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wearing my skeptic's hat (and my inner tube)

The most underreported story of the week has to be the tale of one of Saddam's bodyguards fleeing Iraq and running to Israeli authorities with the dictator's closely held secrets.

swimmy.jpg I've only been able to find the story on a few blogs, and fewer online media outlets. I linked to this one because it has that nice, soothing picture of Saddam out of for liesurely swim.

The bodygaurd, Abu Hamdi Mahmoud, told Israel intelligence the following secrets:

There is an underground chemical weapons facility at the southern end of the Jadray Peninsula in Baghdad; A SCUD assembly area near Ramadi, complete with missiles come from North Korea and two underground bunkers in Iraq's Western desert that contain biological weapons.

Mahmoud, who was known as "The Gatekeeper" in Saddam's inner circle, was one of those Saddam look-alikes he keeps near him at all times.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. He could be a decoy for some underhanded plan Saddam is scheming; he could be an outright liar looking for asylum or it could very well be the truth. I'm skeptical only because if this is the smoking gun everyone's been looking for, the White House is sure keeping quiet about it.

I'll hold my tongue until more comes of this. I was really just looking for a reason to post a bathing beauty picture of Saddam.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned, you know.


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Judging from that picture, Nero wasn't the only one who was doing some fiddling...

My question is: how did Pancho Villa get to be Saddam's swim buddy?

Why he fled: "Mahmoud, you should try it - the water feels so much better when you're naked. Hold still, I'll give you a foot rub."

"So, is my visor hat Pimpin' Phresh, or what?"

"It is NOT! The water's cold, there's shrinkage."

I think the story is underreported because it's not true. I could be wrong, but there are aspects of the story that seem...off, somehow.

Like the story of the underground area (under the sewers of Bahgdad...???...) accessible through Cousin Mudfuck's house. Did all the digging equipment go through the house? Was all the dirt brought back up through the house? Were tens or hundreds of tons of equipment and supplies toted throught Cousin Mudfuck's front door? Didn't the neighbors complain? Didn't satellite views notice all the dump trucks, supply trucks, etc.?

Nah. I just can't buy it.

The thing that bothers me about this story is as follows: If you have specific information about weapons plants in Iraq, what kind of fool would broadcast them to the world before any confirmation or action has been taken regarding them? "Here, Saddam, you'd better move this stuff right away. And you know that plant over here? Truck in the cartons of 'baby milk' and change the signage, fast!"


This interview has a ring of truth to me
and there's this one

"Who cares if it's true? Bomb them, take their oil!" - Says Right Wing Conservative Guy

Hank, you misread the story. It doesn't say what you think it said -- that complex accessed through Cousin Mudfuck's house is in Ouja, to the north of Tikrit, not under Baghdad.

On the topic of moving the stuff: it's interesting that most of what's revealed is in places which are difficult to move the items away from, without it being apparent to spy satellites and other observers. If I wanted to get devious, I'd reread the bit about "Sharon... has only allowed snippets of Mahmoud's sensational claims to be shared with the CIA and MI6" -- and wonder what those snippets were.

This sounds very much like what Debka reported here and here -- except that report named Hamdi Mahmoud as being "the only one who knows everything" and still in Iraq... thinking deviously yet?

Dunno if it's true or not, but it's certainly interesting.

I think it hasn't been widely reported because it's impossible to confirm, with any degree of certainty, if it's true.

I do think there's a bit of double standard, though. I have a feeling that if Saddam's bodyguard had fled to the west saying "yeah, Saddam's evil and all, but he really honestly doesn't have nukes or poison gas or anything", it'd be on CNN within the hour, confirmation or no. ;)

You know, I look at that pic, and think, "If only six inches deeper and four minutes longer . . ."

(And no, I"m not talking about sex. I'm talking about someone holding his head under water. Geez, you pervs! ;-)

BeerMary... I know what you mean.... I can do harder and faster but the demand for deeper just depresses me...

Mao used to swim to, to demonstrate his vigor. As well as being a paedophile.

Hey, with the UN sanctions, Saddam can't import any sunscreen, so he has to wear the visor. Skin cancer, you know.

Chip, just wondering - what would it take to convince you that war against Saddam is justifiable?

