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Last, Desperate Days of a Brutal Reign (NYT - John F. Burns)
New York Times ^ | April 19, 2003 | John F. burns

Posted on 04/19/2003 3:40:30 PM PDT by HAL9000

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 19 - On the gilded marble tablets posted at the gateways of a score of presidential palaces, it was known as "The Era of Saddam Hussein."

Yet in the 26 days of American warfare it took to bring that era down, the hallmark of Mr. Hussein's rule was revealed not as one of grandeur, but of gangsterism and thuggery. On the pediments of his palaces, Mr. Hussein mounted 30-foot bronze busts of himself as Saladin, the Mesopotamian warrior who conquered Jerusalem with his Islamic army in the 12th century. But Mr. Hussein's legacy, revealed with merciless clarity in his last, desperate weeks in power and in the looting of those palaces that followed, was not one of historical accomplishment, as he claimed, but a chronicle of terror, greed and delusion writ large.

In effect, Mr. Hussein and his entourage inverted what was said of the dying dignity of a 17th-century English king, that nothing so became him in life as the leaving of it. Of Mr. Hussein, who may yet be alive, perhaps hiding somewhere in Baghdad with the last of his loyalists, a truer epitaph would record that nothing characterized the way he ruled Iraq, for nearly 24 years, so much as the bullying, mendacious and cowardly way in which he and his associates behaved as their power collapsed.

In the end, some of the closest witnesses to those last days were 150 Western reporters, photographers and broadcast technicians who were sequestered throughout the war in the Palestine and Sheraton hotels on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in the heart of Baghdad, and taken from there on closely guided tours of the city.

From the hotels' upper floors, they had a panoramic view across the muddy-green river to the government quarter, and the palaces, ministries and security headquarters that symbolized Mr. Hussein's grip on power.

The reporters enjoyed a grandstand seat as American bombs and cruise missiles pulverized Mr. Hussein's heavily guarded compounds, encompassing whole districts of Baghdad, where he and his family enjoyed the gilded privileges of ancient caliphs. In the war's closing stages, the hotels' balconies gave an unimpeded view as American tanks blasted their way from their first foothold in Baghdad, the former Saddam International Airport, into the Republican Palace presidential compound that was the White House of Mr. Hussein's Iraq.

But what the reporters saw was more than the power of America's arsenal, and the inability, for all their boasts about America finding the graveyard of its imperial ambition in Iraq, of Mr. Hussein and his cronies to mount more than a delaying action on the road to their downfall.

Mr. Hussein himself remained - remains, if still alive - the furtive, vainglorious figure he ever was, proclaiming from secret sanctuaries his solidarity with his people in their hour of trial, the certain defeat of the enemy, and his unshakable belief in Iraq.

But there were no Churchillian scenes of Mr. Hussein visiting the wounded, or clambering atop rubble left by airstrikes. Instead, the 65-year-old Iraqi leader appeared on television, until cruise missiles knocked it off the air, in videotapes recorded from a small, low-ceilinged room, white sheet against the wall, like a leader of an underground terrorist group taunting those hunting him down. Twice in the last days before American troops seized Baghdad, Iraqi television showed him on the streets, surrounded, as ever, by adoring crowds - the leader revered by his people, but doing nothing, at least nothing that was visible, to help them.

Even at the last, Mr. Hussein's priority was only himself. In the late afternoon of Wednesday, April 9, Marine Corps tanks entered eastern Baghdad from the south and took control of the district by the river that encompasses the Palestine and Sheraton hotels. Within three hours, after attempts by Iraqi men with sledgehammers and ropes had failed, the marines brought up an M-80 recovery tank with a long boom to assist in hauling down a 30-foot cast-iron statue of Mr. Hussein in Firdos Square, behind the hotels.

If any one moment marked the end of Mr. Hussein's rule, it was the sight of the statue's legs cracking, its torso tumbling, and the severed head and body being pelted with garbage and shoes - the ultimate Arab insult - by the hundreds of Iraqis who witnessed Mr. Hussein's ignominy.

To be in the square at that moment was to know, beyond doubt, that Iraqis in their millions hated Mr. Hussein, that the truth about Iraq was the diametric opposite of all that he and his acolytes had maintained, and that all else that was said about him in the years that went before was the product of relentless terror.

"Good, good, Bush!" the crowds chanted. "Down, down, Saddam!" Men and women wept, and reached out to shake the hands of the marines, or simply touch their uniforms. "Thank you, mister!" they cried, again and again. Hours later, the crowds still milled about the fallen idol, spitting and mocking.

Yet during the whole sequence, it now appears, Mr. Hussein was barely five miles farther north in the district of Adhamiya, one of the last safe strongholds for him in Baghdad, in the neighborhood of Al Safina beside the Abu Hanifa mosque.

Almost all who live there are, like Mr. Hussein, Sunni Muslims, in a country with a 60 percent Shiite Muslim majority. Adhamiya has been, for 50 years, a bastion of the Baath Party, whose coattails Mr. Hussein rode to power. Witnesses' accounts in the days that followed, and a videotape released by Abu Dhabi television on Friday, showed Mr. Hussein atop his car before the mosque, slapping supporters' hands, pumping his arm, as always, in the gesture of an emperor acknowledging his subjects' fealty.

Residents of Adhamiya, and old associates of Mr. Hussein from the 1950's, said they had heard that he went from the mosque to a simple house, probably the one from which he made his broadcasts earlier in the war against a background of a white sheet, and stayed there, with his closest companions, until sometime early on April 10.

Then, just ahead of American airstrikes and advancing American ground troops who stormed the mosque, he slipped away, so one old Baath Party cohort said, without telling many of the men who had guarded and accompanied him throughout the war. Several of these, local residents said, died in the American attacks that followed.

Delusions of Dominance

Apparently convinced that he could use the Western news media to foment protests against the American attacks, and to save himself by forcing President Bush to call a standstill before American troops overran Baghdad, Mr. Hussein sent his inner coterie out to hold news conferences.

These became forums for illusion of an almost comical cast, and, in the language used by many top officials, who spoke of Mr. Bush as a "mad dog" and "garbage" and "a stupid, ignorant man," for a street-corner vulgarity that made for a stark contrast with the officials' frequent invocation of the "Arab and Islamic civilization" they claimed to represent.

Almost all of these high officials seemed divorced from the reality that was known to the simplest Iraqi with access to a shortwave radio or to neighborhood gossip - that Iraqi troops were falling back almost everywhere, and that the Americans would be at the gates of Baghdad in a matter of days.

Listening to these officials, it was as though they had been immersed so long in a parallel world where truth was routinely walled out that, even now, they could not grasp the facts about to overwhelm them.

As members of the Revolutionary Command Council and the Council of Ministers made their way to the microphones, none of them appeared to have the courage, or even the instinct, to say anything that could earn them the opprobrium of Mr. Hussein, and, perhaps, the cruel punishment - commonly, execution - meted out to anyone who remotely challenged the Iraqi leader.

In this, the men of the leadership were ultimately the prisoners of the repressive political system they had helped to create.

Day after day, a Westerner waited in vain for any sense that their vision of Iraq and its future extended beyond the personality of Mr. Hussein and his family, particularly his sons, Uday and Qusay. The Iraqi people, incessantly invoked, appeared in this tableau to have little significance. It was as if Mr. Hussein's cult of personality - the portraits and the statues, the parades, the hagiographic books and songs, the tapes of the leader being cheered by his people - had become, at the end, synonymous with Iraq; as if a country with a history of civilization dating back nearly 7,000 years had been reduced to no more than a cardboard backdrop for Mr. Hussein.

The apotheosis came with the appearance, a few days into the war, of the interior minister, Muhammad Diab al-Ahmed. His job established him as one of the more sinister figures in the regime, responsible for many of its detention centers and prisons, and thus for many of the outrages now open to investigation.

With a worldwide television audience, Mr. Ahmed might have been expected to favor a style that was at least somewhat benign. Instead, he showed up waving a Kalashnikov rifle ominously in the direction of the reporters, his finger rarely off the trigger. In his combat vest, he carried four magazines of bullets; at his belt, a hunting knife.

His message? That he was ready to fight for Iraq, for its independence, for its long history of resisting foreign invaders? No. "If you are asking me why I am here with my machine gun," he said, "it is to show that the Iraqi people are committed to fighting to the last, that we are ready to sacrifice ourselves; I myself have an 18-year-old son, and he, too, stands ready to die, like me, for President Saddam Hussein and his family."

Days later, a man who had left the Baath Party many years ago, Wamidh Ladhmi, a professor of political science at the University of Baghdad, said that watching Mr. Ahmed that day was, for him, the final nail in the political coffin of Mr. Hussein. "On that day, we saw what it had all come down to - nothing to do with Iraq, nothing to do with the people, only the cult of the leader, and of his two miserable sons," he said. "We knew then that the entire system was bankrupt, that there was nothing that in any way could save it."

Much the most frequent of the visitors to the Palestine Hotel was the information minister, Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, whose performances were so far removed from reality that reporters flocked to see if he could top his own extravagant inventions with yet more fantastical accounts of Iraqi battlefield triumphs. The more dire the situation facing the Iraqi forces, the more triumphalist Mr. Sahhaf became.

Even when the combat moved into the Iraqi capital, and could be seen from the Palestine Hotel, the minister, in battle dress and beret, stuck to his rose-tinted versions, giving a spectacular new dimension to the spin doctor's art. To reporters who suggested that his accounts were at odds with known American successes, his answer, in effect, was that they were hallucinating.

By the early morning of April 7, American tanks could be seen parked on the Tigris embankment two-thirds of a mile away, with American infantrymen firing at fleeing Iraqi fighters dressed only in boxer shorts who plunged into the river and swam away upstream. Mr. Sahhaf hastened to the hotel to renew his assurances that American troops were everywhere in headlong flight, and that those who had seized the airport on Friday, April 4, had been driven out.

The following day, acknowledging that Americans were indeed at the airport, he offered a new spin. "I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad."

By the time American tanks were in plain view from where he spoke to reporters, he had resorted to a sort of magician's art, of now you see it, now you don't. "I am here to inform you that you are too far from reality," he said.

But perhaps the most revealing of his statements had to do with truth, a commodity always in short supply under Mr. Hussein. At the Information Ministry, destroyed by American cruise missiles about halfway through the war, the most mendacious and corrupt officials were often the ones most intent on offering lectures about truth. Come the war, and Mr. Sahhaf was the unquestioned champion. "Lying is forbidden in Iraq," he said at one news conference. "President Saddam Hussein will tolerate nothing but truthfulness, as he is a man of great honor and integrity."

Mr. Sahhaf, like most top government officials, disappeared on the day American troops closed in on the Palestine hotel. Along with his burnished, almost cherubic optimism, there was much about him that was chilling. One theory was that, as an information minister in a totalitarian regime, his job, by definition, was always to construct alternate versions of the truth.

In this view, the moment when the whole edifice of power was crumbling presented him with his greatest challenge - the opportunity to tell the biggest whoppers of all. Doing this before a television audience of millions, he was a performer who had finally made the big time, a small-time vaudevillian who found himself, for a brief season, on a global stage, with an immediate audience of western reporters who - captive as any audience as could be - were not disposed to challenge him too abruptly on his excursions from the truth.

Could Hussein Really Vanish?

Ordinary Iraqis, in the main, never had the difficulty of distinguishing fact from fiction that became a hallmark of their rulers. For all the secrecy of the regime, for all the cruel punishments Mr. Hussein and his security agencies inflicted, anybody who spent a few weeks or months in Iraq in recent years understood that here, as in the former Soviet Union, China and other countries subjected to totalitarian repression, the truth about the horrors of the system lay just beneath the surface. Getting to know any Iraqi enough to establish a basis for trust meant that some of this truth would eventually begin seeping out.

From this, many Westerners who knew Iraq assumed that American forces, once the war began, would be helped by local uprisings, or at least by mass defections from the Iraqi forces, and that this would help bring a speedy American victory.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, who came to Iraq as a young man with his father, King Hussein, told a group of American reporters a few weeks before the war began that the conflict could be over in seven days. In the end, it took nearly four times that long, and American troops, at almost every step of their 350-mile drive from Kuwait, met resistance from Hussein loyalists, and reluctance to assist on the part of Shiites who felt betrayed by the lack of American support for their uprising in 1991.

Partly, the explanation lay in Mr. Hussein's decision to rely on paramilitary formations largely recruited from the families of regime hard-liners. Meeting reporters, Iraqi political and military leaders made only passing reference to the Iraqi Army, and not much to the supposed crack troops, the Republican Guard. Even the defense minister, Sultan Hashem Ahmed, spoke of Iraqi defenses being led by the Fedayeen Saddam, the militias of the Baath Party, tribal units and other volunteers.

The Iraqi leaders' judgment seemed to be that when the critical moment came, the army and Republican Guard would surrender or desert. Indeed, on April 9, the day that most of Baghdad fell to the Americans, the highways into the capital from the south were littered with abandoned Republican Guard tanks and artillery guns, along with camouflage uniforms and combat boots hastily abandoned along the roads.

But of popular resistance to Mr. Hussein, until the end, there was virtually no sign. Reporters taken out to see American bombing targets found crowds gathered beside blasted telephone exchanges, in neighborhoods where bunker-busting bombs had left 60-foot craters, and at two marketplaces where dozens of civilians died. At a marketplace in the western Shuala district of Baghdad, where officials said 62 people were killed, many of them women and children, there were signs that the weapon might have been an Iraqi antiaircraft missile gone astray, or an American missile lured by placing an Iraqi air defense radar nearby.

In these places, there was genuine anger against the Americans who inflicted casualties, even if at least some of the ire was orchestrated by Baath Party officials who organized chants of "Saddam, Saddam!" Moving among the crowds, almost no ordinary Iraqis, unless prompted by direct questioning about Mr. Hussein, had anything to say about him. And among those who did, there was barely a whisper of dissent. Fear of retribution remained pervasive.

The change came on April 9, and it was a tidal wave. That morning, reporters left the Palestine Hotel for the eastern suburbs, where Marine units had been reported on the move overnight. At the Canal Expressway, they found themselves staring at the barrel of an M1/A1 Abrams tank. Marines dismounting from the tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles moved quickly into abandoned Iraqi bunkers. Told there were no Iraqi military units anywhere between them and the city center, they relaxed. "Love it!" said Lt. Geoff Orazem, commander of Company K of the Marine Corps' Third Battalion.

"Yes, love it! Love it! Love it!" replied youths streaming past the tank.

What followed, with disastrous consequences for Baghdad's museums and libraries, for some of its hospitals, and for virtually all government ministries, was an orgy of looting. For many Iraqis, this blunted, even eradicated, much of the gratitude to the Americans. Especially among the middle class, many of whom had found ways to live comfortably under Mr. Hussein, the mood shifted.

"Tell Mr. Bush that he promised to liberate the Iraqi people, but that this is no liberation," said Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad, an archaeologist standing amid the shattered, emptied showcases of the National Museum. "Tell him, if we had stayed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, it would have been much better."

But there were few misgivings in the ruins of Mr. Hussein's bombed palaces, where those who arrived to plunder, by car, on motorcycles, with handcarts and even with double-decker buses, came from every walk of life. For them, picking out a chair or a sofa from the rubble, or even a cut-crystal ashtray, was not so much an act of lawless self enrichment as a gesture of self assertion, a chance to strike back, a moment to stand up after years of humiliation and subjugation.

A woman who said she was a pharmacist paused for a moment outside the Sajida Palace, named for Mr. Hussein's wife, with her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, and their two daughters. "I feel no shame," she said, gesturing to a few bags filled with tokens from the palace. "We paid for these things a hundred times over." She paused. "Not a hundred times," she said. "A thousand times."

Just then, a middle-aged man passed by, and asked, like so many Iraqis in recent days, for assurance that Mr. Hussein was truly gone. "Hello mister," he said in broken English. "Saddam not come another time? Saddam go, stay away? Tell me, mister, please, Saddam gone?"

Secrets and Lies

A rigorous system for controlling and monitoring Western journalists has been in place in Iraq for decades, based on a wafer-thin facade of civility. As the strains of the war mounted, that facade progressively slipped away, revealing the realities of threat and extortion that Iraqis confronted almost every day under Mr. Hussein.

Long before the war, many reporters had adjusted to the pressures by seeking the approbation of the Information Ministry officials who approved visas, assigned minders and controlled special favors, like trips outside Baghdad. Bribes were endemic, with some officials demanding sums in the thousands of dollars for visa approvals and extensions, or obtaining exemptions from the AIDS tests required for any reporter remaining in Baghdad for more than 10 days.

A tacit understanding, accepted by many visiting journalists, was that there were aspects of Mr. Hussein's Iraq that could be mentioned only obliquely. First among these was the personality of Mr. Hussein himself, and the fact that he was widely despised and feared by Iraqis, something that was obvious to any visitor ready to listen to the furtive whispers in which this hatred was commonly expressed.

The terror that was the most pervasive aspect of society under Mr. Hussein was another topic that was largely taboo. Every interview conducted by television reporters, and most print journalists, was monitored; any Iraqi voicing an opinion other than those approved by the state would be vulnerable to arrest, torture and execution. But these were facts rarely mentioned by many reporters.

Some reporters bought expensive gifts for senior ministry officials, submitted copies of their stories to show they were friendly to Iraq, or invited key officials like Uday al-Taee, director general of information, for dinners at the expensive restaurants favored by Mr. Hussein's elite.

Mr. Taee, in his early 50's, previously worked at the Iraqi Embassy in Paris where, French intelligence officials said, he ran a network of Iraqi agents in Western Europe. Eventually, he was expelled from France, a subject that still rankled years later.

Before the war, this reporter was already on a blacklist Iraqi officials maintained for journalists considered hostile to Iraq, mainly because of articles about the system of terror that sustained the power of Mr. Hussein that appeared from Baghdad in the closing months of last year.

For two months, in January and February, the Information Ministry blocked my visa requests. Eventually, through contacts in Amman, Jordan, I obtained a Foreign Ministry visa that allowed me to enter Iraq to cover the "peace movement," as represented by Western protesters then gathering in Baghdad. The visa came without Information Ministry approval.

On arrival in Baghdad, I sought a meeting with Mr. Taee, the Information Ministry director. After three days, he met me in his office, and immediately referred to stories printed in The New York Times in previous months that chronicled the torture and killing in Iraq's jails. Mr. Taee's opening remarks were remarkable. "You have written a great deal about killing in Iraq, and this is good," he said. "This is a shame for Iraq. But now America will be killing Iraqis. Will you write about that?" Assured that I would, he shook my hand, and said I would be issued with the accreditation necessary to work in Iraq.

But other Information Ministry officials warned me that this was a ruse, and that I would henceforth be "under the control" of the intelligence agencies, not of the information ministry. A senior intelligence agent, who gave his name as Saad Muthanna, was assigned as my minder. Mr. Taee distanced himself, calling out, often in the presence of other Iraqi officials and western reporters, what was either a black joke or a threat. "Ah," he would say, "the most dangerous man in Iraq!"

None of this made much practical difference until eight days before the tanks of the Third Battalion of the First Marine Expeditionary Force drove up from southern Baghdad to take control of the two hotels.

At midnight on April 1, without warning, a group of men led by Mr. Muthanna, identifying themselves as intelligence agents, broke into my room at the Palestine hotel. The men, in suits and ties, at least one with a holstered pistol under his jacket, said they had known "for a long time" that I was an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, that I was from that moment under arrest, and that a failure to "cooperate" would lead to more serious consequences.

"For you, it will be the end," Mr. Muthanna said. "Where we will take you, you will not return."

The men gathered up all the equipment belonging to me and to Tyler Hicks, a staff photographer of The New York Times, including four laptop computers, a satellite telephone, two cameras, and a printer, and then demanded money, taking $6,000 from a plastic zip-lock bag. Then they left, ordering me to remain in my room until "more senior" intelligence men arrived.

From that moment until the arrival of the American tanks, I lived a clandestine existence, using darkened hotel stairwells in place of lifts, sleeping and working in other reporters' rooms.

The fact that the men never returned - and never broke into other rooms where they must have known I was hiding - suggested, in the end, that the break-in of April 1 was a shakedown. Some missing equipment turned up later in a room at the Palestine hotel that had been abandoned by intelligence agents. The rest, excepting the two cameras, was returned by an Iraqi man with links to the mukhabarat, the principal intelligence agency, who led me to his home and handed the equipment over. The money remains missing.

To many Iraqis who heard of the experience, it was unexceptional, save for the fact that I suffered no physical harm. For years, Mr. Hussein's security agents had been breaking into Iraqis' homes, arresting people at will, and taking them away to the gulag of torture centers and prisons. Some emerged weeks, months, or years later, many of them disfigured, with eyes gouged out, hands and fingers mangled. But tens of thousands never returned, dying under torture, or being summarily executed.

Their families' anguish, lining up to wave photographs and shout names at American troops guarding the now-abandoned interrogation centers and prisons, has been among the most distressing scenes since the fall of Mr. Hussein. For them, there is unlikely to be any of the catharsis that came at the Palestine hotel in the 12 hours before the marines arrived.

Mr. Taee, in the hours before midnight, toured the rooftop positions of western television networks, demanding immediate cash payment, in dollars, of the exorbitant fees imposed by the ministry on all Western journalists. Offering no receipts, he gathered a hefty sum - estimated by some of the networks to be in excess of $200,000 - then disappeared.

One of his underlings, Mr. Mohsen, the Information Ministry's press center director, known for his lugubrious manner, delayed his getaway until the following morning. His ambitions were set on the property of a group of Italian journalists who had driven into southern Iraq after the war began without visas. They were arrested, brought to Baghdad, and placed under guard in the Palestine hotel, with their four-wheel-drive vehicles and all their equipment confiscated, along with the vehicles' keys.

Early on the morning of April 9, with the Marines less than three miles from the hotel, one of the Italians spotted Mr. Mohsen loading booty into one of the confiscated vehicles. Thinking quickly, the Italian used his penknife to slash the vehicle's tires. Other Italian journalists described Mr. Mohsen fleeing on foot, up the Tigris embankment to the north, pursued by the men he hoped to rob. After a few hundred yards, exhausted, he stopped, turned to face his pursuers, and, as if to establish that he was done with Mr. Hussein and all his works, reached into his pocket for his information ministry identification card. After ripping it to shreds, he set off again, to what fate nobody knows

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: embeddedreport; fallofbaghdad; iraq; iraqifreedom; johnfburns; saddamhussein
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1 posted on 04/19/2003 3:40:30 PM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000
Saladin was a Kurd
2 posted on 04/19/2003 3:56:59 PM PDT by fortcollins
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To: HAL9000
Even when the combat moved into the Iraqi capital, and could be seen from the Palestine Hotel, the minister, in battle dress and beret, stuck to his rose-tinted versions, giving a spectacular new dimension to the spin doctor's art. To reporters who suggested that his accounts were at odds with known American successes, his answer, in effect, was that they were hallucinating.

By the early morning of April 7, American tanks could be seen parked on the Tigris embankment two-thirds of a mile away, with American infantrymen firing at fleeing Iraqi fighters dressed only in boxer shorts who plunged into the river and swam away upstream. Mr. Sahhaf hastened to the hotel to renew his assurances that American troops were everywhere in headlong flight, and that those who had seized the airport on Friday, April 4, had been driven out.

The following day, acknowledging that Americans were indeed at the airport, he offered a new spin. "I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad."

And the legend of Baghdad Bob was born!

3 posted on 04/19/2003 4:03:02 PM PDT by Dog (Christy Lane Free Zone.....)
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To: HAL9000
Where has the NY Slimes been for the past ten years, with this truth they've suddenly discovered?

I will not soon forget, how the NYT worked to keep Saddam in power.
4 posted on 04/19/2003 4:12:10 PM PDT by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
I will not soon forget, how the NYT worked to keep Saddam in power

Along with their cohorts in crime....CNN.

