Iraqi Mobile Production Facilities

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 Intelligence

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.

Aftermath

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.
  • Back View


    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.

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    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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    Bush – Mission Accomplished

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.
    Behind the camera: Press Pool
    Where: Flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln which was 30 miles from the coast of California
    Photo Summary: George W. Bush giving his famous speech announcing the end of ‘major combat operations’ in the 2003 War on Iraq.
    Picture Taken: May 1, 2003

    In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
    -President Bush in his speech under the banner

    On May 1, 2003 George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln a Lockheed S-3 Viking (Navy One had been painted on the side), where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in the War on Iraq. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating “Mission Accomplished.” Bush critics pointed to the seemingly premature declaration the war over as evidence of the arrogance and lack of planning in the Iraq War. The mission was in fact just beginning as major combat operations hadn’t ended American military casualties. After the speech casualties grew and eventually exceeded those killed before the speech. The controversy surrounding the speech and the banner in the background made video clips and pictures of the speech famous.




    Where Did The Banner Come From?

    As criticism mounted the White House who had in the Lincoln speech and other press releases implied that the war was over, backpedalled stating that they didn’t mean to imply that the Iraq War was over and that the Navy had, in fact, put the banner up for a totally different reason. As Navy Commander and Pentagon spokesman Conrad Chun put it, the banner referred specifically to the aircraft carrier’s 10-month deployment (which was the longest deployment of a carrier since the Vietnam War) and not the war itself “It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew.”
    The White House claimed that the banner was requested by the crew of the ship. Afterwards, the administration and naval sources stated that the banner was the Navy’s idea, White House staff members made the banner, and it was hung by U.S. Navy personnel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN “We took care of the production of it. We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up.” The White House when further pressed by TIME magazine was forced to admit that they made the banner and hung it up but still clung to the line that it had been done at the request of the crew members.

    Premature

    The event was criticized by many as premature — especially later as the guerrilla war began to take its toll. Subsequently, the White House released a statement saying that the sign and Bush’s visit referred to the initial invasion of Iraq. Bush’s speech noted:
    “We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous.” However, the speech also said that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

    President Bush after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. He made the landing with a pilot, a secret service agent and a reserve pilot.


    For critics of the war, the photo-op became a symbol of the administration’s unrealistic goals and perceptions of the conflict. Anti-war activists questioned the integrity and realism of George W. Bush’s “Major combat” statement. The banner came to symbolize the irony of the President giving a victory speech only a few weeks after the beginning of a relatively long war. Many in the administration came to regret the slogan. Some even going so far as to edit the White House website’s official video of the speech that Bush made on the aircraft carrier, cropping the video to conceal the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

    The Jet Landing

    Before the speech, Bush made a historic jet landing on the carrier, the first by a sitting president. While the president was a former pilot in the National Guard he did not land the plane, leaving the dangerous carrier landing to Navy Cmdr. John Lussier. At the time it was criticized by opponents as an overly theatrical and expensive stunt. For instance, they pointed to the fact that the carrier was well within the range of Bush’s helicopter, and that a jet landing was not needed. Originally the White House had stated that the carrier was too far off the California coast for a helicopter landing and a jet would be needed to reach it. It was later revealed that on the day of the speech, the Lincoln was only 30 miles from shore but the administration still decided to go ahead with the jet landing. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that the president “could have helicoptered, but the plan was already in place. Plus, he wanted to see a landing the way aviators see a landing.” The Lincoln waited offshore while the President slept before it returned to its home base in Everett, Washington on May 6, 2003.

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    Challenger Explosion

    Behind the camera: NASA Tracking Camera
    Where: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    Photo Summary: Space Shuttle Challenger breaking up soon after takeoff
    Picture Taken: Jan 28, 1986
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

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    The Challenger crew on that Jan 28, 1986 morning was a PC dream team. Two white women (Sharon Christa McAuliffe and Judy Resnik), an Asian American (Ellison S. Onizuka), an African American (Ron McNair), and three white men (Greg Jarvis, Michael J. Smith, and Dick Scobee). McAuliffe was the first citizen astronaut, a teacher, who won a place on board Challenger by beating out a group of 11,000 other entrants. During the mission, she was going to broadcast live a lesson to millions of school children across the country. When the seven boarded that morning they had to step carefully as they entered the shuttle, as the boarding platform was covered in ice from an unusual Florida deep freeze. It was this same cold weather that would ultimately doom their launch.

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    Canadian Cold Front


    Ice formed on the Challenger

    Icicles on the day of the launch


    The odd cold front had come down from Canada putting much of Florida well below freezing. Ice covered the shuttle while it was waiting for take-off at the Kennedy Space Center. These cold temperatures, which dropped to –5 C (20 Fahrenheit), raised concerns in the control room and after the astronauts had entered the shuttle, the launch was delayed to allow the temp to increase. Some of the concerns were about the two booster rockets, more specifically the two booster rocket’s O-rings that helped seal together the different segments that made up each rocket. Engineers had come to the conclusion that the O-rings’ design was flawed in extremely cold conditions like those reached on Jan 28. When the temperature dropped the O-rings became brittle and they would not expand to prevent ignited rocket fuel from bursting out through the seals.

