Friday, March 14, 2008

Why George W. Bush Should Stand Trial for Capital Crimes

There is probable cause now to try George W. Bush for capital crimes in connection with the US program of torture at Abu Ghraib as well as the war of aggression against Iraq. There is evidence that George W. Bush ordered this program which most certainly resulted in numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.
(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.

-US Codes, TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441; How Current is This?

Certainly, the Bush regime has sought to make 'legal' Bush's crimes ex post facto, after they had already been committed. The argument that Bush, as 'President', may pardon himself or grant himself retroactive immunity from prosecution is just silly. If that were the case, every President might have tried to get away with it by simply making it all up as one goes along --the very anti-thesis of the 'rule of law', indeed, 'Due Process of Law', guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. If mere Presidents were allowed this kind of power, they might as well rule by decree, as Bush has presumed to do. As I have pointed out not even European monarchs were permitted to get away with that. King Charles I was beheaded for less. [See: Why Bush Made Plans to Invade the Netherlands; Bush's Unitary Executive Ends the Rule of Law, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers].

George W. Bush has never denied that 'torture' was conducted upon his order. Abu Ghraib was not only about 'waterboarding' it was about a panoply of torture procedures --all of them perpetrated upon Bush's order. Bush has never denied that he ordered any procedure that we associate with Abu Ghraib. He has merely tried to justify it, as he tried to do in the following interview with Matt Lauer of the Today Show.

Bush: Bully and War Criminal

Bush does not deny. He merely tries to justify 'alternative procedures' --in English: torture and murder. We are supposed to conclude that because he has an 'obligation to protect the American people', he is above laws that make his actions punishable by death. I suppose that anyone, having committed crimes for which death is the penalty, might try the same thing. Less privileged criminals, however, should not even think about trying to make their capital crimes legal by decree.

I have bad news for Bush. Even if his regime were 'legitimate' his various decrees bypassing both Congress and the Constitution are unlawful. Bush is not above the law, though he may think he is. Likewise, King Charles I of England may have thought himself above the authority of Parliament but found out otherwise but much too late to keep his head attached to his body.
Bush has clear legal responsibility for his torture policies, the war deaths in Iraq and the admitted murders he confessed to in the 2003 SOTU address.
All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. 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. (Applause.

---Bush Boasting of Having Ordered Mass Murder, State of the Union Address, 2003

And let's not forget his plans to murder civilian journalists in Qatar, testified to by two UK officials who were prepared to put their careers (and freedom) on the line to make sure the story got out. Bush discussed murdering these al jazeera journalists with Tony Blair.

If Bush had any confidence in his actions he would lay his cards on the table. He doesn't, so he won't. The Office of Legal Counsel is refusing to hand over legal advice provided to Bush that supposedly justifies his executive orders. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was able to review three of these documents and was shocked by what he read:

An Executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new Executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous Executive order. Rather than violate an Executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

The President, exercising his constitutional authority under article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President's authority under article II.

As [the] Whitehouse further notes...."In other words, the president can decide whether his own interpretation of the law is lawful."

And that's about the whole ball game, folks. Once the President becomes a fully fledged "unitary executive" the law disappears up the kazoo. It simply loses all meaning.

But Bush is aware that his actions would not stand the pesky scrutiny and the ordinary morals of ordinary citizens. And so he hides his handiwork. It's the same story on the just completed Pentagon report confirming that Saddam Hussein never had any connections to al Qaeda. It won't be published on the web since that would embarrass Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and identify them as liars and war criminals. Instead, if people want a copy they can write to the Pentagon and the military will send them a CD of their findings in a plain sealed envelope. Isn't that nice? Clearly no frog-marching will be happening for Georgie Boy. And why should it? In his own words:

Damien, 70 Reasons to doubt

Photos from Abu Ghraib document or are, at least, evidence that these procedures resulted in death on occasion. A complete investigation should be mandatory. Bush's efforts to exempt himself from the law are themselves unconstitutional and may not provide the cover he needs to escape the consequences of a real and thorough investigation into the program of abuses at Abu Ghraib. Federal laws make Bush's orders to torture capital offenses. Let's cut to the chase; George W. Bush has committed capital crimes. I say let's get on with the trial.
As an expert witness in the defense of an Abu Ghraib guard who was court-martialed, psychologist Philip Zimbardo had access to many of the images of abuse that were taken by the guards themselves. For a presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, California, Zimbardo assembled some of these pictures into a short video. obtained the video from Zimbardo's talk, and is publishing some of the stills from that video here.

Many of the images are explicit and gruesome, depicting nudity, degradation,
simulated sex acts and guards posing with decaying corpses. Viewer discretion is advised.

--Awful New Photos from Abu Ghraib

Bush's attempts to justify torture citing his obligation to protect the American people. His case is not convincing. When all the stats are analyzed, it will be proven that by giving presumed enemies a cause celebre to wage war upon the US and its people, terrorism will have increased and the American people put in greater danger. Certainly, official FBI stats, compiled and published by the Brookings Institution, proved conclusively that while Ronald Reagan waged his equally absurd 'war on terrorism', terrorism, in fact, got much, much worse. Americans are endangered by these reckless right wing, GOP policies.

Federal Judges may convene Grand Juries on their own motions. I urge courageous and honorable Federal Judges to do precisely that. I would encourage such a judge to charge this panel with a full investigation of the capital crimes for which there is probable cause now to bring charges against Bush, to try him for his crimes. Bush should be subpoenaed to appear before such a panel and prosecuted for obstruction of justice if he refuses.

Bush's decrees designed to place himself above the law are null and void, themselves unlawful. Bush should be compelled under oath to tell the truth or risk an indictment for perjury. Should he perjure himself, he thus risks prosecution for capital crimes, and, likewise, should he decide to confess his complicity in war crimes for which the penalty is death. Bush must stand trial now for having committed capital crimes.

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