Skip to comments.As inmate, Saddam read poetry, fed the birds: US nurse
Posted on 01/03/2007 9:59:52 AM PST by presidio9
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was an avid reader, fed birds and told jokes while he was in US custody, an American military nurse who looked after him said in interviews with US media.
Robert Ellis, 56, an operating room nurse assigned to Saddam during his US military detention, described a courteous, contemplative figure in stark contrast to the brutal reputation Saddam earned during his rule over Iraq.
"He basically talked about his wife, and his children," Ellis told CNN on Monday.
"He was an avid reader. Loved to read and write. He had a lot of stories that he had written. He had a pamphlet that he wrote in every day and then when time came to visit him he'd read things to me," the army reservist said.
The master sergeant said he had strict orders to ensure Saddam stayed alive while in US hands.
"That was my job: to keep him alive and healthy, so they could kill him at a later date," Ellis recounted in an interview from his home in Normandy, Missouri with the St Louis Post-Dispatch published on Sunday.
Saddam was convicted of crimes against humanity and executed by hanging on Saturday, an end that did not sit well with Ellis.
"I was kind of disappointed (by the execution)," Ellis told CNN.
"I thought that they would more or less put him in jail for the rest of his life to kind of stem some of the violence that I knew was going to take place," he said.
When Saddam at one point was allowed short walks outside, the former president would feed birds pieces of bread saved from his meals, the nurse told the St Louis newspaper. Saddam also watered a plot of weeds.
"He said he was a farmer when he was young and he never forgot where he came from," Ellis told the paper.
Ellis said he did not believe Saddam was lonely while in detention "because he was jovial at times."
Saddam "had a good sense of humor. You know, made jokes, you know. And he spent most of his time reading, and praying," he said.
Ellis said he monitored Saddam's health from January 2004 to August 2004, visiting him twice a day, giving him medicine daily, checking his blood pressure and temperature and ensuring he was receiving enough food and water.
Guards referred to Saddam by the code name "Victor," he said.
Saddam went on a hunger strike at one point, refusing to eat when guards slid food through the slot on the bottom of his cell door. But when guards starting opening the door, Saddam dropped his hunger strike.
"He refused to be fed like a lion," Ellis said.
At no time did Saddam display hostility toward him, Ellis said, but his patient did ask him why the United States had led an invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"He said everything he did was for Iraq," Ellis told the St Louis newspaper.
"One day when I went to see him, he asked why we invaded. Well, he made gestures like shooting a machine gun and asked why soldiers came and shot up the place. He said the laws in Iraq were fair and the weapons inspectors didn't find anything.
"I said, 'That's politics. We soldiers don't get caught up in that sort of thing.'"
Saddam never spoke of dying and unlike his defiant, angry appearances at his trial proceedings, he rarely complained, Ellis said.
"When he was with me, he was in a different environment," he said. "I posed no threat. In fact, I was there to help him, and he respected that."
Ellis had mixed feelings about his role, knowing he was treating a patient who would likely be put to death.
"I knew all along what they were going to do. This went against my grain as a nurse, but as a soldier -- well, that was my job."
I believe the nurse had Stockholm Syndrome.
Gee, what a swell guy. See, he probably could have been rehabilitated and put in charge of a lesser nation. Such a waste, such a waste...
Yes, now he can expand on his benevolence by feeding the worms.
Aw what a really nice guy... Start making up the Saddam T-shirts for every college campus in America. Move over Che. ;-)
Poor misunderstood man.
How cruel we are.....(sarc off)
He probably even wrote children's books just like Tookie.
For the birds...
He was a conniving bastard in a hopeless situation. He was doing everything he could to save his own evil ass. Too bad this guy was fooled by it. No matter though, he's dead.
And now he isn't reading poetry and he 's feeding the worms.
Another disappointed liberal, disappointed Saddam was executed and disappointed violence didn't ensue!
My Heart will go on. Maybe he was attracted. Trying to paint the birdman of Alcatraz pizazz image of the monster.
Isn't that so sweet.
I had been number one in their deck
Of my life they have made quick a wreck
As I sit in my cell
There are now thoughts of hell
I'm about to be hanged by the neck
..really tugs at those heartstrings, huh?
And Hitler loved Eva ... so what?