    Previous launches had come dangerously close to Challenger’s fate with much higher take-off temperatures, the lowest up to that point was 12 C (53 Fahrenheit). Roger Boisjoly, an engineer at, Morton Thiokol the contractor who built the booster rockets, became so concerned that he and his co-workers tried to stop the cold weather, Challenger launch. NASA managers listened to their concerns and told the group they had 45min to prove the launch would fail, “We had 45 minutes to prepare for the most important meeting of our lives,” Boisjoly said. After the presentation NASA still refused to delay the launch, putting the O-ring issue in the acceptable flight risk category. Morton Thiokol company managers also backed down. Perhaps fearing that any delays might damage their upcoming contract renewal they made a “management decision” overriding their engineers and refused to take the issue any farther.
    Oblivious to all this, the seven astronauts patiently waited for the go ahead. After a 2 hour wait, the green light was given. The following are excerpts from the timeline that started at 11:38 a.m. EST, Jan. 28, 1986 when the solid rocket ignition command was sent.

    Transcript

    httpv://youtu.be/fh3LllX28-o

    0.000 – Solid rocket ignition command is sent.
    Astronaut Judy Resnik, intercom: “Aaall Riight!”
    1.000 – Shuttle pilot Michael Smith, intercom: “Here we go.”
    3.375 – Launch commentator Hugh Harris, NASA-SELECT television: “… Liftoff of the 25th space shuttle mission, and it has cleared the tower.”
    11.000 – Smith, intercom: “Go you mother.”
    15.000 – Resnik, intercom: “Shit hot!”
    19.000 – Smith, intercom: “Looks like we’ve got a lot of wind here today.” Shuttle commander Dick Scobee: “Yeah.”
    22.000 – Scobee, intercom: “It’s a little hard to see out my window here.”
    28.000 – Smith, intercom: “There’s 10,000 feet and Mach point five.” The shuttle is 10,000 feet high traveling at half the speed of sound.
    40.000 – Smith, intercom: “There’s Mach 1.”
    59.000 – Challenger passes through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressure, experiencing 720 pounds per square foot.
    59.262 – A continuous “well defined intense plume” of exhaust is seen on the side of the suspect booster by tracking cameras. This is clear evidence of an O-ring joint burn through.
    59.753 – First visual evidence of flame on the right-side booster. 70 mm tracking camera closeup: A flickering tongue of flame appears on the side of the right-side booster away from the shuttle and quickly becomes continuous.
    60.000 – Smith, intercom: “Feel that mother go!” Unknown, intercom: “Wooooo Hooooo!”
    64.660 – The plume from the burn through changes shape suddenly, indicating a leak has started in the shuttle’s liquid hydrogen tank to fuel the fire.
    64.705 – A bright, sustained glow is photographed on the side of the external fuel tank.
    65.000 – Scobee, intercom: “Reading four eighty six on mine.” This is a routine airspeed indicator check. Smith: “Yep, that’s what I’ve got, too.”

    66.764 – The pressure in the shuttle’s external liquid hydrogen tank begins to drop, indicating a massive leak. Smith had real-time readings of pressure in the liquid hydrogen tank, but it is doubtful he noticed anything unusual because of the rapidity of the failure. It made no difference, ultimately, because even if Challenger’s pilots had suspected an SRB problem there was nothing they could have done about it. While the shuttle separates from its external fuel tank shortly before reaching orbit, it does so with no engines firing and in a benign aerodynamic environment. As Scobee and Smith well knew, separating from the tank while the SRBs were firing would drive the shuttle into the bottom of the fuel tank.
    68.000 – Mission Control spokesman Steve Nesbitt in Houston: “Engines are throttling up. Three engines now at 104 percent.”
    Dick Covey, mission control: “Challenger, go at throttle up.”
    70.000 – Scobee calmly responds, air-to-ground: “Roger, go at throttle up.”
    73.000 (approximate) – Smith, intercom: “Uh oh…” This is the last comment captured by the crew cabin intercom recorder. Smith may have been responding to indications on main engine performance or falling pressures in the external fuel tank.
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    O-rings


    The booster Orings


    On the ground, onlookers who had braved the cold watched in horror as the O-rings failed and superheated ignited fuel from inside the booster rocket acted as a blowtorch and igniting the huge external fuel tank. A fireball exploded across the sky as metal flew everywhere and the two booster rockets free of the shuttle spiralled off into the sky. In the stands the children of pilot Mike Smith at first stared in shocked silence and then started screaming, “I want my father! I want my father! He told us it was safe!” AP reporter Howard Benedict dictated the breaking news over the phone to the New York office, “There was no immediate indication on the fate of the crew, but it appeared that nobody could have survived that fireball in the sky.”
    Yet, Howard Benedict was wrong. Years after the crash, officials acknowledged that the crew cabin of the shuttle survived the shuttle break-up, intact. There was no real explosion, no detonation of the huge amounts of fuel carried by the shuttle. As the shuttle structure was broken down from the leaking flaming booster rocket it was torn apart by incredible aerodynamic forces outside the supersonic shuttle. At 48,000 ft., the shuttle ripped apart freeing the crew section, which still under great momentum flew to a peak altitude of 65,000 ft before returning back to earth. As the crew compartment flew higher, released fuel from the External Tank (ET) and shuttle burned in seconds creating the huge fireball seen below. The force that tore apart the rest of the shuttle wasn’t great enough to destroy the crew compartment, in part because air density at that height is much lower. Recovered flight recorder data revealed that Shuttle computers still functioned after the break-up, even shutting down the engines when sensors showed there was no fuel.

    Did the crew survive the explosion?

