Iraq: another day, another death.


Saddam Hussein is dead – May Allah have mercy upon him.
BBC – Iraqi media reports that the dictator responsible for over 100,000 deaths has been executed. Iraqi TV said the execution took place just before 0600 local time (0300GMT). It was witnessed by a doctor, lawyer and officials. It was also filmed.
Also CNN – “Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets.” UPDATE – A top Iraqi official denied reports on Saturday that Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq’s Revolutionary Court, and Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the half-brother and former head of the intelligence service, were executed. A statement by Mowaffak al-Rubai, the Iraqi security adviser, broadcast on al Arabiya and quoted by CNN, said the two men had not yet been executed “because we want this day to have historic meaning” by hanging only Saddam.

From Saddam’s letter last month:

I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice …

I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples…

So, Bush avenges his Daddy at last, putting to use a skill he learned while governor in Texas — executin’ people. How pathetic. Now the wingers can have one last wargasm as Iraq slowly descends into chaos. Excuse me if I prefer not to celebrate. ~spk

85 Replies to “Iraq: another day, another death.”

  1. will Poppy be sending a ‘well done’ to Junior over this? Will Junior be demanding gratitude for this?

    an eye for an eye, making the world blind….

    -5.75,-4.05 “I am in earnest; I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard.”
    William Lloyd Garrison
    US abolitionist & editor (1805 – 1879)

  2. There is no cause for rejoicing here. Whatever Saddam’s evil he was killed by order of a clearly illegally constituted court aided and abetted by the political demands of the United States. Murder is murder no matter who perpetuates it and what we are left with in Saddam’s death is the legacy of more shameful action on the part of our nation and yet more “strange fruit” hanging on our conscious. I for one feel a great sense of shame.

    In the words of Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” …

    Southern trees bear strange fruit,
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
    The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
    Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
    Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

    Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
    For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
    Here is a strange and bitter crop.

    -Lewis Allen (Abel Merropol)

  3. My wrath is only directed at the shabby, disreputable process by which it was done. As Stirling pointed out, it’s not justice when a criminal stabs another criminal in prison. It’s justice when it’s seen to be justice – open, fair and transparent.

    With the amount of evidence against him, he could have been hung a dozen times in a fair, open trial in a third nation, before a court with some sort of international legitimacy – instead of that freakshow kangaroo court. Poor protection of his legal team leading to their torture and death, arbitrary replacement of judges, politicization – and through it all the specter of America as puppetmaster dictating so much of tempo and tactic that there will be inevitable conviction that they also dictated the verdict and the sentence.

    Sure, the planet’s crust is now lighter by one dictator. But fuelled by outrage at the tawdry nature of the process, there is now going to be blowback. As at least some of that blowback will be directly measured in dead Americans, I’d save self-congratulation until you receive the butcher’s bill.

  4. Nobody asks “did they deserve it?” of the people that were lynched.

    Who knows? Maybe some of those bodies hanging in Southern trees weren’t killed for plain flat-out racism. Maybe some of them actually were criminals or rapists; maybe some of them “deserved to die”.

    But to even ask that question completely misses the point of the shame we feel when we think of that “strange fruit” hanging swaying in the breeze.

    It wouldn’t matter if they were; that is not what justice looks like.

  5. ’twas ever thus, the Greeks, the Romans, the Aztecs, Persians, the Crusaders, Russians, Germans, Chinese, Americans, English, Rwandans’ et al…

    “victors justice” – I would spit in your general direction, but instead I pray as my Master did: “Lord have mercy, they know not what they do..”

    Kyrie, rex genitor ingenite, vera essentia, eleyson.
    Kyrie, luminis fons rerumque conditor, eleyson.
    Kyrie, qui nos tuæ imaginis signasti specie, eleyson.
    Christe, Dei forma humana particeps, eleyson.
    Christe, lux oriens per quem sunt omnia, eleyson.
    Christe, qui perfecta es sapientia, eleyson.
    Kyrie, spiritus vivifice, vitæ vis, eleyson.
    Kyrie, utriqusque vapor in quo cuncta, eleyson.
    Kyrie, expurgator scelerum et largitor gratitæ; quæsumus propter nostrasoffensas noli nos relinquere, O consolator dolentis animæ, eleyson

    out of a “fox” hole, into a noose…. sic transit gloria.. what value? a life, or anyones….

    time for more beer and cashews…

  6. is nothing more than a sad footnote. Their is no justice in his death, and his death changes nothing for the tens of thousands of dead and wounded soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. Revenge is always revenge, no matter how cunningly represented. Edwin Starr said it best…S

    “I beseech you in the bowels of christ think it possible you may be mistaken.”

  7. The point is, if we hanged Hussein, then we really should also hang Rumsfeld, Bush the Elder, and all the other Americans who armed and trained him, helped him carry out his atrocities, and sat and let him do whatever he wanted, until he started threatening our oil supply.

    Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

  8. The trial was a farce, everything about it was so screwed up. What a future America has now.

    Our own socipathic leader will dance his he-man manly dance along with many of his of homicidal socipathic followers, make his assinine juvenile boy jokes and swagger like he as four balls between his legs. The excuses for America’s homicidal nature will echo through out time.

    Not much to respect about America on this issue.

  9. destroyed two nations, started a civil war, got almost 3000 American military killed and 23,000 wounded. Seems he out did Hussesin in homicidal actions hands down and in much shorter time span.

  10. the – by Johns Hopkins estimates – 2/3 of a million Iraqis who died as a direct result of either the war or its botched postscript.

  11. to the Wiki article on the Lancet poll.

    I’d suggest if you have any questions you have a look through it in its entirety; the article has not been flagged for any violations or controversy, and presents the arguments for and against.

    In the end, the arguments for its validity are weighty. However, [edited to add- ES] some of the arguments against look hastily cobbled, politicized and lacking scientific merit. They look like rearguard attempts by propagandists with little scientific credibility to fake the data and “raise reasonable doubt” in the minds of the uncritical to spin the horror back into acceptability.

    The Lancet has published two studies on the effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation on Iraqi mortality, the first in 2004, the second (by many of the same authors) in 2006. The articles provoked controversy in the US media and criticism from the US and British governments but the statistical methodology and epidemiological techniques applied are standard and universally accepted as reasonable by experts in the two fields.[1] Total deaths (combatants plus non-combatants) also include all excess deaths due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc..

    Wiki – “Lancet surveys of mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq”

    What do I think of IBC? They seem to be correctly counting what they’re counting, and they certainly mean well.

    But they aren’t counting what Lancet is counting, merely a limited subset of it, and I’m confident that Lancet is “right” (at least inasmuch as they are no more in error than they have been all the other times we’ve accepted the exact same methodology as authoritative). If there are unimpeachable sources left on the planet, I’d wager Lancet and JH, enormously respected institutions that by their nature are not particularly vulnerable to penetration by ideologues, are amongst them.

  12. Actually, Graham7, we should be assigning Bush/Cheney something like 600,000 in Iraq, and about 3,000 Afghans. That does actually beat any toll I have seen assigned to Hussein.

    Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

  13. lost my reply. I get regular emails from The Lancet so have followed with interest their methodology and casualty count. I agree that collateral deathtoll is very high, but I would posit that if the same methodology is used for the Baath regime, than a total of several million deaths can be associated with Saddam and his henchman…
    <“Are we at the terminus of a civilization, a culture, that staggers on the edge of extinction?” – hattip usda at CE.

  14. Here we have a perfect example of this link.
    http://www.scl.cc/home.php

    The “news” is that we hung a guy in the green zone. Period. Now watch even five minutes of any American channel. They are telling you how you should think, feel even what your emotions should be over this.
    The “Butcher of Baghdad”, so they say.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/b0ab3116-954e-11db…00779e2340.html

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/12/30/45750/043
    Here is another one which puts a date on Saddam’s CIA recruitment!

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/12/29/231715/26
    Yes, more and more people are not buying it. My wife and I seriously think the real Saddam is sipping margharitas on a tropical island with his own secret service guards, part of the CIA asset relocation program.

    More than this though the trial itself had all the trappings of an OJ Simpson affair.
    It was not conducted under an International scope, it was not at The Hague. I can only wonder if popular word of all things Illuminati is becoming prevalent enough for them to scroll back and take a new position, hide from the specter of globalization themes.

    Reports last night were coming in about two things.
    One was the report of Saddam’s imminent death.
    The other was a tornado warning for Crawford Texas, and yes, he was there.
    It might have been a two for one.

  15. [Candy was wondering why they would execute him in the midle of other major trials he was facing. I came across this viewpoint in Asian Tribune from World Socialist. I’d like to know what people can find on this or against it]: -qB

    http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/3921

    Excerpt:

    Another important political consideration is that the execution of Hussein brings the legal proceedings against the former Iraqi leader to an end before any detailed examination of those crimes in which successive US governments played a major role. The case of the execution of 148 Shiite men at Dujail in 1982 was selected to be tried first because the victims were linked to Dawa, the party of Maliki and the preceding US-backed prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, and because there was no direct US involvement.

    This was not the case for most of the other, far bloodier, episodes in the career of Saddam Hussein. The second case, the so-called Anfal campaign of mass killing of Kurds in 1987-88, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war, was scheduled to resume January 8. Any serious investigation of those atrocities, culminating in the gassing of Kurds at Halabja, would shed light on the role of successive US administrations.

    Hussein launched the war on Iran in September 1980 with the tacit backing of the Carter administration, which was then locked in a confrontation with Iran over the student seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and the taking of US officials as hostages. The Reagan administration subsequently provided significant aid to Hussein throughout the eight years of war, supplying tactical military intelligence used to target Iranian forces for chemical weapons attacks, and backing arms sales to Iraq by European allies of the United States such as Britain, France and Germany. On two occasions, in 1983 and 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq as a special US envoy to reassure Hussein that despite occasional noises about human rights violations, the US would maintain its allegiance to Baghdad in the war.

    The other major case against Hussein, over the bloody suppression of revolts by Kurds and Shiites in 1991, threatened to be even more problematic for the Bush administration, since Bush’s own father, the first president Bush, first encouraged the uprisings at the end of the Persian Gulf War, then came to the cold-blooded decision that the continuance of Hussein’s dictatorship was preferable to a collapse of the Iraqi state, which might benefit Iran, the principal concern of US war planners.

  16. TIKRIT, Iraq, Dec. 30 (UPI) — Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is to be buried near his sons in his birthplace of Tikrit, a member of his tribe said Saturday.

