This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", July 1, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I'm Alan Colmes. Ollie North is sitting in once again for Sean Hannity.
Saddam Hussein made his first court appearance today. He looked a lot different than the last time we saw him and was, at times, fairly combative with the Iraqi judge.
But what should be the fate of the deposed dictator?
Joining us now is the author of "Treason," Ann Coulter, and civil rights attorney Michael Gross.
Good to see you both.
Saddam actually looked good. I mean, he looked like he'd been on the -- what is it, the Saddam diet, you know, the thing he was on?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "TREASON" : He's been on.
MICHAEL GROSS, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY : Glad to see he's capable of a defense.
COLMES: Yes, exactly right. But how about, do we believe, Ann, in our system of justice? Do we believe in the United States system of justice?
COULTER: What do you mean?
COLMES: Do we believe in our criminal justice system the way it is set up in this country? Is that a good system, and would it not work if it were applied to Saddam Hussein?
COULTER: To a war criminal?
COLMES: To anybody.
COULTER: I actually think -- I hope the Iraqis take a lot of things from America: a Constitution, rule of law...
COLMES: Right to an attorney would be one.
COULTER: ... freedom of speech, freedom of religion. But no, I think they should reject our legal system. I think this whole judge Ito/O.J. thing they might want to reconsider.
COLMES: I see.
COULTER: But I think, you know, it's been -- you liberals, the U.N., the French, everyone...
COLMES: ... liberals.
COULTER: ... carping, carping, carping, turn over sovereignty to the Iraqis, turn over sovereignty to the Iraqis. Well, OK, we've done that now, and now you're complaining about how they're doing it.
COLMES: Well, let me get this straight, George W. Bush turned over sovereignty now to make us liberals happy? That's why he did it?
COULTER: No, but I mean, do you want the Iraqis to have sovereignty or not? This is what you people have been carping about.
COLMES: Well, I didn't want the United States to be in Iraq in the first place. But now they are, and we're saying we are going to be the governing authority and we're going to then turn it over to them using some our precepts, one of them is the right to an attorney, right?
GROSS: Right to a trial.
GROSS: And a trial with due process means to be represented, to call witnesses, to be confronted by your accusers, discovery of evidence...
GROSS: ... all of the rights of a trial, otherwise it's a mockery.
It's a great opportunity in history. It's very, very rare. Think about it: How many times can you point to where a fallen leader has been tried? Here is -- hopefully this country is able to take it on themselves and do it correctly. But it's rare.
Our Supreme Court said this week, in very important cases, don't tear up the Constitution with enemy combatants.
COLMES: Right, just this week. Indeed, it was an interesting decision.
And the fact is that we have a Constitution that applies to persons, not just to citizens. Why not apply that?
And indeed, if they're going to convict -- and they probably will convict Saddam Hussein -- does that conviction hold more weight and is it more credible if, indeed, it's done with the due process we know and understand in this country.
COULTER: I just like how all the same criminal defense attorneys go from defending O.J. to defending Clinton to defending Saddam Hussein.
COLMES: Johnnie Cochran is working in Iraq now? Is that what you're saying?
COULTER: The first motion Saddam is going to make is going to be for Judge Ito to take over the proceedings.
I mean, I think the more important question is where is John Kerry, and where is Hillary Clinton, where is John -- Teddy Kennedy on this? We have perhaps the most important event in the history of international law right now.
What's their position? Are they for this? Do they agree with Michael Gross? Do they want, you know, the full panoply of protections and a ban on the death penalty? Why won't they tell us? And if they have no position, why don't they tell us that?
COLMES: Well, first of all, I'm sure that John Kerry will be asked about that. I'm sure the appropriate time -- I'm sure that that question will come up about how we should proceed.
But you're really not answering me in terms of whether or not the protections guaranteed in our Constitution should be applied here. And doesn't that show -- you believe in our criminal justice system, I would guess?
COULTER: I think you're behaving in a very jingoistic, hubristic way, trying to impose your system on the Iraqis. They have been...
COLMES: That's not what we're doing?
COULTER: ... under the control of Saddam. No, they're going to try him the way they want to try him.
GROSS: ... do in a democracy.
COULTER: And by the way -- and by the way, the contrast would not be with an O.J. trial, though that would be a lot of fun. It would be with the Rwandan trial right now. It would be with what's going on in Bosnia.
These trials are going on and on and on. The judge trying Milosevic died today -- or yesterday, I guess it was. They are not facing the death penalty.
And the Iraqis decided, "Yes, no thanks, U.N. We want to try him our own way." Because just in case he's proved guilty, they want the option of the death penalty.
NORTH: Michael, help me out here. I certainly wouldn't pretend to be a lawyer, but I want you to take a look at this picture of Saddam today.
