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1) International outcry over release of Hussein sons’ photos and video 2) Release of Hussein sons’ photos: Washington exposes its own barbarism 3) The killing of Hussein’s sons: the Nuremberg precedent and the criminalization of the US ruling elite ============== http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jul2003/huss-j26.shtml International outcry over release of Hussein sons’ photos and video By Chris Marsden and David Walsh 26 July 2003 The decision by the Bush administration to publish photos and allow the videotaping of the dead bodies of Saddam Hussein’s two sons has provoked an international outcry. The photographs of the bullet-riddled bodies were released July 24 and reproduced in publications worldwide. On July 25 US officials permitted television cameras to film the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein lying on metal trolleys in a tented military morgue. Morticians had touched up their faces, mutilated by US weaponry in a gun-battle July 22 in Mosul, so that they now resembled wax figures. A wound in Uday’s face had been repaired, but journalists could still see a hole in the top of his head. The barbarism of the US display of the corpses was heightened by the condition of the bodies themselves. Agence France Presse noted, “In a gruesome twist, Uday’s lower left leg bones, along with the metallic rod and pins which had been attached to them after a 1996 assassination attempt left him with severe injuries, had been removed and placed in a plastic bag. Extensive dental records including X-rays were also provided and explained.” US officials indicated that they had matched the serial number on a plate implanted in Uday’s leg after the assassination attempt. American cable television networks aired the videotape of the nearly-naked corpses on Friday. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel was the fastest to broadcast the grisly images, including a written “unedited video” message on the screen. CNN was a little more cautious, showing images of the brothers’ upper bodies. “We are selecting certain photos that, for lack of a better phrase, are less revealing than others,” asserted news anchorman Bill Hemmer. MSNBC waited several minutes after announcing the videotape existed before airing the images. One of its anchorwomen expressed open distaste for the videotape. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared Thursday he was “glad” he made the decision to release the gruesome photos of the Hussein brothers. “It’s not the first time that people who are dead have been shown, [but] it’s not a practice the United States usually engages in on a normal basis.” He defended the action on the basis that the deceased were “two particularly bad characters, and that it’s important for the Iraqi people to see them, to know they’re gone, to know they’re dead.” US officials raised a hue and cry when Arab television broadcast pictures of American soldiers captured and killed by Iraqi forces during the invasion. At the time Rumsfeld asserted the action violated the Geneva Conventions. White House press secretary Scott McClellan defended the decision to publish the photos of the Husseins, insisting that there was a “huge difference” between that and the display of soldiers’ bodies for propaganda purposes, which is barred by the Geneva Conventions. Bert Hall, a professor of military history at the University of Toronto, told the Toronto Star that the publication of the photos might well, in fact, violate the Conventions, which forbid subjecting enemy prisoners or fatalities to humiliation or ridicule. “Having your enemy’s head on a pike is one way of showing you have won and your enemy has lost.... It’s a ritual humiliation,” he commented. Kamal Samari of Amnesty International asserted, “It is true that there is no explicit prohibition in the laws of war to show pictures of dead bodies. However, the spirit of the rules is that the dignity of everyone—dead or alive, be they Iraqis, United States nationals, British or others—must be respected.” Several factors played a part in the provocative decision by the US government, apparently over the objections of military officials, to release the ghastly photos and video footage. In the first place, it reflects the primitive and savage mentality of Bush, Rumsfeld and company. These are people to whom placing the head of an enemy on a pike on the gates of a city is not an unthinkable act. Moreover, there is the question of the social element within the US to whom they are appealing: the most backward, degraded and inhumane layer of the population. The administration feels the need to throw this layer some “red meat” from time to time to maintain its political credibility. There are no doubt as well more immediate political calculations in the continuing release of gory images. The US news media in particular has been more than happy to “change the subject,” from the revelations that the Bush administration lied about evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to the “good news” of the Husseins’ extermination. Moreover, the congressional probe into the September 11 attacks released July 24, although essentially a whitewash, raises