Have They Forgotten The Mission?

A few CQ readers sent me a surprising story this morning regarding a decision by some “megachurches” to close their doors for Christmas. The AP reports that pastors at these large, non-denominational Christian houses of worship have decided that one of the more holy days for Christians should give way to secular celebrations instead:

This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country. Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anti-cipating low attendance on what they call a family day.
Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown. …
Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.
“If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” she said.
Among the other megachurches closing on Christmas Day are Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky., near Lexington, and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside of Dallas. North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, said on its website that no services will be held on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, which also falls on a Sunday. A spokesman for North Point did not respond to requests for comment.

Given that the “war on Christmas” has been pushed by churches such as these, I find these decisions rather stunning. As a Catholic, my experience has proven just the opposite: more people show up for Christmas and Easter (the holiest Christian celebration) than any other time of the year. Closing the doors due to a drop in attendance on Christmas morning would never get consideration at a Catholic parish, nor I suspect at most mainline Protestant churches either.
If the remarks made by Parkinson are representative, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Christian mission by the megachurches. The point of operating a church isn’t just to convince the unchurched to attend — it’s to build and minister an entire community, including those who are “churched’ — to keep them in that status. In order to do that, the ministry has to take the mission seriously. What kind of message does it send when the church closes its doors and does not offer the opportunity for even a part of its community to gather and pray on one of the most holy celebrations in the Christian calendar? It sends a message that popularity trumps truth and secular concerns supercede spirituality.
It says, “We give up.”
I’m sure that the people who work at these churches want to spend the day with their families, and the lower attendance makes them feel that their efforts have less worth. That only remains true, though, if one considers popularity an accurate measure of the mission. Most churches do not — they understand that the mission requires churches and ministers to take a stand for the principles of Christianity, including the sacrifice for which it calls, of which attending a 90-minute service on Christmas historically represents the least of sacrifices made for the mission. Church doors should remain open to force sinners and the “churched” alike to remember this truth.
If Christian churches want to reclaim Christmas for themselves, then they need to literally show up to do so. Closing the doors is nothing less than surrender.

Saddam Keeps On Manipulating

Apparently not satisfied with the results of his constant interruptions and disrepectful outbursts in court, Saddam Hussein has decided to escalate his manipulation of his trial and the media coverage by refusing to attend. The trial found itself at a standstill this morning when the former dictator refused to go into court, leaving the nonplussed judges wondering what to do next:

Saddam Hussein’s trial was delayed Wednesday after the ousted president refused to attend the session, court officials said. Defense lawyers huddled with the judges in hopes of resolving the latest test of wills in the often-unruly trial.
An angry Saddam threatened at the end of the Tuesday court session to boycott the next day’s proceedings after complaining that he and the seven other co-defendants had been mistreated by the “unjust court.”
Court officials on Wednesday said Saddam was sticking by his vow, and the judges were trying to decide whether to proceed without him.
If the differences cannot be resolved, an official said the court might hold a closed session to search for solutions.

The resolution of this issue should be simpler than when Saddam kept disrupting the court. A defendant has a right to attend court and face his accusers, to cross-examine witnesses and to argue on his own behalf. That doesn’t equate to a necessity of the defendant to attend the trial. If a defendant refuses on his own accord to show up and exercise those rights, then the People still have a right to continue the trial. Even if the defendant does want to attend, the rights of the defendant to participate do not automatically override the rights of the People to a fair trial. Disruptive behavior can and should result in removal of the defendant from court when it becomes contemptuous of the court’s authority.
The Iraqis should get tough on Saddam. They’ve shown him deference; now they need to show some steel. If he prefers to putter around in his cell and let his lawyers deal with his trial, so be it. This is an attempt — an all-too-successful attempt, in all likelihood — to get the headlines off of the testimony of the victims by making himself the center of attention again. In one sense, it’s typical behavior from a sociopath, but in terms of PR in Iraq, it’s the only smart strategy left to him. The court needs to make sure that his absence winds up backfiring on him by continuing to present witnesses to Saddam’s atrocities, this time without Saddam’s running commentary distracting the global media covering the event.
Let him rot in his cell. I don’t need to hear much from Saddam anyway, and I wouldn’t trust anything he says unless it came accompanied by a video and corroboration from the Archangel Gabriel. The court should plow ahead and reveal Saddam’s foolishness as well as his ghoulishness.
UPDATE: The show must go on, even without the uplifting presence of Uncle Saddy glowering from the dock:

