December 30, 2006

"Then, with his eyes wide open, no stutter or choke in his throat, he said his final words cursing the Americans and the Persians."

Marc Santora writes a vivid description of Saddam Hussein's last moments. I believe the full video of the hanging can be seen on the web now. I won't watch it. I have watched the video that goes up to the part where the noose is put around Saddam's neck. It is very disturbing, and one must admit that he accepts his fate with dignity.

ADDED: Allahpundit writes:
I don’t know whose bright idea it was to let three punks in leather jackets and balaclavas take care of business instead of the Iraqi army, but the more I watch it, the more it looks like a hit instead of a state execution. This doesn’t help either:
The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Prayers be upon Mohammed and his holy family.”

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.”

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who many believe Mr. Hussein had murdered.

“Moktada?” he spat out, a mix between sarcasm and disbelief.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some readers don't think I focused enought hate on Saddam for what he did in his life. I say:
When I look at the video, I see a man who is facing death. I see death itself, and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place.

Oligonicella responds:
Sorry, Ann, I think you need to learn to compartmentalize about death. Everyone dies; you, me, Saddam. It's what happens before that is important, not what happens at.
Why do you not notice your own failure to compartmentalize? What is happening in the picture is the state executing a man. In the past, that man did things, and I recognize the evil of it. In the video, I am witnessing the state's grim, methodical destruction of a human life.

43 comments:

PatCA said...

He was defiant, okay, not blubbering. But yelling about what a patriot he is and a man of his people after murdering and terrorizing so many of them, I don't see that as dignified.

Anonymous said...

And here I just read an account that says his last words were a recitation of a traditional verse and he choked on Muhammed name.

As the account I read accompanies a smuggled tape recording of the entire affair (via cameraphone, apparently) and it is reportedly getting airplay across the Middle East, I guess it boils down to who you choose to believe.

hdhouse said...

I am not sure dignity is part of the equation but the entire scene was surreal.

Animals may or may not know when they are about to be "put down". Humans, with forewarning, are probably the only inhabitants of mother earth who realize "plight". Chained up, the only thing that appeared to move was the clock...and I found myself wondering what he was thinking - as US deaths approach 3000 - probably coincident with the new year, 20,000+ wounded, a percentage of Americans hating their president to such an extent that we would be ripe for a foreign power to come in help us with regime change or at least consider it...is this what he was thinking or was it about his family or his God.

I just don't feel clean watching it or thinking about it and then reading just now on AP that we are at 2998 with a reporting day to go....and all because of one or two truly insane men.

Meade said...

Dignity?

Poise, perhaps.

With an air of self-importance, maybe.

Worthy of esteem and respect?

Nnn... no.

vnjagvet said...

Which is the accurate discription of Saddams' last moments? John Burns' or Marc Santora's? To me they seemed to convey a different tone.

I guess I will have to watch to see.

ASX said...

Ann,
I apologize for the off-topic question.

Question: How long do you continue reading comments on older threads? I just (finally) read your response to the nitwit from Reason Mag. (Very nicely done, btw.)

If I post a response over there, will you see it?

Cheers,
ASX

Jacob said...

Oh, snap!

Ann Althouse said...

ASX: I see all the new comments as they come in on one page. Even if it's on a post from 2 years ago, I would see it. Whether many other people see it is another thing, but the Reason response is pretty new and currently getting active linkage. Thanks for taking my side on it! I thought it was really stupid of Bailey to make such a personal attack on me. So he thinks my question was an affront. Say the question is an affront and either refuse to answer it or answer it. What's the big deal? To make personal remarks about me is just shabby. What an unchivalrous old coot!

Art said...

Some of the most terrifying videos to come from the middle east are those of the beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg. In those the victim's faces are seen and the terrorists wear masks.
In this execution, the terrorist's face (can an agent of government be considered a terrorist?) is seen and the agents of the judicial system wear masks.

ASX said...

Thanks, Ann. I agree completely about Bailey's decision to "go personal." It was stupid, and childish. But his toleration of racism is what really offends me.