troubling questions about long-standing relations between Islamic terrorists and US intelligence operatives that the government would like to bury. While the American media generally transmitted the images of the dead Hussein brothers without criticism, numerous condemnations appeared in the world press. The Daily Mail, a conservative British newspaper, denounced the decision to publish photographs of the corpses. The Mail, a strong supporter of the US-British war against Iraq, headlined its comment: “Is US sinking to Saddam ’s level?” The paper wrote: “No one will weep for Uday and Qusay Hussein. They were criminal savages who terrorised their own people without mercy. The world and Iraq are cleaner and better without them. That said, should America have published these horrific pictures? The fact is, the display of these badly-disfigured faces will not prove one way or another whether they are Uday and Qusay. But it is bound to enrage militant Muslims round the world—and as yesterday’s murder of three American soldiers demonstrates, has done nothing to placate anti-Western Iraqis. But more pertinently, is this the way a civilised nation should behave? Isn’t there a hint of distasteful triumphalism in exhibiting vanquished enemies as trophies, in a way reminiscent of medieval barbarism?” The Mail also carried substantial reports on the adverse reaction to the publication of the photos. No other British paper made such a strident criticism, but the Independent and the Guardian were forced to acknowledge the unprecedented character of the decision to publish the bloody shots of the head and torso of the Hussein brothers. The Independent went through verbal gyrations in defending its decision to publish the photos, while attempting to placate the disgust this has aroused in the public and amongst its own readers. It sought to square the circle by calling for restraint—on the part of the media! The Independent headlined its comment, “Even these corpses should be treated with some respect,” and argues: “The public display of corpses for propaganda purposes is of course obnoxious, and the parading of the enemy dead by the victors uncivilised, yet the case of Saddam Hussein’s sons is a special one.” With its usual cowardice the Guardian made no editorial comment on the publication of the photos, but its report acknowledged that the decision to do so had been taken by Rumsfeld and then noted: “However, there were clears signs that the decision to release the photographs cut against the grain of US military culture. Serving officers did not comment, but Colonel Dan Smith, a retired military intelligence officer, said; ‘We have a tradition of respecting the dead.... We objected to the showing of bodies of American servicemen. It’s kind of ironic that we turn round and display dead folks now.’” (BBC Washington correspondent Nick Bryant also reported that some Pentagon generals found the release “repugnant.”) Only then does the Guardian add its own critical comment: “The Bush administration pointed out that publishing the photographs did not contravene the Geneva conventions. But in March, when dead US soldiers were shown by Iraqi television and Arab networks, Washington condemned the broadcasts. General John Abizaid, now commander of US troops across the Middle East, described them as ‘disgusting.’” The German Frankfurter Rundschau criticized the publication of the photos: “It is an issue of human dignity. Independent of the heinous deeds of which Uday and Qusay were accused and which have been extensively proven true, the publication of the photos is a violation of basic principles adopted by the civilized world, partly on the basis of the American Constitution and also by drawing on a general knowledge of history. This principle applied at a time when pictures were distributed of the executed Nicolae Ceausescu; the principle was also loudly raised by the American government for the lesser incident when Iraqi television showed pictures of captured US war prisoners. The same has to apply in this case because the principle is indivisible and universally applicable.” “To adapt to the morals and habits of antidemocratic forces,” wrote Die Zeit in its online commentary, “contains the risk that in the long-term one would no longer be distinguished from them in the eyes of the people and would then just be regarded as another form of brutal rule to which one bows only because it is stronger than the others. This leads however to a fatal logic of domination: every hesitation to employ the most extreme measures would be regarded in future as a sign of weakness.” La Repubblica in Rome commented, “We simply cannot explain why above all in America which holds high the principle of the protection of the individual and ‘Western values,’ the authorities decided to use the mutilated bodies for such a spectacle—entirely in the manner of the hunter who displays the bodies of the animals he has shot on the roof of his car. The pictures of the massacred sons of Saddam will not end a chapter in Iraq. Quite the opposite. The Iraqi resistance lives. It could not have been led by these two men on the run who had already barricaded themselves into the house of relatives for weeks.” The Swiss daily Le Temps