TOUCHED UP BODIES?!

WaPo/Reuters reports yet another bizarre PR gaffe:

U.S. forces in Iraq partly rebuilt the faces of two bodies shown to journalists on Friday in an effort to convince Iraqis that the battle-scarred corpses were those of Saddam Hussein’s widely feared sons.

I was one of 15 journalists shown into an air-conditioned, khaki tent at Baghdad airport to view the corpses. They did look like the brothers, who U.S. troops said they killed during a siege on Tuesday.

Arabic networks al-Jazeera, Abu Dhabi Television and other broadcasters began showing the bodies identified as Uday and Qusay, laid out at the makeshift airport morgue.

A U.S. military official said “facial reconstruction” was used to repair wounds, particularly to the face of the elder son Uday, which had disfigured the bodies shown originally to the public in photographs taken by soldiers after the battle.

An uncharacteristic beard on the body of Qusay, seen in those U.S. pictures, had been shaved off, leaving a mustache.

Inside the tent, U.S. officials said it was standard practice to use morticians putty to prepare bodies for viewing and was not intended to fool the Iraqi people.

But while it may be common in the United States, the move is unheard of in the Arab world. That could affect Washington’s efforts to quash Iraqi conspiracy theories that the bodies are not in fact those of the once powerful and hated sons of Saddam, who is believed to be still in hiding in Iraq.

This is just, well, bizarre.

Update (1417): This discussion from Spoons Experience is especially amusing in light of this revelation.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
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.