I have heard you describe life in your liberal enclave, and how infrequently you are exposed to to conservative thinking. From my conservative, mid-Michigan vantage point, it is just the reverse. I work in a high-tech field at a Fortune 500 company with highly educated professionals.

Know what is always on the radio in the car when the "team" goes to lunch? Rush Limbaugh.

One of my co-workers said to me recently, with hushed tones of reverence in her voice, about Rush, "the work he does is soooo important."

Uh... The "work" he does? What is he, Albert Schweitzer?!

Here in my conservative enclave, I can't find a single person who does not believe the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an "affront to liberty." For this reason, it was extremely gratifying to watch you aggressively and proudly standing up for it.

And you were not just standing up to Bailey's tolerance for racism, but exposing it. He does, after all, try to keep it hidden.

You tore off his mask, and revealed the hideous beast within. He tried to ignore the disctinction between private and public forms of discrimination, and gives himself credit for opposing state-mandated oppression. This is good enough to confuse (read, deceive) most people, who have never even thought about the distinction between public and private forms of discrimination.

But you didn't let him get away with it. Bravo! Three cheers for Ann.

Sure, Bailey is opposed to state-mandated segregation. But even this opposition is not based on a rejection of racism and discrimination; it's based on the *very same* libertarian principles which permit private forms of segregation!

It's nothing more than a convenient accident that he happens to oppose race-based oppression. It's a side-effect of the same belief system which permits racism.

At the end of the day, what does that mean?

It means that racism is tolerated, and allowed to flourish.

And Ann, you blew them away.

I'm a liberal; I've heard you say the liberal bloggers don't link to you. Well, I have no blog; but if I did, I would link to you. :)

Cheers, and Happy New Year.

ASX

David said...

"Standing on the gallows with my head in the noose...

Any second now I'm expectin' all HELL to break loose!"

Bob Dylan

Saddam was in shock and the rope (howser) was an appropriately large one.

Good Riddance and Devil's Speed.

The torture chambers, rape rooms, and mass graves can finally rest in peace.

tiggeril said...

Wait, what did the Persians have to do with it? Did I miss something?

alphie said...

Brings back memories of the time we tried to kill Saddam by randomly bombing houses all over Baghdad.

A little more accurate this time, but no less embarrassing...

Goesh said...

Dignity my foot. He was sedated and fettered and still believing he was untouchable and that none of it was really happening to him. His malignant narcissm was off the charts and he had lost his conscience by about age 3. I doubt the death of his sons and their gutted images splattered all over the world's networks even had an impact on him. Any man that can bring death to hundreds of thousands at the snap of a finger doesn't believe his own life can be taken by mankind. When faced with a half a million armed men from the best armies in the world sitting on his very doorstep and told to vacate Kuwait by the President of the US, he chose to fight. He was untouchable and unreachable even when that heavy hemp rope snapped his foul and vile neck. It's good riddance of the monster and a just and fitting end for him. Why George Bush didn't direct his body to be taken a hundred miles into the desert and burned is beyond me. I wonder too how much pieces of the rope that hung the bastard will be selling for?

David said...

"Standing on the gallows with my head in the noose..

Any second now I'm expecting all hell to break loose!"

Bob Dylan

Saddam was in shock as the moment of reckoning descended upon him.

Devil's speed, Saddam!

Maybe this will bring a little peace to the torture rooms, rape rooms, and mass graves.

The rope was sufficient for the job!

Dogtown said...

Ann is so quaint about this. It would be cute if it weren't in support of this madman. She is against Saddam's penalty of death, and she seems impressed with the "dignity" with which he presents himself at his hanging, a dignity that he cared not to give to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died by his directive.

The outpouring of support Ann gives this man borders on the disgusting. A normally smart and thoughtful person, her feelings get the best of her this time, and she shows an empathy for Saddam that resembles the women who wished to marry Ted Bundy.

Old Dad said...

Saddam was a monster, a thug, a despicable human being.

