Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 23, 2006
WAR: Tyranny International
Of all the world's political prisoners, Amnesty International devotes a lengthy press release to complaining about the treatment of Saddam Hussein. Let's look at a sampling of Amnesty's grievances on behalf of poor, oppressed Saddam:
The first trial, which ran from 19 October 2005 to 27 July 2006, considered accusations that Saddam Hussain and seven co-defendants were responsible for the deaths of 148 people from the largely-Shi'a village of al-Dujail in 1982. . . .In the event that Saddam Hussain or any of the other accused are convicted, they are likely to be sentenced to death. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases.
Yes, Germany and Italy would have been much better off in 1947 if Hitler and Mussolini were still issuing press releases to their followers from prison.
After more than 30 years during which the right to a fair trial was routinely abused under Saddam Hussain's government, the first trial offered a crucial opportunity for those in power in Iraq to turn a page on the past and to entrench new standards for the future, which conform to the requirements which the government of Iraq is bound by international human rights treaties and standards to uphold.
Whose government? Shouldn't that be "allegedly routinely abused"? Or has Amnesty just done what the Iraqis and any other sane person would do, and recognize that this is not a complex whodunit but a public reckoning for crimes against humanity as to which the head of a police state's guilt can not possibly be disputed?
The security and safety of all parties involved in the Tribunal were frequently at risk and the problem remains unresolved. Defence lawyer Sa'dun al-Janabi was killed in October 2005, during the first week of the trial, while two other defence lawyers. 'Adil al-Zubeidi and Khamis al-Ubeidi were killed in November 2005 and June 2006 respectively.
Killed by whom? Likely, by supporters of Saddam. Anyway, justice does not grind to a halt when a nation is beset by violence. An organization purportedly dedicated to improvements in human rights ought to be the first to stand for that principle, especially since the alternative is the Mussolini/Ceaucescu treatment.
A fair trial requires independent and impartial judges. . . . Judge Sayeed al-Hamashi . . . was . . . ruled ineligible through the intervention of the De-Ba'athification Commission established to exclude former members of the Ba'ath Party from public office. The impartiality of Judge Ra'uf Rashid 'Abdul Rahman, who presided over the subsequent stages of the trial, was questioned by the defendants on the grounds that he had opposed Saddam Hussein's government and comes from Halabja, where thousands of Iraqi Kurds were killed in a gas attack by Saddam Hussein's forces in 1988.
Well, given that Saddam had control over the nation for decades, he can hardly complain that people he terrorized now sit in judgment of him. And how is it a violation of a fair trial to remove a former Ba'athist from the bench in a trial of his former boss?
Although Saddam Hussein was arrested in December 2003, he did not have access to his lawyers until 16 December 2004.
Cry me a river.
The tribunal also appears to have failed adequately to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the defendants. For example, on 13 March 2006 Taha Yassin Ramadhan, former Iraqi vice-president, alleged that he had been beaten and subjected to sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and forced positions during interrogation following his arrest in August 2003, but the tribunal is not known to have ordered an investigation. If there was one, its results have not been made public.
What, nobody cut out his tongue? First of all, bogus claims of maltreatment are classic stall/diversion tactic. Second, unless the prosecution was introducing evidence beaten out of Ramandhan, this has nothing to do with the fairness of the trial. And third, of all people these guys have no standing to complain.
The defence team repeatedly claimed that the Prosecution introduced to the court evidence that had not been provided to the defendants beforehand, thereby preventing them from preparing a proper defence.
Let me repeat: They ran the country. For decades. They knew everything that happened.
the independence and impartiality of the court, including by making provision for the participation of international judges and an enhanced role for international advisers and observers from diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated experience and skills in trials of crimes under international law.
No. We saw what happened with Milosevic; the goal is not for Saddam to die of old age at the defense table, in a nice suit surrounded by mouthpieces. He deserves the gallows, and the gallows he will get. The Iraqi people suffered under Saddam, and they deserve to try him.
But wait - there's more! Because while Amnesty is wasting its tears on poor Saddam, it's also busy at work accusing Israel of war crimes:
Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Israel of war crimes, saying it broke international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure during its recent war with Hezbollah guerrillas.
The Ap report notes dryly, "Amnesty International said it would address Hezbollah's attacks on Israel separately." I won't hold my breath. Of course, it should go without saying that you could not begin to address Israel's tactics without addressing where Hezbollah located its troops and weapons, or - specifically - the fact that incurring civilian casualties was virtually the entirety of Hezbollah's strategy.