Monday, December 05, 2005

The Saddam Trial II

Let's see if I can possibly keep up with the goings on at the Saddam Trial.

The topics in this post:

Friday it was announced:

"The Resistance" Plans To Bomb the Saddam Trial?


Here while talking about the assassinations of an attorney of a member of the Saddam regime I said:

If I were to take a trick from Doc Jually Cole's little bag, I would ponder "Who benefits from this?" and come to the obvious answer that Bader does! But secondarily, Saddam benefits, as well as the other defendants. I mean, in the case of Bader, his trial cannot go forward until he secures a new attorney. After all, this isn't Iraq under Saddam anymore. And how can evidence regarding Saddam's collusion in those convictions come out if Bader cannot be tried?
As Cole would do, after citing a few smarmy irrelevant references, I would conclude that "it hard to say with any certainty but my 'gut' tells me this murder has Saddam's fingerprints all over it."

Well, guess what? Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie says that The 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni Arab insurgent group, planned to fire rockets at the court building during Monday's session. Saddam's Orphans are willing to kill anyone, even the murdering defendants or their attorneys in order to stop the Saddam trial.

How much will the US military have to pay to get this story into the Arab newspapers?

But the story goes on. Today, Saddam's attorneys (Ramsey Clark and Naji al-Nuaimi) threatened to quit if they were not allowed to make arguments that the trial itself was unfair. This is a typical lawyer tactic: if you have a client with no defense for his actions, you put the victims on trial (you say they were bad people and deserved it). If you can't put the victims on trial, then you put the court on trial. The judges, overly long suffering as they are, agreed to give them 20 to complain.

Also, one of the judges on the case recused himself because Barzani had ordered his brother's execution (as though it is so easy to find an Iraqi without a family member Saddam killed, tortured, or both).

Fine that's just lawyers being lawyers. But then when the first witness against Saddam & Co.'s crimes took the stand, Saddam repeatedly interrupted him and got make absurd displays. This is totally unacceptable. No judge in the US would tolerate that. A defendant pulling that garbage, would be held in contempt of court, and all sorts of things might be done including having him bound and gagged in the courtroom.

Saddam and his half-brother and axe-man,
Barzan al-Tikriti, make trouble in court

All this has led Sandmonkey to declare the trial to be a "circus".

Salam Pax is equally disgusted.

All Saddam and his attorneys (famous for defending the most evil people of the last 50 years) want is to have the trial moved to the friendly and corruptible UN where the real show can get started.

But, actually, I think this is a good thing in the long run. Long before this trial is over, I predict, the most ardent supporter of Saddam in Iraq will have had enough of Saddam's nonsense, and will be glad to see the beast's ravenous pie-hole shut up for good.

Every time the judge permits Saddam or his attorneys to make some trivial assertion, what do the Iraqi bloggers report? "Look at how much this judge tolerates from the brutes that gave no mercy to people in phony trials." Every time Saddam shoots off his mouth, bloggers report: "That nut thinks he's still running things That's pretty funny."

In other words, the more Saddam talks, the more people remember what it was like when he was in charge.

Trial Overviews

What is the trial about?

In 1982, there was a failed assassination attempt on Saddam's convoy in the small town of Dujail. Saddam and his agents, wreaked vengeance against the whole town: arresting and torturing everybody, ultimately killing 143.

Mohammed at Iraq the Model posted an extensive summary and commentary of the court procedings today and pointed out that the two witnesses testimony paralleled an account of the Dujail atrocity they posted at their site two years ago.

The Rogues

Left to right,
front row: Awad Hamed al-Bandar, Saddam Hussein;
second row: Taha Yassin Ramadan, Abdullah Kazim Ruwayyid, Mizhar Abdullah Ruwayyid;
back row: Mohammed Azawi Ali, Ali Dayim Ali, Barazan Ibrahim

"I was shocked when I saw Awad Al-Bandar (the chief of the former revolutionary tribunal) who sent countless numbers of people to execution and who broke world records in trials' duration, sometimes as short as two minutes."