    Hussein was hanged early Saturday morning in Baghdad. The son of a tribal leader told CNN that the U.S. military turned his body over a few hours later.

    The funeral is to be Sunday morning in the cemetery where his sons, Uday and Qusay, are buried, the report said. They were killed by U.S. forces in 2003, not long before Saddam’s capture.

    There had been some speculation that Saddam would be buried in the Green Zone to keep his grave from becoming a place of pilgrimage for supporters. Muslim practices do not allow cremation and require burial to take place soon after death.

    Saddam was allowed a visit with two of his half-brothers on Thursday. Another half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim, who headed the secret police, is expected to be hanged in a few days, and Saddam’s wife and daughter face arrest if they return to Iraq.

  17. [I haven’t posted anything from the World Socialist Web Site before, but this whole analysis bears consideration. It’s well written and not too shrill. (I posted an excerpt from it in an above comment on the reasons for timing the execution before other pending trials.)] – qB

    http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/3921

    Sat, 2006-12-30 15:41

    By the Editorial Board – World Socialist Web Site

    The execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein serves not justice, but the political purposes of the Bush administration and its Iraqi stooges. The manner in which the execution was carried out—hurriedly, secretively, in the dark of night, in a mockery of any semblance of legal process—only underscores the lawless and reactionary character of the entire American enterprise in Iraq.

    There were conflicting statements throughout Friday about how and under what circumstances the death sentence against Hussein, confirmed by an Iraqi government tribunal December 26, would be carried out. There were continual communications back and forth between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which nominally controlled the judicial proceedings, and the American military authorities who had physical control of the prisoner and delivered him to the execution site in the US-controlled Green Zone.

    The decision to send Hussein to the gallows was not a judicial but a political one. It was signaled by al-Maliki himself after the death sentence was pronounced by a special tribunal on November 5, when the Iraqi prime minister declared that Hussein would be executed before the New Year. In the rush to impose the penalty on that timeline, Iraqi officials ignored both elementary principles of judicial fairness and even their own constitution, which requires confirmation of a death sentence by the current Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani.

    As Richard Dicker, international justice director of Human Rights Watch, explained in a column Friday in the Guardian, the legal procedure was a travesty.

    “The trial judgment,” he wrote, “was not finished when the verdict and sentence were announced on November 5. The record only became available to defense lawyers on November 22. According to the tribunal’s statute, the defense attorneys had to file their appeals on December 5, which gave them less than two weeks to respond to the 300-page trial decision. The appeals chamber never held a hearing to consider the legal arguments presented as allowed by Iraqi law. It defies belief that the appeals chamber could fairly review a 300-page decision together with written submissions by the defense and consider all the relevant issues in less than three weeks.”

    Rather than a tribunal modeled on Nuremberg, where the surviving Nazi leaders received far more extensive due process rights than were accorded Hussein, the proceedings in Baghdad resembled a Stalinist or Nazi show trial, with a puppet judge, a predetermined verdict and a sentence carried out in the dead of night.

    The political motives

    The most fundamental political motive of the Bush administration is its desire to kill a major opponent, openly, before the eyes of the world, simply to demonstrate its ability and will to do so. In the view of the White House, Saddam is an object lesson to any future opponent of American imperialism: defy the will of Washington, and his bloody fate could be yours.

    The execution also provides the Bush administration with an event it can claim as proof of US “success” in Iraq, a diversion from the grisly daily toll of Iraqi and American deaths. The media coverage of the execution has largely overshadowed reports on the death toll among US soldiers, which hit 100 in December and will likely top the 3,000 mark for the war as a whole before the month is out.

    The state killing is intended to give at least a short-term political boost to the beleaguered regime of al-Maliki, which is increasingly unpopular and unstable. The Bush administration has been pressing al-Maliki to break with the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, one of his principal political allies, and endorse a US-led military crackdown on the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia loyal to al-Sadr.

    Executing Hussein provides a means for Maliki to burnish his credentials with the Shiite majority, who suffered most from Hussein’s rule, while going ahead with plans for intensified violence against the predominantly working class eastern suburbs of Baghdad (Sadr City), a center of Shiite opposition to the US occupation.

    Another important political consideration is that the execution of Hussein brings the legal proceedings against the former Iraqi leader to an end before any detailed examination of those crimes in which successive US governments played a major role. The case of the execution of 148 Shiite men at Dujail in 1982 was selected to be tried first because the victims were linked to Dawa, the party of Maliki and the preceding US-backed prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, and because there was no direct US involvement.

    This was not the case for most of the other, far bloodier, episodes in the career of Saddam Hussein. The second case, the so-called Anfal campaign of mass killing of Kurds in 1987-88, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war, was scheduled to resume January 8. Any serious investigation of those atrocities, culminating in the gassing of Kurds at Halabja, would shed light on the role of successive US administrations.

    Hussein launched the war on Iran in September 1980 with the tacit backing of the Carter administration, which was then locked in a confrontation with Iran over the student seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and the taking of US officials as hostages. The Reagan administration subsequently provided significant aid to Hussein throughout the eight years of war, supplying tactical military intelligence used to target Iranian forces for chemical weapons attacks, and backing arms sales to Iraq by European allies of the United States such as Britain, France and Germany. On two occasions, in 1983 and 1984, Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq as a special US envoy to reassure Hussein that despite occasional noises about human rights violations, the US would maintain its allegiance to Baghdad in the war.

    The other major case against Hussein, over the bloody suppression of revolts by Kurds and Shiites in 1991, threatened to be even more problematic for the Bush administration, since Bush’s own father, the first president Bush, first encouraged the uprisings at the end of the Persian Gulf War, then came to the cold-blooded decision that the continuance of Hussein’s dictatorship was preferable to a collapse of the Iraqi state, which might benefit Iran, the principal concern of US war planners.

    Opposition to Saddam Hussein’s show trial and condemnation of his execution in no way imply political support for the former ruler or his policies. Hussein was a typical representative of the national bourgeoisie in a backward and oppressed country—occasionally coming into conflict with imperialism, but implacably committed to the defense of the privileges and property of the Iraqi bourgeoisie against the Iraqi working class.

    Hussein’s first major act of mass repression came at the culmination of his rise to power in the late 1970s, when the Baath Party massacred the leadership of the Iraqi Communist Party and suppressed the large and militant working class movement centered in Baghdad and the oil fields. The present disintegration of Iraq along religious/sectarian lines is one of the long-term consequences of this savage repression of the working class, applauded at the time by the United States.

    The Iraqi leader was not, however, tried and sentenced under the auspices of a working class tribunal. He was the subject of a kangaroo court established by an occupation regime after the invasion and conquest of Iraq by the United States. In other words, his crimes were judged and the penalty imposed by those guilty of even greater crimes than his own.

    An editorial Friday in the Washington Post perfectly captures the hypocrisy with which the Bush administration, the congressional Democrats and Republicans, and the American media approached the case against Saddam Hussein. The Post sententiously declared its general opposition to the death penalty, before declaring that if it was appropriate for anyone it should be applied to “Saddam Hussein—a man who, with the possible exception of Kim Jong Il, has more blood on his hands than anyone else alive.”

    We beg to differ. George W. Bush has already caused the deaths of more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein—some 655,000 since the US invasion in March 2003, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins school of public health—and his term in office still has two years to run.

    This is to say nothing of the still living US accomplices of Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War, and the successive US presidents—Bush’s father, Clinton, Bush himself—who backed the US-led embargo on Iraq that caused the death of an estimated 1.5 million Iraqis from 1991 to 2003.

    True justice for the tortured and oppressed people of Iraq, as well as the American, British and other victims of the US-led war, will come only when those responsible for the invasion and occupation—Bush, Cheney and their acolytes—face their own trials for waging an illegal war of aggression.

  18. Thank you very much, quiet Bill. This is a really excellent analysis that raises a lot of salient points. I am going to add that site to my ‘favorites’.

    Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

  19. we may not be making an “apples to apples” comparison using similar methodologies.

    In the interest of making direct comparisons, we’d need to also enquire about which methodologies were used to determine how many children were killed by the US-driven UN sanctions program, imposed to compel “regime change” (after no support was given to the actual uprising against Saddam in the aftermath of Gulf War I).

    The United Nations economic sanctions were imposed at the urging of the U.S. to remove Saddam Hussein from power. President George H. W. Bush stated: “By making life uncomfortable for the Iraqi people, [sanctions] would eventually encourage them to remove President Saddam Hussein from power” (Seattle-Post Intelligencer August 7, 2003…)

    … Critics of the sanctions say that over a million Iraqis, disproportionately children, died as a result of them, [5] although certain skeptics incorrectly claim the numbers to be less. [6] [7] [8] UNICEF has put the number of child deaths to 500,000.[9] The reasons include lack of medical supplies, malnutrition, and especially disease owing to lack of clean water. Among other things, chlorine, needed for disinfecting water supplies, was banned as having a “dual use” in potential weapons manufacture. On May 10, 1996, appearing on 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) was presented with a figure of half a million children under five having died from the sanctions. Not challenging this figure, she infamously replied “we think the price is worth it”, though she later rued the comment as “stupid.”[10]

    Denis Halliday was appointed United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level. In October 1998 he resigned after a 34 year career with the UN in order to have the freedom to criticise the sanctions regime, saying “I don’t want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide”

    Wiki – “Iraq Sanctions”

    This would of course be long after we had stopped selling Saddam some of the chemical weapons technology he used to gas the Kurds. However, in the interests of a direct comparison, I wonder if there’s a way of weighting Kurdish deaths to account for the provision of this technology?

  20. And it’s not as gruesome as you’d think.
    Saddam went to his death with a certain amount of dignity, reciting a prayer after taunting his executioners.

    With friends like the US, who needs enemies.

  21. Western intervention in Iraq has been flawed; our reluctance to act in other parts of the world has been equally catastrophic

    Mary Riddell
    Sunday December 31, 2006
    The Observer

    Someone thought they saw fear in his eyes, but it was hard to be sure. Saddam Hussein went quietly to the gallows. Given the momentous nature of the execution, the event was almost an anticlimax. If the great tyrant and mass murderer seemed diminished in the moment of his death, then so were the first architects of his demise.

