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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Video of Saddam Hanging; Arrest Made

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq’s national security adviser told NBC News on Wednesday that three individuals have been arrested in connection with a video of Saddam Hussein’s execution that was leaked.

“I can officially now confirm the arrest of three individuals in the case of the execution of Saddam Hussein,” said Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

The arrests came after the announcement that officials were interrogating the person suspected of recording Saddam’s hanging via a mobile phone.

This arrest came after the Iraqi's said they would investigate the leaking of the cell phone video showing the hanging of Saddam Hussein as well as taunts to the former dictator by persons witnessing the execution.

As the shock of those scenes reached a new crescendo in Iraq, American officials said that they had worked until the last hours of Mr. Hussein’s life to persuade Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to delay the execution. The officials, who spoke on condition that they not be identified, said they appealed to Mr. Maliki not to execute Mr. Hussein at dawn on Saturday because of the onset of a major Islamic festival, and because of constitutional and legal questions that the Americans believed threw the legitimacy of the execution into doubt.

But when Mr. Maliki decided to go ahead with the hanging, the Americans said they made no further attempts to stop it, having concluded that they could advise the Iraqis against the execution, but not prevent it if the Iraqis persisted, out of respect for Iraqi sovereignty.

When asked if that decision had been made in the White House, the Americans refused to say, noting only that it came some time before the final exchanges on Friday night. Mr. Hussein was hanged at 6:10 a.m. on Saturday, about seven hours after what the officials said was their final attempt to postpone the hanging.

Despite the rhetoric and conspiracies theories about this being Bush's hanging, it was, in fact, the Iraqi's governments "right" to handle this in any manner they chose as a sovereign country.

Maliki's major concern, as it is being reported now, was security.

The American official said that Mr. Maliki had never fully explained his urgency in carrying out the death sentence, which was upheld last Tuesday in an appeals court ruling that set off a 30-day countdown for executions to be carried out after a final appeal has been turned down. But the prime minister gave one explanation that appeared to weigh heavily on his mind, the American said, and that was his fear that Mr. Hussein might be the subject of an insurgent attempt to free him if the procedural wrangling over the execution were protracted.

“His concern was security, and that there was a danger that if it continued, maybe there would be a mass kidnapping to bargain for Saddam Hussein’s release,” the official said. “He was concerned that he might somehow get free.”

If that was indeed Maliki's major concern, then it is understandable. The last thing Iraq needed at this very moment is even the remotest possibility that Saddam Hussein could go free.

Ban Ki Moon's, the new secretary general of the United Nations, reaction to Saddam Hussein's execution.