If we do not punish Bush crimes, future government criminals will gladly follow their example.
Recall that every time the Bushies did something awful they referenced some obscure, usually unpunished, transgression by a past American president. Manzanar came up, the German saboteurs in WWII, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, and on and on. It’s a small miracle that they never found a reason to reference the Trail of Tears.
America apparently has a weakness that occasionally makes us elect shitty presidents like Bush. Either we make an example now or the next one will be even worse.
I think its probably naive to think that there is anything that we could ever do to stop crimes of high office. It’s the power. These guys absolutely crave it, and once they get some of it, they feel that they are above the law…
Power is a drug; it’s why these guys are pulling down 150k/year instead of 3 mil/year on a board somewhere. It’s why a good man like Wellstone went back on his word that he would only serve two terms, and decided to go back for another. It’s why Bloomberg is going to all this trouble to change term limits in NY. Etc, etc…..
Authority does funny things to people.
Apparently, we have devolved to a state of such pathetic, craven weakness that, this time, we elected the shittiest president ever to inhabit the White House.
If Obama really wants to deliver Change, he would uphold the Rule of Law and hold people accountable. I doubt it’ll happen, but it would be nice.
Oh, and Greenie for Atty. General!
Bush can pardon all the key players except himself. And one of his legal schemers might figure out a way to do that. Will he pardon everyone? I kind of doubt it in the absence of real charges against them. Anyone know if he can pardon for future charges?
History is against you. I Googled on this for a while and I couldn’t find a single example of an ex-president being prosecuted by the administration of his successor. That’s not to say that it’s right.
On the positive side, the Bush Administration has proved so incompetent in the past, it’s sure to screw up its ultimate challenge: covering up its record of misdeeds while in power.
I suspect that the civil trials will heat up after Jan. 20th. Even if the government does not press charges (it should), Bush will still be in hot water. There will be more books, as well.
At the very least, we need congressional investigators to unearth the truth about what happened in the White House during the run-up to the Iraq war. Where are those 3+ million missing emails?
By 2012, Bush won’t be able to leave the country for fear of being arrested by a foreign government. We may as well arrest him before that. We’d be doing him a favor.
When a restaurateur in a Capitol Hill steakhouse asked Tom DeLay to put out his large cigar because of the city’s no smoking law, DeLay bellowed, "I am the federal government!"
Politicians from both parties seem inclined to this mode of thinking. The Dems are just a bit less obvious about it than the Republicans.
Doug H. (Comrade Fausto no more)
Convictions solve everything.
G. Gordon Liddy
The moment I knew we would see more criminals in office was when Nixon was pardoned. If Nixon had stood trial, Bush might not have happened.
As unpleasant as an investigation and trial would be, it needs to happen. Even if no punishments are carried out. As *unpredictable* as special prosecutors can be, I can’t think of a better time to appoint one. Pat Fitzgerald comes to mind.
In the words of John Lennon, it’s clean up time.
Tim F. @ Top:
The corollary being that for each such transgression, a right wing pundit will be found to defend it at book length – see for example, Michelle Malkin’s apologia for concentration camps.
I once read an excellent book about leaders that commit genocides named The Splendid Blonde Beast: Money, Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century. One of its conclusions was that an important way to prevent genocide in the future was to punish those who commit it.
(Not that I think Bush’s crimes amount to genocide per se, though IMHO it clearly amounts to mass murder.)
Would that it were so. IMHO the Congressional Dems are such pussies, that even with an Obama WH and fairly solid control of both houses of Congress, they won’t do anything substantial.
As an example, I really want to know the details of the "aluminum tubes" lie. While everyone (myself included) liked to obsess about Plame Gate, the AL tubes lie was IMHO much more important and central. And how much digging did the relevant committees do on that? Practically none, AFAICT.
Making things worse is that, by taking office, Obama will soon own the Iraq war, whether we like it or not. There’s already reports that the thugs who run our military are conspiring to violate the new SOFA and prevent Obama from bringing most of the troops home. Against that backdrop, I think the Dems are going to be very shy about really going after Bush admin war criminals.
I completely agree. While history isn’t a perfect guide, it is a very good one.
Brick Oven Bill
President Bush, by any historical comparison, has been a restrained executive. Captured men on the Islamic battlefield, known to be hostile, are treated as civilians, and released unless they have actually shot at American forces. Soldiers have been prosecuted by President Bush for shooting ‘unarmed’ Muslims that were calling out their positions to firing forces.
Any legal action would further weaken the executive’s ability to act. Some people think that this would be positive. I think that a weak executive sets the stage for whatever comes next, which I am not looking forward to.
