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Re: [casi] Iraqi date-growing season?

I wrote, "Will we ever really know the truth about anything at all in Iraq?

And now here comes another incredible tale this a.m. in The Los Angeles
Sunday Times:

Cracking a Tribal Code to Catch Hussein
December 21, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq — To snare Saddam Hussein in his underground hide-out, U.S.
commanders overcame a daunting foe — an age-old, nearly impenetrable tribal
tradition that values loyalty above all else and is instinctively hostile to

In the entrenched, insular structure of Iraqi tribes, betrayal is not
supposed to be an option. Yet that is exactly what happened, U.S. officials

For months, Hussein — falling back, as always, on tribal allegiances in
times of trouble — had stymied U.S. searchers. Then they found the weak
link: a former high-ranking operative in one of Hussein's security services,
and a senior tribal figure in the Tikrit area.

"His name just kept popping up," said Maj. Stan Murphy, chief intelligence
officer with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team — the unit
that found Hussein in a farmhouse about 10 miles southeast of here. "We knew
he was a somebody. We had to know this guy."

Just one day after the man's detention Dec. 12, he had given U.S. forces
enough "real-time intelligence" to nab Hussein.

Under the direction of Col. James Hickey, the Army's top Hussein hunter,
Murphy's intelligence team — some of them not long out of high school — had
begun focusing on tribal connections in July.

The intelligence analysts realized that their likely targets mostly stayed
below the radar. They probably were not fugitives depicted in the Pentagon's
deck of cards, the big fish whom U.S. authorities named as the most wanted
Iraqis. Those figures would attract immediate attention and were in no
position to organize Hussein's complex concealment.

The intelligence team, working from a bank of computers in the brigade's
tactical operations center inside a former Hussein palace along the Tigris
River in Tikrit, created a large, color-coded chart tracking six major
tribal groups and their links to Hussein. From Hussein's image in the
center, the web of ties stretched to the tribes.

"We started building our linkages and we started looking at certain
families, and it just started to snowball," said Hickey, a no-nonsense
Chicagoan who is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and Johns
Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

It took all summer and fall, but U.S. forces finally cracked the tribal

Hussein had long embraced and manipulated the fundamental tribal nature of
his land. Like a Mafia don, he surrounded himself with advisors and security
staff from about half a dozen staunch tribes of the Tikrit area, his home
base north of Baghdad. He sneered at the educated classes and professionals,
he despised technocrats, and he kept religious zealots in check.

"Everything was tied to families, how families were linked," Murphy said.
"It was tied to tribes, and the tribal customs they had. And it was tied to
money. I figured if we continued to look at those three things — tribes and
families and money — that would continue to bring us closer to Saddam. Those
were the keys."

The list of people linked to the tribes expanded in a few months from a
handful to 9,000. A major obstacle was simply gathering the names correctly,
considering that many Arabs have four proper names, including family and
tribal surnames.

"It's what I called the name game," recalled Murphy, 41. "We didn't really
know who we were dealing with half the time…. We had to get very disciplined
and accept nothing less than three names."

After mapping the broad tribal constellation, analysts began focusing on
identifying a smaller universe — those whom Murphy calls the "enablers,"
Hussein's inner core of trusted henchmen. They may number two dozen or
fewer, typically former high-ranking officials of Hussein's vast security
network. Some must know where Hussein was, the analysts reasoned, and were
probably supporting the fugitive former strongman, providing him with cash,
a network of safe houses and hide-outs and the special items he wanted —
such as the gourmet honey and sweets found in his small kitchen, not items
for an everyday farmer.

"We just keep getting little nuggets and finally zero in on that piece of
information that leads us to Saddam," Murphy said.

Hickey spent five years at Army training centers absorbing military doctrine
and theories of military intelligence.

