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Saddam's swan song - Ed Brock

What a rock-star ending for Saddam Hussein.

He's found profoundly disheveled and unwashed, holed up with a loaded gun, armed but impotent, and feeling like the world is out to get him.

I can't wait to see his first cameo appearance in a Hollywood blockbuster, or perhaps on a special senior's edition of celebrity boxing.

Now, let's move on.

The story to remember this week is not the discovery of that has-been, but the apparent overcharging of the Pentagon by a well-known company I like to call Hal.

Of equal importance is this move by the Bush White House to exclude French, Russian and German companies from consideration for reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

Finding Saddam is really just a passing moment of happiness, an event that brings a little satisfaction but which should not distract us from more serious issues.

After all, many experts agree that the current fighting in Iraq has moved beyond Saddam and is now about the Sunnis seeking security and non-Iraqi terrorists saving a few bucks and driving to fight Americans next door rather than flying over here. So Saddam is rapidly on his way to becoming a sideshow.

Indeed, it certainly inspires the paranoid conspiracy nut in me that Saddam should be captured just as the story about Kellogg, Brown & Root supposedly inflating some of their contracts was gaining national attention. K.B.R. is a subsidiary of Halliburton Company where Vice President Dick Cheney was once chief executive, and they are working on a number of projects in Iraq.

In fact, The New York Times came out with the story on Friday, and by Sunday Saddam was in our custody. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Granted, K.B.R. is claiming that there are extenuating circumstances such as the cost of doing business in a war zone and what not, and the investigation is ongoing. But this is not a story that should slip out of the public eye because one of the bad guys has been caught.

Neither is this petty and impractical snubbing of three old friends over those same contracts. Iraq owes Russia alone $8 billion, and our formerly Communist friends won't be very flexible with the new Iraqi government if we decide to play this game.

But I like the way U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan put it best. The move is simply "not unifying."

Yes, I'll admit to certain nostalgic feelings for Saddam. Sure, he's a psychopathic killer who called his own people a bunch of thugs, but he certainly made the world a more exciting place. Now that he's just a tired old man about to pay the piper, I feel the kind of disappointment that comes with every ending, even a happy one.

Still, so long as there's life, there's hope. Maybe we should just put a chip in him and let him run for a while longer like a real cat and mouse game.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, ?W,' and congratulations to our military for doing their job well in hideous circumstances. May the tide continue to run in our favor.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com.