John Lennon is dead, by the way. Shot by a reflective Salinger fan. Those silly kids.
I think Leo’s right and these guys are such utter morons that there’s no way they don’t leave enough evidence to get themselves brought up on charges. Whether Obama or the congressional Dems would have the guts to make the charges is another matter entirely.
Mister fourthbranch is constrained? I think the rest of the country needs what you are smoking.
I hate to be pedantic, but the Nazi saboteurs case from WWII (Ex parte Quirin) is not an example of a transgression by an American president. It’s true that FDR didn’t want the saboteurs to get into court, and thus they were tried by military commission. But there was an actual trial, with several days of evidence. There is little question based on the evidence presented at trial that the Quirin defendants were spies, sent into US territory to commit acts of sabotage, and under the laws of war, that is punishable by death.
If the Bush administration had actually followed Quirin, rather than cited it for propositions it does not stand for, we would all be better off.
Don’t blame FDR for the Bush administration, please.
Yeah. It’s called the Southern Baptist Convention ("Pro-slavery by birth, anti-science by the grace of God!") I hope the Rapture comes soon.
Brick Oven Bill
“What You Are Smoking”
The West’s previous engagement with the Muslim world was the Philippines. Presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft.
Same deal. We won the battle, they (named the MILFs, no kidding) surrendered, and then started fighting. They used drugged up raiding parties. Say what you want about Islam, but it produces brave fighters. The Springfield Model 1911 pistol is a direct result of the US standard service pistol not being able to knock down the MILFs.
Those three Presidents simply went into the villages and imprisoned the populations. Many, many women and children were killed or died of neglect. The attacks then stopped in 1913. Those are our most recent Dar al-Islam datapoints. Google Battle of the Philippines, the parallels are very close. Our response is very different.
The MILFs are still fighting, by the way, even after we left. They remain poor and thin. The prisoners in Cuba are chubby despite their recreational opportunities.
What he is smoking? No way can you smoke something and hallucinate like that. Ol’ kneel and BOB has to be shooting up to believe that shit.
He’s probably shooting up shit, and I mean real shit.
If the Democrats let this bullshit slide, history is not going to be kind to them because in turning a blind eye to the crimes they have made themselves accessories to those crimes. The Bush administration was bookended by the incompetently corrupt Republicans on one side and spinelessly incompetent Democrats on the other.
They both propped Bush up, thus I don’t expect any Democrats to come out for investigations. All they would end up doing is highlighting their own incompetence. Just the thought of Republicans criticizing Democrats over the ‘frivolous partisan political prosecutions’ probably gives them nightmares.
For the Republicans it’s all about the power, when it comes to the Democrats it’s the perception of power. They just don’t know what to do with it once they get it other than trying to make themselves look good.
Special Commission with full subpoena powers to investigate and document facts, with their legal counsel being an ‘independent prosecutor’ appointed by the Atty Gen/President.
If the facts indicate a potential violation of law, a Grand Jury should be convened by the independent prosecutor. If an indictment is voted by GJ, a designated federal court takes on the case.
All of the above can be done with no changes in the law. It would be stronger however if Congress required these actions through a ‘truth law’. Republicans would of course filibuster such a law in the Senate, and that would be enlightening to the voters who voted to sustain an endless filibuster. The Senate should be prepared for a ‘real’ filibuster (talk 24 hours a day, without letup), instead of the phony filibusters that the GOP has conducted with the permission of the Dem. majority.
The answer to that question may have died with this guy.
@Brick Oven Bill:
There is no doubt that fighting against insurgents/terrorists (pick your title) is one of the trickiest things to do when you are trying to segregate civilian and non-civilian targets in urban warfare. But how you think this logically leads to "W" being a "restrained executive" is a mystery to me.
Indeed, he CHOSE this forum for battle. He chose to bring the shit to their house where he knows that combatants don’t play by the rules. And he chose to be the first president in U.S. history to break from "just cause" war initiation and decided to play this fun little game of "preemptive war."
If you are the first president in U.S. history to declare preemptive war, then guess what, you are by definition "unrestrained."
While the GOPers scream that punishing Bush for war crimes is "looking backward", they have no problem punishing non-GOPers for smoking pot 10 years ago (or however far back the statute of limitations goes). As usual, they can’t take their own medicine. What’ll it take for America to relegate these Orcs to Lyndon LaRouche’s electoral realm?
The new right-wing talking point is that both Parties are the same, both are hopeless and there is no point in trying.
Here is the Conservative’s plan:
1) Mash both Parties together, saying they both caused the Con Bush disaster(s), that both sides do the same things, that both sides started it, that neither side is any good. Yes, after years of telling America that the Dems are treasonous scum who wish only to destroy America, all of a sudden they BOTH are the SAME.
