Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Maybe He's Not Such a Bad Guy After All...

...being a gourmet and all.

Maybe it's time to give Saddam a break after all. Reuters reports today that some newly released home videos show the Butcher of Bagdad...

...leading a family expedition to the desert to search for truffles. His wife Sajida, wearing a voluminous cape and a wide-brimmed hat, follows behind with the couple's daughters. They scamper around, digging in the sand with special hoes.

Saddam gives a snort of disgust when he unearths a rather small specimen. Turning to his family, he bellows: "Do you think Saddam would bother with something so small?"

The video is dated March 15, 1990 -- just months before Saddam ordered his troops to invade Kuwait.

"Daddy, daddy, look what I found," cries Rana, one of his daughters, running up to Saddam with a truffle in her hand. Saddam glances at it then resumes his search.

The eight tapes, obtained by Reuters from a former employee of one of Saddam's inner circle, show a variety of family occasions -- birthdays, an engagement party, a hunting trip,...

But of course, Saddam's relatives and family relationships are not all that typical, as indicated in another video by one of Saddam's sons, Qusay, who showed up to one of Saddam's birthday parties "sport[ing] a silver pistol tucked casually into the waistband of the trousers."

At the same birthday party and on the same video were Saddam's sons-in-law Saddam Kamel and Hussein Kamel, who always wore military fatigues "even on the truffle hunt." The report notes that both sons-in-law "are now dead. Five years after the video shows them standing around the birthday cake with Saddam, he ordered their murder in revenge for their shortlived defection to Jordan."

But at least he appreciates fine culinary delicacies. What more can one ask for?

On the other hand, perhaps Saddam had found a way of converting truffles into some of those Weapons of Mass Destruction both the UN inspectors, and the Bush administration after them, have thus far been unable to turn up.

Apparently it never occurred to them that the Iraqi biological weapons laboratories may have been the Iraqi gourmet kitchens all along. After all, truffles, as everyone knows, are a mainstay in French gourmet cooking and (as everyone also knows) French cuisine --composed mostly of oils, creams, rich pastries, and other forms of fatty and fattening ingredients-- tends to wreak havoc on we hapless Westerners' cholesterol levels.

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