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How Many People Has Saddam Hussein Killed?
Iraq Foundation (reprint from NY Times) ^ | 1-27-03 | John F. Burns

Posted on 03/21/2003 6:09:23 PM PST by doug from upland

How Many People Has Saddam Hussein Killed?

By JOHN F. BURNS

In the unlit blackness of an October night, it took a flashlight to pick them out: rust-colored butchers' hooks, 20 or more, each four or five feet long, aligned in rows along the ceiling of a large hangar-like building. In the grimmest fortress in Iraq's gulag, on the desert floor 20 miles west of Baghdad, this appeared to be the grimmest corner of all, the place of mass hangings that have been a documented part of life under Saddam Hussein.

At one end of the building at Abu Ghraib prison, a whipping wind gusted through open doors. At the far end, the flashlight picked out a windowed space that appeared to function as a control room. Baggy trousers of the kind worn by many Iraqi men were scattered at the edges of the concrete floor. Some were soiled, as if worn in the last, humiliating moments of a condemned man's life. The United States is facing a new turning point in its plans to go to war to topple Mr. Hussein, with additional American troops heading for the Persian Gulf, while France and Germany lead the international opposition. But the pressure President Bush has applied already has created chances to peer into the darkest recesses of Iraqi life.

In the past two months, United Nations weapons inspections, mandated by American insistence that Mr. Hussein's pursuit of banned weapons be halted, have ranged widely across the country. But before this became the international community's only goal, Mr. Bush was also attacking Mr. Hussein as a murdering tyrant. It was this accusation that led the Iraqi leader to virtually empty his prisons on Oct. 20, giving Western reporters, admitted that day to Abu Ghraib, a first-hand glimpse of the slaughterhouse the country has become.

In the end, if an American-led invasion ousts Mr. Hussein, and especially if an attack is launched without convincing proof that Iraq is still harboring forbidden arms, history may judge that the stronger case was the one that needed no inspectors to confirm: that Saddam Hussein, in his 23 years in power, plunged this country into a bloodbath of medieval proportions, and exported some of that terror to his neighbors.

Reporters who were swept along with tens of thousands of near-hysterical Iraqis through Abu Ghraib's high steel gates were there because Mr. Hussein, stung by Mr. Bush's condemnation, had declared an amnesty for tens of thousands of prisoners, including many who had served long sentences for political crimes. Afterward, it emerged that little of long-term significance had changed that day. Within a month, Iraqis began to speak of wide-scale re-arrests, and officials were whispering that Abu Ghraib, which had held at least 20,000 prisoners, was filling up again.

Like other dictators who wrote bloody chapters in 20th-century history, Mr. Hussein was primed for violence by early childhood. Born into the murderous clan culture of a village that lived off piracy on the Tigris River, he was harshly beaten by a brutal stepfather. In 1959, at age 22, he made his start in politics as one of the gunmen who botched an attempt to assassinate Iraq's first military ruler, Abdel Karim Kassem.

Since then, Mr. Hussein's has been a tale of terror that scholars have compared to that of Stalin, whom the Iraqi leader is said to revere, even if his own brutalities have played out on a small scale. Stalin killed 20 million of his own people, historians have concluded. Even on a proportional basis, his crimes far surpass Mr. Hussein's, but figures of a million dead Iraqis, in war and through terror, may not be far from the mark, in a country of 22 million people.

Where the comparison seems closest is in the regime's mercilessly sadistic character. Iraq has its gulag of prisons, dungeons and torture chambers — some of them acknowledged, like Abu Ghraib, and as many more disguised as hotels, sports centers and other innocent-sounding places. It has its overlapping secret-police agencies, and its culture of betrayal, with family members denouncing each other, and offices and factories becoming hives of perfidy.

"Enemies of the state" are eliminated, and their spouses, adult children and even cousins are often tortured and killed along with them.

Mr. Hussein even uses Stalinist maxims, including what an Iraqi defector identified as one of the dictator's favorites: "If there is a person, then there is a problem. If there is no person, then there is no problem."

There are rituals to make the end as terrible as possible, not only for the victims but for those who survive. After seizing power in July 1979, Mr. Hussein handed weapons to surviving members of the ruling elite, then joined them in personally executing 22 comrades who had dared to oppose his ascent.

The terror is self-compounding, with the state's power reinforced by stories that relatives of the victims pale to tell — of fingernail-extracting, eye-gouging, genital-shocking and bucket-drowning. Secret police rape prisoners' wives and daughters to force confessions and denunciations. There are assassinations, in Iraq and abroad, and, ultimately, the gallows, the firing squads and the pistol shots to the head.

DOING the arithmetic is an imprecise venture. The largest number of deaths attributable to Mr. Hussein's regime resulted from the war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988, which was launched by Mr. Hussein. Iraq says its own toll was 500,000, and Iran's reckoning ranges upward of 300,000. Then there are the casualties in the wake of Iraq's 1990 occupation of Kuwait. Iraq's official toll from American bombing in that war is 100,000 — surely a gross exaggeration — but nobody contests that thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed in the American campaign to oust Mr. Hussein's forces from Kuwait. In addition, 1,000 Kuwaitis died during the fighting and occupation in their country.

