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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gannon, Saddam and the Phoenix dactylifera

When a Saudi paper reported yesterday on an ex-marine who claimed that the whole narrative regarding Saddam's capture in a "spider hole" was an elaborately staged event worthy of Stanley Motss, it was greeted with some skepticism. After all, there were reports last December that the Kurds had actually captured Saddam and handed him over to the Americans. Rumors and conspiracy theories have consistently percolated in abundance.

The above photo, via This Space For Rent, apparently shows some US marines looking into said spider hole after the capture of Saddam in Central Iraq. If you look at the bunch of dates hanging from the date palm in the background, they appear to be golden yellow. Now, I know fuck-all about date maturation in the Arab region, but there is an interesting post over at ridingelectra that tells us that this golden color of the Phoenix dactylifera, according to, is the color of dates around late August -- by December they should have ripened to either deep brown or jet black.

Why am I giving myself over to a momentary indulgence in tin foil hattism? 'Cos I have wasted years of my life sitting through Hollywood "development" meetings, where one untalented goofball after another brainstorms (or braindrizzles) on how to bring a bad script to a fever pitch of intensity. And from the start I've always thought that the image of Sadaam at the time of his capture -- powerless, incoherent, scribbling away at bad novels from a small hole in the ground -- sounded like something conceived in one of those meetings, guaranteed to present him as abjectly powerless and humiliated in the public eye. Just about the only thing lower would've been to come upon him bent over a stable rail being gang-raped by a herd of pack mules.

It's nice to know they have limits.

If you're still wondering several paragraphs later who Stanley Motss is and haven't succumbed to curiosity and clicked on the link, he was the character from Wag the Dog hired by Robert DeNiro to stage international events on behalf of the President, and rendered by Hoffman as a not-so-loose caricature of Robert Evans. It's a brutally insightful film whose legacy has proven that life imitates art on oh so many occasions.

Why should we care if BushCo. has its own Stanley Motts furiously churning out plot lines worthy of a dime-store bodice-ripper? Because once again, it demonstrates that the administration sees the news as something it can manipulate and control with impunity, as the Gannon/Guckert incident so blatantly authenticates. They consistently hold the public in contempt and disdain, deserving of only half-truths, obfuscations and outright fabrications.

I have no idea if US forces captured Saddam months before they said they did, or what they had to gain by delaying the announcement until December. Maybe Stanley's brain was on simmer and it just needed a couple of months to come to a furious boil and conjure up the appropriate sartorial backdrop, I don't know.

Politics may be on a forced march to the draconian beat of real-life events, but genius can't be rushed.