In the twilight of Saddam Hussein’s life, a profound wave of grief and sadness swept over the American soldiers assigned to guard him. These soldiers, who would come to be known as the Super Twelve, found themselves forming an unexpected bond with the ousted leader of Iraq.
In his book, The Prisoner in His Palace, author Will Bardenwerper tells the story of these soldiers and their emotional journey. A good number of them felt a deep sense of loss over Saddam’s fate. Adam Rogerson, a Specialist in the Super Twelve, was quoted as saying, “I feel like I let him down…I almost feel like a murderer, like I killed a guy I was close to.”
Even though Saddam was considered an enemy of the United States, he was a complicated and highly cultured individual with a deep love for literature and writing. He had a special appreciation for authors such as Dostoevsky and Naguib Mahfouz and often asked for reading and writing materials during his time in confinement. He viewed the denial of pen and paper as a breach of his human rights.
As the days turned into weeks and months, a surprising connection grew between Saddam and the Super Twelve. One soldier went as far as to compare him to a caged lion. They shared stories and smoked cigars together. For these 13 men, their assignment to guard Saddam had morphed into something more than just a duty – it had become a friendship that broke through the barriers of politics and ideology.