Friday, February 04, 2011

Truth to Power: A Blunt Assessment of US Crimes in Iraq

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I have not merely blogged. I would like to think that I spoke 'truth to power'. I literally petitioned, perhaps harassed, my congressman --John Culberson, representing the 7th District. To his credit, Culberson responded though nothing he said was true, accurate or relevant. Most of the time he (or his staffers) just rewrote the official Bush 'line'. It requires K-street size money to get real and/or effective access to your elected representatives.

Having put into place numerous Draconian measures, George W. Bush, it was feared, would not leave the White House. He had, after all, declared the Constitution to be 'just a worthless piece of paper'; he had already begun a war against Iraq upon a pack of bald-faced lies!
§ 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.

--U.S. Codes, Title 18, Section 2441">TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441
Not only Americans but much of the world were suckered by 911 cited by Bush as justification to attack and invade Iraq! An attack on Iraq might have been justified if Iraq had attacked the United States or, if it had posed a clear and present danger. Iraq had posed no threat! In fact, during the administration of George H.W. Bush, Saddam consulted with American diplomats before lowering the price of oil! For his efforts, he was misled --perhaps deliberately ---by U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie. Upon a nod, Saddam lowered the price of oil but later paid the price for having done so: Persian Gulf War I.

911 was not nearly so subtle! In fact, George W. Bush committed heinous crimes for which U.S. Codes prescribe the penalty of death! It remains beyond logic, commonsense, fact or psychotic delusion to consider for a moment that Iraq had anything to do with the attacks of911! Yet --Bush would puke up 911 to umbrella a panoply of capital crimes, atrocities, and heinous crimes against humanity not seen since A. Hitler or Pol Pot! As long as the rich and powerful remain above those laws applying to everyone else, then justice does not exist! As long a elites are exempted, the phrase 'rule of law' is hollow. As long as Bush is 'free' no one else is!

Not even Bush or his corrupt administration dared to claim that Saddam had anything whatsoever to do with 911!
Stiglitz received renewed attention for a paper [PDF], co-written with Harvard professor of public finance Linda Bilmes that projected that the total economic costs of the Iraq War would exceed a trillion dollars. The hundreds of billions Congress has already approved for the war, they argued, tells only half the story. It doesn't account for, among other things, increases in defense spending, the long-term costs for veterans' health care and disabilities, the lost earning potential of the Americans killed and wounded, and increases in the price of oil.

Once considered provocatively high, Stiglitz's estimates now appear conservative in light of escalating sectarian violence and the American troop surge in Iraq. The president's latest budget proposal, while calling for deep cuts to Medicare and other domestic programs, dramatically ramps up funding for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also adds another $44 billion to the Pentagon's budget, which has already expanded nearly 50 percent since Bush took office. On the same day the administration sent its latest budget proposal to Congress, Mother Jones spoke with the iconoclastic economist about myopic Iraq War accounting, the need for a military draft, and the task of putting a price tag on human life.

--Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell, MotherJones, Iraq War Sticker Shock: The Trillion Dollar War that Will Bankrupt America?
Bush had been warned ---but, upon a pack of lies, he marched this nation off to war and ruin! After repudiating the very sovereignty of the people by way of our Constitution, after abrogating the guarantees of Due Process of Law, having repudiated habeas corpus, and arrogating unto himself the powers of a dictator --why did Bush leave willingly?

It is not as if the disaster had not or could not have been predicted. Following (everything below the line) is the text of my letter to my congressman. For 'readability' issues, I have not 'blockquoted' it. I was remiss not to record the date of the letter.

John Culberson
Member of Congress
7th District

Honorable Member of Congress:

Thank you for your reply to my concerns about the Bush administration's case for War in Iraq. I have considered your points --in block-quotes --followed by my reply:
I believe that the Bush administration made the correct decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power and liberate Iraq after Saddam continue to disobey numerous United Nations resolutions and refuse diplomatic offers.
No one disagrees that Saddam was a "bad man". With all due respect, that is not the issue. The world is full of "bad men" and, in most cases, the United States does not invade and occupy their countries. One wonders: what is the compelling difference in Iraq? That it has oil?

Secondly, it is unclear and most certainly not proven by anything available in the public record that Saddam was not in compliance with United Nations resolutions when he was attacked and invaded. U.N. inspectors had, in fact, asked for a reasonable amount of time in which to complete their tasks.

Only if they had been allowed to complete their responsibilities could it have been known conclusively whether or not Saddam was or was not in compliance with specific U.N. Resolutions. Moreover, U.N. resolution 1441 orders Iraq to comply with said resolutions – but does not sanction the use of force by the United States --specifically invasion of a sovereign nation and occupation of same by U.S. Forces.

