Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sign The War Crimes Petition Already!

Sign The War Crimes Petition Already!
by Edger at Docudharma, Saturday, January 03, 2009
Also at Daily Kos
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Don't expect me to or even ask me to tell you why you should sign the petition.

You already know why you should sign the petition. You don't need me or anyone else to tell you why you should sign the petition.

Petition BadgeClick the Badge to read and sign the Formal Petition to Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.
Get BadgeClick "Get Badge" to get the html code and post the badge on your blog or website so other people can find and sign the petition too.

There is no more debate on these matters. The only people who want to continue debating these matters are war criminals who want to be let off the hook and supporters of letting war criminals off the hook.

Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes, Patriot Daily, December 29, 2008
Signing the petition drafted by budhydharma and Docudharma is not in defiance of our President-Elect Obama, but rather a sign of support for the difficult times that he and Holder will face when performing their clear constitutional duties.

As President, Obama will have the constitutional duty to faithfully execute our laws.

The constitutional oath of office will require President Obama to faithfully execute the office of President and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. Our constitution also requires that our presidents "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  The principle of the rule of law is partially based on this Faithfully Execute clause which requires our President to comply with laws, our Constitution and treaties because our Constitution established a government of laws, not of men and women.

The Geneva Convention is one of the laws which must be faithfully executed.

Our constitution mandates that treaties are one of the laws that the President must faithfully execute.  Moreover, treaties are recognized as one of our supreme laws of the land alongside our Constitution and federal laws.  For over 200 years, the federal courts have reaffirmed that our President is bound by the laws of war, which include conventions. In fact, both Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)addressed issues of whether the US government was violating the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention.  Yet, some will whine that it is partisan to not exempt Bush from 200 years of precedent that governed presidents from both parties.

The Geneva Convention imposes a duty to prosecute former presidents who committed war crimes.
You already have your own reasons why you should sign the petition.

All the reasons that built up, piled one on top of the other for that past eight years as these criminals hijacked the country, dismantled the constitution and the rule of law, made their criminal friends fabulously wealthy, were directly responsible for the deaths of more than a million Iraqis in an illegal and immoral invasion and occupation, destroyed the global economy, wrecked America's reputation around the world, and called you a traitor when you cried foul and set up schemes to spy on you and intimidate you into silence.

And tortured people in your name. Tortured people. In your name. Tortured people with the blackest, most heinous and most evil torture methods known to humanity. Tortured people with methods that America has pressed war criminal charges against other countries citizens for using. Tortured people with the most sadistic and evil methods the Spanish Inquisition and more recently the Khmer Rouge made a regular habit of using as an oppression tool. Tortured people with methods that have been universally condemned and outlawed by virtually every country and society on earth.

You already know. You already know all of your own reasons why you should sign the petition.

Enhanced Interrogation Methods? No, The Word Is "Torture", Bob Higgins, October 4, 2007
I am sick to death of all the pussyfooting around the subject that has occupied the media for the duration of this premeditated, illegal war of terror that we the people of the United States have allowed to be waged against the people of Iraq, in our name, for the last several years.

No matter how much lipstick and rouge we smear on the face of this war no matter how we attempt to dress up the evil and bestial acts that have been performed in its unholy name, it still has the hideous countenance of an evil swine from hell.

It is an illegal war, begun and conducted under false pretenses, by a group of criminal liars and thieves in the United States Government, abetted by a cowardly congress who abrogated their constitutional duties in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds and furthered by a complaisant press that ignored their obligation to remain independent from government, from their sponsors and report the facts.

The members of the completely rogue executive department acted in their own self interest in a quest for personal power and wealth, in concert with the usual domestic and international corporate pirates who, in the depths of their insatiable greed, continually amplify human conflict to their own ends and bring poverty, war, suffering and death down upon the world.

There is no such animal as extraordinary rendition, nor do I know of the existence of any beasts called enhanced interrogation methods.

The first is kidnapping, it is illegal, a felony and the second word is torture, its meaning is clear:

1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
2. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.

Torture is illegal in this country, a felonious act, it is illegal in the world at large, according to several conventions that we are legally bound by. Anyone committing torture, causing it to be committed, directing its commission, or training others in its techniques is guilty, guilty of war crimes, of crimes against humanity and crimes against "Nature's God.
Tens of thousands of people have signed the Petition for a Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes so far since we launched it on December 18, 2008, and Bob Fertiks "question" to Obama and the transition team at under "Additional Issues" is now is the lead question it its category.
"Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor [...] to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?"
Why aren't there 13 million signatures on the petition instead of just 13 thousand? Mainstream media is avoiding this issue like it's leprosy. I would hope left blogs wouldn't.

We need to force this issue into the media. We need to beat this issue into the heads of leaders, both current and incoming, in Washington.
Summary of International and U.S. Law Prohibiting Torture and Other Ill-treatment of Persons in Custody
International and U.S. law prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of any person in custody in all circumstances. The prohibition applies to the United States during times of peace, armed conflict, or a state of emergency. Any person, whether a U.S. national or a non-citizen, is protected. It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a prisoner-of-war, a protected person, or a so-called "security detainee" or "unlawful combatant." And the prohibition is in effect within the territory of the United States or any place anywhere U.S. authorities have control over a person. In short, the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is absolute.
A federal anti-torture statute (18 U.S.C. § 2340A), enacted in 1994, provides for the prosecution of a U.S. national or anyone present in the United States who, while outside the U.S., commits or attempts to commit torture.

Torture is defined as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control." A person found guilty under the act can be incarcerated for up to 20 years or receive the death penalty if the torture results in the victim's death.
After January 20, 2009 there will be a new Attorney General of the United States, and Eric Holder Jr. will most likely be confirmed as that new Attorney general.

Mr. Holder has said that:
"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the 'War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."
Eric Holder, Jr.
If Mr. Holder, when he becomes Attorney General, is to live up to his own statements and retain the personal and professional integrity he has displayed in his law career thus far, and not by acts of omission become an accessory along with Mr. Mukasey and Ms. Pelosi to the crimes of Bush, Cheney and others in the Bush administration, he will have no choice but to accept the demands of the thousands of US citizens who have signed the Docudharma/ Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute Bush administration war crimes.
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If he will not, Mr. Holder runs the risk of throwing away a lifetime of work in a so far illustrious career and all of his personal and professional integrity and becoming a fugitive with Mr. Mukasey and an accessory to these crimes along with and no better than the perpetrators and other conspirators.

