Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Bastard's Dead!!!!!

As posted in the NY POST:

“Hello my friend!’’
“America good!”
“Bush good good!”
“Saddam donkey!”

These are some of the phrases that would greet me on my nearly daily trips to the city of Dujail in 2004. The sentiments of the Shiite majority were clear in the town’s small but bustling center. America was welcome. Saddam Hussein was evil, and hard as it may be for some Americans to imagine, George Bush was a hero to these people.

The overthrow of Saddam’s regime was the end of a twenty year nightmare that the citizens of Dujail had endured. Saddam’s exit from this earth, at the hands of an Iraqi court appointed executioner, is the final act in their quest for justice.

These people saw the full measure of Saddam’s terror. The brutality was horrible. Families were torn apart. Brothers and sons were killed at whim. The community itself was driven into poverty; all remaining wealth was turned over to the Sunni loyalists. Secret police and informers lurked everywhere. Shiite women were raped, and even dismembered.

Under this pressure Dujailis maintained a remarkable collective courage. When Saddam was overthrown they began to seek justice. In 2003, Haji Mohammed Hassan became the city’s mayor under a new municipal government. With his leadership, the people quietly pursued redemption. They began with a victim’s league for families of survivors. And almost every Shiite family had been victimized.

They moved cautiously. Sunni partisans still loyal to Saddam remained in the city. These men still wielded power and influence. With armed tribes, significant wealth, and an insurgent network at their disposal, these Baathist holdouts kept the Dujaili citizens intimidated, even as American troops patrolled the streets.

In June of 2004, riflemen of New York’s own Army National Guard Infantry, arrested several Baathist leaders, and an allied al-Qaeda preacher. While this did not end the threats to Dujail, local resolve grew exponentially.

Over the course of that summer witnesses began to come forth. They all recounted similar experiences of terror and humiliation that began in the summer of 1982, after a few young men from Dujail attempted to kill Saddam. In the aftermath the entire Shiite population of the city was targeted for destruction. Twenty two summers later these people summoned the will and the courage to recall their pain and risk further retribution, in the hopes of justice.

And risk they did. Even before Saddam’s indictment in 2005, remaining loyalists were busy with a campaign of intimidation. In Autumn 2004, the area around Dujail literally exploded in violence. A series of ambushes, using roadside bombs resulted in a spike of US casualties, including the death of Brooklyn soldier Segun Frederick Akintade.

In their most audacious move, the area’s terrorists targeted Dujail’s new city council building for a car-bombing. Two incredibly brave Dujaili soldiers from the local Iraqi National Guard unit stood their ground and fired on the car bomb as it sped at them. They managed to halt it at a safe distance. The suicide bomber and a few tribal elders were killed, but the building sustained only superficial damage.

Like their soldiers, the families of Saddam’s Dujaili victims stood their ground as well. Even after the bombing, they recounted their story again and again. To our soldiers. To the US, Regime Crimes Liaison Team. To Iraqi Judges. And finally in the courtroom this year, they told the world.

They stood and faced their tormentor. The man who, with his associates, slaughtered families, and ripped a community apart. They looked these murderers in the eye and they told the cold and painful truth of their oppression. All while a violent campaign to intimidate them continued. Multiple murders were associated with the trial.

Today Saddam is dead.

Hanged in the early morning. After a reasonably fair trial.

Saddam had a not merely a lawyer but a substantial legal team. He was allowed to face his accusers. He was able to offer testimony in his defense. The entire affair was held in the open and recorded. This is far more than the victims of Dujail were ever allowed.

Mayor Haji Mohammed Hassan voiced his hope to attend the execution. I hope he attended. After leading his people through their long struggle for justice, it would be fitting if he were able to return to his city as a witness to the final act that brought justice to Dujail.

See the fine folks at Mudville Gazette as well.

The Defense of Mario Lozano