Has the New York Times not learned to tell the truth?
Wasn't it this newspaper — the so-called, self-styled "newspaper of record" — that pushed the Iraq war down our American throats with one lie after another, brought to you not only by the disgraced Judith Miller but many others, including her editors and the op-ed-writing hacks at what once actually was the leading source of news on earth?
So much for boy publisher Pinch Sulzberger, who has driven that paper into the gutter.
From the first sentence, Burns's and Santora's bias is obvious, and the near-lies begin — or are these lines simply laziness of mind and investigation after a tough New Year's Eve?
With his plain pine coffin strapped into an American military helicopter for a predawn journey across the desert, Saddam Hussein, the executed dictator who built a legend with his defiance of America, completed a turbulent passage into history on Sunday."
First of all, Saddam Hussein did not build a "legend" merely by his defiance of America — not in the least. He built a legend as the master of atrocity, and, on the good side, bringing Iraq from a fourth world country to the most open and modern in the Arab world before the turn of the century.
He was evil and he was good, but more evil than good.
Burns and Santora are now seemingly covering for the White House and blaming the American civilian staff on the ground as well as our armed forces — the members of which are soon to become targets in the sights of American media watchdogs and big time news editors at radio and television networks.
Burns claims that is was Americans who "… proved to be [Saddam's] unlikely benefactors in the face of Iraq's new Shiite rulers who seemed bent on turning the execution and its aftermath into a new nightmare for the Sunni minority privileged under Mr. Hussein."
Kangaroo trial, lynching, humiliation and late night execution?
Ah — I see! Now I see the fable: after making sure that the world believed that Saddam — and only Saddam — was a pariah worse than Hitler or Stalin, America in her graciousness is now Saddam's benefactor.
Is Burns losing his mind?
Yes, the U.S military did provide the helicopter that flew Saddam's body back to his home territory near Tikrit, but to write without further investigation that it was the Americans who truly "… questioned the political wisdom — and justice — of expediting the execution, in ways that required Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to override constitutional and religious precepts that might have assured Mr. Hussein a more dignified passage to his end" is a just poor journalism.
Is this some sort of a joke reminiscent of the radio attack from Mars? Does Burns actually believe that the Iraqi puppets running the nation )into the ground, by the way) are not doing so with the full authorization and cooperation of the White House? Does he truly believe that Iraq is run by an "elected" government of Iraqis?
Or does he know the truth: that Iraq is run by Islamic Death Squads, the majority of which are commanded by insane religious fanatic Moktada al-Sadr, who is far worse than Saddam when it comes to rubber-stamping terror and murder!
Burns tells us that Washington woke up only after seeing the "mysterious" home movie shot in Saddam's death chamber two nights ago. Burns also tells us that this was shot with a camera cell phone although the camera used could have simply been a small portable.
Mr. Burns assumes that Washington is either stupid or wants us to believe it is — so stupid that it had no idea Saddam would be treated to a horrifying execution by a pack of insane Shiites bent on humiliating him and avenging his victims (or not).
I believe that those in command knew exactly what they were doing, knew exactly who held that camera — and not only that, but knew exactly how long it would take for the film to reach the Internet and then, of course, every Shia whose votes Maliki and his kind would be counting on in the next so-called "election."
You can damn well count on the fact that The White House and the Bush cronies that count but are invisible knew exactly what was going to happen, when, and how.
I received a copy of the video less than two hours after Saddam was pronounced dead — a video which showed the truth and not the silently filmed lies that Maliki and his gang sent off to CNN and the BBC that early morning.
The new video made it clear — Saddam, homicidal tyrant though he was, was the focus of a lynching reminiscent of the worst of the American South during the first half of the 20th century.
Mr. Maliki — you know the man, the one Bush hugs and says is the right guy for the job — released statements to the press that Hussein was not drugged, comported himself as usual, as if nothing was happening, and in general had a peaceful death.
And, of course, that was an outright lie.
Even as he appeared in the execution room, the churlish, ghoulish chanting of supposedly sophisticated men began. All that was missing was the usual freaky tongue warbling favored so heavily by drug-snorting Arabic women. This crowd of thugs told Saddam to "Go to hell." They asked God to curse him. They screamed other obscenities while someone, Burns says perhaps the Judge at Saddam's trial, begged them to control themselves.