That he apparently didnt't crap himself as he faced his death is irrelevant. A better test of his dignity would be the meat grinder that so many of his victims suffered.

No more about this hideous thing. It's good that he'll force no more women into rape rooms, or gas his enemies.

He was incapable of dignity--what you saw was the last gasp bravado of a psychopath.

Sloanasaurus said...

Why George Bush didn't direct his body to be taken a hundred miles into the desert and burned is beyond me.

The one thing about Saddam is that he is an all around true evil dictator. He represents no ideology other than maintianing his own power. It's hard to imagine anyone in the future looking to Saddam as inspiration as some may look to Hitler for inspiration.

Saddam took joy in watching on video the murders and torture he ordered.

The gallows were invented for animals like Saddam.

Some people point out that our soldiers are fighting for nothing in Iraq. I disagree. What is more worth while to fight for (other than your family) than to rid the world of such evil - men like Saddam and the terrorists. How does the purpose of fighting in Iraq compare to the purpose of the soldiers who fought to save the Union in the Civil War or the Revolution or World War I.

Sloanasaurus said...

Why George Bush didn't direct his body to be taken a hundred miles into the desert and burned is beyond me.

The one thing about Saddam is that he is an all around true evil dictator. He represents no ideology other than maintianing his own power. It's hard to imagine anyone in the future looking to Saddam as inspiration as some may look to Hitler for inspiration.

Saddam took joy in watching on video the murders and torture he ordered.

The gallows were invented for animals like Saddam.

Some people point out that our soldiers are fighting for nothing in Iraq. I disagree. What is more worth while to fight for (other than your family) than to rid the world of such evil - men like Saddam and the terrorists. How does the purpose of fighting in Iraq compare to the purpose of the soldiers who fought to save the Union in the Civil War or the Revolution or World War I.

Joe said...

hdhouse said:
"a percentage of Americans hating their president to such an extent that we would be ripe for a foreign power to come in help us with regime change or at least consider it.."
which I can't let go by, and my reaction to which is that this is pretty much a layman's definition of treason. Just a thought, nothing personal, as I am sure hdhouse was not offering a personal belief.

Drew W said...

Saddam Hussein deserves not only our revulsion, but also our ridicule.

The video segments I've seen of his execution make it seem like he's being dispatched by a squad of Mexican wrestlers.

That's how I like to think about it anyway.

Cedarford said...

hdhouse - a percentage of Americans hating their president to such an extent that we would be ripe for a foreign power to come in help us with regime change or at least consider it...

I believe the word you are searching for is treason.

then reading just now on AP that we are at 2998 with a reporting day to go....

The Left does so much love their little death count about the "unbearability" of it all. In 5.25 years, our monthly military death rate in combat theaters is 57. In Vietnam, it was over 600 a month. WWII was 10,000 a month with half the population. Civil War with 1/4 our present population? 17,800 a month.

http://www.rosenblog.com/2004/05/29/us_deaths_in_iraq_a_historical_perspective.html

Each month in America, some 200,000 people die. Somehow that is "bearable".

The Left has been touting the "big death milestones" and using other anti-war props very effectively. We remember the run-up to 2,000 dead and use of Lefty media and celebrities to read off the "Heroes List". The game plan is to make each American believe that the death levels in Iraq are staggering and are sending the nation reeling in unbearable loss. They love their props, wanting to get those coffin photo ops badly...and play to Patriotism by demanding that flags fly at half-staff everywhere to "honor the Hero" the 1st War that has been made into regular practice in any war - but it's more of the same. Symbolic anti-war protest disguised as "honoring each dead soldier hero like a fallen President". And indiscriminantly. Auto accident victims in Afghanistan, a suicide in Kuwait or busted appendix? Still get "fallen hero" honors like the KIAs. An adjoining state had their flag at half staff for 21 days for a Humvee rollover and family dispute on where he would be buried.

