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LATEST FROM NEWSWEEK • Special war section • Q&amp;A on smart weapons Who Will Try Iraqi War Criminals? By Ed Finn Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2003, at 3:19 PM PT&nbsp;<br>
In his speech to the nation Monday, President Bush promised that Iraqi war criminals would be tried and punished—but he didn't specify which criminals or in which court they would be tried. Which Iraqis will be tried, and who will judge them? The answers depend largely on the outcome of the war, once it's clear who's still alive to stand trial. Most experts agree that war-crimes trials will be limited to indictments against a small fraction of the thousands of likely suspects, since wiping out Iraq's government infrastructure (on top of its economic and military infrastructure) will make it that much harder to build a new state. In fact, the U.S. government has kept its official list of Iraqi war criminals extremely short, even though hundreds of officials have been implicated in the use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in 1988. It's likely that only the top echelons of the military will be tried—perhaps 50 people, perhaps more, depending on who you ask and whether or not local commanders fight. (If they surrender, they might escape prosecution.) For the invading Americans, "who" is tried is almost less important than "how," because these trials give the United States a much-needed chance to exhibit fairness and restraint after initiating a war. Possible trial venues include: International Criminal Court: This one can probably be ruled out—neither the U.S. nor Iraq ever agreed to it. Ironically, it might be legally possible to try British or Australian troops in the ICC for war crimes if they commit any atrocities, since their nations are signatories. U.N. ad hoc tribunal: This is a special international court that has to be mandated by the Security Council—recent examples include courts created to try war criminals from the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Considering the intense misgivings fellow Security Council members like France and Russia have about the war, it is unlikely that the United States will ask them to create a tribunal. And even if they did, there's another snag if the blue helmets show up—no U.N. court can sentence a war criminal to death. U.S. federal courts: Under the War Crimes Act of 1996, war crimes by or against U.S. citizens can be prosecuted in American federal courts. This option also seems unlikely, however, because many of the crimes likely to be prosecuted involve Iraqi officials assaulting their own citizens. Local Iraqi courts: These might do for small-fry Baath loyalists. After all, the United States will be trying to create a respectable criminal justice system in Iraq, and war criminals would provide useful fodder to get things rolling. But it's unlikely that any of the regime's kingpins would face a local court, since there would be too many opportunities for political skullduggery and old allegiances to taint the process. Hybrid courts: All the rage since their success in Sierra Leone, hybrid courts bring together a combination of local and international jurists. The idea is to mix the grass-roots appeal of civil courts with the respectability and fence-mending powers of international courts. This option also allows the United States to involve European jurists without having to go through the United Nations. The flexibility of a hybrid court will be attractive to post-Iraq planners not because of its appeal to international justice but because it will allow the United States to better trade amnesty for information while still satisfying world opinion. Say the United States invades Iraq and raids all the bunkers and palaces but doesn't find weapons of mass destruction or Saddam Hussein. In that case, the post-war administration's first priority will be to pump Iraq's surviving officials for information—a process that could carry over to war crimes courts. If you're wondering what war crimes are, Explainer has covered this before. Next question? Explainer thanks Ruth Wedgwood, professor of International Law and Diplomacy at John Hopkins University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; David Phillips, deputy director of the Center for Preventative Action and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch. of statistics and facts on topics at home and abroad. Barnes &amp; Noble&nbsp;<br>
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Iraqis Celebrate As U.S. Takes Baghdad 29 minutes ago By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and DAVID CRARY, Associated Press Writers BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s rule over the capital has ended, U.S. commanders declared Wednesday, and jubilant crowds swarmed into the streets here, dancing, looting, cheering U.S. convoys and defacing images of the Iraqi leader.&nbsp;<br>
