Praise, Scorn for Saddam's Guilty Verdict, Death Sentence

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:17pm EDT

( - Elected officials from both sides of the aisle are praising the guilty verdict handed down in the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The former president of Iraq was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity on Sunday.

Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said the trial and verdict show that "the new Iraqi democracy has taken yet another giant step forward to be a responsible member of the world community."

Hastert praise "the brave Iraqis who never thought they would see this day" and "the courageous men and women of the United States Armed Services who have made this possible."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California also praised American troops for the "security and logistical support they provided" during the trial.

Pelosi also took the opportunity to attack President Bush, saying that the successful trial does not justify the cost of the war. She said the war has "come at a huge cost in casualties suffered, the degradation of our military's readiness and in hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. The scope of that failure is not lessened by the results of Saddam's trial."

At a news conference in Texas on Sunday, President Bush also praised the verdict, calling it a "major achievement for Iraq's young democracy and its constitutional government."

While politicians praised the outcome of the year-long trial, some international human rights groups criticized both the verdict and the sentence.

In a release Sunday, Amnesty International (AI) said the trial was "deeply flawed and unfair."

While admitting that Saddam perpetrated "massive human rights violations," AI Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program Malcolm Smart called the trial "a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the [Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal] ... to administer justice fairly."

Finland, which currently heads the European Union, also condemned the sentence, saying the EU "opposes capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances," according to a Reuters report.

Like AI, Finland was quick to make clear that it did not support Saddam, condemning "the systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law committed by the regime of Saddam Hussein."

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