Saddam Hussein was a pertinacious enemy of the United States, a notorious sponsor of international terrorism, and had the effrontery to attempt the assassination of a president of the United States. He brought his own downfall upon himself by persisting in violating the ceasefire agreement which ended the Gulf War.
If the US general in command of the unit which captured Saddam had promptly hailed him before a drumhead courtmartial, stood him up against a wall, and shot him at dawn, I don’t see how anyone could complain of the injustice of US actions.
Turning the vanquished dictator, however, to the petty political opponents he had always previously defeated to be hanged after a show trial is a policy unworthy of a great power. The 19th century was usually more civilized. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena. Even Mexico’s Santa Anna was accorded refuge in New Jersey, where he repaid America’s clemency by introducing Americans to chewing gum.
The United States finds itself divided at home over the war in Iraq. Surely Saddam could be useful in clearing up Americans’ confusion about his role in terrorism and about those missing WMDs, and in elucidating his own plans for the current insurgency. Why not offer the condemned prisoner a deal?
In return for Saddam agreeing to testify fully and frankly about his regime’s relationship with Islamic terrorist groups, possible ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, about his WMD programs, and the evacuations to Syria, if he discloses pre-invasion plans for the current insurgency, and calls for Ba’athists generally to make peace with the new parliamentarty regime, we could offer him clemency and asylum in exile. The information he could provide would be a lot more valuable than the pathetic spectacle of his execution.