As the incident was reported by the military, according to a U.S. source, a soldier promptly slugged the old tyrant -- probably the first time in more than two decades that Saddam was powerless to exact lethal revenge on someone who stood up to him.
An official military spokeswoman in Iraq claims no knowledge of the incident. "I think this is an urban legend," she says. But the full story is yet to be told. A U.S. intelligence official, meanwhile, casts doubt on another widely reported tale: that a U.S. soldier hailed the nemesis of two Commanders in Chief named George Bush by saying: "Regards from President Bush." This person says some officials suspect the story is "apocryphal."
The full text of the story will be on TIME.com Sunday evening.
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Debra Richman, TIME 212-522-6856
Ty Trippet, TIME 212-522-3640
Jennifer Zawadzinski, TIME 212-522-9046