A bizarre "interview" with imprisoned former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was circulated yesterday by MEMRI TV, a non-profit in Washington DC that specializes in translating and circulating mainly Arab-language materials, selected to display the Arab world in a poor light, to the advantage of Israel.
Releasing its translation of the purported interview, supposedly conducted over the phone to the imprisoned former dictator by Al-Fayhaa TV on on March 28, 2006, MEMRI TV trumpeted the news to its customers that "Saddam Hussein issues a Calls to Cut Off Nose and Ears of Former Iraqi VP ‘Izzat Al-Duri and Declares: It Will Make Me Happy if Iraq Turns Into Ashes, Iraq is Not Worth Two Bits Without Saddam Hussein."
Saddam is allegedly reacting to a taped message issued by his former vice president and loyalist ‘Izzat Al-Duri, who addressed the Arab League summit in Sudan.
Saddam Hussein: "All ‘Izzat Al-Duri ever wanted was to address the Iraqis as their leader, even if just for a few short minutes. Everybody remembers that he once addressed the Iraqi Women’s Union without my knowledge. Do you know what I did to him?"
Interviewer: "We don’t know. Tell us."
Saddam Hussein: "The first thing I did when they brought him was to spit in his face."
Saddam Hussein: "I said to him: ‘You despicable man, I spit on your owl’s face. How do you address these glorious women without me knowing about it?’"
"The only one who makes speeches in Iraq is the supreme leader – meaning me.
Interviewer: "You’re in prison. How can you give speeches?"
Saddam Hussein: "That’s a good question. You watch the court sessions. How many sessions have there been so far? Fifteen sessions?"
Saddam Hussein: "I give a speech at every single session."
"If I don’t give speeches, I get heartburn.
"I call to punish ‘Izzat Al-Duri, because he burned my heart."
Interviewer: "Why, because he published a statement without your permission?"
Saddam Hussein: "He gave a speech without me knowing it. The punishment that I want for him is to cut off his tongue and ears."
Interviewer: "Why cutting off his tongue and ears?"
Saddam Hussein: "To make him the same as all the renegades whose tongues and ears I cut off. And if ‘Izzat Al-Duri continues giving speeches in sign language, like the deaf do, I demand that his hands be cut off. And so on and so forth, until ‘Izzat Al-Duri is finished, and we get rid of this degenerate."
MEMRI TV circulated this as "Special Dispatch No. 1127" to its customers and it was instantly seized upon by Laurie Milroie, now somewhat fallen in status, but once riding high as an "Iraq expert" and a prominent propagandist for the US-led attack of 2003.
Milroie rushed out the "interview" at 12.57 EST, March 28,to her e-mailed Iraq News, under the breathless heading "Saddam Interview (Stunning), MEMRI TV".
Then, just over 5 hours later came a second, crestfallen communiqué:
From: "Laurie Mylroie" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: March 28, 2006 6:05:06 PM PST
To: "Laurie Mylroie" <email@example.com>
Subject: Saddam Interview was Hoax
A knowledgeable US government official has informed "Iraq News" that that remarkable interview with Saddam Hussein, published by MEMRI TV, is almost certainly a hoax.
Had the credulous Mylroie and editors at MEMRI TV been familiar with the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they might have wondered about such choice lines attributed to Saddam Hussein as "You despicable man, I spit on your owl’s face."
ARTHUR: If you will not show us the Grail, we shall take your castle by force!
FRENCH GUARD:You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottom, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur King, you and all your silly English k-nnnnniggets. Thpppppt! Thppt! Thppt!
GALAHAD: What a strange person.
ARTHUR: Now look here, my good man–
FRENCH GUARD: I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
GALAHAD: Is there someone else up there we could talk to?
FRENCH GUARD: No. Now, go away, or I shall taunt you a second time-a!
ARTHUR: Now, this is your last chance. I’ve been more than reasonable.
