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Thread: Saddam Captured While Hiding in a Hole

  1. #1

    Default Saddam Captured While Hiding in a Hole

    From Rueters:

    Saddam Captured While Hiding in Hole Near Hometown

    Robin Pomeroy

    TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein near his home town of Tikrit in a major coup for Washington's beleaguered occupation force in Iraq.

    Grubby and bearded, apparently exhausted and resigned to his fate, the fugitive dictator was dug out by troops from a narrow hiding hole during a raid on a farm late Saturday, the U.S. commander in Iraq told a news conference Sunday.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," a beaming U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said in his first, pithy comments.

    "The tyrant is a prisoner."

    Amid scenes of undisguised jubilation at U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez played a video of the 66-year-old ousted leader, in a heavy black and gray beard, undergoing a medical examination that appeared to include the taking of saliva swabs for DNA testing. Sanchez also showed a still photograph, apparently taken later, of a shaven Saddam.

    Across the capital, gunfire crackled in celebration.

    Joy greeted final proof that the man who terrorized his people for 30 years and led them into three disastrous wars was now behind bars and facing trial, even possible execution, at Iraqi hands.

    "There were no injuries. Not a single shot was fired," said Sanchez, adding that Saddam seemed "tired and resigned."

    It was a contrast to the end of Saddam's once powerful sons, Uday and Qusay, who went down guns blazing against an overwhelming U.S. force at a house in Mosul in July.

    Troops acting on a tip-off surrounded the farm outside Ad Dawr, just south of Tikrit, the city where Saddam was born into a poor family of minority Sunni Muslims. He rose through tribal contacts and a taste for ruthless violence to dominate the Arab nationalist Ba'ath party, which seized power in a 1968 coup.

    The soldiers finally tracked the fugitive down to the bottom of a narrow, man-sized pit, some six to eight feet deep, Sanchez said.

    BOON FOR BUSH

    The arrest is a major boon for President Bush after seven months of increasingly bloody attacks on U.S. forces and their allies following Saddam's ousting on April 9.

    His campaign for re-election next year has been overshadowed by mounting casualties and wrangling with key allies over Iraq.

    It may break the spirit of some of his diehard supporters and ease anxieties of many Iraqis who lived in fear for three decades under a man who led them into three disastrous wars.

    U.S. officials will also hope to extract key intelligence on the alleged weapons programs which formed the public grounds for Bush to go to war in defiance of many U.N. allies. Little evidence of banned weapons has been found.

    Saddam had kept up a stream of belligerent rhetoric from hiding, even after his sons were killed. Already vexed by its failure to find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Washington blamed Saddam for promoting some of the violence against its forces and put a $25 million price on his head.

    But analysts warned that other groups could go on fighting.

    "This has lifted a shadow from the people of Iraq. Saddam will not be returning," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a statement.

    Washington had made Saddam number one -- the "ace of spades" -- on its list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis. An informer was paid $30 million and given refuge in the United States for turning in Uday and Qusay.

    DEATH SENTENCE?

    Saddam would be put on trial, Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi told Reuters. A tribunal system for Iraqis to try Saddam and fellow Baathist leaders was set up only last week.

    "This is good for Iraq. He will be put on trial. Let him face justice," Chalabi, who returned after the invasion from years in U.S. exile, said in Baghdad.

    A U.S.-led coalition official said last week the Iraqi government to be formed by June would be free to re-establish the death penalty, although most of the countries supplying experts setting up the tribunal do not have it. Saddam made free use of execution, killing thousands during his years in power.

    Hours after the arrest, a suspected suicide car bomber killed at least 17 people and wounding 33 at an Iraqi police station in the restive town of Khalidiyah, west of Baghdad.

    U.S. officials had said Saddam had eluded American troops by moving every few hours, probably in disguise and aided by members of his clan around Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

    "His arrest will put an end to military and terrorist attacks and the Iraqi nation will achieve stability," said Amar al-Hakim, a senior member of the Shi'ite political party the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

    "We want Saddam to get what he deserves. I believe he will be sentenced to hundreds of death sentences at a fair trial because he's responsible for all the massacres and crimes in Iraq."

    Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in London, warned, however, that there were other anti-American groups in Iraq ready to continue attacks.

    "There will be a reduction in operations sponsored by former regime loyalists, but this is not the full story because they are not the only group involved," he said.

    "For the Americans after the failure to capture Osama bin Laden after so many years, it is a propaganda coup...It's an intelligence prize because they can get information from him about cells working now. And it's a huge victory."

    Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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    Hopefully, more Iraqi energy will be put into a positive future rather than pointless fighting.

  3. #3

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    And my nephew can come home.

  4. #4
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    Good luck to your nephew!

    I think things will calm down a bit over there now. Don't know how much though...

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    Yay.

    Good job, George. Now go get Osama.

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    Great job, but to find the WMDs they can't give Saddam the death penalty.Everyone cracks at some point and even though I don't think there are WMD I still think that keeping Saddam alive may be of some us to the US.

