Ramsey Clark has decided to join Saddam Hussein's defense team. The likely reason, as Case Western law professor Michael Scharf notes in this post on Grotian Moment: The Saddam Hussein Trial Blog, is to advance Clark's own anti-war political agenda. What will it mean for the trial? Scharf has some thoughts:
Clark is known for turning international trials into political stages from which to launch attacks against U.S. foreign policy. He has represented Liberian political figure Charles Taylor during his 1985 fight against extradition from the United States to Liberia; Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Hutu leader implicated in the Rwandan genocide; PLO leaders in a lawsuit brought by the family of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair bound elderly American who was shot and tossed overboard from the hijacked Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists in 1986; and most recently Slobodan Milosevic, the former leader of Serbia who is on trial for genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.There's much more about recent trial developments on the Grotian Moment blog.
Much as Clark objected to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Clark joined the defense for the former Serb leader in 2001 because he objected to the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, which also had not been authorized by the U.N. Security Council. For a preview of Clark’s Saddam Hussein trial strategy, one can examine Clark’s tactics in the Milosevic trial. . . .
Building on the theme of Clark’s brief, the Milosevic defense began with Hollywood-quality video and slide show presentations showing the destruction wrought by the 1999 NATO bombing campaign. Though the acts of NATO were not relevant to any of the charges or defenses, and therefore not likely to help Milosevic obtain an acquittal, the presentation had an immediate impact on Milosevic’s popularity back home in Serbia. The tactic transformed Milosevic from the most reviled individual in Serbia to number four on the list of most admired Serbs . . .
Like Clark, I published articles in opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But I don’t think Clark’s strategy of putting the United States on trial will be constructive. Since the “Tu Quoque” (you also) defense is not legitimate [see here], it won’t help his client’s case. . . . But as the Milosevic case has demonstrated, Clark’s strategy of putting the United States on trial is likely to incite greater opposition to and violence against the new Iraqi government and the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Ironically, Clark’s trial strategy will result in lengthening the amount of time U.S. troops must remain in Iraq, rather than hastening their withdrawal as Clark has advocated.