New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 25, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 4 — Herald-Zeitung — Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Fair Saddam trial is key step for Iraq
Houston Chronicle on Saddam Hussein’s trial:
Few Iraqis probably dreamed theyd ever see former President Saddam Hussein on trial.
But that day finally arrived last week, transfixing Arab viewers around the world. While the proceedings against Saddam may bring short-term satisfaction, however, they run the danger of becoming a mere show trial. If this happens, the main victims will be Iraq’s people.
Last week, Western human rights groups who toiled against Saddam for decades announced concerns about the fairness of his trial. Their worries only escalated Thursday when a lawyer from Saddam’s defense team was found murdered and dumped in the street. While prosecutors and judges are heavily protected, Saddam’s attorneys receive no security.
The trial itself, conducted by a special Iraqi tribunal, centers on the 1982 massacre of 140 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail. The episode offers abundant witnesses, well-documented evidence and a clear narrative leading to Saddam.
But groups including Human Rights Watch say the tribunal’s procedures jeopardize fair trial of much more sweeping crimes, such as Saddam’s genocidal onslaughts against Kurds and southern Shiites.
The tribunal is following statutes initiated by the provisional authority of the invading coalition, awkwardly mixed with the criminal law in use under Saddam himself.
Defendants are allowed little contact with their attorneys. Defense teams get meager time to review evidence or prepare cases. And the standard of proof remains that of Saddam’s own totalitarian regime.
Under old Iraqi law, a defendant who is judged guilty must be executed within a month of exhausting his appeal. In principle, if Saddam is found guilty of the Dujail massacre, he could be executed before prosecutors were able to try him for much more massive crimes.
No one expects the tribunal to deem Saddam innocent. But an estimated 300,000 Iraqis died under his orders. Those victims’ memory merits public reckoning.
For many who were tortured or bereaved by Saddam’s misrule, these are fine points at best. Many Iraqis say they need no further evidence of Saddam’s guilt. Yet these are the Iraqis who most need to see the ex-dictator tried fairly.
Trials of leaders like Saddam, who have not only terrorized but deformed entire cultures, serve several crucial functions. They form a historic record. Individuals finally see their sufferings acknowledged, and condemned, by their state.
But dictators like Saddam also inflict atrocities on their countries’ ethics. Entire populations learn that aggressors gain impunity and justice is a perk of power.
A fair mal must include a vigorous defense for the accused and safety for all participants. The process will verily the truth of Saddam’s crimes and demonstrate that Iraq’s age of impunity is done. An unfair trial, however, will only weaken Iraq’s struggle to break loose from Saddam’s legacy. It might taste like revenge, but it will perpetrate the crime of offering a martyr for Saddam’s supporters.
Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Tuesday, Oct. 25, the 298th day of 2005. There are 67 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 25, 1854, the “Charge of the Light Brigade” took place during the Crimean War as an English brigade of more than 600 men, facing hopeless odds, charged the Russian army during the Battle of Balaclava and suffered heavy losses.
Serving Nevi’ Braunfels arui Comal County since 1852.
New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852;
New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958
Editor and Publisher
President is trying to send lawyer in to do justice’s job
My mother used to say: "It’s not enough to be I lungarian. You still need a little talent, too.” To paraphrase her, its not enough to be conservative, you still need to have the brain power to be a Supreme Court justice. And, if I larriet Miers is confirmed, she likely won t be in the same league with her colleagues in terms of gray matter.
Fifty years ago, it was OK to name a Supreme Court justice who was a layman. I Iugo Black was a senator from Alabama. William Douglas was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Earl Warren was governor of (California. The court was still dealing with broad and basic issues such as school segregation, reapportionment, the broad outlines of defendant rights, the application of the 14th Amendment to the states and the right of privacy.
But today’s court is much more than a legislative body on which people whose heart is in the right place should be picked to serve. It is an assemblage of experts in constitutional law who dice, prune, shape and redefine previous doctrines and decisions to apply to the new matters at hand. A modern Supreme Court justice is not some legislator who decides to vote for the plaintiff or the defendant. I Ie or she must be a scholar who can argue and articulate new variations on old doctrines and find four other justices who see things the same way.
Some question Miers’ conservative credentials. That is not my worry. I 'rn happy that she may not be a knee-jerk right-winger. My worry is that she is just not competent enough to serve on the court.
Talk-show host and former Supreme Court clerk Laura Ingraham (how low we all eventually fall in search of a living!) says it best. “How can you expect a general-practice lawyer like her to go head to head with a Stephen Breyer?”