    Beyond the spectre of his atrocities lies the flawed evangelism of the invaders who sought to remove him. They have succeeded, but few tombstones have been more dearly bought. Many thousands of Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion began and more will perish before the New Year starts. As one more bloody dawn broke over Baghdad, Saddam’s last post and requiem were the echo of bullets and the laments of the bereaved.
    More

  22. I don’t care what you all say!
    You can’t teach a man anything by killing him.
    A death by any government is wrong.
    As bad as he was is still no reason to kill him.
    Any death is wrong, no matter if it is justified by any government.
    Don’t ask Bush!
    As much as I hate Saddam, I will never want him dead.
    That is Gods choice, and only his.
    Leave it to him!

    repressive governments mix administrative clumsiness & inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

  23. “I am so tired of hearing the word “dictator” and Saddam together. It’s on a level with “anal” and then “sex.” Yug. Instead of demonizing him, why not first of all mention that he didn’t die a coward. He looks perfectly composed as he eyes the rope that is about to break his neck. And you have to admire the fact he didn’t repent of his megalomania, saying to the hangman, “Iraq is nothing without me.”
    More

  24. How Washington and London helped to create the monster they went to war to destroy

    31 December 2006 02:41

    By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
    Published: 31 December 2006

    Independent.UK

    When they hanged him, he was America’s vanquished foe, likened to Hitler and Stalin for the murderous evil of his ways. What is forgotten is that once, for more than a decade, Saddam Hussein was staunchly supported by the US.

    Indeed, it was Washington that supplied him with many of the weapons of mass destruction the dictator used against his foes – weapons that one day would serve as a pretext for the US-led invasion that toppled him.

    The dealings between the US and Saddam’s Iraq over the quarter of a century before 2003 are a story of deceit, miscalculation and strategic blunders by both sides. And they began, as they would end, in the shadow of a common enemy: Iran.

    Saddam seized complete power in 1978. Two years later he attacked Iran, in what he called an “Arab war against the Persians”, to overthrow the Islamic revolutionary regime.

    Washington was under no illusions about the brutality of Saddam’s regime. But as Tehran gained the upper hand in the fighting, he came to be seen as the lesser of two evils – a vital bulwark against domination by a radical, anti-Western Iran of the strategically vital Gulf region, with its colossal oil reserves.

    Quietly, the US delivered the technology, weapons and logistical support to prevent Iraq’s defeat. Its policy was symbolised by the cordial meeting in Baghdad in December 1983 between Saddam and a certain Donald Rumsfeld, then President Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East. Two decades later, as Secretary of Defence, he would plan the invasion that toppled Saddam.

    American assistance often took the form of dual-use technology that had legitimate civilian uses, but which Washington was well aware could (and would) be used on the battlefield. US intelligence also provided Iraqi commanders with crucial information on Iranian troop movements.

    American backing grew ever more explicit. In 1982, the administration ignored objections in Congress and removed Iraq from its list of countries supporting terrorism. By November 1983, the National Security Council had issued a directive that the US should do “whatever was necessary and legal” to prevent an Iranian victory. Washington did nothing to deter Saddam’s use of chemical weapons.

    As the 1980s progressed, a clandestine network of companies developed in the US and other countries to help the Iraqi war effort. The conflict between Iraq and Iran ended in 1988, but Saddam continued his Western-supported military build-up until the very moment he invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

    It would be the turning point. Until then, the US had dealt with Saddam in the context of keeping Iran at bay. Thereafter, however, the Iraqi dictator was the enemy in his own right. The irony, of course, was that America’s previous support encouraged him to think he could get away with annexing Kuwait.

    Indeed, just a week earlier, on 25 July 1990, the American ambassador, April Glaspie, had met Saddam. According to a transcript of the meeting, she informed him that Washington had no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, “like your border disagreement with Kuwait”.

    The US-led coalition drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait in a 100-hour ground war, but the first President Bush decided not to press on to Baghdad, creating the stalemate that in one form or another continued until 2003. In the meantime, however, the truth gradually emerged about how the US (and Britain) helped to create the monster they had now half-slain.

    Events thereafter make familiar reading: Saddam’s moves against the Kurds and the Shias, as the first President Bush encouraged them to rise up but did nothing to support them; a dozen years of sanctions that brought misery on ordinary Iraqis but not to the regime; and Operation Desert Fox in 1998, as the US and Britain launched their heaviest air attacks until the 2003 war itself.

    All the while, Saddam remained in power. Almost from the moment he came to office, the second President Bush had his eye on finishing his father’s business.After a three-week ground war he was duly overthrown. But in doing so, the US has achieved exactly what it sought to prevent when it backed him in the 1980s.

    It is a matter of debate whether Iraqis are now worse off than under Saddam’s dictatorship. The chaos in their country, however, has produced one undisputed winner: an unchecked Iran, more menacing today than in Ayatollah Khomeini’s time.

  25. …have jurisdiction. It has jurisdiction only for crimes that occurred after it came into force on 1 July, 2002 (art. 11(1)). In addition, Iraq is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which as I understand it means that it takes a Security Council resolution under Article VII to refer it to the ICC (art. 13(b)).

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  26. The LA Times has the video on the fp, but God forbid we show a picture of a soldiers coffin. Amazing the disgust shown when contractors were killed but the papers have no problem showing Saddam’s hanging. Another piece of America’s world standing and humanity lost. Does anyone in this admin see the hypocrisy? I guess not since our commander in chief makes stupid statements like this:

    The President’s praise of fair trials and the rule of law
    .
    (updated below – Update II)
    .
    By Glenn Greenwald – President Bush today hailed the critical importance of fair trials and the rule of law . . . . in Iraq:
    .
    .
    Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial — the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.
    .
    Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people’s resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people’s determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.
    .
    much more to post here

    what a f*cker ^*&%*


    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  27. …would think, but it was by god about the most incompetent state hanging I’ve ever seen. I’ve not seen any others but having read a good deal about the topic, the norm for a state executioner is about 30 seconds between the condemned walking into the execution chamber to opening the trap. It’s a real quick process designed to make it easier on the condemned, not the circus in that video. I think the guy’s lucky not to have slowly strangled (or worse) and I have serious doubts as to whether the guys involved were the first line team of executioners.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  28. http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/12/31/05026/182

    Nancy Scola has a post up on the reaction around the world.The first comment makes points:

    Notice the difference between US and the rest of the civilized world when it comes to opinions of death penalty.
    .
    Interesting that the most Christian country is also the one most pro killing people. Says something about the American brand of “Christianity”.
    .
    Also it says something about how ineffective the American left has been hitherto in campaigning against death penalty and cruelty in general – compared to the European left.
    .
    by Populism2008 on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 06:43:49 AM EST


    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  29. The drop has to be calculated pretty closely. Make the rope too short and the condemned strangles slowly; too long and the head comes off.

  30. …case in Canada where the condemned declined to co-operate with the hangman by being weighed in advance. Erring on the side of caution, he left the drop a little long and decapitated the condemned.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  31. thanks for posting it. but only the complicity that only and ONLY Saddam knows dies with him. our complicity will be known throughtout history and will forever be a shame and a POX on this republic. the truth will out.

    *************************
    If this were 1700, they’d be saying: “Since civilization began, slavery has existed. It’s human nature.” I would have believed it. If 1800: “Women will never vote. They are not born rational”. I would have believed it.
    2006: Make war irrelevant

  32. Yeah, that is exactly why I think all state executioners should just drop the pretense that they kill without hate. We should return to the Guilloutine. It should be on national TV, giant blood spurts and all.

    Hanging and lethal injection are, if looked at objectively, more painful and inhumane than the Guilloutine. They just look prettier.

    Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

  33. that they were ‘State Executioners’. The whole thing had the feel of one of those terrible insurgent beheading videos.
    Burly masked men in leather jackets shouting insults at a condemned man whilst he tried to make his peace with his maker.( The BBC transcript of the video has his captors shouting “Moqtadr! Moqtadr! Moqtadr!” and “You are going to Hell”) Not the hallmarks of ‘professional’ executioners.
    I would imagine that most of the people in Iraq with a TV or computer, and the power to make them work, have seen this video by now and I can’t see that it will do anything but escalate the violence.

  34. it’s really not the quantity of your friends that matter. It’s the quality.

    U.S., Iran praise execution of Saddam

    By JENNIFER QUINN, Associated Press Writer Sat Dec 30, 6:09 PM ET

    LONDON – Saddam Hussein’s execution found the United States and Iran sharing rare common ground on Saturday, with both countries saying the hanging of the former dictator was in the best interest of Iraq, its people and the region.

    However, some warned Saddam’s death could worsen the violence and civil strife in Iraq.

    State-run television in Iran called the former Iraqi leader an “enforcer of the most horrendous crimes against humanity.” Iran fought an eight-year war with Saddam’s Iraq in the 1980s.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he hoped Saddam’s hanging would bring stability to Iraq, though he told Iraqi President Jalal Talabani by telephone the execution prevented the exposure of atrocities the former dictator committed during his rule, state-run television reported…

    (…)

    ( … Link … )

  35. …as well, on all counts.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  36. …to comment with any authority. My understanding is that with regards to crimes against humanity they have assigned themselves universal jurisdiction. Of course, I think that means that they would then have had to have tried Saddam for something other than what he was convicted of and executed for. I believe that he was executed for murder and associated charges that I suspect would not have risen to the status of crimes against humanity (though torture might have made it, if it was included in the charges, depending on the specifics of German law – I know they include genocide under universal jurisdiction, but I don’t know about torture). I believe he was formally charged in relation to the Anfal campaign (which would clearly meet the standard of crimes against humanity [i.e., genocide]), but obviously will never be tried.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  37. John Burns and Marc Santora | Baghdad | December 31

    NYT – With his plain pine coffin strapped into an American military helicopter for a predawn journey across the desert, Saddam Hussein, the executed dictator who built a legend with his defiance of America, completed a turbulent passage into history on Sunday.

    Like the helicopter trip, just about everything in the 24 hours that began with Mr. Hussein’s being taken to his execution from his cell in an American military detention center in the postmidnight chill of Saturday had a surreal and even cinematic quality.

    Part of it was that the Americans, who turned him into a pariah and drove him from power, proved to be his unlikely benefactors in the face of Iraq’s new Shiite rulers who seemed bent on turning the execution and its aftermath into a new nightmare for the Sunni minority privileged under Mr. Hussein.

