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.