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Wanted for War Crimes: Why are we just talking impeachment?
By John Kelley, http://www.opednews.com
Preface: This piece was originally written in late 2003. There was little support for it then. It seems even more relevant today now that we know even more. John Kelley
"The price good people pay for their indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato
"People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." Herman Goering, Nazi leader who created the Gestapo, sentenced to death at Nuremberg for war crimes.
We should not be talking just of impeachment, that is not strong enough action to send a message to tyrants in the world. Given the Downing Street Memo showing that the current administration knowingly constructed intelligence to create justification for going to war it is appropriate for the world to examine whether officials of the United States and Great Britain should be tried for war crimes.
Justification for War
There were three reasons given for the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emptive War; 1) Saddam had weapons of mass destruction with which he threatened his neighbors and the U.S., 2) Saddam supported and was connected to al-Qaeda and 3) he was a ruthless tyrant. It is now clear to any thinking citizen (Bush apologists are not thinking citizens) that the President and other neo conservatives in the United States Government lied to the American public in order to gain support to launch a war of aggression against Iraq for ideological and economic motives.
Of the three justifications there is no doubt about the last. That alone ignores the fact that we do not invade countries because their leaders are tyrants, in fact we have supported many including Saddam in the past. Even conservative George Will was forced to state in a June 23 editorial "But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny, it is unacceptable to argue that Saddam’s mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for pre-emptive war." Lets look at what the postulation of that U.S. duty would mean.
Indeed, if that were ample justification, we would be invading Uzbekistan (in case you don’t know Uzbekistan is one of the coalition of the willing, our allies in the invasion), who according to NickWalsh in an article in the May 26th London Guardian states "Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests a year in Uzbekistan, and 6,500 political prisoners, some tortured to death. According to a forensic report commissioned by the British embassy, in August two prisoners were even boiled to death."
There are any number of countries that imprison, torture and kill political dissidents including China who has most favored trade status with the U.S. North Korea who says they fully intend to produce nuclear weapons and sell them to terrorists is ignored. Liberia, a long term ally during the Cold War, where all parties, the government, the rebels, neighboring countries and the citizens caught in the middle are begged the U.S. for a small peace keeping force, only to have George W. fiddle while the country went in to self destruct. We allow and encourage chaos in Haiti. We also seem to have curiously found new mutual respect for the genocidal government of Sudan as "allies against terrorism" since the discovery of oil in the disputed territories. So much for invasion as a weapon to produce democracy and freedom for other peoples of the world.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Let’s look at just a few of the statements made by Bush and his aides about the justification of the "imminent threat" of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons over the last year to justify the war.
August 26, 2002 – Vice President Cheney – "simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction… What he wants is time, and more time to husband his resources to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons program, and to gain possession of nuclear weapons."
September 12, 2002 – President Bush to the UN General Assembly – " Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons… Iraq has made several attempts to buy high –strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon."
September 19, 2002 – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld – "(Iraq) amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin and mustard gas."
October 7, 2002 - President Bush in Cincinnati – "It (Iraq) possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons… And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons."
January 7, 2003 – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a press briefing – "There is no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons."
January 9, 2003 – White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in his daily press briefing – "We know for a fact that there are weapons (of mass destruction) there (in Iraq)."
March 16, 2003 – Vice President Richard Cheney on "Meet The Press" – "We believe he (Saddam Hussein) has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. El Baradei (head of the U.N. International Commission on Nuclear Weapons) frankly is wrong."
March 17, 2003 – President Bush in his weekly address to the nation – "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves not doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
March 21, 2003 – White House Secretary Ari Fleischer in his daily briefing – "Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly… all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for what ever duration it takes."
March 24, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on "Face The Nation" – "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they’re weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established."
March 30, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on ABC’s "This Week" - "We know where they (weapons of mass destruction) are, they are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
This does not include the now infamous 16 words in the President’s State of the Union message or numerous statements made by other members of the administration such as Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and others. In addition the President made fourteen statements that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction while campaigning in 2002 and eleven statements that Saddam was connected to Al Quedda between October 10th and November 4th, 2002. No accusation of a tie between Saddam and Al Quedda has ever been substantiated. What is clear, is that there was a full court press by the administration to convince the American people to support going to war in Iraq.
Evidence to the Contrary
Lets look at some specific accusations and the truth behind them in the now infamous State of the Union message urging war.
Statement from the President’s State of the Union Address
The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
This a serious distortion of the United Nations information. The United Nations concluded that Saddam could have produced the above quantities of weapons by 1991 if he had been allowed to continue to manufacture chemical and biological weapons at full capacity (doubtful given the lack of facilities and materials). This was presented by the President as if it were a current threat.
The reason we knew that Saddam had these weapons was that we sold them to him during the Reagan Administration to use against Iran, a deal sealed by Donald Rumsfeld. The old joke is that we know they have them, because we have the receipts! The reality is that most of these were used (in violation of international law) at our urging to contain the Iranians, destroyed in the 1991 war or deteriorated because of their instability to a point they were no longer viable. Saddam’s inability to produce proof of their destruction was not a surprise to arms inspectors.
A UNSCOM paper from 1998, cited by former inspector Scott Ritter, declared: "Taking into consideration the conditions and the quality of CW-agents and munitions produced by Iraq at threat time, there is no possibility of weapons remaining from the Mid-1980’s" The same is true of biological toxins produced in the 1980’s. Botulism has a shelf life of about a year, while wet anthrax, the principal form produced by Iraq, has a relatively short life span as well.
A pentagon report by the Persian Gulf War Illnesses Task Force, April 2002 concluded that Iraqi production techniques were poor and the resulting toxins too diluted to be militarily effective. It declared: "We believe Iraq was largely cooperative in its latest declarations because many of its residual munitions were of little use- other than bolstering the credibility of Iraq’s declaration – because of chemical agent degradation and leakage problems."
Bush’s figures all refer to information about Iraq prior to 1991. Neither the U.S. or Britain ever made the claim that Iraq had continued production of chemical or biological weapons in the period from 1991-98. Sites visited by U.N. Inspectors after November 2002 were consistent with Iraqi claims of production of agricultural chemicals or oil processing.
Two other reports by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, the Defense Intelligence Agency, (DIA) concluded in 2002 made the following statements about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction:
1. "There is no reliable evidence on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has – or will- establish its chemcial warfare agent production facilities"
2. "Iraq is assessed to possess biological agent stockpiles that may be weaponized and ready for use" but "The size of those stockpiles is uncertain and is subject to debate. The nature and condition of those stockpiles are unknown."
In fact on June 6, 2003 Vice-Admiral Lowell Jacopy, the DIA Director confirmed that the DIA had no hard information on weapons, stockpiles or locations.
Statement from the President’s State of theUnion Address
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
It is now clear that claims that yellow cake uranium was being sought was known to be bogus for over a year before the President’s address after being investigated by Ambassador Donald Wilson at the request of Vice President Cheney. The claims about the high-strength aluminum tubes have never been taken seriously by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which Chairman El Baradei reported to the U.N. Security Council in January 2003 "to be consistent with reverse engineering of rockets" used for short range battlefield rocket launchers allowed under the U.N. rules. In spite of repeated statements by the administration about the presence of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons U.N. inspector Hans Blix’s requests for the location of those sites were refused.
Tony Blair is in deep trouble at home in Britain because of his inability to support claims he made about Iraq including the seeming out and out fabrication that Iraq would be able to use weapons of mass destruction on forty five minutes notice and the basing of some claims sourced from a graduate student’s thesis that was over 12 years old. The reality is that Saddam was the head of a nation that had it’s infrastructure and military largely destroyed in the first gulf war and ten years of sanctions. It had no air force and lacked control over large parts of its own territory including Kurdish areas and no-fly zones. He certainly lacked the ability to be a threat to even his neighbors let alone the U.S.
The administration expects us to believe one of three options. One, we have the most expensive, most incompetent intelligence system in the world. The CIA, DIA and the National Security Administration blew it, they just made a mistake over-amped the intelligence and gave it to an unwitting President. Two, Saddam was so sneaky that he hid all of the weapons before and during the invasion rather than use them against the invading Americans or; Three, Saddam was able to sneak them all out to Syria either of which would be proof of a totally incompetent American military and intelligence community.
The problem with these arguments is that forty years ago President John F. Kennedy was able to present U-2 photos that clearly demonstrated the Soviets were building missile silos in Cuba. The leaps in development of satellite photographic and listening capabilities have improved to the point where we can read a license plate number on a car and listen in on cell phone conversations anywhere in the world. Certainly Mossad, who has the best human intelligence in the world had agents in Iraq that could have pinpointed these weapons. Does anyone really believe that Saddam made the American Intelligence Agencies believe they had weapons they didn’t have for over 10 years? What would be his purpose for such a deception? Or maybe he was a brilliant strategist playing a shell game that fooled the best intelligence in the world.
There is a fourth option and the only rational one is that the President and his Neo Conservative and Military Industrial supporters lied to get support for a war of aggression. Hitler was identified as a megalomaniac because he believed he had a calling that was above the understanding of other men. Bush believes the same thing. In a statement to the new Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas reported in the June 25, 2003 Haaretz.com News Updates he said "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, …"
The costs of the war in economic terms to the U.S. taxpayer alone are likely to far exceed $300 billion dollars. Over 1500 American servicemen and women have been killed and 30,000 wounded so far, more then in the First Gulf War and that number is climbing each day. 15-20,000 Iraqi troops are estimated to have been killed plus another 10-15,000 wounded, many of which were half starved, under equipped and unwilling 15-year-old conscripts. The Doctors Without Borders says there has been at least 100,000 civilian deaths, two thirds women and children. American loss of prestige and credibility around the world has been severely undermined.
For the United States to put an end to this travesty and rejoin the rest of the world two things must take place:
1) The President and other administration officials who participated in this lie to justify this illegal war of aggression should be impeached and removed from office; 2) The President, his officials and war profiteers who supported these illegal acts should be brought before an international tribunal on war crimes and if found guilty sentenced to punishments up to and including hanging for their actions by the standards of international law.
On July 27, 1974 the first Article of Impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committed read "Richard Nixon endeavor[ed]to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States."
In the 1998 impeachment proceedings against William Jefferson Clinton it was said he: "has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
If any of the allegations above are true then certainly these charges would be applicable and provable to justify the conviction and removal of the president and others in his administration who conspired to carry out this subterfuge on the citizens of the U.S. and the world.
It is now clear why the Bush administration in May of 2002 "unsigned" the 1998 Rome Statute to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC). The court seeks to create the world's first permanent tribunal to prosecute war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, asserted that Washington "does not intend to become a party to the (Rome Statute of the ICC)" and that it "has no legal obligations arising from its signature (to the treaty) on December 31, 2000." The administration fully intended to violate international law including wars of aggression and war crimes that include bans on using weapons of mass destruction such as fuel air bombs, cluster bombs and in the future nuclear weapons. The administration has violated the Charter of the United Nations, International Law and the Geneva Convention.
As a guide lets look at the most famous international war crimes trial ever conducted, the International Military Tribunal for Punishment of Major War Criminals of the European Axis known as the Nuremberg War-Crimes Trial held in 1945-46. The definitions of the crimes is as follows:
"The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:
(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of he foregoing:
(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws of customs of war. Such violations include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity:
(c) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
The Nazis were indicted on four points:
1. Conspiracy to commit crimes against peace.
2. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression.
