About this blog

Blogging Baghdad aims to provide a dynamic look at the story behind the story of covering the news in Iraq. Online entries – from text to video blogs – will detail the realities of daily life for ordinary Iraqis, American troops and the media living and working in a 24 hour war zone.

Regular contributors include NBC News correspondents, producers and staff on assignment in Iraq.

Click here to read more about the journalists behind Blogging Baghdad.

Saddam verdict lacks details

The final court session and verdict today were fast, direct and clear, but not clear at all.

In less than 10 minutes, Saddam Hussein was told he was guilty of crimes against humanity, but never exactly how or why.

Was it the witness testimony that proved Saddam's guilt?

Was it Saddam’s own acceptance in court of overall responsibility for the draconian punishment his regime carried out of the villagers of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt in the town?  Was it documents the prosecution said Saddam signed ordering the deaths of Dujail residents that ultimately swayed the judges?  We still do not know.
   
The full verdict, a document of several hundred pages, explaining how and why today’s judgment was reached was not released.  U.S. officials said it should be ready by Thursday.  So why issue the verdict today?  U.S. court advisors told reporters today it was delayed mainly for technical reasons.  All insist the verdict was not politically timed and that it was an Iraqi decision; there is no reason to doubt their word.
 
The furthest the chief judge went today to explain why Saddam was sentenced to death was to say Saddam was found guilty of Article 12 A, through Article 15 B, of the Iraqi High Criminal Court Law (the tribunal trying Saddam's constitution).  All that means, examining at the law, is that Saddam was guilty of "willful murder" because he had  "ordered, solicited or induced the commission of such a crime, which in fact occurs or is attempted." Saddam Hussein was found guilty of ordering murders.  Who he murdered, how, when and what proved his guilt, we are told, will be explained on Thursday.
 
It was not sufficient for the International Center for Transitional Justice, an NGO that has been monitoring the trial since the beginning.  In a statement tonight the group said, "Today's verdicts were delivered in a 40-minute session that gave little indication of the judgment's detail and reasoning." 
 
On the “Today” Show this morning Michael Scharf, one of the leading experts on the Saddam trial, said the Dujail case was easy to prove and that his guilt was clear.  I believe Scharf is correct.  There was an assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982 and the Iraqi dictator oversaw a massive revenge campaign, even awarding medals to some of his henchmen for punishing his enemies and their families and neighbors.  But the lack of clarity today adds fuels to critics who say Saddam's trial was politically motivated and that the verdict was rushed to meet American political deadlines -- the very accusation Saddam Hussein's lawyer made today.

Saddam was almost certainly guilty, but why? It's still unclear.

MAIN PAGE NEXT POST Saddam defeated

Email this EMAIL THIS

Slide Show

  • Life beyond the violence
    Suicide attacks and murders due to sectarian conflict continue around Iraq. See how residents live their lives amid the attacks.

More Conflict in Iraq coverage

  • COMPLETE COVERAGE