The next morning, the Kuwait Information Office was already in gear, offering field trips. Journalists could sign up to visit the torture chamber and see the electric sanders where the Iraqis peeled off people's skin and the electric wires they attached to their hands and private parts. Or you could go to the morgue at Mubarak Hospital and see the mutilated Kuwaiti bodies, including the girl who had had the top of her skull neatly sawed off. There were rumors that hundreds of Iraqi bodies were to be found on the road to Baghdad just northwest of Kuwait city.
Neuffer of the Boston Globe and I set off uncertainly to interview some members of the Kuwaiti resistance. We weren't sure we weren't missing something else important, but in a city with no phones, no television and no news wires, how was one to be sure?
"Mort," I said, stopping Associated Press reporter Mort Rosenblum outside the hotel. "What's the daily (story) today?"
"The bodies," he said matter of factly, chewing on a pipe. "Definitely the bodies."
The city was chaos on top of chaos. Teen-age resistance leaders manned the checkpoints, dangerously waving AK-47s and grinning at passers-by. Celebratory caravans of cars careened down the corniche. Six renegade Saudi tanks that had become separated from their convoy plunged into midday traffic and across a dividing berm, the drivers peeping uncertainly out of their turrets, trying to figure out where everybody else went.
"They lost their way, the army," my Kuwaiti driver explained. A group of Qatari trucks honked their way up the boulevard and further tied up traffic. "Worse than the Iraqis," he grimaced.
Kuwaitis all over town were out changing the street signs and building signs. Abdullah Salem Secondary School had been renamed, during the occupation, Saddam Hussein School. Now it was back to Abdullah Salem. Mubarak Hospital had been named Al Feda'a, or "martyrdom," hospital. Not anymore.
Day after day, we prowled the city and recorded its horrors, returning to candle-lit rooms at night to describe the devastation and phone it back to the United States. I searched for my colleagues on deadline by feeling my way along the darkened hotel hallways and reading the numbers on the doors like Braille.
A newsmagazine photographer rushed into the lobby the next morning, his face flushed under four days' growth of beard.
"I've been with the Special Forces. Almost to Baghdad," he said triumphantly. This was a man who barely a week earlier had announced to the assembled multitude at the Dhahran coffee shop that the war had to be stopped. "War," he had told us, "is the ultimate obscenity."
Now he was describing scenes of Iraqi foxholes that were barely thigh high, of troop bunkers made out of irregular concrete blocks. There were bodies everywhere, he said with an astonished grin, bodies in the bunkers, out of the bunkers, on the roads, in the desert, he figured 250,000 Iraqi dead.
"It was the U.S. Army's finest hour," he said in wonder.
I picked up my laptop computer and went over to where a single light bulb illuminated a table top and began, to the sound of sporadic gunshots in the distance, typing my story about peace coming to Kuwait.