My countrymen will probably swallow this without question or commentary.
2) Once that lie has sunk in and the nation is rendered completely apathetic, it will be time to reignite the wars against the weak, supine, cowardly, passive, stupid, do-nothing "liberals".
3) Blame the entire Con movement’s track record on Mr. Liberal George W. Bush the lib Liberal LibLibby-Lib.
* * * * * *
I am disappointed that people here think there is some kind of option about fighting the lies and bringing the criminals to justice. You either fight or eat dirt. If our forefathers had that attitude … it’s the strangest thing that people think liberalism is "weak". The actual hard world, the one reasserting itself with these high crimes, is the one which liberalism addresses. Only liberalism has answers to the problem of crimes in high office, using ideas such as the separation of Powers, Checks & Balances, non-dictatorial Executive Branch, civilian control of the military, etc.
THAT’s why Cons and the Established Class hate liberalism: it is the only effective restraining mechanism of aristocratic abuse known to mankind. That’s why fascists hate liberals. They hate liberals in Communist Russia and China too. Sadly I’m not sure that my fellow "liberals" know enough history to understand their own belief system.
America was a nation born in liberty, and as a liberal nation it grew into the greatest nation on earth. Now we have allowed our own wealthy class to corrupt even our common understanding of the word "liberal" and our nation is plummeting into some unnamed abyss.
We need to come back to a shared commonwealth with liberal values (diplomacy, individual rights, minority representation, equality before the law) and quickly. And no, I don’t think we are going to do this.
The propaganda went too deep and was digested too thoroughly. The treachery is in our bones now; people called good BAD and bad GOOD too willingly and for too long. See the torture "debate" to see the depths we are navigating.
Even people who call themselves liberal have bought into the propaganda (our media is owned by corporations, duh). Think about it: why do liberals, who were always hated by actual commies (The real Left) far and wide, accept this politically charged, alienating "Leftist" label assigned by the corporate media? Because We the People don’t know our history. We have ALL drunk the teevee koolaid, slurped it with straws, and now simply accept what it says and don’t research for ourselves.
I think our society may have made a fatal decision when taking the right-wing’s path to Empire. Teevee owns the minds of my nation’s citizenry, and the right-wing Establishment owns the teevee.
Seriously, mister I’m my own branch of government who does not answer subpoenas is constrained. Seriously? After 8 years of epic fail that almost killed my brother and is going to cost me for decades, I could use a good laugh.
JR: Dude, who watches TeeVee? That shit’s older than VCR’s. If I can’t torrent my rss feed onto twitter from my facebook page, it doesn’t exist.
Well, GW said it was just. If you’re looking for moral justification or restrained executive, I think both criteria fail with the Spanish American War, US involvement in WWI, Vietnam and all those little wars (oh, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Panama, Kosovo, etc, etc).
In "just war" theory, Iraq II was "preventive". Which is a completely different thing, and always un-just. That Bush tried to redefine preventive to mean pre-emptive, notwithstanding.
But all that said very few of our wars has been just, by doctrine. That the natives of our own and many other third world nations do not follow quaint Western precepts on uniforms was a feature of the Geneva Conventions. It was there by design.
for the most part, you’re right. JWT doesn’t fit well with multinational alliances, and thats why quite a few of our wars probably would pass muster under the JWT.
But nothing violates the just cause criterion quite like the "Bush doctrine," and maybe the way the war has turned out is an indicaiton that Grotious knew what he was talking about so long ago.
Brick Oven Bill
I agree with you Tymannosourus. In my opinion, containment and isolation are the best policy. But we need to understand why the Philippinos act similar to the Iraqis, who act similar to the Somalis, who act similar to the Pakistanis.
I’m all for calling a truce, and letting them take whatever they can, so long as it stays outside of the Western Hemisphere. I’m all for advocating idealistic levels of human dignity. But it seems like Western idealism is on the defense these days. This is one reason why it is important to understand that North America is energy independent, once we perfect the technology to extract shale oil.
Spengler is a respected columnist for the Asia Times who has an interesting take on how this ideological conflict will change as economies contract.
correction, should have said: "quite a few of our wars would not pass muster…
@Brick Oven Bill: Bah.
Iran has weathered far worse than $35/bl oil in the past, and Mr. Alphabet is a parrot who maybe manages his rolodex. The regime will not collapse. Iran is the only rationally acting player in the combat area, and thus the last ally the Republicans want. Iraq politically disemboweled, Afghan hot as we stoke a Pancho bin-Laden microwar into a full fledge heroin/culture war and destablize Pakistan… it would make more sense to have supply lines via Iran than Pakistan.
