Saddam's Former Deputy Hanged In Iraq

Taha Yassin Ramadan, the former vice president under Saddam Hussein, was hanged just before dawn Tuesday, according to a source close to Iraq's High Tribunal.

An official who witnessed the execution told The Associated Press measures were taken in order to prevent a repeat of what happened to Hussein's half-brother, Barzan Hassan, who was decapitated on the gallows. Ramadan was weighed before the execution and the appropriate size rope was chosen, the official said.

Last month, Ramadan was sentenced to death by the Iraqi court for his role in the 1982 killing of 148 men and boys in Dujail. An appeals court upheld the sentence last week.

Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison in November on charges that included willful killing in the 1982 crackdown, but the next month, the tribunal's nine-member appeals chamber decided the original sentence was too lenient and ordered the court to resentence him.

The court's decision drew opposition from coalition officials and nongovernmental groups in Iraq, and some members of Iraq's legal advisory community suggested judges came under pressure from politicians.

Hussein, Hassan and another official from his regime -- Awad Bandar -- also were hanged for their roles in the Dujail crackdown.

Hassan and Bandar were executed side-by-side on January 15, and Hussein was hanged on December 30.

Bush: 'Good progress' in Iraq

Four years after President Bush ordered U.S.-led forces to attack Iraq, the president warned Monday that a "contagion of violence" could "engulf the region" if U.S. troops pull out too soon.

"There's been good progress," Bush said during brief remarks at the White House. "There's a lot more work to be done, and Iraq's leaders must continue to work to reach the benchmarks they have set forward."

U.S. and Iraqi forces have set up joint security stations throughout Baghdad, carried out "aggressive operations" against Sunni and Shiite extremists and uncovered large weapons caches, Bush said.

At dawn in Iraq on March 20, 2003, the United States and its coalition partners unleashed missiles and bombs on Iraqi targets, including a failed "decapitation attack" aimed at Hussein.

Four years later, Bush pointed out that the world is rid of Hussein, and Iraqi voters have a democratically elected government.

Bush acknowledged, "It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home" and create consequences for American security that would be "devastating."

"If American forces were to step back from Baghdad, before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country," Bush said. "In time this violence could engulf the region."

The White House drew a sharp line in the sand late Monday, telling Congress that Bush will veto a war funding bill requiring the removal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by September 2008, which is expected to come up for a vote in the House this week.

A policy statement issued by the White House said restrictions included in the $124 billion appropriations bill funding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan "would place freedom and democracy in Iraq at grave risk, embolden our enemies and undercut the administration's plan to develop the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi economy."

"This legislation would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders," the policy statement said. "This bill assumes and forces the failure of the new strategy even before American commanders in the field are fully able to implement their plans. Regardless of the success our troops are achieving in the field, this bill would require their withdrawal."

The statement also said Bush would veto the war spending bill if members of Congress loaded it up with "excessive and extraneous" domestic spending projects.

Car bomb kills at least 5

A car bomb exploded near a police station in central Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least five people and wounding 17 others, police said.

The attack took place around 11:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET)

Violence in Iraq on Monday included six explosions in oil-rich Kirkuk that killed at least 10 people and wounded 37, police said, and a bomb blast at a Baghdad mosque that left six dead.

The Kirkuk blasts included four car bombs and two roadside bombs, police said.

About 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the south of Kirkuk in Baghdad, a bomb exploded at a Shiite mosque, killing six people and wounding 32 others, a city police official said.

Attackers hid the bomb near an entrance to the mosque, the official said. The blast hollowed out a crater in the floor of the mosque, smashed windows, and damaged a wall, according to AP.

Other developments

  • When American troops crossed into Iraq in 2003, nearly three out of every four Americans backed President Bush's decision to use military force to topple Hussein's regime. Four years and more than 3,200 U.S. deaths later, less than one-third of Americans support the war, according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.
  • A survey released Monday for ABC News, USA Today, the BBC and ARD German TV suggests that Iraqis have moved from optimism to fear, anger and distress in the four years since the war began, according to The Associated Press. Thirty-nine percent of Iraqi respondents to the poll said their lives are going well, compared to 71 percent in November 2005, AP reported.
  • Story courtesy of CNN Newsource.