News: CNN reports that Iraqi officials have detained the security guard who shot video from his cellphone of Saddam Hussein’s hanging. Apparently, several guards taunted Hussein just before he was about to be hanged. According to CNN, the exchange took place as follows:
After Hussein offers prayers, the guards shout praise for Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose father is believed to have been murdered by Hussein’s regime.
They chant, “Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!”
Hussein smiles. “Is this how you show your bravery as men?” he asks.
“Straight to hell,” someone shouts back at him.
“Is this the bravery of Arabs?” Hussein asks.
A sole voice is heard trying to silence the taunts.
“Please, I am begging you not to,” the unknown man [the chief prosecutor] says. “The man is being executed.”
Analysis: I thought I could avoid talking about this topic, but the newsworthiness of the issue deserves some comment. I have not watched the execution video, nor do I intend to. But I do find it somewhat ironic for the Iraqi officials now to be worried about how Saddam Hussein was treated on video. After all, the man was about to be hanged by official state sentence. And, at least according to my understanding, Iraqi officials had planned on allowing a release of video of the execution, so people there could witness it (whether as proof of death or sign of atonement). The fact that a guard took his own video on his cell phone, with others and perhaps himself taunting Hussein, might have been improper, but it probably only added insult to injury (the execution). And if atonement is one of the purposes of a public execution, then you might have to expect even some taunting of a man sentenced to die. True, probably not from a security guard, but the new Iraqi government probably hasn’t had that much time to train its security force.
The Pandora’s box was opened when Iraqi officials allowed any video taping of Saddam’s execution in the first place. Once Pandora’s box was opened, it was foreseeable that a guard or bystander might video the execution on his cellphone, or that hundreds of video clips of Hussein’s execution (including some that may be only spoofs) would find their way onto YouTube and other sites. This is probably all I’ll say on the topic, since it’s way beyond my expertise.