Accuracy in Media

One of my Google alerts about the International Criminal Court (ICC) picked up a column by a Canadian liberal upset that Saddam Hussein wasn’t turned over to the ICC. Jerry West, editor of a “progressive” publication, believes the U.S. had Saddam “railroaded” through an Iraqi “kangaroo court” and that the refusal to turn him over to the ICC demonstrates “the disrespect that the U.S. has for the international community.” I suspect these sentiments are probably shared by many of those in the media wringing their hands over the “lynching” of Saddam. The false impression being created is that the legal proceeding was a farce and that the better option would have been to let the “international community” and the ICC handle it.

Before this misguided belief gets more widely accepted, because of the growing controversy over the fact that the grisly execution was captured by cell-phone video, it is worthwhile to examine how the Saddam trial was actually handled by Iraqi authorities, in contrast to how U.N.-sponsored tribunals operate.

The first thing to remember is that the ICC doesn’t have a death penalty. This means that, no matter what Saddam’s crimes were, if he had been tried and found guilty by the ICC, he would still be alive, possibly giving televised interviews from his prison cell or entertaining book deals. One of the Libyan agents charged and found guilty by a U.N.-supported international tribunal of killing 270 people, including 189 Americans, in the Pan Am 103 bombing ended up in a country club prison in Scotland, where he has a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, shower, sitting room, an office with a computer and bookshelves, and entertainment center with television. He’s still hoping to get out of prison.

The trial that produced this fiasco was brokered by Kofi Annan, the disgraced former U.N. boss, and endorsed by the Clinton Administration. Their deal gave Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadaffi, a “get out of jail free” card in the case and he was never prosecuted or held accountable. His government paid billions of dollars to the families of the victims.

Even so, Al-Jazeera English, which supposedly offers an “independent” perspective on foreign affairs, recently aired a long piece by someone named John Coates insisting that no Libyan government officials were to blame for Pan Am 103. The piece, which claimed that the Libyan regime’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime was part of a sinister cover-up involving U.S. officials, ignored a report that British intelligence information implicated Gadaffi directly in the terrorist act. It was also reported that Gadaffi admitted his government’s role in the Pan Am bombing to a German diplomat.

In the case of Saddam, the evidence against him was also overwhelming. But because of the open proceedings of the Iraqi High Tribunal, as the court was called, it is now on the record. The American Society of International Law (ASIL) has published an expert analysis of the trial that bolsters the case that the tribunal did a very impressive job under difficult circumstances.

While the liberal non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch criticized the trial and verdict, the analysis of the case written by two American experts and posted on the ASIL website cites the 298-page opinion as “a detailed historic record, which may one day play a positive role in establishing peace in Iraq,” and which is “one of the longest opinions ever issued by a war crimes tribunal.”

The experts, Michael P. Scharf and Michael A. Newton, described the allegations this way: “Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants responded to a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail by attacking the inhabitants with helicopter gunships; destroying the town’s farmland, date palm groves, and water supply; arresting 300 residents and interrogating them at torture centers where one-third died; interning whole families at a remote desert compound for four years; and referring the survivors to the Revolutionary Court where they were found guilty without a real trial, sentenced to death, and executed.”

It is significant that, in the media brouhaha over Saddam’s execution, the facts about the dictator’s crimes are being mostly ignored. This is the nature of the anti-American propaganda that finds imitators in various “progressive” publications and individuals around the world. It is why so many in the West, including in the major media, want Al-Jazeera English to have special carriage by U.S. cable and satellite providers, bringing terror television directly into America’s living rooms.

Even when overwhelming evidence implicates Arab dictators in horrific terrorist acts, there is a coordinated disinformation and propaganda effort to change the subject and blame America. That was evident in Al-Jazeera English’s pathetic revisiting of the Pan Am case. It’s no surprise that Al-Jazeera is also behind the “worldwide outcry and protests” over the televised Saddam hanging.

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