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House Republican War Crimes

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t |

There is going to be a debate today on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding Iraq. Is it within the realm of possibility to categorize a debate on the floor of the House as a war crime? Is that too much of a stretch? Leveling a war crime accusation is deadly serious business after all, and not to be bandied about like some meager political football. Given what is expected to take place today in Washington, unfortunately, such a categorization is worth considering.

What is a war crime anyway? Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines war crimes as, "Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."

How many of these definitions have been met by the United States during our ill-fated adventure in Iraq and during this so-called "War on Terror" as a whole?

Willful killing? Check: see Fallujah, Haditha, etc.

Torture or inhuman treatment, including willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health? Check: see Abu Ghraib.

Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person? Check: see Guantanamo and the secret "rendition" of prisoners for interrogation to nations that practice torture as a matter of daily business.

Willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial? Check: see Guantanamo again.

Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly? Check: see much of Iraq, specifically its former petroleum industry.

But all this happened during the invasion and occupation, and many of these despicable activities have been papered over by dubious legal findings generated by Attorney General Gonzales. How does a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives rise to the level of a war crime?

Simple. Awareness that war crimes are being committed, combined with a lack of action to stop those war crimes by an individual or entity holding a position of leadership, is as bad as the crime itself.

Major Darwyn O. Banks of the US Air Force, whose April 2001 research paper on information warfare titled, "Mitnick Meets Milosevic," notes the following: "While there are no claims Milosevic personally committed any such crimes, he is culpable under the principles of command responsibility and direct responsibility. The former alleges Milosevic's foreknowledge of such crimes without acting either to prevent the commission thereof or to punish the perpetrators. The latter form of responsibility implies that he authorized, planned, instigated and/or ordered the unlawful acts. These indictments against the former Yugoslav president, then, highlight the primary categories of the law of armed conflict."

Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution endowed Congress with the power to make war. To be sure, that power has been slowly but surely usurped by a series of presidents, but the basic principle remains. At a minimum, if the legislative branch is going to surrender its constitutional responsibilities regarding our formidable war powers to the executive branch, they should at least attempt to exert a degree of oversight once the bullets start to fly.

This Republican congress has not done this to any degree whatsoever. They rolled the whole process down the hill to 1600 Pennsylvania, provided political and legal cover for the White House every time something went wrong, wrapped themselves in as many American flags as they could find, and stapled themselves to this president who, by his own words, goes to work every day with war on his mind. Thus it has been for the last three years and 87 days.

Today, however, there is going to be a debate on Iraq in the House of Representatives. Republican Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) has stated publicly that he hopes this debate will "match the serious, dignified tone of deliberation that preceded the Gulf war, in 1991." One can hope, I suppose, but it bears mentioning that the last time the House debated Iraq in the open, a decorated Marine Corps veteran named John Murtha got called a coward for suggesting that it was time to consider a withdrawal from the seemingly endless conflict.

And then there's the confidential strategy memo, generated by Boehner's office and distributed to every House Republican, outlining where the majority leader would like to see the majority guide the debate. The serious, dignified tone he requested in public is hardly evident in the game plan he has provided to his fellow House Republicans.

Boiled down, Rep. Boehner would like his fellow Republicans to bring up September 11 as many times as possible - this short memo mentions 9/11 no less than seven times - while denouncing House Democrats as weak and vacillating. "Democrats," reads one portion of the memo, "are prone to waver endlessly about the use of force to protect American ideals. During this debate, we need to clarify just how wrong the Democrats' weak approach is and just how dangerous their implementation would be to both the short-term and long-term national security interests of the United States."

Nowhere in this confidential strategy memo does Boehner suggest that the House attempt to regain control of the process that has led us to this dreary and deadly situation. Nowhere does he note that waving the bloody shirt of 9/11, especially in situations that have nothing to do with that day, is an irresponsible perversion of the facts on record. Nowhere does he note that every credible human being on the planet has flatly declared that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Nowhere does he mention the weapons of mass destruction that were not there.

Nowhere does he note that the invasion and occupation has made this country, and this world, far less safe. Nowhere does he mention the 2,497 American soldiers who have died in Iraq. To be sure and certain, nowhere does he mention the fact that crafting any solution to the Iraq mess is going to require the bipartisan effort of the entire Congress.

Instead, Rep. Boehner would like the House debate to stomp across the same worn and discredited ground that has been endlessly covered throughout this whole affair. He would like the debate to be umbilically attached to 9/11, and he would likewise appreciate it if Democrats are attacked and denounced at every opportunity. It is, after all, an election year.

It is possible that the House debate today will break new ground, that sober minds will be able to elbow the snarling partisans into the periphery, that hard facts and real solutions will be presented, that a crack of dawn sunlight may be found in this long, terrible night, and that a step towards ending all the death and destruction and sorrow and woe may actually be taken.

Don't count on it, though. Thanks to the Republican majority and its leader, this debate will be yet another dog-and-pony show designed to do little more than frighten and divide the populace. In the process, this debate will ensure that the war goes on, and will further ensure that George W. Bush and his people are insulated from accountability, culpability and the basic need to chart a new course.

The Republicans in the House know what is happening, and know how bad things are. By framing this important debate in such simplistic, venal terms, they are absolutely guaranteeing more of the same. And that, friends, is a war crime, and you can watch it happen today on television.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.


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DonP Unforunately those in power remain in power and those screaming for justice remain sidelined and impotent.

DonP Unforunately those in power remain in power and those screaming for justice remain sidelined and impotent.