    The G-Forces from the breakup and decent back to earth may have rendered the crew unconscious but it was revealed that on the trip down at least some of the crew where awake. Of the four emergency oxygen tanks, called Personal Egress Air Packs or PEAPs, that were recovered from the ocean, three had been turned on. One of the PEAPs was identified as Smith’s and because the switch was located on the back of his seat investigators believe either Resnik or Onizuka, who sat behind Smith, had the presence of mind after the shuttle break up, to turn it on. It wasn’t until what was left of the shuttle smashed into the ocean at 200 mph some 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the disaster that the compartment was crushed and all inside killed instantly.
    The fact that the crew wasn’t killed when the shuttle came apart wasn’t revealed until years after the crash. NASA officials still don’t like to talk about the fate of the crew after the 73-sec mark when the spacecraft broke up. Their resistance to making public such things like photos of the wreckage, autopsy reports, and other data recording sparked a number of conspiracy theories on the internet. One such viral email included a faked transcript of the final minutes and rumors that some of Challenger crew even survived the ocean crash but died at the bottom of the sea while waiting for a rescue.

    Wreckage


    Challenger wreckage still washes up


    Efforts to find the wreckage in the waters off Florida were at first hampered by falling debris. Soon Navy and coast guard ships were helping in the search for shuttle remains. It took months to get all the wreckage that was recovered but efforts were complicated by the huge search area 1165 square kilometers (450 square miles), water depths of 15 to 365 meters (50 to 1,200 feet), currents of four to six knots, and the sheer number of shuttle pieces. In all 15 tons of debris was pulled from the ocean. 55% of Challenger, 5% of the cabin crew and 65% of the satellite cargo still lies on the ocean floor; occasionally some of it washes up on Florida beaches. The US government still owns the wreckage and under Title 18, United States Code, Section 641 charges anyone who is in possession of Challenger Debris. After the investigation, all recovered pieces of the space shuttle were moved to two abandoned Minuteman Missile Silos at Complex 31 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

    Whitehouse Pressure?



    Ronald Reagan was supposed to give his State of the Union address the night of the launch. After the crash, a number of rumors surfaced that the Whitehouse pressured the shuttle to launch over NASA concerns because Reagan wanted to incorporate the astronauts in his speech. The rumors were taken seriously enough to be investigated by commissions into the cause of Challenger crash but no evidence of Whitehouse pressure was found. That evening instead of the State of the Union address Reagan gave a national address on the Challenger disaster. At the end of the speech he quoted a poem that was a favorite of aviators and astronauts, “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.” Weeks after the crash all seven bodies were recovered from the water. Remains that could be identified were returned to their respective families on April 29, 1986. Dick Scobee and Michael Smith’s families chose to bury their bodies in Arlington National Cemetery. Body parts not able to be identified were buried together at a Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial in Arlington on May 20, 1986.

    Why?

    The Challenger crash was not the result of design flaws in the booster rockets. The crash also had nothing to do with the replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals. The O-ring seals performed better than the asbestos putty and they would have functioned safely IF the weather conditions that cold Jan day were warmer. NASA operated under the idea of acceptable risk, and problems that weren’t deemed urgent were put aside to be dealt with in the future. Management forgot the “principles of safely operating on the edge of extreme hazards.” After the shuttle tragedy, problems that had concerned NASA engineers in the past were brought forward. Among the 400 changes made before the next launch of the space shuttle Discovery, 32 months later, on September 29, 1988, was the addition of electric heaters installed in the O-rings to keep them at maximum performance.
    Challenger crashed because management at NASA concerned with Challenger’s many launch delays and the effect of the delays on congress’s funding chose to suppress pre-launch valid safety concerns. Post-Challenger NASA had safety personnel and representatives from the major contractors included in the mission management team, the group that gives the green light to shuttle launches and shuttle flight operations. Some tried to spin the Challenger tragedy by saying that the loss of human life was the price for expanding into space but this is only true of disasters that are unpreventable. The loss of the space shuttle Challenger and its seven crew was due to incompetent management, not unpreventable events. The disaster was unnecessary.

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    Oswald Backyard Shots

    Behind the camera: Oswald’s Russian wife Marina using the Imperial 620 Duo Lens Camera
    Where: Oswald’s Backyard
    Photo Summary: Lee Harvey Oswald holding two left-wing newspapers The Militant and The Worker which are dated March 11 and March 24. In addition to the two papers, Oswald is holding a rifle, and has a .38 caliber revolver strapped to his waist.
    Picture Taken: Sunday, March 31, 1963

    The world stopped on Nov 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while driving his open limo through the streets of Dallas. The murder of JFK has almost from the second Kennedy was killed been shrouded in conspiracy theories and intense public interest. One of the many figures that became infamous as a result is the supposed lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

    Lee Harvey Oswald

    While growing up with his family Lee Harvey Oswald moved constantly around America. Before the age of 18, Oswald had lived in 22 different residences and attended 12 different schools, around New Orleans and Dallas. He had trouble spelling and writing and some say he had a learning disorder like dyslexia. Perhaps because of this and his constant movements, he never finished high school.

    Going from left to right are pictures CE-113A, CE-113B and CE-113C.

    Though he had trouble with school he had a voracious appetite for books and by 15 became an ardent Marxist. His socialist beliefs didn’t stop him from joining the marines, an action seen as following in his idolized older brother’s, Robert, footsteps. He was accepted and trained as a radar operator and spent time at various military bases throughout the Pacific. In the Marines, he scored a rating of sharpshooter but in latter rating, he qualified as a marksman, a lower classification. Experts examining his records characterized his firearms proficiency as “above average” for the Military. The same experts when comparing average civilian males his age called Oswald, “an excellent shot.” In the marines he was court marshalled twice, first as a result of accidentally shooting himself in the elbow with a small, unauthorized handgun and later for starting a fight with a sergeant he thought responsible for the penalty he received.

