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Saddam Hussein

Saddam's guilty verdict timed for maximum political impact

Monday, November 06, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: Saddam Hussein, Bush Administration, elections

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(NewsTarget) Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death Sunday for his actions while leading the nation of Iraq, but while some are saying the sentence is deserved, others are claiming the verdict did not fall on the same day as midterm elections by coincidence.

On Oct. 19, NewsTarget reported on a column in The Nation that pointed out Saddam's all-but-inevitable guilty verdict would fall on Nov. 5, and the political implications of that concurrence since the capture of Saddam also provided a spike in previous polling figures. Columnist Tom Engelhardt said the verdict and election falling on the same day amounted to little more than "public execution" to boost polls.

Mike Adams, creator of the CounterThink political cartoons, agreed.

"This Saddam event is being packaged, timed and delivered to coincide precisely with the mid-term elections in order to convince voters that America is winning the war on terror," he said.

President Bush called the verdict "a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law."

"It's a major achievement for Iraq's young democracy and its constitutional government," he said.

Iran, a country that fought an eight-year war against Iraq under Saddam's control, officially praised the death sentence. Spokespersons said Iran hoped that the "vampire" Saddam would still be tried for other crimes.

Shiites marched in the streets of Iraq on Monday, celebrating the decision, while Sunni protesters held counter-demonstrations, although the expected post-verdict violence between the two groups never came to pass.

Allies of the United States, including Britain and Australia, also welcomed the verdict, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair saying the trial "gives us a chance to see again what the past in Iraq was, the brutality, the tyranny, the hundreds of thousands of people he killed, the wars." However, Blair pointed out repeatedly that Britain opposed the death penalty for anyone, including Saddam, stopping short of outright saying he did not want the former dictator to be put to death.

Some countries' representatives went on record as supporting the verdict, but not the sentence, -- Pope Benedict XVI's top prelate for justice, Cardinal Renato Martino, called it a throwback to "eye for an eye" vengeance -- while others stood in opposition to the entire trial.

"This was an opportunity to turn the page in Iraq, after thirty years when unfair trials were the norm -- if there were any trials at all this was a chance to set the tone for the future of Iraq," said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program, on CBS's "Sunday Morning." "And it's failed miserably because of inadequate planning, inadequate attention to the basic human rights needs of a fair trial."

"The problem really is that this tribunal has not shown itself to be fair and impartial not only by international standards, but by Iraqi standards," said Sonya Sceats, an international law expert at the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank in London.

Some countries not only denounced the trial, but also condemned the United States for its involvement.

"The hanging of Saddam Hussein will turn to hell for the Americans," said Vitaya Wisethrat, a Muslim cleric in Thailand. "The Saddam case is not a Muslim problem but the problem of America and its domestic politics.

"Maybe Bush will use this case to tell the voters that Saddam is dead and that the Americans are safe, but actually the American people will be in more danger with the death of Saddam," he said.

Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior lawmaker from the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal coalition in Pakistan -- a opposition religious coalition that opposes Pakistan's cooperation with the United States -- called for President Bush to stand trial for war crimes, claiming U.S. forces have caused more deaths in Iraq since the conflict started in early 2003 than Saddam's entire 23-year rule.

"Who will punish the Americans and their lackeys who have killed many more people than Saddam Hussein?" he said.


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