January 3, 2007
Emily Lenzner, NPR



Washington, DC; January 3, 2007 – Iraqi National Security Advisor Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, in an interview on NPR News All Things Considered today, denies reports accusing him or any other Iraqi official of filming the execution of Saddam Hussein with a cell phone camera. In the interview with host Melissa Block, al-Rubaie also confirms the arrest of three suspects, whom he suggests were operating on behalf of Arab media companies.

When asked how damaging the video tape is, Dr. al-Rubaie admits, “We do realize that we made some mistakes. We learned the lesson,” and that the scene was “damaging” and “quite detrimental.”

Transcribed excerpts of the interview with Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, which is airing today on All Things Considered are below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Audio of the interview is available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6718683


-- When asked if he filmed the execution, Dr. al-Rubaie said, "No, I did not film the execution."

-- When asked how the cell phones could have been allowed into the chamber, Dr. al-Rubaie said, "The 14 high Iraqi officials with their - they were vetted and they were searched and checked three times by the American coalition forces before they went into the chamber. I don't think any of this Iraqi official have carried any cell phones. But when we arrived there, there were five executioners and other guards of the local - of that local - of the place, guards surrounding and guards inside the chamber to protect the chamber or to - and they were - I saw a few of them was carrying cell phones."

-- When asked if he believes that the people filming the scene were guards or executioners, Dr. al-Rubaie said, "That is right. There is no other way because these people, I don't know - were they searched, who searched them because when we arrived to the scene, we found them there, and some of them joined later. We have - absolutely had no control of them. They were all searched. They should have been all searched by the coalition forces."

-- When asked why he as the National Security Advisor didn't confiscate the cell phones or delay the execution, al-Rubaie said, "Well, we're talking about a few seconds here. We are talking about the man has the rope around his neck and the people have taken these in a few seconds. And we're not talking about minutes here or hours, just to make them order and stop them and confiscate these. We are talking literally seconds here because the whole process - him saying his slogans and they have replied to him - and the executioner has pulled the rope probably should - less than a minute or so has lasted. So we are not talking about a long time to think and make a decision and execute that decision."

-- On whether the scene recorded by the cell phones was damaging, Dr. al-Rubaie said: "Well, I agree it is damaging, and I agree it is quite detrimental to our - we wanted to make this a unifying event between the Sunnis and Shi'as. It has played against us. I agree. I certainly agree with that; there is no doubt about it. The media, the Arab media has capitalized on this, and continues to make the division, to make it a divisive event rather than a unifying one for the Iraqi people.

-- On whether the Sunnis will now be less inclined to reach out to the Shi-ites, Dr. al-Rubaie said, "What it means, it means that the government needs to do a lot of unpopular decisions, needs to reach out aggressively to the Sunni community, needs to do a lot on the national reconciliation and dialogue program. We need to revisit the de-Ba'athification, and review it to the advantage of the Sunni community. We need to do a national amnesty for people who have committed, if you like, minor crimes in the old regime. We need to do a lot of work with our Sunni community to include them and to bring them into the political process. And we need our Arab brothers to help us in this, not the one that they are capitalizing on what happened in the chamber."