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U.S. Marines helped bring down a giant statue of Saddam in a central square of Baghdad to the applause of Iraqis standing below. The statue toppled when a rope tied to it was hooked up to a military vehicle that backed away. Earlier, U.S. troops placed an American flag over the statue's face, but it was quickly removed. "The capital city is now one of those areas that has been added to the list of where the regime does not have control," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks at U.S. Central Command in Qatar. Brooks said that Saddam loyalists were holding out in the north, notably at Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, and still posed a threat, including the possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Even as they encountered sniper fire from roving bands of holdout fighters, Marine and Army units swept through Baghdad, seizing or destroying buildings that once housed some of Saddam's most feared security forces. Marine tanks rolled into the heart of the city, on the east bank of the Tigris, greeted by people clapping and waving white flags. Civilians gestured to the Americans with V-for-victory signs. "We were nearly mobbed by people trying to shake our hands," said Maj. Andy Milburn of the 7th Marines. One Army contingent had to use razor-wire to hold back surging crowds of well-wishers. At police stations, universities, government ministries, the headquarters of the Iraq (news - web sites) Olympic Committee, looters unhindered by any police presence made off with computers, furniture, telephones, even military jeeps. One young man used roller skates to wheel away a refrigerator. "Thank you, thank you, Mr. Bush," some of the looters shouted. An elderly man beat a portrait of Saddam with his shoe, while a younger man spat on the portrait. Not everyone rejoiced. "This is the destruction of Islam," said Qassim al-Shamari, 50, a laborer wearing an Arab robe. "After all, Iraq is our country. And what about all the women and children who died in the bombing?" Even as most of the populace seemed suddenly to feel free of Saddam's control, U.S. officers said their forces faced continued resistance, fierce but disorganized, from small groups of holdout pro-Saddam fighters. The U.S Central Command reacted cautiously to the euphoria and chaos in Baghdad. "The regime has lost control in most parts of Iraq," said command spokesman Jim Wilkinson. "There are places up north where they have significant pockets ... so we'll continue to go where those pockets are and reduce them. It'll just take time to find those pockets and destroy them and hopefully they'll surrender." U.S. commanders focused attention on Tikrit, still a stronghold of loyalist troops, and the northern city of Mosul. Lt. Mark Kitchens, a Central Command spokesman, said special operations forces and airstrikes were "actively engaging" Iraqi forces in both cities. U.S. special forces and Kurdish fighters seized a strategic hilltop near Mosul; senior Kurdish leader Hoshyar Zebari called it the most important gain in the region thus far.&nbsp;<br>
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The fate of Saddam remained unknown. U.S. experts have yet to gain access to the site in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood that was targeted by four 2,000-pound bombs in a U.S. strike aimed at killing him.&nbsp;<br>
Elsewhere in the capital, U.S. forces steadily expanded their reach, securing a military airport, capturing a prison, setting fire to a Republican Guard barracks. Milburn said the house of Saddam's son Odai was on fire, apparently hit by a bomb.&nbsp;<br>
The Iraqi government's efforts to sustain its public relations campaign collapsed. State television went off the air Tuesday, and on Wednesday, foreign journalists said their "minders" — government agents who monitor their reporting — did not turn up for work. There was no sign of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, whose daily briefings had constituted the main public face of the regime during the war.&nbsp;<br>
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While intent on consolidating their hold on Baghdad, U.S. commanders also were turning their attention to Tikrit, Saddam's hometown in the desert about 90 miles to the north. Defended by well-trained troops, and home to many of Saddam's most devoted followers, the city of 260,000 is considered one of the few remaining strongholds of the Iraqi regime. The Central Command said coalition airstrikes were targeting the Republican Guard's Adnan division in Tikrit, "shaping the battlefield" before U.S. ground forces move in. Brooks said Iraqi reinforcements were reaching Tikrit, apparently after retreating from positions to the north and south. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two main Iraqi Kurdish groups opposing Saddam, claimed Tuesday that Saddam already was hiding in Tikrit. U.S. officials said they didn't know if he had escaped Monday's bombing of a site in Baghdad's al-Mansour neighborhood where he and at least one of his sons reportedly were meeting. The toll of journalists killed in the war reached 10, with three killed in U.S. military strikes in Baghdad on Tuesday Two cameramen, one from Ukraine and one from Spain, were killed when a U.S. tank fired into the Palestine Hotel, where hundreds of journalists are based. U.S. officers initially said hostile fire had been coming from the building; journalists said they witnessed none. Also, a Jordanian reporter was killed in a U.S. airstrike on the Baghdad office of the Arab television network al-Jazeera, which contended the attack was deliberate. On Wednesday, the U.S. branch of Amnesty International joined in the criticism. "Unless the U.S. can demonstrate that the Palestine Hotel had been used for military purposes, it was a civilian object protected under international humanitarian law that should not have been attacked," Amnesty said. In the southern city of Basra, which was taken over by British forces this week, looters have been plundering government buildings, universities, even hospitals. A Red Cross representative said the looting could delay relief efforts in the city of 1.3 million.&nbsp;<br>
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U.S. Marines from Task Force Tarawa wait before moving in as the Iraqi 23 Infantry brigade building is hit Monday in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Iraqi TV shows images of a downed Apache helicopter and two pilot helmets, reports Jim Miklaszewski from the Pentagon.&nbsp;<br>
