Newsweek's Dickey Likens "Show Trial" of Saddam to Saddam's Own Thuggery

It's common for leftists to call President Bush a dictator, and now liberal Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey, by describing the Baghdad proceedings against Saddam Hussein as a "show trial," has associated Bush with one of the vilest dictators ever, Josef Stalin.

Excerpts from Dickey's "web-exclusive commentary":

We ended 2005 in a time of trials--show trials, in fact. Saddam Hussein was in the dock for allegedly ordering massacres in an Iraqi Shiite village...

Show trials are about raw power, of course, not blind justice. They’re spectacles put on by winners to humiliate losers, cover up other crimes and intimidate the opposition. Nobody understands that fact better than Saddam...

After detailing a 1979 event in which Saddam, who had just taken power in Iraq, publicly orchestrated the execution of Baath Party members accused of plotting against him, Dickey asserts that in Saddam's current trial,

[e]ven as a defendant he’s running the show--because he knows perfectly well that’s what it is. The Americans and the Iraqi judiciary they helped put in place are applying a hodgepodge of local and international law in a spectacle designed to prove that the Shiites and Kurds rule the country now, and they will punish Saddam for killing their people. To that end, the United States has spent at least $128 million, according to the Washington Post, in reconstruction monies to dig up mass graves for evidence against the Butcher of Baghdad...

Better than show trials are the “truth and reconciliation commissions” we saw in several Latin American countries and post-apartheid South Africa. There, as eras of tyranny and insurgency came to an end, the past was relived in public hearings. Horrific crimes and savage repression were described by the victims, confessed to by the torturers. Those who came clean could be amnestied; those who did not were liable to be tried. The idea was that fear could be purged, life could go on and, with luck, a unified nation could begin to emerge. But none of those countries had been invaded. Their armies and their economic elites may have reformed, but they stayed in place. Saddam’s legacy of horror and the Americans’ legacy of chaos have created a situation in post-invasion Iraq where truth and reconciliation are beyond the power of any court or commission to deliver.

And in the United States? Our most exalted form of show trial is impeachment. Like the farce imposed on President Bill Clinton by many of the people ruling the country today, it’s a purely political exercise. Sure, if by some miracle the Democrats manage to take control of the House and Senate later this year, they might try to hold the Bush team accountable for numerous crimes against common sense and decency as well as the Constitution. The National Security Agency program to eavesdrop on Americans’ phones without warrants, which President Bush continues to defend, might be exhibit A. But frankly, I think we need something better in America these days than another Senate show trial. People are embittered, divided, numbed by the litany of tragedies and lies. After five years of deception and intimidation, I’m afraid we Americans are now the ones who need truth and reconciliation. The process couldn’t start too soon.

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters