Trial of Saddam Hussein

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July 1, 2004 was the first day of the trial of Saddam Hussein, a process led by Ahmed Chalabi's nephew Salem Chalabi. According to the BBC News, in Iraq, "the response was mixed" - one Kurdish Iraqi interviewed called for Hussein to be killed, while one resident in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit called the former dictator "a courageous man."[1]

A BBC News review of Middle Eastern media coverage of the trial found, "Most papers agree this is a historic event, and seem in little doubt as to the former Iraqi leader's guilt. Some look ahead in the hope that good will emerge from the trial, while others warn it will hardly solve the problem of Iraq's future."[2]

U.S. media coverage of the trial was reported by Variety to be censored by the military. Only cameras from the U.S. Department of Defense were allowed to record sound. Dan Rather explained to CBS News viewers that the trial video footage they were showing (without audio) had been "taken to another location, edited, and what you're seeing is in effect a censored version." According to Variety:

Some news editors spent hours scouring the portion of the tape with audio for harsh words leveled at President Bush by Saddam, but could not find the quote reported by New York Times reporter John Burns, who was the pool print reporter in the courtroom and accompanied by a translator. Burns reported that Saddam said, "Everyone knows that this is a theatrical comedy by Bush, the criminal, in an attempt to win the election."[3]

Following the opening day of the trial, the human rights organization Amnesty International warned, "Saddam Hussein's trial must be fair, and seen to be fair." In a press relase, the group said it was "deeply concerned at the absence of defence lawyers and the apparent censorship during yesterday's first court appearance by Saddam Hussein and 11 senior members of the former president's government." While an accounting of "war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed over the last three decades is to be welcomed, the proceedings must be fair, impartial and transparent," said Amnesty International.[4]

Amnesty International also noted that "the sound of Saddam Hussein's voice was initially not allowed to be broadcast although later some of his comments were broadcast." The group called "open reporting" from the trial of "paramount importance," and expressed disappointment that "only reporters from U.S. media outlets were allowed access to the court during yesterday's hearings."[5]

The Verdict, The Sentence

On November 5, 2006, Saddam Hussein was "convicted of crimes against humanity by a Baghdad court and sentenced to death by hanging. He was found guilty over his role in the killing of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail in 1982.

"His brother Barzan al-Tikriti was also sentenced to death, as was Iraq's former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bander

"Former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan got life in jail and three others received 15 year prison terms.

"Another co-defendant, Baath party official Mohammed Azawi Ali, was acquitted." [6]

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Trial Proceedings, Coverage

The Verdict

General/Background Information

"Making" Saddam talk

  • 17 December 2003: "Rumsfeld says CIA is best-equipped to handle interrogation of Saddam" by Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes (European Edition): "... the CIA 'has the competency and the professionals' to interrogate Hussein, captured Saturday by 4th Infantry Division and Special Forces soldiers. The U.S. military will maintain custody of Hussein, who is being held in an undisclosed location."
  • 17 December 2003: "Pros: We have ways of making him talk" by Jules Crittenden, Boston Herald: ""It's not going to be difficult to get him to talk,' said Jane's defense analyst Charles Heyman, a former British counterinsurgency officer. 'He's used to talking to people who hang on his every word. He'll feel like he's in the spotlight again. Allow him to go on and on.' ... Interrogators - likely to include military intelligence and CIA agents, legal experts and a political appointee representing the Bush administration - will have studied Saddam's personality to design the most effective approaches, said Tim Brown of, an intelligence analysis firm."
  • 17 December 2003: "Making Saddam Speak. Former Dictator's Defiance Calls for the CIA's Sophisticated Psychological Tricks," ABC News': "Saddam Hussein has finally been caught, but with no letup in the attacks on coalition troops and the Iraqis who are helping them, the clock is ticking to get the former dictator to reveal all his secrets. ... 'The CIA was given the lead to manage the organization because they have more capacity to do strategic intelligence,' said Michael Vickers, a former CIA operations officer. ... Tactical or battlefield interrogations are normally handled by the military, but 'the CIA can bring to bear a lot of psychiatrists, as well as Arabic-speaking operations officers, to do a lot of the sophisticated psychological stuff on Saddam,' said Vickers."


