Update: White House Won’t Condemn Saddam Taunts
The Bush administration sent conflicting signals Wednesday about the taunting and baiting that accompanied Saddam Hussein’s execution, with the White House declining to join criticism of the procedure and the State Department and U.S. military raising questions about it.
“The president is focused on the new way forward in Iraq so these issues are best addressed out of Iraq, out of Baghdad,” deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said. “Prime Minister Maliki’s staff have already expressed their disappointment in the filmings, so I guess we’ll leave it at that.”
Bush not seen Saddam execution video: White House
This video image released by Iraqi state television shows Saddam Hussein being led to the gallows by guards wearing ski masks moments before his execution Saturday Dec. 30. 2006. Clutching a Quran and refusing a hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise Saturday, executed by vengeful countrymen after a quarter-century of remorseless brutality that killed countless thousands and led Iraq into disastrous wars against the United States and Iran.
AP: Official held in Saddam hanging video
The person believed to have recorded Saddam Hussein’s raucous execution on a cell phone camera was arrested Wednesday, an adviser to Iraq’s prime minister said.
A U.S. military spokesman, meanwhile, said the United States would have handled the execution differently had it been in charge.
The adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, did not identify the person. But he said it was “an official who supervised the execution” and who is “now under investigation.”
“In the past few hours, the government has arrested the person who made the video of Saddam’s execution,” the adviser said.
Iraqi state television broadcast an official video of Saturday’s hanging, which had no audio and never showed Saddam’s actual death. But the leaked cell phone video showed the deposed leader being taunted in his final moments, with witnesses shouting “Go to hell!” before he dropped through the gallows floor and died.
The unruly scene was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television and was posted on the Internet, prompting a worldwide outcry and big protests among Iraq’s minority Sunnis, who lost their preferential status when Saddam was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.
“If you are asking me: ‘Would we have done things differently?’ Yes, we would have. But that’s not our decision. That’s the government of Iraq’s decision,” said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman.
So, the new Iraqi government is having their own New York Times moment?
And you are going to punish this person, how?
The UNCUT video in question:
On Wednesday, an Iraqi prosecutor who was also present at the execution denied a report that he had accused National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie of possible responsibility for the leaked video.
“I am not accusing Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and I did not see him taking pictures,” Munqith al-Faroon, a prosecutor in the case that sent Saddam to the gallows, told The Associated Press.
“But I saw two of the government officials who were … present during the execution taking all the video of the execution, using the lights that were there for the official taping of the execution. They used mobile phone cameras. I do not know their names, but I would remember their faces,” al-Faroon said in a telephone interview.
The prosecutor said the two officials were openly taking video pictures, which are believed to be those which appeared on Al-Jazeera satellite and a Web site within hours of Saddam’s execution.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that al-Faroon told the newspaper “one of two men he had seen holding a cell phone camera aloft to make a video of Mr. Hussein’s last moments up to and past the point where he fell through the trapdoor was Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Mr. Maliki’s national security adviser.”
The Times said it had been unable to reach al-Rubaie for comment. AP also could not reach him Wednesday. His secretary said the security adviser, a close aide to al-Maliki, was in Najaf and would not return until later.
Looks like the Iraqis are learning about the FREE press.
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