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.
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.