Iran will probably still have a larger per-capita export economy than the US.
And just who they would invade, respected "Spengler" can’t even hazard a Friedmanesqe guess. He and his crowd see only one country in the ME with any middle class left, and thus is must be destroyed. America isn’t the cure, it’s the virus.
They won’t stop coming over here, until we stop going over there. Rest assured, we won’t, until Condi’s policies writ her nightmares large.
Captured boys turned in by warlords for money on the other hand must be tortured for years without trial and declared by Bush to be "evil murdering terrorists who must never see the light of day"
Well yeah, what with Bush and company destroying it from the inside out.
Yeah, we started following the Geneva Conventions afterwards.
BOB, very good at leaving out very important details that matter.
if you’re a conservative, i guess.
Brick Oven Bill
The Saudis have said that they think Iran’s profit point is $50/bbl, and threatened to drop prices below that to starve Iran in the case of a new Shiite-Sunni conflict. This is what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. Oil got cheaper during the 1980s. Iran might be in trouble.
I suspect that the Saudis are drying up and are misrepresenting their reserves to impress Condi. They will not allow independent review of their oil reserves.
We have 300+ years of oil in North America. We don’t need the Middle East. Let them live however they choose to. Reengaging Afghanistan is the wrong thing to do. There isn’t even any oil in Afghanistan. Dumb.
@Brick Oven Bill:
Hey, smart guy…where’s that oil? Why are you in the business of developing things for stupid people, and not going out and drilling for it?
I think it’s a pretty well-established principle of the overall U.S. ruling class that our major leaders are never punished for their major policy making.
It appears to be okay to catch them on more low-level, personal or localized criminal screw-ups.
Maybe if the Hollywood super-aliens one day land and make the powerful subject to the laws they impose, but otherwise I see nearly zero chance of such a system of law and justice being upheld for the powerful.
What’s funny is that the Iran-Contra ‘crooks’ were only investigated to the extent that they might have carried out their policies in procedurally illegal manners.
No one in power seemed to give much of a sh*t then, or now, that, for example, they were eagerly supporting & colluding with out and out genocide in Guatemala. And no one in power ever will.
Oh, hey, Convection Oven Bill? Where’s that attack you so confidently predicted? Perhaps you should go look for that…
Sure, we made a few mistake when we tried my solution, but the recidivism rate was wonderfully low…
joe from Lowell
I want the next President who’s tempted to order someone tortured to think of Dick Cheney and feel terror in the pit of his stomache.
Sorry – it’s not like this is like, you know, news or anything. Macbeth Act 5 Scene 1:
35 Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why,
36 then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my
37 lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
38 fear who knows it, when none can call our power
39 to account?—Yet who would have thought the old
40 man to have had so much blood in him?
I mean, duh. If you can’t hold power to account, it’ll get away with murder. The only upside is, if there’s truly no penalty for anything a King/Emperor/President/Junta/what have you does, they do have a tendency to stop bothering hiding their atrocities. So at least you get transparency in government, simply because having it can’t do you any good anymore…
@Brick Oven Bill:
Many years ago my father was Chief Engineer for Marion Power Shovel. Along with your ordinary construction cranes and shovels they built big stuff. The crawler transport for the Saturn V was theirs along with walking draglines that pick up a bucket load the size of a house. As a child I got to visit some machines at work.
The strip mines were nowhere near where I lived so I’d never seen them in person. The gash and the spoils piles were immense and astonishing. The technology is impressive, and so are the results.
One of the really big problems with this kind of extraction is that you disturb stuff that was stable and bring it to the top and some of it is pretty nasty. You don’t have to dig really deep to start running into chemicals that are quite bad for living things and now you’ve exposed them to rain and other elements (wind for one).
The ugly hole can be filled in and terrain matched, it’s nasty looking while in operation but that can and is actually addressed. There is no addressing the spoils, these huge volumes cannot be protected from the weather or otherwise contained. I don’t address the processing issues because it isn’t common for all extraction processes, but what is common is the spoils.
@El Cid: As Elliot Abrams said, "we won".
@Brick Oven Bill: The Saudi’s won’t be able to keep up the squeeze for very long, there won’t be enough demand anyway, and over half their own population was born since 1986. Many more mouths to feed. Maybe long enough to wipe out competition (US domestic production, alt energy, whatever) – but that’s it.
Shale, we don’t have the water, or the technology, and thankfully the environmentalists won’t let Utah or Colorado be turned into the Newark dump.