And of course, the constant infantilizing of the troops as "naive boys murdered by war profiteers", "our children", Cindy Sheehan's "baby" (23-year old reenlisted baby). Like the other propaganda, that works with many women and some men who think with their hearts instead of their brains and are prone to emotional blackmail.

So in context of that blubbering, despite the gutless and the emotionally vulnerable, and those just ignorant of the price of past wars that can be endured by a strong people - the bulk of Americans still support war if it is needed, under good leadership, and if it accomplishes something.

That Saddam was hanged means we accomplished something. We have accomplished other things as well. We lost support more on Bush's mismanagement and sense we were taking losses for no purpose for a nation (outside the Kurds) of murderous half-crazy morons. Saddam's death reminds us that it is not 100% wrong.

Another Stat to keep in mind is that the peacetime fatality rate during Carter and early Reagan's time before he modernized exceeds the death rate per month now. Now it is 57+22 (outside Afghanistan & Iraq) - 79. In Carters time, he lost 221 troops a month due to various causes. Reagan started with 230 a month and he upgraded, did safety enhancements and got total deaths/month down to 150.

Since WWII, only Clinton had lower annnual monthly military losses than Bush II's era.

Anonymous said...

Drew W: Funny you should say that: When I was a boy, one of my brother's friends loved watching wrestling. It was obviously fixed but great fun if not watched too often. The evil ones were called The Assassins. IIRC, they were obviously overweight middle-aged men, dressed in black with hoods. I thought of them immediately when I saw the pix of the executioners.

Ann Althouse said...

When I look at the video, I see a man who is facing death. I see death itself, and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place.

Sloanasaurus said...

Well said Cedarford. As you know the left prefers victims to heroes. One of my favorite lefty war lies is the story about Ron Kovic, depicted by Oliver Stone in Born on the Fourth of July. The left believes that all soldiers who join up are all Ron Kovics.

If you recall, Stone depicts Kovic as being a naive high school kid wanting to join the Marines to seek glory only to find that there is no glory in Vietnam. He gets paralyzed soon after and then becomes a famous wheel chair bound anti-war activist. That is the movie version.

Oliver Stone leaves out the little Fact that Kovic got wounded on his SECOND TOUR in Vietnam. In his first tour he won a bronze star with valor and then volunteered to go back.

Kovic should be a hero. But, the left hates heros.

Sloanasaurus said...

and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place.

True. Except, the media generally doesn't show any of Saddam's torture and execution videos. They must be too graphic.

Just the same, we see tons of pictures of naked prisoners at Abu Garib, but very few of the burning victims jumping out of the World Trade Center on 9-11. Again, too graphic.

We are all victims of who the mainstream media wants us to be reminded about....

Anonymous said...

I see death itself, and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place.

A snarky person might say, "you are too easily distracted."

A topic I hear a lot of is that liberals are too emotional and conservatives too heartless. The death of Saddam seems to highlight that difference. I'm guessing we all search for the right balance between the two, and between the rock of cold hard facts and the hard place called "how I feel."

Is Ann saying "I don't care what he did, nobody deserves to die like that" or is she saying "I can't focus on what he did, because him dying like that makes me too emotional"?

Ben Masel said...

Anyone else find it odd that the security at this closed execution let cellphones slip in? Miltiple, as there's at least 2 camera angles circulating.

The "official" video is still classified.

bearbee said...

Another Stat to keep in mind is that the peacetime fatality rate...

US Active Duty Military Deaths 1980-2004

hdhouse said...

Sloanasaurus said...
Well said Cedarford. As you know the left prefers victims to heroes. But, the left hates heros."

Actually no. The left admires heroes. In fact we generally think that anyone who does his duty when called upon to do so is not only heroic but responsible. We can differentiate between heroic and "self proclaimed". (exit Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Wolfie, and the rest). But Cedarford agrees that the bounds of treason have been passed (out of context perhaps and his little boundrey fence is suffient to keep little minds at bay).

so in Saddam's last moments as he rued the day that he stonewalled Texas George did he think if only the shoe were on the other foot? did he think that some big world power would look at the US and Georgie Porgie and put down a hit list of why we could and should ivade them and overthrow their government and institute representative democracy? What would he use for reasons? Trampling of human rights? senseless agression? election fraud? WMDs? (man they have them in spades and a mad-man at the controls)....what would he think? 25% of the population of that country hates - yes puts "hates" as their feelings - of the the commander in chief, the decider, numero uno.

