Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It seems the Iraqi authorities are trying to find out who recorded the execution of Saddam Hussein on a mobile phone before posting it online. 'Amazingly' it appears that the actual footage of his execution is causing 'tension' in the country.

When the authorities released a muted version which fails to tell the whole story, they hoped it would make everyone think that Saddam's execution was somehow a dignified affair, maybe even graceful. The ex-President accepting his lot and finally bowing out while the USA look on with glee. Instead, the actuality of his execution shows that no matter how deplorable he was: nothing appears to have changed.

The death penalty is savage and inhumane and even if Saddam was 'hung by his own petard' (he built those gallows), no one should be fooled into thinking that there are not stll bloodthirsty individuals running Iraq.

Then, right on cue, to comment on this state-sanctioned-killing, steps the UK heavyweight, deputy PM 'two-jabs' Prescott, who (in between state sanctioned croquet) has this to say...

In a BBC interview, UK Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott called it "deplorable" and "totally unacceptable" that video
clips of the execution had surfaced on the internet.

Mr Prescott is in charge while Prime Minister Tony Blair is on holiday.

"I think the manner was quite deplorable really," he
said. "I don't think one can endorse in any way that, whatever your
views about capital punishment.

"Frankly, to get the kind of recorded messages coming
out is totally unacceptable, and I think whoever was involved and
responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves."

Tut tut!!! it appears that Mr Prescott's concern does not center on the act itself, rather the recording of it! Am I the only person to feel slightly disgusted at this level of duplicity? How can we ever hope to encourage democracy around the world when really we are only operating superficially at best? We say one thing yet do another.

Sure I can write a blog and protest 'electronically' but my country and its leaders really do need to either keep quiet on this issue or be very careful what they are saying... How about this...

"I'm really disgusted with what this person has done. Its unacceptable that a state-sanctioned-murder was recorded and shown publicly.

We wanted Saddam dead (although officially we cant say that), and we hoped that the matter would disappear from the international conscience, once the tamed down version of Saddam's murder had been released. We had a suspicion that it may cause a few hundred deaths, but we thought it was a price worth paying. but now the truth is out?...

Its disgusting that someone recorded this event of brutality and then had the cheek to actually show everyday people what a shambolic, debased act it actually was... Shame on them! They will have blood on their hands!"

... My advice in this situation? Maybe Saddam should not have been killed in the first place?

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James said...

Hi Paul,

Prezza's comments were as interesting as we've come to expect. At least Margaret Beckett, quoted by the BBC here has said"We do not support the use of the death penalty... we advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime." The Foreign Secretary also said "We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation."

I'm definitely opposed to capital punishment, and although I expected video of this event to find its way onto the internet I would never go looking for it. The photos on the front of the Sunday papers were bad enough, but to actually want to watch the death of someone is too voyeuristic for my taste.

Do you not worry Paul, that by linking to it, albeit with a health warning, you're encouraging people to cross a line they might end up regretting.

Although you've blogged about the varied accounts of Saddam's execution you haven't commented on whether or not watching the scenes of this execution have affected you personally.

Happy New Year - James.

Paul Hurst said...

Hi James and happy new year to you too.

Thanks for including MB's quote in your post. These words are the strongest to come from the UK camp although worryingly not from the PM or DPM.

I feel it appropriate to post the video here as generally speaking, people are able to choose if they want to watch the footage or not, I have included a 'synopsis' for those who choose not to watch.

When I watched the footage, I was disgusted. Not only at the execution itself, but also at the difference between this clip and the one released by the authorities...

They were there, in the same room yet they chose to try to deceive by releasing an almost 'bogus' version.

I find this totally deplorable and I think that its important that in the interests of fairness, the true footage is made available.

I do not have relatives or friends serving in Iraq but if I did, I would be even more offended.

On top of all of this, it now turns out that the Iraqi PM can't wait to get out of office... What are we doing in this country? Mayb we should allow them to goveern their own affairs?

James said...


I've quite a bit of sympathy for Iraq's Prime Minister. He must have one of the hardest jobs in the world at the moment.

I have a few problems with the mobile phone footage, so I've chosen not to search for it or click on any links I find to it.

First of all I just don't want to witness anyone's execution. I think that recording. distributing and even linking to film of an execution is at best in really poor taste. At worst you're giving an opportunity to those ghoulish enough to be thrilled by this sort of stuff - there will be people who see this as entertainment.

The film runs the risk of being viewed by people who aren't emotionally mature enough to realise the consequences of what they're seeing. How long before it's being bluetoothed around schools by mobile toting kids?

You say that "its important that in the interests of fairness, the true footage is made available." Would you have mainstream broadcasters like ITV News, Sky and the BBC show it in its entirity? After all they've shown enough of the government's version.

And what do we know of the motives of whoever made the film? I suspect it's more likely to have been recorded and released by one of Saddam's taunters than by a citizen journalist desperate to disprove the solemnity of the officially sanctioned record.

I agree with you that Saddam should not have been killed, but disagree with you about the video.

Paul Hurst said...

Thats fine and thanks again for your comments.

This is a very interesting topic. I do wonder what would happen if our news providers did provide more 'realistic' footage. Maybe we'd just become even more de-sensitised than we already are?

Anonymous said...

All the comments here seem fair and both points are put across well.

However, I would have to agree with Paul. It is important we see the reality of these things and not something that has been made to look humane and in control when really it is the complete opposite taking place. No-one has to click on the link if they dont wish to - its a matter of conscience and curiosity. People who choose to look with ulterior motives can do so through a number of links on the internet, not just this blog.

It is intended to make people think more deeply and sensitively and not so through rose tainted glasses. Im sure, James, that you are not the only person with these feelings but I am also sure that this blog would not have been intended to upset or offend anyone.

The link is there. You dont have to click.

Paul Hurst said...

Hmmm... To post or not to post... That seems to be the question.

James said...

Have you seen this on the BBC Editors Blog?

Craig Oliver, Editor of the Ten O'Clock News, on using technology in newsgathering.

Paul Hurst said...

looks like he practically copied some of what I said there...

I do think this is the wider issue at hand. Its so easy to get bogged down with one story such as Saddam, however the repercussions of these incidents often have much more, wide reaching consequences.

Citizen journalism is no bad thing in my opinion. We all become embedded reporters in our communities and into the events which we find ourselves in.

Paul Hurst said...

thanks for the link too. I have made mention of this post on that blog.