Annals of Liberation: The Justice League of America

Here's how the liberated Iraqis are exercising their liberty in their very own liberated courts, dispensing liberated Iraqi justice to liberated Iraqis under the liberating eye of heavily-armed American guards. From Reuters: Iraqis Tired of US-run Show at Criminal Court.

[Excerpt]: Baghdad's new courthouse is held up by U.S. officials as a symbol of the independent legal system three years of U.S. occupation has brought, but defense lawyers are angry at what they say is summary American justice.

"During Saddam's time we couldn't say a word. Now we scream and scream and nobody listens," defense attorney Thabit Zubeidi told Reuters as he waited on standby for officials to appoint him to defend those accused who had no other representation.

On Wednesday, an apparently typical day at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), Iraqi lawyers stood aside as U.S. troops escorted shackled prisoners, who were being made to carry heavy cases of bottled water into the building. Armed American soldiers are a visible presence throughout the low rise building, once Saddam Hussein's treasure store for official gifts he received. They are also on guard inside the courtrooms, where trials on "terrorism" charges are held…

But defense lawyers involved in the process, in which a typical trial may consist of a single, hour-long hearing, complained they had little practical access to clients who are swept up by U.S. troops and detained for months at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail or the remote Camp Bucca in the south.

"We only learn what the charges are when they arrive here," said attorney Amer al-Kinnassy, who was in court to defend five men from one family accused of possessing weapons. "Even then, the Americans do not let us talk to our clients ... If I try to walk over there and talk to my clients they won't let me…."

More than 40,000 Iraqis have been detained as suspected rebels over the past three years, most from the Sunni Arab minority dominant under Saddam. Over 14,000 are now in U.S. custody, a process that can last many months or even years….[End Excerpt]

But credit where credit is due: sometimes the charges are so specious – and the punishment already suffered by the prisoners during their long, agonizing periods in American custody so egregious – that Iraqi judges actually do dispense some Iraqi justice. Here's a case that throws a harsh light not only on life in the Bush gulag, but also on how "terrorists" can be created from whole cloth with a little shifting of evidence.

[Excerpt]: In court on Wednesday, Kinnassy watched his clients -- a 50-year-old man, his three sons and his brother-in-law -- as they sat on the floor of the courtroom with their faces close to the wall. U.S. soldiers stood guard behind them. Two of them prayed in anticipation of the verdict, aware they faced a maximum sentence of 30 years. One by one, the men entered a metal pen to hear the judge read testimony from two witnesses -- both U.S. soldiers.

The father, Kathim Taher, could barely speak. His sons told the judge Sunni militants had badly beaten him during 14 months in U.S. custody and he had not recovered. The family are Shi'ite Muslims, their lawyer said -- not typical of insurgent suspects.

Each of the younger men said U.S. troops came to their house to search for weapons and they were handed the AK-47 assault rifle that each Iraqi family is allowed to possess. The soldiers did find a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and other weapons in farmland 300 meters (yards) away, the court was told. They brought it back to the house, placed it beside the family and took photographs.

After a brief recess, the judge acquitted all five men.