January 15, 2007

"The head of Mr. Tikriti was severed from his body by the noose as it snapped tight around his neck."

New, more gruesome hangings. The Iraqi government assures us this complication is "rare." Here's some information on the efforts that have been made over the years to perfect hanging, chiefly by calculating the length of the drop so that the neck is quickly broken but the head doesn't come off. Done right, it's considered comparatively humane. Done wrong, it's obviously not.

UPDATE: And there is video, described here.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think if the drop had been too short and he had had to hang there for a while before he died you might have an argument that it was inhumane. However as he did die instantly I don't think it really matters if his head pops off.

Once a person has died then their body is just fertilizer, an empty husk. The body isn't the definition of humanity, it's merely a vehicle we use to get around.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I was a bit glib. Though I know it doesn't matter, I have personally requested to be cremated. That just seems the cleanest option to me. I would prefer, for example, that my body not be rented out for necrophiliac sex parties based on the argument that it is just a husk and nothing does to it really matters.

I think that intentions do come into play here. Doing awful things to a dead body says something awful about you and is harmful to your mind and soul, I'm sure. But in this case it is just an artifact of the reality that death is always ugly and all executions are by definition nauseating rather than a purposeful desecration.

bearing said...

What Gerald said, especially the part about the necrophiliac sex parties.

Anonymous said...

Per the BBC:

"Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half-brother, was the former head of Iraq's notorious secret police.
Known as the Mukhabarat, the intelligence organisation was believed to have tortured and murdered thousands of opponents of the regime."

Sounds like his execution was too "humane" by half.

David said...

So Mr. Tikriti was beheaded by other means. Poetic justice in the Middle East where you live by the sword, you die by the sword/rope/AK47/IED/VMIED, etc.

Capital punishment has the unique ability to prevent the perpetrator of certain crimes against civilization/humanity from doing them again.

Bob said...

Well, decapitation done quickly, as in a botched hanging, probably doesn't qualify as inhumane, gruesome as it obviously is.

Done slowly, with a butcher knife, the way jihadis do it? Yah, inhumane in the extreme.

It's probable that after the hue and cry over Saddam's hanging, the Iraqis wanted to guarantee a better execution, and miscalculated the drop. If they had miscalculated it the other way and Tikriti slowly strangled, the hue and cry would obviously be even louder. They erred on the side of a quick death, I think.

Smilin' Jack said...

I don't see what's so inhumane about this. The French introduced the guillotine as a more humane alternative to hanging. This seems like the best of both worlds.

Tim said...

It is unfortunate, but an unintentional mistake (assuming that is the case) in implementing the execution that had no affect upon its effect (i.e., the neck snapped to kill al Tikriti before his head tore off) doesn't make the execution inhumane, per se.

Had it been done purposefully, or with foreknowledge that doing so that way was more painful than if done cleanly, then yes, there would be an issue. Otherwise, I just don't see it, as surely he received much greater due process and consideration than any of his victims did.

The Drill SGT said...

while it provides a horrific concept, it is not inhumane.

The fact that the rope and drop were too long or his neck too weak resulted in a more rapid and less painful demise than the inverse.

Hey said...

Beheading by way of hanging is a horrifying spectacle, but is much more humane for the person being hanged than a drop that is too short. It is too gruesome for the consumption of the general public, and is one of the reasons why public hanging was stopped, but it does no additional violence to the subject.

tom faranda said...

I agree with the first post - hanging is no more or less humane then death through decapitation. They are both relatively quick - a few seconds. Granted decapitation is messy - but that doesn't really matter to the person being executed, does it?

Goesh said...

- better than a plastic shredder I suppose.

Sloanasaurus said...

Why are we complaining about their execution methods. Aren't we supposed to be sensitive to their culture?

Pogo said...

While the hanging has been described as inhumane by some, the thousands he murdered were unavailable for comment.

WhatsAPundit said...

As others have pointed out, compared to the crimes for which he was being executed, one has to wonder if the gruesomeness was a bug or a feature.

vbspurs said...

I often fantasise about what would bloggers say, if the internet and blogs had existed during and after WWII:

Atrios

September 1, 1939 - Phony War by Phony Politicians. Assholes.

Instapundit

D-Day Invasion! Powerline with a novel take on why the markets might rally. Read the whole thing.

Daily Kos

Americans butcher thousands with Hiroshima super bomb. Senator Taft reacts like a bitch. Chat away.

Ann Althouse

"General Keitel screamed loudly, Heil Hitler!, as the noose was slung around his neck, pushed into the yawning cavity of doom".

