The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into unofficial mobile phone footage showing the execution of former leader Saddam Hussein.
The mobile phone footage showed he exchanged taunts and insults with witnesses at his hanging on Saturday.
The grainy video showed the former leader being told to “go to hell” by someone attending the hanging.
One of the trial prosecutors who saw the execution said he threatened to halt it if the jeering did not stop.
Munkith al-Faroon – who can be heard appealing for order on the unofficial video – said that he had threatened to walk out.
This could have halted the execution, as a prosecution observer must, by law, be present.
Mr Faroon also said he knew “two top officials… had their mobile phones with them [at the execution]. There were no mobile phones allowed at that time.”
The Iraqi authorities fear the footage, released on the internet hours after the execution, could contribute to a dramatic rise in sectarian tensions between Iraq’s Sunni and Shia communities.
Well, it certainly did that. Saddam’s supporters have vowed revenge, and they are blaming the Americans for the hanging. The violence has already claimed dozens of Iraqi Shia victims. (Sorry, I can’t seem to find a precise death toll published on a reputable news site, probably because it’s so high as to be embarrassing.)
Worse, Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US troops in 2003, are now seen as martyrs. If this is supposed to help get Sunnis onside in the political process, it’s just another miserable failure for the man whose name is now synonymous with Miserable Failure.
And those are not the only things wrong with this kangaroo-court execution:
A U.S. judge on Friday refused to stop Saddam’s execution, rejecting a last-minute court challenge.
U.S. troops cheered as news of Saddam’s execution appeared on television at the mess hall at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad. But some soldiers expressed doubt that Saddam’s death would be a significant turning point for Iraq.
"First it was weapons of mass destruction. Then when there were none, it was that we had to find Saddam. We did that, but then it was that we had to put him on trial," said Spc. Thomas Sheck, 25, who is on his second tour in Iraq. "So now, what will be the next story they tell us to keep us over here?"
Emphasis added. Please note that it was up to US authorities to clear the way for the Iraqi execution. This proves rather conclusively that the government of Iraq is a puppet one, operating at US pleasure. The real head of state is not Nouri al-Maliki, but George W. Bush. And even the common soldiers aren’t fooled. Considering that they have now lost more troops to this war than the entire death toll of 9-11, it’s surely no coincidence. And can you believe that Dubya hasn’t learned a thing from all this–that he’s planning to send even more troops to their death?
Still, what’s most startling here is the hypocritical condemnation, by the politicians, of the snuff video. They haven’t the decency to condemn the hanging; the official line is that this was a Good Thing. The media, meanwhile, must show celebrating Iraqis and thus still somehow legitimize the war, even when a shocking number of Iraqis actually oppose it, and with it, the death of Saddam.
But they’ll never do the right thing. They were on the wrong foot starting out; why change now? About all they can do is condemn the one unedited piece of footage that revealed the ugly truth. That ought to tell you something about what kind of people they really are.