If you were inside the "spider hole" with Saddam Hussein minutes
before his capture, what would you ask him? What would he say in
response to your questions? In this "interview" with
Saddam as American Special Forces were about to uncover his lair,
you'll find out the "justification" he offers for being the "Butcher
17, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 826
A Conversation With Saddam in
His Rat Hole of Terrorism
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 17, 2003 -- I am
hunching my six-foot-four-inch body next to Saddam Hussein in a
cramped dirty hot spider hole. I'm trying
not to hold my nose. A gagging stench of pig waste, dog urine
mixes with the former President of Iraq’s foul body odor.
Saddam, often called The Butcher of Baghdad, rabidly scratches at
his scraggly beard. His eyes flick wildly left and right, up and
down, left and left, right and right, ferret like in the dim light
leaking in through cracks and fissures where the trap door top of the
dirt hole we are in didn't seal.
are above, looking for my hole"......Saddam
“Shhhhh,” he hisses, shoving a dirty index finger to cracked
lips. “The Americans are above, looking for my hole. They want to
I squeeze myself against the crumbling dirt wall, trying to not
gag as the odious odor of human feces stings my nostrils. I swallow hard,
fighting my body’s internal revulsion to my presence in the squalid hole in which the former ruler of 25
million people now resides. Saddam has transformed from Palace Tyrant to Rat
Hole Survivor. His mission today is to swim with the maggots of the earth,
hoping that the Special Forces scuffing the earth above will not find
his “spider hole” and take him into custody where he will be put on
trial for his 21st Century “crimes against humanity.”
Who am I? I am a TerrorHunter. A
TerrorHunter reporter to be exact. The Sentinels of Vigilance led me to
Saddam’s dirt hole near Tikrit. My assignment is to interview the
Beast of Terror before his capture; to find out what, if any,
justification Saddam offers the world for living the life of the Beast
of Terror and delivering tyranny and oppression to tens of thousands.
"I am a
TerrorHunter".....Cliff McKenzie, Editor
Saddam grunts and
adjusts the Styrofoam cover sealing the hole. Above, someone
walking over it would not notice it was a lid for a hole.
They would be hard-pressed to think that Saddam Hussein, who built
palaces like some people collect credit cards, was now bed partners with grub worms, fleas
I'd been here before,
however. In Vietnam, about three decades ago when Saddam was
killing his way to the top of the leadership ladder in Iraq, I was
crawling through V.C. tunnels hunting the
enemy. The tunnels were claustrophobic and carried the stench of
dead things as this one does. The earth, you know, is a
mother sponge. It absorbs us all eventually.
Ultimately, all that exists is ultimately consumed into Mother Earth's
womb. Our blood, our sweat, the
flakes of our skin, our human waste, our tears eventually find their
way to the earth, fertilizing it in graves of time. When we die, we decompose into it--ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Then it all recycles.
Caves and graves carry the scent of all life’s decay. The earth is the vault of all that was, human and
inhuman. Here, amidst the blood of his torture and rape victims, in
the tomb of his former crimes where tens of thousands of his enemies'
blood drained, The Beast of Baghdad is reduced to a Maggot of The
Earth. I watch him feed on Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Triads of
Terrorism he used to rule Iraq with for more than 24 years.
He is the dog he once kicked. He is the hunted rabbit
cowering in the darkness, waiting to die with no place left to hide.
The Beast of
Baghdad was reduced to a Maggot of The Earth
I pull my pencil from
the wire spirals where I keep it holstered in my
notepad. I think momentarily about stabbing Saddam in the eye.
It would be easy to drive the carbon-tipped 2-H yellow spear into his brain and end his life as brutally as he
killed, or had killed, or allowed to be killed, thousands of men, women
and children over the past two decades.
But I'm not a warrior anymore. As a former U.S. Marine, with
a hundred combat operations under my belt, killing still seems as easy
a solution as blinking
one’s eye. Warriors don’t think about it when they’re doing it.
It's part of the job.
I think warriors only
ponder death afterwards, when they realize the ease of delivering it
to the living. Standing over a dead body, sprawled
lifelessly with its eyes glaring into nothingness, its arms splayed
out like the appendages of a cross, flies sucking up the drying blood
oozing from the corners of the body’s mouth--in that repose there is no glory in battle.
Well, at least for me there wasn't.
There is only the
dulling of the warrior's soul, the feeling that any drops of
innocence that may be left inside the human soul is leaking out,
leaving the soul to be tearless, unable to feel compassion for others
because the fuel, the innocence of the soul, has evaporated.
Killing Saddam would not
repair his damage. No matter how ugly the victim of death may
have been, no matter how cruel and vile his atrocities, staring at the
dead body of the Beast is not healing. Dead bodies are dead
bodies. They offer nothing to life except to remind the
living of its finality, its eventuality.
jamming my pencil into Saddam's brain, I continued with the
I shook off the thought of cramming my pencil into Saddam’s
brain. That wasn’t my job, however inviting the thought
was. Instead, I breathe through my
mouth so I won't gag and poise the pencil over the paper in the
near darkness. Over years of reporting I learned how to write in the
dark. I can also read upside down what a memo says sitting on an
executive’s desk I am interviewing.
“Mr. Hussein,” I whisper, “Why did you kill, torture and
maim so many of your own people.”
Saddam pulls at
his beard. It is spun in gnarled wires of gray and black, dotted
with tiny clumps of dirt clinging to the threads like flies hover over
rotting flesh. He whispers his answer, stabbing his finger up to remind me
he is no longer the hunter but now the hunted.
“I am the Father of the children of Iraq. I have the right
to teach them lessons as I see fit. The lives of the few to control
the lives of the many are given so that order may be maintained.”
He opens a candy bar wrapper and bites
down. I hear his lips smack.
“You justify tyranny and oppression as a parent?”
“All parents have that right over their children,” he
hisses. “If your children do not mind you, you punish them.
You have that right. I was only punishing bad children to make the
other children obey. That is the right of the parent. It always
has been. It always will be.”
Saddam inches back against the dirt wall. His Voice
trembles as he spews out the word. There is a hint he may not believe them
as he might have once when surrounded by the gold and glitter of the
palaces he once strolled about in regality, giving candy to his
grandchildren and boasting of his manifest destiny to stand up to all
who defy his power.
A video image
of Saddam's hideout
“You mean a parent has a right to torture, rape and kill a
child who doesn’t obey?”
takes another bite at the candy, wipes his mouth with his sleeve.
I feel his eyes radar at me.
“You are talking about the Kurds. They were deformed
children. You abort children every day in America. You kill more
than a million a year. The Kurds were deformed. They were
rebellious children, unwanted. As your children are you kill before
they are born. I am no more a criminal than your country is about
obedience. I let them live some life before they were killed.
That is more than you do.”
“Mr. Hussein, you believe you have a right to take any
life you wish, in any way you wish it?”
“I am the President of Iraq. I am the leader. I am the
Father of the Nation. Every leader of every nation makes decisions
each day to take lives. Above this hole, one hundred and fifty
thousand Americans are standing at the doorstep of death. They have
all been sent to die if necessary. If this war goes on, and you
draft the children of your land, you will willingly send them to die
too. How someone dies doesn’t really matter. Death matters.
Justifying how someone dies is irrelevant. Torture, rape,
murder—what difference does it make if death results? A certain
number of people must die for others to live. It is the way of
things. If I chose who is to die and how they are to die, that is my
business. I am the Father of the Nation. The people rely on my
ultimate wisdom. You forget, leaders are nothing more than
executioners. They make decisions to kill others so many may live."
He pauses, listening for the sounds of soldiers' feet.
Satisfied there are none, he goes on.
North Koreans will die so the country will be strong"...Saddam
“My friend, Kim Jong Il, is accused of starving his people
so he can spend much in building military defenses. Perhaps many
have to die so that North Korea can be strong. One day, when North
Korea has nuclear weapons, the world will shudder. The people who
starved so that the missiles would keep the West at bay will turn to
golden eggs. People will pay tribute to North Korea and the children
will grow strong because the country defied the West. Many more will live
in the future. Those who die in the present are servants to the
I take another breath
through my mouth, nervous I might hurl my guts out if I were to inhale
through my nose. The Beast of Terror before me
speaks as though he believes every word. I clench my teeth, forcing my
questions to not reveal my own true feelings.
“Then you have no remorse? You feel justified in
everything you have done to others?
flicks a crawly creature off his shoulder and his
eyes bounce about as a sound thumps above. It echoes through the earth,
a tintinnabulation of one of Poe's final heartbeats of a man buried alive.
Saddam sucks in a breath of hot, rancid air. His
words whisper at me.
"I am The
Father of Iraq...I have no remorse"....Saddam
“Remorse is for those who have abdicated their rights of
parenthood. I am the Father of Iraq. I have the ultimate rights of
leadership over all my children. You know I killed my daughters’
husbands. I dragged their bodies through Baghdad behind a truck. I
killed my grandchildren’s fathers because they disobeyed me. They
took important papers on our Weapons of Mass Destruction to the United
Nations. Those were family secrets. They robbed their country of
the right to defend its self. They were traitors to their children,
to their wives, to their country. Defiance is treasonable. A child
who defies his or her parents faces the worst of consequences. You
call it child abuse in your country. I call it discipline. You
must make examples of defiance or you cannot lead. Husbands who
punish wives for disobeying them are acting in accordance to the law
of discipline. Torturing, raping, executing others were nothing more
than forms of maintaining respect for authority. The more severe
the price for dissent, the greater the discipline. If someone
threatens your country’s national security, they are considered
traitors. They will be executed. Or, they should be. Iraq’s
national security is managed person-by-person. A single act of
defiance by one citizen is as dangerous as one of you Americans
selling national defense secrets to your worst enemy. I have no
remorse for maintaining the security of Iraq. Before you invaded our
country we had a great army, a great country destined to rule the
Middle East. Now, you have stolen from us the right to keep
discipline as the foundation of humanity. You have raped, pillaged
and plundered my right of authority. You are the true Beasts of
Terror. You should be the ones to sing the songs of remorse for the
crimes you have committed. Look at the anarchy that exists today in
Iraq. You have unleashed Terrorism. I controlled it with a few
deaths here and there. Millions didn’t die. You forget that.
