Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why Bush Must be Prosecuted for War Crimes and Mass Murder

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush committed war crimes for which he must be held to account if the phrase 'rule of law' is to mean anything in a post-Bush America. To hold every other American responsible for various laws and petty violations while making exceptions for a mass murderers, torturers, or aggressors is absurd and seditious. Either we are going to have a Democracy under the rule of law or we are not! The choice is ours and America is ours to lose.

As he occupied the White House, there were efforts afoot to 'make legal' after the fact the many crimes that Bush had already committed. This is absurd on its face. No other person living in the US has that kind of power --nor would it be tolerated! The issue was pressed when in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the United States Supreme Court ruled that George W. Bush had exceeded his authority with respect to US detainees in the so-called 'War on Terror'. Neither the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), nor the so-called inherent powers had authorized Bush to set up military tribunals at Guantanamo.

For those of us who had maintained that Bush is a "war criminal" who violated not only internenational conventions but also US criminal codes, the decision of the court was a measure of vindication. In effect, SCOTUS held that for a period of five years, the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney gang had been guilty of violating the Third Convention on treatment of prisoners of war as well as a US federal law of 1996 which binds the US executive to those relevant parts of the Geneva convention. [See: US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441]

Predictably, the conspiratorial GOP scrambled to let Bush off the hook. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that Congress would reverse the Supreme Court's declaration; Sen. Arlen Specter who had much earlier cooked-up a 'magic bullet', went to work on the language of a bill that would, in effect, say that Bush committed capital crimes but would be excused, let off the hook, after the fact. This law would apply to no other accused murderer or torturer in America. Only the so-called 'President' would benefit from it.

I submit to Sen. McCain that Congress does not have the authority to reverse a decision of the supreme court; it can only pass a new law addressing its objections. Such new laws, however, must be consistent with the decision. That is the constitutional function of the court. Moreover, congress may not violate the US Constitution by passing laws which excuse culprits ex post facto!

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

Article I, US Constitution

Ex post facto is latin for "from something done afterward" or "after the fact". Ex post facto law is retroactive. On it its face, this is unfair and unconstitutional. Ex post facto laws are not to be confused with pardons or amnesty.

Bush and his GOP co-conspirators are routinely at odds with the supreme law of the land but also simple common sense. Because ex post facto laws change —after the fact —the legal consequences of acts already committed, the ex post facto law becomes an instrument of oppression and tyranny. Hoping to crack down on dissenters, for example, a government need only make the voicing of certain opinions a crime but only after they've been printed, broadcast or spoken. These 'frontiers' of tyranny have been explored much earlier but Bush, Cheney and the GOP regime that supported them had learned all the wrong lessons from history. They thought that they had learned how to get away with it.

Such a tyrannical government need only make the law, round up the usual suspects, and prosecute them for actions legal at the time of their commission. Conversely, the dictator-in-chief, in such a society, need only subvert the very foundations of law and order itself and demand that his crimes be made legal —after the fact —after he had already perped them. This is absurd on its face. It allows an executives to rule by decree and make up the laws as he goes along. It removes Constitutional restraints. It gives to mere presidents dictatorial powers that not even British monarchs dared dream of.

Everything Bush knows he got by way of his Grandfather's old trading partner --Adolf Hitler, whose notorious Lesson Number One he summed up himself in one sentence.
Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.

--Adolf Hitler

Bush learned how to rule ruthlessly though he is hated by the people. Hitler never got more than 37 percent of the vote in several elections called over a short period of time ending with the act of terrorism that Hitler would exploit to consolidate his dictatorship. That act was the Reichstag Fire, Hitler's 911. It's hard to imagine that anyone would dare go back to the well. Nevertheless, the tactic, having proved successful for Nazis, would be tried again.

On February 27, 1937, Hitler was having dinner with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels when the phone rang to inform the future Fuhrer: "The Reichstag is on fire!" At the scene, Hitler and Goebbels, found Hermann Goring, later Hitler’s air minister, shouting "at the top of his lungs", blaming communists for an act of terrorism.

