Patterico's Pontifications

11/4/2006

L.A. Times Has “Doubts” About Hussein Court’s Legitimacy

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,International,War — Patterico @ 9:35 pm



The Saddam Hussein verdict is about to come down, so it’s naturally time for the L.A. Times to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the court that tried him. The story is titled 1st Hussein trial ending amid doubts, with a deck headline that reads, “Today’s verdict could send the former Iraqi leader to death. But questions persist about the court’s fairness.”

The story doesn’t really provide any hard evidence that the court has been illegitimate. To the contrary, there is a clear contrast between “justice” under Hussein, in which 148 “defendants” were “sentenced” to death in two weeks — and this trial, which has featured extensive procedural protections, to the point that it has dragged on so long that the world can now snidely comment that the timing is designed to affect U.S. elections.

Rather, the story relies on the criticism of unnamed “international legal experts” as well as snide comments like this one:

The prosecutors remained in the orderly world of the heavily fortified multistory courthouse here. They focused on the 130 witnesses who gave written and spoken testimony and painstakingly compiled documentary evidence over 40 sessions, as if strict adherence to legal formulas could wash away questions about the legitimacy of a court set up under formal U.S. occupation.

But then there’s “balance”:

The defense tried to broaden the scope of the trial, playing for the cameras and pan-Arab television with politically charged statements about the U.S. role in Iraq and recent Middle East history, as if questions about the court’s legitimacy could cleanse the mountain of evidence implicating Hussein in the horrific treatment of civilians.

Nah. The defense’s spurious questions about the court’s legimimacy can’t erase the evidence of Hussein’s guilt, which (as the story notes) the defense hasn’t really tried to contest.

But they can cause biased U.S. newspapers to give prominence to phantom “doubts” about the court’s neutrality.

And that’s pretty good, isn’t it?

UPDATE: The Washington Post finds an “expert” to explain some of the horrible shortcomings of the trial:

The trial’s chief judge resigned midway through the proceedings, complaining that Shiite and Kurdish political leaders and officials were pressuring him for being too easy on Hussein. The judge in line to succeed him was blocked by Shiite officials because he had been a member of Hussein’s Baath Party. Such intervention “constitutes improper political interference and undermining of the political independence of the court,” [Human Rights Watch international justice program Richard] Dicker said.

Right. Just like, if they hadn’t allowed a Nazi judge to preside at Nuremberg, that would have been an outrageous interference with the proceedings. How could you trust any verdict rendered as to a Nazi, if a Nazi doesn’t get to preside? And how can you trust any verdict against Hussein, if a Baathist doesn’t get to preside?

Those Human Rights Watch guys . . . they are brilliant. They have common sense to spare!

UPDATE x2: In any event, “chief investigative judge Raed Juhi” was a Baathist.

UPDATE x3: The L.A. Times story about the verdict is a modified version of the story criticized in this post, and (unsurprisingly) manages to work the “doubts” spin into its lede. More about that in a new post.

33 Responses to “L.A. Times Has “Doubts” About Hussein Court’s Legitimacy”

  1. Clearly the Times would much prefer that Saddam had been tried by an international tribunal in The Hague. After all, that worked out so well with Slobodan Milosevic, didn’t it?

    JVW (4cf03b)

  2. My gosh, their knee jerk moralism and boundless sympathy for mass murderers is astounding. Saddam should have been shot long ago.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  3. Another strong argument in favor of dealing with deposed dictators much as the Italians did to Mussolini and the Romanians did with Ceaucescu.

    With the L.A. Times and other “international legal expert” groupies, it’s always about process, never about justice.

    My old boss, a D.A. who lived on a ranch called The Hang ‘Em High, always told his new prosecutors that it’s never about winning trials and getting convictions; rather, the mission is always, “Do right.”

    And in his old-time, right-and-wrong world view, doing right meant doing justice. Anything other than certain execution for Saddam is no kind of justice.

    But one thing is certain: When it comes to the L.A. Times, no matter what happens to Hussein and Iraq, it will be wrong, it will be unjust, and it will be America’s fault.

    Mike Lief (ce60c1)

  4. The Verdict Is In: Saddam Gets Death Sentence…

    Death For Saddam! Looks like the ol’ rope and tree justice.
    Saddam Hussein has been found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.
    The former dictator will be hanged, the court in Baghdad’s Green Zone complex ruled.

    Stop The ACLU (aa6604)

  5. The verdict for Saddam: Death!…

    He has been found guilty and sentanced to die, the reports say:
    Angry, shaking and defiant, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death this morning by hanging for ordering the massacre of Iraqi civilians.

    Is anyone really surprised?  Were the mass gra…

    Leaning Straight Up (16154e)

  6. Saddam: “Allahu akbar!”…

    Funny how the secular Ba’athist nationalist also manages to appeal to Islamist sentiment at the critical moment.

