But, am I wrong about Saddam's trial? Has it turned into a circus that actually diminishes the legitimacy and authority of the court, or is this a temporary setback that can be rebounded from? John at Powerline makes a pretty strong case that the Iraqis are fumbling the control of the courtroom to Saddam's antics (backed and approved by Ramsey Clark).
That's what I find disturbing about the proceedings in Iraq. They have value in that Saddam's horrific crimes are revealed; or, more accurately, his long-known crimes are recited in a forum where it is hard for the American media to avoid mentioning them. But the near-chaos that is allowed to prevail is inexcusable.The administration of the court is paramount, and there are bound to be teething problems, but they can be overcome.
A court must assert its own authority within its domain. Saddam's ability to joust with the presiding judge can only be interpreted by Iraqis as a sign of the fledgling government's weakness.This may well be the case, although another interpretation is that the court is showing that it is far more powerful than John at Powerline suggests because it is allowing Saddam to have his say. It isn't denying him the rights. That's a powerful signal, but the continued undermining of the court's right to control the courtroom must be stopped, or that sends quite a different signal.
This is a fine line, and the case and trial of Saddam and his cohorts may yet be permanently undermined by Clark and the other Saddam defenders. In fact, Clark has publicly stated that it is his intention to get Saddam out of this particular legal quandry to be tried in another, more favorable venue.
However, these problems should not stop the trial from proceeding. If anything, there are ways of dealing with unruly defendants that still afford them due process. Besides, if Saddam wants to complain he isn't getting a fresh set of undies on a daily basis, maybe he'd prefer wearing 'em on his head instead? Better yet, how about wearing leg irons and an orange prison jumpsuit? That would solve the attire question.
It will be seen how well the court uses the adjournment til December 21.
Others blogging the courtroom drama: Stop the ACLU, Pajamas Media, SixMeatBuffet, Unclaimed Territory, and Poliblog
Ace suggests providing orbitracks and lots of Marlboros. The gallows awaits. A plastic shredder is more appropriate for Saddam, but there's that whole cruel and unusual punishment thing - so it will probably be lethal injection. And that's still too good for him.