SADDAM'S LEGAL STRATEGY, as explained to me by a leading member of the defense team--Abdul Haq al-Ani, retained by Saddam's daughter--is fourfold:
* Argue that the war that overthrew Saddam was illegal under international law and, hence, Saddam is still legally president. If he's still president and his regime still sovereign, then the Saddam-era Iraqi Constitution--which gives him full immunity--must prevail.
To al-Ani, it is meaningless that millions of Iraqis voted for a new post-Saddam government last January, and that the newly-elected government has been recognized by the U.N. Security Council. "The Security Council does not have the authority to breach the charter that created it," he told me in his home. And a correct reading of that charter, he says, would interpret as illegal the war that preceded post-Saddam Iraq.
* The second pillar is to argue that the alleged crimes committed by Saddam are no different from President Bush's response to the September 11 attacks. Responding to insurrection--whether for Saddam in Halabjah or Bush in Afghanistan--had to be swift and overwhelming. If innocents are killed, that's analogous to Bush's wars, too, he claims. Of course, al-Ani fails to distinguish between accidentally killing civilians in pursuit of terrorists and intentionally targeting innocents to permeate fear in a population.
* The third pillar will be to call Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify, just as Gen. Wesley Clark was called to testify at the Hague. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is expected to be singled out, too, as the
embodiment of the alleged support that the U.S. gave to Saddam in the 1980s during his use of chemical weapons.
* By airing the dirty laundry of America's foreign policy over the past several decades, Saddam's lawyers believe that they will embarrass the Bush administration into abruptly ending the trial and figure out a way to cut a deal with Saddam, which will include returning him to power. Seriously. How likely is this? According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50 percent that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam or, as the defense team refers to him, "President Hussein," could be back running Iraq by this time next year.
International Answer's words now being used to defend Saddam. Much as their parent organization the WWP has defended Saddam and other evil butchers.
but this is the cherry on top
As for his own motives, al-Ani told me that even he believes Saddam Hussein is despicable for the illegal imprisonment and torture of innocent Iraqis. So why is he defending him? "Because I'm anti-American. I'm not for Saddam. I'm anti-American. And defending Saddam is the best way I can express it."