Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What, exactly, were they thinking?

John F. Burns over at The Washington Post reports that the Iraqi executioners of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti used a drop length of eight feet of rope... What, he weighed only 120 pounds? Had they kept him on a starvation diet? Doubtful, since he's been in American physical custody; we've likely been feeding him ham & cheese sandwiches and bacon burgers with steak fries.
After executioners in full-face balaclavas pulled black hoods over the two men’s heads, tightened nooses around their necks and pulled the lever opening the trapdoors, both fell like weights. But the hangmen’s calculations of weight, gravity and the momentum needed to snap their necks — a grim science that has produced detailed “drop charts” used for decades in hangings around the world — appeared, in Mr. Ibrahim’s case, to have gone seriously awry.
No sh*t.
Iraqi officials who attended the hanging said the calculation in the case of Mr. Ibrahim , 55-year-old of medium height and build, had allowed for a “drop” of eight feet — too much, according to at least one United States Army manual — and about that amount of thick yellow rope could be seen coiled at Mr. Ibrahim’s feet before the hanging.

The video showed his head being snapped off as the rope went taut, and ending up, still inside the hood, lying in the pit of the gallows about five feet from his headless body.
Perhaps they were using the metric system for either his weight or the length of the rope?

Whatever the case, perhaps they ought to re-think the whole hanging thing.

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