Earlier in the week I wrote about the likely death sentence to be handed down in Saddam Hussein's show trial just two days before the mid-term elections. If you missed it, read it here.
When I wrote that, I didn't know for a fact that most observers expected the trial to take far longer. But, according to Scott Horton, an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Law School who has visited Baghdad several times, that does appear to be the case.
According to the Institute for Public Accuracy, Horton said yesterday:
Most observers expected the date would be much later, but it seems to have been moved up. It will be front page news in the papers on Monday -- the day before the election. This is designed to show some progress in Iraq. The American public will see Saddam condemned to death and see it as a positive thing.
When you look at polling figures, there have been three significant spike points. One was the date on which Saddam was captured. The second was the purple fingers election. The third was Zarqawi being killed. Based on those three, it's easy to project that they will get a mild bump out of this.
I'd add that these have been short-lived spikes. Longer than two days, but short-lived.
In my experience, everything that comes out of Baghdad is very carefully prepared for U.S. domestic consumption. … There is a team of American lawyers working as special legal advisers out of the U.S. embassy, who drive the tribunal. They have been involved in preparing the case and overseeing it from the beginning. The trial, which is shown on TV, has mild entertainment value for Iraqis, but they refer to it regularly as an American puppet theater.
Tom Englehardt pointed out in The Nation that the media haven't even taken note of the timing in their coverage. This kind of transparent manipulation of something as important as seeing justice served for the tens of thousands of Iraqis tortured and killed by Hussein for the sake of the GOP's prospects in the mid-term elections is simply outrageous. Reporters should be asking hard questions about it in Washington and in Baghdad -- this should be a major story.
It's a perfect opportunity to dig into the revelations contained in Michael Gordon's Cobra II about how everything done in the "Battle for Baghdad" was carefully scripted for U.S. domestic consumption, and in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Emerald City about how the Green Zone is awash in Republican political appointees, many of whom have no visible qualifications for their posts beyond party loyalty. If the media were doing their jobs this craven act might back-fire on the Republicans as it should.
Can you take a minute and give me a hand? Beneath the fold are some selected media contacts. A brief, polite note asking them why they're not covering this issue -- why they're not asking the appropriate questions -- would be really helpful. Contact your local media as well. Reference Scott Horton's statement above.
And any members of the press can e-mail me for Horton's contact info.
NBC, MSNBC, Newsweek: Contact form.
ABC News: Contact form.
CNN: Contact form.
New York Times: Contact form.
Here are 570 more press contacts collected by timroff at DailyKos.
Tagged as: international law, iraq, saddam hussein, election06
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.