Tuesday, December 6, 2005 at 11:27 AM

Saddam takes over Iraq’s kangaroo court

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Instead of planting stories to make them look good, American military overseers in Iraq should stop showing stories that make them look bad. Specifically, if they are the puppet masters of everything Iraqi officials do, why, pray tell, would they allow this mother of all trials starring Saddam Hussein to be shown, not only on Iraq TV but also around the world?

Yesterday, Saddam Hussein demonstrated why former U.S. Attorney General Ramsay Clarke – who volunteered to represent him – is merely his legal stooge. Because Saddam wasted little time proving to everyone watching that he has courtroom skills that would make even the late Johnny Cochran proud…

Everyone in Iraq knows that Saddam is headed for the gallows. In fact, even Saddam – who blurted out defiantly in court yesterday “I am not afraid of execution” – seems to know his fate. And, despite the farcical nature of the proceedings thus far, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that he committed every crime against humanity for which he has been charged.

Yet it appears that American-style democracy – not Saddam – is on trial in that Baghdad court. And Saddam is turning out to be not only the best witness for the prosecution but also the prosecutor-in-chief. Indeed, he is coining memorable phrases that undermine America’s democratic experiment in Iraq just as Johnny Cochran coined memorable phrases that undermined California’s prosecution of OJ Simpson. And, he’s even dominating the judge and court proceedings just as Cochran dominated his court and Judge Lance Ito.

Therefore, it seems reasonable to ask why the Americans are giving Saddam this forum to play dictator, judge and jury of Iraq; when it clearly makes them and their Iraqi acolytes look foolish, and might even boost the confidence of his Sunni insurgent comrades….

I suspect the trial is being televised to demonstrate the transparency of American judicial due process that the Pentagon hopes to transfer to the Iraqi justice system. But this is naïve and, frankly, laughable under the circumstances.

After all, in the minds of most people around the world, what passes for American criminal justice today is: prisoner abuse at Abu Gharib; indefinite detention of al-Qaeda suspects, without charge, in Guantanamo Bay; rendition of other suspects to friendly dictatorships (like Egypt and Pakistan) to be tortured for information; jailing of others in secret gulags throughout Eastern Europe; and, apropos Saddam Hussein, the execution of 1000 Americans over the last 30 years.

Alas, the Americans are only shooting themselves in the democratic foot with this trial. They should either have sent Saddam off to The Hague to rot in obscurity with former Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic (remember him?) or dispensed summary judgment when they found him in that rat hole. (And, for real PR value, they could have given credit to one of their Iraqi battalions in training for this prized hit! Trust me, the American military has concocted much worse….)

But just as they are now bogged-down in a no-win guerilla war with insurgents in Iraq, the Americans are courting a no-win PR offensive with the Iraqis and Europeans. And, this PR offensive is all the more foolhardy because they would have endeared themselves to many more Iraqis (including insurgent Sunnis) if Saddam Hussein were executed a long time ago; and, the Europeans won’t be content until they convince the world that there really is no difference between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush!

Note: The only good that will come out of this show trial is that it will provide lurid eyewitness accounts of the atrocities committed by Saddam and his Ba’ath Party for posterity; indeed, just as Steven Spielberg’s SHOA documented similar eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust committed by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party …so that we may never forget!


  1. Anonymous December 6, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Hey what happened last night. I was trying to get on for hours but your site was down. You should warn us about stuff like that because we thought you had disappeared in the blogosphere for good.

    Oh, great article. Sadamm is guilty as sin but from reading your Tookie Williams article I guess you don’t think they should hang him? Too bad. I really appreciate your note with reference to SHOA. I knew nothing about this.


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