    [Comment: May my first comment of 2008 be of a happier topic. ~ JPD]

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  38. Maybe-at the last moment- yes- some American official questioned the timing(but Burns’ in love with his current official sources, or so it reads)- hey, what country’s government set the “trial schedule” from the beginning?


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  39. …to the effect of what makes America think it’s driving the show any more is apropos. So this is the USG (outside the administration, I’d add given how obliquely uncomplimentary it is to the administration) view, so what? In this case the view of events presented therein sounds about right to me. Chaotic, fearful of the despot to the point of panic, playing reflexively to the cheap seats, rife with sectarian split loyalties, hanging final decisions on a religious legitimating authority that can’t be questioned and isn’t ultimately the pols involved, with a consistent belief in mythical easy solutions, and pretty incompetent about even the easiest technical aspects of killing someone in an organized, disciplined and purposeful manner? Near as I can see that sums up the security instruments of the Iraqi government to the letter. It’s a leap from a trial schedule to this particular farce – no denial that they’re of a note, but one did not explicitly determine the other in my view.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  40. You can’t make this stuff up as any less organized, but the secret American official source/handwringer part seemed just self-serving to me, that’s all.

    American officials who have discussed the intrigue and confusion that preceded the decision late on Friday to rush Mr. Hussein to the gallows have said that it was the Americans who questioned the political wisdom — and justice — of expediting the execution, in ways that required Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to override constitutional and religious precepts that might have assured Mr. Hussein a more dignified passage to his end.

    Hey, it’s over.


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  41. Sunday, December 31, 2006

    A Lynching…

    It’s official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It’s outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.

    This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we’d at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We’ve spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.

    America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush’s biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.

    Maliki has made the mistake of his life. His signature and unhidden glee at the whole execution, especially on the first day of Eid Al Adha (the Eid where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca), will only do more to damage his already tattered reputation. He’s like a vulture in a suit (or a balding weasel). It’s almost embarrassing. I kept expecting Muwafaq Al Rubaii to run over and wipe the drool from the corner of his mouth as he signed for the execution. Are these the people who represent the New Iraq? We’re in so much more trouble than I ever thought.

    And no- not the celebrations BBC are claiming. With the exception of a few areas, the streets are empty.

    Now we come to CNN. Shame on you CNN journalists- you’re getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references. You people are the biggest news network in the world- the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator. Saddam’s last words were NOT “Muqtada Al Sadr” as Munir Haddad claimed, according to the article below. If anyone had seen at least part of the video they showed on TV, you’d know that.

    “A witness, Iraqi Judge Munir Haddad, said that one of the executioners told Hussein that the former dictator had destroyed Iraq, which sparked an argument that was joined by several government officials in the room.

    As a noose was tightened around Hussein’s neck, one of the executioners yelled “long live Muqtada al-Sadr,” Haddad said, referring to the powerful anti-American Shiite religious leader.

    Hussein, a Sunni, uttered one last phrase before he died, saying “Muqtada al-Sadr” in a mocking tone, according to Haddad’s account.”

    From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled “long live Muqtada al-Sadr”. See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were “some witnesses from the trial”, but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam’s neck, they began chanting, in unison, “God’s prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed’s family…” Something else I didn’t quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then “Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!” One of them called out to Saddam, “Go to hell…” (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered “Heya hay il marjala…?” which is basically saying, “Is this your manhood…?”.

    Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, “I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!” They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, “Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…” Which means, “I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger.” These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.

    So, no, CNN, his last words were not “Muqtada Al Sadr” in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)

    Then again, one could argue that it was a judge who gave them that false information. A judge on the Iraqi appeals court- one of the judges who ratified the execution order. Everyone knows Iraqi judges under American tutelage never lie- that explains CNN’s confusion.

    Muwafaq Al Rubai was said he was “weak and frightened”. Apparently, Rubai saw a different lynching because according to the video they leaked, he didn’t look frightened at all. His voice didn’t shake and he refused to put on the black hood. He looked resigned to his fate, and during the heckling he looked as defiant as ever. (It’s quite a contrast to Muhsin Abdul Hameed’s public hysterics last year when the Americans raided his home.)

    It’s one thing to have militias participating in killings. This is allegedly the democracy the Americans flaunt. Is this how bloodthirsty and frightening we’ve become? Is this what Iraq stands for now? Executions? I’m sure the rest of the Arab countries will be impressed.

    One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn’t even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America’s biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who’s next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who’ve died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?

    2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly. Death and destruction everywhere. I’m so tired of all of this…

    http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/


    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  42. …the reverberations of this one are going to go on for a long, long while and will involve the deaths of thousands. This sort of circus is precisely what the nightmares of a lot of Sunni leadership figures of all ranks look like, with themselves in Saddam’s starring role. If I were trying to put together a centrepiece for an Information Operation designed to get more of the Sunnis fighting more resolutely in an attempt to tilt things even more completely “to the knife” as Lang would say, that video’s exactly what it would have looked like. In my view, this is likely to be a disaster on the scale of disbanding the Iraqi Army.

    No disagreement that the handwringing stuff is self-serving – I just also happen to think that it’s true, and that hearing that perspective advanced is something that’s very long overdue. I personally hope that the operational folks continue to throw the administration under the bus – again – MHO – long, long overdue. Playing it hands off in a case like this and trying to pretend that that insulates one, by implication hanging the folks in theatre out to dry? What an utter crock of rancid, fetid crap. More than anything else it’s the hanging stuff on the folks in theatre while wearing “who, me?” expressions that earns my lasting derision for this administration, quite apart from their politics and policies. I don’t often lapse into the purely political, but these guys are going to go down in history objectively as the most operationally inept, morally bankrupt, non-realpolitik, empty suit bunch of scumbags (in the old school used prophylactic NYPD usage of the term) to hold the position in either of the centuries they did so.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  43. …I don’t think that I feel better for the venting. Some things are just too big to be vented.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  44. Saddam Hussein
    Iraqi dictator whose 24-year presidency was marked by war, violence and bloodshed
    Published: 01 January 2007

    Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, soldier and politician: born Al-Awja, Iraq 28 April 1937; Vice-Chairman, Revolutionary Command Council 1969-79; President of Iraq 1979-2003; married first 1963 Sajida Kharaillah (three daughters, and two sons deceased), second Samira Shabandar (one son), third Nedhal al Hamdani, fourth Iman Huweish; died Baghdad 30 December 2006.

    During nearly a quarter of a century as President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein started a nine-year war against Iran, used chemical weapons against the Kurds of his country, threatened to develop biological and atomic weapons that would kill most of the people of the Middle East, invaded Kuwait, starting the first Gulf War, and defied the United Nations, setting the stage for the second Gulf War and the destruction of Iraq. His less publicised crimes included random execution, imprisonment and torture; and allowing members of his family and his relations to steal, rape and murder.

    Saddam escaped the scrutiny of the world for over two decades, from the late 1950s when he was a thug and a gun for hire, through to the 1970s period of paranoid dictatorship. We finally got to know him in 1991 after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Surrounded by tribal relations and sycophants, he had become a case study of an out-of-touch megalomaniac.

    Although Saddam’s legacy was nothing but a trail of blood, many inside and outside Iraq predicted that a country divided between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Kurds, Turcomans, Assyrians, Yezedis, Turks, Iranians and other ethnic and religious groups would be torn apart by dissension without him. Iraq was seen as unstable and unmanageable without a strong central government run by a dictator. All plans by his Western enemies to introduce democracy were unrealistic, because they ignored the absence of a traditional Muslim government and the failure of British attempts to impose democracy on Iraq from outside in 1917, 1941 and later.

  45. as a result of this execution.

    I’ve been wrong before,as when I thought the US Kent State killings of unarmed students in 1970 signalled the start of a major wave of state violence and leftist rebellion.(I had left the US and was studying in England at the time, so I wasn’t on the ground) It is now regarded as a footnote and recalled by historians as an event which caused many to to back away from left activism.

    So on this one, no predictions from me.


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  46. When excerpted on ynet got a lot of hate comments from Americans, so I will post the whole article here. Seems a pretty straightforward account from a man in this guy’s position to me.


    Area nurse remembers days monitoring Saddam’s health
    Marianna Riley | December 31

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch -From the comfort of his family room in Normandy, Robert Ellis watched as the man he had been charged with keeping alive, the same man he risked his own life to protect, refused a hood before he was executed Friday night.

    It was typical Saddam Hussein, Ellis said.

    “Saddam was gangsta’,” he said, brutal and tough. But Ellis had seen another side of the former dictator and knew him in a way few others could.

    Ellis had been called up in late 2003 from the Army Reserve and had no idea what his mission would be. From January 2004 until August 2005, Master Sgt. Ellis was the senior medical adviser at the compound near Baghdad where Saddam and other “high value detainees” were jailed.

    A colonel told him directly: “Saddam Hussein cannot die in U.S. custody. You do whatever you have to do to keep him alive.”

    Ellis, 56, an operating room nurse at St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, understood the orders.

    “That was my job: to keep him alive and healthy, so they could kill him at a later date.”

    Ellis cleared his mind of the atrocities linked to Saddam. He set aside judgment; others would judge.

    Ellis took care of a tyrant. In doing so, he heard Saddam read his poetry, talk about his children and wonder about the fate of his country.

    At Camp Cropper, where Saddam was initially held in solitary confinement, the dictator was confined to a 6-by-8-foot cell. He had a cot and a small table where he kept some books and a Quran, two plastic chairs, a prayer rug and two wash basins. An adjoining cell kept basic medical supplies, a defibrillator, intravenous solutions and oxygen.

    Ellis checked on Saddam twice a day. He wrote a thorough “situation” report daily about the dictator’s physical and emotional status. None of the military personnel there ever talked about Saddam by his name. They called him “Victor,” a code name in case any agency or groups came looking for him.

    Saddam told Ellis that smoking cigars and coffee kept his blood pressure down, and it seemed to work. Saddam would insist that Ellis smoke with him.

    At one point, Saddam went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat when the guards would slide food through the slot on the bottom of his door. But when they changed tactics and opened the door, he started eating again.

    “He refused to be fed like a lion,” Ellis said.

    For a while, when he was allowed short visits outside, Saddam would feed the birds bread saved from his meals. He also watered a dusty plot of weeds.

    “He said he was a farmer when he was young and he never forgot where he came from,” Ellis said.

    Ellis had to produce a temporary clinic for all the inmates out of a room with a scale and a bunch of pills. Whenever someone got seriously ill, he had to transport them to a military hospital.

