Archive for Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam hanged

Former Iraqi dictator executed for crimes against humanity

December 30, 2006


— Saddam Hussein, an autocratic Arab nationalist who ruled Iraq for 24 years, led his nation into repeated wars with its neighbors and was overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion, was hanged today in Baghdad, Iraq. He was 69.

Saddam took power as a brutal young modernizer who harnessed his nation's vast oil wealth to build roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, and was a hero to millions in the Middle East who saw him as a force for Arab resurgence. But in his latter years he squandered his legacy into one of near-constant wars.

He cultivated a climate of fear in Iraq, a place where political dissent was a capital offense. To many Iraqis, he was defined by his willful defiance - a man whose first name could be translated as "he who confronts."

An Arab from his country's Sunni Muslim minority, Saddam had long repressed the majority Shiite Muslims and the Kurds of northern Iraq, and he remained reviled by both. In his final months, as the grim daily killings by roving militias and insurgents went on, some Sunnis vowed revenge on his behalf and many in Iraq expressed a yearning for the order and relative safety imposed by his firm hand.

After he was captured by U.S. troops three years ago, dirty and disheveled, in a hole not far from the village of his youth, Saddam mocked the tribunal set up to try him and declared himself Iraq's rightful ruler.

"I am still the president of the state," he told the judge in his first formal testimony in the yearlong trial. "I am president."

To the U.S. government, Saddam was at one-time an ally and bulwark in the Middle East against an Islamic government in neighboring Iran. He benefited from American weapons and funding in the 1980s before becoming a U.S. nemesis when he invaded Kuwait in 1990.

At his trial, Saddam described the Americans as "criminals" who came to Iraq "under the pretext of weapons of mass destruction and the pretext of democracy."

'Just the way I am'

During Saddam's years in power, he strove to harness his country's bountiful supply of oil to build Iraq into a major power in the Middle East and reclaim the glory of past Arab civilizations. Throughout that time, he was ruthless in eliminating the political enemies of his Baath Socialist Party - by execution, imprisonment or forced exile - and increasingly paranoid about possible rivals or traitors.

"In the permanently beleaguered mind of Saddam, politics is a ceaseless struggle for survival," wrote Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi in their 1991 book, "Saddam Hussein, a Political Biography." "The ultimate goal of staying alive, and in power, justifies all means."

While Saddam was being held prisoner by the Americans, Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni legislator and one-time foreign minister whom Saddam had sent into exile, asked him why he had invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990. It was a decision widely seen as a reckless miscalculation that sparked the Persian Gulf War, but Saddam portrayed it as a bid to reclaim part of his rightful domain and tap a source of funds to pay down the debts left by earlier wars.

"When I get something in my head, I act," Saddam told Pachachi, according to "My Year in Iraq," a memoir by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the U.S.-led occupation government for 14 months. "That's just the way I am."

Formative years

Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti was born on April 28, 1937, in the village of Auja, a cluster of mud-brick huts outside Tikrit, north of Baghdad. His father, Hussein Majid, was a peasant who disappeared before his son was born. His mother, who remarried, entrusted Saddam to the care of an uncle, Khayrallah Tulfah, an army officer and opponent of the British-backed monarchy then ruling Iraq.

Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi president, holding the Quran, reacts as the verdict is delivered during his trial for crimes against humanity in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in this Nov. 5 file photo. Saddam Hussein was hanged today in Baghdad, Iraq.

Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi president, holding the Quran, reacts as the verdict is delivered during his trial for crimes against humanity in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in this Nov. 5 file photo. Saddam Hussein was hanged today in Baghdad, Iraq.

Saddam started elementary school when he was about 10. He finished at 18, moved to Baghdad with Tulfah and enrolled at the Karkh high school. Soon after, he joined the Baath - or Renaissance - Party, the Arab nationalist movement founded by a Syrian Christian in the 1940s. Its members were angered by what they saw as the subservience of Arab peoples under European colonialism, and they yearned to create a single socialist Arab state.

Saddam carved a niche for himself as a party strongman, and in 1959, at age 22, he participated in an attempt to assassinate Gen. Abdul Karim Qassem, the Iraqi ruler who had overthrown the monarchy with other military officers the year before.

The Baathist account of this coup attempt would later play up Saddam's role; according to one tale taught in Iraqi schools, he carved a bullet out of his own leg after being wounded. He then retreated to Syria and Egypt, returning to Iraq in 1963. While still in exile in Egypt, Saddam married a cousin, Sajida Khayrallah Tulfah, the daughter of his uncle. They had two sons - Uday and Qusay, who were killed in a shootout with U.S. troops in July 2003 - and three daughters, Rana, Raghad and Hala.

The Baath Party seized power in Iraq in 1968, under the leadership of Saddam's relative, Gen. Ahmed Hassan Bakr. Saddam used such family connections to help maneuver himself into position as the ruling government's No. 2 man, in charge of intelligence and security services.

Over time he developed a reputation as a man willing to go to brutal lengths to silence opposition and repress the Shiites and Kurds, as well as those within his own party he considered a threat. Charismatic and intimidating, he was known as "the deputy" but served in the role of a prime minister.

In an interview in 1975, a time when his associates said he had mellowed into middle age, Saddam struck Washington Post reporter Jim Hoagland as a man who "still moves with the tightly coiled violence and fluid grace of Vince Lombardi's best linebackers at Green Bay. Wariness flickers in his dark, expressive eyes throughout a meeting with a visitor."

Reins of power

Saddam's formal ascension to absolute rule occurred in 1979, when he pushed Bakr aside and simultaneously assumed the titles of president, prime minister, chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, secretary general of the Baath Party's regional command and commander in chief of the armed forces.

"And he was only 42 years old," Karsh and Rautsi wrote. "Here was a man in his prime, full of ambitious plans and, above all, grim determination to keep his hold on the levers of power at all costs."

To solidify his position, Saddam presided over a firing squad that killed more than 20 officials for alleged disloyalty. Many of those executed were Saddam's close associates.

Saddam's rule brought a series of wars to Iraq, but also a period of relative internal stability, free from the frequent military coups that had characterized earlier decades. He created a secular Middle Eastern state known for its vibrant university and public health systems and relatively open to Western values, compared with countries in the region governed by strict religious codes. He also built roads and bridges, launched literacy campaigns and provided free hospital care for Iraqis.

To cultivate his image, Saddam lavished oil money on opulent palaces, sprawling monuments, statues and portraits. One painting depicted him wearing a business suit and smoking a cigar. Others showed him as a military commander in fatigues and a beret, as a devout Muslim praying in a mosque, or as an interlocutor of Nebuchadnezzar, king of ancient Babylonia, whom Saddam claimed as an ancestor.

In 1980, Saddam tried to take advantage of instability in neighboring Iran, where Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution had recently ousted the shah, by bombing Iranian airfields and sending his troops over the border. The eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ensued cost hundreds of thousands of lives on each side and left Iraq staggering under a debt estimated at $75 billion. It was in this war that Saddam first used the chemical weapons he would later turn on his own people in Kurdistan.

Over the course of the war, the U.S. government under presidents Ronald Reagan and later George H.W. Bush sought to weaken Iraq's bonds with its rival, the Soviet Union, as well as to prevent Iran from expanding its power in the region. It provided Iraq with hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies, along with weapons and military intelligence.

Near the end of the war, Saddam inaugurated another bloody campaign, this time against the Kurds in northern Iraq, who were aligned with Iran. During the 1987-88 Anfal campaign, a systematic effort to destroy rural Kurdish life, the Iraqi military dropped poison gas on villages, bulldozed homes and killed, tortured and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The Kurdish government estimated that 182,000 people died in the campaign.

To carry out these exploits, Saddam built an army, including the elite Republican Guard, that became one of the world's largest.

War and retribution

After the financial and military strain of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam decided to invade oil-rich Kuwait in August 1990. The invasion was immediately condemned by the United Nations, and in January 1991 a coalition led by the United States attacked Iraq. The coalition quickly liberated Kuwait and defeated Iraq but stopped short of removing Saddam from power.

Shiites and Kurds rebelled after the Gulf War in an attempt to overthrow Saddam. But in the absence of U.S. military support, they were brutally crushed by Saddam. His forces killed thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq and forced waves of Kurds to flee north into the mountains of Turkey, where many died of exposure.

"Saddam's retribution was swift and terrible," former ambassador Peter W. Galbraith wrote. "Republican Guard tanks blasted apart ancient city centers. Shiite shrines became battlegrounds and then slaughterhouses as rebels, clerics, and unlucky civilians were massacred. The Republican Guard attached nooses to the gun barrels of their tanks, hanging Shiite men - several at a time - by elevating the gun."

Iraq entered a period of more than a decade of U.N. sanctions that restricted imports of sensitive materials and further impoverished the Iraqi people. The country's economy worsened, and shortages of food and medicine reportedly caused widespread suffering and malnutrition.

In the 1990s, U.S. and British aircraft enforced no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq and bombed military targets in repeated attempts to destroy Saddam's weapons arsenal.


After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States moved again to attack Iraq, this time citing Saddam's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which U.S.-led forces failed to find after they invaded in March 2003.

The first salvo of the second Iraq war aimed straight at Saddam. Aircraft dropped cruise missiles and powerful bombs onto a group of houses in southern Baghdad where intelligence reports had suggested he was hiding. He survived that attack and eluded a massive manhunt for 38 weeks, until U.S. troops found him on Dec. 13 in a cramped burrow on a farm near Dawr, a hamlet not far from his birthplace.

"I am Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq," he said in English upon emerging, according to Bremer's account. "I want to negotiate."

Saddam went on temporary hunger strikes while in custody and remained defiant during his first trial, on charges of crimes against humanity for orchestrating the killings of 148 Shiite Muslim men and boys in an Iraqi village in the 1980s.

On the day he was convicted and sentenced to death, Saddam wrote a letter to the Iraqi people, according to his lawyers.

In the document, he asked Iraqis not to hate the foreign peoples who had invaded their country, just their leaders, because hatred "will blind your vision and close all doors of thinking."

"I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in Him, and God won't disappoint any honest believer," the letter said.

Saddam was hanged early Saturday, the start of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, while his country remained at war.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"good riddance"

It's just one more violent act in a country that is now under a permanent violent siege. Rather than a toothless, captive former tyrant, he's now a martyr who will be seen by the Sunnis has having been killed by Americans, not by Iraqis. This will do nothing to help establish anything like a rule of law there.

shirinisb 11 years, 4 months ago

Marion- your posts are ignorant.

If Saddam was a horrible leader, and he was, then it's the job of the people he victimized to rise up against him. We can't continue to send human fodder, soldiers dying does not equal liberation or democracy.

There is genoside/ethnoside occuring all over the world. Why do our sons and daughters have to die? We've killed more of our own kids and innocent iraqis than Saddam ever thought of killing.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 4 months ago

it has been a violent country since he took over not just since we got there.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 4 months ago

Not a big news story. Just another murderer getting his due. I mean, he commited atrocities, but his hanging isn't a turning point or a reason to justify our actions in Iraq. His death bring some closure to his victims, but the situation is still a mess.

Jamesaust 11 years, 4 months ago

To sum up Bozo's leftist sensibilities on third-world socialist serial killers (and to add a pun) -- "Heh, cut Saddam some slack!"

May the imminent year 2007 and the "rule of law" be as kind to Fidel, Kim (the pygmy) Jong Il, Hugo, Vladimir, Evo, various Khmer Rouge miscreants, et al.

Sic semper tyrannis.

jonas 11 years, 4 months ago

Marion: People from all over Iraq, a country of, what, 25 million? Hundreds? I'm not impressed.

. . . and I'm sure the Israel Nation News is totally unbiased in all things arabic.

James: Are you going to defeat all those guys yourself? I reccommend that you power up to Super-Saiyajin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

The Saddam they hanged today was the same a**hole that was a Reagan/Bush I ally not so very long ago. The same former ally who became enemy #1 only because he invaded Kuwait after the skeiks there and elsewhere in the neighborhood welched on helping with the debts he ran up while waging a proxy war with Iran for them (and Reagan/Bush I.)

So what message will his execution send to the murderous aholes who have taken his place? Will Iraq and the world be a safer place when BushCo have finished with the new aholes and have a show trial and public execution for them, too?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

Are you getting pissy because I have responded to you, Marion?

I'm so sorry.

Do you feel better now?

rhd99 11 years, 4 months ago

For a man who murdered his own people for political gains, GOOD RIDDANCE! Now, is this going to improve life as we see through T.V. & newpaper coverage in Iraq today or tomorrow? Probably not. Hope is in the air, but this administration has royally screwed up in its planning of a post-Hussein government.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

There is now only one chief butcher of Baghdad. This one should not be executed but jailed for life in order that HE have time to ponder his humiliation and deflated ego. Bush needs this time out and alone time.

Was Saddam worth the lives of 23,000 killed or permanently disabled american miltary lives and 150,000 innocent Iraq family members. NO

The 9/11/01 culprits who had no known connection Iraq died on 9/11/01. They did not represent Iraq or Afghanistan in any fashion. Yes they were 15 rebels/terrorists working on their own who were able to get by the Bush admin and put 4 large aircraft into the air. How and why were they able to get by Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld?

The death of Saddam will accomplish nothing. Where is the original alleged mastermind of 9/11/01? Violent,high profile and flambouyant escapades of death and destruction have proved to be worthless.

Wait till we get the bill to replace/rebuild Iraq. Not once has Iraq attacked the USA.

Mkh 11 years, 4 months ago

What a minute Marion, I thought you told us you don't believe in war crimes?


I however do believe in war crimes, and while the legitimitacy of this trail is undoubtably in question, all in all Saddam got what he deserved.

I only wish our own government had not supported Saddam's regime during the horrible crimes he committed against his own people.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"I am going to have a good time creating web archives of the "advocacy of BOZO for the death of the President Of The United States"."

Well, "create" is exactly the right word. While I think Bush should spend the rest of his days locked away somewhere for his crimes against humanity (and pretty much all living creatures, for that matter,) I have never advocated for his death.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

any one reading the Bozo's post should also remember, he was one of the first, and most intense, to try to find a secret conspiracy behind the illness of Senator Johnson anything he writes seems to be fact-free, free ranging folly.

saddam was put to death in accord with Iraqi justice. if only our justice system could be so swift and sure in some cases where the perp is quite certainly guilty. 30-day max to hanging, that would prevent crime!

now, those Sunnis who dreamed of busting out Saddam can't anymore and must face the reality. further, note that there's not been the post-hanging massive violence predicted by the crazies on CNN et al on the left. it may happen that some greater peace and security result from this. after all, that's what Saddam asked for in his letter. which would be a real change for him.

Tychoman 11 years, 4 months ago

Not once has anybody advocated the execution of the President, except for conceptual_continuity.

Pilgrim, Marion, lay off bozo. There you loons go again saying that if someone doesn't like the war or the President's [crappy] job, they are obviously pro-terrorist. Stop it!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"he was one of the first, and most intense, to try to find a secret conspiracy behind the illness of Senator Johnson"

Really? I remember suggesting the possiblity, mostly in jest (I am, after all, a bozo just like you.) I mostly remember ignoring that thread. Why are you and Marion so unusually desperate to find something to post about today?

"You know how people get when one of their heroes has assumed room temperature."

Oh no, Pilgrim, Saddam was your boy. I knew he was an ahole way back in the day when Rumsfeld and the rest of Reagan/Bush I were kissing his a. You didn't hate him till George I told he was no longer in the club and took away his secret decoder ring.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"saddam was put to death in accord with Iraqi justice. if only our justice system could be so swift and sure in some cases where the perp is quite certainly guilty. 30-day max to hanging, that would prevent crime!"