    Oswald goes to the USSR


    Warren Commission Image of Oswald in Minsk, USSR


    Disillusioned by his experience in the marines, he was able to get a “hardship” discharge by saying that he needed to care for his sick mother. After spending just one day with his mother he boarded a ship and travelled to the Soviet Union where he renounced his US citizenship and asked to join the Soviet motherland. The Soviet authorities at first denied his request but allowed him to stay after Oswald attempted suicide. He was sent to Minsk where he could be easily watched and worked as a metal lathe operator at the Gorizont (Horizon) Electronics Factory in Minsk, a sprawling complex that produced radio and televisions along with military and space electronic components. His friends and co-workers gave him the nickname, Alek, as Lee sounded too Chinese.
    Oswald spent almost 3 years in the Soviet Union but became disillusioned with the monotony and bureaucracy of the Soviet system and after a honeymoon period started to look into moving back to the States. At a dance in early 1961, Oswald meets Marina Alexandrovna Nikolayevna Medvedeva Prusakova, a 19-year-old student. One month later they married and Marina soon became pregnant with their first daughter, June.

    Lee Harvey Returns

    Almost a year of paperwork finally got Oswald and his family an exit visa, and on June 1, 1962, the three moved back to America setting up in Dallas. A number of failed jobs followed and without the friends and a social life that he had in Minsk, Oswald began to look back at his time in the USSR with nostalgia. He even looked into moving back to the USSR or perhaps Cuba.

    These reborn socialist feelings probably inspired Oswald’s attempted assassination of General Walker, an outspoken anti-communist, anti-civil right, former US General fired for giving men under his command right-wing propaganda. On April 10, 1963, from less than 100 feet Oswald took a shot at Walker who was sitting at his desk. The bullet hit the wooden window frame and instead of killing Walker deflected into his forearm. Oswald’s next attempt at a sniper shot would be from the Texas School Book Depository.
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    Shots from the Book Depository

    The rifle in the picture and used to kill the President


    Oswald had got a job working at the Texas School Book Depository via an acquaintance. On Nov 22, 12:30 pm Oswald shot Kennedy from the 6th story window of the Depository. Oswald fired three shots in 8.3 seconds, fatally wounding President Kennedy and critically wounding Governor John Connally. After the assassination, Oswald hid the rifle behind some boxes and ran outside the building toward an unknown destination. Oswald was stopped by Officer JD tippet and when Tippet got out his car Oswald shot and killed him using a pistol. He then ran into a Theater that was playing the film “War Is Hell” starring Audie Murphy. A suspicious theatre worker called the police and after a struggle police arrested Oswald.

    Dallas detectives exercising a search warrant of the Paine house on November 23, 1963, discovered a number of pictures including the one used on the February 21, 1964, Life magazine cover. Marina, Lee’s wife, had been staying with the Paine family. Donald Uhrbrock, a Life photographer, obtained the cover shot from copies he made from photographs in the police files. The cover shot was one of three similar shots later given the name, the backyard pictures. The shots have been shrouded in allegations that they where faked partly due to the retouching that occurred when LIFE used the image on their cover. (The February 21, 1964 issue with Oswald on the cover contained a number of articles including Oswald: Evolution of an Assassin, and Was Jack Ruby Insane?) Oswald himself, when shown the pictures by Dallas Police after his arrest, insisted they were fakes.

    Photos faked?

    In the Detroit Free Press and Newsweek magazines the sniper scope was erased while adjusting the contrast, a common procedure with magazines


    To investigate the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson established The Warren Commission, named after its chairman, United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren on November 29, 1963. Another commission was established in 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to investigate the Kennedy and Martin Luther assassinations. The HSCA looked into allegations that the backyard pictures were faked. After extensive analysis using the latest technologies available the HSCA determined that the images were authentic. Some of the allegations involving the backyard pictures that were disproved by the HSCA included:
    Unnatural lines in the vicinity of Oswald’s chin

  • Inconsistent square-shaped chin
  • Unnatural and inconsistent shadows
  • Identical heads and inconsistent body proportions in the three shots
  • Identical backgrounds in the three shots
  • Disappearing sniper scope
  • In a 1978 BBC television documentary Malcolm Thompson, a British forensic photography expert determined that the backyard pictures where composites. Similarly, a photographic analyst with the Canadian Department of Defence reached the same conclusion. On seeing the evidence and thoroughness of the HSCA investigation both experts recanted their conclusion and agreed that the backyard pictures were genuine.
    The photos are continuously examined by experts in the photographic field. As recently as November 2009 Hany Farid, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth confirmed the pictures were authentic. Farid was able to use the latest software to recreate the sun on that day. It was this software that determined that the shadows in the picture were where they were supposed to be. “You can never really prove an image is real, but the evidence that people have pointed to that the photo is fake is incorrect,” Farid said “As an academic and a scientist, I don’t like to say it’s absolutely authentic … but it’s extremely unlikely to have been a fake.”

    Camera used


    Oswald's camera used to take the picture The front plate reads: "DUO LENS - 620 - IMPERIAL REFLEX - MADE IN U.S.A."


    Marina used the Imperial 620 Duo Lens Camera a very cheap and light model that uses 620 film (620 film is no longer manufactured). The camera is almost entirely made of plastic with both the lens and the viewfinder also made out of plastic. To take a picture using the Imperial, one looked down into the top of the camera which had a mirror inclined to 45 degrees in order to see the subject of the shot.

    Taking the pictures

    Marina told the Warren Commission that she took the pictures in the backyard of the Oswald residence on Neeley Street in Dallas around March 1963. She gave different versions of exactly when the pictures were taken and was only sure that they were taken on a Sunday. However investigators were able to figure out when the pictures were taken by noting that the two left-wing newspapers Oswald is holding, The Militant and The Worker, are dated March 11 and March 24. Contacting the newspapers they determined that the publications were mailed on March 7 and March 21, by second-class mail. The postal service testified that the newspapers would have arrived in Dallas by March 28. From all this information, the Commission established the date on which the photographs were taken to be Sunday, March 31, 1963.

