Famed television-defense attorney of the 1960s, Perry Mason played by Raymond Burr, analyzes the application of the death penalty to Saddam Hussein in today's Scribble. His analysis is based on the following.
When Paul Bremer was heading up Iraq, he did away with the death penalty. Now, Iraq's new government says it will reinstate it and apply it to Saddam Hussein. Someone didn't think this situation through very well.
There's an argument in the cartoon that's being put forth in some circles on applying the death penalty because -- even though it may not exist now at the time of charging Saddam -- it was in effect when he committed his crimes. I don't think that works, in a real court anyway. (This morning cable news announcers are delighting in Saddam's humiliation, trial and presumed guilty verdict and death penalty. Come on guys. We know that's what's going to happen, but some pretense at a fair trial would make the system look better. Yes, I know Saddam's evil and didn't give anyone a fair trial, but that's what we're trying to change ... well, supposedly.)
Can you change the rules after someone is charged? You can't in America. Due process and notice of your charges prevent it. The death penalty was thrown out in America sometime in the late 1960s or 1970s by the U.S. Supreme Court. Once that was done, no one could be executed even if they had committed a crime before the ruling.
Someone screwed up since the Bush administration, the new Iraqi government and apparently everyone else but the Europeans want the death penalty to be available for Saddam. Regardless, I expect the legal wranglings to result in the death penalty in the end. 07.01.04