    “Once you were on the road, you were fair game,” Ellis said. He was shot at a few times and escaped safely from a roadside bomb explosion once. He was on the road at least two or three times a week, and every time he got in a vehicle, he knew he could have died.

    His patients also included Ali al-Majid, Saddam’s cousin who has been nicknamed “Chemical Ali” for allegedly gassing Kurds.

    Saddam never gave Ellis trouble. He didn’t complain much, and if he did it was usually legitimate.

    “He had very good coping skills,” Ellis added.

    Saddam also talked to him about happier times when his children were young: how he told them bedtime stories and how he would give his daughter half a Tums when she complained of a tummy ache. [Tums is manufactured in St. Louis]

    After Ellis got an emergency call from America that his brother was dying, he told Saddam he was leaving immediately. Before he left, Saddam hugged him and said he would be his brother.

    Ellis has no problem reconciling the Saddam he knew with the Saddam convicted for unimaginable atrocities or the recalcitrant Saddam the public saw turning his trials into spectacles.

    “When he was with me, he was in a different environment,” he said. “I posed no threat. In fact, I was there to help him, and he respected that.”

    Saddam never discussed dying and expressed no regrets about his rule.

    “He said everything he did was for Iraq,” Ellis said. “One day when I went to see him, he asked why we invaded. Well, he made gestures like shooting a machine gun and asked why soldiers came and shot up the place. He said the laws in Iraq were fair and the weapons inspectors didn’t find anything.

    “I said, ‘That’s politics. We soldiers don’t get caught up in that sort of thing.'”

    Ellis says he knows the dictator got what he deserved, but he worries that the execution may make him a martyr in the eyes of his supporters.

    “This could mean that the violence there will continue,” he said.

    But beyond that, Ellis dislikes having been part of keeping Saddam healthy in the short term.

    “I knew all along what they were going to do. This went against my grain as a nurse, but as a soldier — well, that was my job.”

    In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  47. pray for a world where this grisly calculus is irrelevant. On the other hand, if I was the condemned, I would prefer, not caring about the discomfort of those charged with picking up the pieces, that they erred on the long side.

  48. I wish I could see the original – was it really written like that?

    Saddam escaped the scrutiny of the world for over two decades, from the late 1950s when he was a thug and a gun for hire, through to the 1970s period of paranoid dictatorship. We finally got to know him in 1991 [“NO! (SFX: handslap) No, stop trying to turn that page back, I’m well aware I skipped a decade!”] after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Surrounded by tribal relations and sycophants, he had become a case study of an out-of-touch megalomaniac.

  49. Baghdad | January 1

    AP – Enraged crowds protested the hanging of Saddam Hussein across Iraq’s Sunni heartland on Monday, as a mob in Samarra broke the locks off a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine and marched through carrying a mock coffin and a photo of the executed dictator.

    The demonstration at the Golden Dome shrine, shattered in a bombing by Sunni extremists 10 months ago, suggests that many Sunni Arabs may now more actively support the small number of Sunni militants fighting the country’s Shiite-dominated government. The Feb. 22 bombing of the shrine set off the current cycle of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiites.

    The Sunni protests, which appeared to be building, could signal a spreading militancy. Sunnis were outraged by Mr. Hussein’s hurried hanging on Saturday, just four days after an appeals court upheld his conviction and sentence, and many were incensed by the unruly scene in the execution chamber, captured on a cellphone, in which Mr. Hussein was taunted with chants of “Moktada! Moktada! Moktada!” — the name of the Shiite who runs one of Iraq’s most violent militias.

    [Comment: Just because there’ve been a number of stories to the effect that the Islamists aren’t up in arms doesn’t mean that significant elements of the Sunni, particularly I would guess the more closely tribally linked power structures, aren’t extremely pissed. ~ JPD]

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  50. It’s pretty glaring to speak of “over two decades”, define the start and stop as the 50’s and 70’s, and then to immediately move on to 1991.

  51. compared even to the AP article which Graham (I think) put on the side column.
    The Independent as a Lib-Dem oriented UK newspaper has nothing to gain that I can see, by what they put out, edited or not.


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  52. even though it’s still in the index.

    Here’s Fisk and links on the right side to a host of Independent opinions


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  53. and it’s considerably more penetrating, and vastly longer, than that summary. No, sadly I can’t access it on the web either.

  54. Iraq civilian deaths hit new record -ministry
    01 Jan 2007 22:22:52 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    By Alastair Macdonald

    BAGHDAD, Jan 2 (Reuters) – The number of Iraqi civilians killed in political violence edged to a new record high in December after a big leap the previous month, data from Interior Ministry officials showed on Tuesday.

    The statistics, widely viewed as an indicative but only partial record of violent deaths, showed 12,320 civilians were killed in 2006 in what officials classified as “terrorist” violence — half of them in the last four months.

    The ministry figure of 1,930 civilian deaths in December is three and a half times the figure of 548 for January, before the surge in sectarian killing which followed the destruction of a major Shi’ite shrine in February.

    All such statistics are controversial in Iraq. A figure of 3,700 civilian deaths in October, the latest tally given by the United Nations based on data from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue, was branded exaggerated by the Iraqi government.

    The U.N. figure indicates about 120 civilians died each day.

    Clearly frustrated at its inability to rein in violence that is partly blamed on militia death squads nominally loyal to parties in power, the government has stopped publishing its own figures and has barred its officials from giving out such data.

    However, the statistics from Interior Ministry sources, which Reuters has been tracking since January, appear to reflect trends consistent with official comments from the government and from the U.S. military, which also gives out no such numbers.

    An Interior Ministry official told Reuters on Tuesday the December figure, up from 1,850 violent civilian deaths in November, included people killed in bombings and shootings but not deaths classed as “criminal”.

    The tally in October was 1,289.

    In December, police, medical and other officials told Reuters reporters of the deaths of 1,571 Iraqi civilians, compared to 1,706 in November and 1,178 in October.

    Since the chaos in Iraq makes consistent reporting impossible, those tallies are approximate and certain to be an underestimate. They include no deaths among the many civilians wounded in attacks who may die later from wounds. Nor do they include many people kidnapped whose fate remains unknown.

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAC176186.htm


    “you can disagree without being disagreeable” ~ Gerald Ford

  55. Hey didn’t he, in the late 1970s and 1980s, get involved with a really powerful western country? What was it? Didn’t that western country sell him most of his weapons, including WMD’s, give him and his followers training from its security forces, and essentially place him in charge of Iraq? I think it was so that he would be a countervailing force to Iran, because that western country had a big fight with Iran- what was that western country? It’s on the tip of my tongue.

    Hey didn’t that western country have a war with Hussein around 1991? And then didn’t the leader of that country- Shrub or something- didn’t the leader of the western country decide not to depose Hussein, but instead suggest to the Kurds in Northern Iraq that they should rise up against Hussein? And then didn’t the Shrub? Busch? whatever his name was, the Kurds rose up against Hussein and got slaughtered because the western nation decided at the last moment not to help them?

    What country was that? Canada. That’s right, blame Canada! Glad I remembered.

    Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise.

  56. but the full obit is in much further depth. I haven’t had time for more than a first read, but I’ll excerpt a few passages to illustrate the gap between the summary and what’s been summarized.

    … It was the US which helped him with his efforts towards achieving self- sufficiency in small arms and entry into the field of unconventional weapons. The design for Saddam’s first chemical warfare plant was provided by an American corporation with its headquarters in Rochester, New York, and the US government approved the transaction…

    … From then on, his dictatorial savagery exceeded his contributions. The more he controlled, the more he wanted to control, but nobody has ever been close enough to him to explain why this happened. He was too coherent for this to have been an accident or an expression of neurosis, but it was a case of self-perpetuating megalomania. Time failed to reveal its origins…

    … Expecting to subdue Khomeini in a short time, he invaded Iran – not without a measure of support from the US and its Arab allies, notably Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The war lasted nine years and cost over half a million casualties. The outside powers manifested little interest in settling it – and in fact contributed to prolonging the conflict by supplying both sides with arms and training.

    It is worth recalling that Saddam, who was subsequently demonised by America, relied on financial and logistical support from the US (the US granted him $6bn in loans and provided him with satellite pictures showing Iranian troop concentrations). However, the background of a West happy to watch Iraq and Iran destroy each other should not be used to lessen the importance of the war. It was one of the few wars of principle of modern times. Khomeini believed religion was supreme; Saddam put his faith in the nation state…

    … Having ignored Saddam’s frequent use of chemical weapons against the Iranians and Kurds, America and other countries decided to deny him the sophisticated equipment required to continue his extensive unconventional weapons programme, in particular his plans to build an atomic bomb. Suddenly, the adopted Saddam became an embarrassing relation. Instead of saving the Iraqi regime, the West froze all lines of financial credit. Pressed and unable to provide his people with the fruits of victory, Saddam became convinced that Kuwait was spearheading a US-backed conspiracy aimed at overthrowing him. He directed his frustration towards the oil-rich sheikhdom and its oil policies…

    Pretty balanced and well-researched. One of the things I’ll take away from this last decade is a flat refusal to take executive summaries at face value.

  57. Saddam Hussein
    Iraqi dictator whose 24-year presidency was marked by war, violence and bloodshed
    Published: 01 January 2007

    Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, soldier and politician: born Al-Awja, Iraq 28 April 1937; Vice-Chairman, Revolutionary Command Council 1969-79; President of Iraq 1979-2003; married first 1963 Sajida Kharaillah (three daughters, and two sons deceased), second Samira Shabandar (one son), third Nedhal al Hamdani, fourth Iman Huweish; died Baghdad 30 December 2006.

    During nearly a quarter of a century as President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein started a nine-year war against Iran, used chemical weapons against the Kurds of his country, threatened to develop biological and atomic weapons that would kill most of the people of the Middle East, invaded Kuwait, starting the first Gulf War, and defied the United Nations, setting the stage for the second Gulf War and the destruction of Iraq. His less publicised crimes included random execution, imprisonment and torture; and allowing members of his family and his relations to steal, rape and murder.

    Saddam escaped the scrutiny of the world for over two decades, from the late 1950s when he was a thug and a gun for hire, through to the 1970s period of paranoid dictatorship. We finally got to know him in 1991 after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Surrounded by tribal relations and sycophants, he had become a case study of an out-of-touch megalomaniac.