"Intelligence doesn't come from on high in little boxes and big packets,"
Hickey said. "Some guy in the FedEx truck doesn't show up and say, 'This is
what's going on in your AO [area of operations], go work on it.' It doesn't
work that way. You have got to get out on the ground, talk to people. You've
got to understand the terrain. You've got to understand your enemy as you
search for him, as you fight him.

"That's what we do. It's like a detective would do, except we do it in a
more dynamic, less stable environment."

The front-line grunts in this battle were not Ivy League spooks with
button-down shirts. Rather, these were Army S2 (Section 2) specialists, some
not long out of high school, from places like Amarillo, Texas, and
Jacksonville, Fla.

None spoke Arabic. None pretended to have any special knowledge of the
Middle East, although at least two officers on Murphy's 16-member team were
1991 Persian Gulf War veterans.

Working through translators, soldiers collected information in encounters
with Iraqis on the streets, at Army bases, in detention centers and at the
Army's civil affairs office in Tikrit, where residents sought U.S.
assistance. Also debriefed were Iraqi officials, tribal leaders, imams and
others familiar with tribal matters.

The soldiers had access to a broad array of information: interrogation
summaries, Army field reports, classified data from the military and other
agencies, and humint — "human intelligence" — gathered from the many Iraqis
who came forward. Humint was often the most current data, but it had to be
processed carefully and double-checked. Not all motivations were pure — some
were keen to settle old scores by denouncing enemies.

On the other hand, people risked their lives by even approaching U.S.

"You have these very loyal tribes, and you don't want to be seen giving
information to the Americans," said Capt. Mark Terrell, 35, an Army
intelligence officer here. "There were very discreet tipsters…. Some people
prevented others from coming forward through coercion, through death
threats, just like a criminal organization would do, like the Mafia."

As their investigation deepened, Army intelligence officers here became
convinced that the Hussein "enablers" were functioning as paymasters — and
in some cases as high-level organizers — of the armed insurgency, financing
attacks that included bombings and assassinations, at least in the Tikrit
area, and possibly beyond.

So finding Hussein — dead or alive — became more than a symbolic gesture.

"I always thought that capturing or killing HVT1 would have a very positive
effect against the resistance in this area, and probably across the country
at large," Hickey said, using the military's acronym for Hussein: High Value
Target 1.

The informer is one of a number of senior Hussein loyalists who dedicated
themselves to violent resistance in the hope of returning their patron to
power and restoring their lost status, U.S. officials say.

"All of the guys who are responsible for organizing the attacks around here
were balding, 42-inch-waist, middle-aged guys who couldn't do it themselves,
so they hired someone else to do the shooting and bombing," Murphy said. The
turncoat will not be eligible for the $25-million reward because he had been
detained for anti-coalition activities, officials said.

Before catching Hussein, Hickey and his "Raider" brigade had led a dozen
operations targeting the former dictator — and more than 500 raids overall.
Despite their growing expertise on the tribes and the area, troops
acknowledged frustration at missing their elusive quarry, sometimes known as
Elvis, because of his many sightings.

On several occasions, Hickey said, his troops probably arrived within hours
or a day of Hussein's departure from a specific locale. By most accounts,
Hussein moved around every few days to different safe houses in and around
the Tikrit area, although some suspect that he also may have ranged Baghdad
and to the north, especially Mosul, a former stronghold of his Baath Party
where his two sons were killed.

By December, Hickey said, he felt his raiders were getting close: "We
thought we'd have him by Christmas."

A flood of intelligence pointed anew to the suspect on whom the Army had
focused since summer. Early this month, a series of raids in Tikrit and the
nearby towns of Samarra and Baiji failed to turn up their man. But other
suspected insurgent operatives were found, along with $1.9 million seized in
Samarra — money that was probably meant to help finance the insurgency, the
military says.

