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The New York Times gives its readers a blow-by-blow description of Saddam Hussein's final moments, which seems especially helpful now that the bootleg video of the execution has hit the viral network. However, the tone of this piece is more suited to the valediction of a national hero than a genocidal dictator, and it makes the Times look as though they are mourning the loss of Saddam Here are a few of the relevant points in the prose:
Saddam Hussein never bowed his head, until his neck snapped. ...
His executioners wore black ski masks, but Mr. Hussein could still see their deep brown skin and hear their dialects, distinct to the Shiite southern part of the country, where he had so brutally repressed two separate uprisings. ...
When he rose to be led back to the execution room at 6 a.m., he looked strong, confident and calm. Whatever apprehension he may have had only minutes earlier had faded. ...
Mr. Hussein was led up to the gallows without a struggle. His hands were unbound, put behind his back, then fastened again. He showed no remorse. He held his head high.
And so on. If you watch either video, this bears little resemblance to the images seen on television screens or computer monitors. Saddam hardly marched in with his head held high; instead, he looked somewhat nonplussed and nervous, understandably so, as he approached the platform. The entire piece reads like a radical Sunni insurgent history book, circa 2008, and the editors of the Times should have recognized it. Saddam may have faced his execution without tears or begging, but any review of the video shows the descriptions here to be propaganda.
However, the translations of the arguments are certainly worthwhile. The shock at hearing Moqtada al-Sadr's name can be seen in the bootleg, and also the heated nature of the exchanges afterward. The Iraqi prosecutor's efforts to stop the argument should have taken the form of pre-execution instructions to the witnesses. The execution took place in a facility Saddam set up to torture members of the Dawa party, of which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member. The taunting reduced the execution's impact from an orderly imposition of the death penalty to a Sadr rally -- a mistake for which the Iraqi government will suffer some damage, and rightly so.
Without a doubt, all sides will attempt to create their own legends and propaganda from Saddam's execution. It's too bad that the New York Times has decided to join in the effort.Sphere It View blog reactions
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