How Hitler became a dictator is recounted in many sources but William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is still among the very best.
From Goring's Reichstag President's Palace an underground passage, built to carry the central heating system, ran to the Reichstag building. Through this tunnel Karl Ernst, a former hotel bellhop who had become the Berlin S.A. leader, led a small detachment of storm troopers on the night of February 27 to the Reichstag, where they quickly scattered gasoline and self-igniting chemicals and then made their way quickly back to the palace the way they had come. At the same time a half-witted Dutch Communist with a passion for arson, Marinus van der Lubbe, had made his way into the huge, darkened and to him unfamiliar building and set some small fires of his own. This feeble-minded pyromaniac was a godsend to the Nazis. He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several public buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next.

The coincidence that the Nazis had found a demented Communist arsonist who was out to do exactly what they themselves had determined to do seems incredible but is nevertheless supported by the evidence. The idea for the fire almost certainly originated at the top with Goebbels and Goring. Hans Gisevius, an official in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior at the time, testified at Nuremberg that 'it was Goebbels who first thought of setting the Reichstag on fire' and Rudolph Diels, the Gestapo chief, added in an affidavit that 'Goring knew exactly how the fire was to be started' and had ordered him 'to prepare, prior to the fire, a list of people who were to be arrested immediately after it.' General Franz Halder, Chief of the German General Staff during the early part of World War II, recalled at Nuremberg how on one occasion Goring had boasted of his deed.
At a luncheon on the birthday of the Fuehrer in 1942 the conversation turned to the topic of the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears when Goring interrupted the conversation and shouted: "The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" With that he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand.
The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich (Touchstone Edition, 1990, p. 192-)
Hitler ordered a round up of the usual suspects, in other words, the opposition, consisting largely of communists whom the Nazis could, with but a shred of credibility, blame for an act of bloody terrorism.

Nazis knew what GOPPERS know now --that frightened and anxious people will willingly surrender the blessings of liberty. From Hitler's experience, Bush learned how to use a "Patriot Act" to crack down on dissent.

Hitler wasted no time. The very next day, he was in President Hindenburg's office urging the aging statesman to issue a patriot act, a decree entitled, “For the Protection of the People and the State.” Justified as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state,” the decree suspended the constitutional guarantees pertaining to civil liberties:
Patriot Act vs, German Enabling Act:

The Decrees of 1933

(a) The February 28 Decree. One of the most repressive acts of the new Nazi government, this one allowed for the suspension of civil liberties ....The president was persuaded that the state was in danger and, hence, that the emergency measures embodied in the decree were necessary. Even though under Art. 48 of the constitution, the decree would have been withdrawn once the so-called emergency had passed, any hope of this happening was prevented by the establishment of Hitler's dictatorship following the Enabling Act (see below). It was in fact never withdrawn and remained until the end as an instrument of Nazi terror against ordinary citizens who ran foul of the regime.
ARTICLE 1. In virtue of paragraph 2, article 48,* of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against communist acts of violence , endangering the state:

Sections 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions on personal liberty [114], on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press [118], on the right of assembly and the right of association [124], and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications [117], and warrants for house-searches [115], orders for confiscation as well as restrictions on property [153], are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.
*Article 48 of the German Constitution of August 11, 1919: If public safety and order in Germany are materially disturbed or endangered, the President may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order, and, if necessary, to intervene with the help of the armed forces. To this end he may temporarily suspend, in whole or in part, the fundamental rights established in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 ...........

Patriot Act:

Section 218 which amends the "probable cause" requirement before conducting secret searches or surveillance to obtain evidence of a crime;

Sections 215, 218, 358, and 508 which permit law enforcement authorities to have broad access to sensitive mental health, library, business, financial, and educational records despite the existence of previously adopted state and federal laws which were intended to strengthen the protection of these types of records;

Sections 411 and 412 which give the Secretary of State broad powers to designate domestic groups as "terrorist organizations" and the Attorney General power to subject immigrants to indefinite detention or deportation even if no crime has been committed; and Sections 507 and 508 which impose a mandate on state and local public universities who must collect information on students that may be of interest to the Attorney General.

