Maliki’s Other Mistake

Nouri al-Maliki rather notoriously allowed the execution of Saddam Hussein to go awry by pressing for a quick hanging, rather than taking American advice to slow down and organize it better. As a result, the opportunity to show that Iraq had moved past its brutal sectarian past was lost in the “Moqtada, Moqtada” chants on a bootleg video. Now it appears that Maliki’s arrangement will lead to another mistake, one that could keep the cult of Saddam thriving:

Saddam Hussein’s followers are planning a museum at the former dictator’s grave, amid concern that a Baathist shrine and rumours of a posthumous autobiography will perpetuate a cult of martyr around him.
Saddam’s tribe say that exhibits will include photographs and the coat, white shirt and shoes he wore at his execution, with other documents and belongings returned to the family by the Iraqi Government.
But it is suggestions of a book, which publishers said last night could break sales records, that is most controversial.
One tribal member in Tikrit said that they now held Saddam’s jail writings, in autobiographical form. Separately, Saleh Armouti, a Jordanian member of the former dictator’s defence team, said he was sure that Saddam wrote his memoirs while in jail. “Once I asked him how he spends his day, and he said, ‘I spend it writing my memoirs’.”

Maliki could do little about Saddam’s autobiography; after all, confiscating it and destroying it would have caused even more conspiracy theories to abound about its contents. It will probably sell like the Ba’athist equivalent of hotcakes, too. It certainly will outsell Saddam’s romance novel.
However, the shrine exists because Maliki acceded to Saddam’s family when they demanded his body back after the execution. After the debacle of the hanging, Maliki probably couldn’t afford to commit any further provocations, but allowing the body to go back to Tikrit was a mistake. The government basically issued a license for a Saddam Hussein shrine, and that’s what the Ba’athists intend to create at the gravesite.
They want to create a legend of Saddam as Saladin, much like Saddam tried to create for himself during his reign of terror. This could work, but probably not for very long. Despite the best efforts of his propagandists, no one in Iraq will forget Saddam’s record in wars. Despite a large advantage over the Iranians, the best he could do was a draw against the mullahcracy after eight grinding years of total warfare. After that, he got his ass handed to him twice by the United States and its coalition partners, and both times within a few weeks of actual battle.
Unfortunately, though, the Arab nationalists of the region will still use Saddam and his shrine as a rallying point. Failure has rarely disqualified Arab leaders from becoming heroes, and Saddam’s end will no doubt enhance his status. Maliki and the Iraqis will probably rue the refusal to cremate Saddam and throw his ashes to the winds.

John Burns And The Run-Up To Saddam’s Execution

While many of us distrust the New York Times and its reporting on Iraq, John Burns has consistently provided the most objective and fascinating accounts of the war throughout most of the American media establishment. He has written a narrative of the process that led to the execution of Saddam Hussein that exemplifies his skill and insight:

In interviews with dozens of American and Iraqi officials involved in the hanging, a picture has emerged of a clash of cultures and political interests, reflecting the widening gulf between Americans here and the Iraqi exiles who rode to power behind American tanks. Even before a smuggled cellphone camera recording revealed the derision Mr. Hussein faced on the gallows, the hanging had become a metaphor, among Mr. Maliki’s critics, for how the “new Iraq” is starting to resemble the repressive, vengeful place it was under Mr. Hussein, albeit in a paler shade.
The hanging spread wide dismay among the Americans. Aides said American commanders were deeply upset by the way they were forced to hand Mr. Hussein over, a sequence commanders saw as motivated less by a concern for justice than for revenge. In the days following the hanging, recriminations flowed between the military command and the United States Embassy, accused by some officers of abandoning American interests at midnight Friday in favor of placating Mr. Maliki and hard-line Shiites.
But for Mr. Maliki’s inner circle, the hanging was a moment to avenge decades of brutal repression by Mr. Hussein, as well as a moment to drive home to Iraq’s five million Sunnis that after centuries of subjugation, Shiites were in power to stay. At the “White House,” as his officials now describe Mr. Maliki’s headquarters in the Green Zone, a celebratory dinner began Friday night even before the Americans withdrew their threat not to hand over Mr. Hussein.
An Iraqi who attended the hanging said the government saw the Americans as wasting time with their demands for a delay until after the four-day Id al-Adha holiday, and for whatever time beyond that required to obtain the legal authorizations they considered necessary. For the Americans to claim the moral high ground afterward by disavowing the hanging, the Iraqi said, was disingenuous.
“They cannot wash their hands, this is a joint responsibility,” he said. “They had the physical custody, and we had the legal custody. At one point, I asked, ‘Is it our call or is it your call?’ They said, ‘It’s your call.’ I said, ‘If it’s our call, we’ve made the decision.’ ” Legal niceties could not save Mr. Hussein, he said, concluding, “The man has to go.”

