Saturday, March 29
Tracking Saddam Hussein
Steve Kroft, CBS News, March 24, 2003

New York: No matter how the war with Iraq unfolds in the days to come, it will be difficult for the United States to declare a complete victory until Saddam Hussein is either captured or killed. Given recent experience in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, that is not a foregone conclusion. 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft reports.

Last Wednesday, the U.S. command thought it had Saddam Hussein in its crosshairs and tried to kill him with a massive air strike in the opening salvo of the war.

But by Saturday, Commanding General Tommy Franks had to acknowledge that -dead or alive - the United States had lost track of him again.

In response to a reporter’s question, General Franks replied bluntly, "Actually, I have no idea where he is right now."

Saddam has managed to elude the United States for the better part of a dozen years, and has survived attempted coups and assassination plots, and several wars. He has a network of tunnels and underground bunkers, a massive security apparatus, a cadre of look-alikes and a capital of five million people to hide in. [...]

Why is it so difficult?

"You have to have agents who are supporting you, working for you, in order to gain access to information in terms of where individuals are going to be," Cohen says. "It's very hard to take out an individual with a cruise missile."

With U.S. intelligence on Iraq coming from electronic eavesdropping and satellite photography, Saddam decided to go underground, building elaborate bunker and tunnel complexes. A German firm designed and later built a 20,000-square-foot bunker under one of Saddam’s palaces, at a cost of $90 million. It has luxurious bedrooms for Saddam, his family, and dozens of bodyguards and staff. It’s stocked with enough food and water to last a year. Giant shock absorbers and redundant air filtration systems are designed to withstand multiple bomb blasts and missile strikes.

Michael Vickers, a consultant to the Pentagon who spent 10 years in the Army’s special forces and later became a C.I.A. operative, says there are "some very, very hardened, deep underground facilities that have 20 or more feet, maybe 100 feet in some cases, of dirt, and then 6 to 20 feet of reinforced concrete, and then prefabricated steel."

In some cases, Vickers says, the bunkers are 300 feet or so deep, and "almost impervious to anything but nuclear attack."

Worse, some of these bunkers may be connected by tunnels, allowing Saddam to move from underground facility to underground facility.

"One of the things that makes these underground structures difficult-is the labyrinth network of them," Vickers says. They have blast doors in between, too, so "even if you penetrate down into one compartment, say, and destroy that, then the steel doors may contain the effects of a blast. If you're on the other side you're a quarter mile away, you're perfectly safe." [...]

... Eventually, we’ll see the endgame. Woolsey suggests that Saddam probably would like “to disappear, or go out in some way in which people didn't know what happened to him, and he could try to believe that a myth would be kept alive. He has a very heroic self-image.”

But Marashi notes that Saddam “is obsessed with his legacy. He wants to go down in the history books as, you know, this great Babylonian leader.” That points to a preference, he says, for “going down fighting” rather than accepting the humiliation of surrender.

How to take out Saddam's Bunker watch, December 29, 2002

During the 1991 Gulf War, I saw a report describing Saddam Hussein's personal bunker. The report was replete with diagrams and listed the German firm that designed and built the structure. An exhaustive search of the Internet and World Wide Web has produced no confirmation of this information.

Nevertheless, the information is clear in my memory, especially since I grew up in Germany and was particularly interested that a German firm designed and built the bunker.

The design is similar to how a modern submarine is constructed. The bunker consists of an outer and inner structure, where the inner structure is completely isolated from the outer one. In the case of submarines, of course, the isolation is for sound, to eliminate the transmission of sound from inside the sub to the surrounding water. Saddam's bunker is designed to prevent external shock - like from a nuclear blast - from reaching the inner sanctum.

The outer structure of the bunker is a vertically oriented egg-shaped shell of 20 to 30 yards of reinforced concrete - this is yards, not feet. This shell is buried deep underground. The inner structure is suspended inside the concrete shell by massive springs, not unlike giant trampoline springs.

Physical communication with the outside is through several tunnels suspended between the structures. These tunnels are designed to sever in response to severe external shock, rather than transmit the shock to the inner structure.[...]

The internal structure is about five stories high, and it is provisioned to support approximately 100 people for a very long time. It contains a water holding tank and water recycling equipment so that there is no need to replenish water from the outside. The water system is said to be self-sustaining for more than ten years with no addition of water. My own calculations indicate that this probably can only be accomplished with severe water rationing, since evaporation and subsequent loss to the outside cannot be prevented. Food provisioning is freeze-dried of American manufacture. There is sufficient for at least a year for the full compliment of 100.

The structure is stocked with a large library of CDs, DVDs, and other compact entertainment materials. Hardwire electronic links are redundant many times over. It is possible that the personnel inside the bunker can remain in contact with their outside supporters indefinitely. [...]
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