Broadman & Holman Publishers
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
Monday, 26 January 1998
1050 Hours, Local
Captain Mitch Vecchio sat in the reception area of the FBI headquarters and looked at his watch. He had worn his TWA pilot’s uniform to the meeting both to impress the people he was about to meet and to save time. Vecchio had to be at Dulles for a listed flight and was hoping he hadn’t scheduled his time too tightly. His appointment with FBI Special Agent Glenn Wallace wasn’t until eleven o’clock, but Vecchio had hoped that by coming in a few minutes early he might get it pushed up.
“Did you tell Agent Wallace I was here?” Vecchio asked for the second time. The receptionist nodded but offered no further information.
He had called the FBI earlier that morning after thinking it over for several months. He knew that they’d be asking why it took him so long to come forward, but he wasn’t entirely sure himself.ഊIt had begun on one of his TWA flights overseas with a layover in London. When he was changing out of his uniform in the pilots’ lounge, he noticed a poster on the bulletin board near the lockers. It was an international “BOLO” notice, distributed by the FBI, Interpol, and various other law enforcement agencies alerting each other, all border checkpoints, transportation authorities, and local law enforcement to “be on the lookout” for fugitives wanted because of their involvement in serious crimes. In his years as an airline pilot, Mitch Vecchio had seen dozens of these bulletins hanging in briefing rooms and airport offices—and had never given them more than a cursory glance. But this time Vecchio was stunned to recognize the picture on the poster. The “criminal” being sought was someone he knew.
The caption beneath the photograph stated that the fugitive’s name was “Gilbert Duncan” and that he was an Irish terrorist wanted by Interpol for placing a bomb on a UN airplane in March of 1995, causing it to explode over Iraq, killing all aboard. Mitch vaguely remembered something in the news about an incident in Iraq involving the loss of a UN plane. But that wasn’t what had caught his attention—it was the photograph.
Mitch Vecchio knew for certain that the “terrorist” in the photo was not Gilbert Duncan.
He was Pete Newman, the husband of a former TWA flight attendant. And the reason he knew it was her husband was because he had seen the photo in her wallet—the wallet she left on the dresser on the occasions when they shared a hotel room.
Vecchio recalled when Rachel Newman came to him and broke off their year-long affair. It was right after she got religion, he remembered. He had thought she’d get over the religion thing and come back to him—at least he’d hoped she would. But Rachel disappeared shortly after that. And Vecchio hadn’t seen Rachel or her husband since—almost three years now.
Mitch remembered driving by the Newmans’ Falls Church, Virginia, home one Sunday, a month or two after he’d seen Rachel for the last time. He was surprised that there was a “For Sale” sign out front and that a realtor was holding an open house.ഊVecchio stopped, went in and met the realtor, and asked discreetly about the reason the couple was selling their house. The real estate agent shrugged and said, “I’m not sure what happened. I’m told that there was a death in the family and a sister from out of town is selling the house.”
As he drove away from the Newman’s home, Vecchio’s imaginative and suspicious mind played that information over and over. At first he wondered if Pete Newman had discovered his affair with Rachel, maybe even killed his wife in a jealous rage. But no, Mitch would have read about such a thing in the papers. Then he thought maybe Rachel had killed herself because she felt such guilt and remorse about dumping him. His ego liked that theory, but even he had to admit that it wasn’t any more likely than the first idea. Mitch was troubled to think that, in either case, Rachel might be the one who was dead. He had wondered about the Newmans, off and on, for many months.
It wasn’t until he saw that poster that he began to put things together.
An FBI agent interrupted the pilot’s reverie. “Captain Vecchio? I’m Special Agent Glenn Wallace. Would you like to come with me into a conference room where we can talk?”
“Hi…Mitch Vecchio…glad to meet you.” He stood and shook Agent Wallace’s hand. Mitch followed him into a nearby room where the two of them sat down in adjoining seats at the end of a long, oval table.
“You said when you called that you had some information regarding an international fugitive who’s wanted for murder and terrorist acts?”
Vecchio nodded. “But you’ve got the wrong name on the wanted poster. He’s not Irish, he’s American,” he said. “And I don’t believe he’s a terrorist.”
Agent Wallace looked up from his legal pad. “Just who are we talking about?”
“The guy you’re calling Gilbert Duncan. He’s not Irish—I know him. He’s a U.S. Marine officer. His name is Peter Newman. He lived in Falls Church until a couple years ago. I—I was…uh…a close friend, I mean… a co-worker, with his wife. I think herഊhusband was a Marine Major or Colonel—something like that—and he worked at the White House, I do remember that. She told me a little about him, but not all that much. I got the idea that her husband’s work was secret or classified or whatever.”
The FBI agent was giving the pilot his full attention now. “Go on.”
“Well, no…that’s it. That’s all I know. Gilbert Duncan is Peter Newman. I mean Pete Newman is Duncan. Duncan’s not his real name, and he’s not an Irish national. I just thought you ought to know.”
Agent Wallace was not content with such sketchy information. And he was savvy enough to recognize in the pilot’s stammer that there was likely a good bit more to this story. When Mitch stood to leave, Wallace tugged at his uniform sleeve and pulled him back into the chair. “Just a minute, Captain Vecchio. I have a few more questions about this matter, but I need to check on something first. Can you give me a few minutes?”
“Uh, well, I’ve got a flight at 3 o’clock this afternoon out of Dulles. How long will this take?” Vecchio was beginning to regret having come here.
“Not long at all. Wait here. I’ll be right back.” Agent Wallace spoke the words like an order and not a request; then he rose and left the conference room by a back door.
Special Agent Glenn Wallace hated walk-in duty. Every junior and mid-grade agent assigned to the Hoover Building had to stand a shift of this duty a couple of times a year. In addition to doing their regular jobs, the younger agents were required to spend a day responding to inquiries and taking down information brought to them by any citizen who strolled through the front door. It made for great break room chatter: people talking about receiving covert messages through fillings in their molars, reports of alien abductions… you name it, and you were likely to hear it on walk-in duty.
Outside the back door of the conference room, Agent Wallace went to a computer terminal reserved for the duty officer’s use and typed the names “Peter Newman” and “Gilbert Duncan” into the “search” field. There was a brief pause while the computerഊcrunched information from a server located far off in the mountains of West Virginia.
Suddenly, the borders of the display on the monitor turned red, and a box appeared in the center of the screen:
An instant later, a phone next to the computer terminal rang.
“Special Agent Glenn Wallace.”
“No sir, it was in response to information from a walk-in.”
He listened some more.
Wallace hung up the phone, clicked “exit” on the computer screen, and grimaced.
Just my luck. This nut case Vecchio has to show up on my watch. You’d think he was coming in here claiming to know the identity of the shooter on the grassy knoll. Whatever he said, the FBI head shed went nuts. Sounds like I’ll be writing this one up for weeks.
Agent Wallace walked back into the room. There was a sheen of sweat on Mitch Vecchio’s forehead, but he looked like he hadn’t moved.
“Mr. Vecchio, I think you’d better make a call to whoever it is you report to, because it’s quite likely you aren’t going to make your flight this afternoon.”
“W-why is that?”
“We need some more information on this Peter Newman or rather Gilbert Duncan character. You can use the phone at the reception desk. I’ll be right here, waiting.”
The airline captain had a sick look on his face. He got up out of the chair and walked slowly toward reception. A minute or so later, he came back into the conference room. This time, he put the width of the conference table between himself and Agent Wallace.
“Why don’t we start at the beginning and you tell me how it is you know this person?” Wallace turned to a fresh sheet of paper and leaned forward, staring in anticipation of Vecchio’s answer.
Almost two hours and nine pages of legal tablet later, Special Agent Glenn Wallace leaned back in his chair and looked Vecchio squarely in the eye.
“Now…what I want to know is for how long you and Newman’s wife were having this affair.”
Vecchio slumped back in the chair and his mouth dropped open. Wallace knew he had him; Mitch Vecchio was ready to tell the FBI anything they wanted to know.
* * *
OFFFICE OF FOREIGN MISSIONS
FBI Liaison Office
U.S. Department of State
Thursday, 29 January 1998
1935 Hours, Local
Three days after Agent Glenn Wallace in DC started the file on Peter Newman following his interview with Mitch Vecchio, FBI Agent Robert Hallstrom, a twenty-one-year veteran of the FBI, was surfing the computer files in the FBI data bank. Most of the other people in his section had left for the day.
The Newman file had been forwarded to the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism office in New York, and on to the FBI Counter-Terrorism Liaison Office at the State Department.
