But What Does Lauryn Hill Think About It?

More nonsense from the See, this time in regards to the capture and treatment of Saddam Hussein:

[Cardinal Renato] Martino said he felt “compassion” for Saddam, even if he was a dictator, after seeing the video of the ousted leader having his mouth probed by a U.S. military medic. The tapes showed “this destroyed man” being “treated like a cow, having his teeth checked,” Martino said, using the Italian word “vacca.”

And if we hadn’t bothered to give him medical attention, what would the Vatican have to say about that, Cardinal? [sigh] All this fuss and bother over a tongue depressor. I guess the Vatican is concerned that a routine dental and oral examination is somehow equivalent to this:

Punishments short of death were meted out according to a clear hierarchy, he said. Those who stole had their fingers or hands cut off. Those who lied had 18-pound concrete blocks dropped on their backs. Informers who gave inaccurate information had hot irons put in their mouths, he said, and army deserters had their ears sliced off.
Ali said one fellow Fedayeen member had his tongue cut off for repeating a comment someone else made comparing Uday’s shiny clothes to women’s garments, while another who disobeyed an order had his fingers cut off.

Yes, I understand now how tragic it was for Saddam to be forced to open wide and say, “Ahhhhh.” It’s deeply insulting for the genocidal tyrant to receive medical attention, especially after the loving care he gave the citizens of Iraq under his leadership:

An Iraqi soldier, who according to the facility’s records witnessed the beatings, said interrogators regularly used pliers to remove men’s teeth, electric prods to shock men’s genitals and drills to cut holes in their ankles.
In one instance, the soldier recalled, he witnessed a Kuwaiti soldier, who had been captured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, being forced to sit on a broken Pepsi bottle. The man was removed from the bottle only after it filled up with his blood, the soldier said. He said the man later died.
“I have seen interrogators break the heads of men with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds and rape wives in front of their husbands,” said former Iraqi soldier Ali Iyad Kareen, 41.

The next subject for the Vatican will be to ensure that Saddam is humanely and fairly treated during his interrogation and trial. Funny that we don’t recall the Vatican making this much noise while justice in Iraq meant this:

The interrogators said separately to both husband and wife that they would cease the torture if they signed confessions admitting to be collaborating with the oppositionists. They refused. The wife was stripped naked and cigarettes stubbed out on all parts of her body whenever she refused to implicate her husband. She was beaten and thrown around the interrogation room. Her children were forced to watch the torture. She was eventually released, having been told that her husband would continue being tortured until she returned to confess. She was arrested again two weeks later and the same pattern of torture was repeated, leaving her a psychological wreck.
During his interrogation, the husband’s arms were tied behind his back and he was then suspended in the air using a hook hung from the ceiling. This caused intense pain as his shoulder muscles and ligaments were torn. After a period, the interrogators entered the room and the husband was unhooked and placed in a chair in the middle of the room. From close range, he was then shot at with a pistol whenever he refused to agree to sign his confession. Sometimes shots were fired which missed his body, at other times the pistol muzzle was placed against his fingers, toes or arms and fired so as to mutilate these areas.
Over the following two weeks further interrogations occurred at intervals, following periods of food and water deprivation. Eventually the husband’s and wife’s wider family paid a bribe to an Iraqi Intelligence officer and both the husband and wife were released. They subsequently escaped from Iraq.

As Atomizer says in his post at Fraters Libertas, these are moments when I am embarassed to be a Catholic. Unfortunately, as recent revelations about our Church have shown, current Roman Catholic leadership seem more intent on averting their eyes than facing down true evil.
The Vatican acts to protect the oppressors of our age by speaking out against action to defeat evil, and then protecting the evil once they have been brought low. How can such cowardly and craven Church leadership hope to inspire its membership to oppose evil? When Christ returns, peace will rule the day and the evil in our world will be utterly cast down. Until that time arrives, we must oppose evil, and the nature of evil is such that talking nice doesn’t stop it. Turning the cheek only works when the oppressor has some emotional connection to decency.
That’s why Gandhi was successful, by the way; the British saw themselves as bringers of civilization, and when resistance inevitably led to the massacre at Amritsar and other such events, the British saw that they could not be both civilizers and oppressors. Gandhi would not have lasted two weeks against Hitler or Saddam, and would only have been rescued by those who use force to oppose force. It’s also the reason no one volunteers to be human shields on Israeli buses or Israeli restaurants; it’s a tacit recognition that one side avoids civilian casualties and the other side could care less.
Whose side is the Catholic Church on, anyway? They cannot be neutral in the fight against evil, or else it is an admission that they no longer believe evil exists. Has the Catholic Church embraced moral equivalency?

NYT: Wong’s Wrong

You would think that a reporter on the Baghdad beat would understand the Geneva Convention and the rules of war, especially if he’s arrogating to himself the position of expert in one of the nation’s most prestigious broadsheets, but it appears that knowledge isn’t a necessary prerequisite for reporters at the Gray Lady.

Power Line directs its readers to this odd article in the New York Times, a question-and-answer section with Edward Wong, a reporter in Baghdad, I believe; its introduction is poorly written:

This week, the Times reporter will answer readers’ questions from Baghdad.

Are the readers from Baghdad, the questions from Baghdad, or the reporter from Baghdad? In basic English, they teach you to be clear about modifiers. But beyond that, the Times can only scare up two questions for Wong, the second of which is answered so poorly it defies belief:

Q. I wonder if the filming and publication of the videos and stillshots of Saddam Hussein during his medical checkup (being investigated for headlice, having a light shone back onto his tonsils) violates international law for war prisoners. Is Saddam considered a POW? Do the Geneva Conventions apply to him, especially with regard to treating POW’s in ways that humiliate them and turn them into “public curiosities.” — Jim Herriott, Nashville, Tenn.
A. Some Iraqis have expressed anger over the display of the humiliating video footage of Saddam Hussein, while others have found it to be a fittingly ignominious document of the end of a much-hated ruler. Those upset by the video are especially incensed at the images of a doctor prodding at Mr. Hussein’s face and examining his mouth. American officials undoubtedly showed this video to demonstrate the powerlessness of Mr. Hussein. But one could argue that the American government is violating its own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. Last spring, during the American invasion of Iraq, officials in Washington objected to videos that the Iraqi government had turned over to Al Jazeera showing American prisoners of war. The Pentagon said the videos were humiliating and violated the Geneva Conventions. To stay consistent with that definition, one would have to say that releasing the video of Mr. Hussein also violates the Geneva Conventions.

You would think that a reporter on the Baghdad beat would understand the Geneva Convention and the rules of war, especially if he’s arrogating to himself the position of expert in one of the nation’s most prestigious broadsheets, but it appears that knowledge isn’t a necessary prerequisite for reporters at the Gray Lady. Salient points:
1. In order for the Geneva Convention to apply, captured prisoners have to be in uniform bearing the recognized insignia of a nation-state. Saddam was wearing civilian clothes, according to the information at the time of his capture, probably in order to keep from being caught. If he was wearing civilian clothes, then not only is he not a POW, he could be shot on sight as a spy.
2. We are no longer in a war with the Iraqi Army, which is why we disbanded them and allowed them to go home. We are an occupying power, and what attacks have occurred have been perpetrated by irregulars out of uniform (see above). People arrested under these conditions are not POWs, they are criminals.
Our soldiers were captured in uniform during battle and were therefore POWs and entitled to Geneva Convention protections. Actually, if you saw the video of the Iranian POWs and their treatment by the Iraqis while the cameras were rolling, the Americans got off pretty easily; the Iraqis habitually kicked and punched the Iranian POWs and filmed it all. Saddam was captured in a hole, miles and months from any battle, out of uniform. In other words, no soup for you, Saddam.
But I also share Power Line’s incredulity at the NY Times for even entertaining this question, let alone the unbelievably biased and insipid answer they provided.

National Pool: Swingin’ Saddam?

Hugh Hewitt announced today that the guys over at Fraters Libertas will be hosting a national office pool for the date of Saddam Hussein’s actual execution. While I don’t normally support the death penalty for religious reasons, this may be a special case; besides, I don’t have a problem joining in the pool. I never win these things anyway.
As for their announced prize … be afraid. Be very afraid.
UPDATE: As the post at Fraters Libertas states, I’m throwing in three DVDs as a prize in this contest:
Red Dawn – Patrick Swayze saves America by peeing into a radiator. No, really. After seeing this movie, try to explain, without the liberal use of alcohol, why they named the Saddam-capture mission after it.
Judgment at Nuremberg – Actually, the classic Spencer Tracy/Marlene Dietrich film is not out on DVD — how the hell did they forget this one? By the time Saddam’s swingin’, they may have rectified this major oversight and released this brilliant film on DVD or re-released it on video. If not, I’ll be offering Nuremberg., a pretty good substitute that stars Alec Baldwin and Jill Hennessey. Yes, I’m aware that Spencer Tracy is a better actor than Alec Baldwin, even now.
Hang ‘Em High – A real man’s film, where Clint’s stare is worth a thousand words, and the achingly beautiful Inger Stevens makes you wish you were helping avenge her attack. Seriously, this is a damn good movie, a lot more complicated than some think, and actually asks questions about justice, revenge, and the price we’re willing to pay for each that might be good to think about in our times now. Cool theme music, too!
NOTE: I considered adding Is Paris Burning? to the list, but it’s got a rotten ending … it turns out the answer is “No”.

Lileks Detects a French Influence

I caught a little bit of the James Lileks interview on the Hugh Hewitt show this afternoon, and he revealed compelling evidence for French involvement in Saddam’s months on the lam. I’ll quote this as accurately as possible:

“Obviously the French had been advising Saddam while he was in hiding. When they found him, he had a loaded pistol but surrendered without firing a shot.”

Today, Lileks broke out of his semi-hiatus to post a brilliant Bleat regarding the capture of Saddam Hussein:

What struck me was his expression when the doctor poked around in his maw for a suicide pill – he had the standard reflex familiar to anyone who’s been in a dentist’s chair. The intimacy of the act makes you look away. You look up; you endure; you disengage until it’s over. Saddam humiliated himself. A big bald Yank stuck a stick in his mouth and he couldn’t even look him in the eye.
This was their hero? His army evaporated. His statues came down like cheap plastic bowling trophies. He ran away. He hid in a hole. There’s your man, O brave foes of American imperialism. It’s Ozymandias in reverse, really – in Shelley’s poem, the stumps of the great statue punctuate the vast and trackless desert, and when we are asked to look upon Ozymandias’ works and despair, it’s a comment on the smothering hand of time. Nothing remains. But now the entire world can look upon Saddam’s works, and despair for different reasons. We see what he did.

I suspect that as we continue to translate the IIS files and work with the newly-freed Iraqis, we will see everything he did. Be prepared to be horrified.

Meryl Yourish Scoops Time Magazine

As I posted earlier, Time Magazine has published an account of the preliminary interrogation of Saddam “Peace! Peace!” Hussein. However, as we often see in the blogosphere, one of our peers has gotten the rest of the story. Meryl Yourish has the transcript:

U.S.: How are you?

S.H.: I am sad because my people are in bondage.

U.S.: Would you like a glass of water?

S.H.: If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?

U.S.: Well, how ’bout a beer, then?

S.H.: Okay, but only if it isn’t that Zionist beer. I will drink, but I will still be sad because my people are in bondage.

U.S.: So tell us where you’re hiding the weapons of mass destruction.

S.H.: Weapons of mass destruction? We have no weapons of mass destruction. Iraqis are too sad to operate such weapons, because we are a people in bondage.

U.S.: Dude, that is getting so tired already. Can’t you come up with a new line?

S.H.: You see what I mean? Iraqis cannot even use their own words about being a people in bondage, we are such a people in bondage.

Read the rest, if you can keep from doing spit-takes from laughing out loud. (But who can do spit-takes when my people are into bondage? er … in bondage?)

Dominoes Fall

Saddam Hussein’s capture appears to be working out even better than anticipated. The man who surrendered to US forces by declaring, “I want to negotiate!” may be responsible for the following:

Since Saddam’s capture on Saturday, U.S. Army teams from the 1st Armored Division have captured one high-ranking former regime figure — who has yet to be named — and that prisoner has given up a few others, Hertling said. All the men are currently being interrogated and more raids are expected, Hertling said.
The intelligence that led the military to the men came from the first transcript of Saddam’s initial interrogation, and a briefcase of documents Saddam carried with him at the time of his arrest, Hertling said.

The Lion of Arabia turns out to be the Weasel of the Middle East.

