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Boy, we're gonna give you a fair trial then hang you...(13 posts)

Boy, we're gonna give you a fair trial then hang you...PdxMark
Dec 17, 2003 9:28 AM
Good ol' Texas Justice...

Not being a fan of capital punishment, I think it never makes for a good-sounding discussion before someone has been convicted. SH is of course a prime candidate for his past crimes against Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Iranians, etc., but it seems like a bad precedent for us to execute a former head of state.
re: Boy, we're gonna give you a fair trial then hang you...Jon Billheimer
Dec 17, 2003 9:42 AM
This is an interesting legal issue. According to the Treaty of Westphalia, dating back to the sixteenth century, I believe, both countries and heads of state have been considered sovereign. The head of state then is immune to prosecution for capital crimes. This is why the British and French had such a problem with what to do with Napoleon. Hitler committed suicide, so the Allies didn't have that sticky legal question to deal with with respect to his fate. It can be argued, however, that Saddam abandoned his position as President so is legal fair game. Also, this is another reason why if one wants to legally snuff Saddam he has to be tried by an Iraqi court and not by the Americans or by an International Tribunal.

Doug, your legal expertise here?
no clueDougSloan
Dec 17, 2003 10:45 AM
They don't teach this stuff in law school, and I've never run across it.

Regardless of tradition or western common law, I just cannot imagine a scenario where the Iraqi people will not execute him, assuming he's not off'd or kilt himself before that. The only thing I can imagine is his or his follower's stacking some jury or court, but then I'd think the US or UN would intervene and have another trial, even if the death penalty would not be an option.

This guy is so, so dangerous, that I think normal rules do not apply. His very existence is a menace to the planet, for even if he is physically confined, his mere existence will encourage continued violence and terrorism. He needs to be put out of the world's misery.

also, re "fair trial"DougSloan
Dec 17, 2003 10:47 AM
Trials are largely to resolve disputed facts and decide appropriate punishment. Here, there is overwhelming uncontrovertible evidence of genocide; a trial is a mere formality.

also, re "fair trial"Spoiler
Dec 17, 2003 1:02 PM
Maybe I'm mistaken, but along with establishing general democracy, isn't a democratic judicial system also something we are trying to set up?
It would set a bad precident(sp) if it's proven that a democratic judicial system isn't capable of handling this situation.
Our soldiers are risking their lives because we believe that our system works and will benefit the Iraqi people. Even if we're convinced he's guilty, we have to go through the motions. If it doesn't work, they have no reason to adopt it.

If during the trial, all important facts come out, and Saddam receives justice, Iraqis have good reason to have faith in the system and adopt it.
Dec 17, 2003 1:43 PM
FWIW, when Ceauscescu of Romania was deposed, he and his wife soon found themselves staring down the barrels of a firing squad taking aim at their cold, shriveled up hearts, which must have been a task for the riflemen to locate and zero in on.

I don't think the subsequent Romanian regime suffered any negative fallout from their snuffing out the previous leaders. In fact, aren't they part of the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, now? And if not part of NATO, soon to become a member?

As for Saddam, it's not our responsibility to decide his fate. Sure he's a bad, bad man, and we've gone over to his country two times to fight him, with casualties. Emotionally speaking he's a deserving candidate to be tied behind one of those dented up Toyota pickups and dragged through the streets and neighborhoods of Baghdad to allow everybody a chance to wave goodbye and for dogs to chase after him.

But putting emotion aside, that's not a very civilized thing to do. At some point, one has to say enough is enough. If it's not necessary to kill him to achieve safety and security and to move forward as a civilization, then it's not necessary to kill him.

It may be hard to drop the emotional angle especially if you are an Iraqi. It is they who have the primary say-so in the matter, not us.

I'd prefer that, for once, GWB act like the leader of the civilized world and at least keep his mouth shut and emotions checked on this issue. Let the Iraqis rise up and decide.
re: Boy, we're gonna give you a fair trial then hang you...sn69
Dec 17, 2003 9:57 AM
I'm not a big fan of cap punishment either, and I think your point about a former head of state is compelling. Still, what if the Iraqi counsel opts to execute him? Puppets or not, if they elect to snuff SH, should we intervene to the contrary? Would that, in and of itself, pose yet another seeming contradiction in a seemingly aimless, random near-term history of foriegn policy blunders?