Wallace had poked around some more, trying to learn about Gilbert Duncan, aka Peter Newman. The young agent had done a little more digging in the Bureau’s main Criminal Index files and in Nexus/Lexis, but after running into various firewalls he gave up andഊsubmitted what he considered to be a rather cursory report to his superiors. Within a day, Wallace was busy again with his regular cases, the so-called terrorist with dual identities forgotten.
The file languished in an overflowing electronic in-box for just twenty-four hours before an FBI computer analyst entered it, without comment, into the FBI’s Counter Terrorism database.
And now, only eighty-one hours after Mitch Vecchio had walked into the Hoover Building, FBI Senior Special Agent Robert Hallstrom was reading the file.
The reason Hallstrom was working late had nothing to do with his conscientious nature; FBI Agent Hallstrom was a Russian mole. He’d started spying for the Soviet Committee on State Security—the KGB—in 1979, when Russia was still part of the Soviet Union. At the time, Hallstrom had some serious financial problems and decided selling secrets might prove both financially lucrative and intellectually challenging. Just four years after joining the Bureau in ’75, Bob Hallstrom was recruited by the KGB.
The fledgling spy had begun his espionage career audaciously. Because he was familiar with U.S. counter-espionage techniques, Hallstrom refused to identify himself to the Russians, other than the fact that he worked for an American intelligence organization. Using the alias Julio Morales, Hallstrom had written to the home address of a Russian GRU agent operating undercover as a UN diplomat in New York. He told the Russian to deliver a sealed envelope personally to the KGB. The GRU agent’s home address was covered by diplomatic immunity; his mail wouldn’t be intercepted and read by FBI “flaps and seals” technicians. Also, by keeping the Russians in the dark about who he really was and where he worked, Hallstrom was confident he could effectively eliminate any risk of getting caught by his Bureau colleagues.
The KGB officer who opened Hallstrom’s letter was Major Dimitri Komulakov. Hallstrom had found his name on a list of Russian diplomats that the FBI suspected of spying for the KGB. Komulakov was indeed a rising star in the Soviet intelligenceഊapparat, having been awarded the Order of Lenin for his spycraft and overseas work, especially in the United States. In 1979, when Hallstrom first wrote to him, Komulakov was assigned to the Russian Embassy in Washington as a cultural and trade attaché.
The first package of secrets that Hallstrom delivered to Komulakov immediately caught the eye of the KGB hierarchy at Moscow Center. And over time, Komulakov earned ever-higher accolades from his Moscow superiors for the quality of intelligence that Hallstrom was sending them. Komulakov’s career had spiraled ever upward after that.
Hallstrom’s first package, to prove his capability and sincerity, contained volatile information. He gave the Russians the names of Soviet military officers who were double agents for the United States. Eventually, he also betrayed other American spies overseas, and the Russians, thoroughly impressed, left huge sums of U.S. currency at his designated dead drops.
In the ensuing years, Hallstrom sent the KGB hundreds of packages of national security secrets, including reams of classified documents and countless computer disks with volumes of data about U.S. weapons, military equipment, covert military plans and details about intelligence operations—including the names of the U.S. and foreign national personnel involved. From time to time, Hallstrom would hear about agents who were killed or captured—agents he had betrayed—but the KGB mole never accepted personal responsibility for their deaths. “It’s a mean business,” he would tell himself.
“They knew the risk. People are bound to get hurt.”
Hallstrom was promoted several times, not so much for his proficient FBI work but simply due to his seniority with the Bureau or because some superior in his then-current position grew tired or irritated at Hallstrom’s odd personality and habits and had him “promoted” to a new assignment just to get rid of him; ironically, each time the spy was moved, it was to another sensitive area. This gave Hallstrom access and opportunities to compromise more and more of his nation’s most sensitive secrets—ഊsecrets ranging ever wider in scope and intelligence value.
By 1997, Hallstrom was one of the FBI’s most senior counter-terrorism agents, with access to information and materials from other U.S. intelligence agencies as well. He was able to send the new Russian Foreign Intelligence Service packages of photocopied documents of CIA files, NSA intercepts and other secrets, along with highly sensitive FBI counter-intelligence documents.
