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TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Saddam Hussein's trial went on far too long

Saddam Hussein's eight-month trial went on far too long for the United States to get a psychological victory from his conviction and probable hanging.

The Iraqi prosecutor said the law calls for the death penalty and he demanded that the court find the deposed leader guilty and carry out the sentence.

The prosecution ended its summation Monday and the trial is in recess until July 10, when the defense will begin to offer its final arguments.

A sentence could come in August or September, which could set off even more violence in Iraq. That brings up the question of whether hanging him will be worth the risk of violence from Sunni Muslims, who are a minority in the new government after holding power in the old regime.

The United States felt that a trial in an Iraqi court and carried out by Iraqis would show the world the true face of the Butcher of Baghdad.

It did, but tragically, American missteps often overshadowed the atrocities for which he is accused and for which the panel probably will find him guilty.

The specter of Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo prison and the killing of civilians at Haditha hangs over the entire proceedings.

Sadly, many Iraqis no longer see what Saddam Hussein did to their people as being any worse than some American actions in the war.

Quietly asking the court to sentence Saddam Hussein to life in prison, considering the Iraq war in its entirety, might be the expedient way for the United States to close one chapter on Iraq. That, too, could backfire because Shiites, now in a majority, clearly want revenge. The sentencing of Saddam once again underscores the truth of Iraq. Nothing is simple.

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