I treated the Iraqi dictator after American forces captured him
by Mark Green,
Ten years ago today, at around 8:30 p.m. Baghdad time, U.S. Special Forces pulled a cowering Saddam Hussein from a hole in the earth. By sheer happenstance, I wound up spending that night with him and an interpreter, engaging in a conversation that even now seems surreal to me.
I was privileged to wear the uniform of an Army flight surgeon with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the legendary "Night Stalkers." Our ambulance was a Blackhawk helicopter that didn't have any crosses on it and was capable of firing 8,000 rounds each minute; my patients were brothers and sisters in arms who had, like me, traveled to the other side of the globe in the cause of freedom.
Saddam wasn't the first high-value target I had treated. As the first weeks of December ticked by, Special Operations had moved closer and closer to him: first his girlfriend was captured, then his secretary, even his personal physician.
I treated each of them with respect, and my being a doctor seemed to relax them. Apparently relieved to meet the first of their captors whose mission wasn't to extract information, they opened up to me. It was an interesting dynamic, and it repeated itself with Saddam. (read more)