Given his professional record, I have every confidence that Mr. Holder, as soon to be Attorney General of the United States, realizes that he can make no other choice than to do the right thing.

Mr. Holder knows. As Attorney General he will wear the badge as the highest ranking officer of justice in the United States.

He will have his own integrity on the line.

Mr. Holder knows that like any other accused criminals, Bush and Cheney deserve fair trials.

And Mr. Holder knows that failing to give them those fair trials would be convicting himself.

There must be war crimes investigations, prosecutions and trials. And sentencing.

It is the only way to "move forward".

Or else...

There was a fever over the land, a fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger.  We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all there was fear, fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us, because he said to us:
"Lift your heads. Be proud to be German. There are devils among us, communists, liberals, Jews, gypsies. Once these devils will be destroyed your misery will be destroyed."
It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb.

What about those of us who knew better, we who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country. What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded -- sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows! We will go forward. FORWARD is the great password.

And history tells how well we succeeded, Your Honor. We succeeded beyond out wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world. We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said, "Go ahead. Take it. Take it! Take Sudetenland! Take the Rhineland! Re-militarize it! Take all of Austria! Take it!"

And then, one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual begun in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a "passing phase" had become the way of life.
Decision of the Court:

The trial conducted before this Tribunal began over eight months ago. The record of evidence is more than ten thousand pages long, and final arguments of counsel have been concluded.

Simple murders and atrocities do not constitute the gravamen of the charges in this indictment. Rather, the charge is that of conscious participation in a nationwide, government organized system of cruelty and injustice in violation of every moral and legal principle known to all civilized nations. The Tribunal has carefully studied the record and found therein abundant evidence to support beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against these defendants.
The Power of One
by Nightprowlkitty, Docudharma, December 26, 2008

Crossposted at Docudharma, Daily Kos, My Left Wing, Open Left, The Sanctuary, and OOIBC
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

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Give Bush and Cheney a fair trial -- something they have not bothered with since they stole office.

It's funny how the powers that be in the media and government are running around with their big fat excuses as to why we can't hold these criminals accountable for their crimes.  It all boils down to "It's too hard!!!"

It's too hard.  It would affect too many people.  It would interfere with the crucial work of restoring our economy.  Blah blah blah.  Not one of these folks say, however, that no crime has been committed, no law has been broken.  No one says that.

I find that stunning.  We all know, at least those of us who have been paying attention, that Bush and his crew of crooks have broken the law over and over again.

And Cheney says "What you gonna do about it?"  And Cheney says "oh, the Dems knew about this and approved it, hell they wanted us to be even tougher than we were!"

And we should believe Cheney ... why?

I don't want speculation any more.  I want the truth, the facts, what really happened.  Only a special prosecutor can get that information, someone who is inured to the politics of Washington D.C. by being given the independent power to investigate.

What I like about this petition is that it shows the power of the individual citizen.  This is not a grassroots effort decided by committee.  A couple of folks got together and came up with the text and others jumped in to work further on it and spread it around.

The power of the individual citizen.

I am extremely annoyed at the argument that we citizens are somehow childlike creatures who don't know all the real problems of our country and so we shouldn't cry and whine about our "pet issues" when the government knows so much more about what is important and should be made a priority.


We ARE the government.  The only people who will take back power as citizens, are citizens!  That's us.

To me, Obama's election is a signal that we can now start taking back that individual power, our individual rights.  It's not for Obama or any elected representative to tell me what I should make a priority.  I get to decide that for myself.  They'll do their jobs, and I'll do mine.

The measure of our success with this petititon will be the resistance from the powers that be, the Dems, the Repubs, Obama, the media.  The more we read about how this is not a good idea, getting a special prosecutor, the more we'll know we have them on the run.

Many of us have sent this petition to friends and family, whether they be politically agreeable to us or not.  One by one people will sign.  This isn't "organized" grassroots and it's netroots only insofar as the structure.

To me, this is about the power of each indviidual citizen, not resting happy with the decisions of our elected representatives but standing up for what we feel is right and making our voices heard.

We need to know the truth about the crimes committed in our names.  We need to have every American citizen aware of what has been done so there can be no denials or excuses.

At this time, the only line between tyranny and freedom is an informed citizenry.  By signing this petition and working to make it known we will not accept anything less than full accountability for torture being done in our name, we are exercising our power, not the power one step removed of the three branches of government.

We have power collectively and we also have power individually.  I think the citizenry of this country are going to be tested enormously as we have to let our representatives know we are not asking for favors on our "pet causes" but taking our government back, of, by and for the people.

Docudharma Tag: petition for a special prosecutor
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There's more: "Sign The War Crimes Petition Already!" >>

Friday, January 2, 2009

SSG Ryan Maseth - You must be very proud!

(This is cross posted from
One year ago today, 24 year old Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died in his shower at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad.

The Army initially reported that Ryan, a decorated Green Beret foolishly took an electrical appliance into the shower and that was the reason for his death.

The Criminal Investigations Command (CID) closed Ryan's investigation on June 11, 2008 proclaiming Ryan's manner of death was "accidental". His mother, Cheryl Harris refused to accept this as the cause of death for her son.

Cheryl launched into her own investigation and took on the two Goliaths, DoD and KBR. She enlisted the assistance of Senator Casey, Senator Dorgan, Congressman Waxman, Jim Risen of the New York Times, Greg Mitchell and CNN. Anyone who would listen to her tell her story about the unsafe living conditions of our soldiers in the Middle East.

Soldiers came forward. Electricians came forward. Total strangers came forward. Offering pertinent information and support.

On July 11, 2008 Cheryl bravely testified before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Cheryl described, in heartbreaking detail, the cause of Ryan's death and the shoddy and unsafe electrical conditions of his building.

