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US court rejects bid to stop Saddam execution
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/30 20:05

A US federal judge has rejected an eleventh-hour bid by lawyers for Saddam Hussein seeking a direct stay of execution. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a 6-page ruling late Friday evening following a telephone conference with lawyers in the wake of court papers filed around 1 PM Friday afternoon.

Kollar-Kotelly wrote:

As Judge Reggie Walton recently concluded in a strikingly similar matter, this "Court lacks habeas corpus jurisdiction over an Iraqi citizen, convicted by an Iraqi court for violations of Iraqi law, who is held pursuant to that conviction by members of the Multi-National Force-Iraq." Al-Bandar v. Bush, et al., Civ. A. No. 06-2209 (RMC) (D.D.C. Dec. 27, 2006) (denying motion for temporary restraining order to prevent transfer of petitioner to Iraqi custody); see also, Al-Bandar v. Bush, et al., Civ. A. No. 06-5425 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 29, 2006) (denying motion for stay or injunction enjoining transfer of petitioner to Iraqi custody pending appeal). A United States court has no "power or authority to review, affirm, set aside or annul the judgment and sentence imposed" by the court of a sovereign nation pursuant to their laws. Hirota, et al. v. General of the Army Douglas McArthur, et al., 338 U.S. 197, 198, 69 S. Ct. 197, 93 L. Ed. 1902 (1948); Flick v. Johnson, 174 F. 2d 983, 984 (D.C. Cir. 1949). Accordingly, this Court has no jurisdiction to prevent the transfer of Petitioner Hussein to the custody of the Iraqi government, as that would effectively alter the judgment of an Iraqi court.

Moreover, Petitioner is not being held under the custody of the United States, and as a result, this Court lacks habeas corpus jurisdiction. Petitioner's counsel agreed that, while Petitioner may be held by members of the United States Military, it is pursuant to their authority as members of the MNF-I. The MNF-I derives its "ultimate authority from the United Nations and the MNF-I member nations acting jointly, not from the United States acting alone." Mohammed v. Harvey, 456 F. Supp. 2d 115, 122 (D.D.C. 2006). As such, it is clear that Petitioner is either in the actual physical custody of the MNF-I or in the constructive custody of the Iraqi government, and not in the custody of the United States. Id. As Petitioner is clearly not held in the custody of the United States, this Court is without jurisdiction to entertain his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.



Defense lawyer urges US to keep custody of Saddam
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/22 19:00

Former US Attorney General and Saddam Hussein defense lawyer Ramsey Clark on Wednesday urged President Bush to keep Hussein and his Dujail trial co-defendants in US custody, expressing concern that Iraqi officials will torture the convicted defendants. Hussein and two of his co-defendants, Awad Hamed al-Bandar and Barzan al-Tikriti, were all convicted and sentenced to death last month for crimes against humanity committed in the Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982. The deadline to file appellate papers for the Dujail trial is on Saturday, and many expect the appellate court to make a decision on the appeal in a matter of days.

If Hussein and his co-defendants lose the appeal, their execution will likely occur within 15 days, unless the US refuses to hand them over to Iraqi custody. Clark claims that the US has the "highest moral and legal obligation" to keep them in US custody, arguing that Iraqi officials will torture the co-defendants before their execution. Last week, an Iraqi official said that Hussein and his co-defendants will face a quick execution and possibly a secret burial if the appellate court upholds their conviction.

Hussein is currently on trial on separate genocide charges for allegedly killing 100,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns in the late 1980s. The Anfal trial could continue posthumously should Hussein be executed before proceedings in the second trial conclude.



US Lawyers Urge Bush to Keep Saddam in Custody
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/21 17:26

Former US Attorney General and Saddam Hussein defense lawyer Ramsey Clark on Wednesday urged President Bush to keep Hussein and his Dujail trial co-defendants in US custody, expressing concern that Iraqi officials will torture the convicted defendants. Hussein and two of his co-defendants, Awad Hamed al-Bandar and Barzan al-Tikriti, were all convicted and sentenced to death last month for crimes against humanity committed in the Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982. The deadline to file appellate papers for the Dujail trial is on Saturday, and many expect the appellate court to make a decision on the appeal in a matter of days. If Hussein and his co-defendants lose the appeal, their execution will likely occur within 15 days, unless the US refuses to hand them over to Iraqi custody. Clark claims that the US has the "highest moral and legal obligation" to keep them in US custody, arguing that Iraqi officials will torture the co-defendants before their execution. Last week, an Iraqi official said that Hussein and his co-defendants will face a quick execution  and possibly a secret burial if the appellate court upholds their conviction.

Hussein is currently on trial on separate genocide charges for allegedly killing 100,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns in the late 1980s. The Anfal trial could continue posthumously should Hussein be executed before proceedings in the second trial conclude.



No Breakthroughs at North Korea Nuclear Talks
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/19 22:49

The chief U.S. negotiator at the six-party talks in Beijing that are aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program says there were no breakthroughs after his first bilateral meeting with his North Korean counterpart. From the Chinese capital, Roger Wilkison reports on the second day of the latest round of negotiations.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill looked weary as he returned to his hotel after a long day of negotiations, including his first face-to-face meeting with North Korea's Kim Kye Gwan.

