A Saddam Souvenir

  • Share
  • Read Later
When Saddam Hussein was rousted from his spider hole in Dawr, a town near Tikrit, by U.S. soldiers last December, Iraq's fallen dictator was clutching a pistol. He is now in detention at an undisclosed location, being questioned by American authorities and awaiting charges for war atrocities and crimes against humanity. But what ever happened to the pistol?

The sidearm has made its way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Sources say that the military had the pistol mounted after the soldiers seized it from Saddam and that it was then presented to the President privately by some of the troops who played a key role in ferreting out the old tyrant. Though it was widely reported at the time that the pistol was loaded when they grabbed Saddam, Bush has told visitors that the gun was empty—and that it is still empty and safe to touch. "He really liked showing it off," says a recent visitor to the White House who has seen the gun. "He was really proud of it."

The pistol's new place of residence is in the small study next to the Oval Office where Bush takes select visitors after pointing out better-known White House pieces like the busts of Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower and a watercolor called A Charge to Keep, which gets its name from a Methodist hymn. The study—the one where Bill Clinton held some of his infamous trysts with White House intern Monica Lewinsky—has become a place where Bush keeps the memorabilia that hold special significance for him. Another of the room's mementos: a photograph of special-forces soldiers in Afghanistan praying after burying a piece of the World Trade Center there as a tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.