Fishin’ Accomplished: Weapons of Bass Destruction

The hunt for the Saddam Bass in Iraq.

Photo: Courtesy Sgt. 1st Class Douglas W. Anderson/US Army

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FOR SEVEN and a half years, US soldiers have been on a fishing expedition in Iraq: the hunt for the Saddam Bass.

Hundreds of the huge, carnivorous creatures swarm the moats of Baghdad’s Al Faw Palace, a sandstone citadel built by Saddam Hussein that now houses the US military HQ. The fish, which can grow to six feet and weigh more than 100 pounds, were supposedly cultivated by the dictator and his sons. A favorite base workers’ myth holds that the Husseins threw captives to the fishes, who in time developed a taste for human blood.

Today, the Saddam Bass feast on nothing nastier than chow-hall scraps, torment waterfowl, and dodge soldiers and contractors indulging in off-duty catch-and-release fishing. They even have a fan blog (thefishatalfawpalace.blogspot.com).

The fish, actually a rare variety of Tigris carp and other native freshwater species, have also been enlisted in reconstruction efforts. Many were shipped last year to a hatchery in Wasit province, where it’s hoped they’ll help restore wetlands and “revolutionize the fishing industry,” in the words of Col. Lyle Jackson, an Army veterinarian who oversaw the redeployment. “We can help the whole Iraqi economy with these fish,” he says.

Plenty of Saddam Bass still patrol the palace, mascots of sorts for the remaining troops, who will soon be coming home—or departing for Afghanistan, where they have bigger fish to fry.

For a rundown on what else the US leaves behind in its wake in Iraq, check out Mother Jones‘ slideshow on what we left behind, then join us on Facebook to post your own thoughts on the costs of the Iraq war.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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