FRENCH GUARD: (Fetchez la vache.)
OTHER FRENCH GUARD: Quoi?
FRENCH GUARD: (Fetchez la vache!)
ARTHUR: If you do not agree to my commands, then I shall–
ARTHUR: Right! Charge!
FRENCH GUARD: Hey, this one is for your mother! There you go.
FRENCH GUARD: And this one’s for your dad!
ARTHUR: Run away!
KNIGHTS: Run away!
FRENCH GUARD: Thppppt!
FRENCH GUARDS: [taunting]
LAUNCELOT: Fiends! I’ll tear them apart!
The portion of the Saddam interview where the blustering ex-despot vows to chop off Mr al-Duri’s extremities is also strongly reminiscent of a scene in the Python classic where Arthur swipes off the arms and legs of the Black Knight.
BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
ARTHUR: I have no quarrel with you, good Sir Knight, but I must cross this bridge.
BLACK KNIGHT: Then you shall die.
ARTHUR: I command you, as King of the Britons, to stand aside!
BLACK KNIGHT: I move for no man.
ARTHUR: So be it!
ARTHUR and BLACK KNIGHT: Aaah!, hiyaah!, etc.
[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s left arm off]
ARTHUR: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
BLACK KNIGHT: ‘Tis but a scratch.
ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm’s off!
BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn’t.
ARTHUR: Well, what’s that, then?
BLACK KNIGHT: I’ve had worse.
ARTHUR: You liar!
BLACK KNIGHT: Come on, you pansy!
[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s right arm off]
ARTHUR: Victory is mine!
We thank Thee Lord, that in Thy mer–
BLACK KNIGHT: Hah!
Come on, then.
BLACK KNIGHT: Have at you!
ARTHUR: Eh. You are indeed brave, Sir Knight, but the fight is mine.
BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, had enough, eh?
ARTHUR: Look, you stupid bastard. You’ve got no arms left.
BLACK KNIGHT: Yes, I have.
BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.
ARTHUR: Look, stop that.
BLACK KNIGHT: Chicken!
ARTHUR: Look, I’ll have your leg.
[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s right leg off]
BLACK KNIGHT: Right. I’ll do you for that!
ARTHUR: You’ll what?
BLACK KNIGHT: Come here!
ARTHUR: What are you going to do, bleed on me?
BLACK KNIGHT: I’m invincible!
ARTHUR: You’re a looney.
BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs! Have at you! Come on, then.
[ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT’s last leg off]
BLACK KNIGHT: Oh? All right, we’ll call it a draw.
ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.
BLACK KNIGHT: Oh. Oh, I see. Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you. I’ll bite your legs off!
Lately Miyroie has been eagerly promoting the supposed disclosures in documents recently released by the US government of pre-2003 ties between Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda and Zarqawi. In flushes of battiness reminiscent of Clare Sterling (the Mylroie of the Rfeagan years) she has even accused the Bush administration of promoting a cover-up in this regard. The documents have been greeted ecstatically by the war lobby, even though there are documents which do not encourage the scenario they espouse, such as one in which Iraqi security, on hearing that Zarqawi is in Iraq, puts out an APB bulletin to establish his whereabouts.
MEMRI TV has been heavily touted by such promoters of the 2003 attack as former CIA chief R. James Wolsey who said in 2004 that "MEMRI is the single most important source for understanding what is happening in the Greater Middle East." Another member of the War Party devouring MEMRI TV is Charles Krauthammer who has said "For anyone interested in what is really happening in the Middle East – what the Arab world is saying to itself – MEMRI is utterly indispensable."
There are other intgriguing precursors in the Pythons’ movie, including one episode in Sir Galahad’s search for the Holy Grail:
GALAHAD: Open the door! Open the door!
[pound pound pound]
In the name of King Arthur, open the door!
ZOOT: Welcome, gentle Sir Knight. Welcome to the Castle Anthrax.