It’s difficult to know where to place one’s sympathies. After all, the American insistence on ensuring that all of the legal niceties took place seems second nature to our culture, where we attempt to avoid any possible criticism through the emphasis on process. The Iraqis, naturally, did not see the value in adhering to processes intended to protect those whose guilt had more possibility of being debatable, and saw little value in delaying the inevitable. Burns’ narrative tells the story of a culture clash as well as power plays, and it’s rather gripping even for those of us who have followed the story closely.
In the end, though, one has to wonder why Nouri al-Maliki was so insistent on executing him before Eid and in the triumphalist manner in which the execution was conducted, rather than just wait a few days more to avoid the religious issues. Saddam had sat in his cell for 1100 days and was not going anywhere but to the gallows. The Iraqi tribunal, having hit its stride, was in the process of displaying the evidence for the genocide of the Kurds, a trial that would have enlightened at least a few Iraqis who harbored residual affection for the monster who ruled them for decades. A spring execution would not have seemed completely unreasonable.
However, Maliki no doubt wanted to end speculation of Saddam’s return to power if the sectarian conflicts worsened, speculation that Saddam himself provoked. As I wrote earlier, the existence of a deposed tyrant acts as a destabilizing force to the successor government, no matter what form it takes. As long as Saddam remained alive, he existed as a symbol of Restoration to Ba’athist hard-liners. And without a doubt, the crimes Saddam committed personally against the members of the new government had an effect on their decision-making. Saddam had attempted to assassinate Maliki at one point, and given the American push to replace Maliki, the Prime Minister may have wanted to make sure he got Saddam while he still had the chance.
Read the whole article; Burns, as always, is a must-read.

An Unseemly Eulogy

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.

Saddam Buried, But Lives Again (Briefly) On Video

The Iraqi government gave the corpse of Saddam Hussein to tribal leaders in Tikrit, and he has been buried near his sons in his homeland. However, like a spectre, he haunts the Internet after his death thanks to a bootleg video of his entire execution taken by a cell phone (via Hot Air, Vince, Curt, and Jawa Report):

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, hanged for crimes against humanity on Saturday, has been buried in the village where he was born 69 years ago.
In a sparsely attended ceremony in Awja, in the Tikrit region north of the capital, the former Iraqi leader was laid to rest in a family plot.
His sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US troops in 2003, are also buried there.

In this case, the US acted as a courier. We flew the body to Tikrit and apparently made the arrangements for the handover. Saddam had built the graveyard during his regime, and apparently had moved his family plots to it at some point. One might worry that this location and the public knowledge of his resting place would allow Saddamites to use it as a rallying point, but the US and the Iraqi government think that the cult of Saddam has exhausted itself.
The video will not get exhausted so quickly. It started making the rounds less than 24 hours after the trap door swung wide to end the dictator’s life, and it has the grainy, shaky quality that will capture the imagination of viewers worldwide. Unlike the quiet edited version released by the Iraqis a few hours after the execution, this features loud voices taunting Saddam as his executioners place the noose around his neck. The videographer had to hide his efforts at two points, but we can clearly see Saddam drop from the platform, and later we see his dead eyes staring up. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Has the Saddam cult run its course? We’ll soon see. I think it was a mistake to allow Saddam to be buried in Tikrit, of all places, but certainly even the Sunni insurgents had already moved past the notion of Saddam’s restoration towards a more religious dictatorship of the gun and the IED. Some, though, will insist on seeing Saddam as a martyr for Iraqi nationalism, a strange remembrance for a man who killed more Iraqis than anyone else and who fostered the kind of sectarian divide we see now through his genocidal attacks on Kurds, Shi’ites, and Marsh Arabs. (some links via Memeorandum)

