January 17, 2005 - One of America's most renowned human rights lawyers has stunned friends and supporters by taking on Saddam Hussein as a client and describing the former dictator as "reserved, quiet, thoughtful and dignified".
Ramsey Clark, a former US attorney-general, said Saddam had been unfairly demonised by his captors. He spoke of his client, who faces trial in an Iraqi court for war crimes, after returning to the US from Jordan. He provoked a furore by declaring that Saddam had been subjected to "savage" treatment by his US captors and compared it with the abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.
"Demonisation is the most dangerous form of prejudice," he said. "Once you call anything evil, it's easy to justify anything you might do to harm that evil. Evil has no rights, it has no human dignity, it has to be destroyed. That's how you get your Fallujahs, your Abu Ghraibs, your shock-and-awes." He said the court to try Saddam was "a creation of the US military occupation" and did not meet the standards of international law.
FLASHBACK: Demonize to Colonize
by Ramsey Clark
“In the determination of any criminal charge ... everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – Article 14(1)
The complete demonization of Saddam Hussein threatens to determine every decision and action affecting not only his future but that of Iraq as well. With U.S. mass media and U.S. government propaganda stripping Saddam Hussein of every redeeming human quality, any act against him or Iraq is ipso facto justified.
This successful demonization made the U.S. unilateral war of aggression against Iraq politically possible. It now makes a fair trial for Saddam Hussein impossible.
The debate about intelligence failures is itself a cover-up of the obvious. Saddam Hussein was demonized to justify regime change in Iraq. It rendered him an evil madman threatening the civilized world. He possessed weapons of mass destruction. He supported 9/11. He aided al-Qaeda. WMDs could be launched within minutes of his order. That Saddam Hussein would use them was clear. He used them “against his own people.” Ignored were the facts that under devastating attacks by the U.S. in 1991 and 2003, Iraq did not use any illegal weapons. In 1991, Iraq was the victim of 88,500 tons of explosives (almost seven Hiroshimas) delivered by the Pentagon in 42 days that destroyed its infrastructure: water systems, power, transportation, communications, manufacturing, commercial properties, housing, mosques, churches, synagogues. Food production, processing, storage, distribution, fertilizer and insecticide production, were targeted for destruction. Nearly 150,000 defenseless people were killed outright in Iraq. The U.S. claimed its casualties to be 156 — 1/3 from friendly fire, the remainder accidents.
Sanctions against Iraq from August 6, 1990, into 2003 took over 1,500,000 lives, the majority children under age five. By October 1986, 567,000 children under five were dead from sanctions according to a U.N. FAO report that month. One-fourth of the infants born alive in Iraq in 2002 weighed less than four pounds, a dangerously low and crippling birth weight — symbolic of the condition of the entire country.
During the high-tech terrorism of “Shock and Awe” in March and April 2003, Iraq never used any WMDs or other illegal weapon as some 25,000 of its defenseless people were killed.
At least 35 nations have WMDs in their military stockpiles, the U.S. more than all others combined. The U.S. is planning a new generation of nuclear weapons, tactical weapons that would have been used against Iraq if the U.S. had possessed them in 2003. The U.S. used 4,000 tons, or more, of depleted uranium, super bombs in attempts to assassinate Saddam Hussein and cluster bombs to savage anyone within a large area, usually urban, where they were dropped.
Saddam Hussein was demonized because he refused to surrender the sovereignty and independence of Iraq and its people to demands and plans for U.S. domination and exploitation under its New World Order.
At the very time the Bush administration claims Saddam Hussein committed his most serious atrocities, “gassing his own people,” Kurds at Halabja, in March 1988, near the end of the Iran-Iraq war, U.S. support for the government of Saddam Hussein was at its height. Donald Rumsfeld was a principal player. Stephen C. Pelletiere, the CIA’s senior political analyst of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000 and head of a 1991 U.S. Army investigation into how Iraq would fight a war against the U.S., has repeatedly and publicly absolved Iraq from targeting Kurds at Halabja. See, e.g., New York Times, Jan. 31, 2003, p. A29.
A Defense Intelligence Agency investigation and report made immediately after the Halabja incident absolved Iraq. The U.S. continued its support of Iraq with full knowledge of the facts.
The “rogue states” condemned by President Bush are “rogue” because they do not submit to U.S. authority. They include, among others, Cuba, Aristide’s Haiti, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria, until recently Liberia and Libya, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela more recently. Some members of the European Union, most notably France and Germany, timorously, have offered some opposition to the U.S., on the question of Iraq. While they are not called rogues, they have paid a price for this impudence. For those who believe both peace and economic justice require “sovereign equality” among nations, a principle on which the U.N. Charter is based, the “rogue states” deserve our gratitude for resisting, often at a terrible cost, U.S. demands for submission. Nearly all the more than 80 U.S. military interventions in the Western Hemisphere in the past century are evidence that the U.S. intervenes in countries that defy its will and resist its exploitation.