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    you guys will only be seeing me in this forum, by the way..... as for this topic, yea we hope to get osama, but i don't see it happening. osama is double the genius as saddam is and he is hiding quite well at the moment. the way i see it, is saddam wanted to get caught since he showed no resistance to the U.S. soldiers. it scared me when i heard this on the news that day especially looking at his "haggard" condition. it all seems too "good" and pleasing to george bush, and i'm looking to see what next is up the al qaeda's sleeves.

  9. #9

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    Sadly, I also doubt if we will ever get bin laden. We had the bastar* surrounded at Tora Bora. Then the Northern Alliance had some sort of cease fire for an hour or so, while Bin Laden slipped out the back door. If American troops had him surrounded instead of the Northern Alliance you can guarantee he would have been caught by now. We messed up and I doubt we'll get another opportunity like it . But could you imagine what it'd be like if we did get bin laden? It'd be just like Saddams capture only a thousand times bigger.

  10. #10

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    http://www.observer.com/index_go.html

    Ramsey Clark: Why I’m Taking Saddam’s Case

    by Lizzy Ratner

    "You can’t be sure of how the trial will go," said longtime Manhattan civil-rights attorney Ramsey Clark, wagging a long, slender forefinger. "But you could say that if it’s properly done, it will be the biggest trial of this century."

    Mr. Clark was talking about the trial of Saddam Hussein, whom he recently signed on to represent before a special tribunal in Baghdad. For the man who has represented Leonard Peltier, the Harrisburg Seven and the Attica Brothers, but also prosecuted war resisters in the Johnson administration—indeed, for the man who, as a young Marine Corps courier, witnessed the Nuremberg trials after World War II—calling it the "trial of the century" was no small thing.

    Ramsey Clark was in his office, in a loft on East 12th Street in the East Village, speaking like a law professor across a large slab of a wooden table. He’d just returned a few days before from a visit to Jordan, where he met with other members of Mr. Hussein’s legal team as well as the families of both Mr. Hussein and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. In the room hung an Salvadoran solidarity poster and a painting by Mr. Peltier. The painting is of an old Native American woman with a single tear running down her cheek; it’s called Big Lady Mountain.

    By Mr. Clark’s own telling, his interest in representing the deposed Iraqi leader was inflamed when media reports started coming in of Mr. Hussein’s arrest in a spider-hole hideout in the desert. He said he was "shocked" by the images he saw.

    "The savage presentation of [Mr. Hussein], disheveled, with his mouth open, people probing in his mouth, the dehumanization," he said. "I represented Indian peoples for many years, and I can’t tell you how many Indians I’ve worked with called after they saw the picture and said, ‘That’s exactly the way they treated us.’ And this is hardly the road to peace if you want respect for human dignity.

    "I wrote to him a year ago in December, shortly after he was arrested," he continued. "I’d also written to Tariq Aziz right after he turned himself in April of ’03, because I thought it was essential that they have independent contact immediately to assure their proper treatment. And I was repeatedly turned down as to both.

    "I did it because, obviously, these cases are extremely important in terms of history and in terms of reconciliation of peoples, and in terms of belief in truth and justice as a priority over force and violence," Mr. Clark said. "It’s about addressing the concept of victor’s justice, which is only the exercise of power. If you really want peace, you have to satisfy people about the honor of your purpose."

    Mr. Clark has not been able to meet with Mr. Hussein since he sent his letter.

    "There has not been anything approaching adequate contact with him," he said. "None of his family has seen him; only one lawyer has seen him, and that was in the first half of December—a full year after his arrest. It was by a single person, with soldiers standing by, hearing, with whatever other type of surveillance there might have been.

    "And there’s not adequate contact with that lawyer, who’s an Iraqi. So for a defense to be developed, there has to be extensive communication with the principal person whose life it involves.

    "He is a decisive, knowledgeable person," Mr. Clark said, "and has to play a major role in every aspect of choosing a defense team and preparing a defense. The lack of access to him is a major violation. Our Supreme Court has thrown cases out where a person wasn’t given access to independent non-police parties within 48 hours of arrest, within less than 12 hours. Here you’ve got 12 months. That sounds technical, but it’s not technical at all—it’s the essential beginning."

    It’s not that he’s never met Mr. Hussein.

    Mr. Clark’s history with the former Iraqi leader dates back to the first Gulf War, when Mr. Clark traveled to Iraq to protest the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign. He spent 14 days chronicling the destruction and later defied sanctions by returning on dozens of aid missions. He met with Mr. Hussein on at least four of these occasions, including a month-long visit just before the March 2003 invasion.

    "I’ve met with him I think four times, probably averaged two to three hours at a time," he said. "In presence he is reserved, quiet, thoughtful—dignified, you might say, in the old-fashioned sense. I’m not a big fan of dignity in the old-fashioned sense of stuffiness or posture."

