- Rush to Hang Hussein Was Questioned (New York Times)
- (Updated below. See Update II and III as well.)
- This is a very curious story. Some of it is probably
true, some of it is patently false and all of it is a massive, panicky
CYA job by American officials. However, through the heavy fog of this assemblage
of spin, it seems fairly obvious what has really happened: the same group
of dim-witted fools, ideological cranks and violent sectarians who have
driven the whole misbegotten enterprise in Iraq came up with yet another
plan that they thought was a great idea. But as always, it turned out to
be a botched job that has made http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php?option=com_
- a hellish situation even worse.
- Two things stand out in this story by Burns and Santora
or rather, two salient facts lurk behind the furious spin that the
reporters have assembled. First, that despite all the protestations by
U.S. officials here, it was the Americans who actually had the final say
in letting the execution go forward. And second, the rank lawlessness of
the execution is in fact a direct emulation of American "democracy"
under the Unitary Executive Decidership of George W. Bush.
- The latter point brings out some of the bitter black
comedy in the story, where Burns and Allen sorry, Burns and Santora
convey the words of a "senior Iraqi official" eager to
tote PR water for the American bosses:
- Told that Mr. Maliki wanted to carry out the death sentence
on Mr. Hussein almost immediately, and not wait further into the 30-day
deadline set by the appeals court, American officers at the Thursday meeting
said that they would accept any decision but needed assurance that due
process had been followed before relinquishing physical custody of Mr.
- "The Americans said that we have no issue in handing
him over, but we need everything to be in accordance with the law,"
the Iraqi official said. "We do not want to break the law."
- You must admit this is rich: Bush officials creators
of the special "military tribunals" for their special, made-up
category of "enemy combatants" http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=867&Itemid=135
- who can be jailed indefinitely without trial or charges
or even killed, all at the arbitrary order of the omnipotent president
fretting over "due process" for Saddam Hussein. American
citizens are no longer guaranteed due process which is now solely
in the Decider's gift but we are to believe that Saddam's rights
were uppermost in occupier's mind before his execution.
- Well, who knows? Maybe this is one of the true bits of
the story. It may well be that Bush was more concerned with Saddam's legal
niceties than those of his own citizens; after all, he and Saddam have
much more in common than Bush does with the overwhelming majority of Americans.
They love power, love torture, love blood to be spilled at their command,
see themselves as world-historical figures, great warriors inspired by
- But of course, it's far more likely that these concerns
over "due process" are ex post facto fictions. At least at the
highest levels. It could well be that some of the American officials on
the ground realized how utterly stupid it was to rush Saddam's execution
and hold it on one of Islam's highest holy days, and to let the hanging
itself turn into a farce, with hecklers from Motqada al-Sadr's gang allowed
in to thug it up. So yes, there may be a germ of truth in these butt-covering
exercises. But obviously, if any such officials really exist, they were
overruled by Washington as always is the case with any U.S. official
who has the slightest knowledge of the realities in Iraq.
- After all, why should any Bush minion fret over the execution
procedure? As a Maliki mouthpiece points out, Saddam was tried and convicted
under a "special tribunal" operating outside the ordinary Iraqi
justice system exactly like Bush's "military tribunals."
Why shouldn't the Iraqis make up the law as they go along, just like their
liberators? These crocodile tears over "due process" for Saddam
mask a deep and sinister hypocrisy.
- I think this is how the deal went down, more or less.
Maliki the leader of a faction of violent sectarians wanted
Saddam hanged right away, as an Eid holiday gift to his base, as stated
in the story. In response to this, Bush Faction leaders said, Well, OK,
why not? Bush too wanted Saddam killed as a blood sacrifice to his base.
U.S. officials on the ground the ones who will have to deal with
the backlash tried to make the best of a bad situation and at least
delay the execution. But they were overruled not by Maliki, as the
story ludicrously suggests but by the White House.
- For the overriding fact remains: the execution on Saturday
could not have been carried out at that time, and in that manner, without
approval from Washington. Now, we don't want to fall into the fallacy here
that ascribes omnipotent power to the Bush Faction, as if they exercised
absolute control over events in Iraq. Clearly, events there have outrun
the Bushists control almost from the very beginning. (They are, however,
responsible for all the events that have grown out of the war, which they
launched, very deliberately, in the full knowledge that it was not necessary.)
- But in this particular case, they did have control of
events because they had literal, physical control of Saddam's body.
(A control they continued to exercise after the execution, by the way,
transporting the corpse to its resting place by an American helicopter.
It seems the "sovereignty" of the Iraqi government in this case
lasted only for the brief time it took for the hanging.) Saddam could not
have been hanged by the Maliki government if the Americans had not physically
turned him over to the executioners, who did their work under American
auspices, on an American base. If U.S. officials those with any real
power, that is had had genuine concerns about the timing of the execution,
they could have simply refused to turn Saddam over until, say, after Eid
or at some other point. What could Maliki have done about it? Nothing.
- The fact is, the leaders of the Bush Administration wanted
Saddam dead, sooner rather than later. So they let Maliki kill him. They
are doubtless glad to let Maliki take the heat for the botchery thus
the insultingly crude stories about Bush and his gang wringing their hands
and whimpering, goodness gracious me, we didn't want it to happen this
way, but what we could do? That big bad Maliki threw his weight around,
and we had to give in.
- No, despite the noble stenography of Burns and Santora,
the facts are plain: Saddam was killed on Saturday because or whatever
reason, or reasons, or no clear reason at all -- the Bush White House wanted
it to be so. If they hadn't, it wouldn't have happened.
- UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald delves more deeply into more
angles of the implications of the NYT story in http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2007/01/iraqis-learn-art-of-legal-workarounds.html
- Iraqis learn the art of legal "workarounds".
(He graciously links to this post in the piece, which ordinarily would
prevent me from linking back to it. But my distaste for log-rolling must
give way in this instance to the need to point as many people as possible
to Greenwald's telling insights, which, as noted, go much further than
my brief post on the matter.) Some excerpts to whet your whistle before
you head off to his http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/
- Unclaimed Territory:
- It really is striking, and a potent sign of just how
absurd is our ongoing occupation, that the "Iraqi Government"
which we are fighting to empower could not even conduct this execution
with a pretense of legality or concern for civilized norms -- the executioners
were not wearing uniforms but leather jackets and murderers' masks, conducting
themselves not as disciplined law enforcement officers but as what they
are (death squad members and sectarian street thugs).
- And the most revealing, and most disturbing, detail is
that Saddam's executioners -- in between playground insults spat at a tied-up
Saddam -- chanted their religious-like allegiance to Moktada Al Sadr, the
Shiite militia leader whom we are told is the Great Enemy of the U.S.,
the One We Now Must Kill. This noble and just event for which we are responsible
was carried out by a brutal, murderous, lawless militia. Freedom is on
- No matter what we touch in Iraq, no matter what we do,
it only makes things worse -- never better -- because the root of what
we are doing is itself so rotted and incoherent and corrupt. It's beyond
doubt that we're going to be treated to much more "freedom" and
"justice" like this over the next two years in Iraq, at least.
- UPDATE II: Juan Cole offers up this in-depth and extensively
sourced history of the U.S. involvement with and support for Saddam Hussein,
going all the way back to 1959 , when Saddam evidently worked as a CIA-funded
would-be assassin. http://www.juancole.com/2006/12/for-whom-bell-tolls-top-ten-ways-us.html
- See For Whom the Bell Tolls: Top Ten Ways the US Enabled
- UPDATE III: Robert Parry supplies more background info
on why Saddam had to die in yet another essential piece from Consortiumnews.com:
- Bush Silences a Dangerous Witness.