I'll be convinced that a war is justifiable when i see some real proof of a threat against the U.S. Forget the liberation of Iraqi citizens, because there are many people out there in third world countries that deserve to be liberated but the American government doesn't do anything about it. Forget the whole links to Osama deal because it just doesn't play out, Osama has actually expressed his hatred for people like Saddam, he considers Saddam a bad muslim, and that's the worst of the worst for him. Just show me the illegal weapons, not some emply war heads, not some accusations by Saddams swimming buddy, show me the real deal. I know Iraq has flaunted the resolutions of the U.N. I know they've fired on U.S. troops, but that isn't anything the U.S. hasn't done themselves. Show me why the U.S. has to go to war with another country when they could be spending all of those tax dollars at home trying to make the U.S. a better country, because it sorely needs it. After I've seen an actual reason, a reason that provides no alternative, then maybe war will be justafied. But, this is only my opinion, war is wrong, killing is wrong, torturing your own population like Saddam does is wrong, breaking international laws is wrong. And two wrongs don't make a right. Violence cannot be solved with more violence. Sanctions don't work because the world is too dependant on Iraqi oil. So maybe that's the first step. Invest some real money, not 65 million dollars (45 million of which had already been alloted), to finding an alternative to gasoline powered vehicles. Not only would it be environmentally friendly, it would also break Iraq's strangle hold on the planet, and create new jobs in the research fields. But seriously, forget it now, I've beat this horse. I'm sorry Michele, political ranting and war blogging aside, this is a great blog, plenty of content, some amazing visitors with well informed, albiet contrary, view points. Thanks for providing a forum. I'm taking break from this topic, I'll continue to participate in the contests and comment on interesting posts.
As far as war is concerned, I'm against it, simply because I hate the idea of so much destruction and death, maybe it's because I'm Canadian and I've grown up with a different culture, maybe it's because of the influence high school and college teachers have had on me. I'm not sure. Maybe I'm just a hippie. So I'll wear my Rockports, Brikenstocks aren't as comfortable, and I'll attend the protests, and I'll hope for a peaceful solution, but if the world goes to war I won't be a human sheild, and I won't shun veterans. I just hope for peace. I hope everyone wants the same thing.

Chip my man, I'll trade your skeevy pacifist ass for one Iraqi engineering student. Whaddaya say? Is it a deal or not?


Fine. We'll wait until after Powell addresses the UN, then we'll talk.

In the meantime, a few items to mull over while we wait:

1. Selectivity - you don't dispute Saddam's abuses. However, you think we shouldn't go in because a lot of other countries are have similar abuses. Under that rationale, there'd never be any justification in criticizing or taking action against any regime, no matter how abusive.

2. There are two kinds of evidence - direct, and circumstantial. You want direct evidence, that is, that the inspectors actually come up with actual chemical weapons. In the law, just because evidence is circumstantial doesn't mean it isn't relevant. In many cases, the only way to establish proof is through circumstantial evidence. For example, proof of fraud requires evidence of intent. Since most defendants do not say, "I intend to rip off X," you have to show intent by circumstantial evidence, i.e. the surrounding circumstances.

3. You say killing is wrong, war is wrong, and that violence never solves anything. However, the right or wrong of any given action depends on the context. For example, I think we can agree that killing in the course of a robbery is wrong. Does that mean killing in self-defense is always wrong?
Also, violence does solve problems, though granted, it's not a solution of first resort. But it is an appropriate solution at times. Consider this - without the application of force, Hitler would have achieved the Final Solution he desired, millions of South Koreans would have died in Stalinist gulags, there would be no Israel, no Kuwait, no Kosovo, and Afghanistan would still suffer under the thumb of the Taliban.
Consider what happened without the application of force - Rwanda, Srebenica (UN safe zone in which Dutch peacekeepers stood aside, if you'll remember).
If violence never solves anything, next Remembrance Day, find a veteran selling poppies and let him know his war service was in vain.

4. Canada - in many ways, I like Canadians. I admire the valor of the Princess Patricia's LCI, the pilots brave enough to keep piloting the Sea King death traps the Chretien government sees fit to employ. I loved Due South, Kids in the Hall, and the writings of Lewis Mackenzie, Mark Steyn, and Christie Blatchford.
However, they do not have a monopoly on morality or respect for international law. I loathe the venality and self-serving nature of the government our neighbors to the north have seen fit to burden themselve with.
To wit: Canada signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, and Chretien milked that for all it was worth. Commentators hailed Canada as being a model world citizen, doing its share for the environment. Never mind the questionable scientific basis of Kyoto, or that the Protocal the nation to suffer the greatest consequences by signing onto Kyoto generated the least pollution per unit of economic production.
Only after the international hoopla died down did it come out that Ontario's auto manufacturers were given a domestic exemption from Kyoto. The only significant Canadian industry to be adversely affected so far is in the domestic petrochemical industry. Guess where the petrochemical industry is located? Alberta. Guess a province that's a hotbed of opposition to Chretien. While we're on a roll, guess where Chretien's support is strong.
So don't imply that Canadian citizenship gives some sort of moral imprimatur on antiwar views - it just doesn't wash.

So let's see what happens on Wednesday.



"...maybe it's because I'm Canadian..."

I've been wondering about your posts to this site, almost like you clicked somehow and took a wrong turn. Now I understand why. You really need to get out more, so you can hang with people who are hip to your concerns.


It was a wake up call, Chip, 'ol buddy. And I for one have been snapped to attention since then. Hence my burning desire to see Babylon burn.

Re: Kevin
Ok, so bomb Iraq as a method of revenge towards Osama Bin Laden, sounds like a neat plan. Then blame all Muslims, and people of Arabic ascent for the actions of a few. That works too, because stupid white men didn't slaughter thousands of natives when they landed in North America. They didn't torture and kill millions of blacks after kidnapping them from their homes in Africa and forcing them into slavery. Yup, your views are SO well thought out. Every country has had it's share of terror. Yeah, the World Trade Centres were destroyed and many innocent people lost their lives, but it happens all over the world. I'm not sayig it's right because of that, I'm just saying that 9/11 is no reason for war with Iraq. I think the whole attack on Afghanistan and the Taliban was a consequence of that.

