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Anorak | Publish And Be Saddamed

Publish And Be Saddamed

by | 20th, May 2005

‘READERS with long memories might recall that in the early days of the War on Terror, when pictures of US prisoners of war were released to the public, there was an outcry in America about them being “paraded” for the media. This was duly presented as a form of abuse.

Mirror publishes shot of Saddam’s pants

Even at the time, the possible consequences of applying this standard were obvious. Any subsequent failure by American troops to maintain impeccable levels of behaviour would leave them wide open to accusations of double standards. Two words sum up what happened next: Abu Ghraib.

So you might think it rather rash of the Sun to devote its entire front cover to a colour photo of Saddam Hussein in his prison cell, clad only in a pair of Y-fronts.

“Scrubbing his grubby clothes by hand… the beast who had golden bath taps,” screeches the headline on page two, opposite a picture of Saddam doing just that. The following pages, with more pictures, are headed: “WAITING FOR THE NOOSE.”

Even by the Sun’s standards, capital punishment for having golden bath taps is a bit harsh. Time was when many of the paper’s own readers would have aspired to a villa in Chigwell with those very same accoutrements.

Perhaps with this in mind, the paper’s “Sun Says” editorial column takes a different line, suggesting that “keeping Saddam in a rough jail until the day he dies might be a harsher sentence”.

Only time will tell what happens to Saddam, but what of the pictures? The Sun is rather coy on this matter, saying only that, “after a request from the US government we are NOT publishing any details [of the prison’s location] to protect coalition troops from a targeted attack”.

This seems to imply that the US government is in some kind of dialogue with the paper, and suggets that they are happy for the pictures to be shown as long as the location is not revealed.

The reality, however, appears to be somewhat different, as the Daily Mail explains. “Backlash fear over Saddam pictures,” it announces, above a reproduction of the Sun’s front page.

The paper says that a top-level investigation is underway to discover the source of the leaked picture, which is “forbidden under the Geneva Convention and special agreements with the United Nations, the US and its allies”.

A Pentagon source is quoted as saying that if the picture is genuine, “it might result in a new wave of violence” – presumably from Shia Muslims and former followers of Saddam.

Unsurprisingly, the Sun’s own “US military sources” see things differently. “It’s important that the people of Iraq see him like that to destroy the myth,” they argue. “Maybe that will kill a bit of the passion in the fanatics who still follow him.”

One thing’s for sure. If this does prove to be a decisive moment in the Iraq conflict, we’ll be left in no doubt that it’s the Sun wot won it.

Ed Barrett’



Posted: 20th, May 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink