Saddam to be Hanged by Sunday – Maybe Today ***UPDATE: Tonight***
Saddam Hussein will reportedly be hanged within three days until he is dead, dead, dead.
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins at sundown Saturday. The hanging could take place as early as Friday, NBC’s Richard Engel reported.
Reuters reports that the execution will be videotaped. Steve Benen muses as to how much the American networks will show but figures “one has to assume the video will appear online fairly quickly.” Kim Priestap agrees.
The NYT Editorial Board is disturbed by the “flawed, politicized and divisive” nature of the judicial process that brought us to this stage and observes, “Toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better Iraq. Executing him won’t either.”
That’s certainly true. Then again, the same could have been said about the Nuremberg trials. Punishing the formerly powerful for their atrocities doesn’t transform the world. It does, however, provide a certain closure and sense of justice. Yes, Saddam’s trial was a farce. He did everything he could to make it that way with his antics. Regardless, neither the NYT editors nor anyone in Iraq has any reasonable doubt about his guilt.
Ed Morrissey agrees, noting, “the purpose of trials is not to nurture hope — it’s to determine the truth regarding guilt or innocence of the accused.”
Jules Crittenden reflects on his time as a reporter in Iraq and all those he saw die, including young Iraqi soldiers brainwashed to sacrifice all for a man who meekly surrendered in his spider hole.
UPDATE: AllahPundit points to a conflicting (but hours older) Reuters report that the execution might not take place until as late as February. He’s buying it because there are those who want to keep Saddam alive for their own purposes: “The Kurds want to wait until his trial for genocide against them is over. The U.S. wants to wait in hopes of getting the Baathist insurgents to negotiate.”
It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if this drags out. Dale Franks is hopeful, though, observing that, “Iraq doesn’t have an equivalent of the Ninth Circuit when it comes to carrying out death sentences.” True.
***UPDATE*** AP says it will happen within hours.
The official 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.
With U.S. forces on high alert for a surge in violence, the Iraqi government readied all the necessary documents, including a “red card” — an execution order introduced during Saddam’s dictatorship. As the hour of his death approached, Saddam received two of his half brothers in his cell on Thursday and was said to have given them his personal belongings and a copy of his will.
Najeeb al-Nueimi, a member of Saddam’s legal team in Doha, Qatar, said he too requested a final meeting with the deposed Iraqi leader. “His daughter in Amman was crying, she said ‘Take me with you,'” al-Nueimi said late Friday. But he said their request was rejected.
An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saddam would be executed before 6 a.m. Saturday, or 10 p.m. Friday EST. Also to be hanged at that time were Saddam’s half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, the adviser said. The time was agreed upon during a meeting Friday between U.S. and Iraqi officials, said the adviser, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“Saddam will be handed over shortly before the execution,” the official said. The physical transfer of Saddam from U.S. to Iraqi authorities was believed to be one of the last steps before he was to be hanged. Saddam has been in U.S. custody since he was captured in December 2003.