By: Sowe Bully
In his final days, Saddam Hussein found himself guarded by a group of American soldiers. They were known as the Super Twelve, and they had been tasked with keeping the deposed Iraqi leader confined. It was a duty that would change them in unexpected ways.
In Will Bardenwerper’s book, The Prisoner in His Palace, the emotional experiences of the American soldiers who were tasked with guarding him. These soldiers formed an unlikely bond with the deposed Iraqi leader, sharing stories and smoking cigars with him as they watched over him in his confinement. They saw a man who was trapped, a man who had lost everything.
As Bardenwerper writes, the soldiers of the Super Twelve formed an unlikely connection with Saddam, a man they had been trained to hate. They saw in him a complex human being with a deep love of literature and writing, and over time, they shared stories and smoked cigars together. But despite this bond, the soldiers were left with a profound sense of loss and remorse when Saddam was ultimately executed.
For Specialist Adam Rogerson, one of the Super Twelve, the experience was particularly traumatic. “I feel like I let him down,” he told Bardenwerper. “It was as if he had lost a family member. I almost feel like a murderer, like I killed a guy I was close to.”
Despite being an “enemy” of the United States, Saddam was a complex and cultured man who loved literature and writing. He was particularly fond of authors like Dostoevsky and Naguib Mahfouz and frequently requested reading and writing materials during his confinement.
To him, being denied access to pen and paper amounted to a violation of his human rights. As he frequently requested reading and writing materials during his confinement, he lamented his lack of access to pen and paper. “You must understand, I am a writer,” he told John Nixon, a CIA interrogator, “And what you are doing by depriving me of pen and paper amounts to human rights abuse!”
Saddam’s story is a poignant reminder of the power of human connection, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. It is a testament to the fact that there is often more to a person than meets the eye, and that empathy and understanding can go a long way towards breaking down barriers and forging unexpected bonds.
As we delve deeper into the story of Saddam and the Super Twelve, we can’t help but feel a sense of sorrow for what might have been, and a renewed appreciation for the importance of seeing the humanity in others.
We can learn from the soldiers of the Super Twelve that it’s important to approach others with empathy and an open mind. By taking the time to get to know someone, we can form connections that transcend politics and ideology. We can find common ground and forge relationships that might surprise us.