Washington Post Offers Sympathetic Front Page to Saddam's 'Heroes'

What's this, the Saddam News Service? The Washington Post published a story on the front page today thoroughly soaked in the perspective of Saddam Hussein's relatives and supporters that their "heroes" were insulted by hangings yesterday. The headline was "Iraqi Hangings Bring More Denunciations: Head of Hussein's Half-Brother Is Severed." Reporters Joshua Partlow and Muhanned Saif Aldin began with the "mourners" denouncing the botching hanging as a "calculated insult" by the Maliki government, as the front page carried this quote:"We knew that he would be executed and would join a parade of heroes, but Maliki, why did you behead him?" asked Salam al-Tikriti, 41, a relative of Ibrahim [and probably a relative of Saddam]. "Why did you insult his body? Are you still afraid of him even after he is dead? We will cut your heads the same way that you are cutting the heads of the heroes of Iraq." Nowhere on the front page was any explanation of the crimes of the executed men.Inside, on page A-15, the article was headlined "Iraqi Hangings Draw More Denunciations." They left out the words "From Saddam Lovers."  (Anyone remember a story headlined "Insurgent Attacks On Innocents Draw More Denunciations"?) After other outraged Sunni spokesmen were quoted about how the whole process was "illegal," as if Saddam was still ranting in the courtroom, the Post dispatch turned to international denunciations of the hanging:

The hangings drew criticism from abroad as well. The Moroccan Human Rights Association said they were a "criminal political assassination masterminded by American imperialism."A U.N. spokesman expressed regret that Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's request to spare the two men's lives was not granted. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, said after the hangings that he would back an Italian initiative for a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment under U.N. auspices.

As if the United Nations had done anything impressive about human rights in Iraq over the last 30 years on which to hang its reputation for social justice. This was followed by annoying diplomat-ese:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting Egypt, said she believed the hangings of Hussein and the two others were mishandled and should have been carried out with "greater dignity."

As if Saddam Hussein's family and supporters treated their Iraqi subjects with all the constitutional niceties and human dignity they could muster during their reign of terror and mass murder. This may have been what Rice needed to say for the government, but it means no one in the Post story expressed the view that the men were guilty, and their executions, even if bungled, were just. Instead, people read they were "heroes."Finally, in paragraph 11, readers received a very arid recitation of the crimes of the executed:

Ibrahim, who ran Hussein's intelligence service, or Mukhabarat, and Awad Haman Bander, leader of Hussein's Revolutionary Court, were put to death at 3 a.m. Monday, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said. They had been sentenced to death for their role in the killings of 148 men and boys from the Shiite village of Dujail following an assassination attempt against Hussein in 1982.

There was no room anywhere in the Post for the reporters to detail the testimony in the trial over Dujail about what they had done, although they want on for paragraphs about how the Iraqi government bungled the execution. The Post treated the executed men as victims of injustice and humiliation...and don't forget, the Post went out of its way to include the characterization that it was a "criminal political assassination masterminded by American imperialism."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis