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Have you heard about the “human shields” deserting in Iraq?

No, it’s not a joke. Though I think I could come up with some good punch lines for that opener.

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who went to Iraq to serve as human shields from American attacks fled Iraq this past weekend – and what a story they have to tell.

It seems the human shields were granted some privileges by Saddam Hussein that most Americans would not be given. They were permitted to talk to ordinary Iraqis and videotape interviews with them when they didn’t fear Iraqi government agents were around.

And did they ever get an earful.

It was enough, apparently, to turn these Iraqi sympathizers into anti-Saddam zealots.

The group, now in Jordan, is bringing home 14 hours of unedited videotape of interviews with Iraqis eager for liberation by Americans.

According to a story by Arnaud de Borchgrave in the Washington Times, the Rev. Kenneth Joseph of the Assyrian Church of the East said his experience “had shocked me back to reality.”

He said some Iraqis were so eager for the American attacks to begin, they “told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn’t start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam’s bloody tyranny.”

Joseph said the Iraqis convinced him that Saddam is “a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists.”

“Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge human shredder for plastic products, feet first so the [torturers] could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head.”

Well, Rev. Joseph, better late than never … I’m sure glad you learned for yourself what many of us understood before you left your country on this silly peace mission.

Many of us only needed to read about the atrocities and barbarism of Saddam Hussein, learn about his connections to international terrorism and understand his links to weapons of mass destruction to form rational conclusions that he had to go.

But welcome to the party! It’s always good to see the light – even if it is very late in the day.

It’s a good thing these human shields awakened when they did. My sources suggested that they were in much greater danger from the monster they discovered in Baghdad than from the U.S. forces they went to Iraq to stop.

One of Saddam’s strategies from the beginning of the war was to maximize civilian casualties so the international anti-war movement would demand a stop to the slaughter. Saddam, if he were alive and well, planned to use his own weapons of mass destruction in ways that would raise the civilian casualty toll. Orders had also been given to put small-caliber rounds in the heads of human shields and blame their deaths on American weapons and firepower.

Once again, we see evidence that most Iraqis welcome liberation. They welcome the end of the brutal Saddam Hussein regime. They welcome freedom even if it costs them their homes and their lives.

This surprises many people in the West – people who take freedom for granted.

Iraqis have had all the brutality they can handle. They have had all the police-state fear they can handle. They have had more pain, torture and human misery than they can handle.

The time of their liberation is nigh – and they can taste it, they can smell it, they can feel it.

It’s so obvious now that even the myopic, anti-war, human-shield movement is beginning to see the truth.

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