Saddam Hussein has completed yet another day in court in his case that I swear is taking longer than OJ's. He admitted to giving the orders to kill 148 Shia in retaliation for an assassination attempt on his life in 1982. Of course, because he was President of Iraq, and therefore he made the rules, those killings were legal.
Why are we questioning legality here? Hussein is smart, and he's been playing this court for months now, and while things continue, it's taking an awfully long time. I think part of this is to provide some semblance of closure to the people who were victims of his crimes, but it's actually pretty straightforward to get him on genocide. Did he have chemical weapons? Yes. He had admitted it, and they were documented and used against Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War. Did the Kurds get gassed in Halabja? Yes. Was anyone punished who was involved in the gassing? No. Is it therefore probable, without even talking to Hussein, that he did it? Absolutely. There really isn't even a question who was ultimately responsible. Rather than let this drag on, complete with outbursts from the dictator, we should have quickly tried him, then let them do the Arab execution thing (swift, painless, beheading in the center of the city). While we need to make sure that we're fair, we also need to make sure that we're quick about being fair too. We want to send a message that this won't be tolerated, in a general sense, and if you go about it, being the law isn't a valid defense. The longer this goes on, the less certain people will be that Saddam wouldn't come back and the less of a message we'll send out, in large part because nobody outside of Iraq will care by the time this gets over, in early spring of 2015.