Saddam execution hours away

SADDAM EXECUTION HOURS AWAY…. There were competing reports throughout the day about when, exactly, Saddam Hussein would be executed, but it now appears that the former dictator will be hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, before 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET).

The official witnesses to Saddam Hussein’s impending execution gathered Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime’s atrocities.

With U.S. forces on high alert for a surge in violence, the Iraqi government readied all the necessary documents, including a “red card” — an execution order introduced during Saddam’s dictatorship.

Wait, they’re using the same execution for Saddam that Saddam used? As Shakes put it, “Always good to show how things have changed by using the same accoutrements of death while executing their architect.”

There was also this:

Al-Nueimi said U.S. authorities were maintaining physical custody of Saddam to prevent him from being humiliated before his execution. He said the Americans also want to prevent the mutilation of his corpse, as has happened to other deposed Iraqi leaders. “The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully,” al-Nueimi said. If Saddam is humiliated publicly or his corpse ill-treated “that could cause an uprising and the Americans would be blamed,” he said.

Yes, the battle for hearts and minds continues.

As for what to make of all of this, no one will miss the Butcher of Baghdad, and no tears will be shed for his death. That said, I think Josh Marshall’s analysis is the most accurate and poignant I’ve seen: “Hanging Saddam is easy. It’s a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us…. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there’s nothing else this president can get right.”

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