Set aside for a moment the fact that he's had a makeover. He's had his hair dyed, his eyebrows dyed. He's had his beard trimmed. This guy has become essentially, I suppose, the Scott Peterson of international war criminals.
I mean, somebody's given this guy advice to make himself look better, but he doesn't sound any better. He immediately challenged the authority of the judge. He declared himself to still be the president of the state. He is demanding that he be given extra special privileges beyond that which was in the law when he was the ruler.
GROSS: I don't know what privileges you're referring to. He asked for counsel.
NORTH: And he's been afforded counsel. I mean, this was simply a presentation of the charges.
My understanding that what he's going to be tried under is similar to a British system. There will be a panel of jurists -- lawyers and judges -- who will judge his guilt or innocence.
He'll be afforded by -- at the cost of the state, all the attorneys he wants to represent him. He can present any evidence he wants in his own defense.
I don't understand why it is that the international community and liberals are now taking umbrage at the fact that an Iraqi government -- selected by Iraqis, not by Americans -- has chosen to put this man in the dock, along with 11 others who perpetrated horrific crimes.
GROSS: I don't know who's taking umbrage. The question is whether or not he ought to be tried in the international court at The Hague, as Slobodan...
GROSS: Thank you.
NORTH: But Michael, Slobodan Milosevic was apprehended over two years ago. And he's now playing chess in his jail cell in The Hague under the rules of the United Nations.
COULTER: No quagmire there.
GROSS: What you can do is what Jack Ruby did. Weren't you disappointed when Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't tried for assassinating our president but was executed in the kind of justice that, I think was...
NORTH: That wasn't justice. No, I'm not suggesting that at all. In fact, the reason why...
GROSS: If you don't want to try him, what it means is you execute him.
NORTH: We're not talking about not having a trial here. There is a trial that's going to begin in Baghdad...
NORTH: ... using the procedures I just outlined. You don't have a problem with the British system of justice, do you?
GROSS: No, but surely you're not complaining because his hair is combed? Or...
NORTH: No, no. I just find...
GROSS: ... trimmed his beard?
NORTH: ... it fascinating that -- I don't know if Mark Geragos is giving him advice or what, but I mean, he's decided that he's going to dye his hair and look -- look special.
GROSS: Please don't confuse the issue. I don't suggest that he's innocent or that he's guilty. I suggest that before a person is punished in a free society, he is proven guilty in a court of law by evidence.
NORTH: Michael, who has punished the man yet? In fact...
GROSS: What are you suggesting? Not a trial?
NORTH: No. I'm suggesting that those who say the man ought to be remanded to the custody of The Hague and put under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, God help us, are people who don't see that the Iraqis are even capable of governing themselves.
GROSS: What we're trying to do, I think -- I assume, is to demonstrate that the Iraqis are capable. In fact, this is not an elected government yet. Hopefully, it will be.
And one of the reasons I like the fact that there'll be a delay in the trial is that hopefully by that time there'll be elections so that this court will be constituted by people who were chosen by Iraqis. Right now, they may be chosen by Iraqis, but they're chosen by a small group of Iraqis who were chosen by us.
So, I think it will be a fair trial, and that's all I ask. That demonstrates, really, how democracy works.
NORTH: How do you feel about the calls today from the European Union that he not be -- that the Iraqis, first of all, not put into their law a death penalty, because they don't have one in the E.U., and therefore they therefore shouldn't have one in Iraq?
GROSS: I have no problem with the death penalty. That's a decision that is made by the people of Iraq. So far as the time is concerned, with seriously -- sincerely, with the greatest of respect, you appreciate the rule of law and the opportunity...
COLMES: We've got to take a break. We're going to pick it up right there.
NORTH: Welcome back to HANNITY & Colmes. I'm Oliver North, sitting in tonight for Sean Hannity, America's sexist -- sexiest newsman.
We continue now with Ann Coulter and Michael Gross on the issue of justice for Saddam.
Let me just -- a couple of quick questions, Michael, and I don't mean to sound like I'm beating up on you here. Do you believe that Saddam Hussein can or cannot get a fair trial in Iraq?
GROSS: I think he can get a fair trial in Iraq. One of the problems that we have is that we don't recognize the world court. We don't want to subject our ex-secretaries of defense to, if...
NORTH: Or an American war criminal.
GROSS: ... they leave the country being -- thank you -- or an American military man -- so we haven't shown a real support for the international court.
Certainly, it's a practical matter. It would be safer if he could be removed and probably better -- nothing against the Iraqis -- but the fellows who run -- and women -- who run the international court at The Hague really have experience in these very delicate questions.
You know, a president is a commander in chief. Secretary of Defense McNamara said that our generals, if we had lost the Second World War, would have been tried for war crimes. Yes, he said so, and he was right.