For that matter, what about Milosevich? While his trial at The Hague seems to be bogging down, what if the Internation War Crimes Tribunal (which can hardly be considered a puppet of our administration) opts to execute him? Looking back in history, the Tribunal did, in fact, execute a number of leading Nazi and Imperial Japanese officials. I've no doubt they would have execute the likes of Hitler and Pol Pot had they the opportunity. Thus, it's compelling but not entirely unrealistic to assume that even a head of state is free from prosecution, Pinochet notwitstanding.

Mostly, in this particular case, I think the initial crux is one of poor statesmanship/verbiage. Even if the administration feels that SH should have his neck stretched, international decorum demands that they don't state it as such. ...That's for others to do. On a more practical level, if the administration does in fact make a statement to that affect--which it did--there exists a very real possibility that statement will only serve to strengthen the resolve of those who hate us.

We are far overdue for some foresight with regards to our actions and words. International diplomacy is built upon it an odd dynamic that often demands a certain degree of restraint in certain regards, particularly formal statements. Funny...we deny Germany and France business opportunities (which I actually agree with given their wholesale abuse of the food for oil program), yet we begin to mend fences with the debt relief. Then we come out and issue a statement like what was just said. Two steps forward, one step back.

But, as with most things, even this issue is muddy in my mind. I might not like capital punishment, but I cannot envision many other options for SH. 2 million killed at his direction AT BEST, including 61,000 last year alone. Whoof. I might not like captial punishment when it comes to the state deciding on life of death for "normal" criminal inmate, but I'd have no issues with personally pulling the trigger on that jackass.

Maybe I'm the one with the problem. Dunno.... Don't care.... The precedent, meanwhile, was set 50 years ago, and their culture at least demands almost nothing less than his head.

Here's a potentially more compelling conundrum. What do we do when we catch OBL and Zawahiri? Shall they be remanded to the House of Saud for execution in Chop Chop Square (been's chilling), only to grant them the audience both psychopaths crave?! Should they be sent to The Hague? Some other form of tribunal? Are they more dangerous as known martyrs or living symbols in prison? Personally, I tend to think that "death in combat" while being captured (read what you will) would be the best options. And yet again, I'm playing god of sorts.

It's a really hard issue.
For some reason, I think OBL will be DIC regardless.OldEdScott
Dec 17, 2003 10:23 AM
By his own choice if not ours.
I agree - it's form over function that feels odd here...PdxMark
Dec 17, 2003 12:32 PM
I mainly have problems with the frequent use of capital punishment here in the US. Frequent use leads to my core objection, which is that even one incorrect execution is absolutely unacceptable. The numerous exonerations of the condemmned suggests that we have probably executed innocent people.

But mass murder is a different issue, whether on a national scale or on a personal one, like the DC snipers.

As Doug points out, SH would likely not live long if he were in Iraqi custody. Execution of SH would also make the world a better place. Execution under an independent Iraqi legal system would also not affect impressions of the US.

But I think GWB undermines the credibility of the US justice system when he sounds like a backcountry Texas judge in a B-movie. An execution under US-controlled law or procedures can be spun to sound like simple retributive murder when our President makes it sound like a foregone conclusion. Execution is the decision of whatever tribunal gets its hands on SH, not the President.
Bush has a record of taunting the condemned.czardonic
Dec 17, 2003 11:22 AM
I am sure he is working on a real knee-slapper of an impression of Saddam begging for mercy as we speak.
He does seem to get a kick out of it. nmOldEdScott
Dec 17, 2003 11:41 AM
he's a "reglar guy." what do you suppose they think? nmDougSloan
Dec 17, 2003 2:48 PM
he's a "reglar guy" eh?..Gee, Pandora...what's in the box? nmbicyclerepairman
Dec 17, 2003 4:33 PM