Thursday, July 07, 2005


Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer quits - or maybe gets fired

According to an Associated Press report appearing at the Fox News website, Saddam Husseain’s lead lawyer has quit, over what he claims are efforts by the American members of the team to take control and get him to tone down his anti-US rhetoric.

AMMAN, Jordan — Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer quit the Iraqi dictator's Jordan-based legal team, saying Thursday some of the team's American members were trying to control the defense and tone down his criticism of the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Ziad al-Khasawneh told The Associated Press he tendered his resignation in a telephone call Tuesday to Saddam's wife, Sajida, who is believed to be in Yemen.

"I told her I was resigning because some American lawyers in the defense team want to take control of it and isolate their Arab counterparts," said al-Khasawneh, an Arab nationalist who has often expressed support for Iraqi resistance. Among the Americans on the team are former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark.

Al-Khasawneh said Clark and Curtis Doebbler, another American lawyer helping defend Saddam, were "upset with my statements and have often asked me to refrain from criticizing the American occupation of Iraq and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government."

First, let’s realize that we’re talking about Ramsey Clark here, one of the charter members of the “America is Always Wrong” crowd. So if in fact Clark and his cohorts are trying to muzzle this guy, it’s not because they don’t want America criticized. It’s because they think there’s a more sophisticated, more productive way to go about it. Looking a little further into the story, it appears that maybe al-Khasawneh quit after he had already been fired:

Al-Khasawneh said Saddam's eldest daughter, Raghad, allegedly removed all files related to Saddam's defense from his office. "I was away in Libya when she did all that without my knowledge," he said.

Raghad favors the Americans and non-Arabs on the team "because she thinks they will win the case and free her father," he said.

As a general rule, when the client’s family removes the client’s files from your office, I think you should assume you’ve been fired. And it sounds like maybe at least some of Saddam’s relatives think this guy is more interested in using the case as a platform for his rhetoric than in trying to provide a defense for the former dictator. What I find most astonishing, though, are the number of people lining up to “help” this evil cretin, to the extent that we apparently now have competing groups working to guarantee Saddam a fair trial:

Saddam's legal team includes 1,500 volunteers and at least 22 lead lawyers who come from several countries, including the United States, France, Jordan, Iraq and Libya. No date has been set for the trial of Saddam, captured by U.S. troops in December 2003.
Al-Khasawneh said Raghad was allegedly seeking to exchange the Jordan-based legal team with an international Emergency Committee for Iraq, which was announced last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The committee seeks to ensure a fair trial for Saddam and other officials of the former Iraqi government that was ousted by U.S. forces two years ago, said former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, announcing the committee. Besides Mahathir, other co-chairs include Clark, former Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella and former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas.

I can’t help but think that humanity would be better served if most of these people would devote their volunteer legal services, fundraising, organizing, and public-awareness efforts to some deserving group in say the Congo, or Darfur, or Zimbabwe. Saddam deserves, of course, a defense, in accordance with Iraqi law – not the US Constitution, not the UN, not some international committee of showboats. It was the Iraqi people he abused, tortured, and murdered, and it is up to the Iraqi people to try and punish him.

And no, I don’t know if there is a presumption of innocence under Iraqi law, and quite frankly, even in the face of such a presumption, submitting the proof in proper evidentiary form is a mere technicality. Depending on the charges framed, there will be no real issue of guilt.

In a final ironic note, assuming that Al-Khasawneh has in fact been ousted because of his exploitation of the publicity brought by the case, guess how he got to be the lead lawyer? Yep, he replaced Mohammed al-Rashdan, a prominent Jordanian lawyer, who was fired by the ex-tyrant’s family for exploiting the case to seek personal fame.

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