Saddam foregoes bombast in latest letter

NY Times:

Saddam Hussein, who is expected to make the short walk up the gallows stairs to his death here sometime in the next 30 days, said he was prepared to die and sure of his place in heaven as a martyr, and he called on Iraqis to unite, according to a letter that his lawyers said Wednesday had been composed by the former dictator.

Fears that the announcement upholding his death penalty on Tuesday would set off violence appeared not to be immediately borne out. But officials were still concerned about possible public reaction to the execution itself, and some speculated that the hanging would take place in secret and be announced only after the fact. American and Iraqi officials said nothing definitive about the execution’s details on Wednesday.

Mr. Hussein is being held at Camp Cropper, an American base near the Baghdad Airport. Although the site of the hanging has yet to be announced, the main execution center in Baghdad is near his cell. In a drab concrete building, a set of steel stairs leads to a platform, about 15 feet above the ground. There, nooses fashioned from hemp ropes are slipped around the necks of the condemned before a steel trapdoor swings down.

In his latest letter, Mr. Hussein displayed none of the bombast that had defined his court appearances. He was convicted Nov. 5 of crimes against humanity for his part in the execution of 148 men and boys in the northern town of Dujail, and he wrote his farewell letter at the time of his conviction, his lawyers said.

In contrast the same story says that Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr released a letter praying for the killing of more American soldiers. Our forbearance against him appears wasted. We would be better off putting him in an adjoining cell to Saddam.

Saddam seems out of character. It is even out of character for his defense counsel. He could have saved a lot of Iraqi lives if he had written such a letter years ago when he was first captured.


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