It's fascinating watching Saddam Hussein's trial begin as we await the results of Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury.
You've probably heard that Hussein has pleaded innocent, and that he has been granted a 30 day delay in the proceedings. You may also know that Patrick Fitzgerald has told associates he doesn't plan to publish a report of his investigation, which makes many observers certain that indictments are imminent.
Almost everyone is aware that Fitzgerald's investigation appears to have "zeroed in" on Dick Cheney's office. Many suspect that charges may be levied against Mister Bush himself.
And it seems everybody agrees now that Plame/Rove/Niger/Traitorgate is about a whole lot more than who outed Valerie Plame. It's about whether anyone purposely exaggerated, cooked, or out and out lied about the WMD intelligence that propelled America into invading Iraq.
Hussein continues to insist that he is still president of Iraq, and as such the tribunal has no authority to try him. One TV mouth breather said that Hussein is trying to shift the trial from the criminal to the political arena.
Bill Kristol, one of the chief architects of the Iraq policy, bemoans the Fitzgerald investigation as the criminalization of politics. Why does my sniffer tell me Kristol is trying to cover his own backside, both criminally and politically?
Part of Hussein's defense will be that his genocides were legitimate actions taken in his function as head of the Iraqi state to suppress rebellion. Hussein is also scheduled to be charged with the invasion of Kuwait, and will be held responsible for Iraqi soldiers torturing Kuwaiti prisoners. Hussein's lawyers will argue that the invasion of Kuwait was justified by ancient territorial claims (Kuwait was part of Mesopotamia). They'll also argue that Hussein can't be held to account for the "handful of bad apples" who tortured Kuwaitis.
If by some chance Mister Bush faces charges that he exceeded his constitutional authority in the name of "national security," and that he purposely lied about the Iraq intelligence in order to justify the invasion, and that his policies were directly responsible for the prisoner abuses in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan, what will his defense be?
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. For all we know, Fitz will turn around after two years of investigation and say, "Sorry, I got nothing on these people."
And there's an outside chance that Saddam Hussein will walk.