    Although Saddam’s legacy was nothing but a trail of blood, many inside and outside Iraq predicted that a country divided between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Kurds, Turcomans, Assyrians, Yezedis, Turks, Iranians and other ethnic and religious groups would be torn apart by dissension without him. Iraq was seen as unstable and unmanageable without a strong central government run by a dictator. All plans by his Western enemies to introduce democracy were unrealistic, because they ignored the absence of a traditional Muslim government and the failure of British attempts to impose democracy on Iraq from outside in 1917, 1941 and later.

    After 1991 and Saddam’s first defeat, each political group vying for power in Iraq had a different agenda for guaranteeing Iraq’s survival and solving its immediate social and economic problems. But, even with hatred for Saddam binding them together, it was difficult to convince them to place the interests of the country above petty jealousies and personal ambitions. I interviewed dozens of them while writing Saddam’s biography. I found them feckless, corrupt and undemocratic.

    Outside powers, the Americans and their allies, and Iraq’s neighbours, had vested interests in establishing a new Iraqi government. Iran wanted to install an Islamic fundamentalist regime; Saudi Arabia rejected the idea of a Shia Iraq; the West wanted a benign, friendly regime to guarantee the flow and price of oil; and other Arab countries preferred a weak Iraq with no ambitions for regional hegemony. Under Saddam, each interested party knew it could not have its way and this made him, a known quantity, everybody’s second choice. But, without Saddam, none of them has enough power to overwhelm the rest. The 1925 statement of King Faisal I that “in Iraq, there are no Iraqis” supported the need for a Saddam.

    Saddam Hussein was born in the village of Al-Awja in the district of Tikrit in 1937, a few weeks after his father’s death. He was brought up by his mother and a poor, cruel stepfather who treated him brutally. His unhappy childhood included stealing eggs and chickens so that his family might eat. Illiterate until the age of 10, he grew up with a craving for knowledge which never left him (until the invasion of Kuwait, he spent several hours a day reading, mostly the biographies of great men). He ran away from his mother’s house to live with his maternal uncle Khairallah Tulfa, whose daughter he eventually married in 1963.

    Tulfa responded to his nephew’s pleas and sent him to school. But his education was patchy and he was never a worldly man or an accomplished diplomat. This showed whenever Saddam was confronted with new problems outside his personal experience. He would often revert to tribal instinct rather than judgement to solve them. This meant resorting to violence, which he used successfully to eliminate personal and political enemies but which proved less effective in dealing with the rest of the world. Saddam’s violent ways were an extreme expression of a national trait found in the most frequently conquered piece of global real-estate.

    Saddam came to power as a member of the Baath Arab Socialist Party, which was founded in Syria in the late 1940s. The party advocated moderate socialism and Arab unity and became a magnet for the frustrated educated classes during the 1950s and 1960s. To someone of Saddam’s humble background, belonging to the Baath party was an honour. First in 1963 and later in 1968, he was among the right-wing Baathists who took over Iraq.

    He became the second in command of the Baathist regime in 1969, aged only 32. The new Iraqi government was headed by his fellow Tikriti and distant relation General Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr. A retiring, unmilitary figure, Bakr so depended on the energetic Saddam, a one-time party tough who in October 1959 had participated in an attempt to assassinate the country’s leader, General Abdel Karim Kassem, that he allowed him to pre-empt him and run the country. In addition to toughness, Saddam was a master organiser who had caught the eye of the leader of the party, Michel Aflaq, when he was an exile in Damascus after the Kassem assassination attempt.

    After 1968, Saddam organised the country’s security apparatus and placed it under his personal control, in a Stalinist move which he adopted from reading about the life of the Communist dictator. He used the security system to undermine the army and eventually to achieve his personal ambitions. Bakr’s belief in his Tikriti relation and the presence of Saddam’s three younger half-brothers, Barzan, Watban and Sabawi, in key security positions protected him against political opponents and army plots. The army, never completely comfortable with outsiders, eyed Saddam with unconcealed disdain.

    From then on, Iraqi politics was dominated by Saddam. Bakr depended on him to subdue all the forces opposed to the Baath party. Methodical, hard- working, violent and cruel, Saddam began by organising the elimination of all civilian and military leaders of the Baath who stood in his way. After securing his primacy within the party, he turned his attention to the various political groupings within the country, in particular the Communists and the Kurds.

    In the 1970s Saddam used carrot-and-stick tactics to bolster his position and that of the party. He enticed many political groups into joining the government in its plans to modernise Iraq, but eventually turned against them when the opportunity presented itself. In 1975, he ended a Kurdish rebellion aimed at autonomy by striking a deal (the Algiers Agreement) with the Shah of Iran who, with the United States, had been sponsoring the Kurds to undermine Saddam. The Shah and America withheld help and the rebellion collapsed. In return, Saddam ceded some border areas and exclusive rights to control the Shat al-Arab waterway, the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers which separated the two countries. Later, after inviting the Communists to join the government, he turned against them and, despite protests from the Soviet Union, executed 18 of their leaders in 1978.

    Saddam’s notable achievements took place in the 1970s, while he was still vice-president, nominally Bakr’s second-in-command but in reality already the strongman of the country. Although he had signed a treaty of friendship and co-operation with the Soviet Union in 1974, he was committed to pulling Iraq into the 20th century through the importation of Western technology.

    Using his country’s oil income constructively following the first oil shock of 1973, he devoted himself to long-term economic development plans and the building of an indigenous armament industry. He initiated one of the must successful programmes for the eradication of illiteracy of modern times. His other programmes included building housing for the poor, expanding the educational system and developing the petro-chemical industry.

    It was the US which helped him with his efforts towards achieving self- sufficiency in small arms and entry into the field of unconventional weapons. The design for Saddam’s first chemical warfare plant was provided by an American corporation with its headquarters in Rochester, New York, and the US government approved the transaction.

    Saddam emphasised the human factor – having competent people capable of doing the work. He opened Iraq’s doors to hundreds of Arab scientists and engineers. He used fellow Arabs to help build an armament industry and began a programme to master unconventional weapons. His repatriation of Arab talent from all over the world was known to the West, and the Western powers made no attempt to stop him.

    He created a special directorate, the Committee for Strategic Planning, to oversee his acquisition of unconventional weapons, and claimed descent from the prophet Mohamed at the same time. He became the face of both modern and ancient Iraq. It was a case of power corrupting and he held absolute power in the country.

    This was a turning point for him. From then on, his dictatorial savagery exceeded his contributions. The more he controlled, the more he wanted to control, but nobody has ever been close enough to him to explain why this happened. He was too coherent for this to have been an accident or an expression of neurosis, but it was a case of self-perpetuating megalomania. Time failed to reveal its origins.

    In 1979, Saddam turned against Bakr and forced him to resign. When some members of the Baath party objected to his assumption of total power, Saddam set up a revolutionary court which accused them of “plotting against the Arab nation”, tried them and sentenced them to death. Saddam and his close associates personally participated in the execution of 19 members of the Baath Party Command and the Politburo, what was known as the Revolutionary Command Council.

    This was the beginning of a new era in Iraq. Consolidation of power and the cult of Saddam the Invincible took priority over economic achievements and building the army. He had an insatiable appetite for titles and acquired more of them as he went along. He presided over nine different security organisations, made himself field marshal and commander-in-chief of the armed forces and headed 42 different government departments. His personal behaviour and dependence on his tribe matched his acquisition of titles. He had his own food taster, coffee maker and brand of cigars and appointed members of his extended tribe to the most senior positions in the army and government.

    Saddam built presidential palaces which used Argentine marble at a cost of $4,000 a square metre. His suits were made in Geneva and he owned more than 400 of them. He created a personality cult which grew to grotesque proportions. He began dressing up in the different costumes of Iraq’s many ethnic groups, complete with headgear with bullet-proof lining.

    Although his wife Sajida had produced two boys and three girls, Saddam still saw fit to take a second wife, a beautiful blonde by the name of Samira Shabandar who became the mother of his youngest son, Ali. He protected himself against assassination by making extensive use of doubles and there were occasions when they showed up at two different places at the same time. Even his wives and children started having doubles for protection.

    After the fall of the Shah in 1979, Saddam’s grip on power was challenged by a new regime in Iran headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Iranians appealed to their Iraqi co- religionists, the Shias, who make up 60 per cent of Iraq, to topple Saddam’s secular government. Saddam’s response was in character. Expecting to subdue Khomeini in a short time, he invaded Iran – not without a measure of support from the US and its Arab allies, notably Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The war lasted nine years and cost over half a million casualties. The outside powers manifested little interest in settling it – and in fact contributed to prolonging the conflict by supplying both sides with arms and training.

    It is worth recalling that Saddam, who was subsequently demonised by America, relied on financial and logistical support from the US (the US granted him $6bn in loans and provided him with satellite pictures showing Iranian troop concentrations). However, the background of a West happy to watch Iraq and Iran destroy each other should not be used to lessen the importance of the war. It was one of the few wars of principle of modern times. Khomeini believed religion was supreme; Saddam put his faith in the nation state.

    On the surface, Saddam won. But it was a hollow victory which left Iraq broke and unable to cope with the debts it had incurred during the fighting – an estimated $80bn. No longer endangered by Iran, the oil-rich Arab countries refused to help Saddam out of his financial predicament. The West, pro-Iraq and against Khomeini during the war, began worrying about Saddam’s one-million-strong military machine.

    Having ignored Saddam’s frequent use of chemical weapons against the Iranians and Kurds, America and other countries decided to deny him the sophisticated equipment required to continue his extensive unconventional weapons programme, in particular his plans to build an atomic bomb. Suddenly, the adopted Saddam became an embarrassing relation. Instead of saving the Iraqi regime, the West froze all lines of financial credit. Pressed and unable to provide his people with the fruits of victory, Saddam became convinced that Kuwait was spearheading a US-backed conspiracy aimed at overthrowing him. He directed his frustration towards the oil-rich sheikhdom and its oil policies.

    Negotiations between Saddam and the Kuwaitis to settle the issue of oil over-production were unsuccessful. There is some evidence that America under President George Bush was encouraging Kuwait to continue its anti-Saddam oil policy. Saddam reacted to this in a tribal way – he considered it a personal affront. He became obsessed with Kuwait and determined to teach it a lesson. After Arab attempts to reconcile the two sides failed, Saddam used the old Iraqi claim to the sheikhdom and on 2 August 1990 invaded Kuwait.

    The UN and the Arab League refused to accept the occupation of a sovereign state and adopted resolutions aimed at reversing it. The result was an anti-Saddam coalition which included a number of Arab countries. The Gulf War started on 15 January 1991. All attempts to settle the issue peacefully were met with Saddam’s lack of diplomatic skills and Bedouin stubbornness. Iraq was defeated in three days and Saddam signed a ceasefire agreement which imposed trade sanctions on his country until UN resolutions requiring that Iraq rid itself of weapons of mass destruction were met and until it was no longer a threat to its neighbours.

    The period after 1991 was marked by disagreements regarding the true meaning of the UN resolutions governing the articles of the ceasefire and whether Iraq had complied with them. Officially, the embargo on Iraq had allowed it to sell only a limited amount of oil under UN supervision to buy food and medicine. For two years, Saddam would not accept the principle of outsiders’ controlling Iraq’s relations with the rest of the world. He persisted in his attempts to circumvent the resolutions, continued to oppress his people, maintained his unconventional weapons capability and menaced his neighbours.

    Meanwhile, the old coalition which had ejected Saddam from Kuwait fractured and there were divisions within and outside the UN as to how to handle the Iraqi problem. The number of countries refusing to subscribe to the UN embargo against Iraq increased by the day. Of overriding importance were the conditions of misery resulting from the sanctions – hundreds of thousands of people, mostly children, died of malnutrition and starvation. And the UN steadfastly refused to investigate the use of depleted uranium against Iraq while doing the opposite in the former Yugoslavia, where a much smaller tonnage was used.

    Only the US and the UK and the Iraqi opposition in exile were consistent in asking for the removal of Saddam and in attributing Iraq’s problems to his personal rule and behaviour. They accused him of using Iraq’s reduced income to favour his security services and the Republican Guard, the two organisations which protected him. They rightly pointed out the murderous ways of his sons and relatives. They scoffed at his third marriage, which took place in 1993 at a time when the average Iraqi’s calorific intake was lower than that in Bangladesh. They issued lists of Tikritis in the Iraqi army and accused some of them of using chemical weapons against Iraqi citizens.

    While most of these accusations were true, the two countries did not have the mandate or the forces to invade and occupy Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi opposition’s attempts to instigate an anti-Saddam rebellion within Iraq failed to materialise. Most other countries wanted Iraq and Saddam readmitted to the international community of nations. More importantly, Saddam’s popularity among non-Iraqi Arabs soared. Many saw him as another Saladin standing up to the infidel West. They did not suffer under his security system.

    After he became President, Saddam’s ephemeral subscription to ideology had given way to a preoccupation with survival and he had ignored the Baath party and become more and more dependent on members of his family. Incredibly this transfer of power went unanswered by Saddam’s opponents and the US.

    Their plans focused on replacing Saddam through undermining his position within the Baath party, when using family feuds might have led to his downfall. In 1995, tension within the family was exposed when Saddam’s semi-literate sons-in-law Ali and Saddam Kamel defected to Jordan after his eldest son, Uday, threatened to kill them. They foolishly returned to Iraq after a safe-conduct promise by Saddam. Later, the brothers were executed on Saddam’s personal orders; their wives, Saddam’s daughters, were not seen until they reappeared in Jordan in early 2004.

    His successful handling of internal opposition and army plotters encouraged Saddam to use similar methods with foreign powers and the UN. From 1991 until 1998, he conducted a remarkable on-and-off confrontation with Unscom (the UN Special Commission), the body entrusted with dismantling and eliminating his unconventional weapons in accordance with resolutions adopted in 1990-91. The face that Saddam showed Unscom, absurd and misleading, preoccupied the world while Saddam turned on his internal enemies with a vengeance. Old politicians disappeared, Shia clerics were assassinated, dozens of army officers were executed and the number of Saddam lookalikes multiplied.

    But all this changed in 2000, upon the election of George W. Bush as US President. The new administration, conservative, pro-Israeli and responsive to the Christian right, committed itself to the removal of Saddam from the very start. Unable to create a crisis to justify attacking Iraq, Washington kept up the fiction that opposition groups were capable of replacing one of the most tightly organised security systems in the world.

    Using the Iraqi Liberation Act, a special presidential order designed to demonise Saddam, it also allowed the US government to fund Saddam’s opponents to the tune of $96m. However, according to a US State Department officer in the know, the Iraqi opposition failed to account for half of the money America gave them. Not only that, but America spent more time on keeping the Iraqi opposition united than on trying to overthrow Saddam.

    It was the vileness of 11 September 2001 which gave the US and Britain the excuse they needed to confront Saddam. The government which designed modern Iraq but could not make it work and oil-thirsty America’s reaction to the indignity of failing to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden came together and the two countries nominated Saddam as bin Laden’s proxy. Saddam’s secularism did not stand in the way. Although convincing evidence was lacking, both governments insisted on promoting the idea of Saddam-for-bin-Laden.

    A UN Security Council resolution demanded the return of Unscom to Iraq and Saddam’s acceptance of all previous UN resolutions. It was an open-ended mandate to corner Saddam. The Iraqi dictator accepted the new reality born out of 11 September and allowed Unscom back into Iraq, providing them with unencumbered access. The US and the UK reacted by raising their demands, accused Saddam of new crimes against humanity and violations of UN resolutions and called for an invasion of Iraq.

    On 20 March 2003 American, British and 15,000 soldiers from other countries began a huge military assault on Iraq using bases in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait. The Iraqi army collapsed after token resistance and Baghdad fell on 9 April. Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay were killed by American troops in July. Finally, in December, Saddam Hussein himself – thin, bearded and dishevelled – was captured near his home town of Tikrit.

    In July 2004, Saddam was led in chains to the Iraqi Special Tribunal in Baghdad, set up to try Iraqi nationals and residents for atrocities. In a speech to the court, he denounced Kuwaiti “dogs”, claimed that “everyone knows that Kuwait is part of Iraq” and declared, “This is all a theatre. The real criminal is Bush.” The first of several projected trials began in 2005, and as it proceeded, lawyers, witnesses and others connected with the trial were intimidated and assassinated, and judges came and went; Saddam repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the court.

    On 5 November, Saddam Hussein was convicted of charges relating to the deaths of 148 people from the Shia community in Dujail in 1982, and was sentenced to be “hanged until he is dead for crimes against humanity”.

    Said Aburish
    http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2116904.ece

  58. …curious elision over the role of any nation other than the United States in supporting him, particularly in the arena of special weapons. Folks’d do well to remember that there was considerably more than the US backing him, and considerably more than just Western powers.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  59. …that this is going to be downplayed as a factor in the reporting that we’re going to see. Not because of any nefarious intent, but because of the biases inherent in the style of reporting and worldview of the reporters. If one were to scratch below the surface of a lot of the players, however, in coming months this’ll be one of the things that they’ll cite as a motivator and a legitimator. It’ll pale in the coverage as a perceived strategic mistake in comparison to the disbandment of the Iraqi Army, the failure to suppress the initial breakdown in civil order, and a number of other factors about as long as my arm, but I’d personally place it in the top five mistakes or so as it pertains to the Sunni element of the insurgency. I’m guessing (not really) that those meeting where they try and peel off the tribal elements from the wingnuts and show everybody how they have nothing to fear from the Iraqi government are going to be a much tougher sell now.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  60. I don’t know why the link didn’t work last night- I tried from the Independent site all kinds of ways and just got a front page not the obit. Now it’s fine, even on the original link.


    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  61. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16447798/

    Escape fears

    Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was concerned that if Saddam was not hanged quickly he would somehow avoid the gallows, a senior U.S. official in Baghdad was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

    The official told The New York Times that Maliki, who rushed to execute Saddam four days after an appeal on his death sentence on crimes against humanity failed, was worried insurgents would stage a mass kidnapping and use it as a bargaining chip to secure the release of the former president.

    “His concern was security, and that … maybe there would be a mass kidnapping to bargain for Saddam Hussein’s release,” the official said.

    “He was concerned that he might somehow get free.”

  62. this was part of the concern; Maliki’s got to know how tenuous his hold is and how ill-prepared he’d be to hold Saddam securely.

  63. Shameful secrets buried in the dictator’s grave

    Published: Wednesday, 3 January, 2007, 11:04 AM Doha Time

    WE’VE shut him up. The moment Saddam’s hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad on the Eid morning, Washington’s secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the US – and Britain – gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which Western presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support – given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the World War II – is dead.

    Gone is the man who personally received the CIA’s help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union’s influence in Iraq. Saddam’s mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment – extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

    There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 – both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border – and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq’s military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad – at America’s request.

    “Mr Fisk … at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments – thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!”

    I was with Saddam’s forward commandos at the time, under Iranian shellfire, noting how the Iraqi forces aligned their artillery positions far back from the battle front with detailed maps of the Iranian lines. Their shelling against Iran outside Basra allowed the first Iraqi tanks to cross the Karun within a week. The commander of that tank unit cheerfully refused to tell me how he had managed to choose the one river crossing undefended by Iranian armour. Two years ago, we met again, in Amman and his junior officers called him “General” – the rank awarded him by Saddam after that tank attack east of Basra, courtesy of Washington’s intelligence information.

    Iran’s official history of the eight-year war with Iraq states that Saddam first used chemical weapons against it on January 13 1981. AP’s correspondent in Baghdad, Mohamed Salaam, was taken to see the scene of an Iraqi military victory east of Basra. “We started counting – we walked miles and miles in this desert, just counting,” he said. “We got to 700 and got muddled and had to start counting again … The Iraqis had used, for the first time, a combination – the nerve gas would paralyse their bodies … the mustard gas would drown them in their own lungs. That’s why they spat blood.”

    At the time, the Iranians claimed that this terrible cocktail had been given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians were right. The lengthy negotiations which led to America’s complicity in this atrocity remain secret – Donald Rumsfeld was one of President Ronald Reagan’s point-men at this period – although Saddam undoubtedly knew every detail.

    But a largely unreported document, “US Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War”, stated that prior to 1985 and afterwards, US companies had sent government-approved shipments of biological agents to Iraq. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).

    That Senate report concluded that: “The US provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-systems programmes, including … chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment.”