Re Afghanistan, yeah, the guy who is against dumb wars is wanting to:
1) further destabilize Pakistan
2) fight on Pancho bin-Ladens terms
3) make Afghanistan safe for the Karzai family heroin business
Well, at least we’ve moved from hypothetical win scenarios to lose-lose-lose scenarios. So far, the only theory I’ve heard that makes sense is that this will keep Patraeus too busy and provide no national security foothold in 2012.
Does rule of law really exist anymore?
Polish the Guillotines
I hate to be self-referential, but… what my handle says. And then use ’em.
At one point it had to be invented. What can be invented can be re-invented.
@Polish the Guillotines: your ideas intrigue me, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter
I generally like what Greenwald has to say. Sometimes, though, he kind of seems like a whiny little beeyotch.
Brick Oven Bill
‘Water’ is a false issue.
Oil Shale Ban
@Brick Oven Bill: Clearly proven by that Heritage Foundation ‘Reid is a mooslim’ wankfest. You can always count on those ID hydrogeologists there.
The problem of course being that getting it out is expensive and environmentally destructive and the quality of the oil don’t match what’s from the Middle East.
So sayth the false spoofer.
Brick Oven Bill
Don’t doubt me.
Instead, ask why there is a ban on exploring this resource.
Comrade grumpy realist
A ban because we still haven’t figured out how to charge the externalities to the extractors?
When it takes N dollars to extract a barrel of oil worth N+1 dollars, but you do 4N dollars worth of damage to the surrounding environment, yeah, we put bans in place.
And anyone who thinks shale oil is the end-all and the best thing since sliced bread, I invite you to look at the economics of the oil sand extraction up in Canada. Ooops.
Hmmm… war crimes. What war crimes did Bush commit? This Site has a pretty comprehensive explanation of what they are ("you know ’em when you see ’em"(?)). …and it would appear that those who committed them were caught and punished – right up to the present-day.
It would be really, really difficult to even charge W and/or C or Rice, et al. with war crimes as the statutes will have to be invented. Rebuilding a country – no matter how you look at it – is difficult to spin into a war crime.
It will also be an ENORMOUS waste of time. It will prove nothing other than the stupidity of people who should have better things to do.
Brick Oven Bill
I’d say a ban because the world would look quite a bit different if there were to be a stable domestic supply of oil at $25-30/bbl until such time that we had the technology to use nuclear power (10s of thousands of years of domestic fuel) to generate hydrogen through hydrolysis to run fuel cells and power our vehicles.
If this were to become a reality (and it can), think about who the losers would be. Hint: see who donates to Presidential libraries. Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton is a long time. Probably the same guys who spread rumors that it takes open-cycle water to heat up rock.
I made the point a few days ago at my place that there is a fundamental part of rule of law that has to do with general respect for it.
You’re kidding, right?
The number one war crime committed by Bush is that of aggressive war.
To quote Robert Jackson:
As for an actual statute to charge Bush under, the US is a signatory to many treaties. If any of them ban wars of aggression, then he broke the law because (according to the Constitution) treaties carry the force of domestic law.
Bull$#it. The best thing about such a trial is the discovery phase, where the depth of lying and depravity of Bush and his thugs would be exposed.
Of course, that all assumes there’s someone willing to go after them.
@Brick Oven Bill:
I don’t think shale oil etc is going to be extractable at that price.
10s of thousands of years? Nope. Unless you use breeder reactors, the world supply of uranium (let alone the domestic supply) is actually pretty limited.
And if you’re alluding to fusion, then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell you.
Brick Oven Bill
Even the French have figured out breeder reactors. Shell says $30/bbl production at their facility. Electricity is expensive, you know.
(10s of thousands of years of domestic fuel)
First the oil fantasies.
Now nuclear power wetdreams.
Right, now explain where all the waste is going to go.
Once again, BOB smoking some strong shit.
What is the cost of extraction?
Brick Oven Bill
Shell Oil says $30/bbl. But they are using electricity, which has a thermal efficiency of 30-40%. Electricity is a dumb way to do it. But still, why is Shell not pursuing it? Why did Harry Reid outlaw it? I’d say somewhere between half and three-quarters of the price and have a theory. The key is groundwater cleanliness and a smarter heating system, which is achievable. I don’t work for a company.
‘100 years of Uranium’. Then talk to Francois.
@Brick Oven Bill:
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go…
Brick Oven Bill
And truth conquers all.
@Brick Oven Bill:
I’m not sure there’d be 10,000 yrs of power even with breeders.
But the big problem with breeders is that they easily lead to weapons-grade fissile material.
One might argue it’s OK for the US. Not such a good idea for the entire world IMHO.