01/16/2007 12:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Pictures: The Head Way In Iraq


"I would be the first to say that we were disappointed that there was not greater dignity given to the accused under these circumstances," she said, referring to Mr. Hussein's execution and the two carried out Monday. "I think that passions run high after years of turmoil, under dictatorship, and that is apparently what happened. But it shouldn't have happened and I think that it did not reflect well on the Iraqi government that it came out that way."

--Condoleeza Rice

The procedural errors that led to yesterday's decapitation of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the former chief of Saddam Hussein's secret police, during his hanging, will do nothing to help calm the ethnic and religious tensions tearing Iraq apart.

On top of the taunting and mockery that took place during Saddam Hussein's execution, this new incident can only lead to more veneration of Hussein, as we see in this photo of a rally held earlier this week in Ramallah.

However, Americans (assisted by Washington and the MSM) would be deceived in thinking -- as newswire pictures "reductively" suggest -- that the connections between botched executions and Hussein's elevation to martyrdom are nearly so direct.

Looking past yesterday's lurid drama to the "pro forma" details of the NYT news story indicates it was the U.S. holding these two men; it was the U.S. that refused to release them, delaying the executions for two weeks until the details of this latest execution procedure met with U.S. approval; it was the U.S. that provided transport for its prisoners from Camp Cropper to the Iraqi government's former military intelligence agency; and it was the U.S. that collected and transported the bodies back to the victim's home villages (following the same procedure determined by the U.S., after Saddam's hanging).

In line with Ms. Rice's reaction, the implied conclusion to the latest screw up is that the Maliki government can't do anything right. Still, old dictators don't become new martyrs all by themselves. The Administration may be happy to point the finger at Maliki (in the hunt for the latest fall guy), but meanwhile, those heads keep rolling while Saddam's grows bigger than ever.

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(image: Muhammed Muheisen /AP. January 11, 2007.