April 13, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The doors of the townhouse opened to reveal a playboy's fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile.
Troops thought it was the home of Saddam Hussein's mistress, though on the wall and in the bedroom were photos of the Iraqi president and a woman who appeared to be his wife. The company commander suspected they had found one of the Iraqi leader's many safe houses.
"This must have been Saddam's love shack," said Sgt. Spencer Willardson of Logan, Utah.
The split-level, one-bedroom townhouse is in a Baath Party enclave in an upscale neighborhood in central Baghdad where generals and senior party officials lived.
Not far off was another presidential palace, this one with a Yugoslav-built, chemical and biological weapons-proof bunker underneath it. A U.S. Army team inspected it and it appeared to be strictly defensive in nature.
But this home was different: beanbag chairs, a garden of plastic plants, a sunken kitchen and a room for a servant, all 1960s-style.
The sunken wet bar was stocked with 20-year-old Italian red wines and expensive cognacs, brandies and Scotch whiskeys, the same brands found in several presidential palaces.
The glassware, too, was the same pattern that was found in at least three palaces visited by U.S. troops. The pattern features the Iraqi government seal and a gold pattern on the rim.
But when it came time to eat dinner, Hussein was served his food on the official fine china of the Kuwaiti royal family, complete with the family seal and gold and maroon trim.
Capt. Chris Carter, commander of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, said the home appears to be one of Hussein's safe houses. Officials concluded the house was used by Parisoula Lampsos, who publicly claimed to be Hussein's mistress. She escaped to Lebanon in 2002. She is believed to be in hiding.
The photos show Hussein and a woman smiling at each other and standing beside one another -- in one Hussein wears a uniform and in another a suit.
Upstairs was a television room with bright blue, pink and yellow throw pillows. The bathroom included a whirlpool bath. The king-size bed was fitted into an alcove with mirrors on two sides and a fantasy painting on the third.