Saddam Hussein’s trial resumed Wednesday after a delay of several hours with the deposed Iraqi leader absent from the courtroom.
Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin opened the session at 3 p.m. (7 a.m. ET), about four hours late, and called the first witness.
Hussein’s chair sat empty at the front of the dock, and his chief lawyer thanked Amin for continuing the proceedings.

So Saddam took his marbles and went back to his cell. Let him throw his tantrums there. Let’s keep the trial moving from now on.

An Honor To Compete (Means — I Wanna Win, Dammit!)

The voting continues at the 2005 Weblogs Awards, and so far it looks like the Daily Kos will run away with the Best Blog award, the category in which CQ competes this year. Many fine blogs have been nominated for this honor, and it’s terrific just to be mentioned in the same category as them. I don’t want to get too far into recommendations for specific awards — I have a lot of friends in the blogosphere, and some of them compete against each other this year. However, I’d like to at least draw your attention to a few:
Best Canadian Blog – Near and dear to my heart this year. Be sure to check out Small Dead Animals, Angry in GWN.
Best New BlogAll Things Beautiful; Alexandra is a class act all the way.
Best Conservative Blog – Jeez, I love all these guys. Vote for a new one each day, but blogroll them all.
Best Liberal Blog – They picked a good selection for these finalists as well. I think TalkLeft (Jeralynn Merritt) and Matthew Yglesias might be the most consistently well-written of the group, and Ezra Klein makes the best arguments for the liberal cause. Right now, Americablog is hot, and I expect John Aravosis to win, which would be all right, too. I’d vote for Pennywit, but I don’t know why he’s not nominated … and yes, I do read the liberal blogs (the intelligent ones) to keep up with the debate.
Best Religious BlogEvangelical Outpost. Joe Carter always gets my vote, but if they’d have put The Anchoress here, I would have had a tough time with that one. (I think she would have a better shot at competing here, too.)
Best Media/Journalist Blog – Several of these are excellent, but Lileks is a friend of mine, so he gets my vote. Michael Yon should win here, and he deserves it.
Best Military BlogBlackfive should top a great list of bloggers here. Visit them all.
Best Humor/Comics BlogDay By Day gets my vote, but just barely over Protein Wisdom, Scrappleface, and Iowahawk. They’re not the only deserving ones on this list, either. Blogroll all of them for much-needed laughs.
Who do you like in this contest? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Is Harry Doomed?

The Daily Mirror dishes out some Harry Potter gossip that will likely have fans buzzing for the next year or so while they wait for the final installment of the Potter series to apparate at their local bookstores. Jim Dale, who provides the voice of Harry Potter for American audio books, claimed that author JK Rowling has tired of the Potter phenomenon and wants to kill off the character in the final installment (h/t: Hugh Hewitt):

HARRY Potter may die in the next book in the series because author JK Rowling wants to kill him off, it was claimed last night.
Actor Jim Dale – the voice of the teenage wizard in the US audio books – believes the seventh and final instalment will spell the end for Harry.
He made the astonishing claim after meeting with the writer to discuss his characterisation of the parts.
The revelation will shock millions of die-hard Potter fans.
He said: “She’s lived with Harry Potter so long she really wants to kill him off.” Predictions about the fate of Harry in the seventh book have enthralled millions worldwide.

I suspect that she may really consider this a possibility, but I’d still be surprised if she did it. Supposedly the death of a minor character in book 4 and a more central one in book 5 brought Rowling to tears — and it would be hard to imagine her being detached enough at this point to put her teen and pre-teen readers through the emotional wringer that his death would bring. Still, it could go somewhat like Frodo’s passing from Middle Earth — the bittersweet realization that one had saved a world that one could no longer rejoin has resonated as a theme since Moses. That would give the series a literary touch that its popularity has not quite yet bestowed on the tales from Hogwarts.
On the other hand, we could also explore what others might do to justify Harry’s death. Suppose, for example, that Rowling let Howard Dean write the last volume. We could then get treated to Voldemort as a misunderstood victim, or perhaps a bad guy but no worse than the arrogant and arbitrary Albus Dumbledore, who tried to control the wizarding world just as surely as Tom Riddle. Why, Dumbledore taught Voldemort almost everything he knew! And the Ministry of Magic spent years denying Voldemort’s danger, so obviously they are to blame for all that has happened, not the evil wizard (as if there is any such thing as evil). Harry, therefore, is little more than a fool that chose the wrong horse and got himself killed for it. Good thing, too, because if he survived, he would get blamed for all the deaths that occurred just because he found it necessary to oppose Voldemort.
Now that would make one creepy ending for a delightful series.

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.

What The Media Ignored From Howard Dean

Yesterday, the leader of the major American opposition party called the war in Iraq “unwinnable”, compared the supposed scandal over intelligence — the same intel that Congress had seen since the Clinton administration — with Watergate, and issued a demand that Bush immediately withdraw half of the forces in Iraq — and yet the major newspapers could not be bothered to write their own articles about the story or include it in their print versions today. Neither the NY Times nor the Washington Post gave any kind of comprehensive report to Howard Dean’s shrieking for retreat and surrender, nor to his ridiculous notion of how to fight against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as told to WOAI radio in San Antonio:

Saying the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years. …
“I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years,” Dean said. “Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don’t belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don’t have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We’ve got to get the target off the backs of American troops.
Dean didn’t specify which country the US forces would deploy to, but he said he would like to see the entire process completed within two years. He said the Democrat proposal is not a ‘withdrawal,’ but rather a ‘strategic redeployment’ of U.S. forces.

First, from these comments Dean makes clear that he has no idea of the difference between a strategic redeployment and running away. The former refers to a rearrangement of tactical positioning, including tactical retreat in some cases, in order to regain the initiative for a bigger push later on. “Redeployment” by disengagement with no intent to return to the battlefield has another term in military parlance: full retreat. Dean also exposes his utter lack of comprehension of the situation in Southwest Asia when he suggests that we can easily find a “friendly nation” to host 80,000 American troops while our country lacks the political will to allow them to fight. Exactly who will want to board Americans when the terrorists come after us in our new bivouac? And would Dean and the Democrats allow them to fight then, or will they claim that we’re still the root cause of the terrorist activity and give up the Middle East altogether?
Dr. Dean, which country would sign up for that duty? The only nations large enough to host 80,000 American troops would be Turkey (which won’t do it), Kuwait (which is on the wrong side of Iraq to easily address the issues in the west and center of Iraq), and Saudi Arabia (which is where we supposedly offended the Islamofascists initially).
Most laughably, the leader of the Democrats and the man responsible for coordinating their electoral efforts then claims that by pulling American troops out of Iraq and outside of the range of Zarqawi, we’ll be better prepared to fight the insurgents — even though we will no longer have assets on the ground gathering intelligence and conducting the kinds of patrols necessary to find and engage the enemy on our terms. Instead, Zarqawi will simply start taking over towns like Falluja and Ramadi all over again and operating in the open to spread his lunatic Islamofascism across central Iraq.
The embarassment of Dean’s military analysis would make clear that the Democrats have no business conducting foreign affairs and national security for the US in this age of Islamofascist terrorism. That’s why the newspapers buried Dean’s comments on their web sites. They had plenty of time to write their own copy, or at least to include the AP story in their print edition. However, the NYT and the Washington Post obviously hope that Dean’s comments get quickly forgotten. (The Los Angeles Times doesn’t bother to mention it at all, despite the longer lead time for their newspaper.)
Perhaps this comes as no surprise — it doesn’t surprise me — but the national media has long since decided it needs to downplay Dean if the Democrats are to survive 2006. The Democrats still haven’t gotten the same message.
UPDATE: Thanks to Michelle Malkin, QandO, and The Anchoress for their links. Be sure to check out their takes on this issue as well. I’ll have more on this tomorrow …

