CNN.com - Bush: U.S. will work with Iraqis to try Saddam - Dec. 15, 2003: Saddam Hussein will face a public trial for the "atrocities" he committed against the Iraqi people, President Bush said Monday, vowing the process would be carried out in consultation with Iraqis and would stand up to international scrutiny. "There needs to be a public trial and all the atrocities need to come out and justice needs to be delivered," Bush said in a news conference, which focused primarily on the weekend capture of the former Iraqi dictator. "And I'm confident it will be done in a fair way."
Er ... yes. Well. Quite.
A trial that, at the current time, will apparently be conducted in a country without a legal system, or, really, the rule of law at all at the moment. A trial conducted by a government largely considered, even by those who still like us, to be a somewhat unwieldy puppet.
In the meantime, despite going to some lengths to avoid killing Saddam so as not to create a martyr, the US is perfectly happy to let the Iraqis kill him (utilising the currently nonexistant legal system, yes). Which may or may not create a martyr. The problem is that in order for this all to work the way they want, the US must be seen to have nothing to do with the judgement. However, the Iraq government, such as it will be by then, is unlikely to be seen as an independent entity.
The UN's position, understandably, is that it does not support the death penalty and will not bring anyone before a tribunal that might sentence them to death. To the extent that it matters at all, Iraq's Governing Council's position is that the UN's opinion is irrelevant; they plan to try him before their own special tribunal for crimes committed against the Iraqi people. At the same time, international courts actually prefer to defer to local/national courts in the matter of war crimes, when possible. So, one way or another, the court issue is going to be a titanic mess.
One puzzling thing about this weekend's wire-to-wire (except for, of all things, football and skating, which could NOT be interrupted for such developments!) news coverage was the very odd focus on the effect Saddam's capture would have on the markets. Not particularly on the security situation -- the more sane among the commentators seemed to be in agreement that it really wouldn't have much effect on the ongoing violence, since it was clear from the situation when he was captured that he really couldn't have been directing much of anything -- just the markets. (A few think that, now that it will be clear that Saddam isn't involved, some of the other groups may step up their efforts.) For some reason, the markets were supposed to take a little jersey bounce, due to unbounded optimism that things were getting better.
And, oddly enough, they did.
For, you know, an hour or two. And then things went back to normal.Posted by iain at December 15, 2003 06:28 PM