THE QUESTION I am asked more than any other is, why don't we just blow away Saddam Hussein and be done with it? I must admit that I think about it every waking moment, and watching Hussein go up in smoke is one of my fondest dreams.
Long ago and far away, when the Bay of Pigs missed being our finest hour, the CIA contracted with the Mafia to have Castro killed. The Mafia tried everything, including poisoning Castro's cigars, but they didn't succeed.
Today, there are many in the United States who feel that just because the brotherhood failed once doesn't mean we shouldn't give them a second chance.
I went to see my friend Lucky Rico to ask if he thought that the mob might be interested in doing one of their celebrated hit jobs on the infamous Saddam.
He said, "It's not easy. The main reason why it's so difficult to kill Hussein is that every man in Iraq looks exactly like him. If you watch the evening news, the Iraqi males sport the same XTC mustache and wear the same black beret. It's no accident. Saddam knows that if we tried to get him, we'd have to wipe out all the look-alikes in his country."
"I don't approve of assassination," I told Lucky. "At the same time, it seems a shame that Saddam is still breathing in and out after the grief he's caused. What would you do if you had the contract?"
"We're not certain that we want the job. The Mafia has always believed that dictators should be strung up by their own people -- the way Mussolini was. On the other hand, if there was enough money involved, we might have a whack at it. I guess the easiest thing to do is get Hussein when he's having a shave in the barbershop. Then you don't have to worry about a moving target. If that didn't work, I'd plant cyanide in his mustache cup."
"And if those attempts failed?"
"As you know, Hussein is a very snappy dresser. I would intercept a package sent by his tailor from Italy, and sew a plastic explosive in the zipper of his trousers. Then when he unzipped them to go to bed -- POOF -- and the emperor would have no clothes."
"If you can do it, we'll pay for it," I said.
"Of course," he continued, "there's nothing wrong with taking Saddam out to a good Italian restaurant in Baghdad and holding his head under the minestrone for five minutes."
"I thought I saw that in 'The Godfather.' "
"When we take a contract on someone we want the client to be happy."
"What about an accident? Could you arrange for Hussein to be kicked in the head by one of the camels he stole from the Kurds?"
"Yes, but Saddam is too wily to get close to a camel he doesn't know. It might be better to run over him in a Russian tank while he was giving one of his cousins a medal."
"Would you kiss Saddam before you eliminated him?"
"I'm not sure. Twenty-eight years ago my father kissed Castro and it didn't do any good."