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Pentagon seized tapes of Saddam hearing, destroyed all records of 11 co-defendants

U.S. military goons lied to reporters about judge's instructions in the Saddam Hussein hearing, then erased and seized tapes of proceedings, and destroyed all record of the legal submissions of the 11 other Iraqi defendants. Guess this is what freedom and a "sovereign Iraq" look like.
ROBERT FISK: Pentagon Tried to Censor Saddam's Hearing
by: Robert Fisk on: 3rd Jul, 04

A team of US military officers acted as censors over all coverage of the hearings of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen on Thursday, destroying videotape of Saddam in chains and deleting the entire recorded legal submissions of 11 senior members of his former regime.

A US network cameraman who demanded the return of his tapes, which contained audios of the hearings, said he was told by a US officer: "No. They belong to us now. And anyway, we don't trust you guys."

According to American journalists present at the 30-minute hearing of Saddam and 11 former ministers at Baghdad airport, an American admiral in civilian clothes told camera crews that the judge had demanded that there should be no sound recording of the initial hearing. He ordered crews to unplug their sound wires. Several of the six crews present pretended to obey the instruction. "We learnt later," one of them said, "that the judge didn't order us to turn off our sound. The Americans lied--it was they who wanted no sound. The judge wanted sound and pictures."

Initially, crews were told that a US Department of Defence camera crew would provide the sound for their silent tapes. But when CNN and CBS crews went to the former occupation authority headquarters--now the US embassy-- they found that three US officers ordered the censorship of tape which showed Saddam being led into the courtroom with a chain round his waist which was connected to handcuffs round his wrists. The Americans gave no reason for this censorship.

"They were rude and they didn't care," another American television crew member said. "They were running the show. The Americans decided what the world could and could not see of this trial--and it was meant to be an Iraqi trial. There was a British official in the courtroom whom we were not allowed to take pictures of. The other men were US troops who had been ordered to wear ordinary clothes so that they were 'civilians' in the court."

Three US officers viewed the tapes taken by two CNN cameras, 'Al-Djezaira' (a local, American-funded Iraqi channel), and the US government. "Fortunately, they were lazy and they didn't check all the tapes properly so we got our 'audio' through in the satellite to London," one of the crew members told The Independent yesterday. "I had pretended to unplug the sound from the camera but the man who claimed he was a US admiral didn't understand cameras and we were able to record sound. The American censors at the embassy were inattentive--that's how we got the sound out."

The only thing the Americans managed to censor from most of the tapes was Saddam's comment that "this is theatre--Bush is the real criminal."

Television stations throughout the world were astonished yesterday when the first tapes of Saddam's trial arrived without sound and have still not been informed that the Americans censored the material. "What can we do when an American official tells us the judge doesn't want sound--and then we find out that they lied and the judge does want the sound?" an American camera operator asked.

Video showed the face--and audiotape revealed the voice--of Judge Raid Juhi, whose name was widely reported in the Arab press yesterday. According to the camera crews, Judge Juhi wanted the world to hear Saddam's voice. Nevertheless the Americans erased the entire audiotape of the hearings of the 11 former Saddam ministers, including that of Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, and "Chemical" Ali, Saddam's cousin accused of gassing the Kurds at Halabja. The US Department of Defence tape of their hearings has been taken by the US authorities so there is now no technical record of the words of these 11 men, save for the notebooks of "pool" reporters--four Americans and two Iraqis--who were present.

Judge Juhi said not long ago that "I have no secrets--a judge must not be ashamed of the decisions he takes."

The Americans apparently think differently.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
... 03.Jul.2004 12:22

this thing here

all the dirty secrets about covert and overt u.s./western support of saddam hussein's regime that saddam and his defense lawyers will be only too glad to divulge in his defense...

... all the sworn testimony of senior u.s. officials, including current and former secretaries of state and defense, maybe even vice presidents and presidents, that may create a less than flattering picture...

this is exactly why the u.s. military, the pentagon and the bush admin. will be breathing down the necks of the judges, pressuring the lawyers, and censoring the press during the trial. this is exactly why they didn't want this trial to go to the hague, where press rules are different. they have to cover their dirty lying asses...

Sovereign State, My Ass 03.Jul.2004 13:29

Curious George

Well, I guess we'll be looking to overseas news to see what was said. There are a lot of questions Hussein could be asked. I'd like to know, for instance, how he came to be in that spider hole, kinda spacey, and with an empty gun.

If he talks too much and the audio gets through, look for him to be "silenced" by some crazed militant suicide assassin who "manages" to get through US security perimeters.

sovereignty and truth 03.Jul.2004 16:43

greg snyder

It doesn't surprise me that the U.S. military in Iraq would pull such a stunt. They are, after all, following orders by their commander-in-chief, the illegitimate, impostor head-of-state Bush and his party. The Bush administration, of course, doesn't want anyone to know anything or to find out anything that may incriminate it. But,I agree with Saddam's statement if it is true that "this is theatre, Bush is the criminal". Bush's war is what has caused all the chaos and instability there and now it's up to the U.S. to help Iraq rebuild. And true sovereignty needs to be established and the Bush administration should be held accountable for helping support the middle/managerial class in Iraq reestablish itself and enforce security, part of which is seeing to it that Iraq is once again able to provide for it's own security with its own police and security forces. This would be appropriate since Bush claimed in his campaign speeches that he is "not a nation builder or interventionalist." That way, American soldiers can come home and not be in continued danger of guerilla reprisal. What is heartening in this article is that the Iraqi judge wanted the world to hear the words of Saddam and his ministers and stated that "I have no secrets--a judge must not be ashamed of the decisions he takes." It's heartening that the Iraqis have a sense of justice and that they are interested in getting at the truth. The justices of the Supreme Court of the United States should be so endowed.