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Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.


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This is One of the Most Surreal Experiences of My Life

March 8, 2006
9:30 p.m. Local Time
Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace

This is too surreal! I’m in Baghdad, outside next to Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace. The place that this man was sworn in as President. The place where this man spent most of his time. The place this man considered home even though he had multiple palaces throughout the country while his own people lived in squalor.

To make things more strange. I'm standing next to Saddam’s swimming pool, diving board, blue tile and all. I can imagine Ude and Kuse swimming in the pool and plotting their next horrible deeds as Saddam ruled from on high. I wrap my long sleeve shirt around me this evening because it is starting to get a little cold.

Now, as if all of this isn’t enough, this is Wednesday night and apparently this is a special night for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Was it target practice you ask? No. Ordinance disposal? Wrong. Perhaps, Arabic classes? Wrong again.

No. Wednesday night at the coalition base here in Baghdad is . . . karaoke. And tonight? Oh baby!

So, as I listen to incredible and often horrible renditions of “I’m Proud to Be an American” and “Lady,” I have to wonder just how weird this it. I also wonder what Saddam would say and do if he could see and hear what I am seeing.

The crowd of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines love the show. They scream and clap and wave their lights.

So, with all of this around me, you would think that this is enough, that it couldn’t get any weirder than this. But, my friend, you ain’t seen nothing you.

Just as I am contemplating my next move, I see to very tough Army Rangers move onto the karaoke stage. Rangers are about as tough as it gets and I’m a little surprised that they would be involved at all with karaoke. And then I just about fall over. The music starts and they belt out, I kid you not, “It’s Rainin’ Men.” You heard me. . . .

So, to finish this off, I feel only one action is appropriate, I pull of my shirt and dive into Saddam’s pool with the sounds of “It’s Rainin’ Men” in my ears.

The water is absolutely freezing but I laugh out loud. How can I not? This is undoubtedly one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

I get out of the pull shaking and try to dry myself off as a half a dozen marines step on stage to perform another ditty. Oh my . . .