Friday, May 23, 2003

Quid Pro Quo?

1. from Yahoo News/dow jones:

Uday Hussein Thinking of Surrendering to U.S. Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, is considering surrendering to U.S. forces, but so far has been reluctant to do so because of a tough negotiating posture by the U.S. government, a third party with knowledge of the discussions told The Wall Street Journal. U.S. officials in Washington had no comment. Uday Hussein, who is hiding in a Baghdad, Iraq, suburb, wants to know what the charges against him will be, and the process for interrogation and custody, the person familiar with the discussions said. He is working through intermediaries. ...

2. from CNN/Netscape: US Seizes What May Be $500 Million in Gold in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American troops have seized what appears to be $500 million worth of gold bars from a truck in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Friday.

The 2,000 40-pound (18 kg) bars were seized on Thursday at Qaim on the Syrian border in western Iraq by soldiers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the U.S. military's Central Command said in a statement.

It said the bars could be gold and worth as much as $500 million, depending on karat weight and purity. The Central Command, which headed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to depose President Saddam Hussein, said soldiers found the bars while conducting "a routine traffic control search" of a Mercedes truck near the border. Two occupants of the truck, who were taken into custody, told the soldiers they had been told the bars were bronze, according to the command statement. The two also told soldiers they had been paid 350,000 Iraqi dinars (about $350) to pick up the truck in Baghdad and drive it to Qaim and turn it over to an individual.

U.S. troops last month found an estimated $600 million in U.S. cash in boxes near Baghdad palace complexes.This month, U.S. officials said Saddam's son Qusay took about a billion dollars in currency from the central bank in Baghdad just before the Iraq war, but that most had been recovered.

And finally, if you prefer sobriety to Oliver-Stonian speculation, here's some BBC background on the Hussein boys. Funny how as recently as March 18th US relations with Syria were supposed to be improving-- dubya and Wolfowitz, et al sure are fickle... Wait a minute, I hear you say-- he's IN Baghdad? If the US forces are in control of Baghdad, how come they don't know where he is, making "negotiations" besides the point? Maybe he's hiding in the museum Rumsfeld was so loathe to protect. And who gets the gold? The Iraqis? Haliburton? Bechtel?