Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who is killing Saddam's defense lawyers?

Things that pique my interest are things that don't make sense at first, that cause me to wonder what's going on because something doesn't quite jibe. One of those things is that two of Saddam's defense lawyers have now been murdered.

Why doesn't that make sense? After all, aren't there enough people in Iraq who are angry at Saddam, angry enough to kill anyone who might want to defend him? Naturally, of course, no question--and it may indeed be just as simple as that.

But I doubt it. It somehow doesn't have the right modus operandi--the fingerprints, as it were, of the opposition to Saddam: Shi'ite clerics calling for forbearance when their own people are bombed, anti-Saddamites supporting the ascendance of the rule of law. Instead, it bears more resemblance to what we've seen in the past from Saddam supporters.

Why would Saddam's supporters kill his own lawyers, on his orders or on their own initiative? I'm not ordinarily a conspiracist, but in this case I might make an exception.

The world press has talked from the start about how Saddam's trial shouldn't be held in Iraq, and the murders of the lawyers could play to this belief and create clear proof in their eyes that indeed, it's not safe enough. And who would benefit from a move? Saddam, especially if it's to a European country with no death penalty (unlikely, but possible).

Who would benefit from a delay? Saddam (or his supporters). Who is a coldblooded killer who would murder his own best friend (and in Saddam's case, probably has) many times over to further his power, or to protect himself? Saddam, or his supporters. Who would dearly love to give the impression that the anti-Saddamites are just as much cold-blooded killers as Saddam himself? Yes, indeed; you-know-who.

When one tries to learn more about the lawyers' murders, the plot gets very thick indeed. Here, for example, is the Telegraph on the subject:

Today's killing has raised further questions as to whether a fair trial can take place amid the violence in Iraq.

Defence lawyers have threatened to boycott the trial unless measures are taken to protect them, and one of the reasons the judge gave for adjourning the trial last month was that witnesses were too scared to turn up...

"There can be no fair trial without providing security for witnesses, judges and lawyers on an equal footing. No trial can take place in such conditions," said Issam Ghazzawi, a spokesman for Saddam's defence team.

Human rights organisations have also expressed concern.

Nicole Choueiry, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, said: "The safety of these people is very important if the trial is to go on.

"It is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and the US military to provide protection."

Makes sense, doesn't it? So then, why haven't these lawyers been protected? Well, see this, from the Hindu:

The assassination of a second lawyer associated with the trial was likely to raise new questions about whether this country can conduct such a sensitive prosecution in the midst of insurgency and domestic turmoil.

Following al-Janabi's death, members of the defence team said they had suspended further dealings with the special court until their safety is guaranteed...

[Head of Saddam's defense team] Al-Ubaidi said that the entire defence team had rejected an offer of guards from the Interior Ministry, pointing to frequent Sunni Arab accusations that ministry forces or Shiite militias linked to the government have killed members of the minority that was dominant under Saddam.

He said then that they were talking with U.S. officials about getting protection from American troops. But a later defence team statement said that it would seek United Nations protection for the Iraqi lawyers because they do not trust either the U.S. military or the Iraqi government to ensure their safety.

Saddam's defence team, which includes some 1,500 lawyers who act as advisers, is led by Khalid al-Dulaimi and Abdel Haq Alani, an Iraqi-born lawyer based in Britain. Alani is the top legal consultant to Saddam's daughter, Raghad, and believed to be backbone of defence team.

I can't really blame them for not trusting the Iraqi government to protect them, to tell you the truth; I would imagine the motivation to do so would be a little weak. But the Amnesty spokesperson above is the very definition of a useful idiot, I'm afraid--either simply ignorant or willfully deceptive--because it seems clear that the defense will not accept protection from either the Iraqi government or the US.

Note the continual calls for UN involvement and the movement of the trial into a "neutral" (read: western European?) country--a country, no doubt, with an anti-US agenda, no death penalty, and even perhaps a history of being on the take from defendant Saddam:

[al-Dulaimi] blamed the government for Tuesday's attack...

``The aim of these organized attacks is to scare Arab and foreign lawyers,'' al-Dulaimi said. ``We call upon the international community, on top of them the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to send an investigative committee because the situation is unbearable.''

He called for moving Saddam and his colleagues into a neutral country. Al-Dulaimi said defence lawyers do not recognize the trial's next date which comes on Nov. 28.

Who is al-Dulaimi? I haven't been too successful in finding much information. But he certainly doesn't seem to fit the picture of the public defender, reluctantly taking on the case because he knows that the rule of law requires that even the likes of Saddam needs a defense lawyer for the trial to be fair.

No, al-Dulaimi has quite a different agenda. This interview in Der Spiegel makes it clear he reveres Saddam and considers the trial illegitimate. A few quotes:

The trial will be adjourned. The last chapter in Saddam Hussein's life has not yet begun...The entire proceeding [the trial] is a farce...Although I am aware that this is not as much a criminal trial as a political process, I cannot imagine that the Iraqi judges will give in to pressure by the US occupiers...Neither the so-called governing council, which the former American governor appointed, nor the current Iraqi government are legitimate...By law, Saddam is still the head of state. The American invaders and occupiers deposed him and took him prisoner after having destroyed Iraq. Now they are using the law of the strong to impose their will and walk all over Iraqi laws...As far as I am concerned, the current government also lacks all legitimacy.

Clearly, al-Dulaimi is not just a defense attorney, but a die-hard supporter who seems to believe time is on his--and Saddam's--side. And does anyone else hear the following sentence: I cannot imagine that the Iraqi judges will give in to pressure by the US occupiers--as a possible veiled threat?

Please note the following excerpt from this
, which appeared in the Telegraph after the first killing of a defense lawyer, back in late October:

The killing raised worries about the viability of staging the emotionally charged case in Iraq.

Although heavy protection exists for the judges and prosecutors, security does not appear to have been provided for the defence team, all 12 of whom had been publicly named.

Mr Janabi, a friend of Saddam, is understood to have had no bodyguards at the time of his abduction.

Here we have the typical reaction--the trial may need to be moved--and the assertion (without further explanation) that the defense team has not been provided with security.

But the last sentence seems curiouser and curiouser. If Janabi had been offered but refused Iraqi government and/or US protection--as the entire defense team had done, apparently--why did he not have any bodyguards at all? Surely some could have been found? So his guardless state (if indeed this was even true) makes no sense to me, unless he was set up.

I don't pretend to know what's going on; these are mere speculations, gleaned from a few news articles that may not even be correct in their facts. But even a quick check of the Iraqi blogs didn't reveal any inside information on the topic (if anyone can find anything, please post it in the comments).

So Roger, you write mystery novels--got any ideas?


At 1:54 PM, November 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said... has a post, he suggests "If moving a few lawyers and their families into the Green Zone and protecting them with western guards takes us even a millimeter further from the Iraq we have, and closer to the Iraq that Iraqis deserve then so be it. Let the American embassy pick up the bill as a sign of its commitment to justice and the rule of law."

Why aren't we doing this?

At 2:39 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

Neo, your analysis that friends of Saddam might be picking off the lawyers makes more sense when I read the note that says he has thousands of lawyers on his legal team.

Actually, something like 1500 advisors are included in the team.

The problem suddenly takes on a different cast when I read that information.

And why did they go forward without any kind of protection?

I don't know what the decision-making structure is on the ground in Iraq, but it could be said that American forces not going out of their way to protect a team of lawyers who haven't asked for that protection.

Or who have said that they don't trust that protection.

At 2:46 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Putting Saddam's lawyers in house arrest, full restriction and surveillaince of actions, would solve the problem.

The reason why it isn't done is because the American leadership suffers from a decadent streak of frailty, lack of purpose, ruthlessness, and effectiveness.

The Iraqis have plenty of excuses for why they can't handle it alone.

The Americans have even more excuses, except they are quite pathetic in caricature.

The lawyers don't need protection, they need to be controlled, threatened, and made to realize that American power can subtly hand them over to the Shias, with a demand that the Shias take care of our own dirty work.

This isn't Orange County, where gentleman's rules of justice and what not, prevail in a kosher let's all obey the rules environment.

The enemies of the state of Iraq, and the enemies of the American Constitution, may only be brought down with an equal amount of ruthlessness, terror tactics, use of power, and efficiency.

Or else Iraq won't have a chance 200 years in the future to argue about what the Founding Fathers meant with this or that. They will already have fallen.

The American leadership takes too much counsel from their fears. Fears of being called a bully, fears of being called stronghanded, or as bad as the enemies we fight against, or any number of things, descriptions, and/or accussations.

America is still young, we still act like adolescents. With nowhere near the equanimity of the Roman Empire or any other aged polity.

One still wonders whether this youthful vitality of American entrepreneurship and political and human rights vigor may offset the lack of wisdom that all young nations face.

What will it take to make the United States stronger, better, more able to oversee our goals and the interests of the world?

What will it take to destroy the lackaidaisical decadent rot in the philosophical imperatives of the American people, the military, and the political establishment?

Obviously, 9/11 wasn't it.

It seems that while the US is powerful, it is both slow, dull-witted, and lacking in agility. Compared to the quick rapier trusts, shenanigans, and conspiracies cooked up by those with less power, but more cunning.

America doesn't seem to fit well in a world where the only underdogs are the bad guys, and the innocent victims without power or citizenship to defend themselves with.

I wonder how future historians a thousand years into the future, will say about the early 21st century.