    In addition to the two papers, Oswald is holding a rifle and has a .38 calibre revolver strapped to his waist. The 1978 Committee determined that the rifle in the picture was the same used to shoot Kennedy. The revolver was also determined to be the same used to kill Officer Tippit when Oswald was trying to make his escape.
    During the Warren Commission, the pictures were labelled as exhibit CE 133-A and CE 133-B. Only one negative was found and the commission gave it the title, CE 749; it was the original negative of 133-B. The negative for photo 133-A was never found. Another photo was discovered much later and was used in the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations. Mrs. Geneva Dees of Paris, Tex handed over this photograph to the committee on December 30, 1976. Mrs. Dees testified that her former husband, Roscoe White, now deceased, acquired the photo while employed with the Dallas Police at the time of the assassination. The new third picture was promptly named 133-C.

    JFK

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    Related Posts:

    Patty Hearst

    Behind the camera: Hibernia Bank security cameras
    Where: Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco
    Photo Summary: Patricia Campbell Hearst, known at the time as Tania, wielding a modified M1 Carbine with MP-40 stock and shortened barrel during a bank robbery.
    Picture Taken: Robbery took place at 9:40 A.M. April 15, 1974 they were in the bank for 4min.
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    The Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) shot to media fame when on February 4, 1974, when they kidnapped 19-year-old, Patricia Campbell Hearst, the heiress and granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. The media coverage again peaked when pictures of her robbing a bank were released. She had gone from being the victim to what appeared to be a willing and active participant in her captor’s terrorist group.

    Symbionese Liberation Army


    Patty Hearst Propaganda Poster

    The Symbionese Liberation Army was an American terrorist group born out of a number of radical prison advocacy groups. The organization was created after the escape of Donald DeFreeze one of the founding members and leader of the SLA. While hiding out, DeFreeze and other SLA members developed the group’s imagery of the seven-headed cobra which they borrowed from naga, ancient Sri Lankan stone carvings depicting a seven-headed Cobra. Naga were placed around water sources as protectors or guardians of clean water.

    DeFreeze explained the term “Symbionese” in the SLA manifesto, Symbionese Liberation Army Declaration of Revolutionary War & the Symbionese Program: “The name ‘symbionese’ is taken from the word symbiosis and we define its meaning as a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony and partnership in the best interest of all within the body.”
    The SLA participated in a number of acts of terrorism before assassinating superintendent of schools Dr. Marcus Foster. As a result of the murder, two members of the SLA, Joseph Remiro, and Russell Little were arrested. In an effort to free their two comrades the SLA hatched a plan to kidnap an important figure so that they make a prisoner switch. They chose publishing heiress Patricia Hearst who they hoped would increase the news coverage of their group and its goals.

    The Capture of Patty Hearst

    19-year-old Patty Hearst was seized on February 4, 1974, from her Berkeley, California residence that she shared with her fiancé and former teacher, Steven Weed. She was taken to a house in Daly City, California where she was kept in a closet, which was 24 in. wide and 66 in. long, for 4½ weeks. While held in the closet Hearst claims to have been sexually and physically assaulted and had her life threatened unless she cooperated. She was moved again to a third-floor studio apartment in a black neighborhood in northern San Francisco, #6-1827 Golden Gate Ave, where she was kept for another 4 weeks in a closet, 19 in. wide and 60 in. long. For 57 days she was held, “Blindfolded, gagged, tied up,” in small closets during which she was heavily indoctrinated with SLA political literature. This period of confinement and abuse at the hands of the SLA would be used as evidence of her brainwashing. Later doctors would claim that she suffered from Stockholm syndrome, where hostages in a survival response sympathize with the aims of their captors.

    Ransom Attempt


    Hearst in hibernia bank yelling

    Hearst Yelling, 'I'm Tania. Up against the wall, motherfuckers.'


    After her capture talks for a prisoner swap broke down and instead the SLA demanded that the Hearst family distribute millions of dollars of free food to needy families and to publish their political writings. The demands were met by the Hearst family but Patty was not released, when the SLA said more food had to be given away Randolph Hearst, Patty’s father, demanded that in exchange for the food his daughter was to be released. After Randolph Hearst’s condition was given, the talks stopped.

    Patty Hearst becomes Tania

    The weeks past with the only news that Patty was alive being tapes or “communiqués” as the SLA called them. On the recorded messages Patty seemed to be drifting towards the SLA agenda and eventually, she announced that she had joined the cause and released a picture of her holding a gun in front of the SLA cobra (shown right). One of these taped announcements also told how she had changed her name to “Tania”, after the famous German communist revolutionary associated with Che Guevara. It was assumed that she was being forced to say these things until the FBI released security footage of “Tania” robbing a bank.

    Hibernia Bank Robbery


    Bank Heist of the Hearst-hibernia

    Hearst leaving the bank with DeFreeze to the left


    At 9:40 A.M. on April 15, 1974, four white women and a black man burst into the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco yelling, “It’s a hold-up! Down on the floor! On your faces, you motherfuckers!”. The group was led by Donald DeFreeze and accompanying him were SLA members Patricia Soltysik, Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry and Patty Hearst. In four minutes they managed to rob the bank of $10,000, wound two bystanders and make a clean getaway in a waiting car. Patty recounted her memory of the robbery on Larry King:

    “I said my name and — because I was supposed to say my name and make a speech, but it’s all pretty unclear, And then, Donald DeFreeze shot someone, and then everything went blank. … My next memory is sitting in the car leaving (the bank).