Remorse. I have none.”
Saddam doesn't look at me as he
sibilates. He is
busy plucking at the fleas and tics that he has vaingloriously tried
to evict. My skin prickles, not because spiders are
crawling over me, but at the emptiness of Saddam’s words, at his lack
of any compassion for others, at his insatiable appetite to
sweep his reasoning into the corner of parental self-righteousness.
“When the Special Forces find you, what will you do? Will you
kill yourself? Will you fight to the death like your sons did? Will
you show the world that you are willing to die for your beliefs?”
"I am not
stupid...I will be given a bath and shave"....Saddam
“Of course not. I am not stupid. Stupid people take
their lives. I will surrender. I will be given a bath and a shave.
I will get good food and clean clothes. Then, I will tell my story
to the world. They will see me not as the Beast of Terror, but as
the Father of Vigilance. They will see my ironhanded rule of people
as that of a god. God does not stand by and let people defy him. He
sends floods and pestilence and war to strike them down. God rules
the world with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency—those things you
think are the Triads of Terrorism. People grovel before God. They
fear His wrath. Still, they are His children. Last century, He
killed more than 100 million in wars alone. Why? Because He
reminds His children that if they do not Fear Him, if they aren’t
Intimidated by Him, if they aren’t Complacent in their attempts to
defy Him, He will strike them down, cripple them, rape, pillage and
plunder their lands. I am Saddam Hussein, a god. I am equal to
God’s rule. Judged by God’s rules, I will be acquitted. My crimes
are but a mere grain of sand on the beaches of time compared to God’s
many crimes. How could I be judged anything but a great leader, the
greatest in modern history?"
Saddam had a
copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf
“I noted you carry a copy
of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in your back pocket. Hitler killed
himself rather than be captured. Wouldn’t you want your followers to
know you were brave enough to die rather than become a prisoner as
“Foolish man,” Saddam
squats down and diggsat the
dirt with the end of a twig he finds on the dirt floor. “Hitler grew insane as the
end. Had he been smart, he would have sent doubles of himself all
through the land, as I did. He would have dug a hole in the dirt,
hid himself where no one would think to look. Who would, mind you,
think that the great Saddam Hussein would hide out in a dirt hole?
My hiding place is genius itself. Hitler wasn’t God. God would
never kill himself. God would negotiate with his children, try and
convince them he really was a good guy. Why, think about it. God
did that. He sent Jesus to the earth. He negotiated with the people
through His son. I can do that myself. Look at me. I am not the
same man I was. I am like Jesus who went to the desert for forty days
and forty nights and humbled himself. I don’t look like a Terrorist,
do I? I look like any human being. I look average. I have the
filth of the earth in my pores. I am unworthy of being accused of
crimes against humanity. I am a changed man—a man who lives in a
hole in the earth and eats candy bars and doesn’t bathe or shave.
Who could call me a Beast of Terror? I am just a man. A dirty,
hungry, lonely man. The world will take pity on me, as they took
pity on Jesus. And, as Jesus did, I will rise again.”
“You believe you will be exonerated and returned to power.”
Do you think Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the Children’s
Children’s Children has more power than Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency within the realm of humanity? Don’t kid
yourself. The barrel of a gun, or the torturer’s whip, has
much more power to make humanity stand at attention than your Pledge
of Vigilance, your Principles of Vigilance, your Plus One Percent
I feel the smart of Saddam's personal
attack on me. His words spear at me. I think about
the pencil--about shoving it into his eye. Then I remember I am
a TerrorHunter. I must be stronger than the Terror facing
me and not surrender to it.
"The world is
ruled by brute power...Complacency will govern the world"
Saddam continues: "The world is ruled by brute power. It
always has been. It always will be. The people who
believe the average person will take on the duty of teaching their
children to be Courageous, full of Conviction and take Right Actions
for the future generations are blind to Terrorism’s true power.
Fear will strip Courage in a blink of an eye.
Intimidation will steal away all the Conviction in the world,
especially if it comes in the form of a knife to one’s throat.
And Complacency—ah, yes—it will rule the world forever. People
will always turn their heads and say: ‘Oh, that’s not my job.’
Or, ‘I don’t want to get involved.’ Or, ‘I’ll do that
tomorrow.’ Right Action will not replace complacency for
future generations because people are natural followers not natural
leaders. They will moo like cows behind this group or that group
and do what they are told, believe in what they are told to believe."
I note Saddam's Voice is growing
"We got 'em"...Special
" I will
win in the great courtroom of human experience. They will
see Saddam as the God of Discipline. They will honor me as
they honor Jesus. I will rise again.”
Just then a bright
shaft of light rips into the dark hole.
Above stand American Special Forces with guns aimed at Saddam.
Saddam slowly raises his hands and says: “I am Saddam Hussein,
President of Iraq. I am willing to negotiate.”