In the 1980’s when Komulakov “retired” from the KGB, re-assigned to diplomatic service by the Soviets, Hallstrom, the most productive mole in the U.S. government, was handed off to another Russian KGB officer. Hallstrom continued to leave secrets at dead drops that he alone would select and, in return, they would leave him packages of cash and diamonds. He had made it known to his handlers that he was especially fond of diamonds—they were much harder to trace and easy to exchange for cash. And because the quality of the information he provided was so good, his normally penurious KGB go-between willingly complied with packages of money and jewels.
In the 90’s, when the USSR collapsed and the Russian Federation was formed, the world was told that the KGB had been disbanded. But in fact only the name had changed, and “Julio Morales,” as the Russians knew him, continued as the FBI mole for the successors to the KGB, the new Federal Security Service, or SVR.
On the night of 29 January 1998, Hallstrom was surfing through the FBI’s counter-terrorism database computer files, looking for new information to sell to the Russians, when he came across Agent Glenn Wallace’s file on “Peter Newman/Gilbert Duncan.” He read it quickly, not seeing anything of tremendous value, when he suddenly saw a quite familiar name: General Dimitri Komulakov.
Wallace’s report was based on speculation from an airline pilot named Vecchio about some kind of secret mission involving a Marine officer named Newman who had served on the NSC Staff and his being misidentified as an IRA terrorist named Duncan. Wallace had also included Vecchio‘s “confession” that he’d had an affair with the Marine’s extremely attractiveഊwife, if the file pictures were any indication. The information was titillating, but hardly worth the attention of the FBI. However, in the backup material, Agent Wallace had attached a 1995 FBI interview with Dr. Simon Harrod, in which the former National Security Advisor emphatically insisted that Newman had been tragically killed on a highly sensitive UN-directed mission—and that the operation had been compromised by the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations—Dimitri Komulakov, Hallstrom’s former handler.
Fascinated by what he was reading on the computer screen, Hallstrom looked for any follow-up on the National Security Advisor’s ’95 allegations. He could find none.
He did a computer search in the FBI’s Automated Case Support system to see if there were any files that were related to this case file submitted by Agent Wallace. The ACS search turned up three others. The first was a duplicate of the 1995 interview with Harrod that a senior Justice Department official had sent to the President in November.
Hallstrom found a second file in a CIA database that was apparently a copy of a British MI6 interview with a Special Air Service officer attached to the United Nations under Komulakov. The SAS officer, Lt. Col. Wilbur Ellwood, had apparently given testimony—before his untimely death—that General Komulakov had compromised a United Nations operation, but Ellwood was unable to provide proof of Komulakov’s complicity, so the British had never followed up the charge. However, the report also gave additional details of a failed UN mission in Iraq in March 1995, the same one referred to in the Harrod debrief. In Ellwood’s deposition, he claimed Komulakov had compromised the mission and then blamed Newman. The British officer also alleged that Komulakov had caused international arrest warrants to be issued for the Irish terrorist, Gilbert Duncan, but that Duncan was really a U.S. Marine officer—Lt. Col. Peter Newman.
Hallstrom opened a third entry, an FBI file dated April 1997. A special agent in the Washington Field Office had received the file from former Marine Lt. Col. OliverഊNorth. Hallstrom read the file with renewed interest. It contained a transcript from some computer files—submitted by a retired CIA officer, William Goode. Apparently it was information taken from a laptop computer that more or less proved Komulakov’s complicity in a UN-directed attempt to assassinate known international “lawbreakers,” including names like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, during an attack on Saddam’s palace in Tikrit on 6 March 1995. The information provided by North and Goode also pointed to the complicity of Simon Harrod, and to a Silicon Valley defense contractor, along with Komulakov and some “freelance” Russian agents. Yet no one had yet connected the dots and gone after those mentioned in the allegations.
Hallstrom quickly realized that if others in the FBI put all this information together, there would be enough information for the FBI to arrest Komulakov if he ever returned to the United States. He also wondered what the other U.S. intelligence agencies might have done or would be doing with the new information that Agent Wallace had stumbled upon.
Hallstrom checked to see where the Wallace files had been sent. As far as he could tell, there were only five addresses. One was the Attorney General’s, another copy went to the President, one each to the directors of the FBI and CIA, and a final copy to the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command—Lt. General George Grisham, USMC.