What The Media Ignored In Its DeLay Reports

Yesterday, Tom DeLay won an impressive ruling from Judge Pat Priest in his trial on money-laundering and conspiracy charges surrounding the transfers of cash between local and national GOP organizations three years ago. Priest dismissed the original indictment of DeLay, the grand jury bill in which prosecutor and DeLay’s personal Jauvert Ronnie Earle felt so confident that he immediately went out and burned through two more grand juries to get a different indictment just to be sure he could get something that stuck. However, if one reads the Washington Post and the New York Times this morning, it would appear that DeLay lost yesterday — because both papers leave out a significant portion of the story.
Both papers get this much correct:

A Texas judge dismissed one charge against Representative Tom Delay on Monday but let stand two more serious charges, complicating Mr. DeLay’s hopes of regaining his post as House majority leader when Congress resumes in January. (NYT) …
Senior District Judge Pat Priest, who took over the case after DeLay’s lawyers objected to another judge on political grounds, did not rule in his 11-page decision on the issue of DeLay’s culpability. In a slap at Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who oversaw the DeLay inquiry, Priest said a grand jury had erred in indicting DeLay for conspiracy when that crime was actually not covered by the state election law when it occurred. (WaPo)

Here’s what the NYT hides until the last paragraph of its coverage, and what the Washington Post doesn’t bother to report at all except as a potential delay to a trial:

Judge Priest also said he had yet to rule on a defense motion of prosecutorial misconduct.

The motion regarding prosecutorial misconduct relates directly to the two remaining charges. If the judge rules that Earle acted unethically or illegally in getting the indictment, the remaining charges will also get dismissed — and it seems a fair bet that it will happen, especially since Priest hasn’t yet dismissed the motion out of hand. Earle went out after the first grand jury refused to indict DeLay on money-laundering charges and tried to get a second grand jury to bring an indictment. When that failed, he formed a third grand jury without ever telling them (or the court) about the second grand jury and got the indictment within four hours of forming the third pool. That bill comprises all the remaining charges against DeLay.
Now, perhaps Ronnie Earle has a really good explanation for his frantic grand-jury shopping, but what it most shows is an inordinate desire to find any charge at all with which to kneecap a political nemesis. After all, Earle had done fund-raising tours for the Democrats based on his efforts to put DeLay in the dock. A failure to get an indictment that would hold up on first exposure in court — a failure easily predicted and one which Judge Priest made reality yesterday — would expose Earle as a partisan hack of the worst kind, one who abuses his authority to defeat opponents he or his party can’t defeat legitimately.
And so here we are, with the first bill of indictment completely dismissed and the second only affirmed in that the law cited in the indictment actually existed and covers the allegations made by the third grand jury. The judge warned everyone that despite his ruling on dismissal on the basis of the defense’s original motion to quash, he still had prosecutorial misconduct under consideration — and all that the dismissal meant was that the charges could go to trial, not that DeLay had been found guilty of anything. Amazingly, both newspapers offer reports this morning that avoid the pending ruling on prosecutorial misconduct and treat the ruling as a body blow to DeLay.
Talk about spin! Earle got humiliated yesterday with the loss of his primary indictment and the announcement that Priest has apparently found the motion on misconduct interesting enough to continue his deliberations. That is a result that the NY Times and Washington Post cannot hide from informed readers no matter how much they attempt to bolster Earle’s campaign against DeLay.

