Thursday, September 14, 2006

U.S. to Bush: Get yourself a good lawyer; you're gonna need one!

There may be probable cause to try George W. Bush for capital crimes. Bush is losing it. He's combative, belligerent, rambling, disconnected and overtly defensive. He's desperately trying to come up with various defenses on various fronts —all ex post facto. One is tempted to tell him: give up, George! Surrender to the authorities! You get one phone call; use it to get in touch in Jim Baker. Get your lies straight!

The issue is torture —a heinous act that Bush insists on calling " alternative set of procedures". Interviewed by Matt Lauer, Bush tried to justify torture as necessary even as he denied that the US was torturing. Bush tried to avoid the question: if torture is "legal", then why did the US try to keep it secret throughout Eastern Europe? Bush may choose to refer to torture by some Orwellian term. The rest of us know the truth of it! In the name of decency and humanity, we will call the US program of atrocity what it is: war crimes!

Bush openly claims the right to torture —at his personal discretion. The dictatorial powers that he claims —work against him. They make him personally culpable for all crimes that follow from his lead, his example, his direction.

All the various lies are now laid bare —that abuses were perpetrated by low-level grunts; that the US was/is above the Geneva Convention, that the Geneva Convention did not apply, that the Nuremberg Principles could not restrain the mighty US, that soldiers were ignorant or poorly trained when prisoners were beaten, abused, tortured, water boarded, or humiliated. All were lies!

Despite the fact that the truth is now known, Bush gets in Matt Lauer's face and declares that he is protecting the people of the United States, that the US —under his incompetent misrule —is going to torture people when he —the decider —sees fit, and that whenever he is questioned, his word is final. Even if that were true, Bush makes enemies abroad faster than he can murder them in our name. Bush's irrational statements convict him. At the very least, they are —in themselves —probable cause to bring him to trial for capital crimes, crimes against the peace, war crimes.

Here's Bush in his aggressive/defensive/thin-skinned mode, interviewed by Matt Lauer:

A war is lost when atrocities begin. There are good reasons to believe that US atrocities began with the US invasion of Afghanistan. Bush was referring to Afghanistan when he said of victims of US aggression:
Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way —they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

—George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 2003

If by "different fate", Bush means summary executions of Afghan citizens, he is in violation of US Codes; Title 18, § 2441. War crimes
(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

—Cornell Law School, US Code Collection, US Codes; Title 18, § 2441. War crimes

It is no wonder that Bush is agitated and defensive under Lauer's cross examination. Capital crimes are a serious matter. That there is probable cause that capital crimes have been committed —even more so.

I suggest a complete reading of the Geneva Conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war. But here is a small portion which flies in the face of the numerous lies that are told about Geneva by Bush partisans:

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.


Article 13

Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

—Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

As four US Supreme Court justices agreed in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld recently, Article 75 is “indisputably part of the customary international law.””[see:Marjorie Cohn Israel Creates Humanitarian Crisis].

A war is lost when those perpetrating a war of aggression question the patriotism of legitimate critics. Recently Donald Rumsfeld called the Democratic opposition "Nazi appeasers". In the meantime, Bush denies having committed the very crimes he now wants to make legal. Why would he want to do that, if he were not guilty?

His efforts are futile. Such a law —an ex post facto law —is specifically and unambiguously prohibited in Article 1 of the US Constitution:

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

—Article 1, US Constitution

The existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre took a strong stand against torture. In his Critique of Dialectical Reason, Sartre said of torture that it was intended " reduce men to vermin". Like the US in Iraq, the French used torture to suppress the Algerian resistance. Like the Bush administration, the French denied the practice even as they declared its effectiveness against the Algerian Liberation Front. Sartre, however, was true to his avowed "existentialism", urging others others to ask of themselves as he asked of himself: what would I do if I were tortured!

If we Americans are to hold on to what's left of our humanity, we simply must learn to think objectively about Bush and about the role our nation now plays throughout the world. Are we, in fact, a force for good —or evil? We must be honest if Bush is not! There is, indeed, a choice to make but not the one falsely framed by Bush. We must demand that the atrocities end now! We must rise up and demand that the United States withdraw immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan! We must demand full and transparent investigations into every outrage perpetrated by Bush in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere! We must ask of ourselves as Sartre asked of himself: What would we do if we were tortured by the armed forces of a belligerant aggressor nation?

Some updates:

EU tensions over CIA prisons

From correspondents in Brussels
September 16, 2006

THE European Union has declared that secret prisons run throughout the world by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are against international law.

"The existence of secret detention facilities where detained persons are kept in a legal vacuum is not in conformity with international humanitarian law and international criminal law," the EU presidency said.

"We reiterate that in combating terrorism human rights and humanitarian standards have to be maintained," said Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

US President George W. Bush admitted last week for the first time that the US Central Intelligence Agency covertly held prisoners in overseas camps, reports of which had been publicly denied by many of the countries involved.

He also defended the interrogation tactics used by the CIA.

Mr Tuomioja said the issue had been raised at the meeting by Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot.

"The European Union reiterates its commitment to combating terrorism effectively using all legal means and instruments available. Terrorism is itself a threat to our values based on the rule of law," Mr Tuomioja said.

On Thursday, a European parliamentarian probing the suspected secret CIA prisons denounced Bush and members of his administration as liars.

"I am stunned that he lied to us for months. Mrs (US Secretary of State Condoleezza) Rice lied to the European Council," Italian socialist deputy Claudio Fava told other members of the investigating commission. ...

Bush Takes Security Push to Capitol Hill

Published: September 14, 2006

President Bush, Vice President Cheney and J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the House speaker, heading into a meeting with the G.O.P. members of the House.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A rebellious Senate committee defied President Bush on Thursday and approved terror-detainee legislation he has vowed to block, deepening Republican conflict over terrorism and national security in the middle of election season.

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, normally a Bush supporter, pushed the measure through his Armed Services Committee by a 15-9 vote, with Warner and three other GOP lawmakers joining Democrats. The vote set the stage for a showdown on the Senate floor as early as next week.

Earlier in the day, Bush had journeyed to the Capitol to try nailing down support for his own version of the legislation.

''I will resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity,'' Bush said at the White House.

The president's measure would go further than the Senate package in allowing classified evidence to be withheld from defendants in terror trials, using coerced testimony and protecting U.S. interrogators against prosecution for using methods that violate the Geneva Conventions.

The internal GOP struggle intensified along other fronts, too, as Colin Powell, Bush's first secretary of state, declared his opposition to the president's plan.

''The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,'' Powell, a retired general who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a letter. ...

Sidney Blumenthal Calls George W. Bush 'The Most Uniquely Radical President We’ve Ever Had'

Why do I call him a radical? I call him a radical because he is undertaking a fundamental transformation of our Constitutional system of government and of our longstanding policies that have been accepted for literally generations. He thinks to concentrate unaccountable power in the Executive. He thinks you alter the laws so that, as Commander in Chief, he can determine, under what he says are wartime conditions, what the laws are, which laws should be enforced, and declare by fiat what our policy should be, even abrogating longstanding international treaties.

This is a long project whose main driver is the Vice President, Dick Cheney. Bush has overthrown a sixty-year consensus on foreign policy. He has exhibited hostility to science that no other president has ever displayed. He has adopted a formal policy of so-called preemptive, first-strike attack that was rejected openly by Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower. And he has deliberately polarized and divided the country for political purposes, politicizing the most basic questions of war and peace for partisan advantage. Those are some of the policies and politics he’s pursued that lead me to call him the most uniquely radical president we’ve ever had in the White House.

—Sydney Blumenthal, Buzzflash Interview

How Bush Rules: Bush's Radicalism is Leading to a GOP Crackup

The inescapable signs of disillusionment surrounding the Bush administration in its sixth year, facing a second mid-term election, suggest far more than the usual syndrome of incumbent weariness. These are the rumblings of a regime crisis.

President Bush's whole party bears the burden of his accumulated self-generated difficulties not only because of their overwhelming scale but also because the Republicans have sustained disciplined one-party rule in which congressional oversight has been largely suppressed.

The congressional Republicans' feeble assertion of institutional authority has made changing the Congress the only way to revive it and check and balance Bush's radical presidency during his remaining two years.

Bush's radicalism dominates policy and politics, as I document in my book new How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime.

His all-encompassing "war on terror," conflating the disparate al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Iraqi insurgency as "a single movement," is also reflected in his dismissal of diplomatic and political solutions, urgently advocated by U.S. military commanders in Iraq for years, and Vice President Dick Cheney's sneering denigration of "law enforcement" in favor of the militarization of policy. ...

Additional Resources:

The Existentialist Cowboy
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