to mind, “If I don’t make pictures like this, people like my mother will think what they see in war is what they see in movies.”

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    Gulf War

    I think people should see this
    -Ken Jarecke

    Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait in August 1990 setting in motion the American-led action to drive him out. Cash-starved after his almost 8-year long war with Iran, Saddam thought he could wipe out a large part of his huge wartime debt by simply invading one of his biggest debtors, Kuwait. President Bush Sr. was quickly able to put together a Coalition of some 30 countries in an effort to force Saddam out of Kuwait. When Bush Sr. felt all efforts at diplomacy had failed, on Jan 16, 1991, he started a devastating air campaign. Flying some 1000 sorties a day, Coalition air forces neutralized most of Iraq’s air force and air defenses. After they ruled the skies the Coalition forces turned to Iraq’s army and the countries infrastructure. Nothing was safe as Jets, bombers, and helicopters roamed Iraqi skies searching for targets. When the land invasion was launched on Feb 24, the almost month-long air bombardment proved it’s worth as those Iraqi units who didn’t flee, surrendered in mass, anxious to get away from Coalition Air Strikes. By the end of the war, almost 100 hours after it had begun, Coalition Forces had captured thousands of demoralized Iraqi troops.

    Clean War

    The Gulf War had a great deal of TV coverage, as the technology to transmit live images around the world was used extensively. While there was a lot of TV footage of the war, the coverage, and media freedom was heavily restricted. The Pentagon was wary of the media after Vietnam where the press was given basically unrestricted access to the war, something many in the Pentagon felt lost them the war. To avoid a repeat during the Gulf War, tightly controlled press pools of government-approved reporters and military escorts for any field reporting were the norms. Supposedly this was to protect from sensitive information leaking out to Iraqi generals tuned to CNN but in reality, it allowed the military to restrict information given to journalists and thus to the general public. It was under these tight conditions that Ken Jarecke found himself reporting. When he found the burnt Iraqi man on Iraqi Highway 08 he was with a military escort but as he would recall for the BBC:

    He didn’t try to stop me, he let me go and I just went over [to the wreckage]. … [the burn victim] might have been the driver of the truck, he might have been the passenger, but he had been burned alive and it appears as though he’s trying to lift himself up and out of the truck.
    I don’t know who he was or what he did. I don’t know if he was a good man, a family man or a bad guy or a terrible soldier or anything like that.
    But I do know that he fought for his life and thought it was worth fighting for. And he’s frozen, he’s burned in place just kind of frozen in time in this last-ditch effort to save his life…. I thought there might have been better pictures. I literally shot two frames and moved on to other things and I didn’t really think a whole lot about it….

    Too Graphic

    The U.S. Military Joint Information Bureau (JIB) is the only department allowed to interface between the military and the media. When Jarecke’s film was developed the Military JIB had objections about the picture going over the wire as it was too graphic. A compromise was met and the picture was allowed to pass after a warning about its graphic nature was placed preceding the picture. Yet the military didn’t need to worry about the picture getting public because when it reached the AP office in New York it was pulled off the wire. Even though AP office workers made copies for their own personal use, they deemed it too sensitive for anyone else. It was too gory for editors of other newspapers part of the press pool to see, too graphic for them to make their own decision on whether or not to run the image. This is why many in the US market didn’t see the picture until much later.

    No such decision was made in England and the London Observer ran the picture along with The Guardian. The picture naturally caused a debate in the UK over how graphic pictures should be. Jarecke would later firmly support the republishing of his picture in every country stating:

    “I think people should see this, … If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it.”

    He also thought the controversy was healthy as it encouraged debate, about England’s involvement in the war, “Is this something we want to be involved in?” Jarecke said. U.S. news media would later defend their actions pointing out that when editors didn’t self-censor themselves, the public was outraged. As shown when outlets that published the footage of Somalis dragging the body of an American Solider through the streets were flooded with letters and calls of complaints. The Gulf War is now remembered as a “clean war” of precision-guided bombs and limited “collateral damage”. Yet it wasn’t clean because of the estimates of Iraqi soldiers killed ranged from 60,000 to 200,000 dead; 30,000 in the 100 hours of the ground offensive alone. The death count for the civilians of Iraq is also hard to pinpoint, but estimates of those who died as a direct result of the war 3,500 with around 100,000 dying that year from “war-induced adverse health effects,” such as the lack of clean water.
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    More Iraqi Pictures

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    Fall of Saddam Hussein’s Statue

    Behind the camera: Various Internal Media Organizations
    Where: Baghdad’s Firdus Square, directly in front of the Palestine Hotel where the world’s journalists had been quartered.
    Photo Summary: Crowd of people celebrating the destruction of Saddam’s Statue
    Picture Taken: April 9, 2003

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq, code-named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the United States, officially began on March 20, 2003. The stated objective of the invasion was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”. As American forces streamed across the border most of the world thought that Saddam’s regime would quickly collapse but as the weeks past America’s invasion looked to be stalled. The Iraqi Information Minister, Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (M.S.S.) ran a successful propaganda program claiming that American forces were being defeated and pushed back. Even as the American forces entered Baghdad M.S.S. asserted that the Iraqis were winning, “The infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad … As our leader Saddam Hussein said, ‘God is grilling their stomachs in hell.'” Even though his reports were denied by American forces there was a feeling especially in the Arab world that Iraq was putting up more fight than what was expected and maybe even winning. These views were dashed when the now-famous footage of American forces entering Baghdad’s Firdus Square and then began pulling down a huge statue of Saddam without any kind of Iraqi resistance.

