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Why I'm Attending the Dedication of the Bush Lie Bury

On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas.  It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.

I'll be there, joining in the people's response ( with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.

"The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape," the center's PR office says, "including trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush's longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency."

Does it, now?  Is that what you recall?  Bush the environmentalist? 

Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury's claims for decades to come?

According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them.  This is something to be proud of, we're told.

The Lie Bury's annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama.  No blood is anywhere to be seen.  The Lie Bury's website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war.  "The Warrior Open," it explains, "is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in the Dallas area.  The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror."

Now, I actually know of some soldiers wounded in what they call by that name who don't feel honored by Bush's golfing, just as millions of Iraqis living as refugees within or outside of the nation he destroyed find Bush's liberty to walk outdoors, much less golf for the glory of war, offensive.  But none of them has a quarter-billion dollar "center" from which to spread the gospel of history as it actually happened -- as it happened to its losers, to those water-boarded, shot in the face, or otherwise liberated by Bush and his subordinates.

When Bush lied about excuses to start a war on Iraq -- as with everything else he did -- he did so incompetently.  As a result, a majority of Americans in the most recent polls, still say he lied to start the war.  But few grasp the lesson as it should be applied to wars launched by more competent liars.  And memory of Bush's lies is fading, buried under forgetfulness, avoidance, misdirection, revisionism, a mythical "surge" success, and a radically inaccurate understanding of what our government did to Iraq.

I won't be attending the Lie Bury ceremony for vengeance, but in hopes of ridding our culture of the vengeance promoted by Bush.  He based a foreign policy and a domestic stripping away of rights on the thirst for vengeance -- even if misdirected vengeance.  We have a responsibility to establish that we will not support that approach going forward. 

Bush himself is relevant only as his treatment can deter future crimes and abuses.  No one should wish Bush or any other human being ill.  In fact, we should strive to understand him, as it will help us understand others who behave as he has. 

Bush, of course, knew what he was doing when he tried to launch a war while pretending a war would be his last resort, suggesting harebrained schemes to get the war going to Tony Blair.  Bush knew the basic facts.  He knew he was killing a lot of people for no good reason.  He was not so much factually clueless as morally clueless. 

For Bush, as for many other people, killing human beings in wars exists outside the realm of morality.  Morality is the area of abortions, gay marriage, shop lifting, fornicating, or discriminating.  Remember when Bush said that a singer's suggestion that he didn't care about black people was the worst moment in his presidency?  Racism may be understood by Bush as a question of morality.  Mass murder not so much.  Bush's mother remarked that war deaths were not worthy of troubling her beautiful mind.  Asked why he'd lied about Iraqi weapons, George W. Bush asked what difference it made.  Well, 1.4 million dead bodies, but who's counting?

I won't be attending the Lie Bury because Bush's successor is an improvement.  On the contrary, our failure to hold Bush accountable has predictably led to his successor being significantly worse in matters of abusing presidential power.  And not just predictably, but predicted.  When we used to demand Bush's impeachment, people would accuse us of disliking him or his political party.  No, we'd say, if he isn't held accountable, future presidents will be worse, and it won't matter from which party they come.

I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them.  I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Barack Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren't on the list.  Bush's lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn't eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now.  When Obama went to war in Libya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government. 

When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could.  Obama -- despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers -- does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open.  Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy.  Imprisonment without trial is "law."  Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it.  Murder is, however, the new torture.  The CIA calls it "cleaner."  I picture Bush's recent paintings of himself washing off whatever filth his mind is aware he carries.

Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered.  We don't know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist.  We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election.  Think about that.  We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people.  That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said "it's more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check," or who said "impeachment would be traumatic" -- as if this isn't.

In Guatemala a prosecutor has charged a former dictator with genocide, remarking, "It's sending the most important message of the rule of law -- that nobody is above the law."  It's not so many years ago that the United States had the decency at least to hypocritically propose that standard to the world.  Now, we advance the standard of lawlessness, of "looking forward, not backward."

That's why the people need to respond to the lie bury.  Ann Wright is going to be there.  And Diane Wilson.  Robert Jensen and Ray McGovern are coming.  So are Lon Burnam and Bill McElvaney and Debra Sweet.  Hadi Jawad and Leah Bolger and Marjorie Cohn and Kathy Kelly are coming.  As are Coleen Rowley and Bill Moyer and Jacob David George and Medea Benjamin and Chas Jacquier and Drums Not Guns.

Also coming will be many familiar faces from the days when we used to protest in Crawford.  When we'd go into that one restaurant at the intersection in Crawford, there'd be a cardboard cut-out Dubya standing there.  We picked him up and stood him in the corner, facing the corner.  We said he needed to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong.  In reality, of course, he was cardboard.  The lesson was for everyone else in the restaurant.  It's a lesson that still needs to be taught.

Rape as Collateral Damage

Where I live in Virginia a member of the county board of supervisors was recently charged with the crime of "forcible sodomy," which carried a sentence of five years to life in prison.  He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery and was sentenced to 30 days in jail plus probation, etc.  He professed his innocence of the original charge. 

