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White House Sidesteps Joining Critics Of Saddam Taunting January 3, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News, White House, World News.

WASHINGTON (AP)–The White House on Wednesday refused to join international criticism of the taunting and baiting that accompanied Saddam Hussein’s execution.

“The president is focused on the new way forward in Iraq so these issues are best addressed out of Iraq, out of Baghdad,” deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said. “Prime Minister (Nouri al-Maliki’s) staff have already expressed their disappointment in the filmings, so I guess we’ll leave it at that.”

Stanzel said the U.S. military and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq had expressed concerns about the timing of Saddam’s execution and later about “the process and what took place.”

The U.K.’s deputy prime minister, John Prescott, said the manner in which Saddam was executed was “quite deplorable.” The Vatican decried leaked footage of the execution as a “spectacle” violating human rights.

A leaked cellphone video showed the deposed leader being jeered in his final moments, with witnesses shouting “Go to hell!” before he dropped through the gallows floor and died.

The unruly scene was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television and was posted on the Internet, prompting a worldwide outcry and protests among Iraq’s minority Sunnis.

Maliki on Tuesday ordered his Interior Ministry to investigate the video. An adviser to Maliki, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the person believed to have recorded Hussein’s execution on a cellphone camera was arrested Wednesday.

In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the execution of Saddam Hussein would have gone differently if U.S. officials – not Iraqis – had orchestrated it.

“Would we have done things differently? Yes, we would have. But that’s not our decision. That’s the government of Iraq’s decision,” Caldwell said.

He said the U.S. had nothing to do with the facility where the execution took place.

“We were not involved in any searches of any people, we had nobody present,” Caldwell said. “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.”


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