Justice for Outlaws: the Bushies
Published Monday, December 15, 2008
What is justice? Considering how soon the pre-schooler, new to the knack of stringing words into sentences, is claiming, "Hey! That’s not fair!" human beings seemed wired for justice. Something in us wants to make what’s wrong right again, to restore the balance, the harmony. Injustice seems so easily recognizable; it offends our sensibilities. What are the claims that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and others in the Bush administration have done wrong?
The story begins as far back as January 16, 1991, when the late Representative (TX) Henry B. Gonzalez, with the help of University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, introduced his resolution of impeachment of George H.W. Bush, the current President’s father, for crimes and misdemeanors related to the conduct of his Iraq war into the Congressional Record as H520-21. Boyle says he could update the resolution today to apply to George W. Bush by just exchanging their names.
On February 29, 1992, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark spearheaded war crimes tribunals in New York for George H.W. Bush and his administration and twelve years later on August 26, 2004, for W. and his administration, both of whom were found guilty of war crimes. These events were ignored by mainstream media.
On December 8, 2006, on her way out of office, former Representative (GA) Cynthia McKinney and her staff filed House Resolution 1106, which were articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush. "We have a President who has misgoverned and a congress that has refused to hold him accountable," she said.
On June 9, 2008, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich entered his 35 Articles of Impeachment into the Congressional Record. The Articles listed crimes that included: creating a secret propaganda campaign that manufactured a false case for war against Iraq; obstructing justice in the matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, clandestine agent of the C.I.A.; providing immunity from prosecution for criminal contractors in Iraq; secretly authorizing the use of torture against captives in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places, as a matter of official policy; spying on American citizens without a court-ordered warrant; and obstructing the investigation into the attacks of September 11. 2001. (See sidebar.)
Impeachment is not revenge but a provision of the Constitution of the United States to restore the rule of law. Supporters of impeachment want to set the record straight for the sake of truth. By impeaching those who do not obey laws and the Constitution, they hope to set an example that no leader of the United States can operate above the law.
But why would anyone bother to support impeachment now with just a month to go before Bush leaves office and President-elect Obama is sworn in as president of the United States? Isn’t it too late? No, says David Swanson, co-founder of the website AfterDowningStreet.com, a rich resource on the topic of impeachment. He says there is precedent for impeachment after leaving office. "This doesn’t have to be long and drawn out," Karen Rubin reminds us in an article on Swanson’s website: "Andrew Johnson was impeached after just three days of argument in the House."
An Associated Press release by Lara Jakes Jordan on November 17 is titled "Obama Advisers Say No Charges Likely Against Those Who Authorized Torture."
Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who finds former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld guilty of war crimes in his "prosecution" of him "by book" (see sidebar), says "prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy. He says we can’t regain our moral stature if those involved in the torture programs are not held accountable.
Anticipating that Bush will pardon those who carried out crimes, Swanson adds, "You cannot pardon a crime you authorized." Left on the books, above-the-law power is not something to bequeath to future presidents, who also might have trouble relinquishing it.
Attorney Peter Weiss, Vice President of CCR, explains that "other than perpetual shame, there is only one consequence of conviction in an impeachment proceeding, i.e., being barred from holding public office for the rest of one’s life." He says, however, "Conviction is not a bar to further court proceedings, civil or criminal, for the same offense which led to impeachment."
Why did Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi take impeachment "off the table"? Representative John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has written two books, with his staff, drawing a blueprint to investigate President Bush and his administration. Why has Conyers not built impeachment with his blueprint? For the House to have impeached Clinton over sex and lying about sex and not impeach Bush for war and lying about war is not just out of whack but craven.
Speaking at the Bush War Crimes Conference sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover this past fall, Weiss offered another way to prosecute "when an obvious crime has been committed, and the competent prosecutor, district attorney, county attorney fails to take action."
"There is in the law a procedure called a mandamus," Weiss says, "from the Latin ’to order,’ which can be brought into play... A citizen or a couple of citizens file a proper legal complaint setting out the dimensions of the crime, the facts supporting the claim that there was a crime and going to the competent judge and saying we want you to order the prosecutor to indict this person or these persons."
"Mandamus actions hardly ever succeed," Weiss says, "because of the principle of prosecutorial discretion...(but) "it may be possible to find one or two or three or several prosecutors or judges who will agree and order those prosecutors to proceed."
"The fact of bringing the mandamus action can be an instrument for alerting the country, for energizing the movement, and for getting to the press. My vision here," Weiss concludes, "is that out of the 2,700 county prosecutors, if we could find people in a thousand of those jurisdictions to bring a mandamus action on the same day, I have a feeling it might make The New York Times."
Vincent Bugliosi has been not only an outstanding trial lawyer in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, successfully prosecuting "105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss," but in his double career as a tireless writer, three of his books have made the Number 1 slot on The New York Times bestseller list, including Helter Skelter about his most famous trial, the Charles Manson case. Yet in America’s fearful climate Bugliosi had trouble finding a publisher for The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a title that says it all. That’s because Bugliosi believes that by "knowingly and deliberately taking this country to war in Iraq under false pretenses" and consequently condemning so many human beings to "horrible, violent deaths" and disabling injuries, President George W. Bush has committed "the greatest crime by any public official or private citizen in this nation’s history."
Bugliosi’s book "establishes jurisdiction for any state attorney general (or any district attorney in any county of a state) to bring murder and conspiracy charges against Bush for any soldiers from that state or county who lost their lives fighting Bush’s war."
On the AfterDowningStreet.com website, Swanson provides a "List of 50 State Attorneys Generals who could prosecute George W. Bush for murder." Swanson suggests purchasing and sending the State Attorneys General a copy of Bugliosi’s book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Christmas. For those interested, the address for New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King is P.O. Drawer 1508, Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508.
On November 12, 2008, in an interview conducted at the White House for a national oral history project sponsored by StoryCorps, Doro Bush Koch, the sister of President George W. Bush, asked her brother how he wanted to be remembered. From the unnamed planet on which he resides as hero, President Bush responded, "I’d like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace."
"Liberated 50 million people"? Does he mean Iraqis? Never mind that according to the C.I.A. World Factbook, Iraq’s current population is 28 million people. But even if Bush means Iraqis and Afghans together, he would be short by 11 million people.
But liberated? With over one million Iraqis dead since March 20, 2003, when Bush launched his illegal war against Iraq? Liberated? You mean the 2 million Iraqis who have fled their country to become refugees, or the over 2 million Iraqis who have fled their homes and are now internally displaced in their own country? Or the over 4,200 U.S. soldiers killed and the tens of thousands on both sides physically and mentally maimed and mangled?
If Americans still want to be able to call themselves citizens of a democracy, impeaching Bush and/or charging him with war crimes or murder are legitimate options for action, nay, imperatives.
YOU CAN’T SAY YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Boyle, Francis A. Destroying World Order: U.S. Imperialism in the Middle East Before and After September 11, including "A Guide to Impeaching President George W. Bush." Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, Inc., 2004.
Bugliosi, Vincent. The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Cambridge, MA: Vanguard Press, Perseus Books Group, 2008.
Center for Constitutional Rights. Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush. Hoboken, NJ: Melville House Publishing, 2006, 2008.
Clark, Ramsey, and others. War Crimes: A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq. Washington, D.C.: Maisonneuve Press, 1992.
Cohn, Marjorie. Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law. Sausalito, CA: PoliPointPress, 2007.
Conyers, John C. (D.Mich) and staff. George W. Bush versus the U. S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 2006.
Conyers, John C. (D.Mich.) and staff. The Constitution in Crisis: The High Crimes of the Bush Administration and a Blueprint for Impeachment. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2007.
Holtzman, Elizabeth, with Cynthia L. Cooper. The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens. New York: Nation Books, 2006.
Kucinich, Dennis. The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush. New York: Feral House, 2008.
Indorff, Dave, and Barbara Olshansky. The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2006.
Loo, Dennis, and Peter Phillips, Editors. Impeach the President, The Case Against Bush and Cheney. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006.
Nichols, John. The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism. New York, London: The New Press, 2006.
Ratner, Michael. The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book. New York: The New Press, 2008.
Sands, Philippe. Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDR’s Atlantic Charter to George W. Bush’s Illegal War. New York: Viking, published by the Penguin Group, 2005.
Vega, de la, Elizabeth. United States v. George W. Bush et al, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006.