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December 6, 2005
Back To The (Meat) Grinder

The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed yesterday after numerous disruptions from the defense threatened to derail the proceedings. The first of the witnesses offered their testimony after a 90-minute pout by Saddam and his defense toadies, now apparently led by American leftist and supposed idealist Ramsey Clark, who then had to listen while witnesses described the horrors inflicted on the townspeople of Dujail after an assassination attempt in 1982:

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed was the first witness to testify in the murder and torture case against Saddam, highlighting an emotional day in which the former dictator repeatedly yelled at the judge and the defense team briefly walked out in protest over the proceedings. ...

Mr. Mohammed was 15 when hundreds of families from his village were tortured and killed after an assassination attempt against Saddam. The witness said his family was among the hundreds taken to a Baghdad jail.

"I swear by God, I walked by a room and ... saw a grinder with blood coming out of it and human hair underneath," said Mr. Mohammed, who allowed his face to be shown on camera despite the risk of retaliation by Saddam's supporters.

"My brother was a student in high school, and they took him and my father to be interrogated. They tortured him with electric shocks in front of my 77-year-old father," said a sobbing Mr. Mohammed.

"Some were crippled because they had arms and legs broken," he added.

The meat-grinder image will undoubtedly remain in the minds of the judges as well as Iraqis and others who listen or follow the testimony in court. Obviously Saddam knew this as well; he began to get disruptive during this testimony, shouting slogans about Iraq while his brother-in-law yelled that the witness needed a psychiatrist. In a Western court, defense attorneys would advise clients not to react so violently to such testimony, as it only confirms the impression of the defendants' arrogance and disdain for any authority other than their own.

The testimony continues this morning, with a Dujail woman describing her treatment as a teenage girl after the roundups. She described the beginning of her four-year ordeal inside Saddam's prison camps:

Saddam sat stone-faced as the woman, identified only as "Witness A," told the court from behind a light blue curtain that she was taken into custody after the 1982 assassination attempt against the former Iraqi president in the town of Dujail.

The woman often cried during her testimony and repeatedly said she was forced to undress, implying that she had been raped but not saying so outright.

"I begged them, but they hit with their pistols," she said. "They made me put my legs up. There were five or more and they treated me like a banquet ... He [IIS officer Wadah al-Sheikh] continued administering electric shocks and beating me," she said.

Following Witness A came Witness B, an elderly woman who had been in her early 50s during the Dujail incident. The emotional testimony of these survivors apparently have settled the defendants down to a mostly silent state, although they will still interject accusations of lying occasionally. It doesn't work; the defendants with their disrepectful tactics have already alienated the judges to some degree, with Saddam particularly being provocatively condescending. He called one of the witnesses "son" while warning the witness not to interrupt him, a silly and needlessly arrogant reaction that brought a rebuke from the court.

Now people can see Saddam for what he is, not just through the testimony but from his own actions in court. It is this man's rule -- the tortures, rapes, wholesale murders, and grinders for the broken bodies of his real and perceived enemies -- which some people still think would have been better to allow to continue than to give the Iraqis a chance at freedom and liberty. Now the Iraqis hold Saddam responsible for his actions, but the public nature of the trials will also beg the question for the international community as to why they waited twelve years and through seventeen UNSC resolutions demanding change to do something about this abomination. The real shame is that some still wanted him left alone to continue grinding his victims into bloody chunks and would never have lifted a finger to stop Saddam.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 6, 2005 6:48 AM

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