Who were these pack of wild animals?
Their excuse, of course, was some trumped up sob story about all their Shia friends and relatives that Saddam had allegedly killed. That was tragic, but I must add that if Saddam had killed all the people he has been accused of, he would have to have been 700 years old.
No, this was pure Arab theater — theater not of the absurd but of self-righteous ignoramuses who populated the gallows room. So deafening were their animalistic voices that Saddam Hussein's last words could hardly be heard over the din. Even as he dangled, then lay dead on camera, they continued cursing him and slapping each other on the back as if they had just won a million dollar jackpot in Las Vegas.
As Saddam was about to die, the vicious Iraqis on the floor below were screaming the name of murderer Moktada al-Sadr over and over again — taunting Saddam and reminding him that his friends are now being slaughtered by the thousands, randomly or as ordered by an Islamic high imam who is nothing more than a street tough with a turban and beard posing as a man of Allah.
Saddam, to his credit, seemed not to lower himself to the pack level. He mocked the jackals, saying, "Is this how real men behave?" He tried to pray but was shouted down as the trap door opened and his neck snapped, leaving his head askew and open-eyed.
Burns writes that Bush and his handlers pretending to be subordinates "adopted a hands-off posture, saying the timing of the execution was Iraq's to decide."
Sure. And pigs spontaneously sprout wings and fly. It was "Iraq's to decide," but who controls Iraq, Burnsy? Who wrote their laws, many of which violated during the trial and leading up to the execution? Who turned and looked the other way?
As Dana Carvey's Church Lady is fond of saying, "How conveeeenient!"
While Burns tells us that "the Americans here" are caught between a rock and hard place — between the absolute irresponsibility and madness of the Maliki government and the fear of undermining him — the truth is that it is the fear of undermining their Commander-in-chief that allows this kind of disgrace to continue under America's watch.
However, Burns — smart as he is — somehow "assembled" a narrative from American and Iraqi officials present at "crucial" meetings between the two sides. He writes that the Americans "counseled caution" about the hanging and pointed out to the opportunists and greedhead swine running Iraq that their brand-new Constitution required the Iraqi presidential counsel — all three of them — to approve the hanging, and that Saddam's hanging could not occur on a holiday, which it happened to be in Iraq on the day of the planned execution.
While I believe the men and women on the ground — especially the military — did take this position, I don't believe for second that Mr. Maliki simply decided on his own and without consulting Washington to not only hang Saddam before the required approvals, but also on a high Islamic holiday.
I also believe that American officials knew very well that the White House wanted him hung in as crass a posture as possible.
Here is, as Atrios is fond of saying, a simple answer to the simple question, "Would Prime Monster Maliki risk his future and the future of his Shia colleagues to spite the White House?" Not a chance. Whoever the "American officials" responsible for these "negotiations" are, it's more likely to have been a covering action to claim to have "demanded assurance" that the law would be followed or they would not release Saddam into Maliki's custody.
It doesn't pass the smell test.
So the stage was set. The American side had put into play a scenario that allowed them to claim they alone tried to protect Saddam from the Shia wolf pack about to lynch him. Maliki went along with the ruse — making certain that whoever talked to the press would tell them, as they told Burns, that Americans demanded that the law be followed.
At that instant, no matter what happened, Washington was insulated — or so Dick Cheney and idiot son George Bush Jr., who wanted revenge for the supposed Saddam-sponsored murder plot on his father, thought.
Today I find even that story impossible to believe.
Burns claims that Maliki and his staff went "into a frantic quest for legal workarounds," an Iraqi official told him. Legal workarounds? Isn't that a euphamism for illegal actions?
Burns writes that Americans told Maliki and his people they "needed a decree from President Jalal Talabani, signed jointly by his two vice presidents, upholding the death sentence, and a letter from the chief judge of the Iraqi High Tribunal, the court that tried Mr. Hussein, certifying the verdict."
President Talabani, a Kurd himself, made it known that he objected strongly to the death penalty on principle and would not sign. Then, Burns writes, "The Maliki government spent much of Friday working on legal 'mechanisms' to meet the American demands."
Legal mechanisms? Is he nuts?
