Covering Saddam

BAGHDAD — I will be part of the print pool for today’s session of Saddam Hussein’s trial, so I’ll be busy doing that until late tonight. I will post my report as soon as I can.
UPDATE 10:54 A.M.: We’re still waiting to go into the courtroom, but some background: Today will be the 10th session of the Iraqi High Tribunal, and the ninth meeting in the courthouse. The press room is a round chamber dominated by an expansively chandeliered ceiling and marble floor tiles. The effect is spolied, however, by the cheap desks and IBM ThinkPads the Americans have set up for our use. But at least the Internet works, eh?
Security is rather unreal. We’re not allowed to bring in our own notebooks, cellphones, wallets or anything with metal on it. We can bring in our own pens, however. We were screened multiple times before allowed to even think about getting near the courthouse.
Normal court hours are supposed to be 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but I’m told the court has only started on time once. Usually, it runs late.
For now, we’re all just waiting for game time.
UPDATE 11:38 A.M.: The trial has been delayed because of “procedural issue,” according to a source here in the courthouse. While the source said he didn’t know what the problem is, but it’s likely talks between the judges and the defense lawyers and what they’re going to do following their walkout on Sunday.
UPDATE 12:02 P.M.: The court has entered a closed session that could last up to 30 minutes. Presumably we’ll find out what the problem when Head Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman calls the court back into a regular session. This is the fourth special session of the court with the first dealing with the absence of Saddam, the second with the exposure of an anoymous witness and the third with purported “secret” information from defendant Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and the former head of the Iraqi _mukhabarat._ After Barzan’s alleged bombshell — bizarrely rumored to be that he was offered the presidency of Iraq — the court recessed for a month.
UPDATE 1:17 P.M.: Well, we’re still waiting. We just had lunch, however, so that was nice.