Third Party & Independents Archives

December 14, 2003

Captured: Good, but so What?

I am very glad for the Iraqi people who suffered under Saddam Hussein. I am glad for the American and allied troops who have sacrificed, and their families, that Saddam’s capture will give them a brief moment of satisfaction. But, justice applied to the man, and a modicum of revenge satisfied, little else has changed. The power struggle in Iraq will continue to cost American and allied lives. ‘Collateral damage’, meaning unintended death and maiming of innocent men, women, and children will continue. The draining of billions of tax payer dollars will continue as the occupation in Iraq continues for at least as long as George W. Bush is President, or the President learns the definition of diplomacy abroad. For our troops in Iraq, I am very glad they have something to celebrate, but, it will be a short lived celebration as the fighting continues.

It would appear the capture of Saddam Hussein is of little consequence in the long run with regard to the issues mentioned above. How, by whom, and where Saddam is tried for his crimes, however, is the new controversy facing the U.S. and the world's other nations as we move forward from here. The International Court has no death penalty, only life imprisonment. President Bush and millions of Americans are going to want Saddam's death after proceedings are completed. The Hague is the obvious choice for such a hideous man who has committed horrid crimes against humanity.

But, where will President Bush's administration seek a death penalty, under what jurisdiction, and for what crimes? Now, the issue of whether Hussein had anything to do with the 9/11 atrocity becomes important. If the U.S. hasn't the evidence to make that case, and desires to try Hussein in the U.S., what crimes has Hussein committed within U.S. jurisdiction?

If it is to be crimes against humanity, can the U.S. set itself up as a single nation capable and willing to use its military and economic might to try foreign persons for crimes committed in foreign lands? This can and will tear deeply at what diminished diplomatic relations the U.S. has with other important nations around the world. Not being very knowledgeable in international law, I can only wonder and hope there are options under NATO to try the dictator the U.S. supported as a lesser of two evils during the Iraq-Iran war and the Iranian hostage crisis so many years ago.

Posted by David R. Remer at December 14, 2003 05:30 PM
Comments
Comment #4420

I suspect this will have quite an effect on the ability of Ba’athists to recruit to their cause. Also his trial could lead to some examination of Iraq’s past which might be helpful in cementing its future.

As for where he will be tried, isn’t it pretty clear that he will be tried by the recently set up Iraqi tribunal?

Posted by: Sebastian Holslcaw at December 14, 2003 06:37 PM
Comment #4421

Then there is the potential to hold him over for trial until such time as an Iraqi sovereign government is in place, then, he could be tried in Iraq. That may be the best option, but, security being what it’s not, in Iraq, Hussein may have to be detained elsewhere.

Posted by: David R Remer at December 14, 2003 06:44 PM
Comment #4422

Aaaaaaarrrghhhh!!!

I’m sorry —- but it’s just really amazing to see a reaction like this to what is really good news. Jeez, talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

A “brief moment of satisfaction”? No, sir — I believe the word is “justice”. And it’s worth fighting for, the incessant chatter of the Axis of Weasels notwithstanding.

can the U.S. set itself up as a single nation capable and willing to use its military and economic might to try foreign persons for crimes committed in foreign lands?

Actually, Belgium (which has neither military nor economic — nor moral — might) has been doing this for some time, using a quaint notion they call “universal jurisdiction”. This is the same place where suits were filed agsint Bush and Powell for human rights abuses.

As for the death penaly, well that’s a whole other debate, but if anyone deserves it, it’s Saddam.

Personally, I would definitely not be tripping all over myself and bend backwards to make sure that Saddam has his “rights”. I couldn’t care less.

Ask the loved ones of the hundreds of thousands of people he brutally murdered what his punishment should be.

Posted by: Vivek at December 14, 2003 06:55 PM
Comment #4423

Seems a bit short sighted to me to rejoice Hussein’s capture as if some victory had occured for Americans. There is no victory, here, the war is still on, the Iraqi infrastructre is being sabotaged almost as fast as building takes place, and the reality of life in Iraq will replace this moment of rejoice in just a week or so.

Iraqi victory is not defined by capturing Hussein, or ending his regime. Victory for Iraqi’s will come when Iraqi’s have a sovereign nation of their own with self determination and peace and freedom and prosperity in their own unoccupied land. That will be vitory for Iraqi’s.

As for American victory, that will come when the sponsor of the attacks of 9/11 is captured and brought to justice. How quickly we forget it is the capture of Osama Bin Laden that American survivor’s of 9/11 and their families want to rejoice over. That is when I will feel some victory has been attained.

Typical political ploy to call the inevitable death or capture of Hussein some heroic victory. It attempts to hide all of the other failures of this Administration, not the least of which is the bringing to account, those who planned, paid for, and abetted the killing of thousands of innocent Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2003 07:14 PM
Comment #4424

David, alas your analysis is once again dean on; since we have shunned the UN and the International Court, there is little recourse but to offer Saddm up for Iraqi justice. But that cannot be done until a viable, stable Iraqi government is in place. Indeed, our arrogance in shunning the international community will continue to haunt American foreign policy, and diplomatic discourse especially in this case.

Posted by: V. Edward Martin at December 14, 2003 07:32 PM
Comment #4425

Some weeks ago, I recall seeing some viewpoints expressed in the Blogosphere saying that U.S. leaders are likely hoping that Saddam is killed, rather than captured alive.

According to those views, this would be best for U.S. government officials.

Dead men tell no tales.

Posted by: Aakash at December 14, 2003 07:48 PM
Comment #4427

Aakash, your bring up a point which does indeed instill me as an American, with pride. The fact that Hussein was captured alive is a testament to American humanity and military observance of a policy which dictates the use of no more force than is necessary to accomplish the mission.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for the job the military in Iraq have done. To have killed Hussein unnecessarily upon finding him, would have made U.S. application of military force little better than Hussein’s use of his military.

On this point, Americans have just cause for pride in our nation and military leadership.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2003 08:00 PM
Comment #4433

Sebastian, you said in the first comment above:

I suspect this will have quite an effect on the ability of Ba’athists to recruit to their cause.

This certainly seems a rational proposition and I certainly hope it proves to be the case.

Also his trial could lead to some examination of Iraq’s past which might be helpful in cementing its future.

I could not agree more that this would be a great thing. Let us hope similar minds prevail in the devising of the new government in Iraq and they have the ability to impart such wisdom upon their people.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2003 11:39 PM
Comment #4434

Sebastian, you said, As for where he will be tried, isn’t it pretty clear that he will be tried by the recently set up Iraqi tribunal?

Your assumption appears to be probably correct according to the following story, Hussein Likely to Face Iraqi-Led Tribunal

Good call! You give tips on the ponies? : )

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2003 11:50 PM
Comment #4440

David,

Right on.

We caught the guy who did nothing to the US. It does not legitimatize this illegal war.

Meanwhile, Osama and partisan anthrax attacker go free.

Remember the anthrax guy? The one who attacked Democratic Congressmen?

W. seems to have forgotten!

J

Posted by: Jonesy at December 15, 2003 10:24 AM
Comment #4443

Isn’t it beginning to become peculiar that where there is hint of U.S. government involvement, investigations go nowhere? The Anthrax was made in the good ole USA I read and if I recall correctly, under auspices of U.S. Government sponsored labs. Where did that investigation go?

Then the leak and compromise of our CIA agent for political gain? Where has that investigation gone? When the clues lead to our own, mystery, obscurity and obstruction remain. Funny, how that works. And we should trust this government?

Our founding fathers didn’t trust government, and with issues like these, they are proved wise fathers indeed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2003 10:44 AM
Comment #4445

Vivek commented: Personally, I would definitely not be tripping all over myself and bend backwards to make sure that Saddam has his “rights”. I couldn’t care less.

This seems to be a common extremist opinon in the U.S., and it is no wonder, our nation is in disarray, with so many patriots with so little regard for the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of man, or King. The brilliance of our Constitution is that it provides legal recourse against those who could care less about “rights” granted under law, and would act on their carelessness.

Ask the loved ones of the hundreds of thousands of people he brutally murdered what his punishment should be.

Another brilliance of our Constitution is that it attempts to protect its people from themselves, when in emotional fervor and response to some horrid event, they would dispense with reason, law, order, and correctly administered justice in favor of instantaneous gratification of the emotional need for revenge.

It was indeed an intelligent move to remove Hussein from Iraq quickly, so that justice first weighed and deliberated, and process of law so inherent in the concept of democracy which Iraqi’s largely purport to want, may prevail.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2003 11:03 AM
Comment #4455

Make no doubt about it, having a despot out of power is a good thing both for the people of Iraq and the world. However the enthusiasm over his capture is tempered a bit by the knowledge that there is a bigger rogue out there who has not been caught. When my phone ran yesterday morning and someone told me that quote: “they got him!” I immediately said “Who bin Laden?” I was glad that Hussein is officially out of comission, but what about the man who has the blood of thousands of innocent Americans on his hands. Also at this point all of the congratulating seems a bit like fiddling while Rome burns. After all even with Hussein in custody Iraq continues to see a rise in extremeism and insurgent attacks. I can’t help but think that Hussein could have been brought to justice through diplomacy and not war. Perhaps had we gone the diplomatic route we would have: A) spared American and Iraqi lives, b)still had Hussein before some form of court, c. not have to pay $87 billion to rebuild Iraq, and d. a better chance at a peaceful transfer of power.

Posted by: Nate Daniel at December 15, 2003 04:44 PM
Comment #4456

Tips at the ponies? Oh dear no, I know nearly nothing about horses. :)

“The Anthrax was made in the good ole USA I read and if I recall correctly, under auspices of U.S. Government sponsored labs. Where did that investigation go?”

I think you are oversimplifying. The Ames strain was initially developed by the US, but has been used by at least a few other countries. That doesn’t firmly link it to US labs except insofar as we ‘discovered’ it first. And that is a link to the 1950s and 1960s. Other than that I’m aware of no other link to the US government.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at December 15, 2003 04:45 PM
Comment #4463

Thanks, Sebastian, I knew my memory of the details were foggy. Without an investigation that results in evidence linking the source, it leaves room for a healthy amount of skepticism. All kinds of misdeeds can be hidden by national security. But how much government transparency is healthy or not is a whole other article or three for another time.


Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2003 07:31 PM
Comment #4515

Hello again David. I’m afraid you are getting caught up in the immediacy of the moment as fueled by the media and by the political campaigns with their sound bites. I’m glad those who are pursuing this war on terror are not afflicted by the same influences.

I donít hear anyone in the Administration claiming any kind of victory now that Saddam is gone. This past weekend is but a milestone in the plan to eradicate terrorism from our society. It should be celebrated, but please don’t mistake that celebration as a claim to victory.

We are not winning this war yet, because the war is just beginning. It is being fought on many fronts using a variety of strategies, all aimed at eradicating terrorism and fanatical Islam from this planet. The 87B that it will cost to rebuild Iraq is a drop in the bucket to the Trillions that it will cost to win the war on terror, just as the capture of Saddam is but a start in removing tyranny from the Middle East. Killing Bin Laden will be another milestone, but that wonít end the war either. This war will only end when an entire culture, that has been created over 30 years of Western pacification, finally comes to the conclusion that you canít get there this way. It was the same conclusion the communists had to come to back in the 80s.

Please continue the good work with this site.

Posted by: George at December 17, 2003 04:35 PM
Comment #4525

Thank you George, for your response. In your comments you state: “It is being fought on many fronts using a variety of strategies, all aimed at eradicating terrorism and fanatical Islam from this planet.”

My biggest problem is 1) We will never eradicate terrorism from the world. From Al Capone to Jeffrey Dahmer, to Skinheads in Germany, etc., etc. terrorist action is but the expression of unhappiness by bullies focused on innocents. That is an inherent part of the makeup of the human species and cannot be eradicated.

All that can be done to is to keep organized terrorism in check. Why, because the cost of attempting to eradicate terrorism from the globe would cause more harm to innocents than the terrorists could. We live in a world where every choice has a cost, every action a reaction, and every commitment an Achille’s heel.

I want to see sophisticated wisdom, capable of recognizing these truths about our world, making the decisions in the best interests of all, rather than simple ideologues making the decisions without regard to cost-benefit analysis and wisdom.

The fact is the cost of invading Iraq by the U.S. weighed against the benefit to the American people both, short term and long term, was a bad deal for Americans. We are and will continue to pay exorbidently for removing Hussein. Hussein was a potential threat to his neighboring countries. At such time that his neighbors decided to remove him, or a revolt by the masses in Iraq occured, assistance by the U.S. would have been warranted and cost effective, in terms of international respect and shared costs.

If we are to eliminate fanatical Islam, why stop there? Let us also eliminate fanatical Christianity and Zionists? Let us be sure to take out their offspring over the age of 11 as well, since they have already been indoctrinated by their parents and constitute the next generation of threat. Such arrogance is inherently dangerous to the human race, in my opinion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 18, 2003 12:06 PM
Comment #4534

Thank you for your response David. Now you are debating the actual issues, I believe, and you make some good points. But you don’t hear that debate in the media or being made by the politicians. The government wonít say what their actual goals are either, as it would be a detriment to the policy. So everyone keeps giving us pieces without showing what the puzzle will look like.

And the media and the opposition politicians play in to this as they only focus on the events of the day and the impact it might have. That was my criticism of your blog; it is reactionary.

But your reply starts to delve into some real questions that should be debated:

1. What is the goal of the “War on Terror?”

2. How can that goal be achieved (tactical)?

3. What will be the impact or outcome?

4. Is the cost to benefit ratio worth it?

These are the questions that I have, and they are similar to questions from SOD Rumsfield in his leaked memo. It is clear this administration is working on a long-term strategy to combat radical Islam of which Iraq is just a small piece, and it is also clear that most of the people in the media can’t get past Saddam or UBL to see it.

