On the October 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware whether the verdict in the Saddam Hussein trial, scheduled to be issued on November 5, two days before the U.S. midterm elections, was "timed to coincide to help Republicans in the elections back here in the states." Ware responded that "officials here on the ground dispute that notion" and say that was a "preordained date chosen by the court itself." But Ware added that "[t]hat may or may not be so. It's very, very hard to tell" and that "the timing certainly is coincidental."
However, as Media Matters for America noted, on the October 30 edition of CNN's American Morning, co-host Miles O'Brien dismissed people who have raised the issue "that somehow the White House is going to try to engineer it so that the verdict on the Saddam Hussein trial will occur on the eve of the election, or the Sunday before, and perhaps tilt the election one way or another." O'Brien characterized those raising such concerns as "the 'grassy knoll' set," a reference to conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
On October 3, the Associated Press reported that the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT), the judicial body carrying out the trial of Saddam Hussein, had "postponed the verdict in the former leader's first trial" beyond October 16 -- the date it was originally expected. Media Matters has documented multiple instances of the Bush administration reportedly manipulating the timing of announcements or actions in the Iraq war and the fight against terrorism for their own political benefit.
From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the October 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Michael, as you know, the elections here in the United States next Tuesday -- on Sunday, there's supposed to be a verdict in the first Saddam Hussein trial, and some are suggesting that verdict -- the announcement of a verdict, presumably the death penalty -- is timed to coincide to help Republicans in the elections back here in the States. What are you hearing over there?
WARE: Well, again, officials here on the ground dispute that notion. They say that this was a preordained date chosen by the court itself, that this was independent of any political consideration. That may or may not be so. It's very, very hard to tell. Nonetheless, the timing certainly is coincidental.