‘Iraq Without Me Is Nothing’

The final moments of Saddam Hussein found their way to the pages of Newsweek, as a Michael Hastings interview with witness Ali al-Massedy hit the Internet within hours of the event. For all of the breathless coverage of yesterday, the Hastings article feels like an anti-climax:

Ali Al Massedy was 3 feet away from Saddam Hussein when he died. The 38 year old, normally Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s official videographer, was the man responsible for filming the late dictator’s execution at dawn on Saturday. “I saw fear, he was afraid,” Ali told NEWSWEEK minutes after returning from the execution. Wearing a rumpled green suit and holding a Sony HDTV video camera in his right hand, Ali recalled the dictator’s last moments. “He was saying things about injustice, about resistance, about how these guys are terrorists,” he says. On the way to the gallows, according to Ali, “Saddam said, ‘Iraq without me is nothing.’”
Ali says he followed Saddam up the gallows steps, escorted by two guards. He stood over the hole and filmed from close quarters as Saddam dropped through—from “me to you,” he said, crouching down to show how he shot the scene. The distance, he said, was “about one meter,” he said. “He died absolutely, he died instantly.” Ali said Saddam’s body twitched, “shaking, very shaking,” but “no blood,” he said, and “no spit.” (Ali said he was not authorized to disclose the location, and did not give other details of the room.)
Ali said the videotape lasts about 15 minutes. When NEWSWEEK asked to see a copy, Ali said he had already handed the tape over to Maliki’s chief of staff. “It is top secret,” he said.

The quote from Saddam should find its way into the history books along Louis XIV’s L’etat, c’est moi (see update). He died as so many megalomaniacal dictators do — believing themselves to be the center of the universe and somewhat nonplussed at the notion that the world will spin without them. He attempted to manipulate events until the last moment, as was to be expected.
Many have taken the occasion to celebrate Hussein’s death, but I’m not going to shout huzzahs. I believe the world to be a better place without him, and I think his death was necessary to keep uprisings from focusing on his restoration to power. Even a few Westerners had floated the notion as an answer to the sectarian violence, apparently believing that Saddam’s proven willingness to kill everyone would bring a grim equality to Iraq. Still, all this does is put an end to a great evil of our time, which deserves recognition but not a party atmosphere. Andy McCarthy says it best:

This wasn’t victory. It didn’t end suffering. It was, in the heat of a war that has actually gotten more vicious and more uncertain since Saddam’s capture three years ago, the carrying out of an essential but unpleasant duty. It marginally enhances Iraq’s propects, and ours. But Saddam’s death (as opposed to his deposing) has no impact whatsoever on the deep dysfunction and hatred that is rending what passes for Iraqi society. The unbridled display of dancing and shooting says more about that than the death of one man — monstrous though he was — who has been imprisoned for three years.
Saddam’s death is a marker worth observing. It is not something to go up in a balloon over.

It did, however, confirm once again the vacuousness of our media. The FM and I have taken the weekend to get away and relax, and she and I watched the coverage on CNN and MS-NBC. The latter was marginally better than the former, where their pre-execution coverage came close to insisting that Saddam was being martyred for the American government. On MS-NBC, we only had to put up with the bubbleheaded anchor seriously floating the notion that the man who had been held for three years and whose identity had been confirmed through DNA analysis and numerous witnesses was really a body double who was going to die in Saddam’s place.
The dictator has met his end, at the hands of the people he tormented for decades. He received more justice in a single day of his trial than he ever gave anyone during his reign of terror. Yet the American media covered that trial as if it were the Saddam show, rather than provide coverage of the many witnesses to his genocides and crimes against humanity. This was the most consequential and historic trial of a mass murderer since Nuremberg, and the only points of interest to the American media were the self-serving disruptions of the defendants — and they questioned the fairness of the trial because the monsters tried turning the trial into a circus.
It wasn’t just the execution coverage that was a joke; it was the entire coverage of Saddam Hussein, going back to Eason Jordan’s deal with the devil that kept their Baghdad bureau open. The last 24 hours just confirms their soullessness. (via Memeorandum)
UPDATE: L’etat, c’est moi is associated with Louis XIV and not Napoleon, according to Wikipedia, which also calls it inaccurate. Thanks to Mark1971 in the comments.