Will they have matured? Will they be wiser and better in dealing with the problems humanity faces?

It is without question that the lives in AMerica have gotten better, it is also without question that the lives many other people in the world have only gotten worse.

How to change this inverse ratio... will probably be one of the greatest challenges the American people have faced since World War II.

Not democracy, not free trade. But how to raise successors and allies, that would wield power successfully and wisely.

Afghanistan is even younger than Iraq, and Iraq and Kuwaitt are really young in that respect.

But their youth is one of recklessness, glory hounding, and utter contempt for death.

Which could be interesting.

At 3:59 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...


Personally, I think you've answered your own question (in re why Saddam's entourage are unguarded). There's nobody left that's fit for the job. Saddam won't trust Americans, he won't trust Iraqi police or army of the new government, he might trust UN guards except that there aren't any in Iraq... and who's left? The only ones Saddam might trust are his true loyalists, the ones who can fight -- and they are mostly dead or on the run.

Like Groucho Marx, unwilling to join a club that would have him as a member, Saddam is unwilling to be protected by anyone capable of protecting him.

Personally, I don't see the problem with this. Let the prosecution proceed; and if no defense attorney is available to defend Saddam (fat chance of that!), let Saddam defend himself. He'd probably prefer it that way anyhow.

As to why people would want to murder Saddam's lawyers -- well, they're closely associated with Saddam by virtue of defending him, and they're not fighters or bodyguards. That makes them Saddam loyalists, despised by anyone who suffered under Saddam's regime. It also makes them targets.

I think that's a reasonable first approximation, at least.

Daniel in Brookline

At 4:33 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Eric said...

It could be the terrorists, not because they're trying to hurt or help Saddam per se, but because their goal is to sabotage the Rule of Law in Iraq. The trial of Saddam is a defining moment of transition for Iraqi jurisprudence, from the old despotic system to THE trial that sets up as the cornerstone of Iraq's future as a functional state.

Don't forget that the terrorists ultimate goal is to destroy the burgeoning Iraqi state - at all levels - that, when established, will threaten to fundamentally undermine the type of order they need in the region. If they can ruin this defining 'moment' for Iraq, they take make Iraq take a step back in history.

At 5:29 PM, November 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:54, Saddams lawyers would not move into the green zone because they wanted to protest US "occupation".

At 8:33 PM, November 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just kill the old mass murderer and be done with it.

At 8:47 PM, November 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Saddam's found "Not Guilty", do you suppose he'll announce that he's going to look for the REAL atrocity-committing, Kurd-killing, environmental-disaster creating totalitarian dictator?
- MK

At 9:42 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger PatCA said...

I think it's an inside job, something to derail the trial. Why on earth would the Iraqis kill his lawyers when Saddam is so dead bang guilty?

At 10:27 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

I would go along with the idea of revenge type killing - reaching out indirectly to 'touch' him, to show him he is not in control at all and that death is coming for him too. There would be satisfaction in killing someone close to him, connected with him, loyal to him, as previously pointed out. Anyone smart enough to plan and carry through with the hit is smart enough to know his trial can't be stopped given the resources and attorneys he has at his disposal.

What puzzles me too is why the lawyers weren't covered with security. It sort of reminds me of domestic violence victims that won't seek a court's protection, or call the police or seek out a shelter. What a way to die, gurgling in your life's blood, shed for saddam hussein, and probably wondering if your family will get hit too. They take their revenge seriously over there.

At 11:39 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Real terror campaigns would tend to cow the lawyers defending Saddam... yet we see that it does just the opposite, that it plays right into Saddam's defense strategy, and the lawyers are so uppity that they are openly talking about attempts on their life yet they are not sufficiently worried to accept government help...

A real terror compaign would have the lawyers pipping down, and giving us bows and prostrations to the Shia Deathsquads.

I think it's time tell one of the Special Police Brigades that they have a new "enemy" now, and see if the behaviors of the lawyers, especially the head lawyer, changes.

Maybe not, they are fanatics after all.

At 10:54 PM, November 10, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

Maybe the French want Saadam off so he can come establish order in the Paris suburbs? Just a thought.

At 11:08 PM, November 10, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

"their hope and expectation (Al -Qaeda) is that the US will continue to overreact through disproportionate and missapplied military force that will further contribute to the dramatic increase in anti-Americanism throughout the Islamic world and thereby increase their ranks." Prof. Stephan Zunes

At 9:25 AM, November 11, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

"Their hope and expectation (Al-Qaeda) is that people in the US like Zunes, will continue to overreact to terroist publicity stunts, and create a disproportionate outcry in favor of terroists through misapplied logic, that will further contribute to the dramatic increase in anti-Americanism throughout the world, and thereby increase the chance of success for Jihad and recruitment"
-Yiwei Sun


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