Catching Up with the Five of Hearts

I've begun reading How America Lost Iraq, a book by Aaron Glantz, a war correspondent for the liberal Pacifica radio network.

Glantz's premise is that the Iraqi people were extremely receptive to the U.S. after Saddam Hussein's overthrow, but their support has been lost because of the imprisonment of innocent people, an inability to restore basic services like water and electricity, and widespread anarchy.

The first chapter takes satisfaction in the downfall of Huda Amash, a Saddam loyalist who was the five of hearts on the U.S. most-wanted card deck and the highest ranking woman in Iraq. She was arrested in Baghdad in May 2003 and remains in custody, where she's reportedly suffering from breast cancer.

One of Glantz's friends, a documentary filmmaker, described how she ran a youth conference he was permitted to attend:

"Under her guidance," James [Longley] explained, "the conference was turned into a series of Stalinist rallies for the Great Leader. Attendance was mandatory. In the great hall of the convention palace children's choirs competed with dancing Japanese peace activists while odes to Saddam were screamed out in fake spontaneous outbursts from the crowd. A large number of doves were released in the hall and flew madly around the edges of the room, searching frantically for a way out. I sympathized with them entirely."

Today's Washington Post includes a commentary from a childhood friend of Amash, who grew up in D.C., asking for her release.

Her friend reveals an unusual aspect of Amash's background -- she was in the inner circle of the man who ordered her father's death:

The family soon returned to Iraq, and we lost all contact with them. Maj. Ammash's career prospered; he rose to be defense minister. In 1981, however, Saddam Hussein convened a meeting of party leaders and tearfully read out the names of those of his old comrades who were to be led from the hall and shot on the spot. Salih Madhi Ammash was among them.


What about their interview?

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