The crucial break came Dec. 12. In a series of raids in Baghdad, the Army
arrested a number of suspected insurgent fighters and organizers. Among
those scooped up was the security man whom Hickey and his unit had been

He was flown to Tikrit the next day. Hickey began preparations for a raid
that evening, confident that the source would be able to pinpoint a

The interrogation dragged on for hours. The man was initially hesitant to
speak, officials said. The Army declined to divulge details, but it is clear
that, at some point, the man turned — dramatically. The treachery that
Hussein had so long feared finally caught up with him.

Times staff writers Tracy Wilkinson and Chris Kraul in Baghdad contributed
to this report.
Incredible?  pg  ....  I just give up.

----- Original Message -----
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2003 2:44 AM
Subject: Re: [casi] Iraqi date-growing season?

> Will we ever really know the truth about anything at all in Iraq?  pg
> Sunday, December 21
>     Australian Broadcasting
> Saddam held by Kurds, drugged and left for US troops: report
> Saddam Hussein was captured by US troops only after he had been taken
> prisoner by Kurdish forces, drugged and abandoned ready for American
> soldiers to recover him, a British tabloid newspaper has reported.
> Saddam came into the hands of the Kurdish Patriotic Front after being
> betrayed to the group by a member of the al-Jabour tribe, whose daughter
> been raped by Saddam's son Uday, leading to a blood feud, reported the
> Sunday Express, which quoted an unnamed senior British military
> officer.
> The newspaper said the full story of events leading up to the ousted Iraqi
> president's capture on December 13 near his hometown of Tikrit in northern
> Iraq, "exposes the version peddled by American spin doctors as
> A former Iraqi intelligence officer, whom the Express did not name, told
> paper that Saddam was held prisoner by a leader of the Kurdish Patriotic
> Front, which fought alongside US forces during the Iraq war, until he
> negotiated a deal.
> The deal apparently involved the group gaining political advantage in the
> region.
> An unnamed Western intelligence source in the Middle East told the
> "Saddam was not captured as a result of any American or British
> intelligence. We knew that someone would eventually take their revenge, it
> was just a matter of time."
> -- AFP
> ------------------------------------------------
> Hussein Was Held by Kurds Before U.S. Capture, AFP Reports
>  Bloomberg News
> Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops only
> being held prisoner by Kurdish forces, who had had drugged and abandoned
> him, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a Sunday Express newspaper
> report.
> The Kurdish Patriotic Front, which fought alongside U.S. forces during the
> Iraq war, held Hussien until it negotiated for more political advantage in
> the Middle East, AFP said, citing the paper, which quoted an unidentified
> Iraqi intelligence officer.
> Hussein, who had been in hiding since April, was captured a week ago about
> miles south of his hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq, ___Lieutenant
> General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said at
> press conference then__.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "bluepilgrim" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2003 8:11 PM
> Subject: Re: [casi] Iraqi date-growing season?
> > At 04:10 PM 12/20/03, you wrote:
> >
> > >[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]
> > >
> > >Spotted on LF via La Voz de Aztlan ( via AP
> > >photo.  Posted below. pg
> >
> > I saw the picture with the dates and the news photos of the hole Saddam
> was
> > supposedly hiding in, but I couldn't say these were photos of the same
> > place, and I don't know where the "date" picture is from.  The most
> > important thing to keep in mind is *every* report and photo is suspect.
> The
> > war on Iraq was built on a foundation of lies and propaganda, and now
> > parties are "arming themselves" for the current information war.  (And
> > us not trust reports as to what papers were found: there have already
> > a number of misinterpretations as well as outright forgeries.)
> >
> > I assume that everyone has heard of the new "fearless leader news
> > to local US news outlets?
> >
> riticism?mode=PF
> >
> > As to postings and quality, as mentioned in the other messages, I had
> > posted a few things which I though to be analytical and relevant, but
> > moderated as being not on topic -- not specific to the ground conditions
> in
> > Iraq -- apparantly with some complaints from some list members. At that
> > pointed I stopped posting until a few days ago, when I read the
