Saddam’s Prison Letter

Newsweek — Saddam’s Prison Letter

Military censors have blacked out nine of the 14 lines. But in what remains of his letter, Saddam Hussein assures his family that “my spirit and my morale, they are high, thanks to greatness of God.†The message—apparently the first and only letter the former Iraqi dictator has sent to his family since his capture last December—is on a standard “family message†form provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It is addressed simply “to my daughter,†and was delivered to the family by the ICRC after they visited Saddam on Feb. 21. The letter, apparently in Saddam’s handwriting, was shown to NEWSWEEK by Muhammed al Rushadan, a Jordanian lawyer retained by Saddam’s family.

Rushadan is currently on a visit to the United States, where he hopes to make the case that his client’s human rights are being violated and that he’s being held in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In addition, says Rushadan, he believes Saddam is being mistreated like some of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were. “There are fresh wounds on his body,” he said, citing a Red Cross document he claims to have. “I say to the ICRC that you should do your job under Article 10 of the Geneva Conventions, or you should quit your job.”


According to the Red Cross’s Doumani, the Geneva Conventions do give the detaining authority the right to censor prisoners’ letters. “I don’t think all the messages that he has written to the family have been delivered,” she says. “I can’t confirm how many others there were, but it’s important to stress that this is clearly because of censorship and is not the fault of the ICRC.”

Certainly, tight censorship of Saddam’s communications with the outside world is to be expected, given that there is an insurgency going on. Given the scrutiny he’s under, I can’t imagine that he’s not being treated quite well in prison. Certainly, that fact that he’s able to write letters indicates that he’s being treated far better than he deserves.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. La Femme Crickita says:

    What were they? Paper cuts? As opposed to SHREDDED FLESH and BONE? Tisk tisk. The man was found in a hole that was filthy and they are worried about ABUSE? His Jordanian lawyer’s DNA needs to be checked to see if he is a relative of Hussein’s.

    I realize he is entitled to ‘rights’ under the Geneva Convention, but how does one define a WOUND versus ABUSE?

    If they were paper cuts, rub a little lemon juice and salt in them. Or turn him over to the people whose families he and his foul sons tortured.

  2. mike says:

    I sure would not want to be his lawyer who is coming to the US to protest his condition – good luck finding a sympathetic ear. I still think he should be in the Iraq Zoo in a cage for all to see.