The Talking Dog

June 21, 2006, Shia Shakespeareans?

Taking an unfortunate page from Henry VI, it seems that Shia militias are content to try their own hand at killing all the lawyers, in this case, Khamis al-Obeidi, the third lawyer for Saddam Hussein or co-defendants to be killed during the course of his trial. (Trials are hard enough to prepare for without having to worry about whether you and/or your family will be kidnapped, tortured and murdered. For better or worse, Saddam's lawyers are just trying to do their damned jobs... like it or not, everyone is entitled to a defense, no matter how distasteful or even monstrous they may be. Our complete inability to provide basic security does not reflect well... on much of anything... coupled with our Ambassador's recent cable to Washington... this is just another indicator that Iraq seems to be out of our control.)

Let's just say that in an American courtroom, the murder of a defense counsel during the conduct of a case would probably result in a mistrial (assuming the trial had started)... the trial would have long been called off before the murder of three defense counsel was even possible. While I don't pretend to hold the Iraqis to American standards of justice (even if we set up the whole damned thing), at some point, one must really question if a fair trial in Iraq is possible under these circumstances. While there are those who would insist that Saddam, who seldom if ever gave others fair trials, is hardly one to complain, the standard isn't what he'd do, but what we (or our putative Iraqi allies who we are propping up) are doing... we owe it to ourselves and to the Iraqi people that Saddam receive a proper and fair trial (followed, of course, by a painless execution.)

Trying Saddam in an international forum outside of Iraq was, and remains, an option... a very good option. Recall that there is some precedent for this, as Libyan terrorist defendants were tried by Scottish jurists in the Netherlands over the crash of Pan Am flight 103 into Lockerbie. I'm sure that a place like the Netherlands, or perhaps, if we remain totally hung up on the death penalty, then an Arab or Islamic country, would have no problem permitting the trial to go forward with Iraqi jurists, lawyers and witnesses, in a setting more conducive to something approaching fairness.

This assumes, of course, that we care about such things, rather than, say, personal vendettas against "the guy who tried to kill my Dad."

Just saying.