On July 30, 2008 The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform thoroughly chastised the DoD Inspector General, The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), The Army Contract Command, and KBR for shoddy work and total lack of oversight. The Committee presented evidence that was uncovered due to Cheryl's persistence and doggedness.

On August 29, 2008, the Criminal Investigations Command (CID) reopened its investigation into the cause of SSG Ryan Maseth's death. Currently the investigation is "open and ongoing".

Since Cheryl Harris waged war on the DoD and KBR several very positive changes have occurred with regard to the safety of our US Troops and civilians.

  • Task Force Safe was implemented to inspect nearly 90,000 DoD buildings for electrical deficiencies and fire hazards.
  • A Level III Corrective Action Request (CAR) was written against KBR for electrical deficiencies.
  • KBR changed their hiring requirements for electricians and now requires them to be licensed. In order to attract qualified electricians, KBR has dramatically increased their wages.
  • The DCMA oversight of the LOGCAP contract as clearly improved.
  • Other families are coming forward and some have filed suit against KBR for the electrocution death and chemical exposures of their loved ones.
  • And just maybe the DoD will think twice before trying to deceive a family member again.

It is my opinion there is only one logical conclusion to the cause of Ryan Maseth's death. So let's complete the investigation and move on to the next step.

Cheryl, on this day I have no words to comfort you. Nothing to dull the pain you must be feeling. But, I would like to say you are truly a hero. Because of your bravery and determination to find the truth US Soldiers and Civilians are safer. KBR is being called to task. And the DCMA is doing their job more effectively.

Cheryl, I can't help but think that on this day, as Ryan wraps his arms around you to comfort you, he whispers "Mom, not all warriors wear uniforms. Your strength and bravery humble even the most decorated soldier. I am so very proud of you."

May you find peace today my friend.


aka Ms Sparky

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2008 - KBR's 5th Year Of LOGCAP Fraud, Waste & Abuse

(This is cross posted from

When I first came up with this idea to do a recap of KBR activity for 2008, I didn't think it would take me three days to do the research and compile all the info. I haven't been following everything that KBR has been up to. That would take a full-time "staff". I found out things I didn't even know were going on. And after all that research...all I can really say is...if it walks like a duck and talks like a must be a freakin' duck!

I tried to get my dates as accurate as possible. If I'm incorrect, send me an email and I will correct it. If I missed something, send me an email and I will add it.

January 2008

01/02/2008 - SSG Ryan Maseth is electrocuted in his shower and dies at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad, Iraq due to shoddy electrical work. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) opens investigation into manner of death.
01/??/2008 - KBR employee, Dawn Leamon was drugged and brutally raped in her room at Camp Harper in Southern Iraq.

February 2008

02/27/2008 -KBR employee Tracy K Barker was raped in Basra, Iraq. - Another of KBR's rape victims to come forward Click HERE to read a very interesting post

March 2008

03/09/2008 - AP Exclusive - US troops may have become sick in Iraq from contaminated water supplied by KBR
03/12/2008 - Pentagon Dismisses KBR Contaminated Water: Troops Should ‘Just Drink Bottled Water’
03/19/08 - Cheryl Harris, SSG Ryan Maseth's mother files "Wrongful Death" lawsuit against KBR in Pennsylvania.

April 2008

04/09/2008 - Former KBR employees Dawn Leamon and Mary Beth Kineston testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about their rapes in Iraq - Closing Legal Loopholes:Prosecuting Sexual Assaults And Other Violent Crimes Committed Overseas By American Civilians In A Combat Environment
04/28/2008 - Senate DPC Hearing - Contracting Abuses in Iraq:Is the Bush Administration Safeguarding American Taxpayer Dollars? - KBR employees working in Iraq stole weapons, artwork and even gold to make spurs for cowboy boots, two former company workers told Senate Democrats.

May 2008

05/09/2008 - Former KBR employee and Jamie Leigh Jones gang rape case goes to trial instead of arbitration!
05/25/2008 - 9 former KBR employees file suit for sodium dichromate exposure.

June 2008

06/02/2008 - My first blog post about KBR and the soldier electrocutions. (It's important to me!)
06/11/2008 - The Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) finds SSG Ryan Maseth's death was an "accident". (CID reopens investigation 08/29/2008)
06/20/2008 - Senate DPC Hearing - The Exposure at Qarmat Ali: Contractor Misconduct and the Safety of U.S. Troops in Iraq Former KBR employees testify about how KBR knowingly exposed US Troops and their own employees to Hexavalent Chromium (Chrom-6).
06/20/2008 - Group demands that California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) dump KBR Inc stocks. What a great idea!!!

July 2008

07/01/2008 - Senator Casey expresses concerns about KBR performing own electrical inspections.
07/09/2008 - Senate DPC Hearing - Safeguarding Taxpayer Dollars in Iraq: An Insider's View of Questionable Contracting Practices by KBR and the Pentagon Former Chief of the Field Support Command Division testifies to personally witnessing KBR submitting over $1 billion in unsupported charges.
07/11/2008 - Senate DPC Hearing - Contractor Misconduct and the Electrocution Deaths of American Soldiers in Iraq Mothers Cheryl Harris, Larraine McGee, Soldier Rachel McNeil and Electricians Debbie Crawford and Jeff Bliss testify to shoddy electrical work done by KBR. More videos and media coverage.
07/17/2008 - The H.R. HEART Act of 2008 goes into affect. KBR can no longer avoid paying millions in Social Security and Medicare taxes. To bad it's not retroactive.
07/17/2008 - Fisher v. Halliburton - KBR Lawsuit Revived - The “Good Friday Massacre.” Friday, April 9, 2004. KBR truck drivers were sent out on convoy when KBR was told they would be attacked.
07/18/2008 - Electrical Risks at Bases in Iraq Worse Than Previously Said
07/18/2008 - Senators Want Independent Safety Review of KBR's Electrical Work in Iraq
07/21/2008 - Larraine McGee, mother of SSG Christopher Everett file suit against KBR for his electrocution death at Camp Taqqadum.
07/30/2008 - Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold hearings on Deficient Electrical Systems at U.S. Facilities in Iraq KBR's Tom Bruni, the DoD and DCMA are totally humiliated by the Committee for their shoddy work and lack of oversight.