Bush learned how to suspend civil liberties after a terrorist attack. At the time, only Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio called for a repeal of the Patriot Act.

Hitler had hoped to establish a "permanent" majority of elected Nazis in the Reichstag, a rubber stamp which would pass whatever laws he desired while making it all perfectly legal. Under Bush, Karl Rove spoke of creating a "permanent Republican majority", a 'majority' that would rubber stamp Bush's every decree. A GOP court that would make legal Bush's crimes even after he had already committed them.

Two weeks after the Reichstag fire, Hitler requested the Reichstag to temporarily delegate its powers to him so that he could adequately deal with the crisis. Hitler denounced his opposition, shouting at them "Germany will be free, but not through you!” Hitler won the vote 441 to 84. It gave him a two-thirds majority needed to suspend the constitution. On March 23, 1933, the “Enabling Act”--a patriot act -- made Hitler dictator of Germany. Bush had hoped the 'Patriot Act' would do the same for him.
This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship ...just as long as I'm the dictator!

--George W. Bush, President-elect

Just as Hitler cut a deal with Thyssen, Krupp, I.G. Farben et al, the triumvirate of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld carved up the oil map of the Middle East for the benefit of big oil and and Halliburton. Hitler coveted Poland's rich coal deposits; Bush coveted Iraqi oil. Bush, was inspired by Hitler's play book. As was the case in 1939, it is still all about energy and for Bushco 'energy' means oil.

The esteemed historian John Keegan believed that Hitler might have won WWII had he kept Rommel supplied. Eschewing an invasion of Russia, Hitler would have been better advised to have ordered Rommel to seize the oil fields of the Middle East.

Bush also learned from his grandfather that there is big money -- a killing in fact --in the industrial murder business. Our own Treasury Department is the source for the following information about how US corporations, primarily US Steel, for whom Prescott Bush was banker, helped Hitler arm and wage war on the world while carrying out mass murder throughout Europe. US steel produced the following percentages of war munitions for Hitler and his Nazi war lords: Pig iron 50.8%; Pipe & tubes 45.5%; Universal plate 41.4%; Galvanized sheet 38.5%; Heavy plate 36%; Explosives 35%; Wire 22.1%.
George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

--How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

This is the same firm for whom Prescott Bush acted as banker. In effect, then, Prescott was Hitler’s American banker.

Bush also learned how to outsource murder and atrocity in ways that benefit his right wing supporters. It's called "private enterprise" but in reality it's a form of socialism, farming out work to partners, robber barons, death merchants and hired murderers like Blackwater, a gang of paid thugs whom National Public Radio charges has strong connections with America's radical, religious, fascist right wing.
NPR: The war in Iraq has been partly outsourced to private military contractors which are performing many of the services that used to be done by the military.

My guest, Jeremy Scahill, has written a book about one of those companies, Blackwater, which he describes as "the world's most mercenary army and the embodiment of the Bush administration policy of privatizing military functions." The company, which was founded in 1996, made headlines in 2004 when four of its men were ambushed and set on fire by Sunni gunmen in Fallujah.

The charred remains of two of the men were hung on a bridge for public display. The families of the four men are suing Blackwater for wrongful death, raising a lot of questions about accountability and oversight when private contractors play a major role in war. Jeremy Scahill is a Polk Award-winning journalist who is a frequent contributor to The Nation and a correspondent for the radio and TV show, "Democracy Now." Jeremy Scahill -- if you wanted to write about a private military contractor, why did you focus on Blackwater?

--Blackwater: USA in Fallujah

Bush is ideologically allied with 'state absolutists', for whom the "state" is "God". That notion opposes every "American" value and those of truly religious folk who find the equation of "God" with the "state" a blasphemous notion. And so it is --not merely of religion but of reason.

Bushism is opposite the American ideal espoused by real patriots like Thomas Jefferson whom Bush and Dick Cheney would have derided as "pro-French", "helping the terrorists" or other equally stupid nonsense. James Madison who wrote the first draft of our Constitution would have been demonized as "quaint" by idiots like Gen. Hayden and Al Gonzales.

Bush must surely hate our Declaration of Independence because, in it, Thomas Jefferson sides with the misnamed "insurgency" that is most certainly analogous to Iraqi civilians upon whom the US has waged not a war --but a crime punishable by death under our own federal statutes!

The notion that Congress can somehow exculpate Bush for the crimes he's already committed is not merely absurd, it's seditious and dangerous —a short road to tyranny and dictatorship.

To her credit, Sen. Dianne Feinstein refuted every dubious argument put forward by McCain.

If the US had had a legitimate case for war against Iraq, it might have made a truthful case for it at the UN. Instead, Colin Powell's presentation was a deliberate fraud from start to finish. Powell himself later apologized but not soon enough to avoid every war crime, every death, every murder, every act of torture and mass murder that would follow. It was not only the very worst foreign policy blunder in US history, it is a war crime comparable to those perpetrated by Adolph Hitler and Pol Pot, a 'crime against humanity' comparable to those attributed to Josef Stalin.

It was claimed that the war in Iraq was based on the fundamental concept of removing a tyrant who supported terrorism against the United States. In fact, US foreign policy has never been based upon removing tyrants either tyrants or terrorists. Rather, the US has installed and supported both tyrants and terrorists. The US, itself, may be the world's number one terrorist, a rogue nation, a threat to world peace and humanity. Read prosecutor Lawrence Walsh's final report of the Iran/Contra affair.
The underlying facts of Iran/contra are that, regardless of criminality, President Reagan, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the director of central intelligence and their necessary assistants committed themselves, however reluctantly, to two programs contrary to congressional policy and contrary to national policy. They skirted the law, some of them broke the law, and almost all of them tried to cover up the President's willful activities.

What protection do the people of the United States have against such a concerted action by such powerful officers? The Constitution provides for congressional oversight and congressional control of appropriations, but if false information is given to Congress, these checks and balances are of lessened value. Further, in the give and take of the political community, congressional oversight is often overtaken and subordinated by the need to keep Government functioning, by the need to anticipate the future, and by the ever-present requirement of maintaining consensus among the elected officials who are the Government.

--FINAL REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL FOR IRAN/CONTRA MATTERS, Part XI Concluding Observations 561
The US invasion of Iraq in which an estimated 1.5 million Iraqi civilians were killed by US forces IS war crime, specifically, a war of aggression under both US Codes, the Geneva Convention and the principles of Nuremberg to which the US is bound by treaty. A first year law student could make the war crimes case against George W. Bush.
(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.

--§ 2441. War crimes, US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441
One wanting or seeking a more dramatic introduction to Nuremberg, I suggest a motion picture from the late 90's: "Nuremberg" starring Alec Baldwin. With minor departures, this film is impressively accurate even to the portrayal of Dr. Gustav Gilbert, the psychologist who concluded that Nazi war criminals were 'evil' in that they 'lacked empathy', a trait that is, of late, found abundantly throughout the American 'conservative' movement, the GOP, the Bush administration. The portrayal of Goring by actor Brian Cox should have gotten an Oscar. Brilliant! As Nuremberg Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, Alec Baldwin, again, proved himself a serious actor.
When for years they have deceived the world, and masked falsehood with plausibilities, can anyone be surprised that they continue their habits of a lifetime in this dock? Credibility is one of the main issues of this Trial. Only those who have failed to learn the bitter lessons of the last decade can doubt that men who have always played on the unsuspecting credulity of generous opponents would not hesitate to do the same, now.

