Washington: US President George W Bush has said the unruly execution of Saddam Hussein "looked like it was kind of a revenge killing" and will make it harder for him to convince a skeptical US public that Iraq's government will keep promises central to Bush's plan for an American troop increase.
In his toughest assessment yet, Bush criticised the circumstances of the former Iraqi president's hanging last month, as well as Monday's execution of two top aides, including Saddam's half-brother.
"I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the -- particularly the Saddam Hussein execution," the President said on Tuesday in an interview with public television's Jim Lehrer.
A cellphone video of Saddam's December 30 hanging showed the deposed Iraqi leader being taunted as he stood on the gallows with a noose around his neck. An official video of the execution of Saddam's half-brother showed that the hangman's noose decapitated him. Both hangings provoked outrage around the world, but particularly among Saddam's fellow Sunni Muslims in Iraq.
Bush said he had expressed his displeasure about the way Saddam's execution was handled to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The President announced what he called a new strategy for the war last week, and much of it hinges on his trust in al-Maliki's government to make radical changes.
"It basically says to people, 'Look, you conducted a trial and gave Saddam justice that he didn't give to others'. But then, when it came to execute him, it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing," the President said.