    Alabama Liberation Front (6ed3f8)

  7. Verdict in Iraq…

    A major milestone in Iraqi history is reached as its most barbaric and murderous leader receives justice – Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang by the neck until dead for his crimes against humanity. He deserves worse, IMO. Via……

    Don't Go Into The Light (e0195a)

  8. […] Blue Crab Boulevard — “Unlike many of his victims, Saddam Hussein received a trial under the laws of Iraq and has been convicted and sentenced to be hanged.” Don’t Go Into The Light — “A major milestone in Iraqi history is reached as its most barbaric and murderous leader receives justice – Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang by the neck until dead for his crimes against humanity. He deserves worse, IMO.” Stop The ACLU — “I’m sure the left will question the timing. Meanwhile the demons are sharpening their pitchforks and preparing a special hot spot in hell for this evil former dictator.” Hot Air — “Dujail’s the tip of the iceberg, one notorious incident for which they had good evidence. The crimes against the Kurds have yet to be punished. But there’s small satisfaction, at least, in some of them having gotten to face the bastard down in court.” Patterico’s Pontifications — “The Saddam Hussein verdict is about to come down, so it’s naturally time for the L.A. Times to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the court that tried him.” Ankle Biting Pundits — “When you vote on Tuesday, try to remember that Saddam Hussein would not be on trial for war crimes if we had listened to the Democrats.” Iowa Voice — “I’ll be honest, I think he’s getting what he deserves. But I have no idea what’s going to happen in Iraq because of this verdict. Could be that all hell breaks loose, or it could be that nothing much happens. I simply don’t know. But we should know rather soon, I would think.” Jo’s Cafe — “A monster has been judged … now lets hope that the Iraq government has more backbone than ours and hangs this monster in front of the whole country.” Pajamas Media — Livebloged with tons of links. Leaning Straight Up — “Somewhere lost in the partisan bickering we lost sight of the reality of who and what he was. […]

    bRight & Early » Saddam Found Guilty (94201b)

  9. Saddam sentenced to death…

    I don’t get any pleasure from this, but he does deserve it. After Al-Anfal and the Iran/Iraq war, the man is getting what he deserves.Under Iraqi law, death sentences automatically trigger an appeal to the
    appellate chamber of the trial court, so……

    Dawnsblood (b5f39f)

  10. The town that hosted the OJ Trial Fiasco has no business passing judgement on any court anywhere.

    SGT Ted (adc577)

  11. Did you catch this bit in that Wash Post story, Patterico, where they claim Saddam said

    “Long live the people!” Hussein shouted as the verdict began. “Down
    with the stooges! Down with the invaders! God is great!”

    No where else do those exact quotes appear.

    William Teach (6b9910)

  12. You misread the objections about the judge. The problem wasn’t that the judge was not a Ba’athist. The problem was that the judge WAS a Ba’athist, or was at least very sympathetic to Saddam. Face it, this trial was a circus. There is no reason Saddam should have been allowed to stand up and rant against the free world the way he did. As Krauthammer said, he should have been placed in a glass box and observed as a specimen of evil, not given a political platform. I’m obviously glad the verdict came down the way it did – he deserves death many times over for his Anfal campaign more than Dujail (I hope he gets sentenced in that case too because the Kurdish genocide was much worse). But this trial has made a mockery of a righteous cause. I’m just glad it’s over and Saddam can go on his way to the dustbins.

    Elrod (ea31b2)

  13. Verdict’s In: Saddam Gets Death…

    As I noted yesterday, there’s no tree branch or street lamp high enough to hang Saddam for all of his crimes, let alone the ones for which he was convicted earlier today. He was convicted of crimes against humanity for killing 148 Shi’ites. Two codef…

    A Blog For All (59ce3a)

  14. Saddam Sentenced To Death: Where’s The Civil War?…

    Good news all around (from MSNBC)
    Iraq's High Tribunal on Sunday found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to hang for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail. The visibly shaken former leader shouted &q…

    Pirate's Cove (67ee8f)

  15. Saddam Sentenced To Hang…

    Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Die for Crimes Against Humanity BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein, the iron-fisted dictator who ruled Iraq for nearly a quarter of a century, was found guilty of crimes against humanity Sunday and sentenced to death by…

    Bill's Bites (72c8fd)

  16. The trial had it flaws, but if I was to compare it to the trial of OJ, the Iraqi judicial proceeding was not bad at all. I’m sure the LA Times regards the OJ proceeding as the epitome of judicial correctness. We have witnessed another American success that the press can not totally ignore; the shepherding of the corrupt Iraqi judiciary into one that succeeded in most respects where the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague was a travesty.

    amr (71415b)

  17. It’s as tough defining fairness at trial as objectivity in a news story.

    The defendant was held in an American jail and his trial conducted in an American-controlled zone.

    Since the evidence was not in question, I guess it doesn’t matter.

    But Iraq was locked in a war with both Iran and Shiite rebels allied with Iran in 1982. The legacy question is where do you draw the line in any war on terrorism in dealing with threats? Saddam’s trial will never be used to define that.

    steve (0c6264)

  18. […] The rest of the piece is simply a modified version of a previous story filled with similarly snide comments. I have already criticized that story, in this post. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Mocks Hussein Trial (421107)

  19. You misread the objections about the judge. The problem wasn’t that the judge was not a Ba’athist. The problem was that the judge WAS a Ba’athist, or was at least very sympathetic to Saddam.

