Patterico's Pontifications


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.

Gitmo Interrogations Optional

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:16 pm

Many Americans may be surprised to hear that interrogations at Gitmo are now optional. (Via Allahpundit, in a fascinating post with a link to Fox News’s Steve Harrigan getting waterboarded.) But I don’t think it will come as a great surprise to those who read my series with Stashiu, the Army nurse who was stationed at Gitmo. Remember what Stashiu said about interrogations:

For some, they eagerly await days until “reservation” (interrogation) and there are frequently requests to see their interrogator. This is why I said that some fear to return home or they would be killed as traitors. They get to smoke (sometimes 4 or 5 packs at once, uggh!), watch new-release DVDs that have been screened by Intel so they don’t get current events, eat pizza or fast-food, listen to music, smoke a hooka, etc…. The better stuff they give up, the more the interrogators get for them. All of this has been previously released to the public, but you never hear about it in the MSM.

It’s optional, but I suspect some of the detainees are still opting to participate.

Trusting Others’ Anonymous Sources

Filed under: General,Media Bias — Patterico @ 4:15 pm

Editor and Publisher has a story about newspapers’ decisions whether to run the “Larry Craig is gay” story. Vicki Gowler, the editor of the Idaho Statesman, said she wouldn’t run a story based on Mike Rogers’s anonymous sources. She added:

. . . I’m not willing to run a story until we have some evidence of our own — our own anonymous sources, at the least.

It sounds funny, but it makes a certain kind of sense — you don’t necessarily trust another journalist’s anonymous sources, at least unless you trust the journalist (and maybe not even then).

When you don’t trust the journalist, forget about it.

The L.A. Times and New York Times use anonymous sources because they figure their readers trust them.

As it becomes apparent to them that fewer and fewer people do — for good reason — perhaps their use of anonymous sources will diminish.

Saudi Rape Victim Sentenced to 90 Lashes with a Whip

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:13 pm

Rape victims are sometimes reluctant to come forward due to fear that their personal lives will become the subject of defense investigation and cross-examination.

This is a valid concern . . . but it could be worse. They could be in Saudi Arabia, where they might (literally) get whipped:

A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the al- Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes.

Via Hot Air.

So one guy participates in a gang rape and gets 80 lashes — but the victim gets 90.

I have no snarky remark to end this post with.

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