The FBI spy saved the file to a 3.5” floppy disk. After the information had downloaded, he closed the files, logged out, and shut down the computer. Just before the screen went black, Hallstrom removed the floppy disk with the copied files, slipping it into his attaché case.
When he got to his car in the parking garage beneath the State Department, Hallstrom removed a 5” x 7” manila envelope from his glove compartment and wrote on it, “Pass along to General Dimitri Komulakov—VERY URGENT—From Julio Morales” and sealed the disk inside. Then, instead of proceeding directly to the E StreetഊExpressway and across the Roosevelt Bridge as he normally would have on his commute to his home in Vienna, Virginia, Hallstrom traveled up 23 rd Street to Washington Circle.
There, he made a double loop of the circle to make sure he wasn’t being followed, and on his second loop suddenly turned north on New Hampshire. Once again checking his rearview mirror for any sign of a tail, he made another quick left—turning north on 22nd Street, then a hard right on Q.
Just after crossing 20 th Street, Hallstrom pulled his car over and parked in an open spot. He stayed there long enough to be certain that he had slipped away from anyone who might be following him, and then he put on a pair of thin leather driving gloves.
Reaching under the seat, he retrieved a roll of one-inch, white adhesive tape. From the roll of tape, he tore off a foot-long strip and taped it to his shirt under his jacket. Then Hallstrom got out of his car and walked quickly, less than seventy-five feet to the intersection of 20 th and Connecticut Avenue. There, on the north side of a utility pole, so that it could be easily seen by traffic proceeding south on Connecticut, he reached under his jacket, took the strip of adhesive tape and placed it vertically on the pole, about seven feet above the sidewalk.
Confident that his pre-arranged emergency “Call Out” signal would be spotted by a Russian “diplomat” the following day, Hallstrom returned to his car, removed his gloves, pulled out of his parking spot, turned right on Connecticut and proceeded South where Connecticut turned into 17 th Street. He pulled over once again, this time opposite the Old Executive Office Building, to make sure yet again that nobody was following him, then made a right turn onto New York Avenue, onto the E Street Expressway, across the Potomac, and into Virginia on Route 66.
Hallstrom exited the interstate as he usually did, at Nutley Street, but instead of going directly home, he made several turns in Vienna, then headed down Creek Crossing Road to the entrance of Foxstone Park. He stopped the car and opened his trunk, removing a green garbage bag. He placed the manila envelope in the bag and stuffed itഊinside the north-facing side of the storm drain underneath the blacktop drive into the park.
Feeling satisfied with his evening’s work, Hallstrom drove home for a late supper with his wife, who would have already fed the children. The kids would all be doing their school homework—disciplined just as he had trained them to do.
* * *
Friday, 30 January 1998
0905 Hours, Local
An iron door clanged against the limestone wall of the ancient prison and awoke the prisoner with a start. He shivered in the damp cold of the cell. British Special Air Services Captain Bruno Macklin was lying on a concrete slab in the corner of the eight-foot square, windowless room, clad only in a dirty T-shirt and a pair of baggy prison dungarees. Almost three years earlier, he had been stripped of his desert camouflage uniform. He knew that even if he had it, it would no longer fit his shrunken frame.
Captain Macklin was a survivor of the mission headed by Lt. Col. Peter Newman and assumed that he was the only one to make it. He often wondered if those who were dead had been the lucky ones.
Captured when his Quick Reaction/Extraction Force unit crossed into Iraq from northern Turkey to rescue any survivors of the doomed mission, he had been mercilessly beaten by his captors. His nose and left wrist were broken, and he had a number ofഊlacerations that festered with infection and never healed properly.
A guard stood outside his cell, apparently the cause of the noise that woke him. The guard, a skinny kid about eighteen, wore an ill-fitting Iraqi Army uniform; he had rolled up his sleeves so they wouldn’t hang down past his hands. Fortunately he was also able to blouse his pant legs over his boots or he’d likely trip over his cuffs. The kid called out in broken English, “Hey, you get food now. Come, eat.”
Macklin looked at the “tray” his guard was carrying. It was a piece of cardboard box, on which the kid had balanced a tin cup of water and two small pieces of hard bread.
It was the only nourishment he was likely to get today. But the delivery of this meager ration was enough to break the monotony. He would eat the bread and conserve the water. Then—if it was a good day—he would be able to go back to sleep.
