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Some of the news coming out of Iraq surronding the capture of Saddam Hussein is frankly stretching credability somewhat. My biggest concern is the verging on impossible speed at which DNA tests were announced. Having worked in a company that specialised in high throughput DNA genotyping, trust me, I know what I am talking about. However, I wish to watch the media reports on it for a few days as it still seems a little unclear before going into detail on my concerns. The issue I wish to raise at this moment seems prehaps a little trivial, but still a little intriguing. The initial reports all appear to describe Saddam Hussein as having a false beard that was torn off by soldiers? Is that still the official story? I have been reading one of the early reports from AFP in the Sydney Morning Herald, I will append the article at the end but I will also put the link here because I intend to discuss the AFP photo that accompanies it. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/14/1071336803092.html We are show what is purported to be a before and after (beard removal?) picture of Saddam Hussein, caption says "Photos of Saddam Hussein after his capture shown during a press conference in Baghdad." Clearly it is nothing of the kind. To my mind the two pictures are reasonably obviously of different people, but I guess that is debatable so it is not what I want to focus on. But some things are beyond argument. Namely that the photo of Saddam on the right is an old photo that in no way relates to the photo on the left. 1) The beard in the left photo does not look fake to me, but it hardly matters. Certainly the moustache is now a rather straggly affair 2) The photo on the right has the full bushy Saddam moustache. Given that it is unlikely having pulled off the fake beard the US military then slapped on a fake bushy Saddam moustache then it is an old archive photo (or doctored). There are plenty of other problems - such as the hair seems to have been given a good wash and brush. 3) Despite the fact that the photo on the right is an old photo some effort has been gone into to disguise this fact. To the extent of copying the background of the two photos - a very bizarre thing to do. This impression of bizarreness is backed up by some quotes from the AFP report. "The Associated Press was shown documentary evidence that the person captured was Saddam Hussein. The evidence depicted Saddam as dishevelled and wearing a long beard. Further evidence depicted Saddam with his trademark moustache but otherwise clean shaven. " Indeed. 4) If the photo on the left really is Saddam then at some point during his hiding he has shaved off his trademark bushy mustache to either adopt a false beard or grow a real one, but alas sans bushy mustache (well he is getting old, perhaps it wasnt real in the first place) Anyone got any answers to these hairy questions? I would be fascinated. It would be fair to say I am bending over backwards to avoid offending some of the more delicate senstivities of people here. Article follows. Saddam Hussein was captured in his home town of Tikrit today in a major coup for the beleaguered US occupation forces. Paul Bremer, the top US administrator in Iraq, today confirmed Saddam Hussein's capture. "We got him," Bremer began the press conference. "This is a great day in Iraq's history. The tyrant is a prisoner." "There were no injuries. Not a single shot was fired," Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the top US general in Iraq, told the news conference in the Iraqi capital. Soldiers tore off a false beard and took samples from the ousted dictator for DNA identity tests after digging down into a cellar during an overnight raid on a house following a tip-off, members of Iraq's US-backed Governing Council said on Sunday. US raiders were not certain at first they had their man when they pulled a bearded man from a hole in an Iraq cellar, but soon were able to determine it was Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press was shown documentary evidence that the person captured was Saddam Hussein. The evidence depicted Saddam as dishevelled and wearing a long beard. Further evidence depicted Saddam with his trademark moustache but otherwise clean shaven. At a news conference in Baghdad, US military officials played a video showing Saddam Hussein wearing beard and being examined by medics. US Representative Ike Skelton, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was telephoned early today by Powell Moore, the deputy secretary of defence for legislative affairs, who told him Saddam had been captured. One senior US official said scientific testing, possibly including DNA, was being done early this morning to document Saddam's identity. The official said the captured man did not look like Saddam at first glance. The officials discussing identification methods did so only on condition of anonymity. The military raids in and near Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, were based on fresh intelligence and were aimed at capturing Saddam, the officials said, and the man was captured in one of the targeted buildings. "He was in a cellar of the building. His appearance was such that it made it not immediately certain you could say it was Saddam Hussein," one senior US official said. But some marks on the man's body and other information gave the US military its first confirmation they had their target, officials said. The officials said several other people were captured in the raids. After seven months of increasingly bloody attacks on US forces and their allies following Saddam's ousting on April 9, the arrest is a major boon for US President George W Bush. His campaign for re-election next year has been overshadowed by mounting casualties and wrangling with key allies over Iraq. It may break the spirit of some of his diehard supporters and ease anxieties of many Iraqis who lived in fear for three decades under a man who led them into three disastrous wars. US officials will also hope to extract key intelligence on the alleged weapons programmes which formed the public grounds for Bush to go to war in defiance of many UN allies. Little evidence of banned weapons has been found. Saddam, 66, had kept up a stream of belligerent rhetoric from hiding, even after his sons Uday and Qusay were killed by US troops in July. Already vexed by its failure to find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Washington blamed Saddam for promoting some of the violence against its forces. In a statement, the US-appointed Governing Council confirmed that Saddam was arrested in a joint operation by troops from the US-led coalition and Kurdish Iraqi forces. "He was wearing a fake beard and laboratory tests have proven his identity beyond any doubt," the statement said. "On this occasion, the Governing Council would like to congratulate the Iraqi people and the entire human race on this huge victory," it said. Saddam would be put on trial, Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi added. A tribunal system for Iraqis to try Saddam and fellow Baathist leaders was set up only last week. "This is good for Iraq. He will be put on trial. Let him face justice," Chalabi, who returned after the invasion from years in US exile, told Reuters in Baghdad. The word came just hours after the latest major attack on Washington's Iraqi allies, with a suspected suicide car bomber killing at least 17 people and wounding 33 at an Iraqi police station in the restive town of Khalidiyah, west of Baghdad. In early afternoon, gunfire broke out across the capital as news filtered through that Saddam was in US custody. Reuters reported that ordinary Iraqis fired into the air and took to the streets of some cities in Iraq to celebrate reports that Saddam had been captured. Volleys of automatic rifle fire echoed across Baghdad as Iraqis drove around town honking their car horns and giving the V for victory sign, witnesses said. In the northern city of Kirkuk in the Kurdish north, thousands took to the streets to celebrate. Similar scenes were reported in the mainly Shi'ite southern port city of Basra "We are celebrating like it's a wedding," said Mustapha Sheriff, a resident of Kirkuk. "We are finally rid of that criminal." "This is the joy of a lifetime," said Ali Al-Bashiri, another Kirkuk resident. "I am speaking on behalf of all the people that suffered under his rule." Saddam, who ruled Iraq for 23 years until his ouster in April, has been a fugitive since then with a $US25 million ($34 million) bounty on his head. Rumours about Saddam's capture or death periodically surface, and a hotline set up by the occupation authorities for tips on his whereabouts is flooded with callers. AFP ____________________________________________________________ Free Poetry Contest. Win $10,000. 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