They also had scores of folks killed in car bombs today (and scores more murdered otherwise.) Yea, that swift "justice" sure does make Iraq the crime prevention capital of the world.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

The Saddam who sat at trial and who was hanged did not resemble the "Saddams" who were shown in videos of his past public appearances. I believe that the man who was at trial and who was executed was Saddam; he was powerful. I am amazed at the lengths to which he went to propagandize, and to save himself from harm.

This has been a very dark New Year's weekend, what with the funeral of Gerald Ford and the execution of Saddam Hussein.

Let us all work toward a peaceful 2007.

elph 11 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe what I am reading. It doesn't matter if you are conservative or liberal, the reaction to an execution should be sorrow, and pity for the family. Do you know that kids are reading these posts? Are you concerned at all about their lack of respect for human life? We kill our kids, we kill our old people, murder in our streets doesn't make the news, and we chant the talking heads slogan phrases as we cheer them on as they kill and maim. People! Should anyone be above the law? Should not justice be blind instead of being just expensive? This man that died, should the kids who read your post be sent the message by you that death by hanging is a repayment for all the bad things that he did? If you have ever noticed, we create the world that we live in by our words and actions. They attract people who want to think that way, and they begin to act that way. Haven't you noticed that we have mayhem in our streets as Marxism rages? The body bags are coming back daily, people, death is for real and it is final. You are not safe from it; pity Saddam and his family, lest you yourself find no mercy when you need it. --------elph

elph 11 years, 4 months ago

Hello Pilgrim, Would you think that an occupying force was a good idea, and the public execution of a president was noble if it was our nation? If we look at the history books no powerful nation has been able to remain in power, the corruption from within seems to sell them out. Careful how you deal with these things, you may be bringing this down on your grankids. As a pilgrim I would think that you would love your presumed enemies.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 4 months ago

"BOZO was/is a clown!"

Hey, I resemble that remark-- but so do you, Aiko.

shirinisb 11 years, 4 months ago


The US being in Somolia and Bosnia is not noble in my opinion. We can't fix problems by inserting "democracy" in random distressed countries just to make ourselves feel better about our wrongdoings.

As far as my numbers being off we'll never know the true numbers. My family is from the middle east and has lived through the Iran-Iraq war- in Iran. They've felt the pain of Saddam's threats and war against THEM. They still consider this administration to be far worse. I feel validated in my opinion and I'm sorry if you disagree. The numbers of dead Iraqis changes daily, in the hundreds. The sad truth though is that Iraq is a 3rd world country and we will never know just how many are being killed. When you wipe out entire families, there is no one left to remember them and count the dead.

Not only is geno and ethnocide occuring, but also ecocide. How many future generations is this administration killing by allowing global warming to continue??? Come on either way we're hunting the wrong rabbit.

p.s. secret service:

this is in no way meant to assert that we should hunt any member of the government

Tychoman 11 years, 4 months ago

Easier said than done, Pilgrim. I await your exact plans on how to maintain our military in Iraq and Somalia. What does it take to "get the job done"? And "kill all the terr'rists" doesn't count as an answer.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

"We've killed more of our own kids and innocent iraqis than Saddam ever thought of killing."

No, THEY (being baathists, shiites and Al Qaeda and just general criminals), did the killing.

Buggie7 11 years, 4 months ago

I know Godot didnt say that. We have killed our own kids????? We have killed more Iraq's????? Are you on crack????? What about the mass graves ones with small children and babies?????what about the orders to massacre people he just didnt like??????My son has been to Iraq and he said most Iraqis are thanking them becuase they are sleeping better knowing saddam is out of power and he just wont show up and order their deaths. For no apparent reason. I do not believe that we will ever know the multitude of this monsters actions. He was president he was king things just dont get recorded like that . Him and his sons are where they need to be HELL

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