By Mark Taylor-Canfield - February 2009
I am still disturbed by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's refusal to seek impeachment of the Bush administration. Her unwillingness to pursue prosecution for numerous violations of international and constitutional law stood in striking contrast to the outrage coming from the American Civil Liberties Union, The Center For Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International, and other civil liberties and human rights organizations around the globe. I am sure that the Speaker knew about these accusations of criminal conduct, despite her claims to the contrary. Some conspiracy buffs came to the conclusion that she had been threatened by Cheney's dark minions.
Although no evidence of any nefarious threats have come to light, it is nonetheless very clear that Pelosi had already given assurances to the alleged crew of criminals that they would not be brought to justice under her watch. In the minds of the Democratic Party leadership, impeachment would mean pissing off a president whose support they needed to pass their "vital legislation". So, not only did the politicos in the party vote to support the invasion of Iraq and illegal government surveillance, they also decided not to hold anyone accountable for these violations of international and constitutional law.
Please forgive me while I quote Ms. Pelosi: "If anyone has evidence that laws have been broken, I will take a look at it."
In response to her ridiculous attempts to claim ignorance, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich had this to say:
"If Speaker Pelosi is interested in seeing the evidence that the Bush administration has violated the law, I invite her to read my Articles of Impeachment which I presented to the US Congress."
In February 2007, activists from the local group The Occupation Project were ejected from a meeting of Chiefs of Police in Bellevue after attempting a citizens arrest on US Senator Patty Murray for war crimes. The Senator, who has been a very good friend to the Pentagon, was at the meeting giving a speech about law and order while people of good conscience tried to hold their representative accountable for supporting the continuance of the war in Iraq.
Here is part of the indictment against Murray read at the meeting by members of The Occupation Project as they were being ejected from the room by police:
"This warrant is issued on February 22nd, 2007. Whereas your felonious conduct in office funding an illegal and immoral war; whereas your failure to thus far hold George Bush fully accountable for that dreadful conduct that threatens the stability of our nation's self-government", etc...
We all know the charges - suspension of habeas corpus, illegal kidnappings and detentions, torture, tapping cell phones and personal computers without warrants, conducting an illegal war based on false accusations resulting in the deaths of over one million Iraqis, blowing the cover of an employee of the CIA for political purposes, stolen elections, and many other serious offenses, some of them yet to be revealed.
And yet, in light of these very serious charges, the US media and government is still unwilling to take any responsibility for the madness or even place the blame where it belongs. So far Bush, Cheney, et al, have escaped without any kind of prosecution.
In Cheney's case, he simply refused to show up before the congressional committee investigating his chicanery. He basically thumbed his nose at the whole system of "balance of power", and maintained not only the idea of an all-powerful "unitary" president, but he also introduced the concept of an unimpeachable vice president with unique tyrannical powers that were heretofore unimaginable.
Throughout their eight years of mischief, Dick Cheney (better known as "Darth Vader") and George W. Bush kept up their attempts to frighten the nation into submission using alarmist warnings of "imminent threats" to the country from Islamic terrorists. Meanwhile, the corporate guys, including Halliburton and the defense contractors, were stealing us all blind. I'm sure Bush's daddy and his friends in the oil and war business have done just fine. These people are protected from any major economic crash by their intimate political and corporate connections. So much for justice...
I am sad to say that I see no real effort being mounted to hold the Bushites accountable. Although a petition put together by a group of lawyers has been delivered to every state attorney general in the nation, all 50 of them are likely to pass on bringing charges against the Bush administration. It would only take one of the attorneys general to follow through on the prosecution. The petition is based on the charge that Bush is accused of being a murderer since he sent over 4,000 US soldiers and countless Iraqis to their deaths on "false pretenses". Therefore, according to the petition, George W. Bush should be held accountable for all those who have died in his illegal war.
Does anyone remember state senator Eric Oemig from Washington's 45th legislative district and his attempt to pass an impeachment resolution through the Washington state legislature? Washington was only the second state in the US (after New Mexico) to consider an impeachment resolution to be passed along to the US Congress as a "privileged item" on the congressional agenda. Oemig was a newly elected progressive Democrat from Bellevue who took it upon himself to get the resolution drafted as his first official act in the legislature. He stated that it would be his number one priority as a state representative. I was present during the announcement of his resolution at a community center in Bellevue, where he stated the following:
"Washington State is now on the list of a handful of states who are telling Congress to do their job. There are some serious allegations. We need to send a message to Congress to let them know that we still care about the rule of law, the constitution and right and wrong."
