Once a dictator….

Saddam Hussein courtroom

Anything look peculiar about this Baghdad courtroom in which the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was to continue Tuesday?

“One of the judges suffered a high-blood pressure attack and I just saw him in the hospital,” one of Hussein’s lawyers, the former Qatari justice minister Najib al-Nuami told AFP.

Rauf Rashid Abdel Rahman, who was appointed as the presiding judge after the December resignation of Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, was apparently angered by excessive security measures at the courthouse when he cancelled the proceedings.

The trial was postponed until Sunday because “some witnesses and complainants were away on pilgrimage to Mecca and did not show up” according to The Washington Post.

Tuesday was the scheduled date for the trial’s resumption after a month long recess preceded the resignation of Amin last week. The trial, which began in October 2005, was postponed for 40 days shortly after it began.

There was palpable contention regarding the sudden assignment this week of Abdel Rahman — a Kurd — as presiding judge, his first involvement in the case.

The Shiite judge Said al-Hammashi, who was chosen by the remaining judges to succeed Amin, was suddenly removed from the case entirely at the insistence of Iraq’s de-Baathification committee.

The sensible solution comes from Iraqi Vice President and leading prime ministerial candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi, who apparently recommends execution without trial as the most righteous and painless solution to the fiasco that may or may not become Saddam Hussein’s trial: “The continuing process is unnecessary and will only hurt the Iraqi people.”

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Is this foreshadowing how hard it might be to get current and future dictatorial leaders to stand trial?

Will we live to see either a) Saddam Hussein on trial, b) Bush / Cheney / andor Rumsfeld on trial, c) any semblance of “democracy” in Iraq d) ???

It’s (Un)Just War

A few headlines to sleep on:

The highest ranking U.S. military officer to be charged with prisoner abuse in Iraq was convicted of killing an Iraqi general by stuffing his head into a sleeping bag but will face no jail time.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer could have faced a life sentence if found guilty on a more serious charge of murder, but instead will take a slap on the wrist and a 60 day vacation.

“The military is a family when you get right down to it,” Welshofer told Denver television’s 9News following the sentencing. “I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

What a warm fuzzy feeling, no?

Two German engineers kidnapped in Iraq (Reuters) — makes me wonder exactly how smart these Iraqi kidnappers are… Germany under Angela Merkel is not only likely to offer a large sum of money to free these hostages, but it will undoubtedly add to the contention between the U.S. and the EU.

Pakistani PM Shaukat Aziz is in Washington to further humiliate Bush and Rumsfeld for the recent surprise bombing that killed several women and children.

Tuesday’s headlines that you swear you’ve seen before…

NYTimes: Iraq Rebuilding Badly Hobbled, U.S. Report Finds
Wash. Post: White House Got Early Warning on Katrina
and: Bush Defends Domestic Spying

… and will undoubtedly see again — perhaps the media is protecting us against our super-short-term memories.