observed, “The message that these photos are intended to convey is that the American forces will not withdraw before the guerrillas defying them for three months now.... But did it not occur to the military photographers that ... the picture of the bearded Qusay, vaguely reminiscent of the dead Che Guevara, might risk becoming a similar kind of icon for Arab youth?” Journalist Robert Fisk reasoned along the same lines: “The occupation authorities are pondering the idea of plastering the pictures around Baghdad. Be sure, they will soon be used as martyrs’ photographs on posters with a somewhat different message. The work of the Americans. The work of the occupiers.” Doug Saunders writing in Canada’s Globe and Mail asked about the “grisly” Hussein photos, “Are they proof, or pornography?... While U.S. President George W. Bush and other Washington officials defended the release of the photos yesterday as a necessary proof of success and resolve, others saw it as distasteful gloating, and some pointed out that it was exactly the sort of lurid display that the White House had condemned in the recent past.” In contrast, Murdoch’s Australian splashed large photos of Hussein’s dead sons on its front page on Thursday. Asked about the release of the pictures, Australian Prime Minister John Howard declared that it was “very understandable,” even if the action breached the Geneva Conventions. Despite a number of outraged letters to the editor, none of the Australian media has even commented on the Bush administration’s release of the photos, let alone criticized it. A variety of Arab television stations and newspapers criticized the US for its double standard. Al-Arabiya television in Dubai, for example, commented, “The world has not forgotten the campaign launched by the US when Iraqi TV showed pictures of US and British prisoners and bodies of their soldiers killed in Iraq; the world has not forgotten the angry statements made by US and British officials referring exhaustively to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions to stress what they saw as an inhumane action.... But all these humanitarian principles seem to have been overlooked or dropped with the US administration’s release of the pictures.” And Al-Watan in Saudi Arabia: “Everyone remembers how the US and Britain protested against the broadcasting of pictures of US POWs and those killed when the two began their war against Iraq.... But now, Washington has given itself the right to publish pictures, and no one is commenting on the violation of international conventions.... This is a new world order based on the confiscation of human rights.” Ordinary Arabs interviewed by various news agencies echoed these criticisms. Reuters cited the comment of Saad Brikan, a Saudi civil servant in Riyadh: “Although Uday and Qusay are criminals, displaying their corpses like this is disgusting and repulsive. America claims it is civilized but is behaving like a thug.” Another civil servant, Hasan Hammoud, told the wire service, “America always spoils its own image by doing something like this. What is the advantage of showing these bodies? Didn’t they think about the humanitarian aspect? About their mother and the rest of their family when they see these images?” Mohammed Emara, an Egyptian Islamist scholar, told Al Jazeera television that displaying the bodies violated Islamic Sharia law. “Under Islamic law this is rejected,” Emara said. “America wanted to boost the morale of its soldiers so it resorted to this illegal act which is denounced by all religions. America said during its war on Iraq that displaying pictures of its soldiers who were alive was against the Geneva Convention, so what about pictures showing disfigured bodies?” Many Iraqis quoted in the media generally expressed satisfaction with the de aths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, but questioned the propriety of the public release of the degrading photographs. They also challenged the logic of the Bush-Rumsfeld line that only supporters of the old regime were resisting the American occupation. A Reuters correspondent described the situation in Fallujah, a hotbed of opposition: “Fallujah residents dismissed suggestions that their deaths [Husseins’ sons’] in a gun battle in Mosul will ease the AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on U.S. occupation troops. In shops, street corners and cafes in this anti-American town, Iraqis said only an end to the occupation will stop the violence. ‘I don’t understand why the Americans say it is the former Baath Party people who are killing their soldiers. All Iraqis want to kill the Americans because of the way they act,’ said Muhammad Abbas, who owns a shop that sells natural honey.” Tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims flocked to the Iraqi city of Najaf on Friday to hear Islamic cleric Moqtada Sadr denounce the US occupation as a “terrorist” act. On a video broadcast Thursday a group of hooded gunmen, describing themselves as Saddam’s Fedayeen militia, vowed to avenge the deaths of the Hussein brothers. Five US soldiers have been killed since the raid on Mosul July 22, and numerous attacks have occurred not resulting in casualties. --------------- 