Casualties from Iraq's gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000. As long as Mr. Hussein remains in power, figures like these will be uncheckable, but the huge toll is palpable nonetheless.

Just as in Stalin's Russia, the machinery of death is mostly invisible, except for the effects it works on those brushed by it — in the loss of relatives and friends, and in the universal terror that others have of falling into the abyss. If anybody wants to know what terror looks like, its face is visible every day on every street of Iraq.

"Minders," the men who watch visiting reporters day and night, are supposedly drawn from among the regime's harder men. But even they break down, hands shaking, eyes brimming, voices desperate, when reporters ask ordinary Iraqis edgy questions about Mr. Hussein.

"You have killed me, and killed my family," one minder said after a photographer for The New York Times made unauthorized photographs of an exhibition of statues of the Iraqi dictator during a November visit to Baghdad's College of Fine Arts. In recent years, the inexorable nature of Iraq's horrors have been demonstrated by new campaigns bearing the special hallmark of Mr. Hussein. In 1999, a complaint about prison overcrowding led to an instruction from the Iraqi leader for a "prison cleansing" drive. This resulted, according to human rights groups, in hundreds, and possibly thousands, of executions.

Using a satanic arithmetic, prison governors worked out how many prisoners would have to be hanged to bring the numbers down to stipulated levels, even taking into account the time remaining in the inmates' sentences. As 20 and 30 prisoners at a time were executed at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, warders trailed through cities like Baghdad, "selling" exemption from execution to shocked families, according to people in Iraq who said they had spoken to relatives of those involved. Bribes of money, furniture, cars and even property titles brought only temporary stays.

MORE recently, according to Iraqis who fled to Jordan and other neighboring countries, scores of women have been executed under a new twist in a "return to faith" campaign proclaimed by Mr. Hussein. Aimed at bolstering his support across the Islamic world, the campaign led early on to a ban on drinking alcohol in public. Then, some time in the last two years, it widened to include the public killing of accused prostitutes.

Often, the executions have been carried out by the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group headed by Mr. Hussein's oldest son, 38-year-old Uday. These men, masked and clad in black, make the women kneel in busy city squares, along crowded sidewalks, or in neighborhood plots, then behead them with swords. The families of some victims have claimed they were innocent of any crime save that of criticizing Mr. Hussein.


TOPICS: Editorial
KEYWORDS: butcherofbaghdad; hussein; swine
Hey, peace protestor pukes. This is the guy you are supporting.
1 posted on 03/21/2003 6:09:23 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: doug from upland
Here's two more 'for the protestors' and a bump:

#1:

Taliban, Clinton, Saudi Involvement - All laid out in a book published in 2000 (from USMC.MIL site)

The Democrats' Case Against Saddam Hussein (Dems nailed, yet again)

Headline Rundown and links on Iraq - Things the democrats have conviently forgot...

Saddam Abused His Last Chance, Clinton -clear and present danger to safety of people everywhere 1998

Gore repeats that Saddam MUST GO - June 2000

What the democrats want you to forget

Iraq is a Regional Threat, capable of as much as 200 tons of VX nerve agent (1999 Clinton report)

Czech military reports say iraq has smallpox virus in weapons stockpile (and camelpox)

2/7/1998 : Arab media: Clinton will strike due to sex scandal (&links to tons of arab news on clinton)

Iraqi chemical weapons buildup reported (Sept 2001 Report)

Clinton, Gore rally domestic support for strike at Iraq, "unholy axis" (1998 Must read)

statement President Clinton from 1998 on the air strikes

Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Full Text, Sense of Congress - Remove Saddam

2 posted on 03/21/2003 6:12:44 PM PST by chance33_98 (www.hannahmore.com -- My new website, under construction)
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To: doug from upland
#2:


3 posted on 03/21/2003 6:13:09 PM PST by chance33_98 (www.hannahmore.com -- My new website, under construction)
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To: doug from upland
Great post BTW Doug! Thanks!
4 posted on 03/21/2003 6:13:26 PM PST by chance33_98 (www.hannahmore.com -- My new website, under construction)
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To: chance33_98
Man! These anti-war types always attract the hottest chicks!
5 posted on 03/21/2003 6:18:14 PM PST by CaptRon
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To: chance33_98
Thanks for the great links.
6 posted on 03/21/2003 6:25:55 PM PST by doug from upland (Saddam, bend over and kiss your terrorist posterior goodbye.)
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To: chance33_98
THank you so much for the links..they are coming in VERY handy!
7 posted on 03/21/2003 6:32:51 PM PST by Freedom2specul8 (Please pray for our troops.... http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/)
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To: doug from upland
Thanks!
8 posted on 03/21/2003 6:33:10 PM PST by Freedom2specul8 (Please pray for our troops.... http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/)
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To: doug from upland
Thanks, Doug. Strong stuff.
9 posted on 03/21/2003 6:40:33 PM PST by solzhenitsyn ("Live Not By Lies")
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To: ~Kim4VRWC's~
Here's one which is timely:

The sociology and psychology of terrorism: Who becomes a terrorist and why? (A must read)

Exceprt

Environments conducive to the rise of terrorism include international and national environments, as well as subnational ones such as universities, where many terrorists first become familiar with Marxist-Leninist ideology or other revolutionary ideas and get involved with radical groups. Russell and Miller identify universities as the major recruiting ground for terrorists...