Hey kidz!!! Pop some popcorn, rev up your recorders, and TAKE NAMES!! . .. ;-)

Yes, we can expect this "debate" on Iraq to turn into a "Fascist" and "Fascist-lite" dog and pony show . . . (think they'll bring in cameo appearances by wounded vets and NEO CON cheerleader "celebrities?" ) .. .

. . .oooh, I hope sister Ann Coulter is there . . imagine the winter queen and all that "hot air" causing the first "indoor" hurricane in history . .. ;-)

. . . but like all we Saturdaze kidz learned from "The Phantom Tollbooth" . . . watch what you say, you may have to eat those words someday . .. ;-)

. . . Today is gold mining time for all you "Anti-War" and "Impeach, Try, and Punish The War Criminals" political candidates & support systems for both the 2006 and 2008 elections, kidz . . . ;-)

Think of it this way .. . have you ever video-taped a "cheerleader" that is caught up in the fan-feedback-frenzy of "the-big-game-that-is-THE-most-important-thing-in-the-entire-universe" . . . and then played this back after the "emotionalism" of the event has past? . . . don't they sound a "bit daft" if not out and out "nutz"??? . . .

...sorta like the old newsreels of Joseph McCarthy & Co during the cold war "Red Scare" when viewed today. . .. especially when viewed through the cold glass of objective reason AFTER the "Machiavellian Strategy" has been exposed. . . i.e. the question of "Cui bono? Who benefits?" has been answered. . . ;-)

Yes, BushCo wants us to fear "Big Brother Watching Us" . . . but they should realize that "the younger kidz" are watching, too . . .
and recording every word the "Grown Ups" say . . ;-)

. . . I've long maintained that this era of Human "development" has introduced the first full-scale use of "Information" in a Patriarchal Fascist War system . .. i.e. this is a COMMUNICATIONS WAR, kidz . . .

. . . now I ask you, who has the advantage in a Communications War??? A bunch of cyber punks, Saturdaze Kidz, shamen, fools, lovers and dreamers wanting a FAIRGAME for ALL . . . OR . .. a bunch of emotionally damaged "Grown-Ups" wanting to be "Great Like Caesar to show Dad/Mom/Family/Peers I'm Not a Loser" that still have "12:00" flashing on their VCRs because those "damn lazy servants" haven't gotten there to "fix it", yet. .;-)

Come election time, all we need do is wax our best "Little Cindy Lu Who, who was no more than two" . . and ask the Grinches, "Why? Why did you kill, torture, terrorize, poison and starve the kidz? Why? . . WHY? Cui bono? Who benefitted?"

. . . of course, in the very rare "yippy version", Cindy Lu learns to shout "BULLSHIT!!" to wake the other kidz when the Grinch "thinks up a lie and thinks it up quick" . .. I think you kidz can take the Grinch's lie strategist, "Turd Blossom". . . I mean his linear-logic strategies are designed to work in the shadows and become quite elementary when exposed to light . .. Fascism is brutal, but it isn't rocket science, kidz . . .;-)

"Don't step out of this house
if that's the clothes you're gonna wear
I'll kick you out of my home
if you don't cut that hair
- Fight For Your Right (To Party) - The Beastie Boys


Okay, kidz . . . we're well into this "debate" now . ..

. . . can you count how many times "Our Special Friend" is NOT being mentioned???? . . . ;-)

. . . Saturdaze kidz, take out your "fool's template" and look at these speeches with the "hypothesis" of "What if the 'Through Deception You Shall Make War' boyz have been running a series of "false flag" operations with the assistance of the British ruling class, our own PNAC Neo Cons & spooks, and the media monopolies to create a war?" Cui bono?

Now, compare this hypothesis and the "orthodox" hypothesis . .. the perpetual war on "Radical Islam" . .. (seems to be the catch phrase from the war cheerleaders today . . "Radical Islam". . yup, they are selling us a GEN-U-INE "Holy War", kidz . . . Jesus get yer gun!!!) . .. Which hypothesis is supported by ALL the evidence??? . ..

Please turn in your answers on election day . .. and feel free to share you conclusions with the other kidz . . .;-)

Right! = WAR!

"There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy."
- All You Need Is Love by The Beatles


A little help from my friends - Whassup with the "Magic Document" that was just released this morning that all the NEO CON Cheerleaders keep waving about as proof that we are "winning the war in Iraq"???? . . .;-)

Legit or propaganda, kidz? . . .;-)

(clipped article)
Text of a document discovered in terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's hideout. The document was provided in English by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie:

(full story)

My only question is, "Was it fried around the edges after the big-o BushCo bombs or was it made out of that 'super duper special paper' that the passport found at the WTC complex was made out of???". . .;-)

"Me used to be a angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word
I finally heard
I'm doing the best that I can."
- Getting Better by The Beatles


Do not take away what you already know! What you know is information and information is the key to what is happening! When all our rights are gone it will be too late but we are not stupid! Tell everyone you know to get mad!


Whether it’s the debate on the House about Iraq, the bills passed with much ado in the Rose Garden, then the sneaky use of Bush’s signing statements giving power for him to DISOBEY the bill, or the killing of al=Zarqawi representing only 5% of the insurgency, its ONE BIG ROVIAN DOG AND PONY SHOW!!! No matter how united Bush and the corrupt Republicans are, the many lies that got us into an illegitimate war and all their rhetoric since, cannot lend one iota to a foundation based on falsehoods! We cannot discount or forget about the lack of checks, balances, and the refusal of this Administration to be honest with the American people, despite the media’s falling all over themselves fawning over Bush’s warmed over B.S. So let the mongrels bark all they want these dogs can’t and don’t hunt!!!

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