Hill and negotiators from China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea are trying to get North Korea to implement a pledge it made under a joint statement by the six in September 2005 to scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

"We do not have any breakthroughs to report," he said. "I would say though that it was a substantial discussion where we went through some really specific ideas as to how to get going on implementing the joint statement."

North Korea says it will not consider getting rid of its nuclear-weapons program until the United Nations lifts sanctions on the reclusive communist state that were imposed after North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October. It also wants the United States to end financial restrictions Washington imposed in late 2005 on a Macau bank that U.S. officials say helped Pyongyang with counterfeiting and money-laundering activities.

North Korean and U.S. officials met on the sidelines of the negotiations to discuss that issue, but the U.S. team leader said resolving the financial restrictions issue is a long-term process.

Hill, meanwhile, called on host China, ostensibly an ally of North Korea, to play a bigger role in pushing the North Koreans to fulfill their pledge to disarm. He refers to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

"To solve the problem of the DPRK's nuclear ambitions is going to require a great effort by China," he said. "The United States cannot do it. We cannot do it by ourselves. We need to work in this multilateral framework ... Frankly, we need all the six parties. But I would say the Chinese have a very special role to play."

Whatever influence the Chinese may have over North Korea, and they say it is limited, Pyongyang insists that it is already a nuclear power. And it appears that nothing that has been said in the framework of the six-party talks has made it want to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.



Antitrust Division Announces Merger Review
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/15 10:34

WASHINGTON-- The Antitrust Division announced today that it is amending its 2001 Merger Review Process Initiative in order to further streamline the merger investigation process to improve the efficiency of the Division's investigations while reducing the cost, time and burdens faced by parties to transactions that are reviewed by the Division.

"Efficient merger enforcement" reaching the right answers as quickly as possible with the least burdens necessary  "is one of our top priorities," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division. "The amendments to the Division's already successful Merger Review Process Initiative are part of our ongoing efforts to reduce enforcement burdens, while at the same time preserve our ability to conduct thorough investigations and protect consumers from anticompetitive transactions."

The goal of the 2001 Merger Review Process Initiative was to help the Division identify critical legal, factual and economic issues regarding proposed mergers more quickly; facilitate more efficient and more focused investigative discovery; and provide for an effective process for the evaluation of evidence.

The amended initiative is the culmination of an extensive internal review of the Division's best practices for investigating mergers and acquisitions, as well as an analysis of the progress the Division has made since first launching its initiative.

The amendments announced today include a voluntary option that will enable companies to reduce significantly the duration and cost of merger investigations. The new option would limit the document search required by a Division information request, known as a "second request," to certain central files and a targeted list of 30 employees whose files must be searched for responsive documents. This option will be made available to parties to most transactions that are reviewed by the Division, and will be conditioned on certain timing and procedural agreements that, among other things, protect the Division's ability to obtain appropriate discovery should it decide to challenge the deal in federal district court.

The Division is also changing its model second request to reduce compliance burdens further. For example, the default search period, which is currently three to four years depending on when the request is issued, will be reduced to two years prior to the date of the request's issuance. The changes also include other limitations that will reduce the volume of materials that companies must collect, review, and produce in response to a second request.

The 2001 initiative enabled the Division to deploy its investigative resources more efficiently and effectively and reduce the investigative burden placed on parties to transactions that are reviewed by the Division. Largely as a result of the initiative, in an increasing number of matters the Division has been able to focus its investigations on discrete dispositive issues. The result has been an improvement in how quickly the Division is able to close investigations into transactions that prove not to be anticompetitive, which enables the Division to focus its resources more effectively on those transactions that do threaten competition. The number of days that pass from the opening of a preliminary investigation to the early termination or closing of the investigation, on average, has fallen from about 93 days to 57 days since the initiative was first announced.



Annan urges US to uphold rule of law principles
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/12 23:23

Outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday urged the US not to abandon "its own ideals and objectives" in the war against terrorism, stressing that "human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity." In his last speech as secretary-general, delivered at the Truman Presidential Library in Missouri, Annan also pushed UN Security Council reform, saying that the body's membership "reflects the reality of 1945, not of today's world."

During his remarks, Annan outlined five lessons he learned during his 10-year leadership of the United Nations, including "that both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law."

Annan said:

Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided "not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture. That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other. But if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.

That is vital for development, too. Both foreign investors and a country's own citizens are more likely to engage in productive activity when their basic rights are protected and they can be confident of fair treatment under the law. And policies that genuinely favor economic development are much more likely to be adopted if the people most in need of development can make their voice heard.

In short, human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, "We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might." That's why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.

And states need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not convenience. It is doing the right thing. No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose "for broadly shared aims" in accordance with broadly accepted norms.

No community anywhere suffers from too much rule of law; many do suffer from too little" and the international community is among them. This we must change.

The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level. As Harry Truman said, "We all have to recognize, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please."



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