SADDAM AND THE CELLPHONES
By Michael Roston
December 31, 2006
By now, millions of people have viewed the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Not just Al Iraqiya's pornographic tease of America's old pit bull just prior to his necktie party. No, I mean millions have watched Saddam actually hang. Take a look at the video up at this website Live Leak, a YouTube clone (Hat tip to No Quarter; you probably don't really want to follow this link). How many views? When I clicked it was 134,205 times it had been watched. Meanwhile, the people at Boing Boing found 4 more of these clips at Google Video, guaranteeing that millions more casual internet users will watch Iraq's dead president swing. And I'm sure it will be no time at all before these videos are pressed to a million VCD's sitting on the floor of marketplaces across the Middle East to be viewed as short films prior to one's at home screening of a pirated copy of Dreamgirls.
Clearly, the location of Saddam Hussein's execution was one of the most secure settings for an execution ever constructed. So, why are we finding on the move about this planet a bunch of viral, unrestricted and uncensored videos of what is probably the most controversial execution ever carried out?
Newsweek provided an interesting interview with Ali Al Massedy, the "official videographer" tasked with producing the official record of the execution. He usually does this job for Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Presumably, they brought him in to shoot the film so that there would only be one version of the execution, and the government would then be able to tightly control its distribution. Ali says as much: "Ali said the videotape lasts about 15 minutes. When NEWSWEEK asked to see a copy, Ali said he had already handed the tape over to Maliki's chief of staff. 'It is top secret,' he said. He would not give the names of officials in attendance, though he estimates there were around 20 observers. . . . He also said that government officials had not decided whether or not to release the videotape."
Well, I guess they decided. It was so top secret that they let multiple men out of that limited group of 20 bring in cellphones with video functions, and then allowed them to record the execution. I bet you couldn't smuggle a gun into that execution chamber. But apparently you could smuggle a cell phone with a video camera into those gallows, and stand out in plain sight 15 feet from the platform and shoot that video of this "top secret event" to your heart's desire.
And just as our fair president raced to wake up Saturday morning and issue a statement about what had been done in Iraq, several of those 20 attendees raced home or to their offices to upload videos of a hanged Saddam Hussein so everyone in the world could see this secretive execution carried out.
What a sham it has been. Pretending at the time of Saddam's capture that now was the time for a trial, and pretending at the time of his sentence that now was the time to order his execution, and pretending at the time of his execution that now was the moment he had to hang, and then pretending that it was a secret act carried out with discretion to avoid antagonizing any of Iraq's population.
Here we are seeing 21st-century psychological operations. It's hard to know who is directing this internet traffic, but it can be concluded there were elements within America's government and/or military, working in concert with Iraq's current scarecrow power-holders, who wanted as many people as possible in the world to see Saddam hang. And from that rope hanged not just that bearded old man, but whatever was left of our culture that hasn't been degraded by the 7 years of 'leadership" we've been dragging around with us.