Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Saddam's execution silenced a witness

Robert Parry, the former AP and Newsweek reporter who runs consortiumnews.com, is usually just a little bit more ready than I am to attribute sinister motives to the Bush administration. But in this post he just might have a point. The New York Times ran a story about Saddam, based on a tape used in the ongoing trial of other Saddam-era baddies, about the lethal power of chemical weapons the regime was getting ready to unleash on the Kurds. It's pretty incriminating stuff, and having it come out in open court might have made it all the more crystal-clear just what a cold-blooded killer Saddam was.

Parry points out, however, that examination or cross-examination in court might have led to questions about just where Saddam acquired chemical weapons during the 1980s. And that would lead to the United States. It's well-known that Don Rumsfeld was a special envoy during the 1980s and a good bit of his responsibility was supplying weapons and logistical help to Saddam during the decade-long war with Iran. Present Defense Secretary Robert Gates and then-vice president George H.W. Bush were also involved in the effort. Parry suggests that having this discussed in open court could prove embarrassing to people the Bush administration would prefer not to have further discredited.

Maybe. For sure the pirated cell-phone video, showing Shia guards taunting Saddam and making the execution look more like ethnic payback than justice turned the execution into something negative for the current Iraqi government and the U.S. government. The Bushies presumably didn't know this was going to happen. But did they have reasons to want Saddam rushed to the hangman before he had a chance to testify on potentially embarrassing chemical weapons issues. It's an interesting speculation.


Chitprabha said...

_Not_, repeat not, 'ethnic'. 'Shia'is a particular sect of Islam. The guards came from the Mahdi army of the Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, an old _political_ enemy of Saddam's. Moqtada's father, & then his senior kinsman & father-in-law, were successive leaders of al-Sadr's political party. Saddam killed both & al-Sadr's two older brothers. Saddam treated Shias [remember, a sect] very badly when he was in power.

Alan Bock said...

Point taken. Not ethnic but sectarian.