A prison of his own making
The building with its roof damaged and askew sat silent and vacant -- only it wasn’t.
December 3rd, 2011
12:01 PM ET

A prison of his own making

The sprawling Victory Base Complex was America’s largest in Iraq, located near the Baghdad Airport.

It was essentially an American city, at one time home to more than 40,000 troops. 

Now as the United States ends its military mission and troops head home, the base has been turned over to the Iraqis.

There are nine of Saddam Hussein’s palaces here.

The grandest are the four that stand on an artificial lake.

Hussein was so impressed with the ones at Versailles, the story goes, he decided to build his own. 

And one of the four held a secret.

It’s the one the U.S. bombed when the war began.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the American-made city that flourished all around it, this building with its roof damaged and askew sat silent and vacant - only it wasn’t.

The outside was a ruse.

Contractors had secretly gone into the palace and replaced the interior with a maximum security prison built to hold three people.

It actually would only house two - Saddam Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majeed, aka Chemical Ali.

The U.S. military believed the phony ruins and the secret they held would prevent sympathizers from attempting to spring Hussein.

Apparently it worked.

Inside, instead of an ornate gilded bed, Hussein slept on cement. The toilet and steel door to his cell have been removed and shipped back to a museum in the states.

Here he would spend 23 hours of every day. He got one hour to recreate, which in his case meant tending to the small garden he and his cousin tilled in a courtyard.

Everything in it has since died. Once all of Iraq’s soil was his, but in his final days he controlled only a square meter.

There is the irony I’m sure not lost on his U.S. captors.

Saddam Hussein who built the palaces and filled them with his ego and his excess would end up a prisoner inside one of them.

And then there's this analogy too good to pass up.

As they left, U.S. forces handed the Iraqis hundreds of keys carried on two rings. 

They are the keys to Victory. The question now is what will Iraq do with them?

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • World
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Space cowboy

    Good!they should of left him there

    December 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gung hoe

    A good place to lock up roadsniper

    December 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. henry

    I would call that a very good start. I hope the us gets out everywhere and stop looking for war

    December 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |

    I MISS sadam..
    he was a great advocate of reading.
    he motto was "learn to read or die"
    a good motivater..

    December 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |

    As they left, U.S. forces handed the Iraqis hundreds of keys carried on two rings.

    They are the keys to Victory. The question now is what will Iraq do with them?

    PROABLY throw them away...

    December 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gung hoe

    Not me @ 12 12 pm good try use your own

    December 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. saywhat

    Our troops head home after paying the ultimate price at the call of thugs controlling our destiny when we invaded Iraq.
    Trillion of dollars of national treasure, precious American lives in thousands, innocents civilians in tens of thousands sacrificed at the altar of greed, idiocy & arrogance against American interests.
    Irreparable damage done to our prestige, credibility & influence in a region vital to our geo-political goals. How can this nation forgive those responsible?

    December 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    @ ruffie they will use the keys to unlock the soccer stadium

    December 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gung hoe

    Well lets see saywhat howabout the butcher of bagdad is now taking up residence with his cohort Hitler.Ya you probably complained about us going after him also!

    December 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phat Phanny (oac)

    While I won't agree with the heavy tone of saywhats remarks, I do have to agree that we should have never been in Iraq in the first place. Iraq was never a threat to us.

    December 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Send OCW over there. Occupy Bagdad. All of em'. Keys to thier success.

    December 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Janet


    December 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Janet

    I know allabout this


    December 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |

    Saddam Hussein should have built in a escape tunnel with a secret code..

    December 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fanny Farquair

    What's OCW, Jeff Frank?

    December 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
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