HOW WE GOT SADDAM

How did U.S. troops finally find Saddam Hussein, after all these months in hiding?The job had become a "maddening challenge," the Times says. Saddam had "20 to 30 hide-outs and moved as often as every three to four hours."This shifting maze became easier to navigate, according to the Washington Post, when American forces "shifted the focus of their hunt from Hussein's innermost circle to the more distant relatives and tribal allies who they suspected had been sheltering the deposed president."In late November, CIA and military intelligence analysts "commenced a fresh review... of the vast trove of information already in hand about 'the people helping to facilitate (Saddam's) freedom,' one official said. These were not the men and women featured on the 55-card deck of top fugitives, many of whom are in custody, or even the circle just beyond them. But they were bound by fierce bonds of loyalty, and the analysts culled from among those Iraqis a list of 'most likely facilitators.'"A series of arrests led analysts -- by investigating ties of blood and clan -- ever closer to those in contact with Hussein. The decisive arrests began during the first week of December, officials said."Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division told reporters, "Over the last 10 days or so we brought in about five to 10 members of these families who then were able to give us even more information. And finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."THERE'S MORE: "Saddam Hussein's capture is already reaping dividends for the U.S. military, providing intelligence that allowed U.S. soldiers to capture several top regime figures and uncover rebel cells in the capital," the Associated Press reports."Since Saddam's capture on Saturday, U.S. Army teams from the 1st Armored Division have captured one high-ranking former regime figure - who has yet to be named - and that prisoner has given up a few others," says the AP, relying on word from the 1st's Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling."The intelligence that led the military to the men came from the first transcript of Saddam's initial interrogation, and a briefcase of documents Saddam carried with him at the time of his arrest."That would appear to be a reference to the minutes of an Iraqi insurgence meeting, which Time said yesterday was found with Saddam.AND MORE: Early in the Iraq afterwar, the U.S. government offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture. But American troops got their information on Saddam's whereabouts from interogations, not from tips. So now, one of those pesky, anonymous "senior officials" is crowing to the Post that "we saved the taxpayer $25 million."Defense Tech pal JH says that's lame."Since the $25 million bounty isn't going to an informant, why notdistribute it to American troops?" he suggests. Throw in the money found in Saddam's hole, and every G.I. in Iraq could get a couple hundred bucks. Or, give the 500 or so troops that participated in Operation Red Dawn a real Christmas present: $50,000 a piece.

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