“Our SOBs” — the Somozas of the world — who govern for the benefit of the U.S. and their own selfish interests, have caused many more wars, far greater violations of human rights and most deadly, deeper impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people than all the rogue states which most often are struggling for liberation or self-preservation.
If the U.S. can successfully use the demonization of Saddam Hussein to justify his illegal detention and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and consolidate its control over Iraq through the corruption of law and government, the consequences will be more violence against the U.S., more aggression by the U.S. and more misery for the world.
The brazen humiliation of Saddam Hussein after his capture, the former Iraqi President disoriented, disheveled, mouth probed wide open, a helpless prisoner, was shown repeatedly on TV internationally and viewed by more than one billion people. American Indians understood immediately and were angered again: That is the way they treated our captured Chiefs: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo and many others. Filipinos still wince as they remembered the treatment accorded their President Aquinaldo, captured by U.S. treachery in his hideout in northern Luzon a century ago. The Bush administration appears to prefer a fate for Saddam Hussein more like that of the slave rebellion leader Nat Turner nearly two centuries ago — his head on a post.
Later photos showed Saddam Hussein, humiliated before a rich U.S. Iraqi puppet leader and avowed enemy, who was sitting free and comfortable above Saddam Hussein in his cell, a large picture of President George W. Bush hung on the wall. This conduct advertises to the whole world that the U.S. has no respect for the Geneva Conventions, or mere simple decency.
It must be observed that all the rogue states, the victims of the many U.S. interventions and the U.S. captives mutilated, or humiliated as Saddam Hussein has been, are members of the great majority of the world’s population that has beautiful darker
skin. They are the poor of the planet, being made poorer, dominated and exploited by the foreign policies of the U.S. and its rich allies designed for domination, exploitation and triage.
The devastating destruction of life and life-supporting infrastructure by the massive aerial assaults of 1991 and 2003, the regular bee-sting bombing of Iraq in between, the vicious armed raids against Iraqis, averaging 25 per day now and constant since May 1, 2003, when Bush claimed the war was over and, above all, the genocidal sanctions strangling the whole society for more than twelve years with virtually no protest in the U.S. mass media, government and political leadership required race-based saturation and demonization to be accepted. Attention must be paid.
Can we remember President Bush’s outrage when Iraqi TV. in March 2003 showed several captured U.S. soldiers being escorted by Iraqis in poor light and at a distance that made identification impossible? We might wonder how U.S. soldiers captured in the future, or other U.S. hostages, will be treated.
The most chilling conduct of the U.S. is the total isolation, complete silence about his location and treatment, and denial of all visitation for Saddam Hussein. The spectre created by Guantanamo says anything goes. But the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. Article 9(1-3).
It further requires: All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former Deputy Prime Minister, a major figure in international diplomacy for twenty years, has been held
in secret without reports on his health, or treatment for eight months now. Unnamed prisoners at Guantanamo have been held for two years with only glimpses of unconscious prisoners being carried on stretchers, and semi-conscious prisoners stumbling with leg chains supported by U.S. soldiers as they leave interrogation.
The U.S. cannot use its criminal war of aggression, or its belated designation of Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war to escape the international standards of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The very detention of Saddam Hussein is illegal. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was a war of aggression, an offense called “the supreme international crime” in the Nuremberg Judgment. Prisoners held by the U.S. as a result of this war of aggression
must be released, or turned over to the United Nations, or the International Criminal Court, and not a jurisdiction of its choice.
The U.N. and the ICC are legal, independent, impartial, competent and have jurisdiction to act, all conditions required by international law. The U.N., or the ICC, can make a preliminary determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence of criminal conduct to support criminal charges, the necessity and nature of further detention and whether a legal, independent, impartial and competent court exists with jurisdiction to try the charges.
There is no court in Iraq and no existing domestic law. The U.S. war of aggression and occupation have destroyed both. The present U.S. puppet council in Iraq has no legitimacy and is comprised of sworn enemies of Saddam Hussein, the first qualification for the job. It cannot be foreseen when a new sovereign government capable of creating a legal, independent, impartial and competent court might be formed, but any new criminal code it might enact would be ex post facto for any act committed prior to its enactment.
The Security Council does not have power under the U.N. Charter to create a criminal court and its creation of courts for Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and participation in a court for Cambodia, all under coercion from the U.S. in pursuit of its enemies, cannot create power to do that which its Charter denies it.
Nor are the Security Council’s hands clean concerning Iraq. It authorized sanctions, albeit under U.S. coercion, against Iraq that were genocidal, inflicting infinitely greater injury on the people of Iraq than the worst demonization of Saddam Hussein proclaims he did.
The International Criminal Court is legal and presumptively independent, impartial and competent. Its jurisdiction reaches major international crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but only for acts alleged to have been committed after June 30, 2002.
Most important of all, any court that might consider charges against Saddam Hussein must also weigh charges against the United States, its officials and others acting in concert with them. If equal justice under law is to have any meaning, and equality is the mother of justice, power cannot confer impunity for commission of wars of aggression, the supreme international crime, or the plethora of other offenses the U.S. has committed against the people of Iraq.
For there to be peace, the days of victors’ justice must end.
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