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Saddam's Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein, by Georges Sada with Jim Nelson Black

Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers. Pp. 315. Map. $24.99. ISBN:1-59145-404-2.

Georges Sada was a general in the Iraqi Air Force during Saddam Hussein?s regime. That alone is going to make his story worth listening to. It is also one that should be taken with a grain of salt ? since this is his side of the story. That said, Sada is a man whose biography seems to check out ? and who has served in the transitional government of Iraq.

Sada?s book is an interesting study in how Saddam Hussein operated. Short version: The former dictator of Iraq was a bad guy. Sada?s story is one that initially seems very much at odds with some of the stories that have come out in the past about Saddam?s tolerance (actually, his lack thereof) for ideas that he disagreed with. And yet, despite Saddam?s penchant for shooting the bringers of bad news, Sada apparently not only gave frank advice and refused to join the Baath party, in 1991, he defied Saddam Hussein?s order to execute prisoners of war during Desert Storm and lived to tell about it.

Sada has told his story very well, and some of the claims he makes are incredible. We find out that he has seen Saddam?s weapons of mass destruction, and that at least some of them were moved to Syria (a view shared by Lieutenant General Michael DeLong, Deputy Commander of Central Command, in his memoirs from 2004 and by Israeli general Moshe Yaalon). Is it for real, or is it just a bunch of smoke?

His claims about the presence of weapons of mass destruction are apparently backed up by memos that have been recently translated on the blogosphere, as well as memos that were acquired by in October, 2004. It is very difficult to imagine that Generals Sada, Yaalon, and DeLong could concoct the same tale. Adding the translations of memos from Saddam?s regime showing that it was ? at a minimum ? trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction to the opinions of these three generals leaves little room to doubt Sada?s veracity on this issue. And having been able to verify he has told the truth in this encounter, there is reason to believe him in other areas as well, particularly when he recounts one of Saddam?s explosions in November 1990. Again, it is within the character of Saddam Hussein to have shot people out of hand for telling him news he didn?t want to hear. Finally, there is the foreword from retired Air Force Colonel David Eberly, a POW in Desert Storm, who speaks of Sada in glowing terms.

Sada also fires off a lot of criticism at the United States for not finishing the job in 1991. While it is understandable from his perspective, given the hindsight that 15 years can provide, it is also, in a sense, unfair. In 1991, calling it off was apparently the right call. The UN resolutions at the time only encompassed the liberation of Kuwait, and the Arab allies at the time were not willing to support removal of Saddam Hussein. Taking out Saddam just was not in the cards at the time.

Ultimately, this is a book that describes what life in Saddam?s regime was like for a person in the inner circles of that regime. The reviewer, after reading this book feels a sense of relief that Saddam Hussein is facing a trial for his many crimes against the Iraqi people as opposed to being in power, and grateful that a man like Georges Sada is now helping to rebuild that country.

Reviewer: Harold C. Hutchison    

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