    “[After the robbery] I sensed that I had, in fact, crossed over some sharp line of demarcation. … For me, suddenly it became plain: There was no turning back.”

    When the attorney general saw the footage he determined that Hearst had not been forced but was a willing participant in the robbery. He issued a warrant for her arrest as a “material witness”
    This later changed when another SLA “communiqués” was released where Patty claimed that at no time was a gun pointed at her, that her family were the enemy (the “pig Hearsts”), her fiancé, Steven Weed, was “an ageist, sexist pig.” and that the robbery was an “expropriation”: “Greetings to the people, this is Tania … the difference between a criminal act and a revolutionary act is what the money is used for.” It was on this tape that she declared the idea of her being brainwashed was ridiculous. After the released tape her status was changed to reflect that she admitted full participation in the crime.

    Shootout

    from like the day I was taken … I started changing my views about things
    -Patty Hearst

    After the Bank robbery, DeFreeze decided to move the group to LA so as to recruit more members. Emily and William Harris were shopping with Hearst when a security guard moved to arrest the two for shoplifting. Hearst, who was waiting outside, started firing at the outside of the store. FBI agent Charles Bates remembers that “(Hearst) pointed an M-1 carbine and fired the whole clip, … And then she took another rifle and shot some more. As I recall, there’s about 30 shots, and there were people walking along the sidewalk. … Thank God she missed them.”
    The three were able to escape and ditched the van and commandeered a series of vehicles the last of which had a driver, teenager Dan Russell. Dan recalls his ordeal and that while he was alone asked Hearst, “When did you decide to go with, join their army deal?” he remembers she shrugged and replied, “I just started listening and learning from like the day I was taken away, and I started changing my views about things. It was a real process, the way I see it.” In their hurry to get away the trio forgot to clean out the van before they ditched it. When police found the van a parking ticket led to the SLA safe house.

    When the other members of the SLA saw the news coverage of the incident they fled the safe house but with nowhere to go took over a house that just happened to have its lights on. Police were called and hundreds of police and swat officers descended on the house. By morning the house was surrounded and police broadcast for the people inside to come out. Some of the residents were allowed by the SLA to come out, but the SLA stayed inside. Tear gas was lobbed which sparked a two-hour shootout were over 5,371 rounds were fired at the house.
    Either the tear gas or one of the thousands of bullets ignited the house and SLA members Angela Atwood, Donald DeFreeze, Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry, Patricia Soltysik, and William Wolfe were killed. William Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst watched the shootout live on TV from a motel room. As part of her brainwashing, she was told that the police were hunting for her and wanted her dead. At her trial, she would point at the shootout as proof that she couldn’t turn herself in as she thought the police would kill her.

    On the run and Trial


    Patty Hearst Mug Shot

    Patty Hearst Mug Shot


    The three remaining members William Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst moved back to the San Fransisco area where they recruited more members and robbed two more banks and tried to bomb some LAPD cars. To avoid arrest Hearst and the others move around the country but in September 1975 the law finally catches up to her and she is caught and booked on bank robbery charges. While being processed she is shown smiling with the clinched handcuffed fist of a revolutionary and was quoted as saying “urban guerrilla.” when asked for her occupation.
    This defiant attitude would soon change to that of the brainwashed victim during her trial. The prosecutor was able to show that Hearst had plenty of chances to get away and got the Harris couple to testify that, “she had freedom from the day she ceased to be a prisoner of war. She rode buses, went shopping, went to movies.” The prosecutor even recounted how Patty while climbing a cliff “rangers” who assumed she was in trouble came to her aid. Bill Harris said, “She could have said anything, like, ‘I’m Patty Hearst, get me out of here.’ But she didn’t.” The jury was convinced and on March 1976 Patty Hearst was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. During the trial, she took the Fifth Amendment 42 times.
    Her sentence was later commuted on February 1979 by President Jimmy Carter by granting her executive clemency and in January 2001 President Clinton pardoned her. After she was released she married her former bodyguard Bernard Shaw who she has had two daughters with. She went on to find some success in acting and producing.

    Other Famous pictures

    Related Posts:

    Killer Man

    Behind the camera: CW4 Ruben Dominguez
    Where: 75th Ranger Regiment
    Photo Summary: Military poster
    Picture Taken: 1985
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    I’m not the killer man…

    This image although not world renowned in any sort of way is in fact iconic within a particular class. The United States Special Forces. Particularly the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th Ranger Regiment is now a special operations combat formation within the U.S. Army Special Operation Command (USASOC). The Ranger Regiment traces its lineage to three of six battalions raised in WWII, and to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)—known as “Merrill’s Marauders,” and then redesignated as the 475th Infantry, then later as the 75th Infantry. The 61 day Ranger school/leadership course, located at Fort Benning Georgia, is notoriously difficult often boasting a 70-80% attrition rate. The course emphasizes leadership and small unit tactics.

    The Poster

    The Poster of “I’m not the Killer man…” was commissioned in 1985 by the then Regimental Commander, Colonel Joseph “Smoking Joe” Stringham. It was originally thought of as an incentive or bonus that a soldier would get upon joining the Ranger unit. Each poster would be signed by the Regimental Commander, the Deputy Commander and the Regimental Sergeant Major.
    Colonel Stringham then went to the Fort Benning TASC (Training and Audio Visual Support Center) office to place an order to have the poster printed. However, TASC, for whatever reason, told him that they couldn’t print the poster. Colonel Stringham then flew TDY (Temporary Duty) to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and spoke to the 4th Psychological Operations (4th PSYOPS) mobile printing press who ended up printing 3000 copies of the poster for the Colonel.
    The posters remained on display within Ranger offices and in the barracks, with the original poster, drawn on butcher block paper, in the Regimental Ranger Headquarters until the next Regimental Commander, Colonel Taylor, took command. He thought the poster displayed a negative image of the U.S. Army Rangers and all Regimental Rangers were then required to take down the posters.

