Monday, April 28, 2008

Sword of retribution

The trial of Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein, will no doubt be another lost opportunity to demonstrate what is right about Western government. Rather than a fair trial, Aziz, who was the public face of the old Iraqi government, will probably be railroaded to the gallows like his old boss was in 2006. Aziz and one of Saddam's half-brothers, Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan, are charged in the executions of 40 merchants in 1992 who were accused of illegally raising prices, according to the Reuters international news service. Aziz has been in custody since he surrendered to U.S. forces in 2003. Jaffer al-Moussawi, a prosecutor with the Iraqi High Tribunal, the special court system set up to try members of the Saddam regime, said Aziz was interior minister in 1992. Merely getting to court is no guarantee of a fair trial, however, as we saw with Saddam. Then, the legal system was set up to execute him and it succeeded, even though the trial seemed absurd. Yes, Saddam was a bad guy with copious amounts of blood on his hands, but we didn't used to be the kind of people who let the desire for revenge override our sense of justice and commitment to principles. Isn't that the very reason we have a legal system in the United States? Or could it be that the Bush administration's all-out assault on legal ethics has succeeded even more thoroughly than previously thought?

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