It is against such a background that these defendants now ask this Tribunal to say that they are not guilty of planning, executing, or conspiring to commit this long list of crimes and wrongs. They stand before the record of this Trial as bloodstained Gloucester stood by the body of his slain king. He begged of the widow, as they beg of you: "Say I slew them not."
And the Queen replied, "Then say they were not slain. But dead they are..." If you were to say of these men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to say that there has been no war, there are no slain, there has been no crime.

--Summation for the Prosecution -July 26, 1946, Chief US Prosecutor, Robert Jackson, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials [See also: The Impact of Nuremberg on Global Justice and Security]
You will find this closing --word for word --in the movie version.

Another observation about the movie is the fact that the producers literally re-created the court room in almost every detail. It has got to be one of the most accurate such re-creations in "filmdom".

I can tell you from sources very close to me and likewise the trial, it was, indeed, a "trial", an extraordinary ordeal that took its toll on the judges, the attorneys, the witnesses, the spectators, the media, the defendants, interpreters and translators, indeed, anyone connected with the trial in any way.

Robert Jackson himself had not wanted to absent himself from the Supreme Court. But Truman was "persuasive" and, once on the job, Jackson was ever hopeful that the principles forged might help prevent the recurrence of such unspeakable tragedy.

Jackson's mocking nemesis was Goring, whose legacy mocks, even in death, Jackson's idealistic hopes for humankind. Goring early on launched a pre-emptive strike in anticipation of a guilty verdict. Before it was returned, he called it "victor's justice", an evil implication that WWII victors were, in fact, no different from the Nazis. How we deal with Bush will either prove Goring correct or it will prove him wrong. If Bush gets away with it, Goring will be laughing at us from his grave.

Writer Kelly Kramer recently compiled a ‘resume’ for George W. Bush. Not every item listed are prosecutable as war crimes; but, certainly, they should be taken just as seriously. That Bush is prosecutable for war crimes is not susprising in context. That 'war crimes' punishable by death are among his many crimes should surprise no one. Following are Bush's 'central accomplishments' according to writer Kelly Kramer:
  • Shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history;

  • Set economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period;

  • Set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market;

  • First year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history;

  • After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, presided over the worst security failure in US history;

  • In his first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their jobs;

  • Cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in US history;

  • Appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history;

  • Signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in US history;

  • Presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed;

  • Cut healthcare benefits for war veterans;

  • Set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest a sitting American President, shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind;

  • Dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history;

  • First president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously go bankrupt;

  • Presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world;

  • First president in US history to order a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation;

  • Created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States;

  • Set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in US history;

  • First president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the human rights commission;

  • First president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the elections monitoring board;

  • All-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations;

  • Biggest life-time campaign contributor presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation);

  • Spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history;

  • First president to run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1);

  • Took the biggest world sympathy for the US after 911, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history);

  • With a policy of 'disengagement' created the most hostile Israeli-Palestine relations in at least 30 years;

  • Fist US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view his presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability;

  • First US president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the US than their immediate neighbor, North Korea;

  • Changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts;

  • Set all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts;

  • Failed to fulfill his pledge to get Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive';

  • Failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capitol building. After 18 months he has no leads and zero suspects;

  • In the 18 months following the 911 attacks he successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States;

  • Removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history;
  • Entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category straight down.
This is, of course, an edited list. It omits the deliberate lies Bush told in order to wage a war of aggression against the people of Iraq. If so much as one person had died as a result of his lies and the war of aggression that followed, Bush would be subject to the death penalty under federal law, specifically, US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441. But, in fact, Bush death toll, his murder count, is at least 1.5 milllion Iraqi civilians who are dead as a direct result of US aggression. Former LA prosectuor Vince Bugliosi makes still another case that because Bush perpetrated a deliberate fraud in order to commence war, every death of every US soldier is one count of murder. Then, of course, there is evidence that deaths occurred as a result of the acts of torture that followed from Bush's orders. That Bush tried to make these acts legal ex post facto should be compelling evidence that his orders were planned and deliberate. They are punishable by death.


Justice Robert Jackson: Closing Statement,
Nuremberg Trial of Nazi War Criminals

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