    Staged?



    httpv://youtu.be/9DS3gNUDD_U”]

    The event was initially broadcast as a spontaneous show of Iraqi joy at the overthrow of the Saddam regime. It was at first reported that Iraqi civilians were trying to pull down the statue and only later were they helped by the American military. It was later revealed that rather than an Iraqi inspired event it was stage-managed American plan from a psychological operations team. The location of statue in Baghdad’s Firdus Square, directly in front of the Palestine Hotel where the world’s journalists had been quartered made the statue the perfect target. The army wouldn’t have to ship journalists anywhere as they were already on location. An internal military study determined that it was a fast-thinking Marine colonel who planned the operation. The square was closed off and his team used loudspeakers to get Iraqi civilians to come out a help.
    The footage from that day seemed to show huge crowds and many media reports compared it to the fall of the Berlin wall. The footage was shot mostly via close up camera’s near the statue that filmed a what seemed to be a large crowd of people in civilian clothing but looking at wide shots of the scene you can see that the large square was largely deserted except for a small crowd around the statue. Analysts would lament that “What you saw on television looked like there were throngs of thousands and in reality, it was just a few dozen people.” It was also unclear where the crowd came from with reports that they were bused in from anti-Saddam slums in Sadr City or anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress military forces flown in from outside Iraq. Al Jazeera reporters in the movie Control Room seemed to back the theory of the crowd coming from outside Iraq as they remarked that people from the crowd didn’t seem to speak Arabic with Iraqi accents.

    Statue

    The 12-metre tall Statue was one of Iraq’s newest Sculptures erected in honor of Saddam Hussein’s 65th birthday in April of 2002. In May of 2003, a group of Iraqi artists raised a new statue where Saddam used to stand. The Iraqi artists describe, “the new sculpture is seven metres (23 feet) high and shows a symbolic Iraqi family holding aloft a crescent moon and a sun.”

    The Main Players



    httpv://youtu.be/M7g_lxhNUUM”]

  • Marine Corporal Edward Chin of the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines regiment, a 23 year old ethnic Chinese who moved to New York when he was one, was the soldier who scaled the statue to put the chain around the neck of the giant Saddam. He also attached the American flag, and then climbed back up to replace it with an Iraqi one. “At the moment, I was just doing what I was told to do by my commanding officer,” Corporal Chin said. “I had to get the job done just like we’ve been doing out here in Iraq.”
  • Kadhem Sharif was the huge sledgehammer wielding strongman who was filmed trying to smash the base of the statue. He had a hot and cold relationship with the Saddam Family as a world-class wrestler and weightlifter he frequently felt the wrath of Saddam’s son, Uday, and was even put in jail after the team did poorly. He designed a huge expensive weightlifting gym for Uday and saw first hand how Uday would abuse steroids. He is convinced Uday’s excessive use of steroids drove him insane. A mechanic, he had a falling out with Uday after a disagreement when he refused to fix Uday’s collection of motorbikes. He was promptly arrested and spent several years in jail on trumped-up charges. Famous around Baghdad for his collection of bikes in 2004 he was arrested for trying to sell looted motorcycles. In 2008 for an interview with Al Jazeera he stated that due to the harsh and violent years of American occupation it was a joyful day that he doesn’t want to remember now. After the huge suicide bomb that killed hundreds of people in the summer of 2016, he did an interview with BBC’s Jeremy Bowen. He told Bowen that he looked back with regret at Saddam’s overthrow:

    Saddam has gone, and we have one thousand Saddams now, … It wasn’t like this under Saddam. There was a system. There were ways. We didn’t like him, but he was better than those people. Saddam never executed people without a reason. He was as solid as a wall. There was no corruption or looting, it was safe. You could be safe.”

    When asked what would he do if he meets Tony Blair, he responded, “I would say to him you are a criminal, and I’d spit in his face.”

  • Ali Fares and Khaled Hamid were some of the men who put the initial rope around the statue’s neck.”We asked the Americans to bring us this rope with a noose. I climbed the ladder myself. To begin with, I was scared, but when I climbed the ladder, the Iraqis started clapping, even the American soldiers. I heard them saying nice things about me. I couldn’t reach Saddam’s head, but by that time there was no fear. I was sure we’d got rid of him.”
  • Marine Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin was the soldier who provided the first American flag. The flag was had been in the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 and was given to Kuhlman by a friend. He kept it carefully wrapped in a box on the bottom of his tank and tried to raise it two times before. The first time he was forced to retreat after taking shots from a sniper and the second time the flag pole broke. As they stood around the statue his company commander, Captain Bryan Lewis asked for the flag to put on the statue. McLaughlin still has the flag that he keeps wrapped up on his bookshelf.
  • Marine Lieutenant Casey Kuhlman claims that he provided the second pre-1991 Iraqi flag. When the first flag went up the crowd started to turn ugly. He remembers that people started shouting and woman correspondent for a Middle Eastern television company started begging for them to take it down. Seeing the need for action he quickly brought out the Iraqi flag and passed it through the crowd. Where strongman Kadhem Sharif claims to have taken it to the marines on the crane.
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