Bandar is now complaining that he has cancer and his treatment is a defacto death penalty. (boo-hoo)

Note that as many of the perps are not famous party insiders: there is a lesson in that. This mass-murder could not have been performed without the cooperation of a lot of faceless Ba'ath Party middle managers. It takes a lot of cooperation to run a cruel blood-bathing tyranny.

For example, the following is a completely self-serving deposition of witness Wadah Ismael al-Sheik Director of Investigation in Mukhabarat [Saddam's Gestapo] under Barazan. This deposition was taken just before his death from cancer.

The arrested people where from different ages, sex and whole families with children, women elderly and young....the number of people arrested in the city was 400...

During the investigation, I was sure that the people who opened fire on the convoy was no more than 12 persons and this was mentioned in my report presented to Barazan and I do not know why so many people were arrested and I could not prevent their arrest.

In the second day of the incident, the families, consisting of farmers and civilians, were transferred to the chosen places in Abu Ghraib prison.

Aah! But he surely knew that went on here

I heard that Saddam has ordered that anyone who can carry weapons should be tried. As for Barazan he told me that anyone who is connected to the incident should stand trial.

Is the trial of Saddam fair?

The UN says NO. Apparently a trial cannot be fair unless it takes almost 4 years and counting to get a single conviction. *cough* milosevic!

Eric Posner says:

Saddam is not an ordinary criminal defendant, and so there is no reason to think that fairness requires that he enjoy ordinary criminal defense protections. Indeed, there is a respectable argument that he deserves none at all. If the function of criminal procedural protections is to prevent the wrongful conviction of innocent people, then there is no reason to apply them to Saddam, because we know that he is not innocent, and indeed that he deserves the harshest punishment that the criminal justice system metes out, whether that is death or life imprisonment.

Posner also argues that the trial must still be seen as "fair" since many inside and outside of Iraq doubt Saddam's guilt and therefore will not have their minds changed if the think the process is "unfair". I say, those people will not ever be convinced anyway and will always consider even the trial itself illegitimatee since it is only occurring after an "illegal" invasion.

The commenters also respond with typical over-intellectualizing of the question to wit: "Yes Saddam is a foul mass-murderer, but if the process is not pure then the verdict must be tainted." Well, then would these people say that if the process is pure then any verdict is correct whatever it is? Of course not. People are still frequently sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. People still get exonerated for crimes they did commit. Process is not Truth and no one believes it is...regardless of the outcome.

CMAR II says:The principal of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" is an extremely important one to a legitimate judicial culture. To apply it to Saddam, who spent the last 35 years making certain everyone in Iraq knew he was a cruel and ruthless tyrant, would undermine that principal in Iraq by framing it--in Iraq's first important trial--as impractical and, indeed, absurd.

The purpose of this trial is to provide a cleansing process for the Iraqi people. Personally, I would prefer a trial where the question "is he guilty?" is entirely put aside. I'd like to see a "trial" where every foul act Saddam and his regime committed were described, and every Iraqi who was wronged and wanted to could come to the court and denounce the bad actors in the regime, and when that was over they would all be executed by a humane hanging (not the sort that was practiced in Abu Ghraib under Saddam).

Salam Pax writing for the Guardian says:

...the official newspaper used the lower part of the front page on the day of the trial for a montage of pictures including a sign saying “death to Saddam”. There is no question what the people want. And before you write long dissertations on human rights to me, try to consider, for a moment, how absurd the talk about human rights is to those who had had to suffer under Saddam’s total disregard for those rights - those who had their tongues cut off for talking badly of him, ears cut off for refusing to fight his futile wars, and the thousands who spent years in his prisons. It’s a tough one, but this trial was never going to be easy.

The portions in this article related to Saddam's trial were all so good, it was hard to pick an excerpt. Make sure you read it all.

