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Justice and the Monsters of War



On Thursday, CNN’s Kyra Phillips, broadcasting from Iraq, gave viewers a tour of Saddam Hussein’s last residence before he was hanged-a prison cell in Baghdad where he was held under US guard in a structure built during his reign. As Phillips observed, there was no luxury. The dictator, who had once lived in splendor, slept on concrete next to a toilet and basin.

A military officer showed Phillips the cell and talked with her about Hussein’s final days. He related that Hussein kept a journal. Included among the voluminous entries were poems. Some of the writings reflected an obsession with his legacy. Afraid that history would inaccurately portray him, Hussein desperately wanted to be perceived as a man who went to his death with a clear conscience. He never mentioned his use of torture.

Outside Hussein’s cell was a small garden, one he’d requested. He spent his last days tending this garden, smoking cigars, and writing.

While imprisoned, Hussein was called VIC, an acronym for very important criminal.

The CNN segment ended with a photograph of Saddam Hussein, taken not long before his death. Phillips remarked that Hussein appeared angry.

Of course, he was angry-for damn good reason. His country was bombed in a shameful campaign called “Shock and Awe.” He was overthrown and condemned to die, based on lie after lie after lie. George Bush and Dick Cheney were the “very important” finger pointers who erroneously connected Iraq to 9/11 and, also, falsely told the world that Saddam was poised to use his arsenal of weapons to vaporize our cities.

These monsters of war, whose catastrophic damage has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,300 coalition troops, are the real proprietors of weapons of mass destruction. They, like Saddam, as far as we know, don’t write about torture, but they endorse it. Bush and Cheney should each be called MOC-master of carnage. They should share the name and the dishonor. A concrete bed next to a toilet is more than they deserve.

I am a taxpayer who does not want my money to purchase crimes against humanity. To pay for occupations. For Dick Cheney’s mobile ambulance. For Bush excursions to other countries, mugging and shaking his booty. For Guantanamo. For speechwriters who create arrogant, aggressive ‘axis of evil’ threats and skits like Bush’s obscene search for WMD under his desk. I could go on and on and on.

I am more than willing, though, to shell out for the arrest of these mass murderers, their trials, convictions, and sentences. And to see them locked up in small cells with concrete beds next to their toilets.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, I’d stand o’er their graves ’til I’m sure that they’re dead.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:





Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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