3. War Crimes.
4. Crimes Against Humanity.
There is no doubt that key members of the administration including the President conspired to lie to the American people and are guilty of the first two points. It can easily be argued that they are guilty of points three and four based on their violations of previously signed treaties, the United Nations Charter, and the Geneva Convention. The administration used weapons of mass destruction including cluster bombs, fuel air bombs, kidnapped Afghan "enemy combatants", denied them their rights under the Geneva Convention and plans on executing them. The rules for their trials so blatantly deny their basic rights that the head of the Trial Lawyers Association stated that attorney’s may refuse to be a party to them.
Bush’s own record on criminal behavior is a good stick to measure an appropriate punishment if found guilty. While Governor of Texas he approved the execution of more criminals then any Governor in history. He vetoed a bill to provide the indigent with defense calling it a "threat to public safety", he opposed life without parole and legislation which would have ended the execution of people with IQ’s less than 65. Indeed when asked about an interview conducted with Karla Faye Tucker he pursed his lips mocking derisively with a whimper "Please don’t kill me". Despite Bush’s characterization, Karla Fay Tucker was executed without ever pleading for her life.
George W. has a long record of ignoring international law. While Governor he refused to recognize international treaties requiring notification of a foreign prisoner’s right to consular assistance guaranteed by the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations. He has withdrawn from other international agreements without the consent of congress that were signed by previous presidents including those on ABM Treaty and Nuclear Testing giving the world a vision of future Bush adventures. This has made the word of U.S. Presidents worthless in the international community.
His own father approved the kidnapping of foreign nationals to be brought to the U.S. for trial or the invasion of a country if necessary (remember Manuel Noriega a former CIA informant of Bush Sr.). As a consequence he should expect no assistance from the American government in protecting him from an international decisions about his conduct. In International terms George W. and his neo cons are a blight on international progress towards a peaceful world.
Of those tried at Nuremberg three were acquitted but given prison sentences in other trials during denazification procedures ranging from 3-9 years. They included an ambassador, a banker and a journalist.
Twelve were sentenced to death including Nazi government officials, two military generals, and a leading propagandist and publisher of an anti-Semitic newspaper. Herman Goering, quoted at the beginning of this article, coward to the end, committed suicide before his sentence could be carried out.
Seven were given terms of up to life imprisonment including two Admirals, the Minister for Youth, the General Inspector for Buildings and Construction for Berlin, the Minister for Economic Affairs, Head of the Nazi Labor Front, and a diplomat.
Gustov von Krupp an industrialist and war profiteer was indicted but was physically unable to appear in court and the charges were dropped against him. An American Military Court sentenced his son Alfried Krupp to 12 years in prison and forfeiture of his private property.
Those sentenced to death were executed by hanging in the early morning of October 16, 1946 in Nuremberg Prison Gymnasium, cremated and their ashes strewn in an estuary of the Isar River. Those sentenced to prison terms were interned at Spandau Prison in Berlin. Rudolf Hess the last of the prisoners still in custody committed suicide in August 1987.
Maybe it is once again time for the world to let international criminals of any nation know of its will to rid itself of those whose greed and power seeking threaten the peace and safety of its citizens.
George Will Column, Washington Post Writers Group, June 23, 2003
Second Intelligence Report: "No Reliable Information" Iraqis Stockpiling Chemical Weapons
by David E. Kaplan and Mark Mazzetti June 13, 2003
Bush’s Claims on Iraqi Weapons- Lies in Pursuit of War
By Patrick Martin Feb. 1, 2003
Excerpts from the Presidents State of the Union Message
Pentagon Report Found "No Reliable Evidence of Iraq WMD",
Andrew Buncombe in Washington, "The Independent" June 7, 2003
Ted Rall: They Impeach Murderers, don’t they? June 13, 2003
Neocon-Nazi War Crimes, Schuyler Ebbets, June 27, 2003, www.thepeoplesvoice.org
Bush Misled US Into Iraq War – An Official Finding?, David Corn, "The Nation", June 26, 2003
Charter of the International Military Tribunal
Charter of the United Nations General Assembly
John Michael Kelley is a teacher, philosopher, writer, artist, political activist, singer of ballads, rebellious Irishman and agent for change who worries daily about the world he is leaving for his grandchildren.