NORTH: First of all, the ravings of the former Secretary of Defense McNamara I don't think are valid when it comes to something like that. I think that's outrageous. As the son of a man who fought in World War II, I think that's outrageous.
GROSS: We -- we firebombed civilians. That was done with the knowledge that we were firebombing civilians. If we -- and it was done with the knowledge that, if we had lost the war, the generals who ordered that would have been tried for war crimes.
NORTH: Michael -- Michael, the fact is...
GROSS: There are issues is all I'm saying.
NORTH: People still raise that issue every August when we come around to the anniversary of dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
GROSS: It's one of the reasons I'd like to see him tried. What you said was would it be a good trial in Iraq? It's dangerous, I agree with you. Those people are intimidating...
NORTH: But you didn't answer my question. The question was can there be a fair trial in Iraq of Saddam Hussein?
GROSS: Who is going to make that decision, if not the Iraqis?
COULTER: Alan, are you a host? Are you involved in this show? Are you ever going to ask me a question?
COLMES: Well, right now, Ollie is up. That's how it works. And then I get the other half of the segment.
NORTH: Go ahead. Michael's not going to answer my question.
COULTER: Because I'm about to fall asleep.
GROSS: Iraqis want him. Iraqis run the country. They are sovereign...
COULTER: OK, the entire viewing audience is watching the Yankees game now.
COLMES: You know, Ann, hold on a second. Let me -- you know, we split the time on the show. That's how it works.
Look, Saddam is probably going to be convicted; there's no question about that. And he did commit crimes; we all know that.
Does he have a legal argument when he says that the court structure, in which he is now sitting did not exist when he was in power, was created by an occupying power and given, then, over to an interim government when authority was transferred.
Is that a valid legal argument?
COULTER: No, and I mean, this is like all of the left's complaints in defense of Saddam Hussein, these petty little womanly objections to things.
I think the point is no. He probably -- yes, he will probably be found guilty. And interestingly, his defense is going to be," George Bush is a war criminal. This was an illegitimate war. I am the true leader of Iraq."
In other words, he will be making Michael Moore's defense. He can show "Fahrenheit 9/11" as his defense...
COLMES: The reason why Michael...
COULTER: ... which is why I think we should know what Kerry's position is on this.
COLMES: You want to make this about the presidential race, which it is not.
COULTER: Well, why haven't we heard from these guys?
COLMES: Because he's only one -- it only happened today, OK?
COULTER: John Kerry is running for president. They didn't wait that long to talk about Abu Ghraib.
COLMES: I know you can't wait to hear what Kerry says about everything. So, but -- let's stay on topic here, something I know you'd rather do than the Yankee game.
Now, look, one of the points Michael made was international court, for the very reason that we're now creating a court structure. We don't want to look like an occupying power. We don't want to look like...
COULTER: No, we're not creating it, as I said before.
COLMES: We are appointing the people who are creating it.
COULTER: Why Iraqis? You want to appoint the French.
COLMES: As Michael pointed out, they are a small group of people who answer to us. We are simply -- we're also saying they can't even make laws yet, for the most part.
COULTER: Look, as I said, the problem with the International Criminal Court, the Hague, is what's going on, as Oliver North was saying, with Milosevic. This trial was going on and on and on, it's another O.J. trial, the judge died, and there's no possibility of the death penalty.
Even in the war crimes trials in Rwanda, where they were hacking people to death, there is no possibility of the death penalty.
Well, the Iraqis -- whom we have just liberated and are now sovereign in this nation -- decided that they want the option of the death penalty. And what are liberals doing? Complaining about that.
COLMES: First of all, liberals like John Kerry haven't even spoken yet. You're just deciding -- first you say they're not speaking and then you say they're already complaining about it.
COULTER: I'm using -- no, you're speaking...
COLMES: We don't know what all the liberals are saying.
COULTER: I'm using you as a stand-in because John Kerry is hiding, and you are a liberal.
COLMES: First of all...
COULTER: And you are complaining...
COULTER: ... about it, and you want another impeachment trial...
COULTER: .... so that justice will not be done.
COLMES: You know what? Next time I want to know what I think, I'll give you a call.
Michael, the world -- the idea of doing this in an international court is for that very reason. This is a structure we have created.
Now, we pretty much know what the outcome is going to be, perhaps even in a world court. We don't want to be seen as fixing the outcome, however.
GROSS: I think these issues need to be spoken about. The issues that Ann talked about need to be aired. Nuremberg helped us in this. Justice Jackson has written things at Nuremberg in those decisions which will help in these cases, which has helped in a lot of cases.
It may be very important to the future that these issues are aired now and over a long period of time and debated carefully so that they're understood -- so that the argument of what's the power of a commander in chief when his government says that it's been invaded to respond.
NORTH: Michael, Ann, thank you both. Motion to close.
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