    Could he see how that might be praising with faint damnation a man who is said to have ordered the deaths of some 300,000 of his own citizens?

    "I have long believed that one of the greatest barriers to peace is demonization," Mr. Clark said. "It has always been necessary in war for soldiers to demonize the enemy. Now, with the mass media saturating the public with perceptions that come from very slim contact with actuality and are heavily influenced by desire and prejudice, we demonize."

    And if other lawyers might blanch at the argument that it was the American media who demonized Saddam—wasn’t he something of a demon to begin with? If it were a simple referendum on Mr. Hussein’s treatment of the Kurds or political dissidents, who could possibly represent him in good faith? But what if the trial of Saddam Hussein is really a referendum on the American campaign in Iraq?

    "Demonization is the most dangerous form of prejudice," Mr. Clark continued. "Once you call something evil, it’s easy to justify anything you might do to harm that evil. Evil has no rights, it has no human dignity, it has to be destroyed. That’s how you get your Fallujas, your Abu Ghraibs, your shock-and-awes."

    And, like many civil-rights lawyers, Mr. Clark believes he’s representing a client in a court that is fundamentally flawed.

    "A tribunal that doesn’t meet the standards of international law can do enormous harm. International law requires first that a tribunal be created by legal authority, by pre-existing legal authority," he argued. "That’s referred to as competence. After competence comes independence—it can’t be subject to political power. And finally, it has to be impartial. If it’s not impartial, what’s the point? Why don’t you just go ahead and say ‘Hang him’ instead of this ruse?

    "Now, the present Iraqi court meets none of those standards. It was a creation of the U.S. military occupation, the so-called governing council, which was appointed by the U.S. And who becomes the first judge of the court? Chalabi’s nephew. I mean, suppose he’s the most honorable person in the world, this nephew? Is it really conceivable that that’s the person that ought to be judge in a world as big as this? So you don’t have independence, because everything depends on what the U.S. does for the court: financing, training, selection and everything else. You don’t have competence, because it’s not legal. And you don’t have impartiality, as far as can be told from the appearance.

    "The only existing court that is competent and independent and impartial is the International Criminal Court, which came into existence July 1, 2002. It’s a court the U.S. opposed. It’s a court the U.S. tragically weakened, but it’s been approved by more than 120 countries.

    "The judges were appointed not by the U.S., but the Iraqis, and after the new government comes to power, they will have to be reconfirmed," said Michael Scharf, a human-rights lawyer at Case Western Reserve who has helped train Iraqi judges, when Mr. Clark’s claims were put before him. "Not only that: The judges who I work with are extremely independent people. They have no particular love for the United States. These are people who were chosen for their expertise and independence."

    Mr. Clark is 77 years old, stooped and slender. He was wearing New Balance sneakers and a worn blue button-down shirt tucked into a pair of wool or polyester pants that might have dated from his early political career. He has wide-set eyes, a bit like a crawfish. And to many, his movements are just as mysterious—sideways, quirky, puzzling.

    "Ramsey is a mystery," said Melvin Wulf, an old colleague who shared a law practice with Mr. Clark during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, in an earlier interview. "I saw him every day, but I didn’t know him any better at the end of five years than I knew him on the first day. He plays himself very close to the vest, consults with no one except for himself."

    Outside the room, the office manager, Ben Cheney, brother of the slain civil-rights activist, typed at a keyboard. A few unlikely magazines—The New Yorker, Gourmet, Opera News—sat in a stack in the waiting room for visitors. Like some small-town doctor’s office, there were no visitors and the office was quiet—nothing that would suggest that this was the home away from home of one of the most controversial attorneys in the United States.

    It all started in the last hoary week of 2004, when Mr. Clark jetted over to Jordan for a conference with 20 or so other attorneys on Dec. 28 to start forming their strategy.

    Reaction to Mr. Clark’s trip was swift and certain across the political spectrum. On the right, bloggers for Web sites like RightNation declared that he should be "tried for sedition and treason." The New York Sun accused him of losing all "credibility when it comes to claiming to be for peace." Even some of his left-wing comrades rolled their eyes when they heard that he’d signed on to represent a man who had allegedly ordered 300,000 political killings.

    "I do think that Saddam, like anybody else, does have a right to a fair trial and a competent lawyer. I’m just not sure why Ramsey Clark needs to do that," said Leslie Cagan, a longtime peace and justice activist. "Personally, I wish he didn’t do some of those things, because he is one of the few public well-known leftists in this country, and it does make our work harder sometimes."

    Conservatives loathe Mr. Clark, but even staunch progressives don’t always know what to make of him, and some of his closest friends say he can’t be easily defined: Is he a valiant "dissenter" in the tradition of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, as his friend Victor Navasky suggested? Or is he an old ideologue, as others have charged, who is driven above all by his ties to a Communist splinter group called the Workers World Party? Is he a profile in courage, or a study in eccentricity?

    Perhaps predictably, Mr. Clark presents himself as neither. A rangy Texan with a down-home Southern drawl, he seems to move to his own unapologetic drumbeat.

    He is not without supporters, including some colleagues who argued that Mr. Clark will provide Mr. Hussein with a competent defense, a necessary component of a fair trial.

    "[Mr. Clark] has a very good point: The international legal issues are compelling in some ways," said Alan Dershowitz, who has worked both with and against Mr. Clark on a number of cases. "I think it has to be perceived as a fair trial, and Ramsey’s being involved increases the chances that it will be perceived as a fair trial, because he is a very good lawyer—very smart and very tough."

    Mr. Clark is used to being in the center of the storm. Over the years, he has become a fixture of national and international crime scenes, taking on the kind of thorny cases that have earned him comparisons to the crusading civil-liberties lawyer Clarence Darrow on the one hand—and to Benedict Arnold on the other.

    "I think he seems to have some kind of inner compass that tells him that this situation is unfair, and because of that we have to get involved in it," said Abdeen Jabara, an old friend and lawyer who formerly ran the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who is as principled in his beliefs to fight for the underdog."

    Long before he joined Saddam Hussein’s defense team, before he became the mascot of the anti-Establishment, Ramsey Clark was himself a pedigreed member of the political elite. Born into an influential Texas family, he came from a long line of lawyers who moved effortlessly within the highest levels of law and government. His maternal grandfather was a member of the Texas Supreme Court; his paternal grandfather was president of the Texas Bar Association. His father, Tom C. Clark, was a law-and-order lawyer with close ties to Lyndon B. Johnson. At Mr. Johnson’s urging, President Harry S. Truman named the elder Mr. Clark his Attorney General in 1945. Four years later, Mr. Truman appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Early in his life, the young Ramsey rebelled at least twice against these Clark family precedents. He tried to join the Marines when he was 13, on Dec. 8, 1941, "and it probably would have been pretty dangerous," he laughed.

    "As far as I can tell, I’ve always had a fierce opposition to violence," he said. "I can remember when I was in fifth or sixth grade, the subject of capital punishment came up. And I was shy and quiet and rarely said much, but I really got upset and I just was passionately against it."

    But when he was 17, he did drop out of high school—against his father’s wishes—to join the Marine Corps and fight in World War II.

    Several years later, he defied his father again when he chose to go to the more progressive-minded University of Chicago Law School rather than Harvard Law.

    Following law school, Mr. Clark headed back to Texas and appeared, at least on the surface, to return to the path his father and grandfathers had carved out before him. He married his college sweetheart, Georgia Welch, and went to work for the family’s Dallas law firm. He stayed there for 10 years, specializing in antitrust work, until, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy made him an Assistant Attorney General in brother Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department.

    Mr. Clark arrived in Washington as the Justice Department was taking on a bigger role in enforcing civil rights.

    He roved the South as part of Robert Kennedy’s "riot squad" and ultimately helped to draft the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    "I went in ’61, and because I was from Texas I could pass, so I was used extensively in the South," he said. "I was in charge of supervising the desegregation of all public schools in ’62 in the South. There were only five, but it was a big job—doing just one of them was a big job. You had to worry about children being beat up, their homes being firebombed. It seemed incredibly important, exciting and a privilege to be involved in that."

    His outspokenness and sharp positions—from his support of civil rights to his opposition to wire-tapping and the death penalty—ultimately earned him the nickname "the Preacher" among his Justice Department colleagues.

    "[Ramsey Clark] was liberal, though he was much more restrained than he is today," recalled Nicholas Katzenbach, who worked alongside Mr. Clark for some six years, first as Deputy Attorney General and then as Attorney General. "Still, I think he was far more liberal than his dad."

    Indeed, Mr. Clark bumped squarely against his father’s own, more conservative legal judgments several times during his years in the Justice Department. Most notably, when Johnson appointed him Attorney General in 1967, one of his first steps was to drop the case against Judith Coplon, a Justice Department clerk who had been charged during the early McCarthy days with passing secrets to her Soviet lover. Mr. Clark’s father had brought the case when he was Attorney General.

    "It seemed to me a quite fascinating thing to do," said Mr. Navasky, who became close friends with Mr. Clark in the late 1960’s while writing the book Kennedy Justice. "Ramsey was appointed under the cloud that he got the job [of Attorney General] because his family was Texas buddies of the Johnson family. But I came to the conclusion, both from my interviews and what he did in the Justice Department, that he was a kind of civil-libertarian Attorney General, which is very unusual."

    This civil-libertarian streak didn’t always go over well in the Johnson cabinet, however. During his two years as Attorney General, Mr. Clark found himself at odds with the administration over everything from wire-tapping to prison reform to the Vietnam War.

