Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Allawi May Not Be The 'Savior' He's Portrayed To Be

Interesting commentary on the new Iraqi PM's involvement with the CIA and what a Hussein trial might look like:

...According to one of the New York Times' sources, Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, was the only exile group the CIA trusted to unleash violence inside Iraq under the agency's direction. In those days, car bombings in Baghdad were thought to be a good thing, according to one U.S. intelligence officer who worked with Allawi. "No one had any problem with sabotage in Baghdad back then," he said, adding, "I don't think anyone could have known how things could turn out today." Now, Allawi has made control over his old rival Hussein a loud demand of his appointed government, which sits in uneasy reliance on 135,000 U.S. troops and must answer to the world's largest American embassy in all important matters.

Such a plan must be tempting for the United States. A show trial under Allawi would be designed to get Hussein out of the way as quickly and quietly as possible, which might save the U.S. some embarrassment. After all, in an open, unbiased trial the old dictator, if he still has his wits about him, could talk about his cooperation with the Reagan and Bush administrations during the 1980s, when he committed many of the alleged crimes — including the use of poison gas — for which he will be brought to trial. He might even discuss his two visits back then with Donald H. Rumsfeld. But even though a fair public trial might prove uncomfortable for our government, Hussein is a prisoner of war captured by the United States, and Washington is responsible for his treatment under international standards. We have no right to turn him over to the tender mercies of a former CIA-financed archrival. That is simply an abdication of responsibility that violates international law.

There is no good argument for not trying Hussein under international law, as has been done with former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. A fair public trial would reveal the crimes of Hussein as well as the machinations of those U.S. officials and agencies that aided him.

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