December 30, 2006
Saddam is Dead
Above is footage of Saddam being sentenced to death by hanging last November 5 as reported by the BBC. As I write this, CNN International is repeatedly showing actual footage of Saddam in a long black jacket seconds before his execution, from the point where he was walked to the gallows and the noose put around his neck. The actual hanging wasn't shown but it was still a horrible thing to see. A photo of his dead body followed, wrapped in a white sheet with only his face exposed.
The sentence has been carried out shortly after 6:00 a.m. Baghdad time. Reports from the A.P., BBC, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Reuters.
Bush called the execution a "milestone" but acknowledged it won't end the violence in Iraq. Reaction from world governments here.
Reactions in the blogosphere, with the best one I've read from Josh Marshall:
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us. [...]From Brad Friedman:
"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," one of Hussein's attorneys points out, according to AP, apparently without even a hint of irony.From Michael J.W. Stickings:
I am disgusted. I am ashamed. I am appalled. I am saddened.
An NYT opinion piece by Kurdish neurosurgeon turned resistance fighter Najmaldin Karim calls "justice, but no reckoning" the execution of Hussein for the Dujail massacre before the second trial for the Kurdish massacre at Anfal was concluded.
That is a major question: why the rush to execute Saddam before he was tried for the Anfal campaign? Matthew Yglesias astutely points out that saving Donald Rumsfeld face -- and may I add saving the Reagan legacy from further stigma -- may be the reason, for the ugly fact is the U.S. government had a hand in creating the monster that was Saddam.
Finally, a grim assessment from Juan Cole at Salon:
In his death, as in his life, Saddam Hussein is managing to divide Iraqis and condemn them to further violence and brutality. But the Americans and the Shiite- and Kurd-dominated government bear some blame for the way they botched his trial and gave him this last opportunity to play the spoiler. [...]
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