Questions for Saddam Hussein

The imprisoned tyrant-cum-underwear model talks about life in an undisclosed location, U.S. policy toward detainees, and the tyrant in his pants.

Well Saddam, I have to say this is a real pleasure. Let’s just jump right into it. Let’s talk about the pictures. How were these taken?

Well, this is embarrassing. The official story is they are a leak, seen by the U.S. Embassy and passed on to the military for authentication. Officially, it’s under investigation and I wish I could say they were a leak, but…

But what?

Well, I’m under 24-hour surveillance; I know the camera’s there. I like to flirt. I’m not saying who’s behind the project, but someone made reference to the upcoming “Deposed Dictators” beefcake calendar.

Oh, come on, tell us who.

Well I’m not saying it isn’t Donny Rumsfeld. (Laughs)

Who’s going to be featured?

You know, the usuals, Slobodan Milosevic, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Michael Eisner. The crew of us.

Well, not to be to forward, but the pictures are fantastic. Sixty-eight years old, I’d have never guessed.

Oh, thank you, it’s a big change for me. Since the whole raping and pillaging thing is suddenly passe, I figured I should take my career in another direction. What was it the Sun said? ‘The tyrant’s in his pants’ – that’s good. I feel that way sometimes.

Do you worry that these pictures violate your rights under the Geneva Convention at all?

Any more than the spider hole pictures the U.S. officially released when I was captured? My rights don’t mean much at this point. It could be worse; I could be at Abu Ghraib or Bagram. Or even Guantanamo Bay. At least there are pictures to show I’m still alive. In Guantanamo, no one knows what’s going on.

Just think about Dilwar, the civilian killed at Bagram. He was beaten until his heart stopped. And he was just a taxi driver. Look at what I’m accused of, can you imagine my fate?

People would love to believe that this is really a black-and-white issue, but we all know better.

Bush has been really unclear in the administration’s stance on abuse. Do detainees and terrorist suspects deserve to be treated with the same rights as POWs or by the nature of their accusations are they not protected by the Geneva Convention? It’s all very unclear. For many, the pictures from Abu Ghraib and the reports of mistreatment represent an overall pattern of abuse, not the single incidents the U.S. military maintains. What do you think about this?

Am I really the one you want to ask about this? People may not trust my opinion.

I have to commend the Bush administration for keeping things as quiet as they have. Guantanamo was a great idea. Keep your “methods” away from prying eyes. Of course there are patterns of abuse; in any power struggle there will be. The difference here is the reporting. New technologies lend themselves to a new kind of war. Everything is being watched. Abuse of POWs, from the standpoint of any occupying country, is standard. In the past it was just easier to keep it secret. Now, with instant dialogue via the internet and digital imaging, things slip by that would have formerly never stood a chance.

Do you think, even a decade ago, pictures of me in my skivvies would have made it to the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids? No way.

What about speculation that these pictures were “leaked” in order to lower morale among insurgents? Do you think seeing their former commander naked and partaking in domestic chores will damage their ground war?

Lower their morale? I have a tyrant in my pants! What’s Bush got? A compassionate conservative? A fiscal growth? Gimme a break. Maybe it pissed some people off, but it’s not like someone flushed the Quran down a toilet, right?

Uh …

Well, look, I’ve got Terry Gross on the other line and she’s not the most patient lady, so …

Sure, of course, how could the Vanguard compete with “Fresh Air”? I totally understand. Thanks so much for talking with me.

It’s been my pleasure. Let’s get together sometime for coffee. I’m dying to try that new Starbucks drinking chocolate.

Yeah, that’s going happen. (Both laugh.) Dylan Tanner