Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Saddam III

This is the thread for the court proceedings today, Wednesday.

What the Bloggers Say

Seattle Times Article

Witness Testimony

Saddam Trial II

Saddam's Torturer

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Look I know I said that for the judges to A.) be outrageously nice to Saddam and B.) let him get away with nonsense in court was a good thing ultimately, but this is too much.

Saddam refused to go to court today....and was not forced to do so.

This is ridiculous. Haul his chapped behind into the courtroom in chains. No one in the world would presume to believe he didn't have to go to his own criminal trial. It is wrong to give this former blood-drunk tyrant what amounts to unparalleled consideration.

I'm freaking out now. The most valuable benefit of this trial is that Saddam's victims get to confront him and he has to sit there and answer for his crimes.

The Seattle Times had the novel idea of an article on Iraqi bloggers posting on the Saddam trial. I wonder where they got that idea? They don't mention us, however, but I'm glad we could help them out.

What the Bloggers Say

Ali at Free Iraqi believes, as I do, that the best and most important aspect of Saddam's trial is the opportunity of normal everyday Iraqis to face their tormentors and speak the truth:

There I saw an average Iraqi, who has no power or wealth, a man whom Saddam used to sign the execution order of hundreds like him without even knowing the name of one of them, standing boldly and exposing this monster's horrible crimes. He was not afraid and returned Saddam's words with stronger ones. I must admit that I saw this man as a hero...

[Saddam and Barzan] were very polite with the judge all the time (Barzan was even begging for mercy on one session) but as soon as they saw a simple Iraqi citizen with no power (or so they think) they regained that arrogant look and assumed the faces of the rulers again! How coward and how stupid at the same time! But it was more than great (and surprisingly shocking) to hear the words of that simple man from Dujail saying to Barzan, "Shut up!". That was worth the two hours in front of the TV.

IraqPundit says:

One of the great butchers of the contemporary world is on trial among the people he tortured and killed. This trial marks the first time Arabs have been able to try one of these criminal leaders.

But he is contemptuous of some in the talking-class who trivialize the trial as mere "drama".

[The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson] mocks the proceedings, which he compares to Michael Jackson's trial among others. Why would a writer of his stature make fun of a trial of a brutal leader who conservative estimates say killed 800,000 people? Some estimates say he killed 1 million people. Clearly those people mean nothing to Robinson, whose appears to be more interested in sounding cool than he is in justice for innocent civilians. But why would he care about the Iraqi people? [...] His column is sadly rather typical of the mind-set of those who argue that the United States should abandon Iraq to the terrorists. If the Iraqis are presented as less human than the Americans, it's okay to abandon them. Right?

Abu Khaleel from Iraqi Letters, however, specifically refers to the trial as "theatrics". He calls the prosecution's performance "visibly shabby and professionally sub-standard," while merely calling the defense "clumsy". However, Abu is a maverick regarding the flow of the trial and the judge's temperament:

I began to have more respect for the judge's tolerance and handling of transactions within the court, though he still lacked the required authority and firmness to control proceedings. The atmosphere nevertheless looked more like a tribal arbitration sitting than a formal court. That judge would make a good tribal sheikh. Some people didn't like that. I felt it gave the whole thing an "Iraqi" flavor!

Sooni puts Ramsey Clark on trial:

Saddam is not a regular prisoner because if we ignored the details of what he have done the fact remain that through his acts and during his reign we and our neighbors lost about 2 millions of our people!I'm sure that Ramsey is fully aware of what I'm talking about and he knows well that the man hands are full of blood and from every type so why would Ramsey defend him?
And this trial will be like a stain you won't be able to erase from your history. One day we will remember, and we will tell our children about the Americans who liberated Iraq and your name won't be among them.

And that's exactly what he deserves, Sooni.

I'll link without comment to a silly old woman who sneers at the significance of Saddam's trial from her exclusive neighborhood in Jordan.

The Witnesses

No translation of the transcript of the trial has currently been published. I pieced these together from the following sources:
The Washington Post, ABCNews, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Al Bawaba, Al, Reuters, Toronto Star,, Thomas Crosbie Media, LA Times, Forbes

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed (December 5th, Monday, First witness), who was 15 at the time of the atrocity. He allowed his face to be shown on camera, even though Zarqawi and other of Saddam's Orphans have threatened the lives of anyone who testifies in the case.

He was kept in in room 63 at the Hakmiya intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.

He "recalled how security agents rounded up townspeople of all ages, from 14 to more than 70. "

"There were random arrests in the streets, all the forces of the [Ba'ath] party, [saying] 'Thursday became Judgment Day and Dujail has become a battle front.' Shootings started and nobody could leave or enter Dujail. At night, intelligence agents arrived headed by Barazan.”

"There were mass arrests. Women and men. Even if a child was 1-day-old, they used to tell his parents, 'Bring him with you.'"

In the security center "I saw bodies of people from Dujail. They were martyrs I knew," and then he gave the names of the nine whose bodies were there.

"Barzan [al-Tikriti] was present. He had red cowboy boots and blue jeans and a sniper rifle."

"No one escaped torture."

"They would put a mask on my eyes and because I was young it would fall down. I saw women being tortured."

"I swear by God, I walked by a room and ... saw a grinder with blood coming out of it and human hair underneath."

He said this took place in "an intelligence service building where he and his family were imprisoned that was so crowded there wasn't enough room for everyone to lie down to sleep."

"My brother was a student in high school, and they took him and my father to be interrogated. They tortured him with electric shocks in front of my 77-year-old father." (he broke down at this point and sobbed)

They were held in Hakmiya for 70 days. While they were there a woman told a guard that her infant baby needed milk or he would die. "He died and the guard threw him from the window. Pregnant women gave birth in the prison. Their babies died."

"My brother and I were in the same prison for four years, just a few feet apart, but we would not see each other."

"Some were crippled because they had arms and legs broken."

"A friend of mine ... was tortured. He was actually killed in front of me and I saw that."

"People who were arrested were taken to prison and most of them were killed there."

"I saw corpses and bodies of our neighbours. They were martyred. Some of them we couldn't even recognise their bodies."

He said Saddam approached a fifteen year old boy. "Saddam said to him, 'Do you know who I am?"' [When the boy answered] 'Saddam', 'the president' picked up an ashtray and hit him on the head. "
A Free Iraqi: "I think [Saddam] couldn't believe that an Iraqi, just an average Iraqi [like Hassan] would talk to him that way and name him as just "Saddam" not the "Mujahi leader Saddam Hussain God bless him" or any of the other crap we had to add before his name otherwise"]

The defendants' response:

Saddam smirked. Saddam chuckled to himself. Saddam stared vacantly

Barzan repeatedly yelled: 'It's a lie!' during the testimony. At one point, "He should act in the cinema." Hassan to Barzan: "You killed a 14-year-old boy!" Barzan shouted back, "To hell!" and Hassan shouted back, "You and your children go to hell."

Barzan: "I am a patriot and I was the head of the intelligence service of Iraq.”

At one point, Saddam threatened Hassan, "When the revolution of the heroic Iraq arrives, you will be held accountable." Also to Hassan: "I am not afraid of execution. I realize there is pressure on you and I regret that I have to confront one of my sons. But I'm not doing it for myself. I'm doing it for Iraq. I'm not defending myself. But I am defending you....Don't interrupt me, boy."

"On several occasions Saddam Hussein put his hand up in the dock to show that he wanted to speak, but he was ignored completely. In the end, he was rather upstaged by his half-brother, Barzan, who ignored court procedure by standing up and shouting. Saddam looked round at him, but then sat down quietly. "

Saddam: "How can a judge like yourself accept a situation like this? This game must not continue. If you want Saddam Hussein’s neck, you can have it. I have exercised my constitutional prerogatives after I had been the target of an armed attack...If it’s ever established that Saddam Hussein laid a hand on any Iraqi, then everything that witness said is correct."