Unfortunately, state Democratic Party leaders chose to play the cynic card. Frank Chopp of Seattle, the Speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, refused to even consider letting the resolution come to the floor for an honest vote. Evidently Chopp was taking his cues from Nancy Pelosi in Washington, DC. C'est dommage...
Surprisingly, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire joined with some of the Democratic Party leaders in the Congress and called upon the Washington state legislature to stop their efforts to petition the US House of Representatives for impeachment proceedings against the Bush administration. Gregoire made her announcement at a meeting of the National Association of Governors in Washington DC in 2007 where she also condemned protests against the war in Iraq. Obviously, the governor was also in on the fix coming down from the very top. I can only imagine that since she is being groomed for national office by the Democrats, she felt it would not be prudent or beneficial for her future potential run for President of the United States of America if she actually demanded that justice be served. This is a very telling commentary on the current sad state of US politics and government. Apparently, there is no accountability for our political representatives.
She stated that anti-war demonstrations and sit-ins taking place at Congressional offices in Seattle and around the country were "counter-productive", referring to the protests as "distractions" from important healthcare and education initiatives.
Be assured, dear reader, that I am not engaged in just another bitter and tireless rant here. I am, sadly, only reporting the documented truth. Even after witnessing two stolen presidential elections, illegal warfare, and repeated mass violations of the US Constitution, the corporate US news media failed to call for accountability and justice.
Instead, fake news reporters have continued to deliver fake news reports for a fake government and their fake friends in the multi-national military industrial complex.
When oil barons run the nation from the White House, what else can we expect?"
Linda Boyd is Director of the Bellevue Fellowship of Reconciliation, a group that organized the impeachment resolution campaign in Washington State. At state senator Oemig's unveiling of his impeachment resolution, Boyd made this salient point.
"A five year state of emergency; the Patriot Act; Military Commissions Act; over one thousand signing statements that say that the laws of Congress do not apply to the President. No President is above the law."
"If one representative had the courage to stand up we would not have to be here today. Congress has not done their job. Congress knows the facts about high crimes and misdemeanors. It's time for the American people themselves to put a stop to the abuses of power in government right now."
The problem is, without justice there will assuredly be a repeat of the same crimes at some point in the future. Don't think the Bush crime family and their cohorts have gone away. They are still there lurking in the shadows, drooling over the possibility of a return to power. They have left the nation and the world a bitter place for President Barack Obama to deal with. Wars rage on, terrorism continues, and corporate greed still runs rampant while the poor and the middle class are being wiped out of economic existence.
But during this time of crisis and hope, we must never forget the sins of our fathers, for they lay the groundwork for our possible collective future on the planet. To reclaim our dignity, we must settle the past and that means holding the guilty accountable for their despicable actions.
In the face of widespread apathy and corruption, at least a few non-governmental organizations are attempting to clean up the mess left behind by Bush/Cheney. These groups are trying to reshape our government's future polices under President Barack Obama.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, referred to as the NRCAT, includes representatives from many different faiths who have formed a coalition to stop the use of torture by the US government. The organization is calling on Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order ending all use of torture. On January 8th, 2009 30 US religious leaders signed a letter addressed to Obama requesting the Executive Order banning torture, i.e. "enhanced interrogation techniques", as the government likes to call it.
In the Washington Post, former Bush administration official Susan Crawford claimed the so-called "20th hijacker" allegedly involved in the 911 attack on the World Trade Towers, was not referred for prosecution because the US government's treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani met the legal definition of torture. In her own words, "We tortured him".
NRCAT's proposed ban would also stop the current use of water-boarding by official government authorities, but what the Central Intelligence Agency and other secret intelligence agencies might do in the shadows is still anyone's guess. I'm sure it's quite difficult to shut down secret detention/torture camps when they don't actually officially exist...I mean, how do you find them? That information is classified "top secret".
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture conducted a national teleconference on January 14th, outlining their campaign's goal and condemning the use of torture anywhere in the world. Participants in the teleconference included representatives from the United Church of Christ, the Islamic Society of America, the US Council of Catholic Bishops, Rabbis For Human Rights, and Evangelicals For Human Rights.
