Hussein’s Voice Speaks in Court in Praise of Chemical Atrocities

New York Times John Burns January 9, 2007

The courtroom he dominated for 15 months seemed much smaller on Monday without him there to mock the judges and assert his menacing place in history.

But the thick, high-register voice of Saddam Hussein was unmistakable. In audio recordings made years ago and played 10 days after his hanging, Mr. Hussein was heard justifying the use of chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s, predicting they would kill “thousands” and saying he alone among Iraq’s leaders had the authority to order chemical attacks.

In the history of prosecutions against some of the last century’s grimmest men, there can rarely have been a moment that so starkly caught a despot’s unpitying nature.

On one recording, Mr. Hussein presses the merits of chemical weapons on Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his vice-president, and now, the Americans believe, the fugitive leader of the Sunni insurgency that has tied down thousands of American troops. Mr. Douri, a notorious hard-liner, asks whether chemical attacks will be effective against civilian populations, and suggests that they might stir an international outcry.

“Yes, they’re very effective if people don’t wear masks,” Mr. Hussein replies.

“You mean they will kill thousands?” Mr. Douri asks.

“Yes, they will kill thousands,” Mr. Hussein says.
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15 thoughts on “Hussein’s Voice Speaks in Court in Praise of Chemical Atrocities”

  1. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein ranks high among the most prolific and sadistic mass murderers of the last 100 years. He often cited Josef Stalin as his role model and took pleasure in the cruel extermination of his enemies. In Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial” Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, recalls a conversation he had with Hussein at a Pan-Arab summit, in which the Iraqi dictator advised Bandar not only to torture and execute his political opponents, but their brothers and fathers as well in order to reaaly terrorize would-be dissidents.

    Given the dangerous sectarian climate in Iraq it would have been far better if US forces had turned Saddam Hussein over to the International Court at the Hague for trial. At the Hague, Saddam Hussein’s crimes would have been exposed to a more thorough review and received more publicity, his trial would have been carried out under the highest judicial standards and therefore would have been more credible, and his punishment would have carried the weight of international legitimacy.

    Unfortunately, the Bush administration, blinded by its irrational ideological hatred for all forms of international cooperation, rejected the prudent option of the International Court at the Hague. It instead allowed Hussein’s trial to be turned into a kangaroo court, and his punishment into a sectarian lynching carried out by thuggish Shiite militiamen. As result Saddam Hussein’s crimes have been overshadowed by the deplorable manner of his execution, and he has been turned into a Sunni martyr for many in the Arab world.

    As I have been reading “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward I have been overwhelmed by the repeated episodes of arrogance, stupidity and incompetence by the Bush foreign policy team. The mishandling of Saddam Hussein’s execution is just another example of President Bush’s dangerous unfitness to lead our country.

  2. Deal with it.

    The Iraqis wanted to judge Saddam themselves. The Hague intervenes only if the country in origin asks for intervention. If the Hague was really the issue for liberals or for Woodward, you would respect the procedure that the international court operates by. But to many in the West, especially those of leftist leaning, the Hague represents much, much more. It represents the utopia vision of what the world should be – not what the world actually is.

    You’ll forgive me if I’m wary of that sentiment. I am glad we don’t hold ourselves captive to a foreign court – one whose elites have no culpability to the people in its native land. What’s to stop a few ‘Article 58’-type rulings from being foisted upon us by some juristocracy? The Iraqis just emerged from decades of unaccountability. Europe rushes headlong toward it. After you finish Woodward, start reading Solzhenitsyn’s Warning to the West. You might as well be aware of all the dangers civilization faces.

  3. “Deal With It” is a troubling and offensive response because it exemplifies the reckless arrogance and disregard of the Bush administration and its supporters throughout this entire Iraq disaster.

    – They took the nation to war on the basis of deliberately falsified information – Deal with it.

    – They alienated our nation’s key allies so Americans had to shoulder most of the burden of war alone. America is more isolated in the world than it has ever been – Deal with it.

    – They disregarded all prior war planning and went into Iraq with too few troops – Deal with it.

    – They allowed Iraq to descend into anarchy and chaos – they bungled the occupation – Deal with it

    – The cost of the war, which they said would pay for itself, has now cost US taxpayers $400 billion and long term costs could rise to $2 trillion – Deal with it.

    – Over 3,000 American servicemen and women are dead. Families have lost fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. There are over a two thousand war orphans, 23,000 Americans have been seriously maimed and disabled by war injuries. Many have lost limbs or suffered brain damage. 1 in 6 will suffer post-traumatic stress illness for the rest of their lives. – Deal with it

    – As many as 600,000 Iraqis may died because of the invasion of Iraq and the ensuing chaos. The mismanaged occupation created conditions for a sectarian civil war to begin. – Deal with it

    – America is more hated and despised in the middle-east than ever. The war has inflamed Islamic radicalism and provided a powerful recruiting tool for our enemies. Moderate regimes friendly to the United States are in danger of being toppled due to thier association with us. – Deal with it

    – The war in Iraq has diverted resources and manpower from the war against terorism. Osama Bin ladin was allowed to escape. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. – Deal with it

    – Our military has been severely weakened by the Iraq war. Equipment and ammunition have been drawn down. Training has suffered. Morale is down. Thousands of indispensible soliders and officers have left. The ability of our military to deal with a major hostile conflict elsewhere in the globe is questionable. – Deal with it.

    – There is no definition of victory in Iraq that is plausible, realistic or attainable. There is no exit strategy. The only plan is to keep on throwing more fine young men and women into the meat-grinder for no clear purpose. – Deal with it.

    We are tired of dealing with the arrogance and stupidity and incompetence. We cannot afford to deal with it. Dealing with it is harming and weakening our nation. Dealing with it is costing lives and inviting greater catastrophe.

    In the end we will deal with it the way we did last November – at the voting booth, when we throw out all the arrogant war-mongers whose every repsonse to every their own failures has been – Deal with it.

  4. The real deal is, Dean did NOT read Solzhenitsyn and has given us instead a list of left wing talking points…;)

  5. Dean –

    I find it interesting that my response about Saddam’s manner of execution – “Deal with it” – was employed in your response. You wanted the Hague to handle the execution. And yet, after explaining why the Hague could not legally intervene (as defined in the Hague’s own protocols), you attempt to move the argument into a larger indictment of the whole war. I can only take this tactic as a tacit admission that you do not have an answer, and that you are not in fact going to deal with it. But moving the argument is a great rhetorical ploy if it works.

    Interestingly, in your bullet list against the war, I see you cite international opinion as evidence of American error. World opinion is not what one should build an international policy around, and it is plain frightening that the Left has started to believe their own rhetoric. World opinion will always be contradictory and voiced in one’s own self-interest. The most blatant example that exposes international opinion is World War II. Germany got where it did because the international community pretended it wasn’t a problem. When the motto of dying Europe is to ‘Ignore what is right and do what is easy’, we follow their example at our peril.

    I hate that we’ve lost 3,000 soldiers in Iraq, but I’m forced to place that fact beside two other equally important facts. First, we have an all-volunteer army. Second, this is the lowest body count in any prolonged war this country has *ever* conducted. This includes the American war with Mexico, which resulted in over 13,000 dead. The Revolutionary War was about 25,000 dead, and World War II was 408,000. I’m not discounting the 3,000 soldiers – I’m saying that this Iraq has historically the lowest body count we’ve ever achieved.

    For civilian casualties, I also think it should be asked: who is inflicting the majority of these causalties? The car bombers or the American soldiers? I assume you got your civilian body count from the Lancet study. Interestingly, many others, including the Iraqi government and the US Aid Agency, have lower body counts by hundreds of thousands. But the Lancet study was broken down in this manner recently (from Gateway Pundit):

    [quote]The Lancet Study that claimed that 555,000 Iraqis have died in the last two years since the group’s last controversial study.

    ** That came out to around 770 violent Iraqi deaths each day on average.

    To put that in perspective, that’s like:

    * 3-10 Hiroshima atomic blasts
    * 6-20 Nagasaki atomic blasts
    * Or 10 Dresden bombing campaign[/quote]

    Sigh…falsified information. This has been debated for four years now, and realistically I doubt either one of us will be convinced otherwise at this point. Human-gathering intelligence is a spotty business. Before 9/11, we had been steadily short-changing our agents in the field to coax informants (ie. bribe). Ghost Wars by Steve Coll will cover this if you wish to read more. You will see the very real difficulties we will *always* experience overseas. Yes, oversight in Langley and in D.C. are, and always will be, factors.

    That’s enough for now.

  6. Anon – You just don’t get it. We need the Iraqis from all sects to accept the legitimacy of Maliki government. One of the most solemn duties a government has is the imposition of capital punishment. Instead of insuring that the was execution carried out properly and in accordance with the law, we allowed te Iraqis to turn the execution into a sectarian lynching that directed a calculated insult against the embittered Sunni potrion of the Iraqi population, alienating them further.

    You express your sadness that 3,000 Americans have died but don’t seem to relaize that their deaths are the result of the same incompetence by the Bush administration on that we saw on display once again during the Saddam Hussein execution. Condaleeza Rice, who gave the order to turn Saddam Huseein over to the Iraqis for execution, has demonstarted through her repeated failures that she is not qualified to conduct our nation’s foreign policy. We know for a fact that she received not one, but two urgent warnings from the CIA Director Tenet before Septemeber 11th of an impending attack and yet she did nothing, absolutely nothing afterward about them.

    The Bush administration was warned by many of it’s generals including General Zinni who had war-gamed and planned specifically for a potential war with Iraq , and General Shinsecki, who had experience in post-war occupation in Bosnia and Kosovo, that they needed many more troops to secure Iraq. Yet, they allowed a civilian, Paul Wolfowitz, a man with no military experience at all to over-rule and ridicule the Generals. As result US lines of supply were exposed to attack during the invasion, thousands of irregular Iraqi fighters were bypassed and ignored, and hundreds of ammunition sites and weapons depots were never secured. Looting and anarchy was allowed to occur after the capture of Baghdad because there were not enough US troops in Iraq to maintain order and those who were there were unclear about their mission.

    The Bush administration was warned repeatedly by its Chief for the Reconstruction of Iraq, Jay Garner, its Generals, and the CIA, not to disband the Iraqi army or discharge (de-nathify) Iraq’s government officials, but to use them to rebuild the country. Instead the the Bush administration told a 300,000 man army, men with military training and access to weapons and ammunition to go home and be angry and unemployed instead. The incompetency of the Bush administratio literally created this insurgency.

    The manner of Saddam Hussein’s execution is distressing because it indicates that as we embark on a dangerous new phase of our involvement in Iraq we are led by an administration continuing to be blinded by it’s own delusions and indifferent to its own incompentecy. You heard President Bush last week, “Mistakes were made.” He still can’t accept that he made those mistakes.

  7. “You just don’t get it.” Dean says in note #7. How often are those words used here and in other venues to express frustration with another’s lack of agreement. I’ve frequently thought those words myself, perhaps even typed them, I’m not sure.

    Of course the other person does not get “it” whatever “it is!!!. In most cases in order to agee, the one in disagreement would have to change not just an opinion, but an entire set of assumptions, perhaps even fundamental assumptions about the nature of God and man.

    It does little-to-no good mucking around in the Filene’s Basement of effects and opinions. It is more appropriate and effective in the long run if one can state the reasons for arriving at an opinion, especially the fundamental assumptions one is using to select, arrange and interpret any given fact set.

  8. Michael writes: “It is more appropriate and effective in the long run if one can state the reasons for arriving at an opinion, especially the fundamental assumptions one is using to select, arrange and interpret any given fact set.”

