This exciting logo is from Online NewsHour - it's been knocked up to brand a new strand: HUNTING SADDAM!
Tum tum tum!
And yup, this newsbranding is following the agenda of Washington to the letter. The troops in Iraq are not HUNTING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION! or RESTORING ORDER! - they are kicking down doors and rounding up baddies. (Top headline on Google News at 10.13am - US captures Saddam bodyguard)
Suddenly, finding Saddam & his cohorts has become the primary aim of the military: "It's a big country but we'll find him" (General Richard Myers, quoted in the NewsHour interview). Or, if they don't find him, they'll find someone else: "The noose is tightening around these guys. Any day now we're going to knock on their door, or kick in their door, and they know it." (Col. James Hickey, a brigade commander - quoted by the NY Daily News).
This is all great, because a) this process has tangible results - doors kicked down, people thrown into custody, baddies shot, lots of nice photos; b) we don't really know who "these guys" are - they're just an assorted mix of bodyguards and evil minions; and c) it's okay not to find Saddam Hussein himself because he moves around in the shadows - with a moneybelt stuffed with $30 billion dollars to buy favours - so as long as the posse are still "hot on the trail" everyone's happy. For now.
nb. I love this image + caption from CBC News:
(- check the curtains, check the curtains!)
But this process isn't a happy one for all concerned. Read the NewsHour interview, between host Margaret Warner and New York Times reporter Richard Oppel.
Oppel describes a typical raid: "at about 5:30 in the afternoon troops began cordoning off the block around the home where they apparently had information that they believed Saddam Hussein might have been hiding out there..." The raid goes down. Turns out Saddam Hussein wasn't hiding there after all. One of the guards of the owner of the house (a "very prominent tribal leader") was taken into custody. And during the raid: "there were several civilian deaths... Iraqi police on the scene said three; some wire services reported it was a high as five."
Says Oppel: "the people in Mansur today, which is the neighborhood in Baghdad, were just shocked at what they described as the willingness of - or the eagerness of the troops to open up on civilians."
Says General Myers: "We're here to do the job... The soldiers understand exactly what this is all about."
Oh really? Well, judge for yourselves. Here's a transcript of General Myers' latest briefing to his troops:
"Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.
"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.
"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.
"The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun.
"The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes--
A sentiment open to doubt.
"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.
"For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums--" The General broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.