Hanging Shames the United States


(Photo:Hurriyet.com)

The trial and execution of Saddam Hussein perfectly illustrate the kind of “democracy” being spread by the Bush administration. The first judge named to the case resigned to protest interference by the Iraqi government. Three of Saddam’s lawyers were assassinated during the trial. Much of the evidence used to convict him was hearsay, and much of the testimony was given anonymously, making effective cross-examination all but impossible.

Video of the execution and translated transcripts of the proceedings show the witnesses taunting and cursing the condemned man in the minutes before he was hanged. Is this an example of the kind of justice that results from U.S. influence?

— Gregory Flannery

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21 Comments on “Hanging Shames the United States”

  1. b Says:

    Let’s see ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?’. If only the American system were as swift as the Iraqi’s – might make punishment an actual deterrent.

  2. p7a77 Says:

    Imagine the wonders we could do for our crime rate if we constructed a nice set of gallows out in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse.

  3. Westside John Says:

    I agree with B, I work in the legal system and I can tell you flat out that criminals don’t fear the justice system. It is extremely slanted to the side of the criminal that even a convicted arm robber gets out of prison after serving only nine months. That is the time it takes for the “street thug/criminal refresher course” they take while serving in the pen. A deterent only bworks if what you say you will do is actually done. If a man rapes a woman/man and it is not a flimsy case then they should get the punishment they deserve. 25-life, serving at least 25 years. We coddle the criminal way too much, heck drug dealers don’t serve more than a day or two.

  4. Not the Mamma Cass! Says:

    Greg: only you could turn the hanging sentence of Sadaam Hussein for committing mass murder into an indictment against the country that gives you the opportunity to earn everything you have. Why continue to punish yourself by living here?

    Now about that whole Chris Smitherman/NAACP thing…

  5. Kevin Osborne Says:

    Mamma Cass:

    Apparently, it’s not only Greg who feels this way. The Vatican and human rights groups condemned the execution, and the Iraqi government has arrested the person who illegally videotaped the event.

    Your “love it or leave it” attitude is so 1960s. Perhaps that explains your choice of screen names.

  6. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Not the Mamma: Criticism of the trial of Saddam Hussein has come from many quarters, including Human Rights Watch. It’s hardly original on my part.
    Your assertion — that the country gave me the opportunity to earn everything I have — has an ugly side: The same country has denied that opportunity to many of its own citizens, as well as to people around the world. Recognizing that I have privileges by virtue of American citizenship means I am more responsible (not less) for opposing the wrong that this country does.
    Living here is no punishment, because I’m white, male, heterosexual, Christian and lower middle class. Take away any one of those conditions, and the opportunity that you say the country gives us would be very different.

  7. Luke Says:

    Westside John, read Discipline/Punish by Foucault before you post about discipline and punishment again.

    Mamma, the trial of Hussein was farcical, and then he was lynched. This is supposed to deter people from what? Being ruthless tyrants? Is there any conceivable coherent argument to be found in any of this?

    Now, 5 years down the road, are we going to be hanging al Maliki for the unjust hanging of Hussein?

  8. mc Says:

    No Greg, the hanging is not an example of the US system. It is another example of the Cheney/Bush group handing over the dirty work to someone else. What is new about that? Rendition and secret prisons are more examples of the same.

    It is the same political arrogance that led to the lies which were supposed to justify the invasion of Iraq. It’s very clear and very predictable. This is just another blip on the Bush admin screen. They have rightly concluded that most people in this country can’t follow the train of BS they initiated and so they continue being irresponsible.

    Frankly, Greg, the deaths of over 3000 military people concern most of us a whole lot more than the ugly death of a sadistic and brutal dictator. The people doing their third anf fourth rotations in that war didn’t spend their lives torturing citizens and killing the opposition. Saddam did just that, like so many other vicious dictators all over the world who still hold power.

    Why shed tears over the death of this tyrant? Save your concern for the families of the war dead. They never asked for this and none of their family members should have died in this war.

  9. Not the Mamma Cass! Says:

    Kevin & Greg: if you want to criticize Sadaam’s hanging sentence on opposition to death penalty grounds, then simply do so. Don’t confound the issue with your animus to the Bush Administration.

    Kevin: that the person who illegally videotaped the event was arrested refutes or supports Greg’s criticism? I guess it refutes it since certainly “US Justice” prevailed in the arrest.

    Both: supporting your positions on the backs of others is pragmatic situational relativism, not a principled argument. It’s the same kind of defense (which by affinity you must support) Bill Seitz uses to champion anti-gay discrimination: that other states do it.

    Greg: “this country” does no wrong. Individuals do wrong. Blaming “this country” is straw man logic. Perhaps you can educate me and tell me what country in the world is better than the US and in what way?

    Kevin: I’ve NEVER been accused of being an unreconstructed ’60s Liberal, but THANK YOU for the open minded characterization! 🙂

  10. Not the Mamma Cass! Says:

    Addendum: not to be accusatory, but if Mike McConnell and his ilk are “pro-innocent life, pro-death penalty for the guilty” Conservatives, does that make you “pro-choice, anti-death penalty for the guilty” Liberals? THAT could be an interesting article on how folks reconcile their views on these two (related) matters.

    Brinkman & Cranley are anti-choice, anti-death penalty on principle; certainly some like myself are pro-choice pro-death penalty Libertarians.

  11. Kevin Osborne Says:

    Mamma,

    No problem, it’s my pleasure. (BTW, I love “California Dreamin”)

  12. Natasha Says:

    I’m deeply disturbed by the cheers that seemed to accompany the hanging of Hussein. But, of course, I’m one of those radical liberals that doesn’t believe we have the right to kill anyone. (Forgive me for listening to all the prophets that have come to us through the ages.)

    In addition to the 3,000 american soldiers who have given their life for reasons based on lies, I mourn the untold tens of thousands of deaths of innocent Iraqi citizens.

  13. Westside John Says:

    Luke
    First off Foucault was a strange anti-social sadomasocistic freak. Discipline/punishment goes off into so many different tantrums it really makes little sense today. I almost got ill when i started into it. He delves into numerous non-revavent areas. BTW the man said that his taking acid in death valley was the greastedt experience of his life…….come on. I have worked in many different facets of the criminal justice system over the past twenty five years……I’ll post when I please.

    MC, yes there were some lies why we went to Iraq, but alot of truth was covered up also by the liberals who didn’t want you to see.
    the military personnel that went to Iraq were composed of 100% volunteers who KNEW before going into the military that you will become an instrument of the USA and be sent where she thinks you are needed. No-one forced anyone to go there. The parents and siblings have no say in the matter for the person who joined was an adult and responsible for their own actions. The spouses knew what service entailed when their wife/husband joined. The minor child of a soldier is the only one I will admit has no input into the situation.

  14. Margo Pierce Says:

    As someone who has been learning about the death penalty from a host of perspectives – the condemned (see http://www.citybeat.com/2006-07-12/cover.shtml), lawyers, families of victims (see http://www.citybeat.com/2006-03-01/news.shtml), activists – I’ve learned a few things.

    * Dehumanizing a person by calling him “tyrant” and other names is nothing more than an attempt to rationalize that which is condemned by society as despicable. He killed thousands of people – killing is his crime – and yet we do the exact same thing. The end of a life is the end of a life not matter how you try to pretty-it-up with explanations. A life ends, period.

    * We can slice up circumstances all we want to – he killed when someone broke into his home and tried to kill him first, she was driving under the influence of alcohol. But the fact of the matter is that we value human life to such an extent that we’ll spend billions of dollars every year saving a handful of people in horrible circumstances (a child down a well, a lost mountain climber, four people in a car crash) and maintain systems of rescue workers and hospitals to make sure those few lives are saved. The kicker is that we categorize those “worthy” of saving. If you don’t fit into the categories, you’re “unworthy.”

    * By institutionalizing, sensationalizing and perpetuating killing as an acceptable and viable alternative for dealing with problems we keep it on the table as an option for ALL people – including criminals – and remove the potential for coming up with more creative solutions because it’s a quick and easy way out of trouble. It props up self righteous indignation and rationalizations, nothing more.

