Saturday, March 15, 2003

The New York Times is reporting that the Bush administration has identified senior Iraqis who would be tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity after an American-led attack on Iraq:

"In addition to Mr. Hussein himself, the list includes members of his inner circle who sit atop a hierarchy of 2,000 members of the Iraqi elite who were previously identified by American intelligence agencies. But only now are the names of the top group being made public."

This includes Uday and Qusay, Saddam's sons, as well as Salih Naaman, the second governor of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council, Abid Hamid, Saddam's highly influential secretary (who Kenneth Pollack calls the third most powerful man in Iraq), and Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah, the director of the special security organization (SSO). I personally thought Qusay headed the SSO, but could have missed something in recent months. Interestingly, the deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz is not mentioned by the Times as being on the list, even though he was almost certainly aware of what was taking place around him, for example the murderous Anfal campaign against the Kurds in the 1980s. Perhaps we should wait and see on him.

The story makes a silly mistake in referring to "Ali Hassan al-Hamid, who was the governor of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait in 1990-91." The paper of course meant Ali Hassan al-Majid, known by the sobriquet "chemical Ali" thanks to his gassing of the Kurds in the 1980s, who is also Saddam's cousin and a real mover on the genocide and mass murder circuit.

Apparently the list is being publicized to offer the potential accused a choice between exile and prosecution. The story quotes an administration official: "This is the group that we would expect to depart if there's a departure or that we'd expect to apprehend if there's a use of force. They are wanted for the crimes of the regime."

How typically hypocritical of this insufferably pious administration that the effort is being sold as a moral exercise (Bush pointedly mentioned that he was speaking on the 15th anniversary of the Halabja gassing--an effort of memory and pronunciation that must have all but undermined his geography lesson on the Azores). One would assume that if the men were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, then even a superficial interest in justice would dictate they not be offered a sweetheart deal just to ensure no American soldiers are killed.

Makes you almost feel sorry for Milosevic.

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