October 16th, 2005

Voted for Dean

Just Watch. And Remember, I Told You So

I had an idea for something I really want to write. But the catch is that it's too long for a comfortable single journal entry, probably about two of them, maybe three. And until I make up my mind in what order I want to organize it, I'm not quite ready to start typing. Probably starting Tuesday I'll run a few journal entries in a row on the subject of sex instead of politics. But as a placeholder between now and then, and frankly because of a headline in the current news, I'm going to talk about politics. And specifically, I'm going to remind you that, "I told you so."

So long ago that I can't find it right now, during the earliest preliminaries to Saddam's trial, it came out that when Saddam found out they had scheduled an election while he was in jail, he said good, he hoped he'd be acquitted by then. If so, he planned to run for re-election, and he was confident that he'd win. I was saying at the time that this wasn't as silly as it sounds, not least of which because he has a very good chance of being acquitted. No, really. And what's got me bringing it up again, and saying, "I told you so," is that as I read the latest headlines, it seems to me that the Bush Administration is bringing the same genius to the Saddam Hussein trial that they brought to rebuilding Iraq, "saving" Social Security, and providing hurricane relief in New Orleans. Here's the article: Robert H. Reid, "Saddam Case a Chance for Speedy Conviction," Associated Press, Saturday, October 15th, 2005.

In order to secure a death penalty conviction for Saddam Hussein as fast as possible, they're not trying him (at least, not yet) for his worst atrocities. Instead, they're concentrating on one smaller atrocity where the documentation tying him to it is exceptionally good. After all, they don't have to convict him of murdering tens of thousands of people to sentence him to death; the 150 or so in this case will do just fine. You can check the article for the full details, but the summary is this:

In 1982 during the Iran/Iraq war, one Iraqi Shiite town on the border called Dujail was known to be sympathetic to the Iranians, and strongly suspected of providing aid, shelter, and assistance to the enemy. In order to try to negotiate them back to their own country's side, then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein scheduled talks with the town's leaders. When he showed up, dozens of armed men ambushed his convoy, resulting in a several-hour gun battle from which the Iraqi army was barely able to extract the President alive. He then ordered the army and the secret police into that town in force, capturing somewhere around 1500 residents. Those were questioned, including the use of torture in some cases, to find out who had staged the ambush; as a result of the evidence so provided, 150 people were sentenced to death and killed. The current collaborationist government in Iraq, with extensive US supervision and assistance, is planning on charging Saddam with 1500 counts of torture and 150 counts of murder for the Duhail massacre. The morons.

There was a leak from Saddam's defense team a couple of months ago that Saddam was considering stipulating every fact in the prosecution's case, which threw people into a tizzy. Some of the dimmer talking heads on television wondered if Saddam was trying to get the collaborators to kill him, to make himself a martyr for Baath Socialism. Because, you know, he'd do that, that's so consistent with his history ... um, no. I know why he's considering stipulating the facts in the Duhail massacre. There's an old lawyer's adage, "When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the law is on your side, argue the law. When the facts and the law are against you, pound the table." The facts are, pretty clearly, what the prosecution thinks they are. But the law isn't.

Can anybody show me any provision in Iraqi law, on the books in 1982, that prohibits military tribunals, especially during wartime, from executing traitors, especially traitors who attempted to assassinate the president of the country? Can anybody show me any provision in Iraqi law, on the books in 1982, that says that the President of Iraq can't order criminal suspects detained for questioning under torture, especially in such a case? You may think that what he did was pretty despicable. (Never mind how many Iraqi civilians we've killed ourselves because Saddam's guys tried an even less successful assassination plot against President Bush's father; this is about Saddam's guilt, not Bush's. So far.) But even if it was despicable, what you can't do, so far as I can tell, is prove that it was illegal. So I'm suspecting that on day one of the trial, Saddam will get up, and ask the court that, if the defense were to stipulate all of the facts in the prosecution's case, just exactly what provision of Iraqi law as of 1982, by chapter and paragraph, are they charging him with? And when they stutter and stammer and try to accuse him of "crimes" that weren't actually banned by the law, he'll move for dismissal with prejudice, for summary judgment of innocence. And then where will we be? Imbeciles.
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