2) http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jul2003/sons-j25.shtml Release of Hussein sons’ photos: Washington exposes its own barbarism By Barry Grey 25 July 2003 Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author The world was subjected to a gruesome and barbaric spectacle on Thursday when the Bush administration released photographs of the mutilated corpses of Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, ambushed and killed by American forces on July 22. The American cable news networks wasted no time in displaying blowups of the bloody heads and torsos of the dead men and beaming the images into homes across the US and around the world. US government spokesmen and media commentators could barely conceal their glee at the sight of the shattered bodies, and their satisfaction over inflicting the pictures on a global audience. Nothing the World Socialist Web Site could say would be a more devastating indictment of the degenerates who wield power in the US and their media accomplices than their own self-exposure. The overwhelming majority of people around the world, and especially in the US, will feel only revulsion and shame at this exhibition of sadism. Whatever one thinks of the deposed Iraqi ruler and his sons—who were undoubtedly guilty of reprehensible crimes—the actions of the Bush administration in slaughtering Uday and Qusay Hussein and then gloating over their dead bodies demonstrate that the US ruling elite has nothing to learn from its enemies when it comes to savagery and contempt for human life. Bush administration notables such as Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Iraq, and Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, justified the release of the photos as a supposed boon to the Iraqi people. The aim, they said, was to convince the Iraqis that Saddam’s sons and right-hand men were well and truly dead. This, they claimed, would reassure the people that the Baathist regime was finished and would not return. Not only that. It would, said Bremer, encourage ordinary Iraqis to come forward with information about the whereabouts of other Baathists (above all, although Bremer did not name him, the still-at-large Saddam Hussein) and demoralize those who are waging a guerrilla war against the American occupiers. Rumsfeld claimed at a joint press conference with Bremer that the showing of the photographs would save the lives of American troops. Speaking in Philadelphia, Bush exhulted, “Now, more than ever, the Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and is not coming back.” The previous day, Bush stood alongside Bremer, Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers and boasted that the killing of Hussein’s sons meant the US military was “on the offensive” in Iraq” against a “few remaining holdouts” of the Baathist regime. To the extent that Bush and company truly believe such claims, they reveal the degree to which they are suffering from political dementia and self-delusion. The display of American arrogance and contempt for human sensibilities—let alone deeply felt cultural feelings about the desecration of the dead—will only fuel the hatred of the Arab masses for the invaders and their quislings within Iraq. Indeed, even as the photos were being broadcast, news reports were circulating about the death of three more American soldiers in Iraq. Despite all of the “winning the hearts and minds” blather, it was impossible to conceal a more ruthless motive behind the release of the photos—namely, to intimidate and terrorize the Iraqi people and show in the most graphic manner possible who is “boss” in the new Iraq. There are indications that the pressure to release the photos came primarily from the White House and the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, headed by Rumsfeld, not the military. On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding Army officer in Iraq, told reporters the military was reluctant to release the grisly images. He was doubtless concerned about the ramifications of issuing the photos for the safety of American soldiers on the ground. But that evening, Rumsfeld told reporters, “There will be pictures released,” and on Thursday he claimed responsibility for the decision to release them. Significantly, the photographs were issued by Bremer, an appointee of the White House, not by the Army. Militarism and criminality The fact that those who wield power in Washington are blind to the mass revulsion that will arise in response to the showing of these photos highlights the insular and degenerate character of the American ruling elite. These traits are concentrated in the man who sits atop the government. The political calculations of Bush and his associates, such as his chief adviser Karl Rove, are of the most crude and backward sort. It is no exaggeration to say they reflect a criminal mentality. Bush’s inner circle was intimately involved in the decision to massacre the Hussein sons and release the photos of their corpses. They believed that such a “success” would reverse the unfavorable political momentum of recent weeks, which have seen a mushrooming controversy over administration lies, mounting US casualties in Iraq, and a failing economy—the combined effect of which has been reflected