Lately I've been reading a little bit about the upcoming trial of former dictator of Iraq and general all-around evil bastard Saddam Hussein. There's an article by William Langewiesche in the March 2005 issue of the Atlantic -The Accuser- which chronicles the work of one Hania Mufti, a member of the Human Rights Watch staff who has been gathering the evidence against Saddam for decades. Ms Mufti has been working on this case against Hussein since 1984, and has developed an extensive list of indictments against the former dictator.
Some excerpts of these atrocities from the article-
As a foretaste of what was to come, in July of 1983 government forces entered Kurdish resettlement camps and arrested 8,000 men and teenage boys of a prominent and rebellious clan known as the Barzanis. The prisoners were chosen not for what they had done but simply for family association and gender. They were loaded into trucks and driven south into the vastness of the Iraqi desert, where, it is presumed, they were machine-gunned to death and buried. Not one of them was ever seen again.
An Iraqi doctor of medicine testified to Amnesty International in 1984 that he witnessed and was forced to participate in the taking of blood from prisoners which resulted in their death. According to his testimony, he was aware of approximately 1000 such operations having taken place during 1982 and 1983. The operations are reportedly directly controlled by Security Headquarters (Ri'asat al-Mukhabarat) in Baghdad, and carried out with the co-operation of a prison director and personnel of the Blood Bank Institute in Baghdad. [The bleeding process is then described.]
Amnesty was in a position to understand that this was no longer just another repressive Middle Eastern government at play.
It took another several years for the truth to come out: what the Turkish doctors had seen (and Mufti had just missed) was evidence of one of the great crimes of the late twentieth century - an Iraqi counterinsurgency campaign that had exceeded all bounds, and indeed had gone quite insane. That campaign was the Iraqi equivalent of the Final Solution - a carefully planned "cleansing" operation, known in Arabic as the "Anfal" (a Koranic reference meaning "spoils of war"), whose purpose was to eliminate the rural population from which the Kurdish rebels were drawn, and to empty the most troublesome valleys, by killing or arresting the inhabitants, razing their villages, and creating permanent free-fire zones where not even livestock would be allowed to live. It lasted for seven months, from February through September of 1988, and was led by Saddam's special envoy, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who during its course earned his name as Chemical Ali.
Altogether, Human Rights Watch estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds were killed in the Anfal operations, including many women and children.
This... from a Kuwaiti doctor:
"On average, five or six new bodies were brought to the hospital each day. All were males and most were in their 20s. Many bore marks of torture. Judging by the bodies that I personally saw, the methods of torture being used included the extinguishing of cigarettes on the body; burning of the skin with heated metal rods; application of electricity; cutting off of the tongue and ear; gouging out of the eyes and the breaking of limbs. In most of these cases, the immediate cause of death appeared to be a single shot in the back of the head or, in a few cases, a shot in the ear or mouth... Some of the victims had also had their fingernails extracted, and others had swollen feet with pockets of pus as a result of being subjected to falaga [severe foot beatings] for prolonged periods. Some had marks around their ankles, consistent with having been suspended upside down..."
According to the information that Mufti was able to gather, the abuses were systematic. In addition to the techniques of torture described above, the investigators heard stories of other methods - of boring a hole in the leg with a drill; of castration; of tying a string around the penis and tightening it; of hammering nails into hands; of inserting bottle necks, sometimes broken, into the rectum; of pumping air into the anus, particularly of young boys; of extinguishing cigarettes in eyeballs; of burning and blinding people with acid and caustic substances; of subjecting people to extremes of heat and cold and thirst; of various forms of mock execution.
Nice fellow, this Hussein guy. In what one could consider complete insanity, we read of the latest from Saddams lawyers about his chances-via Dan Senor at the Weekly Standard-
SADDAM'S LEGAL STRATEGY, as explained to me by a leading member of the defense team--Abdul Haq al-Ani, retained by Saddam's daughter--is fourfold:
* Argue that the war that overthrew Saddam was illegal under international law and, hence, Saddam is still legally president. If he's still president and his regime still sovereign, then the Saddam-era Iraqi Constitution--which gives him full immunity--must prevail.
To al-Ani, it is meaningless that millions of Iraqis voted for a new post-Saddam government last January, and that the newly-elected government has been recognized by the U.N. Security Council. "The Security Council does not have the authority to breach the charter that created it," he told me in his home. And a correct reading of that charter, he says, would interpret as illegal the war that preceded post-Saddam Iraq.
* The second pillar is to argue that the alleged crimes committed by Saddam are no different from President Bush's response to the September 11 attacks. Responding to insurrection--whether for Saddam in Halabjah or Bush in Afghanistan--had to be swift and overwhelming. If innocents are killed, that's analogous to Bush's wars, too, he claims. Of course, al-Ani fails to distinguish between accidentally killing civilians in pursuit of terrorists and intentionally targeting innocents to permeate fear in a population.
* The third pillar will be to call Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify, just as Gen. Wesley Clark was called to testify at the Hague. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is expected to be singled out, too, as the embodiment of the alleged support that the U.S. gave to Saddam in the 1980s during his use of chemical weapons.
* By airing the dirty laundry of America's foreign policy over the past several decades, Saddam's lawyers believe that they will embarrass the Bush administration into abruptly ending the trial and figure out a way to cut a deal with Saddam, which will include returning him to power. Seriously. How likely is this? According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50 percent that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam or, as the defense team refers to him, "President Hussein," could be back running Iraq by this time next year. (ed.-my emphasis)
Unbelievable. President Hussein? Are farking kidding me? Say what you want about Bush Jr., Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, or even Carter for that matter and their involvement with Middle Eastern politics, but there is only one person responsible for the acts of Saddam Hussein, and that is Saddam himself. Yes, appeasement was the US's political strategy during the Cold War that in retrospect helped make things easier for heartless lowlifes like Hussein, but those days are over. And No One in the US is "responsible" for Saddam.
Since Cox and Forkum are on a roll these days, it only seems right to end this post with one of their many excellent cartoons about The Saddaminator.