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US Military Would Have Conducted Saddam Execution Differently January 3, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, World News.
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BAGHDAD (AP)–The execution of Saddam Hussein would have gone differently if U.S. officials – not Iraqis – had orchestrated it, a top U.S. general said Wednesday.

“Would we have done things differently? Yes we would have. But that’s not our decision. That’s the government of Iraq’s decision,” Major General William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, told reporters.

Footage of the hanging, captured on a cell phone camera, showed Saddam being taunted by guards and other witnesses shouting “go to hell” and “Muqtada, Muqtada” – a reference to a prominent Shiite cleric whose father was killed by Saddam and whose militia is blamed for attacks on Sunnis.

The unruly scene prompted international criticism, with U.K. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott calling the leaked images “unacceptable” and the Vatican decrying the footage as a “spectacle” violating human rights.

The U.S. “had absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the facility where the execution took place,” Caldwell said.

“We were not involved in any searches of any people, we had nobody present. We did not dictate any requirements that had to be followed. This was a government of Iraq decision on how that whole process went down,” he said.

Saddam was held in a U.S. military brig until about 30 minutes before his hanging on Saturday, Caldwell said. After Saddam’s transfer to Iraqi custody, the U.S. had “absolutely nothing to do with any of the procedures or any of the control mechanisms from that point forward,” he said.

“In fact, our forces withdrew from the building, back away from the location,” Caldwell said.

Iraq’s prime minister Tuesday called for an investigation into who recorded the cell phone video and allowed it to be shown on television and the Internet. There were reports Wednesday that Iraqi authorities had arrested the person believed to be responsible for the video.

Caldwell said the U.S. provided transportation for witnesses to Saddam’s hanging and for the ex-president’s body after the hanging, but he said the U.S. had “no direct involvement” in the execution.

“This is a sovereign nation. They make their own decisions. They’re going to learn from each thing they do,” he said.

Caldwell also said Saddam was “dignified” and “courteous” to U.S. soldiers who transferred him to Iraqi custody before he was executed.

“He spoke very well to our military police, as he always had, and when getting off at the prison site he said farewell to his interpreter. He thanked the military police squad,” Caldwell said.

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