So wrote the American Nazi AP ombudsman present at the scene, in todays Time Select article.

But I'm still here somehow, still checking in daily from my remote outpost in Marginalia.


Cheers,
Victoria

Anonymous said...

One also has to wonder at why they are in such a hurry to execute the accused now, so that the trial on the Kurdish gassing never actually comes about (or it does it will involve low level characters that no one will care about.) Maybe someone in Washington was a bit nervous about what would come out in the Kurdish trail, and our involvement in helping the regime develop the weapons used before then, and the Reagan administration's assent at the time.

The Drill SGT said...

If you want to talk about inhumane, I understand the those killers and their Boss used to feed people into tree pulpers or rape and kill families in front of the father. (before killing him as well of course)

Revenant said...

Yeah, "inhumane" isn't a synonym for "icky". There was nothing inhumane about this accidental decapitation -- indeed, he probably died a little faster this way.

Hunter McDaniel said...

Maybe this is a nit, but why does the news report refer to the executed man as Mr. Tikriti? Isn't that like referring to St. Joan (another famous recipient of capital punishment) as "Ms. Arc"?

Anonymous said...

We condemned Saddam for his torture rooms, and lynching enemies in a sham of a judicial system.

Now, the torture rooms are run by his former enemies, who are now lynching Saddam and his supporters in a sham of a judicial system.

The only problem is his former enemies aren't any better, and they control the majority bloc in Parliament. So this mean al Sadr essentially controls the Unity Government, which to them means slaughtering Sunnis.

Now what?

Revenant said...

Now, the torture rooms are run by his former enemies, who are now lynching Saddam and his supporters in a sham of a judicial system.

How is it a "sham"? It appears to be successfully convicting and sentencing the guilty. I'm not sure how well it treats the innocent, but so far none have been tried.

Anonymous said...

What counts is if this unintended decapitation causes more angtagonism, aggression and slaughter between Shias and Sunnis.

It almost certainly will.

What it figures is yet another example of the ruling cliche in Iraq's complete inability to do one thing right.

They so needed a 'good hanging' and they got themselves a bad one.

Give Dubya one brick and Maliki another - watch them bang the two together and betcha they don't make a noise.

Gahrie said...

One also has to wonder at why they are in such a hurry to execute the accused now, so that the trial on the Kurdish gassing never actually comes about

Not if one knows that Iraqi law mandates that a death sentence be carried out within 30 days.

Revenant said...

What counts is if this unintended decapitation causes more angtagonism, aggression and slaughter between Shias and Sunnis. It almost certainly will.

The execution of Saddam didn't, so it is a mystery to me why the death of this wanna-be Saddam knockoff supposedly would. Few Sunnis feel any real sorrow for the deaths of these men, and the few who do probably ought to be killed anyway.

Cedarford said...

Hibbs - death is always ugly and all executions are by definition nauseating rather than a purposeful desecration.

Exactly by whose definition are executions nauseating? They are no more nauseating than a lawful killing in wartime where you cut down a soldier or a tankful of soldiers with lethal fire.

Soldiers and executioners and witnesses rarely report being "nauseated" by killing. Heart pounding, adreneline release - yes - but nauseating only when people spend a lot of time reflecting on it or the aftermath is particularly gruesome.

eli blake - One also has to wonder at why they are in such a hurry to execute the accused now, so that the trial on the Kurdish gassing never actually comes about.

One of the more admirable aspects of Islamic justice, assuming they get the innocence-guilt thing down right, is they honestly believe that justice delayed is justice denied. As did the West once, before law became subverted by endless due process and appeals.

The Kurds still get their trial with Chemical Ali & Co, and history will render it's verdict on Saddam and others legitimately whacked beforehand. The idea that the more and worst your crimes, the longer you get to escape justice so endless trials can play out and "psychological closure" though dozens of trials can be given to "all victims desrving a trial" is ludicrous.

We don't even pull that crap with serial killers in America. They just get nailed with the worst sentence possible from a case of 1-2 victims of many and get to live on in nice conditions for another 10-25 years while Talmudic arguments and lawyers on bankers hours take their sweet time.

We and the Iraqis would have been better off if Saddam had been shot on sight, no trial. That was just what we tried to do with him early on in the war. Hopefully we will be smart and not give bin Laden 100 ALCU lawyers, 5 years of speeches in court...and just whack him if we find him so the Western style legal system doesn't again aid and comfort the enemy.

lexlaw007 said...

To get your history straight, Field Marshal Keitel did not scream "Heil Hitler". That was Julius Streicher.......