Fayrouz at Iraqi in America said a month ago:

It didn't take long for the human rights groups and ex-lovers of Saddam to raise their concerns. Those people make me vomit. Does anyone with common sense think Iraqis, who suffered from Saddam and his thugs, REALLY care whether he gets a fair trial or not?

Ahmad also said last summer:

I don't care anymore whether or not justice is served, I don't care anymore whether or not Saddam gets a fair trial and hanged; all I care about is that he dies, and with him dies all the shameless lowlife animals ("freedom fighters").

IraqPundit (the ever-wise) said today:

Professor Cole has great admiration for the insurgents and little use for the civilians of Iraq. For example, Cole has expressed concern for Saddam's ability to get a fair trial but not a word about ordinary Iraqis. IraqPundit agrees that Saddam, who never gave anyone a fair trial, should get a fair day in court. But unlike Cole, I express concern for the people of Dujail who have been threatened by thugs who support Saddam. The Zarqawi gang has made it clear that anyone who testifies against Saddam in his trial should consider himself "warned." Read about the threats (in Arabic) here and here.

Interesting that Zarqawi is threatening people who testify against Saddam. Professor Coles and others have assured us there is no connection between the two of them.

Kurdo thinks the coverage of Saddams trial is his victims.

    1. The trial is not live. We get 30 minutes delay. Let's hear what the man has to say. Why he did that to us LIVE and without censors.
    2. The trial video is edited and censored. This is not fair. So many people have died and so many mothers and fathers and orphans want to hear the facts. Why is the video censored and edited ?
    3. All we get to see is Saddam being defiant, his aids crying for help....but nothing about facts...Saddam wanted to explain what he was doing in the video and he was stopped from doing so. Let's hear what the man has to say for fairness's sake.

But Husayn at Democracy In Iraq, writing this summer, didn't even want to have a trial for Saddam:

His trial is only going to foster more attacks on Iraqis, and one way to show his demons that Iraqis will not fall to them is to nip their inspiration at the root, and kill Saddam. Sure, attacks will go on, but we will have sent an important message to his sympathizers, and to those who think that terrorism can work. It cannot. People only get sick of violence, and they themselves react in order to bring peace to their community. Every man on earth is looking for a peaceful place to live, and this cancer is depriving us of it.

Last month, Sooni patiently said:

He killed too many people without a trial but he will have a fair trial (we hope so) because this is the new Iraq and this is the way we want our country to be. No more dictatorship, just a man behind the bars fighting for his life while most of the Iraqis are waiting for his death (death penalty by court). The Iraqis want to forget Saddam's decades and want to forget him too, it's a step the Iraqis have to take, and we want to leap into the future without the sorrows of the past...I really would like to say something to Saddam and I wish he can hear me..."Your days are gone and we are very happy without you, in your days we were ashamed of saying we are Iraqis, but now we are proud to say so."

But Riverbend, posting today on TODAY's trial (of all her most recent posts, her most pertinent), seeks to do two things:

  1. To undermine the witnesses credibility (hearsay and someone was probably putting words in their mouth)
  2. To declare that George Bush is just as bad and should be put on trial

She says:

I really began watching when they brought on the first witness, who was also the first plaintiff. He talked about the whole Dujail situation and his account was emotional and detailed.

Oh! See there! She's was moved by his testimony.

The details were intriguing considering he was only 15 years old at the time. The problem with his whole account is that so much of it is hearsay.

Oh! Wait! There's something fishy about his testimony! And Riverbend can sniff out this sort of thing because she's been educated in proper legal proceedings by watching reruns of that oh-so authentic legal soap opera, The Practice.

He heard from someone that something happened to someone else, etc. Now, I'm not a lawyer but I'm a fan of The Practice and if watching Dylan McDermott has taught me anything, it's that hearsay is not acceptable evidence.

Hmm....sounds like she could join Raed's crack legal team in his libel suit against me.

from what you are saying, [Raed,] I'm thinking that someone may be taking advantage of you. Have you ascertained that your counselors' legal education consisted of more than watching every episode of the "Ally McBeal" TV show?

Iraq Sweet Iraq at Iraqi Roulette said last week:

The next morning me and the gang at office were discussing the trial , one said- why was the Judge so polite? why did he not exercise more authority in the court . The rest of us thought that the Judge was very civilized and impartial and that is how it should be actually : Yes but that butcher showed no mercy to anyone when he was at the top .

ISI also pointed out something I missed. Last week, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti referred to Jalal Talabani as "Excellency the president of Iraq". heh heh heh Baby steps toward Reality.

Today ISI said:

The trial will be resumed on Wednesday. It will be the topic of discussion wherever you step , some will see him as a hero ("Did you see how he stood and shouted? What a macho!"), others will remember all the agony, pain and smells of the dungeons and see [his predicament] as the living proof on the existence of a God above.

Akba at Iraq Rising said six weeks ago:

For me, I hope these trials take a very, very, long time. I hope that every person who has ever been damaged by this man's actions, directly or otherwise, gets a chance to face him in person and ask him why and what for. I hope that all Iraqis get to see and relive the pains of the past through these trials so maybe at the end we can be reborn as one nation again, with brotherhood instilled in our hearts. I hope.

Najma from A Star From Mosul found herself sympathetic to the mass-murderers:

The details I capture most, are the details I can hardly find on the net...Whether it's Awwad Al-Bandar demanding his 3gal, or Mohammed Azzawi Ali crying for his son...They were only few moments that I saw from this trial.. And those were the moments this man cried.. I didn't know him, but I felt too sorry for him. He's a human after all!

If you say so Najma. Personally, the more these reprobates whine the more anxious I am to see the Iraqis string them up. (Najma also refers to the trial as "the play". Typical)

Dayez at Iraqi Rebel posted an interesting round-up of the various Iraqi opinions about Saddam's trial:

Many Iraqis are impatient and think this trial is a farce. The Kurdish judge has been called all kinds of names on the street because they think he looked like he was almost taking orders from Saddam. Others think he is being too lenient. I do think it was an embarrassing moment when Saddam mentioned the American soldiers guarding the court room and then transmission was cut for a few moments. Censors at work :)

Like I said, the more Saddam blusters, the less divergent Iraqi opinion will become. They will unify in a call for him and his entire gang to be hanged at once.

Baghdad Treasure said last week:

This man doesn't stop complaining. He thinks himself he is still the man in power and the one who executes without hesitation. For God's sake! You are in prison, man!! What made me laugh out loud was that former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and former Qatari Justice Minister Najib Nuaimi sat with the defense team inside the courtroom, along with Saddam's chief lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi.
Why don't they just leave the Iraqis try the one who tortured them and turned their country into hell?

Nancy at Beth-Nahrain was optimistic about the trial in October:

it is about time that the Iraqis start setting a different kind of ideal for the world (maybe setting an ideal is too extreme, a good start would be just working our way to some already existing model) that of justice, peace, democracy, and equality qualities that have been so foreign to the Iraqis up until now, but it is about time that they start learning and implementing them, and Saddam's trial and sentence (since there is absolutely no doubt that he will be convicted) is the first step towards achieving these beautiful ideals.

Ali at A Free Iraqi has not said much about Saddam's trial, but last May he expressed his opinion about other people's trials:

[The Association of Sunni Scholars and the Al-Mehdi army] should be banned and all their leaders should be arrested and put on trial, and there are tons of evidences of the crimes they committed that should be more than enough to put them behind bars for a long time.

As for Morbid Smile? He's fed up with it. Today he said:

Saddam's trial has been on T.V. since the morning. I watched some of it, but then I got fed out and left it. My parents are still watching it till now.

One Iraqi totally fed up with Saddam, 25 million to go. We can't execute him until Saddam has finished doing his work.

Najeeb Hanoudi is in the process of writing a great overview of Saddam's life. He's on installment three now.


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