Features

Saddam's spam

Technology | Brian McWilliams taps into Saddam Hussein's email inbox

Issue: "Unions: Dues and don'ts," Nov. 30, 2002

Even Saddam Hussein receives a lot of spam. That's what Brian McWilliams learned after he went digging through Saddam's e-mail. He says he accessed an account belonging to the Iraqi government and downloaded hundreds of messages.

The Durham-based writer found a link on the official Iraqi website (http://www.uruklink.net/iraq) that let people send mail to Saddam. He then found a place where users can check their e-mail. So he tried press@ uruklink.net ("press" for "president") and tried "press" as a password. That turned up the e-mail messages.

"It took a long time. I was about to hit stop, but then, boom! The inbox appeared," Mr. McWilliams said. The messages were from last summer, before the inbox filled to capacity. He said that the Iraqis had not read or responded to them.

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Much of the mail was spam (along with some nastygrams from angry Americans), but Mr. McWilliams said he found some messages that disturbed him. They included a message from a wireless company's CEO requesting a meeting with Saddam, interview requests from journalists, and a few fan letters. Someone from Austria wrote that "you need only send a ticket and I will come to Iraq to fight Americans."

Mr. McWilliams said he hasn't heard from either U.S. or Iraqi officials--but his trick to access enemy e-mail no longer works.

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