An Iraqi guard has been arrested for capturing Saddam Hussein’s hanging on cellphone video and releasing it to the world via the Internet. There is some confusion as to whether he was the one who actually shot the video, or some other Iraqi official.

The difference between the Iraq government’s tidy, soundless video of the hanging and the guard’s unedited cellphone version are the recorded sounds of chaos and mocking, abusive sectarian taunts thrown at the condemned man by Shiite witnesses and guards – and Saddam’s defiant responses — in the moments before the trapdoor opened beneath his feet, he fell and the rope snapped his neck.

The Shiite mocking was left out of the sanitized version. The unofficial video resembled nothing more than the horrors released earlier in the war in Iraq that showed insurgents beheading their captives.

Shouts of “Go to hell!” and “Moktada! Moktada! Moktada!” are recorded on the video, referring to the Shiite cleric Moktada al Sadr.

The cellphone video, now available internationally online and viewed by millions – including the Iraqi people – has understandably incited outrage among not only Saddam’s Sunni brethren but among most right-thinking people. The hanging was a travesty – hurried even as Saddam faced other charges. And it was carried out in such a way that, while it can be argued that justice was served in that a killer met his end, it also appeared to be Shiite – and American – revenge.

Instead of carrying out the execution with solemnity and dignity, this was more like a lynching.

What I want to know is why the maker of the cellphone video was arrested.

Was it for showing the world the truth? If so, what does that say about the “democracy” the U.S. has imposed upon Iraq at gunpoint?

In the days since the unofficial video hit the Internet, the American government has come out with statements saying that America had nothing to do with the timing or manner of Saddam’s lynching.

In fact, George W. Bush slept through it, though he surely knew that Saddam’s hanging was going forward. That, at the very least, showed a total lack of respect for his enemy or his enemy’s people. It said far more than words.

Heck of a job, Bushie.

Days after the cellphone video was released – and dismay and the world over the chaos at the hanging began to grow — Major General William Caldwell, a U. S. military spokesman, said at a Baghdad press conference that “Had we been physically in charge at that point we would have done things differently.”


Unidentified (of course) American officials now say they tried to get Iraqi President Nuri Kamal al-Malaki, a Shiite in the Iran-backed Dawa Party, to delay Saddam’s execution until after the Islamic festival of Id, which began the same morning that he was hanged. They also said there were constitutional and legal questions which threw the execution into doubt.

They said Mr. Maliki would not listen and went ahead with the execution, his only stated reason a fear that insurgents might try to free Hussein through a mass kidnapping if procedural wrangling were protracted. Now, with the deed done and thousands of Iraqis protesting, he has launched an “enquiry” into the events at the hanging.

Not incidentally, Mr. Maliki recently told the Wall Street Journal that he wishes he could leave office before his four years are up.

Saddam Hussein, after he was captured by U.S. forces, should have been turned over the World Court for trial. It might have taken longer, and it’s sure that Saddam would have been allowed to defend himself – and perhaps indict his U.S. and British supporters during his long and brutal reign. But it would have been a fair trail which removed any taint of sectarian revenge from the proceedings, and rather than capital punishment, which most civilized countries in the world abhor, he would have been punished justly.

His victims – not only those who were Shiite — would also have been given a voice.

But with his kangaroo court trial and hurried lynching in a room filled with mocking, Shiite enemies, supported by the U.S. government, Saddam’s death has only further inflamed the sectarian violence and civil war in Iraq.

Could America have stopped this travesty? Of course it could have. But the man who had the real power and authority to say “no” slept through the whole thing, tucked snugly into his presidential bed in the White House.

How very convenient.


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