Preparing for Saddam's Trial

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To: Ramsey Clark, Esq.
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your Defense of Saddam

I don't normally see the Spectator, but am a regular reader
of Lew Rockwell's website, where I spotted the link to your
with the Spectator on the subject of your joining
the legal team that will take up the defense of Saddam Hussein.
I've long been an admirer of yours, not because of your association
with u201Cliberalu201D causes, but because of your passion in search of
justice in the most unpopular causes. There are not too many like
you, but I have been of the same bent through my adult life and
career in journalism. I took it seriously that my dad named me u201CJude,u201D
after St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, and taught me not
to be so quick to judge. One of my teenage heroes was Clarence Darrow,
an attorney like you who took on clients deemed guilty in the minds
of the public and press. I'm not a lawyer, but over the years I've
written in defense of Richard Nixon during his House impeachment,
and of other u201Cdemons,u201D such as Ferdinand Marcos, Louis Farrakhan,
Michael Milken, Wen Ho Lee, Slobodan Milosevic, and yes, Saddam
Hussein. And like you, I've done it out of conviction, not for a
fee. If in my own inquiries I had genuinely decided in my own mind
that these men were clearly guilty of the behavior in the minds
of conventional wisdom, I would never have taken up their defense,
especially pro bono.

It is because I have spent so much time in the last dozen years
following events in the Middle East and Iraq that I know you are
no Johnny-come-lately to the defense of Saddam. I didn't read your
1994 book, The
Fire This Time: U.S. Crimes in the Gulf
, until 2002, but
I was greatly impressed with how well your early assessment held
up with all the other accounts of what really went on in those years
that appeared subsequently. Saddam is lucky to have you in his corner
when it has been plain his prosecutors will include the interim
government in Iraq, which has no interest in seeing him get a fair
trial — which would be possible, I think, if he were brought before
the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

The reason I'm prompted to write today, Mr. Clark, is that I suspect
the interim government in Baghdad may already be concerned that
the charges of Saddam's u201Cwar crimesu201D may not be able to stand up
to close scrutiny, and are preparing back-up allegations. In particular,
I call your attention to a February
20 story
in the London Daily Telegraph. A soon to be
published book about the current war in Iraq,
has a section about my views, in Q&A format,
in which the Telegraph article came up. Here is how it went:

of persistent press reports that Saddam rounded up Shi'ite who
were politically agitating and had then killed? The most recent
is a February 20 dispatch in the British Daily Telegraph by Colin
Freeman about a massacre of 400 Shi'ite in a settlement north
of Baghdad in 1982 by Saddam's troops, supposedly retribution
because there had been an assassination attempt against Saddam?

JW: Yes, I read the story and concluded it was yet another example
of Shi'ite political factions aligned with the Iranian fundamentalists
in the war period trying to bring down Saddam and the government.
I have no doubt that his regime acted brutally when threatened,
but the story suggested that it was fed to the Telegraph — a pro-war
British paper – by the folks in the green zone who are gearing
up to try Saddam and his Cabinet for war crimes. The reporter
would never have called Dujail a u201Csettlementu201D or u201Cvillageu201D if
he had been there, but if there were 400 deaths as he reports,
it would look like retribution, wiping out a whole village for
an assassination attempt. But the town has a population of 70,000,
which means even if there had been 400 deaths they could easily
have been the result the clashes between insurgents and government
forces that took place there — along with innocent bystanders.
That's the nature of civil war. The Telegraph might have
noted a year-old report in the Middle East Intelligence Review
I came across that about 150 people died in the u201Cfierce gunfightu201D
that took place between Saddam's security forces and al-Dawa insurgents
– who of course were working on behalf of the Ayatollah Khomeini
to kill the president of Iraq.

The Telegraph story said Saddam's half-brother would be charged
with war crimes in the case and residents of the town will testify
against him.

JW: Look, the bottom line is that as far as I can tell — and I'm
only one fellow who has tried to get to the bottom of these charges
of genocide and revenge killings by Saddam — is that none of them
would stand up to scrutiny in a U.S. court of law. If the charges
went to The Hague, the prosecution would be laughed out of Court.
That's why the u201Cinterim governmentu201D in Baghdad, which may well
be headed by a leader of the al-Dawa Shiites, has to keep control
of the trials. As it stands, it doesn't matter how little evidence
they have. Saddam will have a hard time holding on to his head.
To be absolutely
honest with you, Mr. Clark, I have actually hoped from time to time
that Saddam was guilty of war crimes, committing genocide, etc.,
and not acting as head of state in a region where hardliners are
the rule, not the exception (witness Ariel Sharon). It would make
it much easier to close this chapter on the Middle East book and
feel that the great loss of life connected to Saddam's regime —
the two wars and all that happened in between – was primarily his,
not ours. To date, I've found no such hard evidence and if there
is, it will have to come out at his trial. I'm counting on you to
make sure whatever evidence the prosecution has really is hard,
so our conscience as a nation can be clear when he is executed,
if that be the case. Please let me know if I can be of any help.

21, 2005

Wanniski [send him mail]
runs the financial/political advisory service

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