While I don't often agree with their politics, I generally enjoy reading the sub-/counter-culture weekly Riverfront Times. It usually has well-written articles of local interest, like this one, which ConservativeDialysis found and wrote about. (Ditto the caveat: RFT doesn't fall under "family-friendly" in the language department.)
Some choice nuggets:
Samir says a soldier fired several blank rounds into the bunker's exposed opening, and a man's voice cried out from the spider hole, pleading for his life.
"He said, 'Don't shoot. Don't kill me,'" recounts Samir.
How appropriate. The last, defiant words uttered in freedom by the murderous tyrant were a plea for mercy. Mercy, I might add, he would never have dreamed of giving anyone.
Later, when the world's most wanted man was whisked onto an awaiting helicopter, Samir remembers Saddam muttering to himself in English, asking the same question again and again: "America, why? America, why?"
And the cries continue to rise from the mass graves, filled with those killed by the Saddam regime, the silent din crying out in unison: "Why, Saddam?", "Why, Saddam?"
Samir was a twenty-year-old college student living in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah when he joined a civilian uprising against Saddam. It was 1991, and U.S. and coalition fighters had just declared a ceasefire after liberating Kuwait.
Encouraged by the Republican Guard's swift defeat, Samir grabbed the family AK-47 and joined thousands of southern Shiites organizing a massive rebellion. In hindsight, Samir says, the revolution was doomed from the start.
The ceasefire allowed Saddam to regroup and launch a counterattack against his own people. It soon became clear that the United States never planned to assist the Shiites with any tactical support. The failure of the U.S. government to provide military assistance during the uprising still strikes a sour chord with Samir and countless other Shiites.
"We were defenseless," fumes Samir. "Saddam began a retaliation campaign with tanks and helicopters. Our guns were useless."
George Bush Senior's worst mistake: not finishing what he started. How long did it take Coalition forces to rebuild the trust lost by this perceived betrayal?
The next morning Samir hopped on a Humvee for the half-hour drive to his parents' home. The entire neighborhood, some 700 residents, poured into the streets to greet him."It was an awesome feeling," he says. "I felt like I was coming with the U.S. forces to free my family. It was the best feeling of my life."
Not a bad homecoming, for someone who left in fear for his life - returning like the conquering hero from the Hollywood westerns he loved as a child.
Samir is quick to anger when people dismiss the necessity of the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- or, even worse, when they question the validity of Saddam's capture.
Not that they elaborated on this point, but kudos to RFT for even writing it; it pretty well flies in the face of the beliefs of most of their readership.
Late last month Samir returned to Iraq for the third time since the fall of Saddam's regime. This time he's working not as a interpreter but as a political and cultural consultant in the U.S. government's rebuilding efforts. The job can earn Samir in excess of $100,000 a year, though he says he'd do it for half as much.
As to the risks of arbitrary suicide bombings, Samir says he'd rather die in Iraq than here in a car accident or from a heart attack.
"Everyone dies one day," he muses. "Dying with honor is better than dying with nothing. At least you're going to be remembered."
And this man will be remembered well, of that I am quite sure.