Sunday, November 05, 2006

Full Moon Over Baghdad

Am glad to see I'm not the only one having a bad day. Saddam Hussein was just convicted, and sentenced to hang for the execution of 148 men and boys, back in 1982, who were alleged to have been involved in an assassination attempt against him. Oh, and yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

While we, a culture of narcissists, sit and ponder whether the timing of the verdict was arranged to coincide with the midterm elections, press secretary for the Occupier in Chief, suggests that those who think that must be "smoking rope." Well, Saddam's days of smoking rope may just be over; he may soon be hanging from one. That is, of course, unless the verdict and sentence meet their end under the appeals process. Still, even if the appellate court in Iraq, such as it is, overrules this verdict and sentence, he faces a second trial in which he is charged with killing as many as 100,000 Kurds twenty years ago. One way or another, Bush is determined to make this guy pay.

We agree that the whole judicial process which tried and sentenced the former dictator of Iraq is " mockery of justice," (Washington Post) but so is giving the death sentence to someone who gave the death sentence to others. After all, what is a "crime against humanity?" Is killing Saddam the "Christian" thing to do? Moreover, is this not why the trial had to take place in Iraq and not in the U.S., so our hands could remain clean, but clean in whose eyes?

Is giving death to a ruler for his crimes against humanity itself not a crime against humanity? What's more, what does one do about the leaders of scores of Shiite death squads who are killing at least as many Sunnis, each day, as Saddam was just sentenced for having executed, some of whose leaders are "working as the head of political blocs" in Iraqi government today? (WaPo) So it is then that capital crimes require capital punishment. It would be naive, of course, but one can only hope that the same rule of law applies regardless of who's standing trial, their nation of origin, as well as their stature.

Once again, the U.S. can declare victory as purveyors of freedom, and justice, and saviors from torture, and cruel and inhuman punishment inflicted on the Iraqi people by that barbarian Saddam Hussein. Yet again, our government can claim that we've helped that country to establish a judicial infrastructure such that it can try and punish its own renegade leaders. Indeed, we can make such claims, but not with a straight face, not in light of our government's efforts to keep detainees from testifying about our own interrogation techniques in federal court, not in light of Abu Ghraib, and the shooting of innocent Iraqi civilians, not insofar as we have outsourced the death penalty in the name of exporting democracy.

But, death by hanging? That's so medieval. Surely Dick Cheney, and his buddies at Halliburton, can come up with a new, and improved way for state sanctioned murder, like lethal injection, if for no other reason than to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that, if nothing else, we've exported modernity to Iraq. I'm sure if there's a buck to be made, Cheney and his boys will be on the next flight. After all, the least we can do is modernize how the Iraqis execute people. Is it not a crime against humanity to hang a man? any man? Or, are some murders more justified than others? And whose sophistry is this? Anyone in the religious right who says that it's okay to let the Shiites do our killing for us will answer to that "higher power" if, and when, He ever decides to call collect.

Oh, and if we, in this country, can pull ourselves away from the mirror long enough, we may just see this sham of a trial, apart from being a "mockery of justice," will show the world that death by Shiite is no better than death by Saddam is no better than death by Marine, and that a death squad is a death squad just as a "dunk in the water is a dunk in the water."