According to many sources, Saddam Hussein’s execution is imminent: this weekend sometime, and perhaps within hours (CNN):
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Saddam Hussein could be hanged as early as Saturday, one of the former Iraqi dictator’s lawyers told CNN on Friday.
“Different sources” said the death sentence would be carried out Saturday morning, defense attorney Najib al-Nuaimi said from Doha, Qatar.
If there was ever any confusion about what system of justice this trial was operating under, the speed at which they’re carrying out the sentence should dispel it; under the U.S. system, it would be decades before an execution would actually happen.
There’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein is guilty, nor do I object to capital punishment conceptually. I am, however, uncomfortable with this execution… because perceptions matter:
“I think the Americans will accompany him onto the execution stage and I think they will have a pre-recorded film that will be released [Saturday] evening if they carry out the sentence in the day,” he said.
I’m not sure it’s “the Americans” who will film this execution, though — and that’s not a minor distinction. From WaPo:
Several sources said Saddam’s execution would be videotaped by the Iraqi government, though it wasn’t clear whether it would be released to the public or broadcast.
“We will video everything,” Iraqi National Security adviser Mouffak al Rubaie told CBS News.
Everything. Lovely…. and WaPo’s story is accompanied by the most ludicrous headline I can remember seeing: “TV plans tasteful coverage of Saddam execution“:
“We’re very aware that we’re coming into people’s living rooms and that there could be children watching,” CBS News senior vp Linda Mason said.
Mason and her network counterparts have broadcast standards and procedures they follow in these cases. Phil Alongi, special-events executive producer at NBC News, said there are ways the network can approach the video or photographs that will get the point across without having to be graphic.
The operative word: taste.
“We have very, very strict guidelines with how to deal with that,” said Bob Murphy, senior vp at ABC News. “If there were pictures made available of the execution, they would have to be viewed by senior management before we would put them on the air, and we would make a judgment of taste and propriety of what we would show.”
Taste??? How does one tastefully air a hanging? Will we see just the feet? Or perhaps his hands?
Sigh… I think I’ll leave the tv tastefully off, thanks.