Friday, December 29, 2006

Bush is Desperate for Saddam Hussein's Execution -- What's the Rush?

With the hanging execution of Saddam Hussein moments before sunrise (on the religious holiday Eid al-Adha, coinciding with the haj pilgrimage to Mecca), Iraq forfeits the opportunity to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for the murder of hundreds of thousands of others -- Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Iranians -- for the "crime of all times" and other genocidal crimes, against the Kurds, Shi'ites, and marsh Arabs.

While the appellate decision on Saddam Hussein's first trial affirmed that a death sentence be carried out within 30 days of December 26, 2006, what's the point of challenging Islamic law by rushing the execution instead of waiting for the end of the holiday? That would have satisfied both the judicial appeal directive (execution by January 27, 2007) and Islamic religious law.

What was the rush?

Saddam Hussein should have been tried in an international court of law, answering to all of the charges against him. Not in the chaotic civil war-torn, unsettled Iraq for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail where assassins tried to kill him in 1982. International lawyers and Saddam Hussein's western lawyers maintain that this trial was fraught with errors, not the least of which was that they had been barred from examining documents that were admitted into evidence at Saddam Hussein's trial and used against him. Ironically, in George W. Bush's effort to 'democratize' the region, this rule in Iraq's penal code is one of the many changes that Bush and Republicans have made to the U.S. criminal code (the Torture Bill).

To claim that it is Iraqi law that death sentences be carried out within 30 days is to not know that Iraq's laws were imposed on them by the U.S. The Iraq Constitution was written by Americans, and includes Paul Bremer's 100 orders (one of which prevents Iraqis from ever owning their own country's resources again and requiring them to have western nations' corporations as their business partners).

The conditions in Iraq worsen every day, and executing Saddam (by the method reserved for common street criminals, hanging) at this time is likely to fuel broader unrest throughout the region. It begs the question, Why is the Bush-Cheney administration so desperate to kill Saddam Hussein?

Wayne Madsen has some answers: Saddam Hussein's execution brings a second trial (begun in August 2006 for war crimes, for the gassing of the Kurds in the Anfal campaign in 1988) to an abrupt halt.

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