During the national teleconference NRCAT spokespersons cited the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions which outlaw torture. They stressed that January 11th of this year marked the seventh anniversary of the establishment of the US controlled prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Abu Graib prison in Iraq and secret CIA detention centers were also condemned as violations of international law. NRCAT representatives argue that since the United States refuses to join the World Court, there is very little recourse in obtaining justice for these violations of international treaties against torture.
The Seattle-based war resisters support group Project Safe Haven is also trying to find closure on the Bush era. The organization has launched a national campaign to pressure Barack Obama into granting amnesty to all US soldiers who have escaped to Canada, Europe and Latin America after refusing to serve in Iraq. In part, their petition is in response to the deportation of US conscientious objectors from Canada by the administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been a strong Bush supporter.
Harper is turning US soldiers and their families over to US civilian and military police at the border despite the Canadian Parliament's vote in favor of giving them amnesty. National polls show that a majority of Canadians want their government to grant the soldiers and their families sanctuary as political refugees.
Whatever the future brings, we can't continue down Bush and Cheney's insane militaristic road towards self-destruction. The rest of the world is counting on us to get our act together in a hurry before the next storm of economic disasters hit. Whether we as a nation and a society can deliver on the promises of freedom in our own US constitution, and whether we can honor the requirements of international treaties against torture and illegal war is now up to every single one of us.
The pressure to achieve accountability will have to come from the grassroots because (with the exception of a few folks of conscience like Congressman Jim McDermott and Congressman Dennis Kucinich) most of our leaders are completely out of touch with the daily reality show most of us call "life". Our political representatives still feel that they are omnipotent and they assume that the good ole' boys network will always be protected by the old guard in Washington, DC.
Bush and Cheney have both defended their policies before the US public. They have attempted to justify the mass slaughter in Iraq. In Bush's last press conference, he referred to the US government's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as simply "a big disappointment". He also called the perverse treatment of detainees at Abu Graib prison merely a "disappointment". The former president won't even admit to making foreign policy mistakes, so he's certainly not going to admit that he broke any laws. George W. Bush still condones criminal acts like torture, despite his patently false claims that "we do not torture people".
Both men have been completely unrepentant and arrogant when confronted with their own nasty deeds. Like Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, Bush and Cheney dismiss any criticism of their administration as the irrational ranting of "the elites" and in Bush's words, the misplaced negativity of the "opiners". Cheney claims that Bush will go down in history as one of the best presidents we ever had. He dismisses all accusations of criminality as baseless - completely without merit.
In other words, if the president or the vice president, or any of their underlings do something, no matter how disgusting, it's not illegal simply because they are above the law. This is especially true since the Bush administration fired any of the US attorneys in the Department of Justice who might actually choose to prosecute the president or vice president. Gamblers call his a stacked deck.
Their approach to governance fits the very definition of the word "tyranny". Cheney's dark mentor Niccolo Machiavelli would be very proud of their scandalous machinations. Many violent revolutions have been fought to overcome this type of political oppression. But this is also how the criminal mind works. Gangsters simply claim that they are somehow entitled to be above the law. There is no conscience, no empathy, and no respect for the perpetrator's victim. Remorse is lacking for someone who feels they have special privileges and can do no wrong.
Six years after the invasion and bombing of Bagdad, after he declared "mission accomplished", and with the insurgency continuing, George W. Bush still thinks his war in Iraq was a good idea. Most informed observers believe that the Bush regime itself was a bad idea. His administration managed to set new standards for greed and corruption on a grand scale. I'm sure Pappy Bush must be very proud of his son. There are no tears in Bush Jr.'s eyes, only that same old conceited frat boy "Ha, ha - I got away with it" look.
The charges against the Bush administration are true and can not be repudiated in a court of law regardless of his mass propaganda spin machine (Fox news). If Bush and his cronies deliberately violated the law and committed war crimes as alleged, they should be taken to the Hague, tried as war criminals before the World Court and sentenced to prison. It's just that simple. I say, put the criminals on trial. History will demand it.
We must heed the clarion call of future generations who will surely stand in judgment of us if we fail to hold our leaders accountable for the crimes against humanity that they have committed in our names.
If progress is to be made, justice must prevail!