Now I will end this “debate bait” right here, but let me say up front that I agree with the general strategic direction this administration is taking. I forgot to mention it, but I had linked Humas’ charter to my previous comment as I was going to get into some of that earlier. It provides some good, unbiased, reading (they wrote it). Bias is the trouble you will find in researching radical Islam.

I trust all is well, and I continue to enjoy your comments.

Posted by: George at December 19, 2003 09:56 AM
Comment #4628

George, thank you for a very probing and interesting discussion. I too am opposed to fundamentalism of anykind which denies facts, empirical evidence, and acknowledgement of the fact that progress ultimately is measured by mankind’s overcoming its own weaknesses and deficiencies.

Mahatma Gandhi pointed the way to enlightenment for the human species, the way was one of non-violence. He postulated that non-violence may not have been able to stop Adolph Hitler, but violence would never be the means to end violence. Only non-violence has any chance of ending violence.

The answer to eradicating fundamentalism is 1) the education of all and 2) providing an achievable opportunity to attain a productive livlihood for all people in the world. That goal cannot be reached unless the wealth of the world supports those goals. These are a few of the many reasons why I am opposed to this Administration and most Administrations of the past.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 20, 2003 09:41 PM
Comment #4781

Heh, heh, hate to rain on David’s parade with FACTS, but….

>>Seems a bit short sighted to me to rejoice Hussein’s capture as if some victory had occured for Americans. There is no victory, here…for the US

Oh, so it’s no victory to remove the brutal dictator who aided and abetted those terrorists who attacked the US?

“Under the headline “Case Closed,” Steven Hayes reveals details from a highly classified, 16-page Defense Department memorandum sent last month to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The UNAVOIDABLE CONCLUSTION: Saddam Hussein’s regime had been guilty as charged - TIED FOR OVER A DECADE to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network (among other terrorist groups) for the purpose of waging attacks on their mutual foe, the United States.
The Pentagon memo was compiled for my friend and colleague, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith. It was forwarded to the intelligence panel last month in response to bipartisan questions put to him by the Committee’s top Republican and Democratic members, Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, respectively. The memo’s contents reflected YEARS OF REOPRTINGcompiled by U.S. intelligence agencies from various sources.

According to Hayes, FITY INDIVIDUAL ITEMS (which he infers must be JUST THE TIP OF THE PROVERBIAL ICEBERG, since the bulk of materials seized from Iraqi files have yet to be analyzed) establish that Saddam Hussein collaborated extensively with bin Laden and his ilk in, for example, the following ways:

Top Iraqi intelligence officials and other trusted representatives of Saddam Hussein MET REPEATEDLLY WITH Osama bin Laden and his subordinates. Since Saddam personally insisted that the relationship between the two be kept secret, the contents of their conversations have apparently not yet been discovered. It is a safe bet, though, that operational cooperation was among the topics discussed.

According to the memo, U.S. intelligence received reports that Iraq provided SAFE HAVENS, MONEY, WEAPONS and fraudulent Iraqi and Syrian passports to al Qaeda. It also provided training in the manufacture and use of sophisticated explosives. In that connection, Laden reportedly specifically requested that “[Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed,] Iraqi intelligence’s premier explosives maker - especially skilled in making car bombs - remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.”

A Malaysia-based Iraqi national, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, reportedly secured a job at the airport in Kuala Lumpur thanks to help from Iraq’s embassy in Malasia. He subsequently facilitated the movement of two of the September 11 hijackers, Khalid al Midhar and Nawaq al Hamzi, through passport control and customs en route to an operational meeting in Kuala Lumpur on January 5, 2000. The memo notes that “One of the men at that al Qaeda operational meeting in the Kuala Lumpur Hotel was Tawfiz al Atash, a top bin Laden lieutenant later identified as THE MASTER MIND of the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole.”
“Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to OBTAIN POISONS AND GASES TRAINING. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for [Chemical and Biological Weapons] CBW-related training beginning in December 2000. Iraqi intelligence was ‘encouraged’ after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.”

The memo indicates that there were as many as four meetings between the alleged MASTERMIND of the September 11th hijackings, Mohamed Atta, and the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani. “During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the Iraqi Intelligence Service [IIS] finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.”

In short, thanks to a much-maligned Pentagon effort to perform an independent review of existing intelligence on Iraq — undertaken at Secretary Feith’s initiative - it is simply not possible any longer to claim that there is “no evidence” of links between Saddam and al Qaeda. It behooves most especially those who have access to the full classified memo, like Intelligence Committee member Carl Levin, to stop misleading the public on this point for transparently partisan purposes.” Frank Gaffney

Posted by: Richard Clement at December 28, 2003 02:51 PM
Comment #4787

Again, produce the links or document excerpts to support your allegations and I would be very willing to reconsider my conclusions based on the veracity and validity of those documents.

Thanks, Richard.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 28, 2003 06:29 PM