THE NEW YORK POST
December 12, 2003
IRAQIS MUST JUDGE SADDAM
By AMIR TAHERI
AFTER months of soul- searching, it now seems certain that the Iraq
Governing Council is prepared to put the fallen Ba'athist regime on trial.
The decision is important because it ends the debate over who should hold
the trials and where.
The council seems confident enough that the Iraqis can handle the task
themselves: No need for a court outside Iraq, with foreign judges. The
tribunal will sit in Baghdad, with only Iraqi judges to try Saddam and his
associates on charges ranging from corruption to crimes against humanity.
Although long overdue, the decision has drawn criticism from the European
Union and the United Nations. Their beef: The tribunal would exclude the
U.N. and ignore internationally accepted judicial norms and practices.
The Governing Council should note the criticism - but do what it thinks
The U.N. and E.U., after all, still refuse to recognize the Governing
Council as a legitimate authority. Both are reluctant to acknowledge that
the toppling of Saddam's regime was an act of liberation for the Iraqi
people. Thus neither can claim moral authority in telling the Iraqis what to
There is no reason why the Iraqis should trust the U.N. or the E.U. - they
did nothing to curb Saddam's criminal activities. In fact, several EU
members helped Saddam build his death machine while the UN played
cat-and-mouse with him for 13 years.
Nor should Iraqis take notice of those who claim to represent public opinion
in the West.
The suggestion that Western opinion may regard an Iraqi tribunal as
"questionable" is neither here nor there. If by "Western opinion" one means
the newly created coalition of Islamists and Stalinists, plus the usual
fellow-travelers, it is enough to remember that it never organized a single
protest march when Saddam was killing thousands of women and children with
his chemical weapons, and filling all those mass graves.
But "Western opinion" has held marches to lament the demise of Saddam and
denounce the liberation of Iraq, in the words of the British playwright
Harold Pinter, as "a blood-drinking tea-party" by President George W Bush
and Prime Minister Tony Blair. This "Western opinion" would rather put Bush
and Blair, and the entire Iraqi people, on trial than utter a harsh word
Having said all that, the Governing Council should make sure that the
tribunal conforms to the highest standards of justice.
To start with, the tribunal must limit its scope to the former regime's most
senior officials, including Saddam.
On paper, the old regime boasted a wide base. The Ba'ath Party had more than
1 million members. Millions more were linked to it via trade unions,
professional associations and youth organizations. In despotic regimes such
as Saddam's it is impossible to live anything resembling a normal life
without being sullied by the party in power.
A closer look, however, would reveal the narrowness of the regime's
decision-making apparatus. Saddam trusted no one, except (perhaps) his
second son, Qusay. He never informed anyone of major decisions, such as
invading Iran in 1980 and annexing Kuwait in 1990, in advance.
His was more of a one-man-show than Stalin's in the USSR.
The Governing Council would do well to narrow the tribunal's scope to no
more than a dozen or so senior figures, including Saddam. Their trial would,
in fact, be the trial of the whole Ba'athist regime and its 35-year criminal
Iraq will also have to deal with mid-ranking officials who helped keep the
Ba'ath machine in operation. These may number around 3,000 and could be
dealt with through a special body, modeled on South Africa's post-Apartheid
"truth and reconciliation" commission. Iraq does not need endless trials in
which thousands of people are paraded in front of judges for months if not
For the rest, the council should prepare a general amnesty covering
political crimes committed before the liberation. This would make it
possible to bring non-political charges against those involved in other
crimes, such as embezzlement, torture, rape, kidnapping, confiscation of
private property and racketeering.
The work of the tribunal and the commission should take place in public. The
tribunal should allow the leaders of the former regime to choice their own
defense lawyers, including from among European jurists.
The tribunal should also invite testimony by foreign citizens, including the
families of tens of thousands of Iranians killed in Saddam's chemical
attack, and of hundreds of Kuwaitis murdered by Saddam's henchmen in cold
There is no reason why the U.N., the E.U. and other interested foreign
organizations should not send observers to the tribunal while the
international media is allowed to cover the proceedings on the basis of
Whether or not the proceedings should be telecast live is still being
Some Iraqis believe that live telecasts could remind the nation of the show
trials organized by Abdul-Karim Qassem, the first post-monarchy dictator of
Others, however, insist that live telecasts would have an educational
impact, both for the Iraqis themselves and the international public at
large. There are still people, especially in the West, who refuse to believe
that Saddam headed one of the nastiest regimes in human history.
Another issue debated in Iraq is whether or not to get the tribunal started
before an elected government is in place. Some argue that the tribunal may
be presented as an instrument of the occupying powers. But that claim could
be countered by the fact that the tribunal will have only Iraqi judges.
Despite the obvious difficulties involved, it is best is to start the
tribunal as soon as possible. In an electoral atmosphere, the issue could
become a partisan one, with some demanding a "sea of blood" to avenge the
crimes of Ba'ath while others preach limitless forgiveness. Such a debate
could divide the people at a time it needs to remain united in a delicate
period of transition.
Holding the tribunal now would enable the interim government that is to be
installed by the middle of next year to focus its attention on the future,
rather than the past.
Are we talking about the same Iraqis who allowed him to ascend to power in the first place, or a whole 'nother group of new, improved, more enlightened Iraqis? Would be kind of embarassing if they decided to acquit him and his cronies, wouldn't it?
The council seems confident enough that the Iraqis can handle the task themselves
Send the fuck to Guantanimo ,Cuba with the rest of the ragheads! Wonder how he likes his taylor made orange cover-alls? I really want to see him led down Pennsylvania Ave. in HEAVY chains with a leash being walked by Donald Rumsfield en route past the White House where the staff is armed with eggs!
Are you guys freaking nuts? Of course we want the Iraqis to bring him to justice. Who do you think would hand out a more severe punishment? The United States or the people that he has been torturing, imprisoning and murdering for the last 30 years? Even if (and that's a big "if") we gave ol' Saddam the death penalty, it would do nothing more than make him a martyr in many sections of the Arab world. Now - if the Iraqi people themselves execute him, that's a much different story. The only question now is what method of execution. Electrocution is out as we are the only folks who have done that. I suspect they won't gas him as that method sort of reeks of WMDs. So, that leaves the firing squad or hanging. A firing squad seems to me to be a bit too dignified for him. Yes, I think I prefer a public hanging...in the main square in Baghdad. That way, the Iraqis can see him, walk by and spit on him....say a few departing words. He'll be executed by the Iraqis. The only question is the method. Edited to add: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it. The Iraqis will get him from us [b]only[/b] after we wring him dry of any possible intel.
How about hanging him from the outstreched arm of one of his statues? I'd pay good money to see that. CW
That would be a great idea. Unfortunately, I believe his statues all have tank tread marks on them.
Originally Posted By Cold_Warrior: How about hanging him from the outstreched arm of one of his statues? I'd pay good money to see that. CW