From the March 2005 Idaho Observer:

Saddam who?

There is an old saying in the legal profession that everybody deserves a fair trial. But easier said then done when it comes to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

by Greg Szymanski

After being captured over a year ago by American forces, Hussein has been held in a military detention center without charges being filed and without access to legal counsel even though his family has hired over 20 lawyers, including several Americans.

But what good are lawyers if you’re not allowed to talk with them? What good is a defense team if the prosecution never presents its case?

In fact, Hussein has never been afforded any of the rights normally mandated by the Geneva Convention and International law; these technicalities being ignored by the U.S. government since he has never been officially categorized as a prisoner of war.

The American government claims Hussein is nothing but a terrorist and basically can rot in jail until hell freezes over. Critics contend he either should be given prisoner of war status or immediately released since the invasion of Iraq was a violation of International law.

But if you think the American government is going to let something so insignificant as International law stand in the way of Hussein’s eventual execution, think again. Let there be no doubt that Hussein will eventually be killed or rot in jail and that everything in between is merely legal gamesmanship, a plan set up by the Bush administration to make it appear that Hussein is receiving at least a semblance of justice.

There are many reasons why the American government wants Hussein out of the picture quickly: One being that a long and drawn out defense might expose the sordid details of how America actually backed Hussein in the war against Iran and other atrocities committed against his own people.

In other words, when it served American interests, Hussein was allowed to play dirty. But when our interests were no longer served, he needed to be removed. So now he sits in jail, the only question being how he can be removed without too much ill will being spread across the world.

It would be an international nightmare to just shoot him in front of a firing squad. And it would be too cumbersome to give him prisoner of war status since that would bring up complicated issues of whether the U.S. actually violated International law by the Iraqi invasion in the first place.

So the Bush administration decides to skirt International law, decides to violate humanitarian principles of law by creating a bogus Iraqi tribunal to hear Hussein’s case, while at the same time, giving him no ability whatsoever to defend himself.

In other words, the "fix is in." A "kangaroo court" is at work and America is no longer the shining example to the world of how everyone—even our most feared enemies— deserves a fair trial.

And if it wasn’t for international human rights lawyer Curtis Doebbler, perhaps no one would ever be able to make any sense about what is going on with Hussein and the "kangaroo court" gathered in Baghdad.

Doebbler, an American citizen and respected human rights attorney, has been hired by the Hussein family to represent the former dictator. He is one of the lead attorneys in an international group numbering more than 20, who are trying to piece together a defense even though the prosecution has never officially presented charges.

Doebbler has acted all over the world as an expert consultant and teacher/trainer in the field of international human rights law. His clients have included an estimated two million internally displaced persons in the Khartoum State, approximately 3,500 Ethiopian refugees in the Sudan, dozens of political activists in the Sudan, the democratic Republic of the Congo, Peru and Afghanistan as well as hundreds of other clients from countries too numerous to mention.


Recently, from his headquarters in Jordan, Doebbler answered questions updating the latest aspects of the Hussein case:

GS: In a nutshell, what motivates you to take on such a case? Have you had any physical threats made to you since becoming part of the Hussein defense team?

CD: I am an international human rights lawyer and have a responsibility to protect human rights in any cases where I can within the limits of my abilities and resources. As this case arose in the aftermath of one of the most serious violations of human rights to take place in recent times, the violation of the right to life of 26 million Iraqis by the act of aggression carried out against them by the United States, a country whose nationality I hold, there is a special responsibility to act.

Many of my colleagues around the world as well as in the United States respect the fact that every individual has the right to legal representation and the right to a fair trial. Unfortunately, I have received both explicit and implicit threats from members of the U.S. military and some other individuals who do not understand this. I have also been several times harassed by the Israeli immigration and IDF authorities who do not like my work either as the representative of Mr. Saddam Hussein or as a professor of law at An-Najah National University in Palestine. If human rights are to become a reality and if we are to defend the rule of law from the violent and in recent times unprecedented attack that has been launched against human rights by the Bush administration and its allies, individuals must have the courage to stand up against injustice. We must particularly stand up for the human rights of the individuals that society shuns. My work is one very small piece of the very immense effort that is needed if we are to preserve a society living under the rule of law for future generations.

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