When March 31, 2003 Where: Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition Who:NTV Summary: Team captiain: Hideki Kajiwara (梶原比出樹)”
Matrix Ping Pong is a famous video clip that makes the rounds as an Internet meme on the web. It is a recording from the popular annual Japanese show Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の新！仮装大賞). The video shows a group of people attempting to mix moves in the style of The Matrix movie while parodying another, Japanese movie named Ping Pong, using kurokos (stagehands dressed all in black that are used in Japanese theatre) to hold the actors and the props up. This performance won the competition on March 31, 2003.
The video opens with what appears to be two competitors about to start a ping pong match. On closer inspection, you can see the kurokos in the background that move the various parts of the stage. Each “competitor” is made up of two people one controls the visible top half and the other the legs, the visible lower half. All told there are 7 people involved in the skit:
4 people to control the Red and Orange players
1 person to control the ping pong ball
2 people to move the actual ping pong table
On the screen appear the Skit Title and 29. The title is in Katakana letters that translate into PingPong and the contestants are number 29.
In each episode, there are 30 or so skits that individuals or groups of people act out. There is a panel of 10 judges, each with two buttons to vote with. At the end of each skit, they vote on how much they liked it, with 15 being a passing score and 20 being the max score. So if they didn’t like the skit then they give no points, kind of liked it then they get 1 point, really like it 2 points. If a skit gets below 15 then don’t move onto the next round but if they get above 15, they get a medal and get a chance to win money. This is why and the end of the skit you see them cheering and hugging each other because they got above 15 points.
Kasou Taishou or the (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の新！仮装大賞; Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition) is a semi-annual show on NTV in which various amateur groups (or solo artists) perform short skits, which are rated by a panel of judges. It originally was just a show to showcase costumes but as people started performing to showcase their costume the show, especially in recent years, has evolved into skits that revolve around clever methods of “faking” cinematic special effects on a live stage, like “Matrix Ping Pong”. You can view the winners of each episode on the official website press the sixth link down on the left menu bar.
Behind the camera: Filmed by Ed Robinson of, Viral Factory Where: Romanian Stadium Photo Summary: Romanian actors playing two Ukranian athletes, Mosienko (Guy) and Bubka (Girl) Picture Taken: Campaign started on March 2003 to April 2004
The video was created by The Viral Factory and commissioned by Trojan Condoms to create a buzz around their UK launch. The video and website spoof for a fictional event called the Trojan Games was created with fake sports of an adult nature. Each viral clip was embedded in the Trojan Games website, creating a huge effect by driving viewers to the site. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 300 million times.
The video opens with what appears to be two athletes walking through a crowd. The voice-over tells us, in an Olympic Commentator style, that the two, Mosienko and Bubka, are from Ukraine and hope to win the event. As they walk up to the stage you notice that they don’t appear to be wearing pants. The girl, Bubka, “mounts” her partner Mosienko and then she lets go appearing to be held in place by Mosienko’s … “member”. They hold the pose for 3 sec to victory and the crowd goes wild waving Ukrainian flags as Mosienko and Bubka take gold for the sport of “Pelvic Power Lifting”.
The Viral Factory filmed in a real athletics arena in Romania and used genuine Romanian athletes, shooting for two days. They were promised by the local casting director that there would be no problem with the actors getting naked which turned out to be true except for one incident with the Weightlifter:
Only one of them was shy, poor bugger … He suddenly had a panic attack at the last moment … But really, all of them were perfectly happy, quite extraordinarily laid-back about it. Being English we were terribly sensitive and had people with towels ready as soon as we cut, we had little skin-coloured pouches made for long shots. One girl was parading around half nude for about 20 minutes after the shoot. We said go and put some clothes on and have some lunch, she said, ‘no, I’m hungry’!’ After that we all relaxed.–Film makers
Behind the camera: A computer graphic based on sketches created from the description of mobile bio labs from Iraqi informant, Curveball Where: Federal Government Photo Summary: Iraq’s supposed mobile weapons of mass destruction vehicles Picture Taken: First shown February 5, 2003
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee
After the 911 attacks, the hawks in the Bush Whitehouse pushed for the invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime. In order to build international support to mount an invasion of Iraq the Secretary of State in the Bush administration, General Colin Luther Powell, gave a presentation on the status of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The speech given at a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, was presented with Images of Iraq’s supposed WMD program including this image of Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities for biological weapons. The image was used by media around the world making it a household image.
The reports of mobile biological weapons facilities emerged from supposed defectors of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction program. The Whitehouse cited four sources that claimed the mobile units existed.
The first reports came from an Iraqi defector, given the codename “curveball”, who came to Germany claiming asylum because he was accused by the Iraqi government of stealing money. In Nov 1999 Curveball changed his story claiming, to German intelligence agents, that he designed laboratory equipment to convert trucks into biological weapons laboratories. This intelligence was passed to the US who at that time were looking for evidence of mobile facilities.
Even though British intelligence and other Iraqi defectors found much of Curveball’s testimony to be false, divisions of the CIA saw his accounts of the facilities supporting descriptions of mobile labs they found on the internet and even though foreign intelligence agencies and even other divisions of the CIA particularly the European division maintained that Curveball’s testimony was false, the account of the mobile weapon labs was still used in Powell’s speech.
In February of 2002, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) provides Mohammad Harith who claims that on behalf of the Iraqi government he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks so that they could be converted into mobile biological weapons laboratories. By May 2002 a “fabricator notice” is issued to the intelligence community concerning Harith’s testimony after the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) determined that the intelligence he provided was false and he been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress.” Even though the “fabricator notice” was sent out Mohammad Harith’s and Curveball’s discredited accounts of mobile labs were used in Powell’s speech.
The third source that was quoted by Powell as credible testified in June 2001 that Iraq had mobile weapons labs. However, this source later recanted in October of 2003 directly contradicting his earlier testimony. The fourth source cited by Powell remains classified.
US Intelligence was never able to photograph a mobile lab but through the eye witness accounts they pieced together determined that Iraq had, “perhaps 18 trucks that we know of.”
Actual Text of the February 5, 2003 UN presentation
One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
Let me take you inside that intelligence file and share with you what we know from eyewitness accounts. We have first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.
Some of the other slides used to show the Iraqi mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors. In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.
Although Iraq’s mobile production program began in the mid-1990s, UN inspectors at the time only had vague hints of such programs. Confirmation came later, in the year 2000. The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs. He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998. 12 technicians died from exposure to biological agents.
He reported that when UNSCOM was in country and inspecting, the biological weapons agent production always began on Thursdays at midnight, because Iraq thought UNSCOM would not inspect on the Muslim holy day, Thursday night through Friday.
He added that this was important because the units could not be broken down in the middle of a production run, which had to be completed by Friday evening before the inspectors might arrive again.
This defector is currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him. His eyewitness account of these mobile production facilities has been corroborated by other sources.
A second source. An Iraqi civil engineer in a position to know the details of the program confirmed the existence of transportable facilities moving on trailers.
A third source, also in a position to know, reported in summer, 2002, that Iraq had manufactured mobile production systems mounted on road-trailer units and on rail cars.
Finally, a fourth source. An Iraqi major who defected confirmed that Iraq has mobile biological research laboratories in addition to the production facilities I mentioned earlier.
We have diagrammed what our sources reported about these mobile facilities. Here you see both truck and rail-car mounted mobile factories. The description our sources gave us of the technical features required by such facilities is highly detailed and extremely accurate.
As these drawings, based on their description show, we know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together, we know how they work, and we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.
As shown in this diagram, these factories can be concealed easily — either by moving ordinary looking trucks and rail-cars along Iraq’s thousands of miles of highway or track or by parking them in a garage or a warehouse or somewhere in Iraq’s extensive system of underground tunnels and bunkers.
We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories. The truck-mounted ones have at least two or three trucks each. That means that the mobile production facilities are very few — perhaps 18 trucks that we know of. There may be more. But perhaps 18 that we know of. Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day.
It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward as they are supposed to with the information about these kinds of capabilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are sophisticated facilities. For example, they can produce anthrax and botulism toxin. In fact, they can produce enough dry, biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. A dry agent of this type is the most lethal form for human beings.
One of the trucks the US initially claimed was a mobile bio weapons lab facility
Shortly after the war, US forces did find some trucks that appeared to be mobile bio-weapons facilities. A press release was quickly sent out backing this point
up and numerous Whitehouse officials, including Bush, claimed these were the mobile bio labs that Colin Powell was talking about in his UN speech:
We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two.– President Bush
It soon emerged that the two trailers discovered were in fact not mobile weapons labs and an official report was released that gave the reasons why the discovered trucks could not be the bio lab trailers:
There was a critical absence of instrumentation for process monitoring and control of the process.
The positioning of the inlets and outlets on the reactor would make even the most basic functions (such as filling completely, emptying completely, and purging completely the vessel) either impractical or impossible to perform.
The lack of the ports required to introduce reagents would exacerbate this problem. These aspects of the design alone would render fermentation almost impossible to control.
The low-pressure air storage system capacity would be inadequate to provide the volume of compressed air required to operate the fermentation process over a complete aerobic production cycle. In addition, it would not be practical to charge and use the existing compressed gas storage with nitrogen or carbon dioxide for anaerobic fermentation. Similarly, the collection system for effluent gas would be wholly inadequate to deal with the volume of effluent gas produced during a complete production cycle.
Harvesting any product would be difficult and dangerous.
The trucks were in fact what the Iraqi’s claimed them to be for, the production of hydrogen to fill balloons to determine target adjustments for long-range artillery targets. The original technology had been in fact sold to Saddam by a British company, Marconi Command & Control which sold the Iraqi army the Artillery Meteorological System, in 1987.
After the Speech
Even the day before the speech Powell and his longtime deputy Larry Wilkerson had doubts on the mobile bio labs. Larry Wilkerson remembers that “Powell and I were both suspicious because there were no pictures of the mobile labs [but the CIA] said: ‘This is it, Mr. Secretary. You can’t doubt this one,'” Powell was later asked to resign and did, announcing his resignation as Secretary of State on Monday, November 15, 2004. In 2005 he told Barbara Walters that he feels, “terrible” about giving the speech and when asked if it tarnished his reputation, Powell said, “Of course it will. It’s a blot. I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” On Sept 13, 2004, he told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the intelligence that made up the speech he gave to the UN in 2003 was flawed and that it was, “unlikely that we will find any stockpiles” of WMDs in Iraq.
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 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).
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
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.
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.
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.
They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong
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.
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
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!
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!”
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.
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 a stage-managed American plan from a psychological operations team. The location of the 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 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.
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
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.