August 2008

08/??/2008 - KBR changes it's qualification requirements for it's electricians requiring them to be licensed. It also increases journeyman wages to $3750 base and masters to $5000 base. Finally!!!
08/12/2008 - Curtis Coffey files suit. Iraq Injury Spurs Class Action Against KBR
08/27/2008 -KBR, Partner in Iraq Contract Sued in Human Trafficking Case - Suit Alleges Slavery
08/29/2008 - The Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) re-opens the investigation into the cause of SSG Ryan Maseth's death.

September 2008

09/??/2008 - Task Force Safe is implemented to inspect the electrical wiring at 90,000 DoD facilities including those maintained by KBR.
09/03/2008 - Former KBR Exec pleads guilty to bribery and is sentenced to seven years.
09/11/2008 - KBR issued Level III Corrective Action Request (CAR) by the DCMA in Iraq.
09/27/2008 - Electrical Review Turns Up 3700 fires Not The 483 Reported!
09/29/2008 - IBEW Urges Electrical Safety In Iraq

October 2008

10/??/2008 - KBR claims all electrical work in Iraq was done to British Standards
10/10/2008 - Former KBR employee gets 3 years for child porn in Iraq
10/24/2008 - Pentagon Finds Company Violated Its Contract on Electrical Work in Iraq - NY Times

November 2008

11/24/2008 - Contractor (KBR) for military committed serious violations-CNN
11/26/2008 - Suit claims Halliburton, KBR sickened base - Ice tainted with body fluids, rotten food and contaminated water.

December 2008

12/03/2008 - KBR involved in Human Trafficking...again.
12/08/2008 - Indiana National Guard file suit against KBR for chemical exposure at Qarmat Ali water plant.
12/29/2008 - New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds demands answers. I hope more Pension Funds SELL their KBR and HALLIBURTON shares because of the Waste, Fraud & Abuse in Iraq!!!
12/31/2008 - The last day for Contractor Immunity in Iraq

What I'd Like To See For 2009
  • I want to know if KBR is invoicing the DoD (and therefore the American Taxpayer) for the costs associated with defending itself in the cases of "wrongful death" of soldiers, the Qarmat Ali chemical exposures, the Human Trafficking suits, the employee rape suits and any other cases that have to do with LOGCAP.
  • I would like to see the Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) finalize their investigation in the Soldier electrocution cases, file criminal charges, and send out a press release on the above!!
  • I would like to see the Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) open an investigation into the chemical exposure of our soldiers and civilians at Qarmat Ali. Is there one already? Send me an email.
  • I would like to start a "grass roots" campaign to get pension funds, retirement accounts and others to sell their shares of KBR and Halliburton stocks. Yes...they are making money now. But drug cartels make money too and we don't invest in least knowingly. I could use some help here! Email me.
  • I would like to see more Human Trafficking Organizations get involved in KBR's Human Trafficking in the middle east.
  • I would like to see Congress demand an all out independent audit of KBR invoices and payments.
  • I would like to see Congress find out exactly what KBR charged the DoD for man hours worked. Did they charge more than straight time for overtime? Did they charge uplift for every hour worked and then only pay for 40 hours?
  • And most of all, what I would like to see for 2009 is KBR senior executives sentenced to prison for their part in the negligent deaths of US soldiers and US Civilians, human trafficking of third world laborers and the fleecing of the American taxpayer.

Happy New Year

Ms Sparky

There's more: "2008 - KBR's 5th Year Of LOGCAP Fraud, Waste & Abuse" >>

269 War Crimes!

269 War Crimes!
by NLinStPaul at Docudharma, Friday January 02, 2009 at 09:54:45 PST
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Political scientist Michael Haas has just published a book titled George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes.

Eminent jurists, professional legal organizations, and human rights monitors in this country and around the world have declared that President George W. Bush may be prosecuted as a war criminal when he leaves office for his overt and systematic violations of such international law as the Geneva and Hague Conventions and such US law as the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws. George W. Bush, War Criminal? identifies and documents 269 specific war crimes under US and international law for which President Bush, senior officials and staff in his administration, and military officers under his command are liable to be prosecuted. Haas divides the 269 war crimes of the Bush administration into four classes: 6 war crimes committed in launching a war of aggression; 36 war crimes committed in the conduct of war; 175 war crimes committed in the treatment of prisoners; and 52 war crimes committed in postwar occupations. For each of the 269 war crimes of the Bush administration, Professor Haas gives chapter and verse in precise but non-technical language, including the specific acts deemed to be war crimes, the names of the officials deemed to be war criminals, and the exact language of the international or domestic laws violated by those officials. The author proceeds to consider the various US, international, and foreign tribunals in which the war crimes of Bush administration defendants may be tried under applicable bodies of law. He evaluates the real-world practicability of bringing cases against Bush and Bush officials in each of the possible venues. Finally, he weighs the legal, political, and humanitarian pros and cons of actually bringing Bush and Bush officials to trial for war crimes.

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Mr. Haas also has a blog in support of the book that is worth taking a look at. To make the Special Prosecutor's job easy, he has documented each war crime and cited documentary evidence.

I'd be happy to send a copy to Attorney General Designate Holder along with the petition signatures.

Docudharma Tag: petition for a special prosecutor

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Underming The First Amendment By Creeping Christian Prostelyzation

Cross posted from BFD Blog! & Sirens Chroncles:

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is generally interpreted and generally agreed that the Establishment Clause in the first amendment establishes freedom of religion and also establishes that there shall be no state religion. This interpretation has stood the test of time and in fact, been upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

It seems, though, that certain segments of the American public, and certain officials (both government and military) are either not aware of this component of the Bill of Rights, or deliberately choose to ignore it. We have seen examples of this in civil life as government officials, who are first and foremost politicians always pandering to what ever special interests get them elected, enact various rules, policies and laws to intermix matters of religion in to state governance. This country was founded by people escaping religious persecution and domination, so that its citizens could each, by his own free choice, determine what, if any religious practice he or she would subscribe to.

