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Execution timing – a religious debate

Here's where we stand on the timing of Saddam Hussein's execution…It is no longer a legal debate, now it's a religious debate.

On Thursday, the main conflict over Saddam's execution centered on one question: Does the president need to authorize it?

This question has bogged down Iraqi politicians all week. On Friday an Iraqi judge who will oversee the execution said the question has been resolved. He told me the president has written a letter saying that his signature is not required on the death warrant.

But today there's a new dispute -- religion.

The Muslim Eid (feast of the sacrifice) begins on Saturday for Sunnis. But it starts on Sunday for Shiites. It is customary in Iraq not to carry out executions over religious holiday.

If the Shiite-led government carries out the execution tomorrow, they would not be executing Saddam during "their Eid," holiday but during the "Sunni Eid." It would be insensitive, and could be provocative.

Options under consideration:

- Execute Saddam tonight before Eid

- Execute him tomorrow – which could be seen as the Shiite government effectively saying to the Sunnis, "we don't care."

- Or wait until after the Eid holiday.

Waiting would also give more time to fully "settle" the legal disputes.

Tonight the debate remains unresolved.

The pieces are all in place.

The order could come at any time.

The judge who will attend the execution is on standby, waiting by the phone.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is meeting NOW to decide on the timing......

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