Probably too many thoughts to zoom through Saddams brain with 15 feet of rope about to go straight but a good lesson would be that the rationales for regime change (number 5 on the reason list of why we invaded Iraq) is in the eye of the invader.

Oligonicella said...

"When I look at the video, I see a man who is facing death. I see death itself, and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place."

I'm sorry, but you either have a different definition of 'man' than I do, or you just mean human.

Saddam was a murderer, not a man. Those 'details' were about 3,000 people murdered each and every month.

It is all in the details. All of life is. Someone who does one good deed at the end does not make up for a lifetime of evil. Saddam didn't even do a good deed, yet you feel for him.

Sorry, Ann, I think you need to learn to compartmentalize about death. Everyone dies; you, me, Saddam. It's what happens before that is important, not what happens at.

My opinion.

NSC said...

When I look at the video, I see a man who is facing death. I see death itself, and it distracts me from the details of what this man did before he arrived in that place.

This I just don't understand. I see a monster who had raped, murdered, pillaged, and terrorized thousands upon thousands of people. He was evil with a black soul - if he had one at all - and he needed to be put down for the good of the world.

Violent death surrounded him. In fact he reveled in it. And it is only right that he died the way he lived.

Justice was served. The air is fresher and the sun shines brighter today.

Mr. Forward said...

Ben! Back away from the Bong!!

Anonymous said...

What is happening in the picture is the state executing a man.

Their country. Their culture. In the end, it is not really my business whether or not it is right according to my values.

Gahrie said...

In the video, I am witnessing the state's grim, methodical destruction of a human life.

Would you have felt any happier if Hussien had gone out like Ceau┼čescu?

I prefer to describe it as the state's solemn and procedural carrying out of justice. Hussien received infinitely more due process, justice and mercy than he ever extended to his people.

Was his life really more valuable than the life of a fetus? Really?

Richard Fagin said...

An article in yesterday's New York Times stated that some Iraqis felt the article's writer suffered a moral corrpution for feeling some pity for Saddam.

There you have it in a nutshell. Saddam was as remorseless as a human being could be. Any feelings of pity on his behalf do indeed reflect a profound moral failing.

If we are fundamentally incapable of judging conduct such as Saddam's as unequivocally, irredeemably evil, and are incapable of defending ourselves against such evil by destroying it, then the throatcutters are right - we are hopelessly morally corrupt.

Saddam's is not an ordinary criminal death penaly case where there may be legitimate doubt about guilt, or the degree of malice aforethought. Saddam was, as were Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Che Guevarra, Pol Pot, Castro and many others, an unbridled monster.

Monsters cannot be bargained with, civilzed, reasoned with, tamed or otherwise allowed to exist in a civilzed world. Monsters have as theor only purpose self-aggrandizement, and will destroy anyone and anything that stands in the way. If civilization cannot destroy monsters, civilzation will be destroyed by monsters.

Phooey on you, Saddam. May your 72 virgins be just like like Hillary. Better yet, like Andrea Dworkin.

hdhouse said...

Richard Fagin said...

Phooey on you, Saddam. May your 72 virgins be just like like Hillary. Better yet, like Andrea Dworkin."

Oh let's be really cruel. 36 Michelle M's and 36 Anne Coulters.

Talk about unremitting hell.

PatCA said...

I do agree with Allah that it looks more like a hit than an execution. But it was carried out according to law, and it could have been worse. Rome wasn't built in a day, just like our own Reconstruction, and another 10 years of process would not have changed a thing.

This is a good next step. I hope Muqtada is next to face that law.

John Kindley said...