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March 24 — With advance elements of the American invasion force now engaging Iraqi Republican Guard units south of Baghdad, U.S. and British troops struggled on Monday to put down continued resistance in the southern part of the country. Officials on both sides insisted their forces had gained the upper hand, with Iraq highlighting American casualties and U.S. commanders dismissing Iraqi resistance as “sporadic.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the battle for Baghdad was imminent. “This will be a crucial moment,” he said.&nbsp;<br>
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BLAIR, SPEAKING to his parliament, said: “As we speak, they are about 60 miles south of Baghdad, near Karbala. It is a little way from there that they will encounter the Medina Division of the Republican Guard. This will be a crucial moment.”&nbsp;<br>
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With the U.S. Army’s 3rd infantry near Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, a pincer movement appeared to be forming, completed by the 1st Division of the U.S. Marines, which crossed the Euphrates late Sunday and were rolling north up the Tigris River valley, southeast of the Iraqi capital. An Associated Press correspondent embedded with the 3rd said the division had been stalled by a sandstorm in mid-afternoon after a morning battle in the U.S. troops directed air strikes on a column of Iraqi armor that officials say represented the outer-most ring of Baghdad’s defenses. At least one Army Cobra helicopter gunship was lost in this engagement, and the fate of the crew remained uncertain.&nbsp;<br>
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The AP report described the road to Karbala as littered with destroyed Iraqi trucks and tracked vehicles, and by empty foxholes — many with bodies still inside, burned beyond recognition. Air strikes by U.S. and British aircraft targeted dug-in Iraqi defenses around Baghdad, and missiles and bombs continued to hit targets in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. A fourth wave of air strikes hit the Iraqi capital at just about midnight local time — about 3 p.m. ET.&nbsp;<br>
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U.S. and British commanders were taking pains to portray firefights over the weekend — primarily well behind the advancing American 1st Marine Division and 3rd Infantry — as predictable pockets of die-hard opposition that would not upset the allied timetable. “These moves are all dangerous to the troops in the field, but they’re not dangerous to the success of the mission,” Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid told the AP from Central Command’s headquarters in Qatar. Abizaid’s boss, CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks, told reporters later that battles in the south, in which about 20 U.S. forces were killed or missing, were the result of ambushes and a fake surrender incidents by pro-Saddam militiamen known as fedayeen.&nbsp;<br>
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“We know that the fedayeen has in fact put itself in a position to mill about, to create difficulties in rear areas, and I can assure you that contact with those forces is not unexpected,” he said. The combat death toll among U.S. forces remained unclear on Monday. In addition to the Marines killed Sunday, two Marines were killed Friday in southern Iraq and at least five members of an Army supply unit ambushed Sunday near Nasiriyah were believed to have been killed while five others appeared on Iraqi TV. Britain announced Monday that it suffered its first combat death when a soldier was killed near Al Zubayr, in southern Iraq. At least 14 other British troops have been killed in accidents or by “friendly fire” since the war began. Juliet Bremner, an ITN correspondent with British troops just north of Basra, said mortar fire and snipers have dogged efforts to subdue that southern port city.&nbsp;<br>
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NBC News correspondent Dana Lewis, encamped with the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait, said that the air assault units helicopters had been put into action on Monday to bolster allied positions in southern Iraq. Lewis said the division’s Blackhawks, Cobras and other aircraft were flying “convoy duty” along the long supply train between Kuwait and the lead elements of the invasion.&nbsp;<br>
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BAGHDAD REGIME VOWS TO FIGHT There was no way to estimate Iraqi casualties reliably, either military or civilian. Iraq’s Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said Monday that 62 Iraqis had been killed by U.S.-led forces in the previous 24 hours and more than 400 had been wounded. Al-Sahhaf said most of the losses were suffered in Babel, which is just south of Baghdad, and Basra. As the invasion force moved toward a climatic battle with Saddam’s most elite units, his regime vowed to put up a bloody defense of the capital. The most capable divisions in Iraq’s army now ring the city, and Saddam’s own Special Republican Guard division was said to be dug in at key points within Baghdad’s neighborhoods. “The Americans and British will be welcomed in Baghdad the same way they were welcomed in An Nasiriyah and Um Qasr — with bullets and not with music and flowers,” Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters in a Baghdad news conference. Early Monday, images of Saddam himself appeared on Iraqi television. Speaking before a white backdrop, he appeared relaxed and healthy — strikingly different from the way he looked in a speech aired Thursday, the day the air assault began.&nbsp;<br>