The physiological approach to terrorism suggests that the role of the media in promoting the spread of terrorism cannot be ignored in any discussion of the causes of terrorism...

Moreover, in Guttman's analysis, the terrorist requires a liberal rather than a right-wing audience for success. Liberals make the terrorist respectable by accepting the ideology that the terrorist alleges informs his or her acts. The terrorist also requires liberal control of the media for the transmission of his or her ideology...

10 posted on 03/21/2003 6:47:04 PM PST by chance33_98 (www.hannahmore.com -- My new website, under construction)
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To: chance33_98
Presidential Determination No. 2003-05

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

Subject: Presidential Determination of Designations Under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998

Pursuant to the authority vested in me as President of the United States, including under section 5 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) (the "Act"), I hereby determine that each of the following groups is a democratic opposition organization and that each satisfies the criteria set forth in section 5(c) of the Act: the Assyrian Democratic Movement; the Iraqi Free Officers and Civilians Movement; the Iraqi National Front; the Iraqi National Movement; the Iraqi Turkmen Front; and the Islamic Accord of Iraq. I hereby designate each of these organizations as eligible to receive assistance under section 4 of the Act.

You are authorized and directed to report this determination and designation to the Congress and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register.

GEORGE W. BUSH
11 posted on 03/21/2003 6:50:33 PM PST by Freedom2specul8 (Please pray for our troops.... http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/)
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To: All
If I did the math correctly, every day Hussein is allowed to remain alive and in power, 117 Iraqis die.
12 posted on 03/21/2003 6:54:08 PM PST by doug from upland (Saddam, bend over and kiss your terrorist posterior goodbye.)
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To: doug from upland
Gruesome as it is, that sounds too benign for the megalomaniac genocidical terrorist military dictator. Probably the estimates of the extent of Saddam's killings are low. And remember this--they don't include those who live to tell about the atrocities to which they are subjected.
13 posted on 03/21/2003 6:59:12 PM PST by dufekin (Peace soon coming to the tortured people of Iraq and Justice to their terrorist military dictator.)
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To: doug from upland
BUMP

These men, masked and clad in black, make the women kneel in busy city squares, along crowded sidewalks, or in neighborhood plots, then behead them with swords.

14 posted on 03/21/2003 7:00:35 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
Wait, do you mean that Bush is not worse than Hussein or Hitler?
15 posted on 03/21/2003 7:04:35 PM PST by doug from upland (Protestors file Chapter 13 -- they are morally bankrupt)
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To: doug from upland
I've been monitoring Peter Jennings tonight, and he talked about the "violence in Bagdad today."
16 posted on 03/21/2003 7:09:36 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: doug from upland
I just e-mailed this article to a liberal professor my sister-in-law has to put up with. He spends most of the class time talking against Bush and the war.
17 posted on 03/21/2003 7:12:42 PM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: doug from upland
...every day Hussein is allowed to remain alive and in power, 117 Iraqis die

I was wondering about that.

Thanks for saving me the arithmetic.

18 posted on 03/21/2003 7:27:04 PM PST by DuncanWaring (...and Freedom tastes of Reality.)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
Excellent, but he probably won't read it.
19 posted on 03/21/2003 7:35:42 PM PST by doug from upland (Protestors file Chapter 13 -- they are morally bankrupt)
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To: doug from upland
... the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000...estimates like this are what make the claims of peacnik types that "innocent men, women, and children will be killed in this war" so laughable - innocent men, women, and children have been killed daily in Iraq for years, and will continue to be so as long as Saddam is in power - what kind of calculus says that losing a relatively few in war now is not a chance worth taking against the probability of saving tens of thousands in the future.....
20 posted on 03/21/2003 9:06:00 PM PST by Intolerant in NJ
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To: Intolerant in NJ
Bumping for those who missed it. Although the monster has chemical and biological weapons and is working on and close to a nuke, the UN doesn't think it is necessary to remove him. His game playing has made a fool of Hans Blix, although that might be a mischaracterization since Blix has always been a fool. While he is in power, he is a threat. While he is in power, people are tortured and murdered.

The UN has proved worthless in this world drama. Our president has been called a Nazi and fascist. He has been called evil. It is a parallel universe in which we live with the political left. They will forever be hopeless fools.

21 posted on 03/22/2003 9:57:39 AM PST by doug from upland (Protestors file Chapter 13 -- they are morally bankrupt)
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To: All
Bumping. Has anyone heard a protestor talk about those who die every day because of Hussein? Any signs calling him a war criminal? No? I didn't think so.
22 posted on 03/29/2003 7:21:45 AM PST by doug from upland (Protestors file Chapter 7 -- they are morally bankrupt)
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