    Nor was the Pentagon unaware of the extent of Iraqi use of chemical weapons. In 1988, for example, Saddam gave his personal permission for Lt-Col Rick Francona, a US defence intelligence officer – one of 60 American officers who were secretly providing members of the Iraqi general staff with detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning and bomb damage assessments – to visit the Fao peninsula after Iraqi forces had recaptured the town from the Iranians. He reported back to Washington that the Iraqis had used chemical weapons to achieve their victory. The senior defence intelligence officer at the time, Col Walter Lang, later said that the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis “was not a matter of deep strategic concern”.

    I saw the results, however. On a long military hospital train back to Tehran from the battle front, I found hundreds of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs – the very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows – and their arms and faces were covered with boils. Later, new bubbles of skin appeared on top of their original boils. Many were fearfully burnt. These same gases were later used on the Kurds of Halabja. No wonder that Saddam was primarily tried in Baghdad for the slaughter of Shia villagers, not for his war crimes against Iran.

    We still don’t know – and with Saddam’s execution we will probably never know – the extent of US credits to Iraq, which began in 1982. The initial tranche, the sum of which was spent on the purchase of American weapons from Jordan and Kuwait, came to $300mn. By 1987, Saddam was being promised $1bn in credit. By 1990, just before Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, annual trade between Iraq and the US had grown to $3.5bn a year. Pressed by Saddam’s foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, to continue US credits, James Baker then Secretary of State, but the same James Baker who has just produced a report intended to drag George Bush from the catastrophe of present-day Iraq – pushed for new guarantees worth $1bn from the US.

    In 1989, Britain, which had been giving its own covert military assistance to Saddam guaranteed £250mn to Iraq, shortly after the arrest of Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft in Baghdad.

    Bazoft, who had been investigating an explosion at a factory at Hilla which was using the very chemical components sent by the US, was later hanged. Within a month of Bazoft’s arrest William Waldegrave, then a Foreign Office minister, said: “I doubt if there is any future market of such a scale anywhere where the UK is potentially so well-placed if we play our diplomatic hand correctly … A few more Bazofts or another bout of internal oppression would make it more difficult.” Even more repulsive were the remarks of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Geoffrey Howe, on relaxing controls on British arms sales to Iraq. He kept this secret, he wrote, because “it would look very cynical if, so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales”.

    Saddam knew, too, the secrets of the attack on the USS Stark when, on May 17, 1987, an Iraqi jet launched a missile attack on the American frigate, killing more than a sixth of the crew and almost sinking the vessel. The US accepted Saddam’s excuse that the ship was mistaken for an Iranian vessel and allowed Saddam to refuse their request to interview the Iraqi pilot.

    The whole truth died with Saddam Hussain in the Baghdad execution chamber. Many in Washington and London must have sighed with relief that the old man had been silenced for ever. – The Independent

    LINK

  64. US sends mixed messages on Saddam’s hanging

    The Bush administration today sent conflicting signals about the taunting and baiting that accompanied Saddam Hussein’s execution as the White House did not join criticism of the former Iraqi president’s hanging and the state department and US military raised questions about it.

    “The president is focused on the new way forward in Iraq, so these issues are best addressed out of Iraq, out of Baghdad,” deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said.

    “Prime Minister Maliki’s staff have already expressed their disappointment in the filmings, so I guess we’ll leave it at that.”

    snip….

    In Baghdad, Major General William Caldwell, the US military spokesman, said Saddam’s execution would have gone differently had US officials and not Iraqis had orchestrated it.

    “Would we have done things differently? Yes, we would have, but that’s not our decision. That’s the government of Iraq’s decision,” Caldwell said.

    He said the United States had nothing to do with the facility where the execution took place.

    “We were not involved in any searches of any people. We had nobody present,” Caldwell said.

    “We did not dictate any requirements that had to be followed. This was a government of Iraq decision on how that whole process went down.”

    The White House, while declining to characterise Bush’s reaction to taunting, worked to shift the focus of the debate onto the execution of Hussein, not how it took place.

    “The most important thing to keep in mind: this is a guy who killed hundreds of thousands of people and received justice,” White House press secretary Tony Snow said. “He got justice.”

    more

  65. From Hussein, a Florid Farewell to the Iraqi People

    By MARC SANTORA and JOHN F. BURNS

    BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 — The dictator sat alone in his cell, three years in American custody. His beard had gone gray, his sons were dead and the gallows were being readied.

    Saddam Hussein in those final days turned to poetry, so often his source of solace in times of difficulty, inspired by his vision of himself as inseparably tied to those he led.

    The poem, “Unbind It,” is his rallying call to be sounded from the grave.

    It is a mixture of defiance and reflection, but no remorse. No mention of the tens of thousands of lives he was responsible for taking. No expression of guilt or sadness or regret.

    The poem, flush with florid phrases that were his trademark, begins with what sounds like a paean to the love between himself and his people, who were about to lose him. much more at link

    January 4, 2007
    Hussein Poem: Baathists Bloom, Enemy Is Hollow

    Following is the first half of a poem attributed to Saddam Hussein, as transcribed and translated by The New York Times from a reading by his cousin Muayed Dhamin al-Hazza.

    Unbind It

    Unbind your soul. It is my soul mate and you are my soul’s beloved.

    No house could have sheltered my heart as you have

    If I were that house, you would be its dew

    You are the soothing breeze

    My soul is made fresh by you

    And our Baath Party blossoms like a branch turns green.

    The medicine does not cure the ailing but the white rose does.

    The enemies set their plans and traps

    And proceeded despite the fact they are all faulty.

    It is a plan of arrogance and emptiness

    It will prove to be nothing but defeated

    We break it as rust devours steel

    Like a sinner consumed by his sins

    We never felt weak

    We were made strong by our morals.

    Our honorable stand, the companion of our soul,

    The enemies forced strangers into our sea

    And he who serves them will be made to weep.

    Here we unveil our chests to the wolves

    And will not tremble before the beast.

    We fight the most difficult challenges

    And beat them back, God willing.

    How would they fare under such strains?

    All people, we never let you down

    And in catastrophes, our party is the leader.

    I sacrifice my soul for you and for our nation

    Blood is cheap in hard times

    We never kneel or bend when attacking

    But we even treat our enemy with honor. …

  66. January 5, 2007
    Op-Ed Contributor NYT
    Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth
    By SLAVOJ ZIZEK

    London

    ONE of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line. Even with American tanks only a few hundred yards from his office, he continued to claim that the televised shots of tanks on the Baghdad streets were just Hollywood special effects.

    In his very performance as an excessive caricature, Mr. Sahhaf thereby revealed the hidden truth of the “normal” reporting: there were no refined spins in his comments, just a plain denial. There was something refreshingly liberating about his interventions, which displayed a striving to be liberated from the hold of facts and thus of the need to spin away their unpleasant aspects: his stance was, “Whom do you believe, your eyes or my words?”

    Furthermore, sometimes, he even struck a strange truth — when confronted with claims that Americans were in control of parts of Baghdad, he snapped back: “They are not in control of anything — they don’t even control themselves!”

    What, exactly, do they not control? Back in 1979, in her essay “Dictatorship and Double Standards,” published in Commentary, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick elaborated the distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes. This concept served as the justification of the American policy of collaborating with right-wing dictators while treating Communist regimes much more harshly: authoritarian dictators are pragmatic rulers who care about their power and wealth and are indifferent toward ideological issues, even if they pay lip service to some big cause; in contrast, totalitarian leaders are selfless fanatics who believe in their ideology and are ready to put everything at stake for their ideals.

    Her point was that, while one can deal with authoritarian rulers who react rationally and predictably to material and military threats, totalitarian leaders are much more dangerous and have to be directly confronted.

    The irony is that this distinction encapsulates perfectly what went wrong with the United States occupation of Iraq: Saddam Hussein was a corrupt authoritarian dictator striving to keep his hold on power and guided by brutal pragmatic considerations (which led him to collaborate with the United States in the 1980s). The ultimate proof of his regime’s secular nature is the fact that in the Iraqi elections of October 2002 — in which Saddam Hussein got a 100 percent endorsement, and thus overdid the best Stalinist results of 99.95 percent — the campaign song played again and again on all the state media was Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

    One outcome of the American invasion is that it has generated a much more uncompromising “fundamentalist” politico-ideological constellation in Iraq. This has led to a predominance of the pro-Iranian political forces there — the intervention basically delivered Iraq to Iranian influence. One can imagine how, if President Bush were to be court-martialed by a Stalinist judge, he would be instantly condemned as an “Iranian agent.” The violent outbursts of the recent Bush politics are thus not exercises in power, but rather exercises in panic.

    Recall the old story about the factory worker suspected of stealing: every evening, when he was leaving work, the wheelbarrow he rolled in front of him was carefully inspected, but the guards could not find anything, it was always empty. Finally, they got the point: what the worker was stealing were the wheelbarrows themselves.

    This is the trick being attempted by those who claim today, “But the world is nonetheless better off without Saddam!” They forget to factor into the account the effects of the very military intervention against him. Yes, the world is better without Saddam Hussein — but is it better if we include into the overall picture the ideological and political effects of this very occupation?

    The United States as a global policeman — why not? The post-cold-war situation effectively called for some global power to fill the void. The problem resides elsewhere: recall the common perception of the United States as a new Roman Empire. The problem with today’s America is not that it is a new global empire, but that it is not one. That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests. It is as if the guiding vision of recent American politics is a weird reversal of the well-known motto of the ecologists — act globally, think locally.

    more

  67. John F. Burns | Baghdad | January 7

    NYT – When American soldiers woke Saddam Hussein in his cell near Baghdad airport at 3:55 a.m. last Saturday, they told him to dress for a journey to Baghdad. He had followed the routine dozens of times before, traveling by helicopter in the predawn darkness to the courtroom where he spent 14 months on trial for his life.

    When his cell lights were dimmed on Friday night, Mr. Hussein may have hoped that he would live a few days longer, and perhaps cheat the hangman altogether.

    According to Task Force 134, the American military unit responsible for all Iraqi detainees, Mr. Hussein “had heard some of the rumors on the radio about potential execution dates.” But never one to understate his own importance, he had told his lawyers for months that the Americans might spare him in the end, for negotiations to end the insurgency whose daily bombings rattled his cellblock windows.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

  68. Saddam into Iraqi hands until just before the hour of execution, even if they had to fly him out of Iraq (again?) to do so.
    “at some point I’m hopeful I’ll figure out something to put here”

  69. The reflex of everyone who knows even a little history is not to be the one to kill the king.

    “We declared war on terror, it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.” – Jon Stewart.

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