June 21, 2006

The trial of Saddam Hussein has always been the canary in the coalmine for the new Iraqi government. It has been conducted in such a haphazard and arbitrary manner to call its fairness into question, while failing to focus on the true barbarity of the ancien regime. Compared with, say, the Truth and Reconiciliation Commission in South Africa, or with the investigations of war crimes that the International Court of Justice conducted concerning Bosnia and Rwanda, the ongoing circus in Baghdad has been a joke, an indication that what we replaced Saddam with is incapable of administering the hallmark of any free society, due process.

So this morning's murder of Saddam's defense counsel by men purportedly working for the government should cause some reflection on what we've created in that country. The third defense lawyer to be executed since the trial began, Khamis al-Obaidi had been a low-key figure, exchewing the bombastics of his co-counsel or the buffoonery of Ramsey Clark, stating only weeks ago that "if we withdraw out of fear it will not be a shame for us as lawyers but for the entire Iraqi judicial system." Had this case been tried before a real court, at the Hague, he would still be alive.

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