Lacking the "cover" of International law or sanction, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is a violation of the Nuremberg Principles. [Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal]
Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people many times, and since the end of hostilities dozens of mass graves and torture rooms have been discovered.
Saddam's use of chemical weapons "...on his own people" is a reference to a well-publicized gassing of Kurds in 1988 – some 15 years ago. If this were a pressing issue, why has it taken the US so long to go to war. Obviously --Saddam was not a priority and most certainly not a 'clear and present danger'.

Persian Gulf I was fought since that time and the U.N.'s Hans Blix raised the credible possibility that Hussein's weapons were destroyed either by the Persian Gulf War itself or voluntarily by Saddam in its wake --or both! In any case, no weapons have been found since U.S. troops have occupied Iraq.

Moreover, former CIA analyst Stephen Pelletiere argued persuasively that Saddam's alleged gassing of Kurds in the waning months of the Iran-Iraq war may have been perpetrated by Iran --not Iraq! If that is the case, then none of the arguments with regard to Saddam's alleged gassing of the Kurds is relevant.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Saddam indeed used gas some 15 years ago! At that time, the Saddam regime was nothing more than a U.S. puppet regime. What was the source of his weapons if not the United States? That question has not been answered by either our elected officials or the mass media.

References to the "gassing" incident in the Bush case for war is really this subtle argument: because Saddam used gas on his own people, if he should obtain nuclear weapons, he will use them. In fact, Saddam had many opportunities to use poison gas and biological agents on the Coalition forces and Israel during the Persian Gulf I. But not even Bush partisans have alleged that he did so. UN arms inspectors later found warheads capable of delivering these weapons that could have been used by Iraq -- but were not!

More recently, it was widely reported and speculated in the Bush administration's run up to war that in the event, Saddam Hussein would be most likely to use biochemical weapons if he felt under mortal threat. He was most certainly under mortal threat --yet there is no evidence that he used such weapons --either on his own people who were expected to rise in up revolt against Saddam or against the invading U.S. army or against U.S. troops.

Most speculation [and 'speculation' is, in fact, all that it is] about why he did not involves complex violations of Occam's Razor and other logical legerdemain. The simplest explanation for Hussein's failure to use such weapons is that he, in fact, did not have any.
He never offered any evidence that he had ceased his chemical, biological, and nuclear programs.
That such weapons were never found confirms Hussein's version. It does not support Bush. By that time, the burden of proof was on Bush to prove his assertions. Those who assert must prove. This is true in any legitimate courtroom; it is true in 'debate'; it should be true of propaganda! That is it not is a defining characteristic of propaganda! Negatives cannot be proven.

Nevertheless – U.N. inspectors had been and were doing their jobs in Iraq! This was true even as Colin Powell made his presentation to the United Nations. The mechanism by which Saddam's claims could have been proven or disproved was in place. Clearly – the Bush administration had nothing to gain by allowing the truth to be discovered and heard! The truth would have undermined the plans that were already in place, perhaps, even before Bush v Gore would award the election to Bush.

But the search for WMD continues as it had before the invasion. But now the American people are picking up a huge tab. The cost of the war and the occupation must be added to the cost of a weapons search. U.N. inspectors could have been allowed to complete their jobs at much less cost. It is increasingly difficult to see what has been gained. Yet --the American people are expected to pick up the tab.
We have learnt from September 11 that we cannot afford to ignore those who hate us and are willing to use weapons of mass destruction.
Our current policies --if continued --are guaranteed to multiply the number of people who hate us. We are --in fact --less safe!
The search team led by Dr. David Kay has already discovered troubling evidence about Saddam's intentions.
Here is the thesis sentence from Dr. David Kay's report which I have read in its entirety:
"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related programme activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."
David Kay also cautioned: "It is far too early to reach any definitive conclusions and, in some areas, we may never reach that goal." It his this sentence which you failed to mention in your reply.

George Bush and Colin Powell, however, have most certainly reached definite and firm conclusions --conclusions which together made up their case for war and Colin Powell's presentation of ten year old, black and white satellite photos to the United Nations.

Again --with all due respect: the American people were not "sold" war with Iraq on the basis of Saddam's intentions; we were told repeatedly that Saddam HAD weapons of mass destruction --not that he was merely --and not surprisingly intending --to develop them or that he had merely a "programme". This focus on "intent" is new to administration rhetoric and nothing less than an ex post facto case for war! It is the Bush administration (and GOP) attempt to re-write the record, to 'spin' history.

What is said about Bush's case now was not the case that Bush and Colin Powell had, in fact, made in the run up to war nor is it the case that Colin Powell had made to the United Nations. The GOP rewrite of history is 'Orwellian'.
It has uncovered papers showing Saddam recently attempted to purchase missile parts from North Korea.
That's hardly surprising! It does, however, point up the hypocritical differences in the way Bush treats North Korea and Iraq. North Korea is a nation which openly pursues the development of Nuclear Weaponry. Your letter raises the question of whether or not U.S. rhetoric has motivated other nations to seek not only missile parts but also "yellow cake".

