Monday, January 01, 2007

Bush lies continue as rights groups condemn Saddam Hussein’s execution; U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000

2,860 U.S. military casualties in Iraq since President Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1, 2003.

U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000

Sunday, December 31, 2006; 2:46 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.

The milestone comes as President George W. Bush weighs options, including more troops, for the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where daily violence plagues Baghdad and much of the country and has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The Web site,, listed the death of Spec. Dustin R. Donica, 22, on December 28 as previously unreported, and said that 3,000 U.S. military personnel had now died.

A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq could not immediately confirm that Donica's death had not previously been reported. No soldiers were reported killed by small arms fire on December 28 but the death of an unidentified soldier in a bomb attack north of the capital was announced.


The grim numbers since America's illegal invasion more than three and a half years ago:

March 20, 2003 through May 1, 2003 (the end of major combat): 140 casualties.

May 2, 2003 through June 28, 2004 (sovereignty turned over of to Iraq): 718 casualties.

June 29, 2004 (the day after the official turnover of sovereignty to Iraq) through January 30, 2005 (Iraq Elections): 579 casualties.

January 31, 2005 (the day after Iraq Elections) through December 14, 2005 (Iraq General Elections): 715 casualties.

December 15, 2005 (the day after Iraq General Elections) through December 30, 2006: 848 casualties.

Often forgotten is the number of Iraqi civilians that have been killed since March 2003. In December 2005, President Bush said the toll, up until then, was “30,000, more or less.” The number to date has been estimated by some to exceed 100,000. No one knows for sure. The Pentagon says it doesn’t keep track.

The Iraq Body Count project (IBC) is an attempt to record civilian deaths resulting from the 2003 invasion of Iraq and occupation. The group is staffed by volunteers consisting mainly of academics and activists based in the UK and the USA. Their website estimates as many as 57,900 Iraqi civilians have been killed so far. This apparently excludes Iraqi soldiers, insurgents, suicide bombers or any others directly engaged in war-related violence.


President Bush's Statement on Execution of Saddam Hussein

December 29, 2006

“Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial -- the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.”

President George W. Bush is joined by, from left to right, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, as he speaks with reporters following his meeting with his national Security team Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006, at Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas. White House photo by Paul Morse

Saddam had proper trial, PM says

December 30, 2006

[Australian] Prime Minister John Howard says a fair and proper trial was given to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“The real significance is that this man has been given a proper trial, due process was followed,” Mr. Howard said.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein shortly before his execution on December 29, 2006.

This image taken from Al-Iraqiya television Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006 shows a truck carrying the coffin containing the body of executed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein late Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006 in Baghdad before being brought to his burial place in a religious compound in Ouja, Iraq. Hussein was buried shortly before sunrise Sunday in a family plot next to the graves of his two sons in the town of his birth, north of Baghdad, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Al-Iraqiya via APTN)


Human Rights Watch
News Release

Iraq: Saddam Hussein Put to Death
Hanging After Flawed Trial Undermines Rule of Law

(New York, December 30, 2006) – The execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein following a deeply flawed trial for crimes against humanity marks a significant step away from respect for human rights and the rule of law in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch has for more than 15 years documented the human rights crimes committed by Hussein’s former government, and has campaigned to bring the perpetrators to justice. These crimes include the killing of more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in Northern Iraq as part of the 1998 Anfal campaign.

“Saddam Hussein was responsible for massive human rights violations, but that can’t justify giving him the death penalty, which is a cruel and inhuman punishment,” said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program.

The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced Saddam Hussein and two others to death in November for the killing of 148 men and boys from the town of Dujail in 1982. The tribunal’s statute prohibits, contrary to international law, the possibility of commuting a death sentence. It also requires that the execution take place within 30 days of the final appeal.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances. Increasingly, governments are abolishing the death penalty in domestic law.

“The test of a government’s commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders,” said Dicker. “History will judge these actions harshly.”

A report issued in November 2006 by Human Rights Watch identified numerous serious flaws in the trial of Hussein for the Dujail executions. The 97-page report, “Judging Dujail: The First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal,” was based on 10 months of observation and dozens of interviews with judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The report found, among other defects, that the Iraqi High Tribunal was undermined from the outset by Iraqi government actions that threatened the independence and perceived impartiality of the court. It outlined serious flaws in the trial, including failures to disclose key evidence to the defense, violations of the defendants’ right to question prosecution witnesses, and the presiding judge’s demonstrations of bias.

Hussein’s defense lawyers had 30 days to file an appeal from the November 5 verdict. However, the trial judgment was only made available to them on November 22, leaving just two weeks to respond. The Appeals Chamber announced its confirmation of the verdict and the death sentence on December 26.

“It defies imagination that the Appeals Chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defense’s written arguments in less than three weeks’ time,” said Dicker. “The appeals process appears even more flawed than the trial.”

At the time of his hanging, Saddam Hussein and others were on trial for genocide for the 1988 Anfal campaign. The victims, including women, children and the elderly, were selected because they were Kurds who remained on their traditional lands in zones outside of areas controlled by Baghdad. Hussein’s execution will therefore jeopardize the trial of these most serious crimes.


Amnesty International
News Release

Iraq: Amnesty International deplores execution of Saddam Hussein
press release, 30.12.2006

Amnesty International deplored the execution today of Saddam Hussein following the confirmation of his sentence by the Iraqi Appeals Court on 26 December 2006.

The organization, which totally opposes the use of the death penalty, said it was concerned that the Iraqi Appeals Court had failed to address the major flaws during the former dictator's trial before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) which had rendered it unfair.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, but it is especially abhorrent when this most extreme penalty is imposed after an unfair trial," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "It is even more worrying that in this case, the execution appeared a foregone conclusion, once the original verdict was pronounced, with the Appeals Court providing little more than a veneer of legitimacy for what was, in fact, a fundamentally flawed process."

Amnesty International said it had greatly welcomed the decision to hold Saddam Hussein to account for the crimes committed under his rule but this should have been done through a fair process. "His trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated when he was in power, but his trial was a deeply flawed affair" said Malcolm Smart. "It will be seen by many as nothing more than 'victor's justice' and, sadly, will do nothing to stem the unrelenting tide of political killings."

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death on 5 November 2006 after being convicted in connection with the killing of 148 people from al-Dujail village after an attempt to assassinate him there in 1982. The trial, which began in October 2005 almost two years after Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces, ended last July. The Appeals Court confirmed their sentences on 26 December 2006, when Judge Arif Shaheen confirmed that it must be carried out within 30 days after ratification by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani or his delegate.

The trial before the SICT failed to satisfy international fair trial standards. Political interference undermined the independence and impartiality of the court, causing the first presiding judge to resign and blocking the appointment of another, and the court failed to take adequate measures to ensure the protection of witnesses and defence lawyers, three of whom were assassinated during the course of the trial. Saddam Hussein was also denied access to legal counsel for the first year after his arrest, and complaints by his lawyers throughout the trial relating to the proceedings do not appear to have been adequately answered by the tribunal. The appeal process was obviously conducted in haste and failed to rectify any of the flaws of the first trial.

"Every accused has a right to a fair trial, whatever the magnitude of the charge against them. This plain fact was routinely ignored through the decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. His overthrow opened the opportunity to restore this basic right and, at the same time, to ensure, fairly, accountability for the crimes of the past. It is an opportunity missed," said Malcolm Smart, "and made worse by the imposition of the death penalty."

At the time of his execution, Saddam Hussein was also standing trial before the SICT, together with six others, on separate charges arising from the so-called Anfal campaign, when thousands of people belonging to Iraq's Kurdish minority were subject to mass killings, torture and other gross abuses in 1988. It is expected that this trial will now continue against the other accused. The execution of Saddam Hussein is a major blow to the process of establishing the truth of what happened under his rule. and as such another squandered opportunity for Iraqis to find out about and come to terms with the crimes of the past.


What a Fair Trial for Saddam Would Entail

Noam Chomsky
The Toronto Star, January 25, 2004

The long, tortuous association between Saddam Hussein and the West raises questions about what issues — and embarrassments — may surface at a tribunal.

In a (virtually unimaginable) fair trial for Saddam, a defence attorney could quite rightly call to the stand Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush I and other high officials who provided significant support for the dictator, even through his worst atrocities.

A fair trial would at least accept the elementary moral principle of universality: The accusers and the accused must be subject to the same standards.

For a truly fair trial, it's surely relevant, as an abundance of congressional and other records show, that Washington made an unholy accommodation with Saddam during the 1980s.

The initial pretext was that Iraq staved off Iran — which it attacked with U.S. backing — but the same support continued well after the war was over.

Now, those responsible for the policies of accommodation are bringing Saddam to the bar of justice.

Rumsfeld, as Ronald Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East, visited Iraq in 1983 and 1984 to establish firmer relations with Saddam (at the same time the administration was criticizing Iraq for using chemical weapons).

Powell was Bush I's national security adviser from December, 1987, to January, 1989, and a few months later became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Cheney was Bush I's defence secretary.

Thus, Powell and Cheney were in top decision-making positions for the period of Saddam's worst atrocities, the massacre and gassing of the Kurds in 1988 and the crushing of the Shiite rebellion in 1991 that might have overthrown him.

Today, under Bush II, Powell, Cheney and others constantly bring up those atrocities to justify beating the devil — rightly, though the crucial element of U.S. support of Saddam during this period is missing.

In October, 1989, Bush I issued a national security directive, declaring that "normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle East."

The United States offered subsidized food supplies that Saddam's regime badly needed, along with advanced technology and biological agents adaptable to weapons of mass destruction.

After Saddam stepped out of line and invaded Kuwait in 1990, politics and pretexts varied, but one element remained constant: The people of Iraq must not control their country.

In 1990, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, administered mainly by the United States and Britain. These sanctions, which continued through president Clinton and into Bush II, are perhaps the sorriest legacy of U.S. policy toward Iraq.

No Westerners know Iraq better than Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who served successively as U.N. humanitarian co-ordinators there from 1997 to 2000. Both resigned in protest of the sanctions, which Halliday has characterized as "genocidal."

As they and others pointed out for years, the sanctions devastated the Iraqi population while strengthening Saddam and his clique, increasing the people's dependency on the tyrant for their survival.

Whether or not this history is permitted to come out in a tribunal, the issue of who will be in charge in Iraq in the future still remains crucial and is highly contested right at this moment.

Apart from that issue, those who have been concerned with the tragedy of Iraq had three basic goals: (1) overthrowing the tyranny, (2) ending the sanctions that were targeting the people, not the rulers, and (3) preserving some semblance of world order.

There can be no disagreement among decent people on the first two goals: Achieving them is an occasion for rejoicing, particularly for those who protested U.S. support for Saddam and later opposed the murderous sanctions regime; they can therefore applaud without hypocrisy.

The second goal could surely have been achieved, and possibly the first as well, without undermining the third.

The Bush administration has openly declared its intention to dismantle what remained of the system of world order and to rule the world by force, with Iraq as a demonstration project.

That intention has elicited fear and often hatred throughout the world, and despair among those who are concerned about the likely consequences of choosing to remain complicit with the current policies of U.S. aggression at will. That is, of course, a choice very largely in the hands of the American people.


Post a Comment

<< Home