[Marxism] NYT edit: "The Rush to Hang Saddam Hussein"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 29 14:33:51 MST 2006

As millions of Muslims begin the hajj, Washington's client regime
prepares a demonstration of its supposed "independence" by this
rush to execute Saddam Hussein. The NY Times, dismayed by the
trouble Bush & Co. have brought to the U.S. internationally, has
written a powerful editorial condemnation of the macabre event.
Fortunately for the children of the world, the media plans to give
us a "tasteful" demonstration of how executions can be carried
out. Earlier in the week, a more accurate depiction of the real
relationship of forces  was provided, when Washington's troops 
arrested visiting Iranian diplomats. The Iraqi regime seems to
have been dismayed at this demonstration of powerlessness
on their part, of who's really the boss in Iraq today. Perhaps
the regime's rush to hang Saddam is supposed to show every
school kid on the planet that they really ARE independent?

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

December 29, 2006 
The Rush to Hang Saddam Hussein


The important question was never really about whether Saddam Hussein
was guilty of crimes against humanity. The public record is bulging
with the lengthy litany of his vile and unforgivable atrocities:
genocidal assaults against the Kurds; aggressive wars against Iran
and Kuwait; use of internationally banned weapons like nerve gas;
systematic torture of countless thousands of political prisoners.

What really mattered was whether an Iraq freed from his death grip
could hold him accountable in a way that nurtured hope for a better
future. A carefully conducted, scrupulously fair trial could have
helped undo some of the damage inflicted by his rule. It could have
set a precedent for the rule of law in a country scarred by decades
of arbitrary vindictiveness. It could have fostered a new national
unity in an Iraq long manipulated through its religious and ethnic

It could have, but it didn’t. After a flawed, politicized and
divisive trial, Mr. Hussein was handed his sentence: death by
hanging. This week, in a cursory 15-minute proceeding, an appeals
court upheld that sentence and ordered that it be carried out
posthaste. Most Iraqis are now so preoccupied with shielding their
families from looming civil war that they seem to have little emotion
left to spend on Mr. Hussein or, more important, on their own fading
dreams of a new and better Iraq.

What might have been a watershed now seems another lost opportunity.
After nearly four years of war and thousands of American and Iraqi
deaths, it is ever harder to be sure whether anything fundamental has
changed for the better in Iraq.

This week began with a story of British and Iraqi soldiers storming a
police station that hid a secret dungeon in Basra. More than 100 men,
many of them viciously tortured, were rescued from almost certain
execution. It might have been a story from the final days of Baathist
rule in March 2003, when British and American troops entered Basra
believing they were liberating the subjugated Shiite south. But it
was December 2006, and the wretched men being liberated were
prisoners of the new Iraqi Shiite authorities.

Toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better
Iraq. Executing him won’t either.


December 29, 2006 
TV Plans Tasteful Coverage of Saddam Execution 

Filed at 1:53 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Television networks face a killer of
a conundrum with the impending execution of Saddam Hussein, whose
hanging could be videotaped and perhaps aired on Iraqi TV.

The timing of Saddam's date with the gallows was unclear, but late
Thursday CBS, NBC and Fox News Channel reported that the former
dictator, convicted this year in the deaths of 148 people in 1982,
would be turned over by the American military to the Iraqi government
within 36 hours and hanged before the start of a Muslim holiday on

Several sources said Saddam's execution would be videotaped by the
Iraqi government, though it wasn't clear whether it would be released
to the public or broadcast.

``We will video everything,'' Iraqi National Security adviser Mouffak
al Rubaie told CBS News.

Judging by the Iraqi government's release Tuesday of videotape of the
hanging of 13 convicts, it could be a gruesome affair. Meetings were
held Thursday in at least two network headquarters over how to handle
the potentially graphic images.

ABC and CBS said they wouldn't air the full execution if the video
became available.

``We're very aware that we're coming into people's living rooms and
that there could be children watching,'' CBS News senior vp Linda
Mason said.

Mason and her network counterparts have broadcast standards and
procedures they follow in these cases. Phil Alongi, special-events
executive producer at NBC News, said there are ways the network can
approach the video or photographs that will get the point across
without having to be graphic.

The operative word: taste.

``We have very, very strict guidelines with how to deal with that,''
said Bob Murphy, senior vp at ABC News. ``If there were pictures made
available of the execution, they would have to be viewed by senior
management before we would put them on the air, and we would make a
judgment of taste and propriety of what we would show.''

CNN and Fox News Channel still were discussing what they would do if
the footage were made available. It also wasn't clear what the newly
launched network Al-Jazeera International would do. An e-mail and
phone call to the channel's Qatar headquarters weren't returned
Thursday. Despite popular assumptions to the contrary, Al-Jazeera's
pan-Arab channel has never shown an execution.

While video of an execution would be unprecedented in U.S.
television, the war in Iraq has led to a number of judgment calls on
graphic video. The U.S. military released graphic photographs of
Saddam's two sons who were killed in a U.S. raid on their Mosul
hideout in July 2003.