    The Poster’s Concept and Inception

    The “Killer Man” Poster as it has come to be called was designed and drawn by now retired CW4 Ruben Dominguez. Dominguez had spent four years in the United States Marine Corps in the infantry (0311) and as a small arms repair man (2111). He had left the USMC in 1984 and joined the Army principally because he wanted to be a paratrooper, and was picked up by the Ranger Regiment as an Infantryman (11B)/Draftsman due to his architectural background.
    According to his recount of the genesis of the “Killer Man” Poster: “It was a weekend and I was frustrated. Drawing being one of my past times, I commenced to take out my frustration on paper. I began drawing the Ranger in a Captain America stance and modified it to reflect the Ranger holding the Ranger Crest Shield. It was my concept of what a Ranger is…an individual that takes up more of the share than others do, i.e. the large ruck sack with all the tools a warrior lives by…..armed to the hilt. Instead of the M-16, he holds the M-60 Machinegun. Being an avid admirer of the Ghurkas of Nepal and their honorable history, I drew him holding a “Kukri” knife. And considering that I personally believe that the United States flag is by far the most beautiful flag on this earth, I expressed my patriotism by drawing the American flags behind the Ranger as he charges forward into battle.”
    While Dominguez was in his office sketchy the image out, Command Sergeant Major Cobb came in and made it clear that “That’s it! That’s what the old man wants!” He was referring to Colonel Stringham and his desire for a motivating and aggressive poster depicting his ideal Ranger Warrior.
    A brief discussion then ensued in which CSM Cobb decide the poster needed a slogan. The following words would be printed across the top and bottom of the poster, and would come to be something of a mantra in the Ranger community.
    “I’m not the Killer man, I’m the Killer man’s son, But I’ll do the Killing till the Killer man comes.”
    This was a direct quote from then President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

    CW4 Dominguez

    As the Rangers Regimental Draftsman, Dominguez had been responsible for streamlining the Ranger scroll design to ensure uniformity across the Ranger Regiment and Ranger Battalions. All uniformity guidelines i.e. diagrams of how the Ranger beret should be worn etc, were all his responsibility. In 1987 Dominguez left the Ranger Regiment and the Infantry and joined Counterintelligence. He retired in 2010 and currently works as a civilian/military contractor.
    [midgoogle]

    Pictures from other Wars

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    Related Posts:

    American Taliban

    Behind the camera: This picture was part of a series that Special Forces troops took as souvenir pictures of them ‘posing’ with John Walker Lindh
    Where: In a shipping crate at American military base, Camp Rhino (70 miles south of Kandahar)
    Photo Summary: John Walker Lindh strapped to a stretcher
    Picture Taken: Dec 7, 2001
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

    John Walker Lindh or the American Taliban was made a media sensation after his discovery during the US military action in Afghanistan in response to the 911 attacks. Lindh in 2001 was serving in Afghanistan’s Taliban forces who were part of Afghan civil war against the Northern Alliance. After 911 the American government demanded the give up Osma Bin Laden when the Taliban refused US forces entered the ongoing civil war on the side of the Northern Alliance. Lindh was part of a group of Taliban soldiers in Konduz region that surrendered to Northern Alliance forces on November 25, 2001. These same soldiers staged a violent uprising in their prison near Mazar-e Sharif. Lindh, while wounded by a bullet in the thigh, was one of a few survivors of the failed prison uprising and was taken into US custody on, December 2, 2001. While in US custody American Special Forces took hundreds of souvenir pictures with Lindh strapped down to a stretcher. This was one of those pictures.

    Prision Uprising at Qali-i-Jangi fortress near Mazar-e Sharif

    This is against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract
    -Lindh

    About 300 Taliban entered Qali-i-Jangi, a 19th-century fortress on Nov 24, 2001. Many of them where Non-Afghan fighters who felt they had been betrayed as they had been promised to be deported if they surrendered, not taken to the Qali-i-Jangi prison. An uprising was sparked on the 25th and over the course of the next 8 days, the prisoners were bombed into submission until 86 holdouts, including Lindh, agreed to surrender after Northern Alliance forces flooded the basement they were holed up. When Lindh’s Taliban Unit surrendered to Northern Alliance forces part of the agreement was that they would give up all weapons. In an interview taken shortly after being captured while he was partially drugged on morphine, Walker said that some of the Taliban had hidden grenades, “This is against what we had agreed upon [with the Northern Alliance], and this is against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract, especially in military situations,”. It was these grenades that set the stage for the uprising that would wound Lindh and kill CIA operative, Mike Spann. Spann’s death went on to become major news as he was the first American to die in combat in Afghanistan.

    Souvenir Shots

    American Special forces took hundreds of souvenir pictures and home videos of Lindh while he was strapped down to a stretcher. Even though the Geneva Convention prohibits activities that might humiliate prisoners. The rest of the photos were not made public and most were destroyed when their existence was discovered by superior military personnel. While the government denies destroying evidence Lindh’s lawyers had to get a federal judge to order a “preservation order” for all evidence, including videos and photographs.