    I don’t think I misread it. Read the quote again. The person in line to succeed the judge who resigned was nixed due to ties to the Baath party.

    Patterico (de0616)

  20. It’s as tough defining fairness at trial as objectivity in a news story.

    The defendant was held in an American jail and his trial conducted in an American-controlled zone.

    If we ever put someone on trial for treason, steve, it will be here in the U.S. The defendant will be held in an American jail, with the trial conducted in an American-controlled zone — and the jurors will be from the same country that the defendant is accused of having betrayed!!!!!

    Obviously, no such trial could be fair.

    Patterico (de0616)

  21. Saddam To Die…

    According to Sky News, Saddam yelled Allahu Akbar, just like his terrorist friends.

    Sensible Mom (72c8fd)

  22. If we ever put someone on trial for treason, steve, it will be here in the U.S. – Patterico

    Hardly the point.

    The trial was to redress Iraqi grievances, not American.

    He would be convicted anywhere. The evidence was overwhelming and, for the most part, uncontested.

    As a world watched, the trial bore some burden to define where leaders overreacting to terror threats and insurgencies cross the line. It didn’t. It should have.

    steve (0c6264)

  23. Didn’t the trial bear a burden to try a man for crimes and determine whether he was guilty?

    And didn’t it do that?

    By the way, you were the one who suggested that there was something possibly unfair about the trial when you noted: “The defendant was held in an American jail and his trial conducted in an American-controlled zone.” If you weren’t claiming that this rendered the trial unfair, then what point were you trying to make with that sentence?

    Patterico (de0616)

  24. My heart goes out to Ramsey Clark, that oh-so-moral humanist Democrat Party Attorney General who sympathizes with Saddam, in whom the quality of mercy was sorely lacking.

    Should Saddam, who invaded Iran which resulted in a million casualties and Kuwait that resulted in a stupendous defeat, be hanged for a knave or hanged for a fool?

    It’s a tossup!

    daveinboca (da9ded)

  25. Well, I’ve long had doubts about the L.A. Times’ legitimacy.

    Hangin’s way too good for him; Iraqis should saw his head off real slowly and take about a year to do it, on TV. Call it “Saw IV.”

    Yeah, this war is making me bloodthirsty.

    Peg C. (836973)

  26. steve said, “He would be convicted anywhere.”

    Not so fast, put the following twelve people on the jury: Nancy Pilosi, John Conyers, Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Ward Churchill, Ned Lamont, Barney Frank, Bill Keller, Pinch Sulzberger, Barbara Strisand, Alec Baldwin, and Dennis Kucinich.

    Now, does anyone really think a unanimous guilty verdict would be forthcoming?

    mokus (539ee5)

  27. What do Jehovah’s Witnesses, rabbis and communists have in common?…

    A honey-dipt donut showed up on the brickwalk of the side yard this afternoon. We were about to pluck it up and toss it into the trash when we realized that a colony of local ants had already discovered the…

    sisu (72c8fd)

  28. It was a ‘victor’s trial’ held in an American-controlled zone in the midst of a civil war when one of the main protagonists in the war was the accused. Let’s not polish too many jurisprudential laurels here.

    Saddam deserves hanging. The 1982 Dujail “trials” were shams.

    But the legacy is as vital as the verdict. Doubts about what constituted reasonable doubt and why – or whether – American legal experts had roles in preparing the cases against him should be vetted.

    steve (2ab7f7)

  29. It was a ‘victor’s trial’ held in an American-controlled zone in the midst of a civil war when one of the main protagonists in the war was the accused. Let’s not polish too many jurisprudential laurels here.

    How is that significantly different from a trial alleging treason against the U.S. being held in the U.S., judged by U.S. judges, and decided by U.S. jurors who are citizens of the same country the defendant is alleged to have betrayed?

    Patterico (de0616)

  30. But the legacy is as vital as the verdict. Doubts about what constituted reasonable doubt and why – or whether – American legal experts had roles in preparing the cases against him should be vetted.

    You want to vet any doubts about why Ramsey Clark had a role in defending him?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

    Patterico (de0616)

  31. Actus! Actus!!! ACTUS!!!

    Dang it, actus, we need you now more than ever to bring your moral clairity and wisdom to this confusing swamp of moral relativism.

    Help us, Obi wan-actus, you’re our only hope…

    EFG (f0e683)

  32. Ramsey Clark’s not “government.” He’s an American legal expert paid by leftists. If American legal experts paid by our taxes had roles in preparing the cases against Saddam, the goal posts swayed. Saddam was “our man” in the Iran-Iraq war for the period including the Dujail events. If he’d argued the U.S. and Britain should be co-defendants, whose lawyers brief in opposition?

    Oh, never mind.

    Saddam enjoyed something in this trial he never allowed during two decades of torture and terror – an open trial. That’s good enough, I guess.

    It could have been much more.

    steve (2ab7f7)


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