Early this morning in Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator whose reign in Iraq led to horrible violence, was hanged for "crimes against humanity", specifically the 1982 killing of 148 men and boys in Dujail. The Daily News compared him to a gangster ("tyrant who ruled Iraq like a Mafia don, slaughtered his fellow citizens and led his country into two disastrous wars with the United States") and the Post noted that his death was "greeted with elation by those present at the execution, which included dancing over Hussein's body." (The Post also called him "The King of Swing.") And not surprisingly, Shiites welcomed the news. Here's an excerpt from the NY Times' extensive obituary by Neil MacFarquhar:
The hanging of Saddam Hussein ended the life of one of the most brutal tyrants in recent history and negated the fiction that he himself maintained even as the gallows loomed — that he remained president of Iraq despite being toppled by the United States military and that his power and his palaces would be restored to him in time.
The despot, known as Saddam, had oppressed Iraq for more than 30 years, unleashing devastating regional wars and reducing his once promising, oil-rich nation to a claustrophobic police state.
For decades, it had seemed that his unflinching hold on Iraq would endure, particularly after he lasted through disastrous military adventures against first Iran and then Kuwait, where an American-led coalition routed his unexpectedly timid military in 1991.
His own conviction that he was destined by God to rule Iraq forever was such that he refused to accept that he would be overthrown in April 2003, even as American tanks penetrated the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in a war that has become a bitterly contentious, bloody occupation.
Iraqi officials are now trying to decide what to do with Hussein's body. President Bush released a statement, beginning, "Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial -- the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.." but even with Hussein's death, the U.S. still faces difficulties with the Iraqi conflict. How things have changed from the dramatic news that Hussein was captured.
The NY Times' Bill Carter examines the dilemma facing news network execs about showing the hanging. For instance, NBC's Steve Capus: “I think it might be appropriate at some point to see an image of Saddam after he is hanged. I think about that iconic image of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, lying literally in the gutter. I want to do this with a measure of taste, but I don’t want to stand in the way of history.”