Yesterday, the Iraqi government hanged two of Saddam Hussein's top henchmen, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the former head of Husseinâs secret police, and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, the former chief judge of his revolutionary court.
But this time, there was to be no chanting, no yelling, no loyalists of Moktada al-Sadr. Half as many people were allowed into the chamber. And those that were allowed in were forced to sign documents "saying they would behave with dignity and restraint." This time, it would be different.
Alas. From The New York Times
After executioners in full-face balaclavas pulled black hoods over the two menâs heads, tightened nooses around their necks and pulled the lever opening the trapdoors, both fell like weights. But the hangmenâs calculations of weight, gravity and the momentum needed to snap their necks â a grim science that has produced detailed âdrop chartsâ used for decades in hangings around the world â appeared, in Mr. Ibrahimâs case, to have gone seriously awry....
Iraqi officials who attended the hanging said the calculation in the case of Mr. Ibrahim, a 55-year-old of medium height and build, had allowed for a âdropâ of eight feet â too much, according to at least one United States Army manual â and about that amount of thick yellow rope could be seen coiled at Mr. Ibrahimâs feet before the hanging.
The video showed his head being snapped off as the rope went taut, and ending up, still inside the hood, lying in the pit of the gallows about five feet from his headless body.
But... at least this time there was, as an aide to Prime Minister Maliki claimed, "No ethnics, no chanting, everything a very smooth transaction, everyone very well behaved?â
Maybe. As John Burns of the Times
notes, reporters were only allowed to see the three-minute video of the hanging once -- and it was soundless.