A great segment of our society seems to have either never learned this lesson of our history, or simply choose to ignore it in their misguided belief that their religion commands them and all other men and women to conform to their one way of life and religion. They do not understand that no religion that forces its will, or what it believes is its God’s will on the entire human race is not something that is sacred, justified or a moral imperative, but rather an unjustified, morally repugnant imposition of their personal will on another human being. No human being has the right to do that, whether in their God’s name or any other name.

Something that the last eight years should have taught us, and something we may be falling prey to as we move forward in to a new era, is that the active prostelyzing by any religious group delivered via the offices or channels of government is a recipe for disaster. Ironically the “War on Terror” is a religious war, started and fomented by religious fundamentalists who would impose their beliefs, their will, upon the rest of the world, believing only in utter conformance to their particular religious and social values. This is what we have been fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003. Yet our government officials, motivated by their personal desires to retain political power and office and subsequently our military officials, who take their lead or their orders from the politicians, have destroyed our credibility as the world paragon of religious and political freedom.

As told by Jason Leopold at The Public Record in his recent story titled “Military Entangled In ‘Extreme Missionary’ Christian Reality Television Show” our elected, and appointed government and military officials have permitted, in fact seemingly encourage, fundamentalist religious groups to prostelyze their particular religious values to citizens of another country that we occupy. Does it not occur to any of our government officials that by our forcing our own religious and moral values upon Afghanis we are doing the same thing as the Taliban. We are making the imposition off our will on other people, whether invited by those people or not, just as Al Qaeda tries to impose their values on the rest of human kind. How incredibly stupid and short sighted it that?

In his article, Leopold relates how fundamentalist religious groups have succeeded in “embedding” themselves in to military units on station in the war zone:
The popular reality series, “Travel the Road,” aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and featured Will Decker and Tim Scott, two so-called “extreme” missionaries who travel the globe to “preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and encourage the church to be active in the Great Commission.”

The other cable program green-lit by the Pentagon is “God’s Soldier,” which aired in September on the Military Channel, and was filmed at Forward Operating Base McHenry in Hawijah, Iraq. It features an Army chaplain openly promoting fundamentalist Christianity to active-duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq in violation of the U.S. Constitution…

Part of the second season of “Travel the Road” was filmed on location in Afghanistan and aired in April 2006, where Decker and Scott were embedded with the Army, and shows numerous scenes of the men accompanying U.S. Army soldiers on patrol. The missionaries are also filmed evangelizing the local Afghans by distributing New Testaments to them in their native Darri language.

In one scene, an Army Chaplain named Capt. Brad Hanna of the Oklahoma National Guard, talks about the possibility of a “revival” in Afghanistan and says he frequently speaks to Afghans about converting to Christianity. Hanna was made a full-time support chaplain for the Oklahoma National Guard after he returned from Afghanistan.

Additionally, Decker and Scott prominently cite SSgt. Sheldon Hoyt, who was stationed in Afghanistan with the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, as playing a hands-on role in helping the missionaries facilitate their proselytizing as opposed to simply being a tour guide of sorts…

Earlier this year, U.S. military personnel launched a major initiative to convert thousands of Iraqi citizens to Christianity also by distributing Bibles and other fundamentalist Christian literature translated into Arabic to Iraqi Muslims…

The distribution of the Bibles and Christian literature came at the same time that U.S. Marines guarding the entrance to the city of Fallujah handed out “witnessing coins” to Sunni Muslims entering the city that read in Arabic on one side: “Where will you spend eternity?” and “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16″ on the other…

“God’s Soldier” was co-produced by Jerusalem Productions, a British production company whose “primary aim is to increase understanding and knowledge of the Christian religion and to promote Christian values, via the broadcast media, to as wide an audience as possible.”

Before “God’s Soldier” aired on Sept. 10, the Discovery Channel, which owns the Military Channel, advertised the program by stating that it would feature several Army Chaplains from a wide variety of denominations discussing their work in the military.

“Follow a group of U.S. Army Chaplains from different faiths on a tour of duty in Iraq as they comfort wounded and dying soldiers, reassure panicked and depressed soldiers, as well debriefing those soldiers that return from their tours of duty,” the marketing literature for “God’s Soldier” said.

Instead, “God’s Soldier,” zeroed in on one chaplain, Capt.. Charles Popov, who appears in the first scene of the program in a godlike pose looking down upon the military base and urging soldier to attend Christian Bible study. [Astute readers will note that the Popov family name is a familiar one in terms of religious fundamentalists and tent meetings. -B.F.]

“Hey this is God,” Chaplain Popov says. “Come to Bible study tonight at 1900. Purpose Driven Life. You only have 25,000 days in your life, and probably half of it’s gone.”

The author of the book, “Purpose Driven Life,” that Popov referenced is Rick Warren, the leader of a fundamentalist mega-church in Southern California. In a recent interview with Fox News pundit Sean Hannity, Warren said, “the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped…. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers.”

For the full context of all of this, Leopold’s full article is a must read. But don’t stop there, in a follow-up story, Leopold reports that this de facto policy of encouraging prostelyzation may continue in the new administration being sworn in on January 21. In his story titled “Prostelyzing In the Military Likely To Continue Under Obama”, Leopold relates:
But, now that Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense—and he’s embraced Warren—it is virtually guaranteed that fundamentalist Christianity will continue to permeate throughout the military just as it has during George W. Bush’s eight years in office.

Despite being named in several lawsuits filed against the Pentagon for allowing military chaplains to proselytize to soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the numerous letters he has received from civil rights organizations and government watchdog groups since he was tapped as Defense Secretary two years ago, letters demanding that he launch investigations into widespread proselytizing, Gates has failed to issue a response of any kind to these groups and has refused to take steps to address the matter. Meanwhile, soldiers continue to have fundamentalist Christianity shoved down their throats.

Of the nearly 11,000 soldiers that have lodged complaints about proselytizing with just one of the various government watchdog groups, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports that about 96 percent have identified themselves as Christian, however, there are numerous cases in which atheist and Jewish soldiers have said they were subjected to Christian prayer sessions and proselytizing by chaplains despite their objections.

This is all terrifying to freedom loving, individual Americans, who rightly fear the establishment of any religion as “the state religion”. Religion has a place in each individual’s life at a time and a place of each individual’s choosing, but it has no place being forced upon anyone. The recent brouhaha on these pages about Rick Warren performing an invocation at the presidential inaugural maybe be viewed as a bit over reactive by some, and when it comes down to it, I can ignore that small interlude, as I have done so in similar situations for my entire life, but why should it be foisted on me in the first place during an act of state ceremony, and it does make me fear what else religious extremists might want to force upon me, will I, one day be forced to wear a religious insignia on my clothing, have all of my worldly possessions seized, have my friends and family torn away from me, and find myself marching to a gas chamber, all in service to some one’s skewed belief that their God is God and is the only God?

There's more: "Underming The First Amendment By Creeping Christian Prostelyzation" >>

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

'Obama we're hopeful, but we're watching, marching, too'

Obama We’re Hopeful
(Nelson 2008, tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful”)

Obama we’re hopeful, cautiously believing
you meant when you told us that you’d end this war,
Sooner than later, let’s get our troops back state-side!

Ensconced in the White House, trying to get your bearings,
Oil men and gen’rals whisp’ring in those big ears,
Filling your head with doubts and grim scenarios,

That could be the theme song* for Camp Hope, which opens a 19-day presence in the president-elect's Hyde Park neighborhood on New Year's Day, also known as Emancipation Proclamation Day. Activities and actions are planned daily in Chicago, ending on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19.

Organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Camp Hope is designed to help build popular momentum behind the progressive goals of Obama’s campaign -- and to remind him of those commitments in eight specific areas.
Among them, what Camp Hope organizers call "a starter step" that Obama could immediately take:
... [I]ssue an order directing the U.S. military to reduce the overall levels of U.S. military personnel deployed in Iraq by no fewer than 6,000 military personnel per month and to immediately cease offensive combat operations, with the ultimate objective of removing all military personnel from Iraq ... and the complete cessation of hostilities within Iraq.
Six thousand troops is roughly equal to the one combat brigade per month Obama promised to withdraw, as well as the support troops for a brigade. Obama's response, Voices for Creative Nonviolence says,
would help clarify whether or not his administration is serious about promises that were made during the campaign. If the new administration won't commit to reductions of 6,000 troops per month, than we have much more work to do in clamoring for troop withdrawals.
Obama's election notwithstanding, nothing has yet changed about the war and occupation of Iraq. It has disappeared from the news. US troops aren't withdrawing, but the TV networks have pulled out, reducing what little coverage they had before.

Camp Hope represents what the antiwar movement should be doing -- as the lyrics say, holding Obama's feet to the fire.

The oil men and generals -- and people like Robert Gates and James Jones -- will indeed be whispering in those big ears. We need a loud, sustained roar from across the country to drown out those voices and remind the new president that we are, indeed, watching.

No honeymoon on ending the war.

As Juan Cole writes in The Nation this week:
Bush's costly and illegal war has been a drain on the economy to the tune of a trillion dollars if hidden costs are included, a sum likely to triple in coming decades as the public pays for the care of injured veterans. The war has left tens of thousands of military personnal wounded, suffering from brain trauma, or dead. The toll on Iraqis has been momumental. It cannot end too soon.

*More lyrics here.

There's more: "'Obama we're hopeful, but we're watching, marching, too'" >>

Monday, December 29, 2008

Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes

Obama's Duty To Prosecute Bush For War Crimes
by Patriot Daily at Docudharma, Monday December 29, 2008 at 14:14:19 PST

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Obama promised that he would investigate and prosecute Bush team for "genuine crimes"  because no one is above the law, but he would not prosecute "really dumb policies." Obama plans to have his AG review the available information to determine if investigations are needed.   Well, AG nominee Eric Holder knows that many crimes have been committed:

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning.

Indeed, the rule of law is the "strongbox that keeps all our other values safe." We can write laws that say we have certain freedoms and rights, and we can build courts and elect lawmakers, but if there is no rule of law, then we lose our rights bit by bit until they are no longer recognizable.  While the goppies will cry "partisan witch hunt," even the Bush State Dept. recognizes that no democratic society can tolerate abuses when people are tortured or kidnapped under rendition in violation of our rule of law or tolerate the failure to prosecute in compliance with our Constitution.

Signing the petition drafted by budhydharma and Docudharma is not in defiance of our President-Elect Obama, but rather a sign of support for the difficult times that he and Holder will face when performing their clear constitutional duties.

As President, Obama will have the constitutional duty to faithfully execute our laws.

The constitutional oath of office will require President Obama to faithfully execute the office of President and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. Our constitution also requires that our presidents "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  The principle of the rule of law is partially based on this Faithfully Execute clause which requires our President to comply with laws, our Constitution and treaties because our Constitution established a government of laws, not of men and women.

The Geneva Convention is one of the laws which must be faithfully executed.

Our constitution mandates that treaties are one of the laws that the President must faithfully execute.  Moreover, treaties are recognized as one of our supreme laws of the land alongside our Constitution and federal laws.  For over 200 years, the federal courts have reaffirmed that our President is bound by the laws of war, which include conventions. In fact, both Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)addressed issues of whether the US government was violating the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention.  Yet, some will whine that it is partisan to not exempt Bush from 200 years of precedent that governed presidents from both parties.

The Geneva Convention imposes a duty to prosecute former presidents who committed war crimes.

The Geneva Convention mandates that the US "search" for persons "alleged" to have committed or ordered the commission of "torture or inhuman treatment" and then prosecute in our courts or extradite to another country for prosecution. It also includes the rendition or  "unlawful transfer of a non-prisoner of war from occupied territory."

Rounding up the suspects is easy

President Obama has an overloaded plate of issues awaiting his leadership. Fortunately, neither AG Holder or an independent commission would have to spend a lot of time searching for alleged perps of war crimes.  This diary has pictures of some of the "persons of interest," as Bush likes to say, who either have admitted their complicity in war crimes or may be percipient witnesses with useful information.

Bush and Cheney have already essentially publicly admitted their roles in authorizing and ordering torture.  In Spring 2008, Bush admitted in an ABC interview that he approved "enhanced interrogation" techniques, including waterboarding:

"As a matter of fact," Bush added, "I told the country we did that. And I told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it." The president added, "I didn't have any problems at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheik Mohammed knew."
In 2006, Cheney stated that dunking terrorism suspects in water was a "no-brainer" method of interrogation.  After a public outcry, Cheney denied that dunking was equivalent to waterboarding, but merely referenced a literal "dunk in the water." Either way, Cheney is screwed because both waterboarding and water dunking is illegal under US and international law.  

In 2008, Cheney went even further by essentially admitting that he personally authorized the use of waterboarding and thus a war crime.  As constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley states, Bush and Cheney are banking that the public will not have the stomach to prosecute them.

We know that high-level officials participated in approving interrogation methods at National Security Principals Committee meetings in the WH over the span of at least 2 years in which the CIA wanted approvals before conducting interrogation in individual cases.   Thus, we can add Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and Ashcroft to the list of "persons of interest."

Tenet and Bush have both stated that waterboarding was legal based on a memorandum, known as the "Golden Shield," because it was designed to shield CIA officers from liability.   The Golden Shield memo was written by John Yoo and approved by then-chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee.   In 2004, the Golden Shield legal memo which authorized the interrogation program was withdrawn by Jack Goldsmith, who called the memo "slapdash" and "deeply flawed."

More "persons of interest" can be found if Obama's team reads the Senate Armed Services Committee report which concluded that high-level officials approved torture as an interrogation method.

Holder could also have a chat with Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a former prosecutor, who testified on behalf of a prisoner at Guantánamo that Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann "insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence they had obtained through waterboarding and other methods of torture."

The other benefit of war crimes prosecutions is that the Geneva Convention seems pretty clear that Bush can not whip out an executive order or pardon to immunize himself or his cronies from liability.  Article 51 of the Convention states that "[n]o High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the preceding Article," which is a reference to Article 50 that defines grave breaches.

There may be some in DC who wish to avoid any investigations for fear of putative complicity, but this simply illustrates the bipartisan nature of any investigation. It's not just the goppies:  For whatever reason, Senator Leahy declared that the Bush team would not face prosecution for war crimes in the US.   And, any investigation could reach some in the new Obama administration, like Robert Gates, for his role in Guantánamo and Iraqi prisons, "which the Washington Post described in a headline as 'a Prison Full of Innocent Men,' without even a procedure for determining their guilt or innocence--unquestionably a violation of the Geneva Conventions in and of itself."

If nothing else, our votes should have sent the message loud and clear to DC that Americans repudiate the past 8 lawless years and want a return to the rule of law.  For some, the way to return to the rule of law is to move forward without investigating crimes committed by Bushie and his sycophants who viewed the rule of law as malleable chunk of clay. However, political expediency as a reason to avoid prosecutions is also a violation of the rule of law that is based upon blind, nonpartisan justice.

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Government interagency screw-up in WoT – or deliberate screw-over?

It would be easy to see the conviction of alleged Afghan drug trafficker and Taliban supporter Haji Bashir Noorzai as an interagency screw-up between DEA and FBI, with the CIA in the background.

That’s the way the Post plays it, while notiong a private company hoping it could profit through “developing” informants in the so-called War on Terror got burned.

That’s the way you could play this story, though the POst leaves open an

First, if Noorzai was a CIA confidante since 1990, why didn’t the Agency keep something like this from happening, the “burning” of an asset?

Could it be … the House of Saud?

Given that Motley Rice, the U.S. law firm that’s taken the lead in trying to sue Saudis for 9/11 damages to be awarded to relatives of 9/11 dead, as page 3 of the story notes, that — the background of the House of Saud, and therefore a government screw-over, not screw-up, sounds more plausible.

There's more: "Government interagency screw-up in WoT – or deliberate screw-over?" >>

‘Trainers’ – didn’t we hear that word in Nam?

Of course we did, and even if Obama isn’t old enough to remember that personally, he knows better. Ted Rall joins me in exposing Obama’s hypocrisy in “relabeling” troops who he intends to keep in Iraq long past the middle of 2009, and probably long past the end of 2011 if he can get away with it.

Rall also notes Obama NEVER voted against a supplemental funding bill.

There's more: "‘Trainers’ – didn’t we hear that word in Nam?" >>

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Soldier: Lets Not Forget

Listening to a November Media Matters podcast, featuring journalist Aaron Glantz, I was prompted to post this as a reminder of the Winter Soldier event of March 2008. The commentaries must live on and the people who organized the event deserve continued recognition.

Interview with Kelly Daugherty on the
Winter Soldier 2008: Iraq and Afghanistan

There's more: "Winter Soldier: Lets Not Forget" >>

Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial

Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial
by Nightprowlkitty at Docudharma, Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 12:27:37 PST

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

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Why should they get a fair trial?  Why should there be a special prosecutor who investigates thoroughly the torture of human beings that has been going on in our name?

One reason is because so many have not gotten a fair trial, both here in the USA and abroad.

The prisoners at Gitmo did not get a fair trial and it has taken enormous struggle to even have gotten where we are now, with some (but too few) of BushCheney's decisions by fiat being overturned in the courts.

The prisoners in Iraq have been tortured and often killed, none of them got a fair trial.

Here in the US, we see migrant workers hustled off into Halliburton built prisons, lives and entire communities being destroyed, and all without a fair trial.

We have certainly seen our good Senator Joe Lieberman do nothing when it came to the crimes of our government during Hurricane Katrina.

And now we try to have some dialogue, to speak of abuses of human rights in the Gaza.  With what moral authority can we help deal with this problem if we continue to abuse human rights both here and around the world?

We hear that investigating the war crimes of our government would be divisive, would distract us from cleaning up our economy, deal with global warming, all those things.

So perhaps we should just abandon our judicial system, no more money for police in our communities, let's instead put them to work as bean counters and bankers.  Why bother catching criminals, after all, is that not just a distraction to our big problems?

I guess the DOJ will be more involved in .... in .... what, exactly?  Shutting down drug rings?  I guess those dealers deserve a fair trial.  For now, we should just pick and choose what are and are not crimes and "prioritize" the DOJ's work that way?

Is there anyone who is not wealthy and powerful who is getting a fair trial nowadays?  And in that instance, are those trials "fair"?  Or is justice now merely a commodity to be bought and sold?

If we do not hold those in power accountable for their crimes, then who will ever believe the average American has any chance of a fair trial?  Why should our faith in our justice system continue?

Yet if we do investigate, if we do hold all citizens to the same standards, whether rich or poor, powerful or not, we will restore far more than simply our faith in our system of government and justice.  We will be able to use this fair trial as a standard of what can and cannot be done to other huma beings in the name of justice, whether here in the USA or abroad.  Otherwise it's just words to say "We do not torture."  It's just words.

Please sign the petition.  We need to speak out as citizens, because no one else will do this.  No one.  It's up to us.

There's more: "Why Bush and Cheney Should Get a Fair Trial" >>

On Prosecuting Bush/Cheney et al. For War Crimes

On prosecuting Bush/Cheney et al. for war crimes
by snafubar at Docudharma, Sunday December 28, 2008 at 02:49:05 PST

Crossposted from Docudharma and Daily Kos
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Here's a comment that was sent to the petition that I liked:

 About two years ago I found a quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel that has haunted me ever since:

When considering cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

As much as Gerald Ford might still be lauded by some for "sparing the country the long national nightmare" of whatever proceedings might have been the fate of Richard Nixon, what happened in the Nixon administration was an in-house problem. What has been done in the name of the United States by President Bush and Vice President Cheney has worldwide consequences to our reputation and our future credibility. When we went to war in contravention of world opinion in 2003, we became the rogue nation that the UN was created (with our co-operation) to deal with. We all know the only reason no one has dealt with us is not because our cause was just or because we were proven right, but only because we're the biggest dog on the block with all the teeth. Who is left that could challenge us?

Now the only chance we have to regain that credibility is to use the freedoms as a citizenry to be honest about what our leaders have done in our name. In my opinion it will haunt us for generations to come how we were so proud of our form of democracy, particularly of our Constitution, that we felt we were the one country qualified (if not obligated in the minds of President Bush and Vice President Cheney) to use the largest military force ever assembled to force it on Iraq whether they asked for it or not. It therefore seems perversely tragic that there are plausible allegations that our Constitution - the one we were so proud of - was betrayed in the effort.

The only way to show the world that we are as serious about the integrity of our democratic form of government, complete with it's unique brand of checks and balances amongst the three branches, is if we actually use them to hold a mirror up to ourselves and prove to the world that we have the integrity to be honest about what we find. If we impeached one president because of a scandal that never left the White House, but we refused to even hold credible hearings on alleged corruption and a betrayal of those checks and balances which included the Pentagon, all of our intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice and the office of the President and Vice President themselves, it will be hard to explain. I'm not the first one to repeat the suggestion that if the  accused are truly innocent, one would think they would rush to the stand to clear their name; in fact that was the inference of guilt made by many about our last president.

What I fear is that the citizenry of this country and it's elected representatives know in their heart that our most senior leaders are guilty of the greatest crimes. But in order to perpetuate the delusion that we're still as great as we think we are, the country will not look for anything it does not want to find, and hope the people of the world will forget. I'm not the first to suggest that won't work, because we all know in our core that the truly innocent stand up to vigorously clear their name at any chance they are given. However, given the shroud of "state secrets" and "national security" that has been the claim to stay silent so far, it should be obvious that the world will suspect we are not being honest, and our reputation will be soiled until we demonstrate the kind of transparency that we would demand of any nation that had done anything similar.

The idea that we're exonerated because Bush and Cheney claim the rest of the world had all the same evidence we did (when we know we're the ones that gave it to them) is so laughable that elementary schoolkids wouldn't bet their lunch on getting away with that line.

The "long national nightmare" is just beginning if we decide that to soothe our own conscience (or worse, simply in the spirit of political expediency for both parties) we choose not to investigate all the claims of impropriety. We need answers - plausible and acceptable answers - to be provided both to our own citizens and to the world at large. If we are indeed the Greatest Country in the World ®, then there should not be any hesitation whatsoever in the minds of our leaders to bring that evidence to the table and vigorously wave it before our eyes to assuage us.

But merely to claim that we have taken the high road simply by pointing out that there are others who have done worse does not mean anything. One can be the 'best' in a crowd of ne'er do wells and not be therefore great simply by being 'greater'. In order to claim that we hold the high ground we actually have to be standing on it at some time, not merely looking up at it from some vantage point we claim is higher than anyone else's.

And to those who think that now is not the time for such efforts, well, to them I repeat Heschel's poigniant words again:

When considering cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

We had the freedom to choose any leader. Some argue we chose Bush in 2000, and whether or not we actually did, despite all the protestations, he was allowed to take the oath of office.

Then when it seemed our leaders had run amok, whether it was about the pre-war intel, about the post-invasion management, Abu Ghraib, renditions, wiretapping, or Gitmo, we had the power - like so few other countries in the history of civilization have ever had or are likely to have -  to remove them from office without so much as a shot fired. And we chose not to use it.

We did not even allow the opportunity to try to use it.

Now there is an attitude that closing our eyes and pretending that no one else is still looking will make what has been done in our name pass under the bridge of history and become forgotten amongst the bodies of water down river.


No one could say that seriously. If any other country in the world had done what we have done in the last eight years, we'd be the first ones waving our arms to the world demanding that something be done. I bet we'd even take on whoever it was all by ourselves without regard if anyone followed us, just to reinforce our role as world policeman and schoolmarm.

And I did not even mention that it was our economy that has taken the world for a wicked downhill ride that is far from over. Does anyone really think the world loves us now as much as they did on September 12, 2001?

Well, now we're the ones who should be looking at ourselves as critically as we would insist others deserve to be examined.

And to those who might suffer consequences for merely asking for there to be an investigation, and a prosecution if warranted, I say to you that you should accept this sacrifice for the good of the country.

Because in a free society, some may be guilty, but all are responsible.

I may be guilty of not stopping this war, but I don't want to be guily again of ignoring what has come from it.  

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