“We’ve already gleaned intelligence value from his capture,” Hertling said. “We’ve already been able to capture a couple of key individuals here in Baghdad. We’ve completely confirmed one of the cells. It’s putting the pieces together and it’s connecting the dots. It has already helped us significantly in Baghdad.”
The intelligence has also given the U.S. military a far clearer picture of the guerrillas’ command and control network in the city, and has confirmed the existence of rebel cells whose existence was previously only suspected, Hertling said.
From the initial batch of successes, Hertling said it was apparent that Saddam still played some role in leading the anti-U.S. insurgency.

The good news just keeps on coming.

The Education of Saddam Hussein

Jim Hoagland has a good column in today’s Washington Post about Saddam Hussein, including some of his own experiences with the former tyrant as interesting background to recent events. Hoagland interviewed him in 1975, prior to him grabbing all power in Iraq:

The dictator flashed his tailored cuffs and diamond-encrusted jewelry at me in an encounter in 1975 as he described in minute detail his commitment to Arab socialism. He went on to deny that the atrocities I had seen in Kurdistan a few weeks earlier could have happened. When I reported both atrocities and atmospherics, Hussein sent word that he was outraged — that I had mentioned the cuff links.

Vanity and megalomania always constituted a large part of Saddam Hussein, it seems, which makes his apprehension in a rathole all the more compelling. Hoagland gleefully wonders whether those cufflinks were pawned to finance his flight, but with $750,000 in US currency on him, I doubt that he needed to worry about the cufflinks. However, Hoagland does describe one heartwarming scene which occurred near the end of Saddam’s meeting yesterday with members of the Iraqi Governing Council:

“Why didn’t you fight?” one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: “Would you fight them?”

Had Saddam made that calculation in 1990, or even as recent as February or March of this year, he likely would not have been forced to live out of a rathole for the past several months. (via Instapundit)

Was Saddam A Captive?

The provocative blog DEBKAFile has an interesting assessment of Saddam’s status prior to his capture by American forces:

According to DEBKAfile analysts, these seven anomalies point to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein was not in hiding; he was a prisoner.
After his last audiotaped message was delivered and aired over al Arabiya TV on Sunday November 16, on the occasion of Ramadan, Saddam was seized, possibly with the connivance of his own men, and held in that hole in Adwar for three weeks or more, which would have accounted for his appearance and condition. Meanwhile, his captors bargained for the $25 m prize the Americans promised for information leading to his capture alive or dead. The negotiations were mediated by Jalal Talabani’s Kurdish PUK militia.

DEBKAfile analysts surmise that the American military decided to bypass the negotiators to ensure that Saddam’s captors didn’t kill him and demand the payment for the body. It’s an intriguing post, and you should read the whole thing. I don’t know if I buy the theory, but it would explain what Saddam was doing in a 6×8 hole in the middle of the Tikriti area.

Unbelievable Irony

Human Rights Watch, based in New York, is now putting itself in the position of being an agent of one of the worst human-rights violators in the last 30 years:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Council must not mount a political show trial. “Saddam Hussein’s capture is a welcome development and it’s important that the Iraqi people feel ownership of his trial,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the rights watchdog, said in a statement. “But it’s equally important that the trial not be perceived as vengeful justice,” Roth said. “For that reason, international jurists must be involved in the process.”

Within hours of Saddam’s capture, HRW has made the arrogant and bigoted assumption that the Iraqis are incapable of conducting a fair trial before they’ve even had a chance to make the first preparations. Instead of supporting Iraqi sovereignty, they are already undermining it with statements that have the effect of delegitimizing the Iraqis.

HRW has said the law creating the tribunal, which has yet to be published, is “flawed” and lacks “essential elements to ensure legitimate and credible trials for perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Richard Dicker, director of HRW’s International Justice Program, warned: “The tribunal might be seen as a court of revenge, not justice.”

Without the law even being published, HRW makes the assumption that it is flawed. And they say Bush is arrogant! Too bad that HRW has decided to throw so much effort in ensuring that Saddam is provided their idea of due process and attempting to lock the Iraqis out of the trial, despite the fact that the Iraqis suffered worst under his rule. Maybe HRW would be better off to wait until plans and arrangements are made before launching its criticism and arrogance, and quit being the mouthpiece of recent history’s greatest butcher.
UPDATE: Jon at QandO wants to know when the international community became so concerned with justice for Saddam … I think he’s got the right answer.
UPDATE 2: Jon and I aren’t the only ones who see the irony in HRW’s concerns. Midwest Conservative Journal is as amused by this as I am.