Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Someone back in the States asked in an email if I was able to see much "devastation" in Baghdad, based on the impression left by endless close-up media footage of car-bombings, and even perhaps by the early "Shock & Awe" campaign. In fact, Baghdad is demonstrably whole, a relatively thriving Third World capital with some beautiful (not to say remarkable) buildings fully intact.
Me in front of the statue - here's a tidbit from General Schwarzkopf [It Doesn't Take A Hero, (Bantam, 1992) p. 455] "I had spoken to Gen. Powell regularly throughout the day. ...At ten p.m., I called to give him a final update. I was tired; at the end of the conversation I heard myself say how much I'd like to blow up the giant Saddam statue and the Victory Arch in downtown Baghdad. The Victory Arch, a monument to the war against Iran, was a huge sculpture of two hands, said to be Saddam's, holding two swords crossed. We'd spared both the statue and the Victory Arch during the air campaign because they weren't military targets. To my surprise, Powell was all for it-- although he suggested we check with the president first. Pentagon lawyers vetoed the idea a couple of days later..."
Ministry of the Interior, the home of the infamous Mukhabarat, Saddam's secret police. Torture was a regular staple inside, and we've cleaned it up enormously, now more reminiscent of the FBI, and trying hard to inculcate a clean sense of professionalism in its members. We spent a few hours inside today, on "courtesy calls."
Nothing funny about this - one of at least 10 attacks today, over a hundred killed... included in the attacks were at least two on US convoys - unlike ours, outside the IZ (in other words, out in the Red Zone). We were flying to the Ministry of the Interior when we saw this - pilot just flew on, of course