It’s Over (Live Blog)

Three Arabic news stations and MS-NBC are broadcasting the report that Saddam Hussein has been executed this evening, right around 10 pm ET.
Right now, without any text reports, MS-NBC is telling viewers that a delegation of seven witnesses saw Saddam hanged a few minutes ago. The witnesses included members of the tribunal that convicted and sentenced him as well as a doctor to declare him dead. They also report that the Iraqi government recorded the event, and that the images and/or video will eventually be released to demonstrate that the former dictator and genocidal monster has truly died.
Sic semper tyrannis? Unfortunately, no, although it’s certainly an appealing thought. I’ll settle for an “et tu, Brute?” from each of them, if we can get it.
Here’s the first wire report — from Reuters, reporting on an al-Hurra TV broadcast:

U.S.-backed Iraqi television station Al Hurra said Saddam Hussein had been executed by hanging shortly before 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Saturday.

Also, the Iraqi government executed Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad al-Bandar after hanging Saddam. The three were sentenced to death together, and they have now been put to death at essentially the same time.
UPDATE: MS-NBC reports that Americans “were present” at the execution. I assume that means the security detail that delivered Saddam to the gallows. Meanwhile, here’s USA Today with a bare-bones announcement and a recap of the activity today.
UPDATE II: ‘Hanged’, not ‘hung’, and thanks to Only One Cannoli in the comments. So far, not much new on the internet or on TV about the executions.
9:47 PM CT – May as well make this a live-blog, if you’ll pardon the irony. The updated AP wire describes the announcement on Iraqi TV:

Saddam Hussein has been hanged, state-run television reported Saturday. “Criminal Saddam was hanged to death,” state-run Iraqiya television said in an announcement. The station played patriotic music and showed images of national monuments and other landmarks.

Perhaps the Maliki government still believes it can use this as a unifying event for Iraqis. It would be nice …
9:52 – MS-NBC, which I’m forced to watch in my hotel room, now reports that the Iraqi witnesses to the execution were cheering and dancing around the body of Saddam Hussein.
9:56 – Reportedly, the Tikrit area had roadblocks put up all around it. Apparently the Iraqis want to isolate the Tikritis in case they get a little too boisterous in their disapproval. The Iraqis control Tikrit, and the MS-NBC analysts say that it has been a success story for the Iraqi Army.
More …
10:09 – Not much new in the details, so let’s take a look at the politics. Will this help or hurt in Iraq? I think this will be a net positive by a wide margin. In the first place, history has shown that leaving a deposed tyrant alive makes their return likely — Napoleon would be one example. It at least keeps hope alive among their partisans, and the Jacobites might be an example of that. That cuts two ways; it’s not just Saddam’s dead-enders who foresaw his return, but also those who would oppose him and those on the fence. His death removes all doubt and clears the deck for the future.
10:13 – How about American politics? I don’t think it moves the needle here at home. For one thing, we’ve just finished a national election, and we won’t have another for two years — and Bush won’t be running. It might give a slight bump upward in support of the war for a brief period, but the death sentence has long since figured into the support figures. I don’t see it having much of an effect one way or the other.
10:40 – CNN now reports that video and images will be given to the media. I’m going to pack it in for the evening, but I’ll check to see what they have in the morning.

The Execution Is A Go For Tonight … Perhaps

The execution of Saddam Hussein will take place within hours, as I predicted, according to “top Iraqi officials”. Meanwhile, Saddam’s lawyers try a more friendly court system to get him a stay of execution:

The witnesses to Saddam Hussein’s impending execution gathered Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime’s atrocities.
A top Iraqi official said Saddam will be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday, Baghdad time, or 10 p.m. Friday EST. …
“Saddam will be executed today or tomorrow,” Haddad said. “All the measures have been done. … There is no reason for delays.”

That puts the execution at 9 pm CST, which will make this a prime-time execution. One can suppose the cable news networks will go wall to wall with Saddam coverage, and the broadcast networks may even be tempted to pre-empt their entertainment schedules. However, Saddam’s legal team has decided to try the American courts for a restraining order that would prevent US authorities from transferring physical custody of Saddam to the Iraqis:

Hussein’s lawyers filed documents Friday afternoon asking for an emergency restraining order aimed at stopping the U.S. government from relinquishing custody of the condemned former Iraqi leader to Iraqi officials, a spokeswoman for a federal court in Washington D.C. said.
The documents were being processed and were not immediately made public. The Justice Department had not yet responded to the request.
A similar request by the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, was denied Thursday and is under appeal. Al-Bandar also faces execution. The Justice Department argued in that case that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction to interfere with the judicial process of another country.

This is a stretch. The Iraqis have legal custody of Saddam and have had it for over two years. They have asked the US to provide physical security, but they can end that arrangement whenever they like, and the courts have no power to restrain the Iraqi government. The Americans would like to maintain physical security of Saddam until the noose is placed around his neck, but that doesn’t mean they have to do so, or that courts could force them to do so.
Having the witnesses on alert means that the execution will indeed occur shortly. The story of this genocidal monster is about to come to an abrupt end.
Question: The Iraqis supposedly plan to tape the execution, if not show it live. Do CQ readers believe that American networks should broadcast the execution, either live or on tape?
UPDATE: I’m late in linking to this, but please read Bill Ardolino’s look at the “Not To Forget Museum” in Kuwait. It will remind people of a few of the many reasons Saddam should exit this world at the soonest possible moment. While you’re at it, toss a few dollars into his tip jar for his embed mission among the troops.
UPDATE II: I didn’t notice this before, but Dafydd notes that the request for a restraining order came to the US district court of Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. If you will recall, this is the same Clinton appointee that forced the FEC to regulate Internet political speech. This should be … interesting.
UPDATE III: Don’t forget to keep checking Memeorandum for blogger coverage of the news.

Saddam To Transfer To Iraqis Today

The confusion in Baghdad regarding custody of Saddam Hussein appears to have lifted somewhat. After a rumor circulated that the US had handed over the genocidal dictator to the Iraqi government, officials in Washington have told ABC News that they will complete the transfer later today:

A senior official in Washington tells ABC News that Hussein will be transferred to Iraqi custody by the end of today.
The actual date for the execution is still a closely guarded secret, and will be decided on solely by Iraqis, the official says.
Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki was quoted on Iraqi television this morning, saying there should be no delay in implementing the sentence, but he said nothing about the timing.
Hussein’s lawyers say they have been told to prepare to pick up his personal effects, but they do not know when they should do that.

My guess is that they should do it expeditiously. Technically, the Iraqis have had him in their custody all along, but the US provided the security for his detention. If the US transfers the security responsibility to the Iraqis, it would only be for days or even hours before his execution. We would not run the risk of an escape via some infiltrator into the Iraqi security team until it became absolutely necessary.
Yesterday, MS-NBC reported that Saddam would die by Eid, almost a poetic palindrome. This seems to support the report. It could happen even more quickly than that. Personally, I think this is just a conspiracy to keep Mitch from claiming victory.

Three Years Later, A ‘Rush’

A little more than three years after Saddam Hussein meekly came out of his spider hole, the Iraqis have finally removed the last obstacle to his execution. Saddam attempted, with some success, to transform his trial into a political showpiece, using it to rail against the American occupation and to inspire the Ba’athist remnants to terrorist attacks. Despite having several members of the court assasinated or attacked, the tribunal convicted Saddam for crimes consistent with the evidence. And yet, this is not enough for the New York Times:

The important question was never really about whether Saddam Hussein was guilty of crimes against humanity. The public record is bulging with the lengthy litany of his vile and unforgivable atrocities: genocidal assaults against the Kurds; aggressive wars against Iran and Kuwait; use of internationally banned weapons like nerve gas; systematic torture of countless thousands of political prisoners.
What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better future. A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule. It could have set a precedent for the rule of law in a country scarred by decades of arbitrary vindictiveness. It could have fostered a new national unity in an Iraq long manipulated through its religious and ethnic divisions.
It could have, but it didn’t. After a flawed, politicized and divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by hanging. This week, in a cursory 15-minute proceeding, an appeals court upheld that sentence and ordered that it be carried out posthaste. Most Iraqis are now so preoccupied with shielding their families from looming civil war that they seem to have little emotion left to spend on Mr. Hussein or, more important, on their own fading dreams of a new and better Iraq.

