By Pierre Georges
Wednesday 25 June 2003
Where we speak again of our very dear Minister-colleague, Mohammed Sa d Al-Sahaf. The name might not mean anything to many. The face, yes: that of this extraordinary Iraqi Minister of Disinformation who, during Gulf War II, multiplied trooper press conferences and chancy victory communiqu s.
Mohammed Sa d Al-Sahaf did a lot to reveal the ridiculousness of official information. With an imperturbable air of seriousness and considerable aplomb, he announced, up to the very last day, or practically, the inevitable rout of the invasion forces. And he resisted right up to the last lie, in the streets of Baghdad, to the point of risking that an American tank, allegedly in retreat, run over his ripostes.
The day of the fall of Baghdad, or the day before, the stentorian Mohammed gave up the antenna. Finally. And without leaving any address. Nevertheless his reputation, now universal, was established. The Anglo-American press had made him their favorite hero, under the sweet, if vaguely racist, nickname of "Comical Ali". And even the American President confessed, as war leader, that when he had nothing better to do with his free time, for example, working in his ranch garden or going fishing with dad, his favorite pastime consisted of watching the grandiose television performances of Baghdad's fibster.
So Mohammed Sa d Al-Sahaf disappeared. And so he became the object of a search warrant, like the other Iraqi leaders. And so he found a place in the famous deck of cards of the 52 "most wanted". A special place, by the way, almost affectionate, as it seems to us in a vague and poetic recollection that he was transformed by this game into a pathetic three of clubs. Or better yet, into a joker wearing a belled hat, a Carnival Iraqi Minister of Information.
Weeks have passed and here this morning a Reuter's dispatch from London informs us that the joker was arrested Monday night in a Baghdad suburb. This is the news put out by the Daily Mirror, the heavy-weight and chancily credible British daily. It's a news item neither confirmed nor verifiable. And it's a news item we won't insult Mohammed Sa d Al-Sahaf by verifying, holding it to be as possible as it is plausible and uncertain.
So, in short, let's imagine the ex-Iraqi Minister of Information is arrested. Let's imagine that this man, who, according to the Daily Mirror, was holed up at one of his relatives', and, it's just too good: "killing time by watching television" should be interrogated. Let's imagine that he's tried and punished for his lies before he's persuaded, according to a highly placed source- we love "highly placed sources at the heart of the coalition"- persuaded this time to say "serious things".
Let's imagine all that. And then? What would the Iraqi minister say? Perhaps horrors. Of the order, from a liar to liar and a half. He'll say that he was inspired by Washington as well as London. That he wasn't the one, all the same, to invent weapons of mass destruction. And that, as great as he was at his art, he will never even reach the ankles of the great masters of disinformation!
Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.