28 July 2004

Saddam - Justice In A Destabilized Iraq?

I believe most of us are like minded on what "justice" is for Saddam. But if we are going to have here, a precedent setting trial then we will be going thru the motions with Saddam - but by whose standards? Keep in mind please that these comments make for interesting legal debate in considering these issues in theory. I say in theory because in all likelihood, these issues will be moot.

Consider this, Saddam is indeed still the President of Iraq. What mechanisms are (or could be) in place to oust a sitting president whose tyrannical rule has been overthrown? The US has methods in place to charge a sitting President with a crime. I worry that if we are doing this by the letter of the law (which has not been fully developed), Saddam may have made his first motion to have the charges against him dropped. He was ushered into that make-shift courtroom in a highly destabilized Iraq (a 30-minute arraignment at Camp Victory, one of his former palaces on the outskirts of Baghdad) without his legal representation and it was made clear, he will challenge the fledgling Iraqi government and judicial system's capability to charge and try the Iraqi president.

The charges against Saddam: There could in actuality be a list of charges too cumbersome for any prosecuting country to tackle...but at the top of that list: the crime of waging an unlawful war of aggression against a foreign sovereign state (i) Iran and (ii) Kuwait; numerous counts of war crimes committed in the course of such wars; crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity; many murders including mass murders; crimes of torture on a massive scale; and miscellaneous human rights abuses. This is a "preliminary" list that does not include any charges relating to war crimes in our current war against Iraq. War crimes were certainly committed (even if all you consider is the fact that he orchestrated false surrenders that led to coalition deaths), not to mention the murder of POWs. It is argued that Saddam could have and should have been tried by US Military Tribunal for these crimes. This would have insured swift justice (as well as a long earned collective sigh of relief from most all of the Iraqi people). However, Saddam certainly has countless crimes to answer for in Iraq, this barbaric criminal should be tried in his own country if it is reasonable to believe justice can be served in that environment. We could deliver him to Iraq with a stamp on him that says "Legal Property Of The US" - thereby maintaining control. And....(someone whispers to someone) with this, all will have to feel that the end surely justified the means. We only need offer it up, it does not even need to succeed. Doesn't it seem fairly likely that in that environment, someone might seek that swift justice? Most likely.

It makes for great politics to deliver Saddam into the hands of his victims, facilitating a grand-stand US gesture to be sure those victims can test run their brand new government by trying, convicting and sentencing their own dictatorial oppressor. Oh my, but we are indeed the deific deliverers of democracy and freedom.

Some things to consider....



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