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In full military dress, he assured Iraqis “victory will be ours soon,” and mentioned the defiant resistance of Iraqi forces in Umm Qasr, the southern port city which U.S. and British forces have struggled to gain since Saturday. The reference seemed designed to allay any suspicion that the address had been taped earlier, or that Saddam had been wounded or killed last week. U.S. officials quickly dismissed the idea that this proved Iraq remained under Saddam’s command, saying his references were vague enough to have been anticipated well before hand. “We don’t know when it was recorded, how old it may be, whether it was new,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. Baghdad, like other Iraqi cities, continued to be hit by sporadic missile and aircraft bombardments. More explosions shook the capital Monday as night fell. Earlier, anti-aircraft guns that had been removed earlier were placed once again atop one of the main gates to the Old Palace, a presidential compound hit in earlier attacks.&nbsp;<br>
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A TOUGH WEEKEND&nbsp;<br>
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• Urban Warfare: The military's nightmare&nbsp;<br>
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Well behind the advancing American spearhead, U.S. and British forces continued to struggle with Iraqi rear-guard elements who refused to give up.&nbsp;<br>
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In one incident near Nasiriyah, a crossing point over the Euphrates River, a group of Iraqis waved a white flag in surrender, then opened up with artillery fire. Another group appeared to welcome coalition troops, then attacked them, U.S. officials said.&nbsp;<br>
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As many as 10 Marines died and as many as 40 were wounded in the surprise engagements. Reuters reported that Marines remained bogged down Monday outside Nasiriyah, where they were attempting to open a second route north to the Iraqi capital. Resistance by Iraqi troops made it impossible for the allies to gain control of two bridges over the Euphrates. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------&nbsp;<br>
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A battle for bridges March 24 — Marines are trying to retake two bridges in the al Nasiriya region, and Navy medics are treating wounded Iraqi soldiers and civilians, reports Kerry Sanders with the 2d Battalion, 8th Marine Division. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------&nbsp;<br>
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• Targets in Iraq • Tools of war • Missile defense system • Cruise missiles • B-2 stealth bombers • F-117 Nighthawk • B-1B bombers • Nimitz-class carriers • AEGIS, eyes of the fleet • M1A2 Abrams tank • Iraq's T-72 tanks • Predator drones • A-10 "Warthogs" • Weapons: new vs. old&nbsp;<br>
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‘BAD DREAM’ In images shown on Iraqi television Sunday, five captured U.S. soldiers — four men and a woman — appeared frightened but resolute as they answered the questions of interrogators. Arab television also showed what it said were four American dead in an Iraqi morgue. “It’s like a bad dream, seeing your son get captured on TV,” said Anecita Hudson, of Alamogordo, N.M., whose son, Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, was among those captured. Another prisoner was identified by his family as Pfc. Patrick Miller of Park City, Kan., the father of two young children. Iraqi officials have offered repeated assurances that the prisoners would be treated humanely, according to the Geneva Conventions. President Bush, returning to the White House from Camp David on Sunday, demanded that the POWs be treated well. “We expect them to be treated humanely, just like we’ll treat any prisoners of theirs that we capture humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals,” he said.&nbsp;<br>
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ON ALL FRONTS Elsewhere, the U.S. military appeared to be preparing to open a new front in northern Iraq, ferrying an unknown number of troops to at airfields near Irbil and Sulamaniyah, facilities recently improved by the United States, U.S. and Turkish officials told NBC News.&nbsp;<br>
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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS&nbsp;<br>
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In other developments Monday: Gen. Franks revealed that some coalition forces, including Australians and British troops, were operating in the north and west of Iraq. Some were special forces traveling in small teams, he said. “They have accomplished some wonderful things out there,” Franks said, but gave no details. Bulgaria, one of the handful of nations that backed the United States on the U.N. Security Council, said that U.S. forces would use the Sarafovo camp to refuel coalition planes. Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov valued the contract at $1.7 million. Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that a missile fired from a U.S. warplane struck a bus bringing Syrians home from Iraq, killing five and wounding at least 10 others. It said the attack occurred early Sunday near Iraq’s al-Rutbeh area. Pentagon sources told NBC that a U.S. warplane could have hit the bus during a raid but that it was not targeting the vehicle. U.S. military officials told NBC News that two Tomahawk cruise missiles had misfired and landed in Turkey. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the missiles landed in an unpopulated area and that the incident was under investigation.&nbsp;<br>
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