Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Thursday, July 03, 2003
February 23, 2004
IRAQ ELECTS SADDAM HUSSEIN PRESIDENT
BAGHDAD--Call it the power of the internet. In a surprising underground move, Iraqis organized in online chat rooms and web logs to re-elect deposed dictator Saddam Hussein yesterday.
"It's a shock, really a shock," said Donald Rumsfeld upon learning the news. "The CIA said he was dead. We were sure we got him."
Throughout the Iraqi capital, Baath Party leaders had been secretly organizing a massive write-in effort. Using the internet as their medium, leaders were slowly gaining momentum as the country fell further and further into chaos. The CIA expressed surprise at the effort, indicating in a statement that they had no information about the effort.
"I myself was tortured by Udai," said Mahmoud Al-Galib, a Hussein voter. "But at least we had food, water, and electricity. And these G.I. Joes--who can say what they'll do? Saddam was terrible, but he's better than the Americans."
Ironically, it was the Bush White House that made such a move possible. In the weeks leading to the election, the Iraqi Department of Homeland Security--a branch of the US department--was quietly deporting Shi'ites to Iran, whether or not they were Iranian. "We didn’t see this coming," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "We were trying to eliminate the possibility that an Ayatollah would be elected."
A triumphant Hussein appeared in Baghdad Square yesterday, looking worn and thin, but pleased. He stood in the central square and spoke briefly to a crowd of anxious-looking supporters. After the speech, he directed a group of Marines to help install a new statue of himself on the large pedestal in the center of the square.
It poses and interesting diplomatic quandary for the United States, which offered $25 million for information leading to the capture of the previously-deposed dictator. "It's going to be awkward," said Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was in Baghdad to meet with the President-elect. "On the one hand, we’ve been pushing for democracy here for months, but on the other, we've been trying to kill this bastard for a decade. But, I guess we've dealt with worse."
President Bush called it a triumph of democracy. "We've seen the electoral process in action. Now, for the first time since a brutal dictator was deposed by the armies of freedom, Iraqis can live in peace and liberty. For decades, a totalitarian regime oppressed the people of Iraq, but now they will experience the joy of democracy, just like we have in America."