Friday, December 29, 2006

He is Dead

According to al Hurrah television in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging a half hour ago.

Saddam is dead.
I'm not sure how I feel right now. Emotional is the word, but what sort of emotions are they? Relief that the wicked witch is dead? No. Glad that he'll no longer be on this earth to torment the people he was supposed to have served? Yes.


Yes. Will this be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

"Imposing the death penalty, indefensible in any case, is especially wrong after such unfair proceedings," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice programme, after the appeal failed.

I do know what I think about that statement. There are few people who ever lived whose lives were so remarkable only for their worthlessness and their deserving of the penalty of death.

But these are sentiments I can agree with:

"Saddam is paying the price for murdering tens of thousands of Iraqis. This is an unprecedented feeling of happiness. ... Nothing matches it, no festival or marriage or birth." — Abu Sinan, a resident of Sadr City, Baghdad's impoverished Shiite slum.

"Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him..." — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

My stomach is in knots. I can hardly believe it's true, and now that it's history, I'm not sure that I wanted it this way--this soon. What of all the other trials for which he could have been found guilty--will they continue? Or will the catharsis due to recognition of and penance for American and Western complicity in his debaucheries never occur?

The Guardian reported that

Details of the execution were still emerging early this morning. The authorities had rejected the idea of hanging him before a live audience in a Baghdad football stadium, but senior officials insisted that public confirmation of the success of his execution was "very important". A source in the justice ministry said the proceedings would be recorded by a video-cameraman and a stills photographer. "It is probable that clips and images may be broadcast on national TV," the official said, adding: "Iraqis must see for themselves that the man who oppressed them for so long is dead ... But we will not turn the whole thing into a circus."

I worry and await what hell may be unleashed at the news--or what rejoicing. Whatever the case, I hope that the truth will ensue, a truth that saves Iraq.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Hope he's roasting away with his sons.

Flag Gazer said...

Frank - I have much the same quandry - as execution bothers me, yet I am glad he is no longer breathing air. I went back and looked at the mass graves photos and reread the letters from a young Marine penpal who drove forensic scientists to the mass graves and helped them uncover remains... my stomach is no longer knotted.

PJ said...

Saddam's execution doesn't bother me in the least. I'm not a cold hearted person, but a practical one. I work in a 911 center and I am witness to all sorts of human misery every day, most of which is caused either by the caller themselves or by someone they believe themselves to be dependant on. To have one less tyrant of any kind on this earth causes me to rejoice. I have a fellow blogger friend named CJ who was in Iraq at the time of our intervention. He tells me of lion's cages found with large amounts of human remains in them at a Saddam palace. Sound familiar? Sound rather Romanansque? Yes, I thought so too. The problems I encounter in my job is a lack of proper punishment if any at all for offenders. This punishment is satisfying for me and I'm sure the survivors of those Americans and Iraqi's who lost their lives in Iraq.

Frank Staheli said...

Good comments, all.

My stomach is knotted, not at the the fact of his death, but at what fury may be unleashed by al Qaeda and those Baathists who idolized him.

I'm actually comforted by his death in the way that justice was served. What's frustrating to me is people like the Pope saying that nothing deserves capital punishment.

Yes, there is.

Rich Warnick said...

That was the most expensive and difficult arrest and execution in world history. Now that Saddam has been done way way, do you feel safer?

Rich Warnick said...

Oops, I meant to type, "Now that Saddam has been done away with..."

PJ said...

Rich, Yes I do feel safer on many levels. But I'll bet the average Iraqi, and Saddam's victims and neighbors feel a LOT safer.

Frank Staheli said...


Yes, I feel safer. Since after the Gulf War, when we protected Kuwait from his clutches, he has been wanting to get back at us. Now he can't.

I'm doing more research on Iraq and al Qaeda, including things that happened in the Clinton years, but my jury (me) is still out. I'll report on it here soon.

I recommend you read Between Two Worlds by Zainab Salbi. It will give you an understanding of why a lot of people feel safer.

Cliff said...

I was kinda hoping they'd let Saddam stick around and tell us more about the old days with Rummy and Daddy Bush, and some of the oil deals he did with our patriotic oil corps during the embargo. THEN HANG THE BASTARD!

Oh well.

BTW: I think MilMom is either Lynette or Glenn. But they said it she was coming from my IP address.

Frank Staheli said...


I'm glad you bring up Rumsfeld and George Sr. Because I really do, too, want to know what that was all about.

Whether it was simply trying to balance Iraq against the much stronger Iran, or something much greater/worse.

