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May 22, 2006
'I Am Above All'

The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed this morning, with fireworks launched from the start. The presiding judge had a defense attorney bodily thrown out of the courtroom after readmitting her moments before, and Saddam earned himself a sharp rebuke after proclaiming the court beneath him:

The squabble began when chief judge informed defense lawyer Bushra Khalil that she would be allowed to return to the court after being removed from a session in April for arguing with the judge. But when she tried to make a statement, he quickly cut her off, saying, "Sit down."

"I just want to say one word," she said, but Abdel-Rahman yelled at guards to take her away. Khalil pulled off her judicial robe and threw it on the floor in anger, then tried to push the guards who were grabbing her hands, shouting, "Get away from me."

As she was pulled out of the court, Saddam objected from the defendants' pen, and Abdel-Rahman told him to be silent.

"I'm Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq. I am above all," Saddam shouted back.

"You are a defendant now, not a president," the judge barked.

This is the reason that defense attorneys do not like having their clients testify in court; one never knows what they will say. In this case, Saddam's statement revealed his attitude about himself and his relation to Iraqis since the first day of his rule. No one ever doubted that Saddam considered himself "above all", and no one doubted that Saddam did everything he could to make that statement true. Mass graves and uncountable victims of torture and rape attest to that fact.

The testimony continued to prove that after the courtroom disruptions ceased. The defense started its presentation with Murshid Mohammed Jassim, an employee of the Revolutionary Court. Jassim testified that the judge in the Dujail case, now defendant Awad al-Bandar, was a fair and just man. However, Jassim did not work for the court in 1984 when the 148 Dujail residents -- including children -- all received death sentences in reprisal for the assassination attempt on Saddam. He also did not explain that Saddam's prosecutors managed to get 148 confessions before trial, and that the trial of 148 people only lasted 16 days.

Western observers might wonder how one court could convict nine people a day for 16 days. Saddam has helpfully explained it to us: Saddam was "above all", and his diktat was the law during his brutal reign. It may be the most honest testimony Saddam will ever give.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 22, 2006 5:06 AM

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