As Saddam Hussein’s body cools, the controversy over his hanging simmers.
The Sunni side of the Arab street is enraged over the verbal taunts the late Iraqi dictator endured, thanks to Shiite witnesses to his Dec. 30 execution.
One referred to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose father Hussein killed in 1999. “Go to Hell!” another yelled.
“Please don’t,” a judge pleaded. “The man is facing execution.”
Iraqi authorities have since arrested three witnesses for capturing cell-phone images that revealed these details.
According to columnist Robert Scheer, “U.S. officials appeared in this spectacle as hapless Keystone Kops, morally implicated by their tepid support of a lynch mob.”
The New York Times, increasingly indistinguishable from America’s radical Islamic enemies, has yanked out its collective hair over this event.
“Iraq’s new Shiite rulers,” it reported Jan. 1, “seemed bent on turning the execution and its aftermath into a new nightmare for the Sunni minority privileged under Mr. Hussein.”
The Times’ post-execution coverage of all-the-noose-that’s-fit-to-print also lamented “the pell-mell nature of the hanging” conducted by executioners who resembled “bullying street thugs.”
All of this hand wringing misses the mark as badly as a blind sharpshooter.
Saddam Hussein got his just desserts after 24 years of treating his people to atrocities that were far beyond verbal. If furious Muslims and their American sympathizers were not upset that Hussein was heckled as he died, they would be whining about something else: The rope was too thick.
The noose contained seven coils — far too many. Officials should have spurned Hussein’s wishes and shrouded his head so he could face his death in darkness. The scaffold was metal, not wood. And how dare it be painted red?
Only The New York Times could bellyache over a “dead-of-night rush to the gallows.” This mass murderer was extracted from his spider hole on December 13, 2003, tried, convicted and re-condemned on appeal. Far better, the Times must think, to delay this process beyond the intervening three years, two weeks and three days. Perhaps Hussein could have remained as a rallying point for anti-American insurgents. Better yet, he could have escaped, and then led anti-U.S. terrorists from underground.
Hussein’s defenders should stop pining for a pristine hanging that never was and instead focus on his grotesque tenure.
- Feisal al-Istrabadi, Iraq’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Dec. 29 about “a friend of mine who was forced to watch the autopsy of his own mother as a child.” The woman “had been killed by the regime for being politically active against the regime.”
- After surviving a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, Hussein ordered the hanging of 148 local men and boys. For this, he was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.
- Dujail’s innocent women were jailed in Bassiyah. Um Talal-Khuraytli told the London Times’ Hala Janber how guards treated her pregnant daughter-in-law, Raida: They bound her legs while she was in labor. “She screamed in pain for hours,” the elderly woman said. “They left her in labor and would not untie her. Eventually she and the unborn baby died.”
- In March 1988, Amnesty International reports, Hussein attacked Kurds in Halabja with mustard gas, nerve gas and cyanide, killing at least 5,000.
- Survivors say they still cough up blood every morning.
There are perhaps hundreds of thousands more stories like this, starting with the estimated 300,000 men, women and children Hussein drove into mass graves that are being excavated even today.
Interestingly enough, Hussein gripped a Koran as he plunged through the gallows’ trap door. His final words were, “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His messenger.” Oops! There goes the theory that Hussein was too secular to have collaborated with Muslim extremists. In fact, he generously plied Islamic terrorists with funds, sanctuary, false passports and other goods and services. For details, see my Web site at husseinandterror.com.
The Sunni street, Scheer, the Times and everyone else weeping over a few inelegant comments at a despot’s hanging instead should cry for Saddam Hussein’s countless victims who were hurt not by his words, but by his sticks and stones that broke their bones.
(New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.murdock(at)gmail.com.)