    "President Johnson knew I [opposed the war in Vietnam] before he appointed me Attorney General," Mr. Clark said. "And he didn’t put me on the National Security Council, which every Attorney General before me had been on and every Attorney General since me had been on. He would call me over once in a while to some meeting on the war when he wanted an extreme position, and I remember one breakfast, the question was whether to bomb north of a famous parallel, I can’t remember which one. And the guys were arguing "yes-no-yes-no" as to whether you could bomb north of the line, and when it came to me I said, ‘I don’t think you can bomb on either side of the line.’ Because bombing is just killing people, and you didn’t know who the hell you were killing—you were killing civilians. It was just a shameful, sick thing."

    When Richard Nixon denounced Mr. Clark in a campaign speech in 1968, Johnson reportedly deadpanned, "I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t cheer it."

    But Mr. Clark said his relationship with Johnson was friendly.

    "I never had any real conflict with him. But he [did] say to me one time, ‘Some people think you’re destroying the Democratic Party.’ And I said, ‘I’m not even in politics, I’m just doing the law.’"

    Mr. Clark never spoke out publicly against the administration, and he never resigned, despite his apparent misgivings about Vietnam.

    "You know, I had a choice of resigning," Mr. Clark recalled, "and it’s something I considered—it’s something I thought was important and respected. But I also thought what I was doing was important—was more important in the sense of its direct impact on lives. And I saw an environment around me in which everything I had been trying to do would be swept away. I already felt that the civil-rights movement after the Watts riots in ’65 was in deep trouble. So I couldn’t see giving up on that. And I had no role in the Vietnam business, because I wasn’t even on the Security Council."

    Some of Mr. Clark’s colleagues have suggested that he is still doing penance for this period of his life—in particular, for prosecuting war resisters like Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Reverend William Sloane Coffin and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

    "Standing by, being Attorney General during the Vietnam War without resigning, is not a particularly heroic position to have taken," said his old colleague, Mr. Wulf. "I sometimes speculate—and this is absolute speculation—that what he’s doing is a kind of atonement for having been Attorney General for Lyndon Johnson at the time of the Vietnam War, and for having in fact initiated the indictment against Dr. Spock and the others."

    As in most cases, Mr. Clark was as unapologetic about his indictment of Spock as he has since become about his Johnson administration apostasy.

    "I personally authorized the case against William Sloane Coffin, who came down to marry our son a few years later. I visited him and stayed in his home in ’69, at Yale. Dr. Spock I became very close friends with. And I really haven’t had regrets about the case. I think the government has the duty to protect laws that it believes are constitutional, and I believe the Selective Service Act was constitutional."

    Still, there’s no question that Mr. Clark veered sharply leftward after his Johnson years. Beginning in the early 1970’s, Mr. Clark took a string of headline-grabbing "movement" cases, amassing a docket that read like a Who’s Who of the decade’s radicals and revolutionaries. In 1973, he defended the Harrisburg Seven, a group of peace activists who were accused, among other things, of plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger. One year later, he joined famed radical lawyer William Kunstler in representing two of the Attica Brothers who had been accused of killing a prison guard. Around the same time, he also launched an upstart campaign for U.S. Senate against New York Republican Jacob Javits. (At the state Democratic convention in 1974, Frank Serpico nominated him and Attica Brother Herbert X. Blyden seconded it.) Running as a Democrat, he argued for a 50 percent cut in the defense budget and refused to take contributions above $100. Mr. Navasky managed the operation.

    During the next two decades, Mr. Clark began taking on clients who hovered further and further on the political fringes, clients who were not merely controversial but downright incendiary. He often framed these cases in the old language of civil rights, but these clients were hardly left-wing "cause" clients in the traditional sense (though there were some of those as well). For instance, he took on the case of Karl Linnas, an alleged former Nazi. And he defended—and supposedly befriended—Lyndon LaRouche, the political-cult guru. In the early 1990’s, Mr. Clark represented Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb general who was indicted on war crimes. More recently, he gave legal advice to Slobodon Milosevic, the former Yugoslavian president who was also charged with war crimes. Now, of course, there’s Saddam Hussein.

    Taken together, these clients make up quite a rogues’ gallery, and some of Mr. Clark’s friends and colleagues have been almost as confounded by his legal choices as his critics. To help explain, they have dreamed up a raft of different theories. On the one side are those who believe that Mr. Clark is, above all, a civil libertarian in the Clarence Darrow tradition. To these friends, he is a hero, albeit at times an eccentric one.

    "He’s represented a lot of bad guys. I would say bad guys are entitled to a lawyer. Dracula should have a lawyer, but it’s not going to be me," said Michael Steven Smith, a New York City attorney and author. "It’s probably not a position taken by most movement lawyers, but it’s still a principled position."

    But other friends and colleagues have said they suspect he is driven primarily by ideology, and not just the standard lefty ideology.

    "I support many of the causes he supports, but I also vehemently disagree with some of the choices he’s made, because I perceive him as thinking that any enemy of the United States is a friend of his, and I think that leads him into representing people he should not," said Beth Stevens, an attorney who represented a group of Bosnian Muslim women who sued Mr. Karadzic in 1993.