5 posted on 04/19/2003 5:17:56 PM PDT by ohioWfan (President BUSH.....Leadership, Integrity, Morality)
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To: HAL9000
Actually, this is an excellent and very vivid article. Is the New York Times actually taking off its PC (pro-Saddam) blinders and looking at reality?

This is a very positive sign!
6 posted on 04/19/2003 5:20:05 PM PDT by livius (Let slip the cats of conjecture.)
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To: HAL9000
"Yet during the whole sequence, it now appears, Mr. Hussein was barely five miles farther north in the district of Adhamiya, one of the last safe strongholds for him in Baghdad, in the neighborhood of Al Safina beside the Abu Hanifa mosque"

This paragraph bothers me. This statement is an assumption that the author knows it to be true. He's making the statement as if he knows Saddam is alive - which is not the truth.

This is just the typical NYT stuff - making statements which are in question as if they are fact. This is totally irresponsible!!
7 posted on 04/19/2003 5:45:41 PM PDT by CyberAnt ( America - You Are The Greatest!!)
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To: HAL9000
Bump for later reading.
8 posted on 04/19/2003 5:48:14 PM PDT by DoctorMichael (Daschle/Saadam. Ever seen 'em together? Me neither.)
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John Burns was and is a great reporter. An exception to the rule at the NY TImes.
9 posted on 04/19/2003 6:00:31 PM PDT by sullivan-fan
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To: jimtorr
I will not soon forget, how the NYT worked to keep Saddam in power.

Would you post an example?

10 posted on 04/19/2003 6:17:33 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: HAL9000
Excellent article, HAL! The last paragraph was thrilling.
11 posted on 04/19/2003 6:34:32 PM PDT by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: amom
marked for later read.
12 posted on 04/19/2003 6:38:26 PM PDT by amom
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To: sullivan-fan
A slick reporter, self-rightous and self-serving, but in the end only repeating the dismal truth revealed earlier by CNN. Outdone only by his handlers, the editors at the NYTimes.
13 posted on 04/19/2003 7:04:25 PM PDT by AncientAirs
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To: AncientAirs
I'd say he's a damn good journalist. Specifically, how is he "self-rightous and self-serving"?

He will probably win his third Pulitzer Prize for this article, and his earlier one - "How Many People has Saddam Hussein Killed?"

14 posted on 04/19/2003 8:58:36 PM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000
Excellent article. So good and full of truth that I can't believe it was printed in The New York Times. Terrific analysis from a first person point of view, particularly his reporting about the looting and use of the quotes from the woman who said she had paid for the items a thousand times under Saddam's rule. The majority of other reporters have condemned the looting without any idea of its cause and they didn't care to look any deeper because it would injure their cause.
15 posted on 04/19/2003 11:36:04 PM PDT by arasina ("Thank you Mister Bush!" [direct quote from liberated Iraqi man])
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To: Doe Eyes
I cannot post a specific article, no, since I refuse to register with the NYT web site.

It's the entire tone of the NYT's reporting over the past18 months in general, and the past six months specifically.

Here is a link to a FreeRepublic thread that talks about a typical article:

this is the NYT news pages, as opposed to financial, sports, editorial sections.
16 posted on 04/20/2003 5:46:57 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
Ooops, sorry, I was trying to post a link to this thread on another thread.
17 posted on 04/20/2003 5:47:44 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
Say,..........this is the thread I'd intended to post to.......and I've already had my tea this morning. Maybe I've just been looking at this monitor to much.
18 posted on 04/20/2003 5:49:33 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: HAL9000
I am one of those who is glad to have a vivid accounts from Iraq, like this one from John Burns.

But I have to agree with the theme of some other people here -- it seems to me like the NY Times is really getting on the anti-Saddam bandwagon only now that the regime is gone.

I think it's fair to ask what they knew about Iraq in the months before the war started. I'm sorry to say that I bet they knew a lot more than they printed, and I suspect they held back information only because of their anti-Bush animus.

Is that a fair suspicion?
19 posted on 04/20/2003 7:35:51 AM PDT by 68skylark
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To: 68skylark
There's often an exception to the rule, e.g. Burns or Safire.
20 posted on 04/20/2003 8:08:04 AM PDT by HAL9000
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