Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mr. Clark, I respectfully disagree

Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States during the Johnson administration, has come out again against the tribunal that is conducting the trial against Saddam Huessein. He says that the court's attempt to protect witnesses have been "absurd" and that the case is in "chaos".

Essentially, he wants the tribunal disbanded and the case transferred to another country. Why?

Mr. Clark has stated that he has been denied access to documents which he maintains are centeral to his client's defense. He also states that his team needs more time to prepare the defense of the former dictator.

However, in this case, Mr. Clark is wrong. Hussein is being charged, primarily, with crimes he committed against his own county and his own citizens. Why should he not be tried by them? An argument could be made that there is not a person there who could be what is known in the United States as an "impartial jurror".

At the same time, the litany of reasons to try him in Iraq by Iraqis is stronger. The crimes he is being accused of happened in Iraq. The witnesses to the crimes are in Iraq. A procedure is in place that would seem to give him more rights that we are affording "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo. More importantly, Iraqis need to see that they can deal in justice and not simply revenge. Finally, if we are to say that Iraq is not being colonized by the United States, then we must allow them to administer their own laws.

For some differing view points about the trial there are pro-tribunal editorials here and anti-tribunal editorials here.

Mr. Ramsey wants the trial moved for one reason: his client is guilty. He wants to stave off the day of decision, whether it come from a judges' tribunal or a jury of impartial jurrors as long as possible. Perhaps he has the hope that he mire the process down to the extent that The Hague allowed to happen during the trial of Milosevic.

Is the Iraqi Special Tribunal perfect? No. Trials are messy things and perfection is sought but rarely ever attained in them. However, it is also seems that it is not a kangaroo court, instead a serious attempt to afford due process to a person who failed to give that to his own people.

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