    And yet for a man who sticks to certain basic principles of justice, even when the circumstances of the world seem to be pressing their defense to the point of absurdity, Mr. Clark had a deceptively simple answer for the choices he’s made.

    "You know, we tend to demean here the idea that you’re innocent until proven guilty, and most people are going to chuckle when you say that in connection with a case like Saddam Hussein," said Mr. Clark, responding to his critics. "But the main meaning is that truth is hard to find. You don’t really know, you have to search for it—you have to inquire diligently, be very skeptical."

    You may reach Lizzy Ratner via email at: lratner@observer.com.

    This column ran on page 1 in the 1/10/2005 edition of The New York Observer.

    COPYRIGHT © 2005
    THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

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    Remember the guy in the hole?



    October 19, 2005

    Hussein Goes on Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

    By EDWARD WONG and JOHN F. BURNS

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 19 - Saddam Hussein defiantly faced a panel of Iraqi judges this morning in a heavily guarded courthouse in central Baghdad, answering charges for a 1982 massacre and beginning the long process of public reckoning for the decades of brutal repression that Mr. Hussein brought to Iraq.

    A live-television feed that began around 12:45 p.m. showed a silver-haired judge in black robes reading aloud the names of Mr. Hussein and seven other defendants. The judge sat upright in a black leathered chair with a white marble wall in the background. The area where the defendants sat, most of them wearing light-blue or white robes, was surrounded by barriers of white metal bars.

    Escorted by guards in body armor, Mr. Hussein shuffled quietly into the courtroom wearing a dark gray suit and white shirt, his eyes moist and his hair neatly combed back. He sat in the first row facing the judge and next to the balding, white-robed Awad Hamad al-Bandar, the former head of the Revolutionary Court.

    The judge asked Mr. Hussein to take the stand first. Mr. Hussein got up from his chair and walked to the podium holding a thick hardcover copy of the Koran.

    "By the name of God," he said, beginning to recite a holy verse. The judge asked Mr. Hussein to say his full name. The exchange abruptly turned combative, with Mr. Hussein refusing to obey and instead launching into short criticisms of the immediate restrictions on him, such as an order preventing his lawyers from bringing pens and paper into the courtroom.

    "Are you judges?" Mr. Hussein asked at one point. A minute or so later, he said: "I've been wearing my best clothes and waiting for the court since 9 a.m."

    The judge persisted: "Give us your full name."

    "You know me, because you are an Iraqi," Mr. Hussein said, adding, "I don't recognize the parties that appointed you to this court."

    "So you won't give us your name?" the judge said. "Sit down."

    The first case being brought against the former Iraqi leader centers around the execution of more than 140 men and teenage boys from the mostly Shiite market town of Dujail, 35 miles north of Baghdad. The victims were seized by secret police after a failed assassination attempt on Mr. Hussein there in 1982. This morning, images on one Iraqi television network showed residents of Dujail calling for Mr. Hussein's execution.

    Meanwhile, in Mr. Hussein's home town of Tikrit crowds gathered to show support for their former leader, chanting slogans such as: "You are still the son of Iraq." They appeared to be in a frenzy, waving Iraqi flags and photos of Mr. Hussein. Iraqi police, wearing blue uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs, walked through the crowds but did not appear anxious to break up the demonstration.

    This morning, officials from the Iraqi special tribunal, most middle-aged men in dark suits, had gathered near the convention center inside the fortified Green Zone to await transport to the courthouse as American helicopters swooped overhead in a wan sky. Accompanying the officials were human rights observers from international organizations. The Iraqi officials included Raad Juhi, the judge who has been leading the investigations into Mr. Hussein.

    A frantic surge of activity had taken place in the 24 hours leading up to the trial opening, as officials and technicians scrambled to set up the television link to the courtroom, housed in the former Baath Party headquarters. The tribunal had delayed making a decision on providing a live broadcast until the very last minute, reportedly out of concern for jeopardizing the safety of witnesses, tribunal officials and others who would be in the courtroom and would presumably have their faces shown on television. The television feed was set up with a 20-minute delay so officials can censure any sensitive images or testimony.

    Though the case against Mr. Hussein is relatively narrow, it is the first in a series meant to serve as a public accounting for all the acts of murder and torture that took place under his rule. He first became a senior member of government following the Baath Party coup of 1968, then seized full power and went on to construct one of the most thoroughly autocratic regimes of the late 20th century. Mr. Hussein was not toppled from power until the American-led invasion in the spring of 2003, which sent him fleeing from his marble-lined palaces in Baghdad to the palm groves and villages of the north.

    In December that year, American troops dragged an emaciated Mr. Hussein from a spider hole near Tikrit in the northern Sunni triangle, catalyzing the events that would lead the trial today.

