Muzzling Saddam

On Sunday, Iraq announced that it would try Saddam Hussein and three others for the deaths of 140 Iraqis in Dujail, the site of an attempt on his life in 1982. National Public Radio’s story about the announcement was a masterpiece of understatement.

NPR reporter Tom Bullock allowed as how it might seem strange that Saddam was being tried for a relatively minor crime compared to gas attacks on Iraqi Kurds or the brutal repression of Iraq’s Shiite majority after the first Gulf War, actions that killed thousands of Iraqis. But he explained that Iraqi investigators “are clear” that they have chosen this particular incident as the cause for prosecution because it is a “straightforward case involving strong enough evidence to convict Saddam Hussein and the others charged.” So, according to Tom, that explains it. It’s just a technical thing, a matter of good jurisprudence, you see?

On the other hand, any number of observers have pointed out that a trial of Saddam Hussein would likely be a minefield for the Bush Administration. In a trial, Saddam would have the opportunity to take the stand and explain in excruciating detail where he got his weapons of mass destruction, and how when he used them against Kurds in Halabja, the U.S. didn’t seem upset at all, and when he used chemical weapons against Iran the U.S. didn’t withdraw their support ­ indeed, they continued to provide assistance in the form of intelligence and weapons. He could talk about Donald Rumsfeld’s friendly visit to Baghdad as all of this was transpiring. He could point out that the U.S. had nothing but good things to say about him until he moved into Kuwait. And speaking from the podium of the witness stand, he could not be censored, and his voice would reach to every corner of the world.

In that light, is it surprising that the basis of the trial will be a relatively contained incident that did not involve chemical weapons? A trial in which, if Saddam or his lawyers try to raise issues of U.S. and western complicity in his dirty deeds in the past, the judge can simply rule such testimony irrelevant? And is it surprising that this is a death-penalty case? All they have to do is convict him on this one, then execute him, and he disappears as a potential embarrassment.

And would it have been too much to expect Tom Bullock and NPR to point any of this out?

GREG WEIHER is a political scientist and freelance writer living in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at gweiher@uh.edu.


















More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
Rob Urie
Class, Race and Power
John Davis
A Requiem for George Floyd
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mutiny of the Bounties!
Richard D. Wolff
Revolutionary Possibilities: Could U.S. Capitalism Turn Nationalist?
Richard Falk
When Rogue States Sanction the International Criminal Court
Louis Proyect
Smearing Black Lives Matter…From the Left
Ralph Nader
Trump and Pence – Step Aside for Professional Pandemic Scientists and Managers
Ramzy Baroud
Tearing Down the Idols of Colonialism: Why Tunisia, Africa Must Demand French Apology
Philippe Marlière
Challenging the French Republic’s Color-Blindness
Richard C. Gross
Attack, Deny
Lee Camp
Connecting the Dates – US Media Used To Stop The ‘Threat’ of Peace
Steve Martinot
The Desire to Kill
David Yearsley
The War on Kitsch
Amy Eva Alberts Warren – Rev. William Alberts
Why are Certain Christians Democratic and Others Authoritarian?
Lawrence Davidson
Covid Madness
Brian Cloughley
Britain’s Disorder and Decline
Ellen Taylor
The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World
David Rosen
White Nationalists on the Attack
Jeff Cohen
Politicians of Color Should Not be Immune From Criticism
Joseph Natoli
Drawn Away from Reality in Plain View
Frank Joyce
Give Me Liberty,  Give You Death
Jonah Raskin
My Adventures in the Matriarchy
Paul Street
The Racist Counter-Revolution of 1776
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Corruption of the Democratic Party: Talking to Ted Rall about his new book
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Record on Foreign Policy: Lost Wars, New Conflicts and Broken Promises
Paul Edwards
A Bridge Too Far
Jennifer Joan Thompson
How to Do Things With Theses: Chile’s National Police Force Sues the Feminist Artistic Collective, Las Tesis
Shawn Fremstad
Vacations for All!
Thomas Knapp
A Modest Proposal for Compromise on “Confederate” Military Bases
Vijay Prashad, Eduardo Viloria Daboín, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Venezuela’s Borderlands Have Been Assaulted by COVID-19
Thom Hartmann
COVID Masks: The Latest Faux Conservative Outrage
Jesse Jackson
Mandatory College Football Practices in Time of Pandemic are Nuts
Nicholas Vincenzo Barney
Consensus Politics on the Fringe: The Intellectual Dishonesty of the Intellectual Dark Web
Ted Rall
The Data is Clear: Progressives Should Boycott Biden
Theresa Church
In Reconsidering ‘Normalcy’ Genetically Engineered Trees Do Not Belong
Chelsea Carrick
Let’s Not Lose Momentum
Adam Rissien
Sorry Secretary Perdue, Our National Forests are Not Crops
Arshad Khan
India and China Tussle on the Roof of the World
Paul Gilk
A Few Theoretical Percentages
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”:  A Phrase That’s Tells us Very Little, if Anything,  About the Actual Levels of Danger We  Face
Claire Chadwick
I Got COVID-19 at Work. I Won’t be the Last
George Wuerthner
The Upper Green River Should be a National Park, Not a Feedlot
Julian Vigo
Profiteering in the Era of COVID-19
Ravi Mangla
Policing is Not a Public Good