Capture of Saddam Hussein backlash
The capture of Saddam Hussein backlash began in early 2004, according to the January 20, 2004, Reuters news story "Iraqis Want Saddam's Old U.S. Friends on Trial" by Michael Georgy:
"If Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein on trial," Georgy writes, "they want his former American allies shackled beside him."
Ali Mahdi, a builder, told Georgy that "'Saddam should not be the only one who is put on trial. The Americans backed him when he was killing Iraqis so they should be prosecuted. ... If the Americans escape justice they will face God's justice. They must be stoned in hell.'"
Georgy notes that "The United States continued to feel the backlash of its move to give Saddam prisoner of war status Tuesday as thousands of Iraqi protesters called for his execution. ... Washington's move has thrown some doubt over his fate after Iraq's U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council had said Saddam would be tried in a special tribunal by Iraqi judges. ... His POW status means the former dictator, accused of sending thousands of Iraqis to mass graves, could have more rights than a war criminal."
The Iraqi logic is simple: "The United States backed Saddam in his war with Iran in the 1980s. During that time, he also gassed an estimated 5,000 Kurds to death in the village of Halabja. ... A few years later Washington began branding Saddam a tyrant and an enemy after his troops invaded oil-rich Kuwait in 1990. ... 'Saddam was a top graduate of the American school of politics,' said Assad al-Saadi, standing with friends in the slum of Sadr city, formerly called Saddam City, a Shi'ite Muslim area oppressed by Saddam's security agents. ... 'My brother was an army officer who was executed. Saddam is a criminal and the Americans were his friends. We need justice so that we can forget the past.'"
Because Saddam was given POW status a month after his capture on December 13, 2003, "his new POW status has only added to skepticism about American promises after toppling Saddam in April." However, it appears that Iraqis are also skeptical about Saddam actually facing justice. Ali, identified by Georgy as a "U.S.-trained policeman," stated "'The Americans and Saddam should face justice. Do you really think the Americans are going to put themselves on trial? ... Of course we hope the Americans and Saddam will face trial. But will it ever happen? I doubt it.'"
Related SourceWatch Resources
- 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: "Saddam Hussein, Like Adolf Hitler, Will Live on for Millions of People" by Robert Fisk, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
- 19 December 2003: "The Rat Trap, Part 1: How Saddam may still nail Bush" by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times.
- 20 December 2003: "Rumsfeld was told to placate Saddam" by Dana Priest, smh.com.au: "Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States' public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington's attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents."
- 23 December 2003: "Video Clip of 'When Donald met Saddam', informationclearinghouse. Requires Windows Media Player.
- 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 Conventions, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said. ... However, Mr. Di Rita said under the conventions, his legal status could be re-evaluated at a later date."