By David Swanson
As evidence of Bush and Cheney’s crimes is slowly pried loose from President Obama’s fingers, it’s easy to forget just how long ago numerous articulate voices were identifying and denouncing those crimes, none more so that Francis Boyle, who told Bill O’Reilly on his Fox News show on September 13, 2001:
“Before I support a war that will jeopardize the lives of tens of thousands of our servicemen and women, I want to see the evidence that we are relying on to justify this. … I do not see the evidence that you need under international law and the United States Constitution so far to go to war.”
Boyle wasn’t talking about mythical weapons, and he wasn’t talking about Iraq. He was talking about Afghanistan, and he would go on, as early as anyone else, to talk in the same way about impeachment (which he supported from November 2001 forward), about fascism, about police states, about war against Iraq, about threats to Iran, about coverups of the anthrax attacks, and about the coming wars of the Obama era.
In every instance, Boyle cites laws and upholds the rule of law, something he knows more than a little about. He drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, back in that distant era when Bush’s daddy was president and someone like Boyle could work with the government. Today an adherent of law enforcement is considered a bit nuts within the Beltway, as well as being generally shunned by the corporate media for having been too right too early about too many things.
Boyle has served on the board of Amnesty International, represented Bosnia-Herzegovina at the World Court, and served as legal adviser to the Palestinian Delegation to Middle East peace negotiations, and he teaches international law at the University of Illinois, where he has authored numerous books. I’ve just read Boyle’s latest, “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions,” which consists of the transcripts of interviews over the past 8 years that Boyle did with progressive and alternative radio shows.
Boyle studied at the University of Chicago’s factory for neocons but refused to become one. His views may appear overly cynical to some, until they prove true, but they may simply reflect his knowledge of the people he’s talking about.
Boyle denounced the Iraq War and the lies it was based on, before the bombs fell. Of course, so did millions of us. We even created the single biggest day of protest in world history. But Boyle’s analysis went deeper than most. He saw crime for what it was and called it by name, and consequently was pushing for impeachment and prosecution 4.5 years before I got involved in those campaigns.
Boyle and Ramsey Clark presented the case for impeachment to Democratic congress members on March 13, 2003, just days before the bombs hit Baghdad. Impeachment could conceivably have prevented over a million deaths. The congress members present accepted the validity of the case, but John Podesta and others argued that it would be better for Democrats in the next election to let the war happen. We saw this same cold blooded calculation, of course, in 2007 and 2008, as the Democrats controlled the Congress and claimed to “oppose” the war while keeping it going. While Clark argued for the political advantage of pursuing impeachment, Boyle declined to address that point, preferring to stick to the facts. Sadly, electoral arguments are almost the only thing most congress members care about, and human life is not even on the list.
There’s a lot in this book warning of a possible U.S. attack on Iran and arguing against it. My impression is that the threat was very real and remains, but that the arguments against it have won out thus far. The trouble with this kind of victory is that nobody announces it. But that doesn’t make it less valuable. And there is potentially even greater value to be found in Boyle’s warnings and recommendations to us today. He warns of the danger we face of a repetition if the anthrax attacks are not properly investigated. And he warns of the slaughter that may take place in the coming years in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the name of “humanitarian intervention.” Boyle is a lawyer. To a student of the law it makes no difference whether an aggressive war is conducted for “humanitarianism” or to “kick some ass”. Under the law it’s the exact same war either way. And so it should be, since the victims are exactly as dead whatever you call their murder.