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DELIVERING A POWERFUL "J'ACCUSE" -- RIGHT IN BUSH'S BRAVE NEW "HOMELAND"
By Larry Everest
As the new year begins, January looms as a crucial month, possibly shaping events for the year and far beyond. In this critical moment, there's an urgent need - and great possibility - for delivering a powerful and compelling indictment of the Bush administration for war crimes and crimes against humanity right here in the U.S. This is the mission of the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity, whose final session will be held January 20-22 in New York City. The situation, and our responsibility to world humanity, call for nothing less.
Just since our opening session in October, new reports of shocking crimes - in all areas of our indictments - have poured forth. In Iraq, it has been revealed that the U.S. used white phosphorous in Fallujah and is escalating its air war, while its Iraqi allies build torture chambers and organize death-squads.
Bush, Cheney and Rice hypocritically claim we do not torture, while making clear - in actions and words - that they do, and fully intend to continue spying, detaining, torturing and maintaining secret prisons. The number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo has nearly doubled because, according to Reuters (12/30/05), the idea of spending the rest of [their lives] at Guantanamo without any due process is simply unbearable.
With scientists warning of climate shocks, polar ice melts, and global tipping points, the U.S. walked out of one session of the Montreal Summit on global warming and continues to sabotage efforts to curb global warming, putting millions around the world at greater risk from natural disasters, loss of habitat, water shortages, and famine.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, the Bush administration expanded its global gag on information vital to fighting this pandemic, and codified that two-thirds of all aid funds aimed at preventing HIV infections by sexual transmission must be spent on abstinence-only programs. Both these actions have potentially genocidal implications in AIDS-ravaged countries dependent on U.S. health funds.
In the face of the massive devastation in New Orleans, Bush continues to neglect the vital needs of those most severely impacted. Homes are not being rebuilt, services and schools that would enable the city's displaced residents to return are not being restored. Tens of thousands, overwhelmingly Black, are still destitute or living as refugees, far from their former homes. Many have called this a form of racial cleansing.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the future of global humanity is being held hostage - in many ways and on many fronts - by a criminal cabal in the White House which remains bent on forging ahead with its cruel, dangerous agenda. A recent Washington Post headline stated, Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor, Anti-Terror Effort Continues to Grow.
All this places a great responsibility on people of conscience, especially here in the US. As the charter of the Commission of Inquiry states, When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In this regard, these words spoken by Harold Pinter in his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, resonate powerfully: Despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all.
And there is a particular urgency to the Commission's work now. Questioning, distrust and anger over actions by the Bush regime have grown by leaps and bounds. But public comprehension of, and outrage over, the full sweep and scope of the administration's agenda - remains far too narrow and muted; too often things are discussed in terms of dishonesty, misconduct, and law-breaking. All are true, but these charges do not begin to capture the enormity of Bush's crimes - both those that have occurred and those in the making.
If the current terms of debate are allowed to stand and the Bush administration is not called to account for its towering acts against humanity, it will emerge strengthened. If its actions are not fully repudiated, they become legitimized and a new normalcy established - only to be shattered by new horrors, with people less able to respond.
At this critical moment, the Commission of Inquiry can make a decisive difference. Prominent witnesses rigorously presenting compelling evidence before a jury of stature, conscience, and expertise can reveal and galvanize truths that change hearts and minds.
Examining Bush actions which rise to the level of crimes against humanity - wars of aggression, torture, global warming, HIV/AIDS policies and Katrina - can deepen each individual indictment. And by taking them together, a whole can emerge greater than the sum of its parts: the conscious, systematic malevolence at the core of the Bush agenda, and how truly unconscionable this regime is on the scales of history.
This Commission of Inquiry is an instrumentality of world humanity and an imperative of conscience. It can become a vehicle for the millions looking for clarity and voice, can change the terms of debate, and can deliver a powerful and urgently needed j'accuse ("I accuse") right in Bush's brave new homeland.
As its Charter states: The holding of this tribunal will frame and fuel a discussion that is urgently needed in the United States: Is the administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?
Your participation is essential to realizing the Commission of Inquiry's historic mission. Contact our office by phone (212-941-8086), e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our website: www.bushcommission.org.
Larry Everest is an organizer of the International Commission of Inquiry, a contributor to Revolution Newspaper (www.revcom.us) and other publications, and the author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda