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NCC USA Statement on the Capture of Saddam Hussein

December 15, 2003, NEW YORK CITY -- The National Council of Churches USA welcomes the news that Saddam Hussein has been captured by U.S. forces in Iraq.  As demonstrated by the displays of celebration in the streets of Baghdad, the arrest of this dictator should bring to an end the fear that has gripped Iraqis throughout his long reign, a fear that has lingered throughout these last several months of U.S. occupation.  It is our hope now for the Iraqi people that freedom will flourish in their country.

As the next days and weeks unfold, we remind the U.S. government that the world will be watching to see how we treat our adversaries after they are in our custody.  This presents a teachable moment in western ideals and democracy.  We therefore urge the US government not to give in to the temptation of vengeance or expediency, but to facilitate the prosecution of Hussein in a manner consistent with the highest accepted international standards of justice.

As for the court process itself, no trial is possible based on evidence to date of weapons of mass destruction, or of a link between Hussein and the terrorism of 9/11 two reasons many Americans believe we went to war in the first place.  Prosecution should instead focus on the abundant evidence of heinous crimes he committed against his own people.  For this, the Iraqis themselves must play a prominent role in what should be a public trial.

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