Early in the morning of December 15, 2003, when my son, Lt Ken Ballard was stationed in Iraq, he sent me an instant message:
they just got saddam!
Ken told me that the way the soldiers heard the news of Saddam's capture was by the sound of celebratory shooting by the Iraqis. The men from 2-37 of the 1st Armored Division did the manly thing and lit up some cigars!
3 years later, the verdict is finally in on Saddam Hussein today and no one should be surprised. Of course he's guilty for the killing of 148 Shias in Tigris river city of Dujail in 1982; crimes against humanity including premeditated murder, torture and forced deportation. Saddam Hussein is one of the bad guys in this world, one of the worst.
There have been questions whether the end to this long and difficult trial will be a defining moment of the war (no) or whether it will just be another on the long list of horrors and milestones that define the war. The trial which started nearly a year ago, was defined by boycotts, delays, murders, hunger strikes, arrogance, more delays, outbursts and drama.
Earlier this year, back in July, Saddam requested that he be executed by gunfire rather than by hanging if he was found guilty and condemned to die. He said "shooting is the appropriate means of execution for a military man like himself".
Saddam's response to the verdict today? ``Long live the people, down with the traitors,'' Hussein, 69, shouted as the verdict was read out. ``God is great. You are the servants of the occupiers. Long live Iraq.''
George Bush's response? He said Hussein's conviction was a ``major achievement'' for the country's elected government and brought a measure of justice for Hussein's victims.``Saddam Hussein's trial is a milestone in the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of the law,''
Just 2 days before the US midterm elections, some people have wondered whether the timing was curious. Well, yes, it it is and it is political and the Bush administration who backed the trial was full aware of the timing. If they try to deny it, this will be yet another lie that they have told us about the war.
Be very clear though, that this should not affect our elections here by one single vote. With 2831 US military casualties, nearly 45,000 non- mortal casualties, between 50,000 & 650,000 Iraq casualties (we don't know that number because as General Tommy Franks told us "we don't do body counts"), Saddam Hussein's conviction will be nothing more than a comma when the history of this war and occupation is told. This conviction does not mean that the Republicans are strong on terror any more than it means the Democrats want to cut and run.
Today is just another day in this horrible war. I'm pretty sure the Dujail families aren't having a party or celebrating this "major achievement". What's to celebrate? I'm pretty sure they just want their country back.