Re: Tony

Oh man, you're totally getting me wrong there, I'm not saying that Canadians are morally correct or anything, I'm just saying our cultural views of violence are slightly different than those of the U.S. I find, and there are several studies that will reflect this, that as far as censorship is concerned we seem to censor violence, things like graphic killings and gore, while the American media, exemplified by Ted Turner (although he's not a representative of everyone), seems to censor sex and swearing, rather than violence and killing. There is more to that I'm sure, and I really don't want to get into it.
Also, yeah war has been a last resort to many problems and will continue to be one, but it doesn't make it right, it just makes it necessary. Oh and Afghanistan is still under the rule of the Taliban, nothing has really changed there.
And...yeah circumstancial evidence has been used to prove many a case. But this is one of those cases that a little bit more is needed. I'm anxious to see what Powell says, and if he shows some real evidence and provides a reason for a war with Iraq then all the power to him. Because if he does provide enough evidence and shows that there is a threat to national security then war will be necessary, it won't be right, simply because of the fact that intentionally causing the death of another person is morally wrong, sometimes it's justified, but it's still wrong. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family is wrong, but it's justified so there may not be a harsh penalty.
Sorry, if my statements came off as being close minded, but I really don't have time or space or inflection to demonstrate my actual views.
Oh, and Kids in the Hall is great, I suggest catching an episode of Degrassi Jr. or Degrassi High for a real Canadian treat.

Re: Kevin
This debate could go on forever. I don't think bombing Iraq will solve any problems or bring back the people who died in the 9/11 attacks. And it isn't exactly an appropriate act of revenge seeing as Iraq had nothing to do with it. I'm sure I'm taking your comment out of context if I say don't blame everyone of Arabic descent for the actions of a few, that would be pretty harsh, and considered to be racism.

Re: Tony
One thing at a time.
I'm not saying that a war with Iraq is wrong because there are greater evils that need to be addressed, I'm saying that the Bush Administration has no intention of going in to any other country where these human rights violations exist because they have nothing to offer once they've been invaded. However, he intends to go into Iraq because once he's ousted Saddam he will have control over a whole lot of oil. What I mean is that going to war with a country to help free opressed people is one thing, but if you're going to do it in one country you have to do it in all the countries where these actions are taking place, and we all know that won't happen.
Second - Fraud and war are two completely different things, and you need a whole lot more than circumstancial evidence to justify the carpet bombing of an entire country.
Third - I only say that killing, war and violence are wrong. Not that they are unjustifiable. Many things are wrong but are justifiable, stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family is wrong, but it can be justified thus a punishment may not be dealt or it may not be as severe as it would be had that person taken a car stereo. Get my meaning? I don't support any form of violence unless it is necessary, and invading Iraq has not been shown to be necessary.
Fourth - I haven't stated that Canada is perfect or even moral, what I'm trying to say is that the Canadian culture views violence in a different way than the American culture. Take censorship in the media for example, in Canada we tend to censor graphic violence, killing and gore. Whereas in the U.S. the media tends to censor nudity, sex, and swearing. Now that is just a generalization, but it illustrates my point. I'm sure there are many points and counter points to demonstrate the subtle differences between our cultures. Also, my opposition to war is based mostly on testimonials of veterans, no one enjoyed WWII or Vietnam, or WWI. I would hate for anyone to have to experience that again for no reason. And this may sound a little crass, but it won't be the American troops, or the American people who experience the full horror of any war with Iraq, it will be the Iraqi troops, and Iraqi people. Yeah, that is a little broad but I'm sure you know what I mean.
Also, Canada has the same sorts of political fiascos as there are in the States, big business has it's hand in the pot and no one really listens to the people. I don't defend our political system, the current Liberal government is anything but that, and within the last eight years it seems like we've been running a two party system similar to that of Americas.
Kyoto was a joke, so are many of the decisions made regarding health care and budget allocation.
And if you like some Canadian TV check out an episode of Degrassi Jr. High or Degrassi High, (the older 1980's stuff, not so much the newer stuff).
And, unlike many Canadians, who have anti-American sentiments, I have no problem with the average American person, or atleast I have no more of a problem with them as I do the average Canadian person.
I'm sorry if my comments come off as being somewhat close minded, stubborn or simple. I'm just stating my opinion without too much explanation behind it. I know I would support a justified war, I would loathe the pain and suffering it caused, but I would take into account the greater good achieved by such actions.
My view on all of this is that a war with Iraq has yet to be shown as justifiable, once it has or has not been then I'm sure I will reconsider my stance.
Seriously, try to get a hold of some old Degrassi episodes, they're excellent, total cult favourites in Europe and Australia.

Whoops, must've hit the post button instead of preview. My bad.