John Kerry: American Soldiers Are Terrorists

John Kerry appeared yesterday on the CBS talking-head show, “Face The Nation”, to discuss the war in Iraq with Bob Schieffer. Just as in his speeches on the Viet Nam War, Kerry has slipped into deep Left-speak in an attempt to gain national traction for his pose as a party leader. In fact, in language reminiscent of his infamous “Genghis Khan” speech before the Senate in April 1971, he yesterday referred to American soldiers as terrorists — and then suggested that we leave terrorism to the new Iraqi army.
From page 3-4 of the CBS transcript, emphasis mine (h/t:CQ reader Dave Z):

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me shift to another point of view, and it comes from another Democrat, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He takes a very different view. He says basically we should stay the course because, he says, real progress is being made. He said this is a war between 27 million Iraqis who want
freedom and 10,000 terrorists. He says we’re in a watershed transformation. What about that?
Sen. KERRY: Let me–I–first of all, there is so much more that unites Democrats than divides us. And Democrats have much more in common with each other than they do with George Bush’s policy right now. Now Joe Lieberman, I believe, also voted for the resolution which said the president needs to make more clear what he’s doing and set out benchmarks, and that the policy hasn’t been working. We all believe him when you say, `Stay the course.’ That’s the president’s policy, which hasn’t been changing, which is a policy of failure. I don’t agree with that. But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is you’ve got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment. You’ve got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis. And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the–of–the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not…
Sen. KERRY: …Iraqis should be doing that. And after all of these two and a half years, with all of the talk of 210,000 people trained, there just is no excuse for not transferring more of that authority.

Kerry thinks that the American soldiers are the terrorists in Iraq, applying that unique gift of his for moral relativity once again to indict an entire deployment of soldiers as criminals of the same order as our enemy. And Bob Schieffer sat there, without even raising an objection to Kerry’s smear. Had Kerry not shown a long track record of this kind of rhetoric in the past — and had to answer for it repeatedly during last year’s presidential election — one could possibly believe it came out as a slip of the tongue. However, he obviously has never stopped believing that the American fighting man and woman represents the same relative evil as the Viet Cong, the Khmer Rouge, and al-Qaeda.
The Democrats need to answer for this outrage. Is it really the party position that American soldiers terrorize Iraqi civilians? Do they want the Iraqis to do it instead of us? Kerry has unmasked himself and his fellow anti-war zealots for the hypocrites they are.

Will India’s Government Fall Over OFF?

The Indian government, under the Congress Party, may fall due to connections described in the Volcker Report on the Oil-For-Food program. The AFP reports that a key minister faces parliamentary ire for his corruption by Saddam Hussein, and that the ruling party’s blocking of parliamentary procedure may create a backlash among MPs:

India’s opposition piled pressure on the government in parliament over new charges that the former foreign minister and the ruling Congress party joined a scam to profit from the UN oil-for-food programme in
Trouble erupted within minutes of parliament assembling as MPs belonging to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) jumped to their feet to demand the resignation of ex-foreign minister Natwar Singh, now serving as cabinet minister without portfolio.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said the opposition could discuss later the new charges that Singh and the Congress party received special vouchers to purchase oil cheaply from Baghdad in 2001 in return for political support.
But the opposition, whose campaign to embarrass the government in parliament fell short last week, voiced determination to capitalise on the disclosures about the scandal made on Friday by Congress insider Anil Matherani.
Chatterjee first adjourned the parliamentary session for 30 minutes, then till later in the afternoon and finally for the day.

Singh served as foreign minister for India during the latter years of Saddam’s rule; he crafted and delivered the policy of opposition to the war on Iraq. Now, as Volcker has revealed, we all know he received over four million barrels of oil. Not only did Singh himself received that sum, but also the ruling Congress Party itself got a similar allotment of Iraqi oil. It looks like a payoff, and a profitable one at that.
Now CP wants to shut down the Indian parliament to keep debate from returning to accountability on why Saddam would have given Indian government officials that much oil. I doubt that will create a particularly trustful atmosphere for the government. Indians will not long resist the urge to toss out the executive and hold new elections, if that’s what it takes to get answers to these questions. Expect the CP to stop its obstructionism and offer up some sacrificial lambs, and quickly, before momentum builds to replace the CP with others less involved in Saddam’s corruption.

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.