An elite unit of Hussein Kamil’s fierce SSS had captured Macklin. Hussein Kamil, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, had been given detailed information on the UN raid—even the exact route to be taken by the British officer and his QRF. The information had been provided by UN Deputy Secretary General Dimitri Komulakov and passed along to Kamil by Komulakov’s “business partner,” Leonid Dotentsk, who had just sold three nuclear weapons to Kamil, stolen from the former USSR. With the detailed intelligence supplied by Dotentsk, Kamil was able to ambush the QRF’s vehicles just after they crossed into Iraq as they sped southward along the Tigris River toward the prearranged “Zulu” pickup coordinates just north of Lake Tharthar and east of Tikrit, the site of the failed UN-directed attack on Saddam Hussein and his terrorist associates.
Macklin did not remember being thrown from the four-by-four when it was hit by the rocket-propelled grenade and being knocked unconscious by the fall.
In the firefight that followed, the small Quick Reaction/Extraction Force was outgunned twenty to one. It was a massacre. All the others were dead in minutes. At first his attackers had thought Macklin had been killed by the RPG blast; his apparently lifeless body sprawled grotesquely on the rocky ground. It wasn’t until the Iraqi soldiersഊwere searching the bodies for maps, intelligence, or just plain souvenirs, that one of the soldiers noticed that the SAS officer was still breathing. The Iraqi had raised his rifle, had pointed it at the British captain’s face, and had been about to pull the trigger when an SSS officer ordered him to stand down.
“We will take him back as a prisoner,” he had told the soldier. “Perhaps we can get him to talk.”
The first thing that Macklin remembered was being dragged into a helicopter hanger and brought before Hussein Kamil, who ordered an Amn Al-Khass major to blindfold the prisoner, take him to one of the other hangars, and guard him until he could be interrogated.
Two hours later, Kamil was about to start the interrogation when Qusay Hussein, the dictator’s son, arrived. “I’m sorry I underestimated you,” he told Kamil. “How were you able to predict the American-British attack and destroy it so effectively, dear brother-in-law?”
Kamil grinned and then lied. He wasn’t about to reveal to his rival the role of Dotentsk or the delivery of three “special” weapons, so he said, “You always underestimate me, my dear Qusay. I have a very secret source at the top of the United Nations, and a direct link from the UN command center. We knew everything about the planned mission, and we were always one step ahead of them.”
Qusay, surprised at Kamil’s response, pondered how his sister’s husband had been able to intercept the UN’s communications. However, he decided that he would wait until later to wring more from Kamil. Instead, pointing to the prisoner, he asked, “What are you going to do with him?”
“I was about to execute him.”
“No…not yet,” Qusay said.
Macklin remembered looking into Kamil’s eyes at that moment. He had no way of knowing why the Commander of the Iraqi SSS did not want any witnesses left alive.But Kamil could not tell Qusay that some of it related to his plans to soon defect to the West, and so he simply asked, “Why not kill him?”
“The United States’ National Security Advisor met with our Ambassador to the UN and offered us a deal. He guaranteed that the Americans will not interfere with our attack on the Iraqi traitors in the North and that the U.S. will stop all military assistance to the resistance movement. But in return, they do not want us to reveal to the world the story of their attack on Tikrit. The United States would be implicated and they are willing to concede the North to us if we keep quiet. They also gave us their veiled acquiescence to make sure there are no survivors from the UN Special Forces operators.”
“Yes, I know…that’s why I thought to execute this prisoner.”
“I have other plans. My father taught me that sometimes it is better to keep some prisoners alive. The time might come one day when you need them… for negotiation purposes.”
Neither of the Iraqis knew that Macklin understood their language and heard everything that they had just revealed to him about the role of senior U.S. and UN officials in the failed attack. Macklin had made a vow that moment that, God willing, he’d somehow get out of Iraq and tell people what really happened when their UN-sanctioned mission was compromised.
But now, rotting in this filthy prison cell for nearly three years, Captain Bruno Macklin was beginning to wonder if he would ever again see freedom. The interrogations, torture, and beatings had stopped a little more than a year ago. Now, he simply subsisted on meager rations, too little water, and the faint spark of hope that he was being held as a bargaining chip in case the Americans or the British ever had something that Saddam wanted. Meanwhile, he counted the days and tried to rebuild his strength. Getting out of here was a long shot, but it was all he had left to hope for.