Check out this fascinating account of the Marines’ drive into the center of Baghdad by Peter Baker. What started out as a cautious day of “chipping away at President Saddam Hussein’s power structure” turned into a dash to the middle of the city and the iconic images of the destruction of Saddam’s statue that we have all seen.
“Then new intelligence arrived — via CNN. As he studied the television in his trailer here to the east of Baghdad, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway saw dramatic pictures of Iraqi Shiites in the streets of Saddam City celebrating Hussein’s impending fall. Hussein, clearly, had no hold on the area.
“Time to send in the tanks.
“As the day progressed, it became clear that opposition had collapsed. The Army found a motor pool with 100 abandoned Iraqi tanks. And then hundreds of residents flocked into the streets of Saddam City, cheering and chanting against Hussein, unafraid of any government security organs.
“Conway was struck by the televised images. Within hours, tanks headed for the center of town, Marines wrapped a chain around the neck of a Hussein statue, and a tank recovery vehicle, which normally tows wrecked armor, yanked it off its pedestal.
“At 6:30 p.m., Conway and the other generals got together for another video teleconference. Forget the plan, they quickly concluded. That’s OBE, Conway said: ‘Overtaken by Events.'”
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