Further down he describes what could only be the most illegal measures taken by Maliki and others in order to get their hands on Saddam, who our nation held in custody and under its protection.
As predicted, President Talabani would not sign the approval decree, but allegedly sent a letter which basically said "well, other than that, do what you will." Talabani himself hid behind consultation with the Saddam trial judges who told him "the requirement was void." Yet it was not void — not under Iraqi or any other law — so what is Burns saying? Not much. What he is doing is pulling the wool over American readers' eyes so he can protect his status with the Iraqi and American officials who — in a sense — co-sign his paycheck from the Times?
Burns, in many ways, reminds me of the undeservingly well-thought-of Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, who appears to tell half-truths himself in order to sell yet another boring book.
Burns claims he was told by an "Iraqi official" that the hanging on holidays issue was argued out late at night — but where? At prime minister Maliki's office where the issue was "debated?" Over steak and ale, I suppose?
Here comes the most incredible moment we are supposed to believe — that the Iraqis present said to the Americans: "Who is going to execute him, anyway, you or us?" The Americans allegedly replied by saying that obviously, it was the Iraqis who would carry out the hanging. Then the Iraqis retorted, "This is our problem and we will handle the consequences. If there is any damage done, it is we who will be damaged, not you."
G. Gordon Liddy, eat your heart out! Could you have a better cover-up? It will be the who will be damaged.
Cue the laugh track.
I think even an eleven-year-old would see that by handing over Saddam without what seemed to be a scintilla of judgment or humaneness, the United States would be damaged incredibly.
And so we are — worldwide.
Here's the icing on the cake: Maliki had his stooges then telephone officials of the Marjaiya, the supreme religious body in Shia Islam, composed of whacked-out ayatollahs and located in the "holy city" of Najaf.
It seems the Arab world has more holy cities than there are Six Flags amusement parks.
The ayatollahs (remember that Khomeini guy for example?) "approved," and Maliki then signed a letter to the Iraqi "justice" minister authorizing him "to carry out the hanging until death."
Somehow more than a dozen Iraqi (read: Shiite) officials, including senior Maliki staff, ended up in helicopter at two in the morning, droning toward Saddam's Republican Palace and then flown to the location where the lynching would occur. American officials roused Saddam and flew him in a United States Black Hawk helicopter to the same location — a helicopter you and I paid for.
Maliki and his stooges have come up with no sane reason why Saddam just had to be killed that night and will not detail how it happened, who was there, and how it became a lynching rather than a state-sponsored legal execution. Neither can Maliki — President Bush's buddy — explain the video Maliki had produced and sent to major media which faked the story that Saddam hanging was carried out in a dignified manner.
Burns claims an aide to Maliki may have spilled the beans — that the lynching was a holiday "gift to the Iraqi people."
One could not help but notice that once Saddam was dead, his body was thrown into a plywood casket and loaded into the back of what looked like a Somaliland warlord's pickup truck.
Burns claims the Americans again stood their ground and insisted — like the gentlefolk we are — that Maliki surrender Saddam's body and let them fly it by helicopter to his birthplace where he was to be buried temporarily until he could rest next to his two sons, who were gunned down in a firefight with American forces on July 22, 2003 in Mosul.
This sounds like an idea from the sick mind of Karl Rove: make it look like we took pity on Saddam and his family and friends.
Well, here's the way it really went: Iraq is now another Iran — the religious fanatics who control Iraq are Shia thugs trained, ironically, by example by Saddam Hussein.
They think every Sunni is Saddam because they think only in terms of religion (well, what religion brings them, namely money and power). Every day these so-called men of God send out their armies to murder Sunnis because they were the same sect of Islam as was Saddam. Most of the smart and able Sunnis have fled from Iraq — they live in Syria among that Sunni population. And you can be sure they are planning to get back at Moktada al-Sadr some day. Some day soon. You can bet good money on it.
Finally, let us not forget that this is George Bush Junior's legacy. He has created a nightmare worse than he encountered. Now, instead of a greedy tyrant anxious for the Kuwait port, we have another insane Islamic nation to deal with — and all the terrorists they will breed to murder our children and grandchildren.
And Bush — eager to give Americans a "holiday gift" at best — turned his back. At the least, he let his sick Shia pals do what they wanted with Saddam. At worst, he planned it.
We'll probably never know which.