    * We will never eliminate crime as long as we allow people to exercise their freedom of choice. Swift punishment such as cutting off a hand for stealing doesn’t deter crime – punishment never has and never will deter crime. Criminals are STILL stealing in countries with harsh and inhumane punishments. Why? Because punishment isn’t the source of crime. The source of the crime is poverty, thrill-seeking, addictions, emotions, no sense of right/wrong. A seed of corn will only produce corn – not wheat; the seed of crime is what produces crime – to uproot crime you have to get the seed.

    I’ll tell you why we should shed tears for the loss of any human life, because “There but for the grace of God, a Buddha or whatever forces are out there, goes you.” We all have value and worth and we can’t live up to the potential we have to grow and change and be the best we can be if we’re willing to kill others who aren’t just like us.

    Do people do horrible things or have things happen to them – whether by the vagaries of birth, life circumstances or something else – that make them incapable of living with others? Yes. Is it a judgment of the crime to acknowledge that and say people who do really bad things still have value enough to be allowed to live? No. It’s a judgment about what we’re willing to hold up as our highest principle as a society. It says that we protect the rights of people to pursue their own lives as free from constraints and the imposition of other people’s ideas as much as possible.

    The measure of a society is how it chooses to deal with the reality it faces – good, bad and indifferent. Do we promote and reinforce a positive, compassionate, supportive life experience for all people?

  15. Margo Pierce Says:

    One more thing. . .

    When people join the military, they take an oath to defend our country with violence. The consequence of that choice to be called to Iraq and possibly die doing the dangerous job that is part of commitment.

    To say that these people are innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control is to pretend that military personnel carry daisies, not guns. To be proud of a child who comes home in uniform and who her off to the family and friends for the noble thing she is doing for all of us is the flip-side of her coming hop in a flag-draped coffin.

    It sucks royally that she had to die. It sucks that her family and friends are left with nothing but pictures and memories. Does it suck that she had a job when she was alive? Does it such that she might have even gotten an education that she would not have been able to afford otherwise?

    I think it sucks that any life has been lost in Iraq – smart-bombed civilians, assassinated politicians, animals blown up by land mines – but to elevate one life over another is arbitrary and inconsiderate. Your daughter buried in the U.S. doesn’t have any more values than the daughter buried in the dessert thousands of miles away. ALL life is valuable and the loss of any of it sucks.

    We all live with the consequences of our choices – like death, nobody escapes. It might appear that someone doesn’t deal with the consequences of their choices and others get “unfair” consequences. But guess what? We don’t get to know everything and the best we can do is manage our own beliefs.

    My preference is to l value all life. It’s not easy when I sit across from a man on death row or listen to a cop complain about how hard his job is, but it’s a principle worth the effort it takes to maintain under any circumstance.

  16. mc Says:

    We are all well aware of the risk for those in the military. No one has ever disputed that and no one ever would. We assume that civilian deaths are always tragic. Who wouldn’t?

    When we send those in the military off to risk life and limb, we do so with the reasoning that we have no other way to defend our country or an ally’s. We would have already come to the conclusion that diplomacy had been exhausted. We would have used every tool in our governmental reach to avoid war, knowing the terrible price to be exacted on our own people and those with whom we fight. We did not do that. We wanted a war and we insisted on it despite opposition from most of our own allies.

    What we saw with this war was an invasion through outright lies and misinformation. Since we invaded through lies, none of those deaths were necessary. Not one, military and otherwise, should have been mutilated or killed in this war by our liars and their lies.

    We have no right to ask anyone in the military or anywhere else to die for lies and fraud. That is our fault and no one else’s. We allowed the Cheney/Bush group to lie and kill and we have never held them for it. They are still in power and we are still allowing this to continue.

    If we wish to fret over the means to death, here is a grand opportunity to oppose more dying. We must hold those in power accountable for their lies and we must end this blood bath. How many more have to be killed or maimed before we come to our senses? While we argue in safety each day, more die.

    With the clarification above, the hanging of the dictator means very little to me. The means of his death were no worse than the beheadings we were so fascinated with. He suffered no more than anyone else, and maybe far less, than any of the people he gassed to death. He suffered far less than those he had tortured while he was in power.

    The agonizing over how Saddam met his fate has no magic for me. What did we think would happen when he was captured? What did we see with the farce of his trial? It is disingenuous to claim that we thought he would escape the death penalty. Bush & Co were intent on killing this particular dictator who was no longer useful to them and they did so by proxy.

