Justice Delayed

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The anti-climactic
verdict is in. Saddam is guilty and will hang. His trial was held
under American military occupation within the Green Zone — a section
of Baghdad built by America and completely isolated from its indigenous
surroundings — with a court appointed by the occupation authorities
(at least one judge was dismissed after he stated in open court
that he did not consider Saddam to be a dictator)
under conditions established by the occupation authorities, during
which three defense attorneys were murdered. Bush’s staged appearance
before a national television audience two days before the mid-term
election to comment upon the verdict further belied the party line
that this was purely an Iraqi affair. The dilemma for the Administration
is this: If it takes credit for the conviction and execution of
Saddam it is conceding America’s hand in it. If not, it cannot claim
the verdict as an achievement.

It
is a virtual certainty that Iraqis disaffected under Saddam’s rule
would have dispatched their former persecutor with or without American
assistance. Yet, this is further evidence of the lack of any real
achievement by the occupation. Serving the former dictator up to
formerly disenfranchised groups which have demonstrated their penchant
for treating others the way they were once treated is status quo
not progress. Adding to the body count in Baghdad is hardly an accomplishment.
"Yes, but this is justice for one who mistreated others,"
says the Administration. Every death in Iraq has a rationale attached.

Saddam
was sentenced for directing an assault upon the Iraqi village of
Dujail which resulted in the revenge killings of 148 of his fellow
Iraqis. Dujail was targeted because an attempt to assassinate Saddam
originated there. Bush ordered the wholesale destruction of Fallujah,
a city with a population of approximately 300,000. Fallujah’s crime
was to resist the occupation. Saddam was accused of political imprisonment
and torture. Bush has probably imprisoned more Iraqis for political
reasons and has been at the helm for Abu Ghraib and other grisly
scenes of the occupation. Saddam was accused of having used chemical
weapons against insurgent populations. Bush used shock and awe,
cluster
bombs
, napalm
and white
phosphorous
against those who dared oppose
his master plan.

“The
man who once struck fear in the hearts of Iraqis had to listen to
free Iraqis recount the acts of torture and murder that he ordered
against their families and against them.” While this was President
Bush
commenting on the guilty verdict against
Saddam Hussein, it could just as well have been an observation about
President Bush himself.

In
the end, Saddam will hang for his crimes. What happens to George
W. Bush may be the greater test of whether there is justice in Iraq.

November
8, 2006

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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