It is not that she would be out of the mainstream on the court. She would be out of her league.
Those who question whether President Bush has appointed someone who parallels his views on key issues are pursuing the wrong question. He knows his own lawyer. I Ie must be deeply aware of her priorities and values. She is no stranger — as John Roberts was — to this president. We should not be second-guessing Bush’s decisions about her heart. But we can question his assessment of her head.
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years.
One of the dirty little secrets of Washington is how many genuinely unintelligent people there are in the government. I was with New Mexico Republican Sen. Jeff Binga-man, one of the brighter people in town, in 1988 when I got advance word that presidential nominee George FEW. Bush was to name Sen. Dan Quayle, R-Ind., as his choice for vice president. “What if they ask him a question?” Jeff asked.
But the truth is that you don’t need to be a bright light to handle chores in the Senate or the House. Votes are along party lines, and the member who thinks with genuine originality is both rare and unwelcome. But the Supreme Court is a rarefied atmosphere, and a woman with Miers’ background — or lack of it — cannot hope to enter as a constitutional novice and remain influential or even relevant in the court’s decisions. One can imagine the other justices stooping to explain it all to her.
Miers’ chief advantage is that she can be confirmed because liberals like the conservative angst over her reliability. Bush should not buy himself a dogfight by choosing a highly controversial Bork-like nominee. But he should make sure that the standards of ability, experience and competence, so evident in his selection of Roberts, dominate his court appointments. And Miers isn’t it.
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iiiiiiimmiiiBush would be wise to stay away from international law comments
It is important for us to keep our facts straight. Saddam (Hussein) was not overthrown by the Iraqi people. He was overthrown by U.S. and coalition forces. Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq, which resulted in his overthrow, was, under international law, illegal as heck.
lutions. That’s why President Bush could not persuade the U.N. Security Council to endorse his invasion. That’s why practically the whole world opposed our invasion.
It would have been better if Saddam had been kept on ice until a permanent government was elected in Iraq and we were on the way out. No matter what we say, this trial will be viewed by many in the Muslim world as a show trial staged by the Americans through their puppets in order to justify America’s invasion of Iraq. President Bush said publicly two years ago that Saddam should be hanged, so there is not much point in pretending that he’s going to get a fair trial. Americans are holding Saddam and his cohorts, and American lawyers trained the judges who will try him.
In fact, a fair trial could be embarrassing. When they try him for gassing the Kurds, his lawyers should certainly produce the U.S. Defense Department investigation that blamed the gassing on the Iranians. When he is tried for crushing the Shiite and Kurdish rebellions in 1991, his lawyers should point out that the U.S. government incited them to rebel and then stood by while Saddam’s forces crushed them.
And, of course, they can point to American assistance given to Saddam’s government through most of the 1980s.
Saddam’s trial, coupled with the constitution just passed — though there are clouds concerning the vote — probably will aggravate the divisions in Iraq rather than heal them. As bad as he was when he had power, some Iraqis will inevitably
take the position that while he is a blankety-blank, he is our blankety-blank, and Americans should butt out of Iraq’s business.
At any rate, the president should not point to this trial as an example of international law. His administration has flouted international law too often. Saddam is not being tried by an internation-al-war-crimes tribunal. He’s being tried by an Iraqi court essentially set up under our direction.
One final point to remember is that the Iraqi people who hate Saddam are not asking for justice. They want revenge. They would like nothing more than for us to physically hand him over to the survivors of atrocities so they could tear him to pieces and drag his body parts through the streets. At the same time, the old Baathist remnants are demonstrating in favor of him and calling him a hero. International law is no more popular in Baghdad than it is in Washington, D.C.
I don’t remember who said it, but it is certainly true that it is always easier to go into a country than to get out of it.
In commenting on Saddam Hussein’s trial, President Bush should have steered away from the subject of international law. Under international law, Saddam is right — he’s still the legal president of Iraq.
Don’t misinterpret any of this as a defense of Saddam. He deserves to be hanged, shot, chopped into little pieces, etc. His abuses of the Iraqi people are too well-known to be repeated.
Nevertheless, it is important for us to keep our facts straight. Saddam was not ove. thrown by the Iraqi people. I Ie was overthrown by U.S. and coalition forces. Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq, which resulted in his overthrow, was, under international law, illegal as heck.
Iraq was not at war with us. Iraq had not invaded us or even threatened us. It had not attacked us. Furthermore, it was in compliance with United Nations reso
Charley Reese is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. You can write to him at PO. Box 2446, Orlando, Fla. 32802.