    Lindh Treatment

    He appeared to be suffering from hypothermia, and exposure, and acted delirious
    -Special Forces Agents on Lindh’s condition

    During the federal government prosecution of Lindh’s case, serious questions were raised about his treatment after his capture on Dec 1, 2001. It emerged that during the uprising which lasted from Nov 25 to Dec 1, 2001, Lindh had been wounded and had very little to eat and almost no time to sleep. From the fortress prison, he was bundled into a truck with the other prisoners and taken to the nearby town of Sheberghan where he arranged with CNN correspondent Robert Pelton to get medical care in exchange for an interview. According to Special Forces personnel who were present at the time Lindh, “was malnourished and in extremely overall poor condition … he appeared to be suffering from hypothermia, and exposure, and acted delirious”. The bullet in his thigh was not removed at this time. He spent the night in town and the next day was taken to the Turkish School House in Mazar-e Sharif where he was questioned by special forces over a week while receiving very little food or sleep. On Dec 7 he had still not received medical attention for his leg but on that day was transferred to official US military control and taken to an American military base, Camp Rhino (located 70 miles south of Kandahar). It was here while strapped to a stretcher that his clothes where cut off, placed in a metal shipping container and photographed. For two days he was held naked in the shipping crate, still without medical attention, before on Dec 9 he was handed over to the FBI for more questioning. After the questioning, he received some clothing and food but was placed back into the shipping crate. On Dec 14 he was flown to the USS PELELIU. The next day on Dec 15 almost two weeks after his capture at the prison Lindh had an operation to treat his wounds.
    [midgoogle]

    Walker Growing Up

    Walker was born in Washington, D.C.(born February 9, 1981), to parents Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh. He was baptized Catholic and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, until he was ten years old and his family moved to San Anselmo, California, in Marin County. Walker was sickly as a boy due to an intestinal disorder, after briefly attending several middle schools his family opted to home school him starting in 1993 when he was 12. He tried to go back to school but never fit in opting for self-study and earning a GED at age 16.
    During this time Walker was a shut-in, rarely leaving home but increasingly participating in IRC internet chat rooms, often using fake names. He became a devoted fan of Hip-hop music, and engaged in extensive discussions on BBS groups about the music, sometimes pretending to be African American. During this time, Walker saw the Spike Lee film Malcolm X which made a deep impression on him and began his interest in Islam.
    In 1997 he officially converted to Islam and began regularly attending mosques in Mill Valley and later San Francisco. In 1998, he travelled to Yemen for about ten months, to learn Arabic so that he would be able to read the Qur’an in its original language. He returned to the United States in 1999, living with his family for about eight months before returning to Yemen in February 2000, whence he left for Pakistan to study at an austere madrassa (Islamic school). It was in Pakistan that he attended a militant training camp and where he chose to go to Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. He was trained by a militant group funded by Osma Bin Laden and sent to front lines to fight the Northern Alliance just before the Sept 11 attacks.

    Trial

    I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban
    -Lindh pleading guilty

    The federal government initially charged Walker with the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals
  • Two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations
  • Two counts of providing material support and resources to terrorist organizations
  • One count of supplying services to the Taliban.
  • Conspiracy to contribute services to Al Qaeda
  • Contributing services to Al Qaeda
  • Conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban
  • Using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence
  • If convicted of these charges, Walker Lindh would have received multiple life sentences, six additional 10-year sentences, plus 30 years. However, the government faced the problem that a key piece of evidence—Walker’s confession—might be excluded from evidence as having been forced under duress and torture.
    To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, the head of the criminal division of the Justice Department, directed the prosecutors to offer Walker a plea bargain: He would plead guilty to two charges — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his twenty-year sentence, and he would have to drop claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. Any profits Walker might make from telling his story will be taken by the government. In return, all the other charges would be dropped.
    Walker accepted this offer. On July 15, 2002, he entered his plea of guilty to the two remaining charges. The judge asked Walker to say, in his own words, what he was admitting to. “I plead guilty,” he said. “I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to December. In the course of doing so, I carried a rifle and two grenades. I did so knowingly and willingly knowing that it was illegal.” On October 4, 2002, Judge T.S. Ellis, III formally imposed the sentence: 20 years without parole.:
    Walker is now imprisoned in a medium-security prison in Victorville, northeast of Los Angeles. His attorney, James Brosnahan, said Walker would be eligible for release in 17 years, with good behavior.

    Common Misconceptions About the American Taliban

    In 2001 Washington is the biggest donor of aid to the Taliban regime
    -US Gov

  • Around the time Lindh was deciding to go to Afghanistan, in early 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a grant of $43 million to the Taliban government for opium eradication
  • While he did attend an Osma Bin Laden funded camp and John actually met Osama bin Laden, he came away from those encounters very skeptical about bin Laden because John recognized instantly that bin Laden was not an authentic Islamic scholar based on what John himself knows.
  • John never fought against American troops.
  • When he was arrested by special forces after the prison uprising he was not armed but badly wounded.
  • He was tied up and could not have prevented the death of CIA agent Mike Spann.
  • In the few days he was actually sent to the front lines against the Northern Alliance he never fired his weapons.
  • Release

    On May 23, 2019, Walker Lindh was released from prison after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence. His release stirred up controversy as the National Counterterrorism Center and the federal Bureau of Prisons published reports saying that, as of 2016, Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts … told a television news producer that he would continue to spread violent extremist Islam upon his release.” For the three years of his probation, he will be supervised by Judge T.S. Ellis, in Virginia. He faces a number of restrictions some of which include:

  • Not being allowed to possess any “internet capable device” and any approved device would be “monitored continuously”
  • No online communications in any language other than English
  • No communication with a known extremist
  • He cannot possess or view “material that reflects extremist or terroristic views”
  • Afghan Wars

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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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