I agree with Ann that contemplating and watching the actual methodical state execution of any human being is terribly sad if not horrific, and should be. The fact that his prayers were interrupted in his last moments by the taunts of his enemies makes it more so. Any man is capable of redemption (in some cases, perhaps after a few hundred years in purgatory or being reincarnated as a pig), and we should hope and pray for that, rather than that the man burn in hell. It's been said that there is one "death bed conversion" in the Gospels (the thief on the cross next to Jesus) lest we despair, but there is only one, lest we presume. Some theologians (albeit mostly medieval ones) have argued that capital punishment is actually a mercy to the condemned man, since there is nothing like knowing the date of one's impending death to focus the mind and encourage a serious examination of conscience.

I remember the odd effect seeing "Dead Man Walking" had on me when it came out. At the time I generally felt that I was opposed to the death penalty, and I knew that the people behind the movie were opposed to the death penalty. The movie let you see and sympathize with the condemned man as a real human being, with a conscience and genuine remorse for what he had done. But at the end of the movie, the scenes cut between the methodical execution of the condemned man and flash backs to the horrific crimes he had committed with an accomplice (involving raping a woman with a knife in front of her boyfriend while also knifing the boyfriend). I left the movie (based on real events) in the odd position of recognizing the humanity and apparently sincere reformation of the condemned man, while newly convinced that capital punishment was sometimes appropriate and that it was appropriate and just in his case.

It's fitting that Saddam was executed in the very place that he had others tortured and executed. Perhaps if we saw video of those other tortures and executions alongside the video of Saddam's execution we might be inclined to better understand and even cheer those who taunted Saddam in his final moments. But I'd echo the final words of the condemned man to his executioners in "Dead Man Walking" -- "Killing's wrong, whether I do it or you do it" -- and say instead, "Hatred's wrong, no matter who you hate."

PatCA said...

You know, John, bringing up Dead Man Walking, I felt the subtext of that movie was (unintentionally I'm sure) that only the powerful certainty of his own impending execution was enough to change this loutish killer into a human being, that is, an entity with a spiritual dimension. I got to thinking, what is the purpose of life anyway, to live as long as possible, in whatever craven or debauched manner? He would have died one day anyhow, as so will we all, so would it have been better if he moldered in his cell writing appeals for the rest of his life? I don't think so. It would not have made us more "moral" to shrink from evil.

In a strange way, this movie reaffirms the righteousness of his sentence. But for that he would have been lost.

Maybe New Year's weekend is not the time to ponder these inevitabilities, but Saddam and Gerald Ford have forced us, so why not?

Oligonicella said...

I didn't fail to comparmentalize. I failed to agree with you that Saddam was a human being in the moral sense.

You may have witnessed the state's "grim, methodical destruction of a human life". I, on the other hand, witnessed the swift disposal of an inhumane monster, not a human.

Just belonging to the species doesn't get one a whit of respect from me. Nor sympathy when the monster finally reaps just reward.

Ann Althouse said...

Oli: If your point is just that you compartmentalize differently, than you're conceding the invalidity of your original criticism of me: that I lacked the ability to compartmentalize.

Oligonicella said...

Ani, I didn't generalize about your compartmentalization ability. I was specific.

Here's what I said:
"Sorry, Ann, I think you need to learn to compartmentalize about death. Everyone dies; you, me, Saddam. It's what happens before that is important, not what happens at."

Me? I compartmentalize very well about death. You and most other people's death would elicit some amount of sympathy and possibly empathy, for I presume folks to be decent.

Now, let's talk about a known, inhumane monster.

No, he was not remorseful, not sorry for what he did. All he knew was he was about to be executed for his voluminous capital crimes. There was no nobility. The man was not noble. There was no dignity. Pompousness, perhaps, but certainly no dignity.

Sure, he realized the gravity of the situation. There was a halter around his neck. Did he appreciate the gravity? No. Never once did Saddam admit to the fact that he, and he alone, placed himself into the position. He always saw and promoted himself as a martyr -- the victim.

Wherein do you find the dignity?