The initial response of the Bush administration to Saddam Hussein's capture has been to suggest that he be handed over to "the Iraqi people" for trial. Presumably, the reason for doing this will be to give Hussein's fate a veneer of legitimacy. However, taking this easy way out overlooks key problems.
Asking the interim regime in Iraq to take on the burden of trying Hussein may be asking too much, for it is seen as an illegitimate puppet government. Members of the regime speak to the press as if they must apologize for their collaboration. If Hussein is lynched by an Iraqi tribunal he will become a martyr, a status he hardly deserves.
On the other hand, putting Hussein on public trial may damage the Republican Party. The Iraqi regime has charged Saddam Hussein with genocide, and a trial will expose the origins of Iraqi chemical weapons. Americans will learn what is already well known in other countries, that Bush's advisors, among them Donald Rumsfeld, built up Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, helping him acquire chemical weapons for use against Iran and the Kurds in violation of international law and the Geneva Convention. Other countries, including France, Germany, and Russia, are equally guilty.