    Even as this trial began, investigative judges in the Iraqi special tribunal were working to conclude their research in more far-reaching cases that would reflect, to a much greater degree, the horrors of Mr. Hussein's rule. These include the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the late 1980's, which resulted in the deaths of at least 80,000 people, and the suppression of the 1991 Shiite revolt, in which more than 100,000 people were killed in a three-week frenzy of bloodletting. In all, Mr. Hussein could face charges for the killings of more than 300,000 people, mostly Shiites and Kurds.

    That figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who lost their lives in the disastrous eight-year war against Iran and the ill-fated invasion of Kuwait.

    The tribunal, working under the advisement of Americans in what is known as the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, first announced the Dujail case early this year, though it did not make any mention of Mr. Hussein being among the defendants. Mr. Hussein was only added to the list over the summer, a move that came about because the current embattled Shiite-run government, under the watch of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, pressed the tribunal, nominally independent, to ensure the speedy appearance of Mr. Hussein in the courtroom.

    That has opened the tribunal up to intense criticism from Western human rights groups, who accuse the judges of being political pawns and of flouting international standards of fair justice. Few legal organizations outside of Iraq and the United States accept the trial as anything more than a display of "victor's justice." Both Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice, respected groups based in New York, issued statements this month condemning the shoddy research and shaky legal framework that form the backbone of the trial, apparently pieced together for expediency's sake.

    Much of the international criticism also centers around the fact that Mr. Hussein and his aides could be sentenced to death for their crimes. The first American viceroy to Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, banned executions. Last year, following the transfer of sovereignty, Ayad Allawi, the American appointee as interim prime minister and an ex-operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, reinstated capital punishment.

    Under the current law, the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, a former Kurdish militia leader, has to approve any executions. In the past, Mr. Talabani joined a group of international lawyers in denouncing the death penalty, but has recently allowed his deputies to sign warrants of execution. Several cases involving the death sentence are working their way now through the Iraqi legal system, and Mr. Talabani recently said that "Saddam should be executed 20 times" for the Anfal massacres.

    The other defendants expected to take the stand today include Barzan al-Tikriti, Mr. Hussein's half-brother and a former intelligence chief; Taha Yasin Ramadan, former deputy prime minister and later vice president; and Awad Hamad Al-Bandar, former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court. All three men are known to Iraqis as being among the most ruthless members of the old regime. Each is accused of playing a decisive role in the Dujail massacre.

    The American government has tried to portray itself as working in a purely advisory capacity, but has been at the forefront of several crucial elements of the trial. For one thing, it has provided $138 million to build, over a the course of a year, the state-of-the-art courthouse that sits at the heart of the fortified Green Zone, which also contains the American embassy and the headquarters of the Iraqi government. Members of the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, attached to the embassy, have thoroughly aided the investigatory process, including overseeing excavations of mass graves.

    The Dujail killings began after a small group of villagers attacked a convoy carrying Mr. Hussein on July 8, 1982. Mr. Hussein was flown by helicopter from the area right after the assault. Members of the intelligence services, overseen by Mr. Tikriti at the time, then descended on the village and began rounding up men. Within days, hundreds had been arrested and as many as 15 were executed immediately, with more deaths to follow.

    In the end, up to 1,500 people spent years in prison with no trials or charges brought against them, many moved scattered to remote detention centers around the country. A committee formed by Mr. Ramadan razed the date palm plantations and fruit groves surrounding Dujail, destroying the livelihoods of the residents. Last winter, two local Baath Party officials were arrested in connection with the case and also forced to face the same charges as Mr. Hussein.

    On Tuesday, an Internet posting in the name of the Baath Party appeared on a Web site that often carries pro-insurgent messages. The posting condemned the trial as illegitimate and said Mr. Hussein will take the opportunity to judge the Americans and their allies.

    "The dear leader Saddam Hussein Al-Majeed will stand on the 19th of this month with glory, truth, and defiance, as a struggling leader and a jihadist resistor, and as a patriotic Iraqi and an Arab nationalist," the message said. "He will stand as a representative of all dignified Iraqis and free Arabs, and of honest humanity. He will prosecute, expose and convict American imperialism and the vicious Zionist coalition."


  12. #12
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    Who killed more Iraqis Bush or Saddam?

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    It depends on what you classify Kurds as.

    And I do not mean cheese here BR!!!!

  14. #14

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    Saddam wins going away.

    Iraq's own estimate of their losses in the Iraq-Iran war: 500,000
    Iran has put their losses at 300,000.

    During Saddam's regime, 200,000 Iraqis had simply disappeared.

    The Gulf War: Saddam said 100,000, but probably much less than that.

    I don't blame him for enjoying himself at his trial. The scumbag will surely hang.

  15. #15

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    October 20, 2005
    Tyrant or Fallen Hero?

    Iraqis Watch the Trial on TV, With Emotions Running High

    By EDWARD WONG

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 19 - From the very start of the trial, from the moment Saddam Hussein refused to tell the judge his name, Hiba Raad said she knew that she was watching the same man who had ruled over
    Iraq for decades with muscular authority.

    "He's a hero, he's a tough leader," Ms. Raad, 20, an education student at Mustansiriya Univerisity, said as she reclined in black pants and a T-shirt on a sofa in her living room. "If he came back, I'm sure he'd provide us with security."

    In her home in the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Adhamiya, Ms. Raad had just finished watching the opening session of the trial on an Arab network with her parents and sister. They continued staring, transfixed. The grandmother, Samira alBayati, shuffled into the room.

    "I felt sorry," she said. "I almost cried. Every country in the world has terrorism. All the presidents of this region torture their people. Why, of all the countries, do they come after us?"

    So went some of the talk on Wednesday afternoon as millions of Iraqis spent hours gazing at the stern, wrinkled visage of the leader they once feared, loathed and lionized. It was nothing less than a national spectacle.

    Viewpoints varied widely, some calling it a tawdry display of victor's justice, others a long-awaited, if somewhat unsatisfactory, accounting for sins too numerous to list.

    The opinions generally divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, with many Sunni Arabs expressing some sympathy for Mr. Hussein, one of their own, and long-persecuted Shiites and Kurds barely containing their hatred. Everyone, though, seemed to take notice of Mr. Hussein's fierce disposition and his unwillingness to bend to his captors.

    In Tikrit, his hometown, scores of protesters waved Iraqi flags and photos of Mr. Hussein, chanting, "You're still the son of Iraq."

    In Baghdad, in the Shiite slum Sadr City, crowds called for a swift, though preferably painful, execution.

    "This is divine justice," said Shakir Majeed, 38, an appliance repairman fiddling with an electric generator in his shop to keep the television going. "The proper sentence for him is execution, but this method of trying him is not encouraging. His crimes are many, and the court shouldn't spend time hearing him out. The court should judge him at the first session without listening to his defense."

    Mr. Majeed added, " We'd like him to be tried the same way he tried his victims."

    Mr. Hussein's display of unalloyed confidence, the willpower that may have propelled him to the ranks of the modern world's most feared dictators, disturbed many people.

    "The judge dealt with Saddam as a regular man, not as a criminal," said Akil Jawad, 20, a tailor in Sadr City trying to mend a shirt with a sewing machine while watching the trial. "We suffered a lot under him. And I don't feel optimistic about the trial, because Saddam smiles a lot and feels confident in his answers."

    Ali Abbas, an air conditioner repairman, also in Sadr City, suggested bypassing the trial.

    "There's no need for Saddam to be judged, because he's been indicted already," Mr. Abbas, 28, said. "We don't want him to be executed. I'd rather that he be beaten by shoes. Execution would be mercy for him."

    To be flailed with the soles of shoes is one of the ultimate humiliations in the Arab world. Many Iraqis hoped to see Mr. Hussein suffer such disgrace. But they came away disappointed - Mr. Hussein remained defiant until the very end of the session, when he scuffled with a guard.

    "It's a historical farce, not a historical trial," said Furad Saadadeen, 35, a resident of the embattled northern city of Mosul. "Saddam doesn't deserve anything but execution - and his government, too."

    Elsewhere in Mosul, a city where the insurgency has strong support, some rationalized the killings during Mr. Hussein's rule. As for the mass executions in the Shiite village of Dujail, for which Mr. Hussein is being tried, some residents argued, hadn't the people there tried to assassinate Mr. Hussein? In the case of Halabja, where 5,000 Kurds were killed by chemical weapons, wasn't he protecting Iraq from an unholy Iranian-Kurdish alliance?

    "Saddam doesn't deserve all this," said Ahmad Muhammad, 31, a taxi driver. "In Halabja there was an entire Iranian army inside our land, and who helped them enter? The traitors. What should he have done other than kill the traitors and our enemies?"

    The same support could be found in the deserts of western Iraq, the rebel heartland, and even on the streets of Mansour, an upscale neighborhood in western Baghdad.

    "I watched some of the trial and I was upset, because his rule was better than what we have today," Qusay Muhammad, 24, said as he sold tea from a sidewalk booth. "I don't mean to say I love Saddam. I'm just making a comparison between the old regime and the government today."

    In the south, dominated by Shiites, the attitude was markedly different. Mr. Hussein's forces swept through that region in 1991 and killed at least 100,000 Shiites at the end of the Persian Gulf war. That, along with the mass killings of Kurds in the late 1980's, is likely to form the basis for the next set of charges brought against Mr. Hussein.

    "I had four sons executed by Saddam," said a 64-year-old woman in the Shiite holy city of Karbala who gave her name as Umm Mahdi. "When he's executed I'll finally hold their funerals."

    Reporting for this article was contributed by Khalid Hassan, Khalid alAnsary and Sahar Najib from Baghdad and by Iraqi employees of The New York Times, whose names are withheld for security reasons, from Mosul and Karbala.


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