Bargain Basement


Here we were thinking that Saddam was a coward for not having dissolved, Scarface-like, in a hail of Coalition gunfire, and now France's Le Monde, citing an Iraqi paper, Al-Zaman, suggests he negotiated his surrender from his basement "Spider hole."

The account, penned by Abdul Hamid Al-Saih, an Al-Zaman journalist, suggests that Saddam, who, according to a neighbor, had become "depressed, silent and tired" asked one of his aides to negotiate his surrender. He had three conditions: "That he not be killed during his arrest; that he be treated as a prisoner of war; and that he not be handed over to the Iraqi Governing Council, or any other Iraqi authority."

Could this be true? There are any number of reasons it could all be made up, not least of which because the evidence seems circumstantial: nor does the image of a depressed and tired Saddam quite square with someone bargaining over his fate. Moreover, Al-Saih has good reason to discredit Saddam, as this passage suggests: " In giving himself up, he showed he couldn't care less about the resistance of all those who sacrificed themselves for their thoughts, land and convictions."

So now we've heard that Saddam was drugged, that the Iranians gave him away, that he is dying, and that he negotiated his surrender. But why complain? At least he didn't have Paul O'Neill as his Treasury Secretary.