5,509. 12/13/2003

On the evening of December 13, 2003, American forces searching for Saddam Hussein were at a farmhouse outside of Tikrit. After identifying a rug over a trapdoor, “The soldiers drew their weapons and beamed bright lights down a thirty-inch-square shaft. At the bottom, in a hole barely bigger than a coffin, was a haggard sixty-six-year-old man with matted hair and a wild salt-and-pepper beard. He had a pistol, but made no move to use it, and the soldiers dragged him up. ‘I am Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq,’ he said, ‘and I am willing to negotiate.’ The Americans had a terser message: ‘President Bush sends his regards.’ ”

 – Todd S. Purdum and The New York Times Staff, A Time of Our Choosing, Pages 285-286

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