Thursday, July 24, 2003
Sic semper tyrannis:
Uday (left) and Qusay Hussein
The United States military killed two of the most depraved, brutal and disgusting human beings on the face of the Earth. After asking them to give themselves up, the brothers Hussein decided instead that they would rather be pushing up weeds. (Daisies wouldn't grow over their graves.)
However, that doesn't stop some of the liberally stupid in this country for decrying what has been done.
Perhaps the most idiotic, from someone who should know better, is from Associated Press foreign affairs writer George Gedda, who says that the firefight was actually an assassination -- in violation of an executive order.
In theory, pursuing with intent to kill violates a long-standing policy banning political assassination. It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition.
The brothers were killed during a six-hour raid Tuesday at a palatial villa in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by U.S. forces acting on a tip from an informant. They ranked just below their father in the deposed regime. Odai, in particular, had a reputation for brutality.
Officials said people inside the villa opened fire first but left little doubt what the U.S. troops hoped to accomplish.
"We remain focused on finding, fixing, killing or capturing all members of the high-value target list," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition troops in Iraq, announcing the deaths of Odai and Qusai. [emphasis added]
According to Gedda's curious thought process, it's OK to kill any Iraqi soldiers, fedayeen or irregulars who shoot at you -- unless they're named Hussein? In fact, Sanchez expressly says capture is one of the options for "high-value" targets. Of the 55 on the infamous deck of cards, 34 have been captured, three (Oday, Qusay and Chemical Ali) have been killed. That is plenty of evidence of what we are trying to accomplish.
Gedda piles up more "evidence" that the Bush administration is ignoring the ban on assassinations with this:
Earlier this week, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, stated in unusually candid terms the administration's disregard for the assassination ban. Appearing on NBC TV's "Meet the Press," Bremer said U.S. officials presumed that Saddam was still alive and that American forces were trying to kill him.
"The sooner we can either kill him or capture him, the better," Bremer said. Often in the past, officials resorted to winks and nods or other circumlocutions when asked about U.S. actions that gave the appearance of homicidal intent. [emphasis added]
Does Gedda even read the stuff he's quoting?
The ban on assassinations, spelled out in an executive order signed by President Ford in 1976 and reinforced by Presidents Carter and Reagan, made no distinction between wartime and peacetime. There are no loop holes [sic]; no matter how awful the leader, he could not be a U.S. target either directly or by a hired hand.
According to this logic, every single cop who has killed a suspect has "assassinated" him. It's one thing to kill an unarmed man, it's another to kill someone who's shooting at you -- that is not an assassination -- however people like Gedda would like to distort the language.
There were also a number of letters to the New York Times which shows that Gedda's kind of stupidity is going around.
From Andy Cox of (you guessed it) San Francisco:
To my knowledge, Saddam Hussein's sons had not been found guilty of any offense by an international court of law. Their killing by United States troops (front page, July 23) is therefore extrajudicial.
Blogger Mike Needham makes the following observation:
This is technically correct: We acted extrajudicially because we are not involved in a judicial procedure, we are involved in a war. The storming of the beaches of Normandy, for example, was also extrajudicial because we didn't have a search warrrant. So what?
Check the link for a more on the Times' letters.
My friend and colleague Steve Breen drew the following cartoon for Wednesday's paper which also seems apropriate to this discussion: