Political Defenses Then and Now
He was instructed by the judge to stand and identify himself for the purposes of the trial, but the grey-bearded figure, with his thick black hair combed stylishly to one side, was not having any of it.
He buttoned up his jacket and declared: "Those who fought in God's cause will be victorious... I am at the mercy of God, the most powerful."
"You are to give your full name to establish you identity to the court," the judge said.
"Who are you? What does this court want?" the defendant challenged.
"I don't answer this so-called court, with all due respect, and I reserve my constitutional right as the president of the country of Iraq.
"I don't acknowledge either the entity that authorises you, nor the aggression, because everything based on falsehood is falsehood," he said.
The Charge being read the Lord President replied:
Lord President. Sir, you have now heard your Charge read, containing such matter as appears in it; you find, that in the close of it, it is prayed to the Court, in the behalf of the Commons of England, that you answer to your Charge. The Court expects your Answer.
The King. I would know by what power I am called hither. . . . by what Authority, I mean, lawful; there are many unlawful Authorities in the world, Thieves and Robbers by the highways: but I would know by what Authority I was brought from thence, and carried from place to place, (and I know not what), and when I know what lawful Authority, I shall answer: Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the Judgment of God upon this Land, think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater; therefore let me know by what lawful Authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer, in the meantime I shall not betray my Trust.... Let me see a legal Authority warranted by the Word of God, the Scriptures, or warranted by the Constitutions of the Kingdom, and I will answer.
A WSJ article confirms that the trial defense will take a political strategy:
His lawyers say their goal is to politicize the trial by turning attention from the killings Mr. Hussein stands accused of to the death and destruction wrought by American troops. They even intend to accuse the U.S., as onetime supporter of Iraq, of complicity in some of Mr. Hussein's alleged crimes.
But the U.S. has taken precautions:
The tribunal has been designed to limit such opportunities for Mr. Hussein. Rules will restrict his occasions to speak out, for example, and judges will have the power to censor television coverage of outbursts.
As is always the case, the trial will therefore be a contest between the “government” (Iraq/U.S.) and the defendant over public opinion. The power to turn off the microphone gives a superficial advantage to the government, but Saddam ought to be able to turn this power to his own advantage. Anyone who approaches this trial thinking that it is about whether Saddam broke the law or not will not be able to understand it.