    Entire books have been written about how the Bush administration ignored and in fact intentionally rejected the advice given by both military and civilian professionals concerning what would happen in Iraq. There is absolutely nothing going on in Iraq that should surprise anyone. This was all predicted long before the first U.S. soldier set foot in Iraq in 2003.

    To “state the reasons” about what has happened in Iraq would be to reproduce a large volume of text that is readily available for anyone who wants to read it. Asking for the “fundamental assumptions” about Iraq is like asking someone for the fundamental assumptions of why he thinks that the allies invaded Normandy. Most of what Dean mentioned is well-known, and contrary to Christopher, has nothing to do with “liberal” or “conservative.” Of course, for Christopher, anything to the left of Ann Coulter is “left wing,” so one is not surprised by his comment. In fact, we expect it, and note that he offers not a single word to refute what Dean said. All Christopher has to do is say “left wing,” and then it’s Miller Time.

    But for anyone who does not smoke the right-wing crack pipe, the situation in Iraq is obvious, and how we got there is clear. I don’t know if Dean has read Solzhenitsyn, but he obviously has read Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and is acquainted with the basic facts of the situation.

  9. Mere recitation of the same fact set preceeded by an epithet of frustration is, I’m sure, quite effective in changing people’s minds. People rarely persist in disagreement when the disagreement is simply a matter of fact. It is the selection and interpretation of facts that causes differences of opinion.

    No matter how correct Dean is in his selection and interpretation of facts, many of us here don’t give them much credit because he has such a long and fascinating history of Bush hatred. Nor will he typically engage in genuine discussion, perfering in many cases to Uzi his emotionally charged “facts” at whoever he happens to disagree with then race off to the next issue when his assertions and/or philosophical approach is questioned.

    Jim, you at least try to deal with the philosophical ideas in some of your posts.

  10. Michael, with respect to the situation in Iraq, I would recommended two books:

    Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas Ricks. Ricks provides a very detailed and nuanced account both of how we got into Iraq, the consequences of going in with an insufficient number of troops, and the multifaceted failure of the occupation.

    Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods, by H. John Poole, USMC, Ret. His book goes all the way from WWI to the recent Iraq war, and covers Lebanon, Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan (1980s and current), Iraq-Iran war, and the current Iraqi resistance. This is a great book if you want to know what we’re up against in Iraq.

  11. Mere recitation of the same fact set preceeded by an epithet of frustration is, I’m sure, quite effective in changing people’s minds. People rarely persist in disagreement when the disagreement is simply a matter of fact. It is the selection and interpretation of facts that causes differences of opinion.

    True, Michael, but more is at work here than just this. I’ll be speaking at a Republican women’s club on Thursday, and I plan to be highly critical of the president.

    I expect to get rave reviews for the speech.


    Because I’ll start out by talking about my long association with the Republican Party. I’ll then praise the gathered attendees. I’ll then begin the main topic of my speech which is about the religious roots of Jihad, and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.

    Then, I’ll talk about the situation in Europe which is the largest experiment in existance of full-scale Muslim integration into functioning liberal democracies.

    Well, it becomes apparent listening to the facts that:

    1) President Bush’s policies have been horrible for Christians in Iraq.
    2) The pathos associated with Islam isn’t mere window dressing. In fact, it goes right to the bone.
    3) The coddling by the administration of Muslims, the resettling of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, and the increasing deference shown to Muslims in the U.S. are all setting us up to be like Europe.
    4) Europe is a disaster, and the Bush policy of encouraging Muslim immigration to Europe is making the problem worse.
    5) Lastly – the Bush administration doesn’t have a clue what it is doing in terms of opposing Islam and the attempted to ‘democratize’ Iraq is a hopeless failure given the realities of Muslim thought and culture.

    Now, if I’d made these points in 2003 or even 2004, I’d have been shouted down.

    2007? Most Republicans are ready to listen. In 2004 or even 2005, if you opposed the Bush plan from the right you were still branded a liberal. Didn’t matter how you stood on any other issue, oppose the war in Iraq as a dumb idea, and even if you were Pat Buchanan you were still a liberal.

    Now, most Republicans are past that. The new ‘surge’ following months of arguing against increased troops, the admission of serious blunders after cheerily spreading ‘good news,’ and the general thumping at the polls have put most Republicans/conservatives in a different framework.

    That is, with the exception of people who comment here and at

    For some reason, people, like Christopher, who dislike Muslims keep hanging on to the idea that Muslims in Iraq will somehow build a Democracy and become good guys just because we’re occupying the country.

    I feel sorry for them. Being that deluded has to be painful. The rest of the party, however, is ready to move on.

  12. Glen – That’s the type of pragmatism that could persuade me to vote Republican. I’ve been very impressed with Chuck Hagel (NE-R) who has departed from the scripted platitudes to offer a sober assessment of the situation in Iraq. Hagel just demolished Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press, Sunday, and I found myself cheering for the guy with the -R next to his name.

    On the domestic front, the four Governors who have taken the initiative on health care have all been Republicans, including Romney and Schwarzenegger. They have thrown the American Enterprise Institute talking points out the window and are beginning to adress the problem in an honest and forthright manner. I was really been impressed with Arnold last week. His health care plan has some potential flaws, and will result in fierce and epic battles between competing special interests, but I give the Governator a lot of credit for beginning a process of change that is badly needed.

    In “State of Denial”, by Bob Woodward there is one section where Woodward quotes a beleagured Donald Rumsfeld lamenting that government may be broken, that accountability is missing, that incentives for bad policy abound, and that mechanisms and controls to ensure that decisions lead to positive outcomes are all but vanished. Even though Rumsfeld was part of that problem, the many revelations of government incompetence and malfeasance that have emerged over the last few decades indicate that Rumsfeld’s observation here is correct. The poor performance of FEMA and state government during Hurricane Katrina is a prime example.

    Here I think is the opportunity for Republicans. Not to rail against the concept of government, but to focus on the monster that government has become and the need to tear some of these agencies and bureraucracies down and just start over..

  13. There is no question that the attempt to “democratize” Islamic countries and the failure to comprehend the true nature of Islam is at the heart of the failure in Iraq. I’m not questioning that at all. I’m merely questioning the efficacy of Dean’s approach to the debate. As soon as Bush began preaching the democracy angle in Iraq and Islam as a religion of peace, I knew we were in trouble. Despite his militaristic approach, it is nothing more than a different type of appeasement.

    All that aside for a moment, one of the reasons the Bush administration was able to do what it has done, is because of the captivity of the Democrat party to leftist ideologs whose objections were so obviously dripping with rancor at Bush personally and filled with a philosophy that offered no viable alternative. They have an equally wrong idea of the nature of Islam. It was Bill Clinton who began the tilt toward Islam with his actions in Kosovo and having a Ramadan activity in the White House.

    Maybe Glen can answer, is there a natual politician of any stature who not only understands the threat of Islam but has the courage to speak about it?

    Dick Morris said a very troubling thing on TV last night. He was perdicting in the near future that there would be “media primaries” instead of the real thing. The candidates would throw their names into the ring in each primary state and the media would “project” who was the winner, etc. and that would be it. All of the money and party support would then flow to whoever it was that was the projected “winner”

    “If it be now, it is not to come, if it is not to come, it will be now, if it be not now, yet it will come, the readiness is all” Watch and pray.

  14. Maybe Glen can answer, is there a natual politician of any stature who not only understands the threat of Islam but has the courage to speak about it?

    Michael –

    Good question. Right now, I’m thinking Rep. Tom Tancredo and that is about it. He has an exploratory committee and will probably run. Beyond him? I don’t see much to be hopeful about.

    ‘Mainstream’ Republicans are already denouncing him as a racist. Be prepared for a major attack on him from inside the Republican Party.

    He has an almost 100% rating from the ACU on most issues conservatives care about. (I don’t agree with his Iraq stance, but he has said things to make be believe he gets the Islam problem).

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