By David Swanson
Last week two judges encouraged me to look to courts to help us recover from the damage done by an outlaw executive and a spineless corrupt legislature. The first was Bush-appointed federal Judge John Bates who ruled that people must comply with Congressional subpoenas even if they used to work for the president, and this because – you know – the law requires it. The second was Judge William Price in Iowa who was hearing the case of citizens arrested for trying to make a citizens’ arrest of Karl Rove. When told what they had been trying to do, the judge said “Well, it’s about time!”
Sort of makes you want to go out and arrest a war criminal or two, doesn’t it? Here’s how:
Next month, on September 13th and 14th in Andover, Massachusetts, a major conference will be held to discuss the possibilities for prosecuting high-level American war criminals, including Bush and Cheney. The agenda and information on how to attend can be found at http://war-crimes.info
A somewhat similar conference was held in Paris, France, in September 2005, organized by the Association for the Defence of International Humanitarian Law, France (ADIF) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) ( http://www.fidh.org ). The remarks of a long list of outstanding expert speakers have been updated, translated, and just published as “International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States,” from Clarity Press.
It would be enlightening to many Americans to read this book, which documents the discussion of top proponents of human rights from around the world, including the United States — a discussion focusing on the single biggest impediment to establishing the international rule of law, to eliminating war as an instrument of policy, and to defending human rights around the world, namely the fierce opposition of the U.S. government to all of the above.
Of course, the United States played a key role in creating the United Nations, in convening the tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo, in developing and promoting the ideas of human rights and international law. And, of course, the United States favors, to this day, the concept of international law as applied to the crimes of any nation other than the United States. But this two-tiered system in which the United States operates with a set of rules completely unlike those for everyone else is eroding support for the entire idea of law as something applicable to the actions of nations, rulers, and militaries.
As one example of the intense attack the Bush-Cheney White House has launched against international law, we can look at the case of Belgium, where the national government was developing the laws and practice needed to prosecute crimes against humanity whether or not related in any way to Belgium. But in May 2003 an attorney lodged a complaint on behalf of a number of Iraqi and Jordanian victims against U.S. General Tommy Franks and some members of his staff for war crimes in Iraq. The crimes included the bombing of civilian targets, the use of cluster bombs, and the targeting of the Palestine Hotel, which was known to house only journalists. The U.S. Congress quickly passed a law allowing the U.S. president to attack anyone (including Belgium) who would detain members of the U.S. military. The White House also told Belgium to drop the case and change the law that permitted it ever to be brought, or the headquarters of NATO would be moved to another country taking thousands of jobs with it. The law was changed and the case dropped before the US media ever mentioned it.
To learn much else that the US media doesn’t tell you, read this book and go to http://convictbushcheney.org At that site we are organizing ongoing activities and reporting on the possibilities for prosecuting members of Cheney-Bush Inc., through the International Criminal Court, through the courts of foreign countries, through the U.S. Department of Justice, and through state and local district attorneys. The purpose, of course, is not vengeance but deterrence, not retribution but justice for the sake of peace. The aim is not to disguise the complicity of so many thousands in the government and the military or to excuse the apathy of the public, but to begin a healing process by holding accountable the chief instigators of the worst crimes against the human race that we have seen in recent years. If we do not do so, all will fade into silence within the fragile bubble stretching from Atlantic to Pacific, while a raging storm of anger and resentment gathers into a global hurricane.