Monday, December 22, 2008

The Movement to Try George W. Bush et al for War Crimes

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Members of the Bush administration and George W. Bush personally conspired to violate the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Principles and US obligations to both. Bush and key members of his administration deliberately violated US criminal codes and tried to make their crimes legal after they had already committed them. Bush and his minions embarked upon this subversive action when it was made clear to them that they could be put to death for violations of US Codes which bind the US to Geneva and other treaties that were almost insisted upon by the United States.

These are not abstract principles, politics, spin or PR. These are legal principles upon which a distinguished American --Justice Robert Jackson --help codify at the Nuremberg trials of major Nazi war criminals.
It is encouraging that, of late, there is a growing chorus demanding that George W. Bush and members of his criminal regime be held to account for the crimes of aggressive war, mass murder, and torture.
Can there be a better reason for prosecuting George Bush and his administration for war crimes than those words from the chief prosecutor of the Nazis, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, with the full support of the U.S. government? Robert Jackson’s words and the values this nation claims to stand for provide sufficient moral basis for putting Bush and Cheney, their underlings who implemented their policies and the perverted legal minds who justified them all in the dock. If those are not sufficient reasons, there is a long list of binding law and treaties – written in black and white in surprisingly plain English.
Bush imagined, and his attorneys advised, that he could simply wave aside these laws with “they don’t apply.” Imagine how a judge would treat even a simple traffic court defendant who brazenly stated the law was only a quaint notion, just “words on paper?”
--Mike Fermer, Why we must prosecute Bush and his administration for war crimes
The Bush administration itself is aware that it is in deep, deep trouble. 

...there is one group of people that has always taken the war crimes charges seriously--the members of the Bush administration themselves. They have good reason for doing so, because they have exposed hundreds of Americans to possible prosecution for violating US law. As long as George Bush is president and controls the Department of Justice, there will no prosecutions for war crimes, but after Bush is gone, anything could happen and hundreds of Americans could be charged with war crimes.  
--David Wallechinsky, Is George Bush Guilty of War Crimes...and Who Cares?
Unless Bush plans to make his escape to Paraguay while still 'President', his exit from the Oval Office will make him vulnerable to process for violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996 passed by both houses of Congress without dissent. The act covers every crime that may be charged to Bush as of this moment and as of the time Bush will exit the 'cover' of the Oval Office.

The act deals specifically with his deliberate "killing, torture or inhumane treatment" of 'detainees' at Abu Ghraib, GITMO and the gulag archipelago of 'detention centers' throughout Eastern Europe. Violations of the War Crimes Act that result in the death of a detainee carry the death penalty and there is no statute of limitations.
(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.
--TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441 § 2441. War crimes
Bush had been planning to commit capital crimes long before 911 and, in fact, tried to make 'legal' the crimes that he had intended to commit.
Wishing to rebuke the unpunished war crimes of dictators like Saddam Hussein, in 1996 a Republican-dominated Congress passed the War Crimes Act without a dissenting vote. It defined a "war crime" as any "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions. It thereby advanced a global trend of mutual reinforcement between national and international law.
The War Crimes Act was little noticed until the disclosure of Alberto Gonzales's infamous 2002 "torture memo." Gonzales, then serving as presidential counsel, advised President Bush to declare that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people the United States captured in Afghanistan. That, Gonzales wrote, "substantially reduced the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."
--The Nation, Bush Aims to Kill War Crimes Act
Bush did not succeed in putting himself above the laws that prescribed the death penalty for the very violations of laws that he had planned. Title 18 of the US Code as currently published by the US Government [as quoted above] reflects the laws passed by Congress as of Jan. 3, 2007, and it is this version that is published here.

It was because Bush knew he was guilty that he tried to ram through Congress amendments to the War Crimes Act that would exonerate him EX POST FACTO. Ex post facto laws are unconstitutional. Bush defenders will waste their time trying to convince me that ex post facto prohibition applies only to those laws making one prosecutable for acts that were legal at the time of commission. In other words, if it was legal to spit on the sidewalk at the time you did so, you are immune to prosecution under any law passed after you had so spit!

Clearly --Bush can not commit murder now and expect to escape prosecution by making it legal after the fact. That is nothing less than rule by decree and is utterly inconsistent with the very concepts of 'rule of law' or 'due process of law'. Don't confuse this with amnesty, which, to my knowledge, Bush has not sought nor does he deserve. Rather, Bush has tried to rewrite both laws and history. He tried to make legal those capital crimes that he had already committed, a tyrannical notion that is absurd on its face.

Several yeas ago, I wrote an article that pointed out that any federal grand jury could indict Bush for capital crimes and, in fact, could begin an investigation of Bush upon its own volition. Any federal judge can, upon his/her own motion, convene a federal grand jury to consider any case deemed worthy of investigation. I would suggest that any Federal Judge reading this, get off your bench and convene a jury! It is your patriotic duty to this nation and its laws!

Former LA Prosecutor Vince Bugliosi makes another case, that because Bush deliberately lied in order to send US soldiers to their deaths in an illegal war, Bush is prosecutable for murder.
In the first sentence, we're told:
The book you are about to read deals with what I believe to be the most serious crime ever committed in American history - - the president of the nation, George W. Bush, knowingly and deliberately taking this country to war in Iraq under false presences, a war that condemned over 100,000 human beings, including 4,000 American soldiers, to horrific, violent deaths." (V. Bugliosi, p. 3)
The president "knowingly and deliberately" caused the deaths of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians and that's called murder, plain and simple. This is not a hypothetical case that could happen under special legal interpretations. When the president leaves office, he is subject to the same law as the rest of us. Bugliosi explains the ability to prosecute the case against George W. Bush by a district attorney or states attorney in any local jurisdiction where a life was lost in the Iraq war. Federal prosecutors also have that option. Bugliosi's detailed analysis of this phenomenon offers some of the best analysis in the book and the detailed end notes.   
--E. Pluribus Media, Bugliosi's The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder 
Because he has notoriety, Bugliosi has succeeded in attracting some attention to this issue. My fear is that in the post-election atmosphere of relief that Obama turned back the GOP wave the pressure to bring George W. Bush to justice will subside. That would be a grave mistake, a catastrophic precedent. If Bush is allowed to make good a get away, the signal will have been sent that US presidents are above the law and may perpetrate mass murder and war crimes at will.

Violations of US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441 are NOT to be confused with violations of international treaties which may have the effect of putting Bush in the dock at the Hague. Certainly, Bush had planned to commit acts that were known to be violations of US laws and our treaty commitments. Even before 911 provided Bush the pretext to attack and invade both Afghanistan and Iraq, Tom DeLay sponsored legislation that provided for a US military invasion of The Hague in those instances should Bush find himself in the dock for war crimes. The timing of the bill is material to the case against Bush and speaks to the fact that Bush had been planning to wage war and wished to immunize himself against prosecution for the acts that were known at the time to be violations of international laws to which the US was bound by treaty.

I know of no reason why Bush should be impeached before he is indicted. Impeachment is a political remedy, the purview of Congress. What is discussed here are specific acts that are against the law. Bush should fear the very real possibility of being hauled before a federal judge charged with capital crimes.

There are yet other legal ghosts that will haunt Bush. He may be charged with perpetrating the crime of genocide.
U.S. Code; Chapter 50A; Section § 1091. Genocide
(a) Basic Offense. - Whoever, whether in time of peace or in time of war, in a circumstance described in subsection (d) and with the specific
intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such.

(1) kills members of that group;

(2) causes serious bodily injury to members of that group;

(3) causes the permanent impairment of the mental faculties of members of the group through drugs, torture, or similar techniques;

(4) subjects the group to conditions of life that are intended to cause the physical destruction of the group in whole or in part;

(5) imposes measures intended to prevent births within the group; or

(6) transfers by force children of the group to another group; or attempts to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b0.
--US Codes; Chapter 50A, Section § 1091. Genocide
As this blog has pointed out for years, the crimes prosecuted at Nuremberg apply as well to Bush and those key members of his cabinet with whom he conspired.
At Nuremberg, the foremost crime identified was starting a “war of aggression,” later codified by U.N. Resolution 3314, Art. 5, as “a crime against international peace.” Launching a war of aggression, as Hitler did against Poland, is considered so monstrous that the nation responsible can then be charged with “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity,” spelled out in detail in the Geneva Conventions. As Tom Paine said long before the U.N. formalized the definition of aggression, “He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of Hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.”
A small sampling of the contagion of Hell let loose by Bush includes illegally invading a sovereign state, using banned weapons such as white phosphorous and napalm, bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure, withholding aid and medical supplies, terrorizing and knowingly killing civilians, torturing prisoners, killing a million people and displacing four million more. 
Following World War II, humanity resolved that wars do more than spark a series of loathsome, individual crimes. Leaders responsible for a war actually commit crimes against the entirety of humanity. They inflict harm on every human being, something that must be put right before humanity can be restored. 
There is a final reason why we must prosecute Bush and Co. It is not what some argue, although they point to a serious danger: that Bush trashed the law and usurped powers, encouraging future presidents to expand where he left off. Such reasons are about George Bush and those who hold the office after him, but in the final analysis this is about us.
We are complicit in the horrors of this administration.
We can claim neither ignorance nor innocence. We are complicit by the very fact that we are citizens of the United States, more so because we paid for the war, and even more so for this reason. Listen to a village sheik I met in Iraq describe it better than I ever could. 
--Mike Fermer, Why we must prosecute Bush and his administration for war crimes [
Hat tip to: Above Top Secret
A Congress which did not have the stomach for impeachment shirked it's duty. Impeachment might have saved this nation the nightmare that it has not yet survived. The Congressional leadership of both parties have much to answer for.

I would hope that a hard nosed federal judge will consider the crimes holistically, in accordance with the conspiracy laws that are currently on the books. America's leaders betrayed the people in order to conduct war crimes for which Nazis were hanged! How we do justify to the world a double standard that says, in effect, if Nazis do it, we hang them! But if Americans perpetrate precisely the same crimes for the same purposes, we let them retire and bequeath a library!

I would urge that a federal grand jury be convened immediately to consider upon the probable cause and the evidence whether or not George W. Bush is guilty of capital crimes and whether or not he should be put to death!
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