WASHINGTON—Saddam Hussein, of course, drew the ace of spades.
The U.S. Central Command has introduced a new way for troops to pass the time: a pack of playing cards depicting the ousted Iraqi dictator and 51 of his key henchmen.
Saddam's elder son, Odai, is the ace of hearts in the deck, which has a desert camouflage design on the back of the cards. Odai has been accused of serial rapes and murders of young women. Saddam's younger son, Qusai, is the ace of clubs.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks publicly introduced the cards Friday at a news briefing in Qatar.
"This deck of cards is one example of what we provide to soldiers out in the field, with the faces of the individuals and what their role is," he said.
Officials said the cards, which also include several jokers without faces, had a purpose besides helping to kill boredom. They're a military version of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted. As they get passed around, they might help a soldier or Marine catch one of the figures.
At the Pentagon, an official said that only a couple of hundred decks had been sent to the combat zone, but that more could be dealt out in a jiffy.
The cards were made up by wags at the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is on the hunt for the depicted characters.
The Pentagon has not copyrighted the cards, which means that anyone could produce them, a defense official said.
Beyond Saddam and his sons, only a few of the faces or names would likely be familiar to a soldier.
One, perhaps, is Tariq Aziz, the longtime foreign minister, who for some reason is the lowly eight of spades.
Nowhere to be found is Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi information minister whose daily briefings—in which he denied the all-too-obvious advances of American troops—had made him the object of comedy spoofs.
He was quite a card, but he's not in the deck.
(An electronic version of the deck is available at the Pentagon's Defense Link Web site: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/g030411-D-6570C.html)
(Knight Ridder Newspapers correspondent Peter Smolowitz contributed to this report.)
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.