> > announcement about the new list. As for facts on the ground, there are
> very
> > people who can speak to those first hand and still have access to
> > communication. The rest must be either second hand news, speculation, or
> > discussion in more general terms, such as what can be expected from the
> > occupiers and their policies.  It is still not clear to me just what
> > of posts are desired, if not news items and analysis of those -- hence,
> > hesitate to post anything.
> >
> > As far as facts on the ground, it makes little practical difference when
> > Saddam was captured -- or even what the perception of the timing is in
> Iraq
> > or elswhere.  The *facts* , as near as I can tell from reports that come
> > though, is that Iraqis are being widely abused by the occupiers.
> Announcing
> > to people that anti-US demonstrations will be fired on is a sign both of
> > the desparation of the occupiers and an omen of much greater trouble to
> > come. Democracy "Miami style" breeds resentment anywhere. Add to that
> > disappearing of Iraqis, cirlcling towns with barbed wire, demoslishing
> > houses, indiscriminate killing by US troops, etc. etc. -- on top of the
> > violent reactions of various insurgents, terrorists, and just those
> seeking
> > retributions -- on top of the generally lousy living conditions, lack of
> > security, jobs, and services --- well, what can possibly expected but
> > further breakdowns, resentment, and violence.
> >
> > The facts on the ground will unfold as they will regardless of spin and
> > propaganda. The effect of propaganda does not directly affect Iraq, but
> has
> > a large indirect effect as it influences public opinion in the nations
> > the occupiers, and tolerance for the gangsters to continue their
> > and looting.  At this point Saddam is little more than a prop on the
> > show to be presented to the US population and the worldwide audience.
> >
> > There is currently noise about "the papers" and the "list of names" --
> > if these had any real significance. The "names"  -- if the list actually
> > exists -- might be Saddam's friends, enemies, people to recruit or
> > approach, or a holiday greeting card list. Not only are people mobile --
> > they can run and relocate if they fear being found out as spies -- but
> they
> > are replacable by thousands of others, with numbers of new resisters
> > growing every day.  Revolution is only marginally hierarchical. Factions
> > which might eventually fall into civil war will not only cooperate to a
> > degree when threatened by a common enemy (the occuaption), but even when
> > competing will often be destructive of an occupying or would-be unifying
> > force.  Let's say the US wants a puppet government and a docile
> > under its control, and some permanent army bases and industrial
> > exploitation centers. As long as there are any groups or significant
> number
> > of individual retaliators, this can't be attained.  The level of
> > and destruction will disrupt development, commerce, politics -- any sort
> of
> > stable organization. The reactions to this from the US will in all
> > likelyhood be increasing repression and military control, as is the wont
> of
> > this administration in particular, and US policy in general. That will
> > result in lowering of productivity, more dissatisfaction among the
> > and an increase in resistance, even to the formation of new resistance
> > groups. How many people in Iraq are now NOT angry at the occupation? The
> > press? Unions? Former military and police? Teachers? Scientific and
> > technical workers? People who live in houses and try to shop for food
> > fuel? Who has NOT been screwed over already?
> >
> > The noise about Saddam is to a great extent more distraction promulgated
> by
> > Bush and co. to obscure the issues of corporate corruption, the lies
> > into the war (and lack of WMD), violations of civil rights all over, the
> > failure to rebuld and stabilize Iraq, and the huge US domestic problems
> and
> > growing dissatisfaction with issues such as heath care and employment.
> One
> > might complain that some of these issues do not directly relate to
> > conditions in Iraq but in fact they largely determine what will happen
> > there.  The most important election for Iraqis may well be not electing
> > their own leaders, but who wins the US presidency next year.  It is to
> this
> > last question that the importance of Saddam is critical.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
> > To unsubscribe, visit
> > To contact the list manager, email
> > All postings are archived on CASI's website:
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
> To unsubscribe, visit
> To contact the list manager, email
> All postings are archived on CASI's website:

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