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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