I have a tendency to think the latter. And it would help America come clean to have the truth, especially in that regard, as public knowledge.

Then maybe we would have more trust in every level of government.

Rich Warnick said...

Does it bother anyone that Saddam was strung up by a bunch of guys in ski masks? Looked like he was executed by IRA terrorists. Not to mention the cultural insensitivity of killing him on the Islamic equivalent of Christmas Eve, Eid al-Adha.

PJ said...

Frank, I like your blog and I like the way your mind works. You're a rational human being and I respect your service and your values. However, I suspect that it's going to get ugly around here soon and name calling will begin with Cliff and Rich here, so I'll say farewell for now. Thanks for the hall.

Frank Staheli said...


Like I mentioned before on ASP, people can sometimes rant a bit, but I generally think Cliff and Richard have something good and important to say. I have appreciated and enjoyed your comments as well, and hope to continue hearing from you from time to time.


I think the reason they wore ski masks is because they knew if would be photographed and videotaped and they didn't want any Sunni revenge being exacted on them.

You're right; it DID seem a bit celebratory and "in-your-face" for the Shia-dominated government to execute Saddam when they did, knowing it would be offensive to Sunnis.

Rich Warnick said...

Frank, if you have a moment check out Juan Cole's excellent article.

Sample quote:

"The tribunal also had a unique sense of timing when choosing the day for Saddam's hanging. It was a slap in the face to Sunni Arabs. This weekend marks Eid al-Adha, the Holy Day of Sacrifice, on which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. Shiites celebrate it Sunday. Sunnis celebrate it Saturday –- and Iraqi law forbids executing the condemned on a major holiday. Hanging Saddam on Saturday was perceived by Sunni Arabs as the act of a Shiite government that had accepted the Shiite ritual calendar."

Matt said...

Awesome! You switched to the "new" Blogger. I don't know what to make of it. On the one hand, he's gone (which has to be good). On the other hand, is it going to change the fact that the Iranian-backed death squads and infiltration of the Interior Ministry will proceed full steam ahead? Probably not. I don't know what to think of the future. I only hope it gets better for the Iraqis.

Rich Warnick said...

Today, another disturbing detail of Saddam's execution came out. The ski masks were appropriate, because these were Mahdi Army thugs.

As a noose was tightened around Hussein's neck, one of the executioners yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr," according to one winess.

Frank Staheli said...


Welcome back! The greatest quandry for me in this whole thing is the one you bring up--the Iranian influence.


Juan Cole's background is very interesting (especially the paragraph you quoted). But I can't help but get the feeling that Juan Cole wants Iraq to fail because he wants America to fail.

Rich Warnick said...

The New York Times has more about the chaotic, even barbaric, scene during Saddam's execution.

Saddam was dead 40 minutes after he was released from U.S. custody.

Frank, I call your attention to this not because anyone is happy to see Iraq fail, or even expected the so-called Iraqi government to act this disgracefully. I believe that we have to keep our eyes open in order to make intelligent choices. Reality-based policies are needed.

Frank Staheli said...


That's very mesmerizing and disappointing story. Followers of one thug (Muqtada al Sadr) killing another. It makes me wonder if there's any hope, even after the hopeful post that I wrote this morning.

The only silver lining (if it can be called that) is that the American representatives questioned the motives of the al Maliki government and wanted to make sure the Iraqis were following the law.

It's better that Saddam is gone, but it will take a great while before the grime of his legacy is removed from the faces of the Iraqi people, to include his enemies.

Frank Staheli said... looks as though now the Sunnis are going to believe that the Americans put al Maliki up to this, and I guess I don't completely blame them.

Rich Warnick said...

They really did turn Saddam over to the Mahdi Army. From Reuters:

"[A] senior Interior Ministry official said the hanging was supposed to be carried out by hangmen employed by the Interior Ministry but that 'militias' had managed to infiltrate the executioners' team.

'The execution was carried out by militias and outsiders. They put aside the team from the Interior Ministry that was supposed to carry it out,' the official said."

Frank Staheli said...


I've been negligent of my blog lately; I'm enthralled with Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" right now.

The article that you link to is interesting in that it talks of allegations that agents provocateur were present at Saddam's hanging, and the purported purpose of their taunting was to intentionally stir up strife.

YOu may have seen a post on Soldier's Perspective recently "boo-hooing" and "poo-pooing" these acts. I was a bit miffed that "Patriot," the post writer, was so flippant in his post and in his response to my comments by not admitting that despite the circumstances of Saddam's debauchery, the taunting in his last hours was wrong.