So let’s get this straight. What is really important isn’t the hundreds of thousands of people that Saddam had killed on his whim. It isn’t lengthy public record of his “vile atrocities”. It isn’t the long string of living victims that had to bear witness under difficult circumstances to those who could not appear in court. What really matters, the Times insists, is that the process did not “nurture hope”.
Well, the purpose of trials is not to nurture hope — it’s to determine the truth regarding guilt or innocence of the accused. In this, the tribunal succeeded, although as the Times notes, the issue was not in much doubt. The trial also succeeded in giving voice to many of Saddam’s victims, something the Times must have missed in its zeal to find hope-nurturing elements in a genocide trial. The tribunal also established solid legal precedents for a fledgeling judiciary that has to establish itself mostly from scratch.
The reluctance of the Times to support Saddam’s conviction is puzzling, given that they concede all available evidence paints him as one of the worst monsters in the past few decades. It seems to spring from an objection to his sentence rather than his conviction, as they end with a warning that Saddam’s execution will not create a “new and better Iraq,” but that’s not the purpose of criminal sentencing, either. Sentences serve dual purposes: to protect society and to serve as a deterrent to others, neither of which has anything to do with creating a new and better anything.
As I am opposed to the death penalty in civilian courts, Saddam’s execution presents an interesting challenge. Michael Stickings says he cannot support the death penalty under any circumstances, but I think there is a large distinction between civil death sentences and those under wartime and genocidal conditions. The execution of spies and saboteurs, for instance, offers a deterrence to those who would commit those acts during wartime, and the elimination of that as an assured result of capture would create a flood of saboteurs and spies, especially if they received the same treatment as POWs. Similarly, genocidal tyrants tried by their own people and executed for their crimes serve as an example for other tyrants to fear — and it removes the jailed tyrant as a focus for restoration, a situation that history has proven to be dangerous to recovering societies.
In any case, the Times proves itself laughable once again by proclaiming a three-year process towards Saddam’s execution as a “rush” and complaining about a verdict and sentence that even they admit were completely justified by the evidence at hand. Perhaps next time, the editorial board should not be in such a “rush” to opine. (via It Shines For All)
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers from both links! And don’t miss Jules Crittenden’s take on this story.
UPDATE II: Stephen Bainbridge addresses Pope Benedict’s objection to the execution and agrees with my take in a post well worth a full read.

Win A Date With Saddam! (Necktie Required)

Apparently, the Iraqi unemployment situation must be fairly dire, as men would kill to get a job. More accurately, they would kill one specific person:

An advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told ABC News that hundreds of Iraqis have inquired about the job as Hussein’s hangman, even though officially, no such position exists and the government has not advertised for it.
Bassam al-Husseiny said he receives eight to 10 phone calls a day, and 20 to 30 e-mails by those who want the assignment. The interested Iraqis, he said, come from all three of the country’s major religions and ethnicities and from high-level government officials to “the tea boy.”
One of those interested, a Shiite Muslim named Abdul, said there is not a house in Iraq that has not held a funeral because of Hussein. He explained that he is “not the only one” who wants to execute the former dictator.

It’s an equal-opportunity position! The Iraqi government could probably save on the salary, too, as most of the applicants would probably work for free. It won’t take much experience, either. Applicants will have to demonstrate how to pull the floor from beneath someone’s feet, a trick Saddam taught Iraq over and over again during his disastrous reign as the 100% Dictator.
They won’t take too long in the interview process. Considering all of the trouble that could already be brewing over Saddam’s execution, they will want to do this quickly. I’d suggest that Nouri al-Maliki choose the technique used by magicians the world over … pick a Kurd, any Kurd.