    What did we expect–that any of these power players would act in honor? Have they ever done so? More importantly, have we demanded that they act like genuine statesmen and with honor? This is our fault, the lucky and safe American civilians and no one else’s. We allow it so we must approve of it. There is no other explanation.

    Those who we allow to occupy the positions of power got what they wanted and they will leave this disaster to the rest of the world to resolve. They will go back to lives of luxury and privilege. What they put into motion with their lies can’t be repaired.

    The death of this evil dictator is one more name to add to the growing list. There are a lot of people we need to remember and grieve. Unlike Saddam, many of them were people who could have provided lives of good work which would have benefited their own countries and the world. Why don’t we interrogate ourselves about their lives and deaths?

    Before we weep over the death of Saddam, why don’t we look at what we allow to be done by our own leaders? When do we finally realize that this is our responsibility and that we have to admit the truth and rectify it as best we can?

  17. Westside John Says:

    Margo you can get deep sometimes…..I understand your point but I ask you a question.

    If a group of people or even one person decides, for whatever reason, to disregard law and respect for life and just starts torturing and killing people. We can sit back and say it was the fact that he didn’t get a gameboy when he was ten, or his father left the family and due to the fact that his mother had to work fulltime he didn’t get the nurturing he should have had, or he got everything a good person should get and just turned bad. I don’t know but my question is this:

    What now? What do you do with that person? or people? They won’t be “rehabilitated”, they don’t care.

    And some loss of life has meaning, I don’t know how to explain it well but when a young lady enters a burning building and lowers four children out a window, then an explosion takes her life. That loss has more MEANING than the race car driver who dies doing the extremely dangerous job that he wants to do and is getting paid to do. Both are losses and both leave greaving people behind. They both suck and I wish both could be avoided but…..well the line gets fuzzy.

    One thing is simple, we need to try and create a society where children are born into wanted families and are raised with some set of morals that respects life. That is not happening right now.

  18. Not the Mamma Cass! Says:

    Natasha: “I’m one of those radical liberals that doesn’t believe we have the right to kill anyone.”

    Does that include the Unborn?

    Luke: sentences, including capital sentences, serve two purposes: both to deter future action by others and to punish those convicted. Sadaam Hussein was punished by hanging. Does criminal justice in an emerging democracy serve a deterrent purpose? With regards to Iran, North Korea, Libya and other dictatorships I say: HOPEFULLY!

    Kevin: you’re reading WAY too much into the Username.

  19. Margo Says:

    Westside John,

    Deep is where the good stuff is, not in the superficial mumbo-jumbo that’s convenient to spew, glad to see someone can tell the difference.

    In response to: “What now? What do you do with that person? or people? They won’t be “rehabilitated”, they don’t care.”

    I say: Lock ’em up and throw away the key. There are people who CAN be rehabilitated but aren’t because of our unwillingness to take rehabilitation seriously (punishment is not rehabilitation). There are people who CAN’T be rehabilitated in a way that makes it possible for them to live with everyone else, so they need to be separate and contained.

    That doesn’t mean they have no value as human beings. That doesn’t mean they’re disposable – it just means according to our current social standards they aren’t safe to live with the rest of us. Maybe they still have something to contribute. Even if they don’t, even if they never do anything more than breathe and eat, we can’t preserve the value of human life if we are willing to throw away certain classes or types of people.

  20. Natasha Says:

    From: Not the Mamma Cass!
    Natasha: “I’m one of those radical liberals that doesn’t believe we have the right to kill anyone.”

    Does that include the Unborn?

    NTM Cass, yes. I rarely expound on my opposition to abortion, but I will break my cardinal rule here.

    I don’t wish to get all caught up in women’s rights and their right to choose, but I will say this: I do consider it murder to abort a pre-born child.

    That being said, I would NEVER chastise or judge a person for choosing abortion. It is indeed their life and their karma to deal with having done so.

  21. Holbrook Says:

    Ill keep my comment brief,

    The idea of democracy is a new thing for Iraq, It’s going to take them longer then 3 years to get it right, if it even sticks.


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