WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush said yesterday the unruly execution of Saddam Hussein “looked like it was kind of a revenge killing,” making it harder to persuade a skeptical U.S. public that Iraq’s government will keep promises central to Bush’s newly-released plan for a troop increase in the region.

In his toughest assessment yet, Bush criticized the circumstances of Saddam’s hanging last month, as well as Monday’s execution of two top aides, including Saddam Hussein’s half brother.

“I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the – particularly the Saddam Hussein execution,” the president said in an interview with PBS’ Jim Lehrer.

A cell phone video of Saddam’s Dec. 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 ended up decapitating the relative. Both hangings provoked outrage around the world, but also particularly among Saddam’s fellow Sunnis in Iraq.

Bush said he had expressed his displeasure about the way Saddam’s execution was handled to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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