Besides --Iraq was cheated. According to the Washington Post, North Korea never made good on the deal and refused to refund some $10 million to Iraq.
Investigators have also discovered new research on biological agents and unmanned aerial vehicles that could disperse chemical or biological weapons. The team has repeatedly found evidence of deception, from burned computers to recently scrubbed missiles trailers.
Intentions! If Bush and Powell had made only this case, how deep would have been the support for war?
Two Iraqi weapons scientists cooperating with Dr. Kay were shot to prevent them from telling what they know.
Every media report that I have read concerning this incident attributed it to solely to Dr. Kay. There is, so far, no independent corroboration of the motive to which you refer. What is your source? Secondly, the fact that two scientists who were most probably involved in a weapons program of some sort does not prove that Saddam had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion and occupation. Nor does it change the fact that there is no authorization under International Law for the U.S. attack.
Iraqi roughly the size of California, and Dr. Kay noted that the yet unaccounted for weapons of mass destruction could be stored in a space the size of a two car garage.
We are paying a high price in lives and dollars if the U.S. case for war has been reduced to a search for a two-car garage --a search that might have been conducted less expensively and more efficiently under the cover of International Law by U.N. inspectors.

Additionally, it does not follow that because WMD were "unaccounted" for that they, in fact, existed. The term "unaccounted for" implies that there is a mysterious "inventory" somewhere against which existing reports are measured. Where is that inventory, who compiled it --and how?

Until those questions are answered, any statement about "unaccounted for" weapons is meaningless. Furthermore --Kay's report made no claim that Hussein had actual weapons of mass destruction although, selectively, Bush read a passage from the report that indicated that Saddam was determined to get them. That was to be expected but it hardly justifies a war of aggression.

Significantly, a different tact is taken in the case of North Korea, and perhaps in the cases of other nations that have escaped the glare of administration assisted publicity. I am not sure what this proves --other than an uneven, inconsistent, and impractical policy of pre-emption cannot possibly form the cornerstone of a viable foreign policy in a civilized and rational nation.

Finally, there is no compelling reason to believe that Dr. Kay, however professional he may be, will find weapons when in fact there is dubious probable cause that they existed during the run up to war. Good money --billions --after bad. No one can find that which does not exist!

In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing in the Kay report that supports Bush's original case for war. The Kay report, however, was expertly used to divert attention from Bush's original case --best summed up by Sen. Robert Byrd:
We were told that we were threatened by weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but they have not been seen.

We were told that the throngs of Iraqi's would welcome our troops with flowers, but no throngs or flowers appeared.

We were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was connected to the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, but no evidence has ever been produced.

We were told in 16 words that Saddam Hussein tried to buy "yellow cake" from Africa for production of nuclear weapons, but the story has turned into empty air.
We were frightened with visions of mushroom clouds, but they turned out to be only vapors of the mind.

We were told that major combat was over but 101 [as of October 17] Americans have died in combat since that proclamation from the deck of an aircraft carrier by our very own Emperor in his new clothes.

--Sen Robert Byrd
Bush himself had stated that Saddam had tried to buy "yellow cake" in Niger. That this statement may have lead to "leaks" which imperiled the CIA's search for WMD world wide is reason enough in and of itself for Congress to investigate the entire case for war, how the case was presented, how intelligence and evidence contrary to the Bush case were handled.
America is safer now that Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction, and I support building a stable and prosperous Iraqi democracy that can lead by example in the Middle East.
Everyone supports a stable and prosperous Iraq. The question is: is invading and occupying a sovereign nation in violation of the Nuremberg principles a prudent way to accomplish that aim?

It is easy enough to assert that America is safer --but unless and until WMD are found in Iraq, it is simply fallacious to ascribe that "safety" to Bush administration policies in Iraq. My neighbor may sprinkle salt on his lawn to keep elephants out of his front yard; but the fact that there is not an elephant within 5,000 miles of his house is hardly proof that it works.

A more compelling case can be made, however, that the world as a whole is less safe as a direct result of the Bush "doctrine" of pre-emption.

Clearly, Bush has made no "aggressive" attempts to disarm nuclear powers Pakistan and India. North Korea, meanwhile, clearly seems to have accelerated its nuclear program as a direct result of the perceived "Bush" threat.

Furthermore, there is documentary evidence from the FBI (published by the Brookings Institution) that as Ronald Reagan waged a similar "war on terrorism" with similar rhetoric (" can run but you can't hide") terrorist attacks on the United States increased. There were, in fact, three times as many such attacks during the Reagan years as during the Clinton years. I doubt seriously that America, indeed, the world, is safer under the Bush administration.

I sincerely hope that you would give my views serious consideration. At a time when most Americans have become convinced that politicians of both parties are merely pawns of big money, big lobbies, and/or the Military/Industrial complex, it would signal a triumph for Democracy itself if – just once – a political issue might be won upon verifiable facts and the merits of a real debate as opposed to various transparent and/or stupid labels and slogans.


Len Hart

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