US would have handled Saddam execution 'differently': military spokesman

[JURIST] US forces left security during Saddam Hussein's execution [JURIST report] to Iraqi authorities Saturday but would have handled the hanging "differently", US Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said during a press conference [recorded video; transcript] in Baghdad Wednesday. Caldwell said that US-led coalition forces transported Saddam to the execution site, left him in the care of Iraqi authorities, and then withdrew from the premises, and had no part in the searching of witnesses for unauthorized media equipment, including mobile phones and video devices: “We were not involved in any search of any people, we had nobody present, we did not dictate any requirements that had to be followed. … The multinational force had absolutely no direct involvement with that whatsoever.” The release of an unofficial video [WARNING: graphic images] of the hanging, allegedly taken by a witness with a camera phone, has prompted protests [JURIST report] from Sunnis, outrage outside of Iraq [BBC report], and an investigation [JURIST report] by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] into its taping and distribution. The video shows that Saddam was taunted by his guards before the hanging took place.

Responding to questions from reporters Wednesday, White House press secretary Tony Snow acknowledged [transcript] that senior US officials had doubts about the execution process beforehand, as first reported [JURIST report] in the New York Times over the weekend:

[Saddam] was handed over to the Iraqi government. There were some -- the [US] embassy expressed some concerns; the Iraqis listened to those concerns, they've carried it forward.
Earlier Wednesday, an Iraqi responsible for supervising the execution was arrested [JURIST report] in connection with the taping of the cell phone video. Reuters has more.

 

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