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December 5, 2005
Saddam Trial: A Fit A Day

The trial of Saddam Hussein picked up where it left off, with yet another disruption from the defense team and Saddam himself, a development from which observers could practically set their watches. In this case, the entire defense team walked out when the court initially ruled that Ramsey Clark had no standing to address the court in session, and Saddam chanted Arab slogans in protest of the court's decision:

The court reversed an earlier decision not to allow Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney General and member of the defence team, to make a statement challenging the legitimacy of the trial.

Rizgar Mohammed Amin, the judge, said that only Saddam's chief lawyer could address the tribunal under laws established by an elected Iraqi government, which led the defence team to walk out of the court room.

But after a 90-minute recess, Mr Amin allowed Mr Clark and another of the defence team, Najib al-Nueimi, to speak on the legitimacy of the trial and safety of the lawyers.

The former US Attorney General finally got his moment in the sun, for which he has slavished devotion on Saddam since his capture two years ago. He argued that the court needed to bring reconciliation to Iraq and not division, saying that if the court was not universally perceived as fair, it would divide Iraqis.

He waited two years to say that? That's his big revelation? Any trial that doesn't end with Saddam at the end of a noose would be "unfair" to the thousands of Iraqis who died on his command simply for the crime of being Kurdish or Shi'ite, or for opposing his dictatorial rule. The only suspense will be whether they wait until Saddam gets tried on all counts, or whether they will execute him after the first guilty verdict -- assuming he gets convicted of his crimes. The only open question now comes from how many of these victims Saddam created. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions, as suggested by National Geographic?

I understand that Saddam should get legal representation, but the long, strange trip of Ramsey Clark has always been about Ramsey Clark and had little to do with Saddam Hussein or the rule of law. Only a man perverted by his own vanished celebrity would use the trial of a genocidal maniac to get his name in the papers in one last, pathetic attempt to rejoin the "A" list of political activists. His participation in the staged disruptions of the Iraqi attempt to hold their former tyrant accountable to the law, avoiding the understandable urge to just kill him and deliver justice, will forever stain the record of Clark. It is an all-time low, even for a man of his ambulance-chasing reputation.

Fortunately, the trial continued this morning and the first of the witnesses has already taken the stand. With any luck, even Clark will lose interest in himself and leave, ending the embarrassment for himself and Americans that once respected him for his role in the Johnson administration.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 5, 2005 6:53 AM

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