December 14, 2003

WELL, THIS IS EVEN BIGGER NEWS, and it seems to be confirmed:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein without firing a shot after learning he was hiding at a farm house near Tikrit, Iraq, officials said.

Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said members of the Fourth Infantry Division found Saddam hiding in a "spider hole" about six to eight feet deep. Troops also recovered various small arms, a taxicab nearby and $750,000 in cash, just south of Tikrit.

There were no injuries, and Sanchez described Saddam as "talkative and cooperative."

Hmm. Let's ask him about the Atta thing, and see how cooperative he really is.

UPDATE: So, on the one hand, he's caught (I assume by now it's clearly not one of those doubles), and that's likely to be a rather major blow to the "insurgents" -- though I rather suspect that some of that has been supported by Syria, Iran, and Saudi elements in the hopes of keeping the United States busy. With Saddam gone, though, it'll be harder for them to escape responsibility, which is likely to cause them to reduce their exposure in this area. That's unalloyed good news, unless we're looking for an excuse to invade Syria.

On the other hand, we're confronted with the question of what to do with Saddam. I've thought about this before, and the options seemed to break down this way: (1) Shoot him out of hand. Appealing for a variety of reasons, but not really our style, and obviously we decided against it. (2) Try him for war crimes ourselves. Potentially messy, and perhaps looking a bit imperialistic to some. (3) Turn him over to the Iraqis and let them try him.

The last is the most appealing for a variety of reasons, as long as we make sure that the process isn't in the hands of covert Saddam loyalists, which shouldn't be hard. On the other hand, he's likely to have some value in terms of information and cooperation, which might encourage people to want to cut a deal with him. That's tricky: He's a dreadful guy who deserves to be executed, probably via a plastic-shredder or some similar method, in light of his crimes. (A Mussolini-style ending probably would have been best, in my opinion). But he may offer enough to make his cooperation worthwhile, though letting him live, or go into exile (where would he go?) seems troublesome too, and offers him the possibility for future mischief.

I imagine that this has been given a lot of thought at the highest levels. It'll be interesting to see what they do.

Meanwhile, Josh Chafetz predicts: "Guerilla attacks will intensify for about a month before they start melting away." That's probably right. Oxblog also links to video clips of Iraqi reactions, which are along the "Death to Saddam!" line.

Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of Iraqi bloggers' reactions, and lots of other information. Human Rights Watch wants an "international tribunal," which is reason enough to seriously consider turning Saddam over to the Iraqis. Jarvis also Fisks the "coalition of the pissy" that is already spinning this negatively.

Pejman Yousefzadeh has much more including a not-to-be-missed set of "before" and "after" shots that should be circulated around the Arab world. Tacitus has comments, too. N.Z. Bear is rounding up reaction from a lot of blogs.

And several readers have emailed to say that "you can hear the dejection in their voices" at the BBC and NPR. I wish I could discount this, but I can't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another roundup of blog reactions. And Winds of Change has a post up on this.

Tim Blair has more, including more reaction from the Coalition Of The Pissy. It appears that George Galloway is remaining loyal to Saddam, to the bitter end. Hey, at least he's capable of loyalty!

STILL MORE: Just read the entire Atrios post that Jeff Jarvis Fisks above. How very lame. But here's the part, not included in Jarvis's post, that I found most pathetic -- and revealing: "And, cynical me just has to ask - who's the enemy now? The base needs one. Did they really call it 'operation Red Dawn?' oy."

Oy, indeed.