Tuesday, June 15, 2004

He's Ours. You Can See Him When We're Done With Him 

The Iraqi interim government wants the U.S. to turn Saddam over for trial. The U.S. is apparently amenable, but no one is able to agree on a date:
Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Tuesday (June 15) that the Iraqi government is in negotiations with the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority for the transfer of Saddam Hussein and all Iraqi detainees into Iraqi custody.

Allawi told reporters that "the United States is very keen to hand over the ex-president to the Iraqi authorities," adding that Iraq must "first make sure that we can maintain protection for his life until he goes to trial. We must make sure that the trial goes as a legal process, he has his own fair chance of defense, and the government has its own chance of expressing charges on him."

President Bush echoed Allawi's security concerns Tuesday when he told reporters that he wants to be sure that the Iraqi government will be adequately prepared to receive Saddam and the other detainees by the June 30 transfer of sovereignty. "We want to make sure that he doesn't come back to power," Bush said. "And so therefore, it's a legitimate question to ask of the interim government: 'How are you going to make sure he stays in jail?' And that's the question I'm asking. And when we get the right answer, which I'm confident we will — we'll work with them to do so — then we'll be satisfied."

In an interview with Arabic news station Al-Jazeera on Monday, Allawi announced that "Saddam and all other ousted officials will be handed over to the Iraqis during the coming two weeks." Pentagon officials responded by saying they were not aware of any immediate plans for the return of Saddam and the Iraqi detainees and that they would continue to hold them until Iraqi forces can safely keep them in custody.

At a news conference Tuesday, coalition spokesperson Dan Senor told reporters that the coalition is focused on returning Saddam to Iraq "as soon as possible," but he explained that under international law Saddam cannot be handed over to a government that is not yet sovereign.

"[Saddam] is a killer. He is a thug. He needs to be brought to trial," Bush said. "I'm confident that when all is said and done he will stay in jail. I just want to be assured."
Meanwhile, torture memos swirl about D.C. like brightly-colored leaves in the autumn wind (only more profuse). In their increasingly obvious desperation, the Prez and the Veep (and their little dog Scotty too!) have decided to dust off the old canard about links between Saddam and al Qaeda:
Nor did Mr. Bush shy away from a statement on Monday night by Vice President Dick Cheney that there were "long-established ties" between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terrorists. To the contrary, Mr. Bush embraced the vice president's remarks.

Asked what he considered the "best evidence" of such a link, Mr. Bush shot back, "Zarqawi."

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant believed by the Central Intelligence Agency to have ties to Al Qaeda, has been named by the C.I.A. as the suspect in the recent videotaped beheading of a kidnapped American contractor.

"Zarqawi's the best evidence of a connection to Al Qaeda affiliates and Al Qaeda," Mr. Bush went on. "He's the person who's still killing."
In keeping with tradition, the President omitted to explain why the White House, on three separate occasions, vetoed air strikes against the one-legged, possibly two-legged, formerly dead al Qaeda lieutenant prior to the invasion of Iraq, when he was running a base in the Kurd-controlled north of Iraq and would have been an easy target.

In the same remarks, Bush touted Afghanistan as the model for what he hopes to achieve in Iraq. Which means, we guess, that after June 30th a small U.S.-backed sham government will operate out of a heavily-fortified enclave in Baghdad, and the rest of the country will be in a state of chaos, under the control of local warlords and their rifle-toting thugs.

Probably a smart move on Bush's part: go for what's doable.

| | Technorati Links | to Del.icio.us