DICK CHENEY I-TOLD-YOU-SO UPDATE:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Witnessing Saddam Hussein’s power stripped away, hundreds of Iraqis rushed to take everything else Wednesday: They used pickup trucks and wheelbarrows to haul off everything from refrigerators to flower pots from government ministries, police stations and state companies.
Emboldened by the sight of U.S. troops taking control of the capital, they not only dared to loot but also to celebrate Saddam’s fall, to vandalize his image and to call him a criminal — offenses that just days or weeks ago could have brought arrest, imprisonment, torture, even death at the hands of the secret police.
They also danced in the streets, waving rifles, palm fronds and flags, pumping their arms in the air and flashing the V-for-victory sign. . . .
On a Baghdad street, a white-haired man held up a poster of Saddam and beat it with his shoe. A younger man spat on the portrait, and several others launched kicks at the face of the Iraqi president.
“Come see, this is freedom. This is the criminal, this is the infidel,” he said. “This is the destiny of every traitor. He killed millions of us.”
Some people think the looting is bad, but I think that a certain amount is good. It reinforces in people’s minds that Saddam is gone, and that he was unpopular. Meanwhile, here’s what the antiwar crowd was defending:
“They did unthinkable things — electrocution, immersion in a bath of chemicals and ripping off people’s finger and toenails.”
The jail basement was a warren of cells, chambers and cages where the ground was strewn with an insect-eaten gas mask and bottles, according to Associated Press Television News footage. . . .
Outside the jail, a man showed APTN his mangled ears.
Hamed took British reporters into a yard behind the jail into a set of white boxy cells, surrounded by red wire mesh with a low, wire roof.
He said some of the cells, which had red doors with large bolts, were used to hold women and children. He also said hundreds of men were kept in a single cell about the size of a living room, which had one rusted grate window.
Between the men’s and women’s cells was a long mesh cage. Hamed said here, jailers pressed prisoners against the mesh and squeezed hot irons against their backs or threw scalding water on them in front of other inmates.
Fortunately for the Iraqi people, all those folks who just a few weeks ago were demonstrating in “solidarity” with them were quite properly ignored. And within minutes, they’ll have changed the subject to something else and will be acting as if they were never colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong about this.
But they were, and a lot of people will remember.
UPDATE: Actually, I like this take on the looting:
(2003-04-09) — The looting in Baghdad stopped suddenly today as Iraq’s largest organized crime family disappeared from the city.
Thousands of Baghdad residents entered government buildings in an attempt to retrieve some small portion of what had been stolen from them for the past 24 years.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reuters is reporting “Smiles and Flowers for U.S. Marines in Baghdad:”
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Hundreds of jubilant Iraqis mobbed a convoy of U.S. Marines on Wednesday, cheering, dancing and waving as American troops swept toward central Baghdad through slums and leafy suburbs from the east.
Crowds threw flowers at the Marines as they drove past the Martyrs’ Monument, just three km (two miles) east of the central Jumhuriya Bridge over the Tigris river.
Young and middle-aged men, many wearing soccer shirts of leading Western clubs like Manchester United, shouted “Hello, hello” as Marines advanced through the rundown sprawl of Saddam City and then more prosperous suburbs with villas and trim lawns.
“No more Saddam Hussein,” chanted one group, waving to troops as they passed. “We love you, we love you.”
Yeah, the thrill will pass, and soon they’ll be bitching about this and that, just like everyone else does. But I think that Cheney has been sufficiently vindicated. And some other people have been proven colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong. Did I mention that?