This piece is essentially sensationalized trivia rather than hard news. A critical reader might ask themselves what does it matter what snack foods Saddam likes to eat. No information is presented in this article that would give the reader a clearer understanding of any of the issues pertaining to Saddam Husseins role as dictator, his incarceration, or his impending trial. The same day that the Grand Rapids Press ran this AP article, International news sources were running stories about Saddams upcoming trial and accusations of the US concealing information about the deposed president that could be damaging to the US and other countries. This was the topic of articles in international sources such as BBC and Al-Jazeera, as well as an Associated Press article which the GR Press chose not to run.
Saddam Chatty, germ-phobic, guards say
By Richard Pyle
NEW YORK — Saddam Hussein loves Doritos, hates Froot Loops, admires former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, thinks Bill Clinton was “okay” and considers both presidents Bush as “no good.” He talks a lot, worries about germs and insists he is still president of Iraq.
Those and other details of the deposed Iraqi leader’s life while in U.S. military custody appear in the July issue of GQ magazine, based on interviews with five Pennsylvania National Guard members who went to Iraq to fight in 2003 and instead were assigned to Mr. Hussein’s guard contingent for nearly 10 months.
The magazine, which reached newsstands yesterday, says the GIs could not tell their families what they were doing, and signed pledges not to reveal the location or other details of the U.S.-run compound where Mr. Hussein was a “high-value detainee,” awaiting trial by Iraqi authorities for mass killings and other crimes.
However, the five soldiers told GQ correspondent Lisa DePaulo of their personal interactions with Mr. Hussein, saying he spoke with them in rough English, was interested in their lives and even invited them back to Iraq when he returns to power.
A Pentagon spokesman had no comment on the article.
The GIs recalled that Mr. Hussein had harsh words for the Bushes, each of whom went to war against him.
Specialist Sean O’Shea, then 19, of Minooka, Pa., said Mr. Hussein later mellowed in that view. “Toward the end he was saying that he doesn’t hold any hard feelings and he just wanted to talk to [George W.] Bush, to make friends with him,” he told the magazine.
The soldiers also said Mr. Hussein is a “clean freak” who washes after shaking hands and uses diaper wipes to clean meal trays, utensils and the table before eating. “He had germophobia or whatever you call it,” Spec. Dawson said.
The article says Mr. Hussein preferred Raisin Bran Crunch for breakfast, telling Spec. O’Shea, “no Froot Loops.”
The magazine says Mr. Hussein told his guards that when the Americans invaded Iraq in March of 2003, he “tried to flee in a taxicab as the tanks were rolling in,” and U.S. planes struck the palace he was trying to reach instead of the one he was in. “Then he started laughing,” Cpl. Reese recalled. “He goes, ‘America, they dumb. They bomb wrong palace.’ ”
Text from the original article ommitted from the Grand Rapids Press version:
“He’d always tell us he was still the president. That’s what he thinks, 100 per cent,” Specialist Jesse Dawson, 25, of Berwick, Pa., told the author.
“The Bush father, son, no good,” Corporal Jonathan (Paco) Reese, 22, of Millville, Pa., quoted Mr. Hussein as saying.
Spec. Dawson quoted Mr. Hussein as saying, “He knows I have nothing, no mass weapons. He knows he’ll never find them.”
The story says that once, when Mr. Hussein fell during his twice-a-week shower, “panic ensued. No one wanted him to be hurt while being guarded by Americans.” Mr. Hussein was friendly toward his young guards and sometimes offered fatherly advice.
When Spec. O’Shea told him he wasn’t married, Mr. Hussein “started telling me what to do,” recalled the soldier. “He was like, ‘You gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean.’ ”
Then he smiled, made what Spec. O’Shea interpreted as a “spanking” gesture, laughed and went back to doing his laundry in the sink.
For a time his favourite snack was Cheetos, and when that ran out, Mr. Hussein would “get grumpy,” the story says. One day, guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Mr. Hussein forgot about Cheetos. “He’d eat a family-size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes,” Spec. Dawson said.
Mr. Hussein also said his capture in an underground hideout on Dec. 18, 2003, resulted from betrayal by the only man who knew where he was, and had been paid to keep the secret. “He was really mad about that,” Spec. Dawson said. “He compared himself to Jesus, how Judas told on Jesus. He was like, ‘That’s how it was for me.’ If his Judas never said anything, nobody ever would have found him, he said.”
Mr. Hussein never indicated whether he knew his statue in Baghdad had been toppled on April 9, 2003. He insisted that everything he did, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, was for the good of his people, the article said.