Toward the end of the day, "Hussein blurted out a statement that implied that the violence at Dujail was a necessary reaction."

Jawad Abdul-Aziz Jawad, ten at the time (December 5th, Monday)

He "testified that Iraqi helicopters attacked the town and used bulldozers to destroy the fields and orchards. [He] said Saddam’s regime killed three of his brothers, one before the assassination attempt and two afterward."

"Saddam’s chief attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi challenged the testimony, asking how a 10-year-old could remember such details. Jawad answered, “A 3-year-old child remembers a lot. An elementary school student does not forget if a teacher slapped him in the face. I live a catastrophe.”

"Witness A", a 16 year old girl at the time (December 6th Tuesday)

A security officer told her: "You should thank your God because you are here in the Intelligence Center. If you were in the directorate of security, no woman would remain a virgin."

But she suggested that she was raped: "I was forced to take my clothes off. They lifted my legs up, they tied my hands, they beat me with cables and (gave me) electric shocks...There were more than one of them, as if I were their banquet, maybe more than five people, all of them officers...It wasn't just one guard. It was many guards...Is that what happens to the virtuous woman that Saddam speaks about?"

"From a small window, they gave us two loaves of bread. After all that torture, do you think we could eat?"

"Guards also stopped the women from helping one woman give birth, even when the baby was stuck between her legs."

"She also described the torture of family members and other prisoners and the destruction of homes and orchards."

She was moved from one prison to another over four years including a winter in Abu Ghraib. "I saw camels and I was envious because they were free."

"Witness B", a 50 year-old woman at the time (December 6th Tuesday)

"Arrested along with her husband and five daughters after the assassination attempt. She testified off camera.

"Witness C", a man, (December 6th Tuesday)

"...Testified that he was 12 when he was rounded up in 1982. He said that he was taken first to Baath Party headquarters in Dujail [where he saw Barzan], then to Baghdad, where he was tortured and sent to Abu Ghraib jail.

"He eventually was taken to a desert prison camp, where he spent four years before being returned to Dujail."

Barzan's account: "Don't you remember? I was there. I kissed 60 men. I shook their hands, and I set them free."

"He was taken by security forces along with his parents and sister. They spent 19 days at the intelligence headquarters and 11 months in Abu Ghraib, where his father died after being beaten on the head, he said. Then they spent three years in the desert.

“'At the intelligence headquarters, they put two clips in my ears.' He was told that if he lied, he would be given an electric shock." But whenever he answered a question, the shock was administered.

'In prison they used to bring men to the women’s room and ask them to bark like dogs. My father died in prison and I was not able to see him.' He added that his father, who was 65 and had heart problems, was kept in a room about 50 yards from him.

Saddam: “How come you remember all these things?”

Witness C replied: “This was a great sadness to me, and I can’t forget a sadness.”

His testimony prompted an outburst from Saddam, who complained of his own conditions in detention. He said the court had time to listen to the witnesses’ complaints “but does anyone ask Saddam Hussein whether he was tortured? Whether he was hit?” He urged the judge to investigate his conditions because "it is your duty as judges to investigate the crime at its scene. I live in an iron cage covered by a tent under American democratic rule. You should come see my cage. The Americans and the Zionists want to execute Saddam Hussein.”
CMAR II says: Nothing is more sickening than a grown man whining in the third person.

"Witness D", a man, (December 6th Tuesday)

"Said that he hasn't seen his son since the 16-year-old was whisked away in 1982." He said that "after Hussein's ouster, papers were discovered indicating his son had died."

Ramsey Clark & Co. immediate stood to denounce this detail, questioning its authenticity (as if his son were actually missplaced in Witness D's tool shed or something).

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