``We edited down the pictures to show only what was appropriate, what
we thought was appropriate,'' Murphy said. ``We didn't show the
pictures live (when the network received them), and we made sure that
they showed enough of the bodies so that it was clearly them, but we
didn't dwell on it.''

None of the networks showed the beheading of Nick Berg, an American
who was kidnapped and killed in Iraq in May 2004. But Berg's
beheading by kidnappers -- along with the killings of others,
including a South Korean -- was distributed on the Internet and fed
to American networks that chose not to use the footage.

Mason, Alongi and Murphy said Thursday that an execution video widely
distributed on the Internet wouldn't change their minds about not
airing the graphic portions of any video.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter



Iraqi leader upset by arrest of Iranians by U.S. forces
By Alexandra Zavis and Peter Spiegel
Times Staff Writers

December 26, 2006

BAGHDAD — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Monday protested the
arrest by U.S. forces of two Iranian envoys who were in Iraq at his
invitation, a spokesman said.

Officials in Washington confirmed the detentions, first reported in
the New York Times, saying the two officials were among an
unspecified number of Iranians apprehended in raids last week aimed
at groups suspected of plotting attacks against U.S. and Iraqi

The incident underscored divergent approaches toward Iran's attempts
to expand its role in Iraq and the containment of militant Shiite
Muslim groups allegedly funded by Tehran.

President Bush has resisted pressure to open talks with Iran, which
the United States accuses of arming and funding Shiite militiamen in
Iraq. American officials have also accused Tehran of supplying
technology used to make roadside bombs. Iran denies the U.S. charges,
saying its ties to Iraq are political and religious.

"We suspect this event validates our claims about Iranian meddling,
but we want to finish our investigation of the detained Iranians
before characterizing their activities," White House spokesman Alex
Conant said.

Iraqi officials have forged ahead with diplomatic contacts with Iran,
and are distressed about a possible setback.

Last month, Talabani flew to Tehran to enlist the support of Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in quelling the violence in Iraq and
rebuilding its shattered economy. The two signed agreements aimed at
boosting ties.

It was during the Tehran visit that Talabani extended the invitation
to the two envoys who were detained last week, said Hiwa Osman, his
spokesman. Talabani "is unhappy about the arrests" and has raised the
issue with U.S. officials, Osman said.

He refused further comment. But a Kurdish political insider said the
incident suggested a lack of communication between the United States
and Iraq over security matters and relations with Iran.

"It seems that each side has their own plans and they are not
coordinating with each other," said Mahmoud Othman, a lawmaker and
Osman's father. "Of course it is of concern."

A U.S. military official said American troops were not targeting
Iranians, and that they happened upon the two envoys during a routine
counterinsurgency operation.

"We conducted a raid, we switched on the lights, and there they
were," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Conant said the two officials were handed over to the Iraqi
government because they had diplomatic immunity, and that Iraqi
officials had released them to Iranian authorities.

"We continue to work with the [Iraqi government] on the status of the
remaining detainees," Conant said. "That investigation is going

Osman said he was not aware of any other arrests. None of the U.S.
officials interviewed Monday would specify how many Iranians had been
detained or provide details about the raids. Iraqi officials also
refused to give details.

In Tehran, the Foreign Ministry called the arrest a "contravention of
the code of conduct with diplomats," the official Iranian news agency
reported. It quoted a ministry official as saying the arrests could
have "unpleasant consequences."

Washington and Tehran broke formal diplomatic ties after Iranian
radicals stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in the 1979 Islamic
Revolution, which brought to power the world's first Shiite Muslim

Muslims begin hajj rites near Mecca 
>From Los Angeles Times Wire Reports 
December 29, 2006

Two million Muslims began streaming out of Mecca in cars,
vans and on foot at the start of their hajj, or pilgrimage.
The white-robed pilgrims poured into a tent city in the
plain of Mina to begin the five-day ritual, which is
required at least once for every Muslim able to make the

With such large crowds, Saudi Arabia normally deploys more
than 50,000 security personnel to try to prevent deadly
stampedes and attacks by Islamists fighting the U.S.-allied

The New York Times reported Sunday that the U.S. military was holding
at least four Iranians, including senior military officials detained
in two raids. It said the diplomats were apprehended Thursday while
traveling in an Iranian Embassy vehicle. Embassy officials refused to
comment Monday.

Hadi Amiri, a leading figure in the political party of Shiite power
broker Abdelaziz Hakim, denied the newspaper's report that some of
the arrests were made at his home.

Iran has forged close ties to senior members of the Shiite political
alliance that leads Iraq's government, including Hakim, who spent
years in exile in Iran during the rule of former Iraqi leader Saddam

zavis at latimes.com

peter.spiegel at latimes.com

Zavis reported from Baghdad and Spiegel from Washington. Times staff
writers Raheem Salman and Molly Hennessy-

Fiske contributed to this report from Baghdad.

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