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I-Team: Toppling of Saddam's Statue Staged?
Thursday July 22, 2004 4:32pm   Reporter: Andrea McCarren  
Watch the abc7 e-Video eVideo: I-Team: Saddam Statue Scene Staged?

WJLA-TV Script

Anchor:

TONIGHT, THE ABC7 I-TEAM INVESTIGATES WHAT HAPPENED BEHIND THE SCENES WHEN THE STATUE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS TOPPLED IN BAGHDAD.

WAS IT REALLY THE SPONTANEOUS ACT OF SOME AMERICAN SOLDIERS AND A JUBILANT IRAQI CROWD?

I-TEAM REPORTER ANDREA MCCARREN UNCOVERED SOME FASCINATING DETAILS. ANDREA?

Andrea on set:

THE I-TEAM OBTAINED AN INTERNAL ARMY REVIEW WHICH DETAILS THE TOPPLING OF THE STATUE.

IT REVEALS THAT A PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS UNIT ON THE SCENE PLAYED A KEY ROLE.

Story:

A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN THE WAR WITH IRAQ - THE STATUE OF SADDAM BROUGHT TO THE GROUND IN BAGHDAD'S AL-FIRDOS SQUARE. THOUSANDS OF IRAQI CITIZENS REJOICING IN A SPONTANEOUS CELEBRATION. OR WAS IT SOMETHING ELSE?

Professor Christopher Simpson, American University:  "This particular event was more of what you might call a propaganda event. It was a publicity, a photo-op if you will."

IN FACT, THE REPORT OBTAINED BY THE I-TEAM INDICATES THAT AN ARMY PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS TEAM ORCHESTRATED MUCH OF WHAT TRANSPIRED.

Tim Brown, Globalsecurity.org:  "It wasn't completely stage-managed from Washington, DC but it wasn't exactly a spontaneous Iraqi operation."

PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS, OR PSYOP, PLAYS A CRITICAL ROLE IN THE MILITARY'S PUBLIC RELATIONS. THE JOB: PORTRAYING THE US GOVERNMENT AND ITS FOREIGN POLICY IN A POSITIVE WAY.
ABC 7 - Saddam statue prior to toppling

Saddam statue prior to toppling
IN IRAQ, IT'S THE GROUP CHARGED WITH WINNING THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE PEOPLE.

Simmons:  "Their thinking at the time was clearly to influence Iraqi audiences, but as a practical matter, most of the influence took place back home."

THE REPORT REVEALS THAT A MARINE CORPS COLONEL ON THE SCENE SAW THE SADDAM STATUE AS A "TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY THAT MUST COME DOWN."

A TACTICAL PSYOP TEAM MOVED IN QUICKLY, USING A LOUDSPEAKER AND AN INTERPRETER TO INSTRUCT THE IRAQIS ON WHERE TO STAND.

THE REPORT DESCRIBES THE SCENE AS A MEDIA CIRCUS WITH ALMOST AS MANY REPORTERS AS IRAQIS.

AND CONTRARY TO THE DRAMATIC CROWD SCENES BROADCAST AROUND THE WORLD, THIS PHOTOGRAPH OBTAINED BY THE I-TEAM SHOWS A STARKLY DIFFERENT PORTRAIT. A TOWN SQUARE THAT IS VIRTUALLY EMPTY. THAT SCENE IS CONFIRMED IN THE ARMY'S REPORT.

Tim Brown:  "What you saw on television looked like there was throngs of thousands and in reality, it was just a few dozen people."

AND REMEMBER THE AMERICAN FLAG DRAPED OVER THE FACE OF THE STATUE? THE REPORT DETAILS THE FRANTIC EFFORTS OF A MARINE TO REPLACE IT WITH AN IRAQI FLAG. ONE ARMY COLONEL SAID: "WE WERE THINKING FROM PSYOP SCHOOL THAT THIS WAS JUST BAD NEWS."

WHILE THE IMAGES BEAMED WORLDWIDE SYMBOLIZED AN IRAQ ON THE CUSP OF FREEDOM, THE REALITY DEPICTED IN THE REPORT, WAS THAT OTHER MARINES WERE ENGAGED IN A FIREFIGHT JUST A FEW BLOCKS AWAY.

Andrea on set:

THIS AFTERNOON, THE ARMY SAID IT STANDS BY ITS REPORT AND THAT NO ONE HAS QUESTIONED ITS VALIDITY.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO READ THE REPORT IN ITS ENTIRETY, CLICK HERE.

AND IF YOU HAVE A STORY YOU THINK WE SHOULD INVESTIGATE, PLEASE CALL OUR HOTLINE AT 703-236-9559.

REPORTING LIVE FOR THE I-TEAM, ANDREA MCCARREN, ABC7 NEWS.

Copyright 2004 WJLA-TV
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The Associated Press may have contributed to this report.

HAVE AN OPINION ON THIS STORY?
TELL US ABOUT IT BELOW!

 Viewer Comments on I-Team: Toppling of Saddam's Statue Staged?
Reynaldo
IP: Logged
Posted: 11/26 11:20a
...I´m sure there will be a "Danilo Anderson" square very soon rigth in the heart of Caracas and of course a "Hugo Chavez" statue in the middle of it. Don´t you, readers, think that deep down in some "peoples" mind it is already written that very same script for that very same SCENE but, in a different spot?.
If you still doubt it, ask some of your former authorities. Not in vain that Nobel Prize was awarded. Just give it more time.


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