While the smoke was still clearing from the Fourth of July sparklers, an Oklahoma lawmaker was giving his testimony of how Saddam Hussein was smoked out of his hole.
Retired Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who serves as a state senator representing District 45, was the special guest on televangelist Benny Hinn’s “This Is Your Day” on July 5. He’s described as the man “who led the capture of Saddam Hussein” in the introduction.
“This is one of the men who caught Saddam Hussein in Iraq,” Hinn said, introducing the lawmaker during the patriotic programming. “I have many questions for him.”
Russell discussed getting a letter that had spiritual implications from a man in central Texas.
“About the last two or three weeks before (Saddam) was caught, there was this snowballing of things that came together,” Russell said.
“I had no idea who he was. He had seen me on TV; they were covering my unit, and he’d seen me interviewed and different things and heard I was a praying man. He said, ‘I want to send you an encouraging word.’ He said ‘God knows where Saddam is. If you pray and ask for his assistance, it’s just a matter of leading the soldiers to that location. He knows where he is.'”
An Agence France-Presse published just a few days after Saddam was apprehended in December of 2003 claimed that the unit Russell commanded was upset they did not get to take part in grabbing Saddam.
“Lieutenant-Colonel Russell and his troops had played a key role in the run-up to Hussein’s arrest but, much to their chagrin, were not in on the final operation conducted by fellow 4th Infantry Division soldiers,” according to the 2003 story. “As their three-car convoy rolled through the eerily silent streets of Tikrit late on Sunday, Sergeant Cesar Garcia said: ‘We batted for eight innings and someone else got the ninth. It’s every soldier’s dream to catch Saddam.'”
Russell previously told Oklahoma Gazette that he and his men of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division were in position around the farm where Saddam was hiding, along with hundreds of other troops, the day of the raid. They helped form what Russell called a “cordon,” which was assembled to make sure nobody got out. Russell and his men did not make the actual find and arrest, but they participated in the raid.
“We did not have any clue that we would be associated with the hunt for Saddam at all,” Russell told Hinn. “We did have a sense at the time that we might be here for a reason.”
OK, let’s get down to the dirty details. CFN readers know Saddam was smoked out of his hole, but what did his hole look like?
“It was like a grave,” Russell told the televangelist. “If you were to take a 6-foot folding table and sit underneath it, (those were) the dimensions of the hole. I’m not a large man, and for me to get in it, I had to strip off all of my gear to sit inside the hole, and I could barely sit up as I was down in it.”
If that’s not enough dirt, Russell said he’s writing a book, tentatively titled “We Got Him: A Memoir Behind the Capture of Saddam.”