But what is sexual battery if not forcible sex?  The fine line drawn between 30 days and life may have less to do with the action being alleged than with the persuasiveness of the allegation, the prosecutor's confidence of winning a conviction, the schedule and budget of the court, the desire of the accuser or victim to participate in a trial, etc.

Cari Italiani, aiutateci a combattere la tortura in Usa

English version below.


Con la condanna degli agenti della Cia coinvolti nell'illegale sequestro dell'imam Abu Omar il sistema giudiziario italiano ha dimostrato che davvero la legge può essere “uguale per tutti”. Ora, quasi diecimila cittadini americani chiedono all'Italia di andare oltre.

di David Swanson*, traduzione di Patrick Boylan

Quasi diecimila americani hanno già inviato i loro ringraziamenti all'Ambasciata italiana a Washington in seguito alle condanne definitive inflitte in Italia dalla Cassazione, lo scorso 19 settembre, ai 23 agenti della Cia rei di aver rapito l'ex imam di Milano il 17 febbraio, 2003, e di averlo mandato in Egitto per essere interrogato sotto tortura. Noi di, movimento di cittadinanza tra i più attivi negli USA, abbiamo promosso una raccolta di ringraziamenti per dire al governo italiano che esiste un'America felice della sentenza della Cassazione e che ora vuole l'estradizione in Italia dei 23 condannati che altrimenti continuerebbero a vivere liberi e impuniti negli Stati Uniti.

Nella foto che ritrae i giudici della Cassazione che hanno emesso la sentenza si intravede, sulla parete alle loro spalle, la frase: “La legge è uguale per tutti”. E la loro sentenza ne è la prova. Ma sarà davvero “uguale per tutti” anche l'esecuzione della sentenza?

George Bush the Murderer: The Movie

A new movie has just been released based on Vincent Bugliosi's book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder."  Bugliosi, of course, prosecuted Charles Manson and authored best sellers about Manson's guilt, O.J. Simpson's guilt, and Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt.  Whether we all agree with all of those conclusions, it is worth noting that each book was reviewed and considered by the biggest U.S. newspapers and television networks.  When Bugliosi wrote a book about George W. Bush's guilt, something we're almost all united on, the corporate media shut it out.  Will the same fate greet this movie?

Torture on Trial

Cases come in by the thousands from all over the world. A man was beaten and whipped. A woman was beaten and raped. A boy was hooded with three empty sand bags in 100-degree heat all day, starved, beaten, and kept in stress positions. Alleged suicide victims had their hands tied behind their backs, had boot prints on their heads, or turned out to have been electrocuted. There are torture victims covered with cigarette burns, and torture victims with no visible injuries. They need the expert assistance of doctors and lawyers to heal, to win asylum, and to create any sort of accountability in courts of law.

I’ve participated in countless nonviolent protests of torture, including congressional lobbying, panels and seminars, online petition writing, bird-dogging of politicians and judges and professors. I’ve met victims and told their stories and reviewed their books. But I had never spent a day with a crowd of lawyers and doctors who deal with the medical and court struggles arising out of torture cases, not until I attended a conference in February at American University in Washington, DC, entitled “Forensic Evidence in the Fight Against Torture.”

The doctors, lawyers, and others attending and speaking at the conference were from the United States and many other countries. It was not lost on them that they were addressing something different from a “natural” disaster. In their public comments and private discussions I found universal agreement that torture has gained dramatically greater, world-wide public acceptance during the past decade, and that the United States has been the leader in promoting that greater acceptance. While Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, pointed his finger at Hollywood movies and TV shows in which harsh interrogation techniques succeed in aiding crime solvers, several experts independently told me that by granting legal immunity to torturers, the United States has led by example.

It may be hard to recall that a mere decade ago torture was almost universally condemned here, and had been almost universally condemned in the Western world for centuries (racist exceptions for slavery excluded). By 2004, 43 percent of U.S. respondents to a Pew Research Center survey were saying that torture was often or sometimes justified to gain key information. By 2009, 49 percent said so. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that public support for torture increased in the United States from 27 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2010. AP-GfK polling found U.S. public support for torture at 38 percent in 2005, increasing to 52 percent by 2009.

That was the society I left behind as I entered the conference rooms of AU’s Washington College of Law to join an international gathering of professionals who still viewed torture as the evil it had been considered by the authors of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which included an absolute ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Evidence of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time

When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying.  After all, he was a Republican.  But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo

Un-Cheating Justice: Two Years Left to Prosecute Bush

Elizabeth Holtzman knows something about struggles for justice in the U.S. government.  She was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1973. She proposed the bill that in 1973 required that "state secrets" claims be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. She co-authored the special prosecutor law that was allowed to lapse, just in time for the George W. Bush crime wave, after Kenneth Starr made such a mockery of it during the Whitewater-cum-Lewinsky scandals.  She was there for the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.

Local Newspaper The Hook Makes Me Runner Up Person of Year for Chasing Dick Cheney Away - Gotta Love Charlottesville

Person of the year: The runners up

By Courteney Stuart |

When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney's arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. "Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney's visit would be postponed for "personal reasons" and that he'd reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.