It Is Illegal To Drive With Only One Hand on the Wheel

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It’s a decree from Bremer of Baghdad. As to the trial of Saddam,

Americans continue to hold Saddam – in Qatar, not in Iraq – and Americans ran the court in which Saddam appeared. American soldiers in plain clothes were the “civilians” in the court. American officials censored the tapes of the hearing, lied about the judge’s wish to record the sound of the trial, and marked the videotapes “cleared by US military”; three US officers later confiscated all the original tapes of the trial. “The last time that happened to me,” one of the reporters involved said afterwards, “was when the Iraqi government took my tapes in Basra during the 1991 Gulf War.”

But it’s not just the crude handling of the start of Saddam’s show trial – where he had, of course, no defence counsel. For if he is ever to be given a fair trial in the future, the “muting” of the tapes last week will have set an important precedent. For he can now be “silenced” again – if, for example, he deviates from the script and starts telling the court about his close association with the US rather than his non-existent contacts with al-Qa’ida.

Read the rest of Robert Fisk’s July 4th column.

4:51 pm on July 4, 2004