Reporter's Notebook: Saddam Hussein on Trial

Dan Senor
There was something incredibly eerie about meeting Saddam Hussein’s defense attorney for the first time. Our FOX crew sat down with Abdul Hak al-Ani in his London home. He splits his time between London, Baghdad and Amman, where he advises Saddam’s daughter, Raghad Hussein, on her father’s legal defense strategy.

Our visit was part of our production of the FOX News Special Investigation “Saddam Hussein: On Trial,” which will air this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. It’s a primer on the upcoming trials of Saddam and his henchmen. This production took us from the U.S. to Baghdad and across Iraq, then back to the U.S. where we spent time with a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who has advised similar tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. We also spent time with Ambassador L. Paul Bremer in his New England home, where he shed light on the creation of Iraq’s Special Tribunal and the significance of this upcoming trial in the context of the war on terrorism.

We then flew to Europe for the interview with al-Ani. After spending so much time in Iraq over the past couple years, few things surprise us at this point. But this all changed when I entered the home of Saddam’s advocate. When one meets a man who works so closely with the Hussein family, you are meeting someone who has been afforded a peek into the depths of human evil. And shockingly, knowing what he knows, al-Ani is still prepared to passionately defend one of the 20th century’s most brutal dictators.

Al-Ani was smart, articulate, and delusional. The element of delusion became evident when he laid out the strategy for defending Saddam:

• The defense team intends to argue that the war that overthrew Saddam was illegal under international law and, hence, Saddam is still legally president. If he’s still president and his regime still sovereign, then the Saddam-era Iraqi Constitution, which gives him full immunity, must prevail.

• They will then argue that the alleged crimes committed by Saddam are no different from President Bush’s response to the September 11 attacks. Responding to insurrection, whether for Saddam in Halabjah or Bush in Afghanistan, had to be swift and overwhelming. If innocents are killed, that’s analogous to Bush’s wars too, he claims. Of course, al-Ani fails to distinguish between accidentally killing civilians in pursuit of terrorists and intentionally targeting innocents to permeate fear in a population.

• Al-Ani and the defense team are intent on calling Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify. This is all part of their ultimate goal of using the trial to put a spotlight on the low points of America’s foreign policy over the past several decades. Saddam’s lawyers believe that if they can embarrass the Bush administration into cutting a deal with Saddam, Hussein could return to power. Seriously. This is the delusional part. According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50% that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam could be back running Iraq by this time next year.

Of course it is impossible to predict exactly how the defense strategy, or any other element of the trial, will play out once it gets started. But the one-hour show we have put together provides a behind-the-scenes primer for viewers interested in what is sure to be a trial of the century.

*Watch "Saddam Hussein on Trial" on FNC, Saturday, October 1st , 9 p. m. / midnight ET*

Dan Senor was a senior Adviser to Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority director Paul Bremer. Senor traveled to Baghdad in one of the first civilian convoys to enter Iraq following the fall of the former regime. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Senor was based at Centcom Headquarters in Qatar, where he was Director of the Coalition Information Center. Senor has also served as a Legislative Aide, Press Secretary, and Communications Director for then-Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI). Senor completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.