Friday, January 05, 2007

Death = Silence

Over at Change of Subject, Eric Zorn has opened the floor to a discussion of justice, the capital punishment and the execution of Saddam Hussein.

Here's my two cents:
Saddam Hussein was convicted and executed for the 1982 killing of 148 men and boys in the town of Dujail who were accused of participating in an anti-government plot. The families of those killed in Dujail deserved justice. They deserved to have their stories heard in a court of law.

But what about the thousands of thousands of other victims of Saddam?

The Shi’ites government's rush to execute Saddam was an affront to the Kurdish people of Iraq who suffered under the tyrant. Between March 15 and 19 in 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam's forces dropped poison gas bombs -- chemical weapons -- on the men, women and children in the Kurdish city of Halabja, then held by Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas allied with Tehran. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people, nearly all civilians, died during the bombing of Halabja or shortly thereafter.

But Saddam will never be tried for the crimes against them.

Saddam also used chemical weapons and other means in an attempt to exterminate the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq who rose up against him after the first Gulf War.

But, again, those victims will never have the opportunity to see Saddam tried for those abominable crimes.

Many insist that the death penalty is necessary for those who have been convicted of particularly heinous crimes. The example given is often the Nuremberg trials.

But even if one accepts that position, there was nothing about the trial of Saddam that in any way resembled the due process afforded those who were tried and then hanged at Nuremberg.

The trial was a kangaroo court and the execution that followed was a lynching by gangsters.

Saddam Hussein did not deserve better justice, but the people of Iraq did.

1 comment:

Bill Baar said...

"No matter how many books are written or briefs filed, no matter how finely the lawyers analyzed it, the crime for which the Nazis were tried had never been formalized as a crime with the definiteness required by our legal standards, nor outlawed with a death penalty by the international community. By our standards that crime arose under an ex post facto law. Goering et al deserved severe punishment. But their guilt did not justify us in substituting power for principle."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
Kennedy, Profiles in Courage, (New York: Harper & Row, 1964),p.190.


"My opinion always has been that the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials were acts of vengeance. War is a political and not a legal act, and if at the termination of a war, should it be considered that certain of the enemy's leaders are politically too dangerous to be left at large, then, as Napoleon was, they should be banished to some island. To bring them to trial under post facto law, concocted to convict them, is a piece of hideous hypocrisy and humbug."

Major General J.F.C. Fuller, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O.
Thompson, and Strutz ed., p.43.

He should have faced a Military Tribuanl instead, and then shot.


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