  • 15 December 2003: "We Caught the Wrong Guy" by William Rivers Pitt, A "must read" article.
  • 15 December 2003: "Saddam Hussein Trial Must Be Fair, Say Rights Groups" by Jim Lobe,
  • 15 December 2003: "Try Saddam in an International Court" by Kenneth Roth, International Herald Tribune.
  • 15 December 2003: "Analysis: Putting Saddam on trial" by Paul Reynolds, BBC/UK: "The Iraqi Governing Council intends to put Saddam Hussein on trial by an Iraqi court. ... It is determined to resist calls for an international tribunal and has won support from the main occupying powers, the United States and Britain."
  • 16 December 2003: "We Got Him ... Now What?" by Robert Scheer, alternet.
  • 16 December 2003: "Likely charges against Saddam", BBC/UK: "The former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will almost certainly stand trial in some form or another for a catalogue of atrocities his regime is accused of committing over three decades. BBC News Online looks at some of the key charges he could face."
  • 16 December 2003: "How Saddam could embarrass the West" by Paul Reynolds, BBC/UK: "A trial of Saddam Hussein would primarily bring forth evidence of his crimes, but he might also use the forum to remind the world that he once had his supporters outside Iraq - in the former Soviet Union, in the Gulf States and in the West. ... The trial might turn into more than an account of genocide, invasion, murder and massacre, dominant though that would be. ... It could become a political event tinged with some embarrassment for countries and individuals who were once close to him."
  • 16 December 2003: "U.S. Won't Concede Trial to Iraqis" by Timothy M. Phelps and Mohamad Bazzi, Newsday (NY): "Against a rising clamor yesterday for swift vengeance administered by Iraqis, the U.S. government is sending a strong signal that it, too, has claims on Saddam Hussein's future. ... The Bush administration 'reserves the right' to try the fallen Iraqi strongman for crimes against the United States, a senior State Department official said yesterday."
  • 16 December 2003: "Foreign Media Favor International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague" by Roland Flamini, UPI.
  • 16 December 2003: "Trial Could Cast War in New Light" by Charlie Savage, Boston Globe.
  • 17 December 2003: "Rumsfeld and his 'old friend' Saddam" by Jim Lobe, Asia Times: "How much more of this intimate relationship Saddam will recall when he gets a public forum is undoubtedly a concern of many current and past administration figures."
  • 17 December 2003: "Bush backs execution for Saddam," BBC/UK: "US President George W. Bush has said that the captured former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein should pay the 'ultimate penalty' for his crimes. ... 'This is a disgusting tyrant who deserves... the ultimate justice,' he said in a US television interview. ... His comments put the US sharply at odds with the United Nations and European allies who oppose the death penalty."
  • 17 December 2003: "During Trial, Hussein May Try to Implicate Western Leaders" by Mark Matthews, Baltimore Sun.
  • 17 December 2003: "Who will testify at Saddam's trial? Hussein defense could shame a parade of American executives" by Joe Conason, workingforchange: "Apart from blaming his underlings for the genocidal crimes on his indictment, what defense can he (or his lawyers) offer? Following in the style of Slobodan Milosevic, he may well wish to spend his final days on the public stage bringing shame to those who brought him down. ... Unfortunately, it isn't hard to imagine how he might accomplish that if he can call witnesses and subpoena documents."
  • 17 December 2003: "US Accused of Double Standards After Granting Saddam Prisoner-of-War Status" by Robert Verkaik and Rupert Cornwell, Independent/UK.
  • 19 December 2003: "The Rat Trap,. Part 1: How Saddam may still nail Bush" by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times.
  • 19 December 2003: "U.S. Says No Decision on Trying Saddam" by Edith M. Lederer, AP: "Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a Jan. 15 meeting of the key players in Iraq to pin down the U.N. role in the country, while the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said no decision has been made on whether a new Iraqi war crimes tribunal will try Saddam Hussein."
  • 20 December 2003: "No 'smoking gun' to convict Saddam Hussein yet, say Iraqi experts], Yahoo! News.
  • 2 January 2004: "The Trial of Hussein: Choosing the Evidence. Prosecution Likely to Focus on Few Incidents" by Peter Slevin, Washington Post.
  • 10 January 2004: "US gives Saddam POW status," ABC News (Australia): "Saddam Hussein has been declared a prisoner of war (POW) by the United States Defence Department and an Iraqi Governing Council member said the jailed former dictator could stand trial in Iraq by June. ... The US Defence Department named Saddam Hussein a prisoner of war after much legal wrangling,... US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was informed that Pentagon lawyers concluded that Saddam met the definition of an enemy prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said. ... However, Mr DiRita said under the conventions, his legal status could be re-evaluated at a later date."