Will N.Y. Times Writers Say Saddam's A 'Victim' When Executed?

In his "Best of the Web Today" column on Opinion Journal, James Taranto noticed the New York Times recently reported a story on the eagerness in Iraq to see Saddam Hussein executed, but reporter Kirk Semple's piece transmitted that all-too-familiar tendency to identify with the convicts, and not the ones they caused to suffer:

From a New York Times story on Iraqi execution methods, set to be used on convicted murderer Saddam Hussein:

The victims are led up a set of steel stairs to a platform, about 15 feet above the ground, and nooses fashioned from one-and-a-quarter-inch-thick hemp ropes are slipped over their necks. The executioners are different each time, drawn from among employees of the Justice Ministry who volunteer for the job. Many have lost relatives or friends in insurgent attacks, officials said.

With a tug of two large levers, the steel trapdoors drop open and the victims fall through. The doors make a loud clanging sound as they slam against the apparatus, according to people who have witnessed hangings. The jarring noise echoes off the cold, unadorned concrete walls.

Death is supposed to come instantly--a doctor is on hand to certify it--and the bodies are removed to a cooler where they are held before being handed over to the victims' families. The entire process is recorded by a photographer and a video cameraman and the images are stored in a government archive.

You may be wondering why Iraq is planning to hang Saddam's victims. Aren't they already dead? Well, yes, they are. The Times is using the word victim in a rather unconventional way--to mean "criminal."

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