May 17, 2003
How Goes The Hunt?

I have made the following changes in my Ba'ath Poker files:

  1. The button is no longer yellow, and is in the right-hand column.
  2. The Nine of Hearts, reported captured on May 1st, has been deleted. Two weeks later, he's still not on the CentCom list, and they certainly ought to know whether he's in custody. Do the news media owe us a correction on that?
  3. Some dates of captures have been changed to match the CentCom list. Oddly, three people were reported in the press to have been captured from two to five days before the official CentCom dates. These can't just be lucky guesses, because they were right: all three (or three out of four, if we count the Nine of Hearts) have since turned up on the CentCom list. I can only assume that there were delicate negotiations, and the press reported them captured when they were still actually at large. Were tribal chieftains, or Kurds, or Syrian or Iranian border guards holding them? If so, did any money change hands? That might explain the delay, since haggling takes time.
  4. There are now 24 of the Top 55, and 24 of the Deck of 52 in custody: we're approaching the half-way mark in only five weeks (counting from the first capture, which was three days after the statue toppled).
  5. All graphs and charts have been adjusted to reflect revisions in the data.

Overall conclusion: After a long lull, captures seem to be picking up again, though it's too early to tell whether the trend will continue. The first capture was on April 12th. In the first three weeks (counting the 12th), 18 wanted Iraqis were picked up: that's nearly one per day. In the next twelve days (May 3rd-14th) only two were apprehended, a Five and a Two. But in the last three days (May 15th-17th), we have picked up another Two, a Three, and two face cards, a Queen and a Jack. We still have none of the Top Eight Iraqis (the Aces and Kings) in custody, but we have fully half of the Next Eight: three Queens and a Jack. The Two of Diamonds was reported captured on Thursday along with 200 other Baathists, including three generals, who were presumably on CentCom's longer list of 200 wanted Iraqis, though I don't believe that list has been published. Is the noose tightening? Are fugitives gathering in groups? That should make them easier to find, though actually picking them up could get more dangerous.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 17, 2003 03:50 PM