in plummeting poll numbers for Bush. The New York Times reflected the thinking in the White House in a July 24 article headlined, “Deaths of Hussein’s Sons Allow Change of Subject.” The author wrote: “With the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons on Tuesday in Iraq, a bad political month for President Bush got palpably better.” The author went on to write that “privately, advisers to the White House said the development marked an important turn of fortune...” He quoted a top Republican adviser as saying, “But the death of the Hussein brothers has a tactical political meaning because it changes the subject from the 16 words in the State of the Union.” Role of the media It will come as no surprise to those—the vast majority—who retain a sense of humanity and have not lost their political bearings that the American media played a particularly despicable role in these events. On Thursday morning, Jerry Nachman, the editor-in-chief of MSNBC, the cable news network jointly controlled by NBC and Microsoft, indulged in commentary with overtly racist overtones while photos of the shattered corpses played across the TV screen. Nachman justified the showing of the photos on the grounds that the US was obliged to tailor its tactics to the mentality of the Arab people, who, he declared, routinely witnessed public executions and had come to expect public beheadings. He was seconded by the pundit of the moment, Con Coughlin, author of a book entitled Saddam: King of Terror. Coughlin opined that the display of the photos would “win respect for the Americans” in the Arab world. On CNN, moderator Wolf Blitzer opened up the telephone lines for comments from the public, and was taken aback when the first caller denounced the broadcast of the photos as a moral abomination, and reminded him that among those killed in the American assault on Tuesday was the 14-year-old son of Qusay Hussein, Mustapha. “Why don’t you show his photo too?” she demanded. It should be recalled that during the US invasion, the Bush administration publicly denounced the Arabic network Al-Jazeerah for displaying photos of American soldiers killed and taken captive by Iraqi forces, calling it a flagrant violation of international law. The White House demanded that US media outlets refuse to broadcast or publish the photos, and the major media meekly complied. The contrast to the media’s current role in emblazoning the photos of the dead Hussein brothers at the behest of the government only underscores its corruption and subservience to political reaction and the Bush White House. --------------- 3) Release of Hussein sons’ photos: Washington exposes its own barbarism The killing of Hussein’s sons: the Nuremberg precedent and the criminalization of the US ruling elite By David Walsh 24 July 2003 Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author There is little doubt that Uday and Qusay Hussein, the two sons of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein killed by US forces in a house on the outskirts of Mosul July 22, were morally and politically reprehensible figures. By all accounts, Uday Hussein, the elder, was a sexual predator and murderer, while Qusay, as chief of Iraq’s notorious security apparatus, had even more blood on his hands. Given the reactionary nature of the regime, there is no reason to doubt the extent and depth of their crimes. Having said that, both the means by which Hussein’s sons were liquidated and the manner in which the killings were greeted by the American government and media speak volumes about the nature of the US intervention in Iraq and the character of the American political establishment. On the plane of morality, there exist no fundamental differences between the personnel of the Hussein regime and the Bush administration. The latter operates in every sphere with unashamed lawlessness and violence. If there is a difference in the degree of brutality against its own citizens, the “restraint” exercised by the Bush forces is a matter of circumstance rather than moral superiority over the killers and torturers of the ousted Iraqi regime. In the operation against the Hussein brothers the US military mobilized hundreds of troops and dozens of vehicles and aircraft. The American forces used automatic weapons, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and tow missiles against four individuals armed with AK-47 automatic rifles. The assault had the character of a gangland slaying, the vengeful wiping out of the cornered leadership of one gang by a more powerful and better-armed outfit. An unnamed senior US military official in Iraq spoke like a Mafia don, telling the UPI: “This is a very beneficial hit. They cannot feel anything other than doom, since if we can take down these guys, we can take down anybody.” The exultation of US and British officials and the media over the killings in Mosul—which included the death of the 14-year-old son of Qusay Hussein, Mustapha—can only arouse revulsion. The pleasure that these circles take in bloodletting and violence has a pathological character. President George W. Bush boasted, “Now more than ever Iraqis can know the former regime is gone and is not coming back.” Senator Ted Kennedy, the dean of Democratic “liberals,” expressed satisfaction over the killings. “It’s progress,” he said. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair was less restrained, declaring, “This is a great day for the new Iraq.” The American media was both jubilant and bloodthirsty. The New York Daily News carried photos of Saddam Hussein and his two sons, with red crosses placed over Uday and Qusay, and the words, “One to go.” Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, headlined its editorial “E-RAT-ICATED!” The New York Times also celebrated the “hit” in Mosul, calling the assassination of the Hussein brothers “the most encouraging news out of Iraq in weeks.” The editors of the Washington Post called the deaths “very good news indeed” and went on to claim that the killings “meant a serious blow to the diehard resistance that has plagued the postwar administration.” The notion that the murders in Mosul will halt Iraqi resistance to the US colonial occupation of that country is wishful thinking of the most politically blinkered variety. The American government and media establishment apparently believes its own propaganda that the only opposition to the US presence is being offered by “holdouts” of the old regime, “terrorists” and “criminals.” These people are so blind to social and political reality and so distant from the Iraqi people that they cannot conceive of popular resistance that rejects both the Ba’athist regime and foreign imperialist tyranny. Attacks on US forces continued unabated July 23, as two more American soldiers died and nine were wounded in attacks. Why were they not taken alive? Why was no effort made to capture Uday and Qusay Hussein alive? When asked about this, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was in charge of the operation, answered blandly, “Our mission is to find, kill or capture.” A number of factors come into play. After weeks of US deaths and sagging troop morale, American officials no doubt concluded that a murderous assault would boost the spirits of the war constituency in the US and the psychotic element in the military. In any event, they share the outlook of this constituency and were in need of a bloodletting themselves. The pent-up rage and vindictiveness, in the face of growing Iraqi resistance, expressed itself in the extermination of Hussein’s sons. More fundamentally, the capture of Uday and Qusay Hussein presented politically troublesome problems. Putting the two former officials on trial would have inevitably raised the issue of the entirely lawless character of the war and occupation. The Hussein brothers would not have found it a great challenge to turn the tables on their prosecutors and expose the hypocrisy and criminality of the Anglo-American operation in Iraq. We have the example of the ongoing Slobodan Milosevic war crimes trial in The Hague, which has turned into a fiasco for the US and NATO. The former Yugoslav president has already succeeded—during the prosecution phase of the case—in using the tribunal to expose the machinations of the great powers. Milosevic is expected to develop his arguments during the two years he will now have to present his defense. Beyond the immediate situation in Iraq, there is the equally vexing question of the long-standing relationship between the US government, including some of its current leading officials, and the former Hussein regime. In February 2003 the National Security Archive released 60 documents detailing the extent of the relations between the Reagan administration and the Iraqi government during the 1980s. At the time of the Iran-Iraq war the US, while claiming to be neutral in the conflict, supported Hussein against the Islamic regime in Teheran. The Archive notes that Washington, through direct and indirect means, provided financing, weaponry, intelligence and military support to Baghdad “in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan,” several years before the US restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984. A highlight of the process of normalizing American-Iraqi relations was the visit by then presidential envoy (and current Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad in December 1983, where he held a 90-minute conversation with Saddam Hussein. The US was well aware that the Iraqis were using chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish insurgents. Rumsfeld made no mention of the issue in this discussion. A secret memo sent to the State Department reported that “Saddam Hussein showed obvious pleasure with [the] President’s letter and Rumsfeld’s visit and in his remarks.” As the New York Times reported in March 2003, the US and France were the sources of Iraq’s biological weapons programs. Iraqi officials have learned to their cost that whether a foreign leader is feted by Washington or assassinated depends entirely on the circumstances. The assassination of the Hussein brothers has further undermined the claim that the US went to war to prevent the Iraqi regime from developing or using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). According to Judith Miller in the July 23 New York Times, Qusay Hussein “was also responsible for overseeing Iraq’s unconventional weapons. ... Stephen Black, a former inspector and chemical weapons expert, said that by virtue of his control of the security services, Qusay would have known, for instance, ‘whether they had chemical weapons, how many they had, and where they were deployed.’ ... Finally, he said, Qusay would have known not the exact hiding places but the ‘broad brushes of the concealment policy and practices—whether Saddam had destroyed or hidden weapons or the capability for just-in-time production, and what the goals of this concealment were.’” Obviously, by taking the decision to murder Qusay, the US government and military expressed their total lack of interest in the existence of WMD and, in effect, acknowledged that such deadly and dangerous weapons do not exist. US role at Nuremberg The bloodlust and lawlessness of the present-day political establishment is placed in sharp relief by comparing its campaign of political assassination in Iraq with the attitude of the US to the treatment of fascist mass murderers captured at the end of World War II. Less than sixty years ago, Washington opposed the summary execution of the leaders of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan—who had committed crimes on a far more massive scale than any carried out by the regime of Saddam Hussein—and insisted they be placed on public trial and accorded all of the legal privileges of due process. The vast contrast between then and now underscores the break with any conception of democratic principles that has occurred within the American ruling elite. The surviving Nazi leaders were responsible for the deaths, by genocide and war, of tens of millions, yet American officials were scrupulous in demanding that they be captured alive and placed on trial, as they eventually were, at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1945-46. Considerable pains were taken to ensure that the defendants not take their own lives. The US was insistent that the defendants be provided with counsel and access to evidence and that they be accorded the right to cross-examine witnesses. Dennis Hutchinson of the University of Chicago in a November 18, 2001 Chicago Tribune article cited the comments of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, chosen to represent the US in any post-war proceeding, explaining the options he presented to President Harry Truman: “We could execute or otherwise punish them [the Nazi officials] without a hearing. But undiscriminating executions or punishments without definite findings of guilt, fairly arrived at, would ... not set easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride.” Jackson insisted that the only appropriate “course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times and horrors we deal with will permit, and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.” Jackson feared that summary executions would erode the moral high ground that the victorious powers enjoyed, according to Hutchinson, and that it was necessary as well to document the precise nature of the Nazi crimes for posterity. Jackson commented: “Unless we write the record of this movement with clarity and precision, we cannot blame the future if in days of peace it finds incredible accusatory generalities uttered during the war. We must establish incredible events by credible evidence.” In a comment directly relevant to the current international situation, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jackson noted that the Allied triumph by itself did not provide the victors with the legal sanction to punish German officials, nor did Allied claims and proclamations. The guilt of the Nazi leaders had to be proven in a court of law. Jackson declared, “The president of the United States has no power to convict anyone. He can only accuse. He cannot arrest in most cases without judicial authority. Therefore, the accusation made carries no weight in an American trial whatsoever. These declarations are an accusation and not a conviction. That requires a judicial finding. Now we could not be parties to setting up a formal judicial body to ratify a political decision to convict. Then judges will have to inquire into the evidence and give an independent decision.” In his opening statement to the Nuremberg tribunal, Jackson said, “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of law is one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason.” Jackson’s comments and actions were bound up with a certain fidelity to democratic principles that still held sway within the American ruling elite. They expressed as well a certain confidence in the prospects for US capitalism and the post-war world. They came from a position of relative political and economic strength. The prevailing atmosphere in present-day Washington, which venerates repression and murder, represents the collapse of any adherence to democracy, at home and abroad. The Bush administration, which came to power through fraud and thuggery, serves the interests of a crisis-ridden ruling elite that can only hope to exercise power through the unrestrained use of violence on a global scale. The campaign of political assassinations in Iraq is a further demonstration of the criminalization of the American ruling elite. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk