What we Owe our Fallen Soldiers:
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

For the Fallen Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier 2008 Audio, Photo Archives from Pacifica Radio ... 

In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote:

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Last night I saw the interview by Amy Goodman (see Amy Goodman Biography ) of Vincent Bugliosi: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder ... and this followed right on the heels of the impeachement initiative  filed by Dennis Kucinich just this past week as well. Here's the full text of the 35 Articles of Impeachment:  Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio In the United States House of ...

Unfortunately it would seem politically unwise and inexpedient to proceed with the impeachment initiated this week by Dennis Kucinich against Bush--and against Cheney, introduced in April 2007:  Kucinich Files Articles of Impeachment Against Cheney | AlterNet 

Much though I agree with the 35 articles of impeachement that I heard read on C-Span first by Kucinich himself for five hours, then the next day by the Clerk of  the House of Representatives, again for five hours--it is too late in the season for this measure to be anything but symbolic. However, even while the measure is apparently doomed to die in the Judiciary Committtee by bi-partisan concensus, I am glad Kucinich had the intestinal fortitude that others in government seem to lack.

Why is it important to make this failing gesture? Well, for one thing, to set the stage for disciplinary and punitive measures other than impeachment in venues other than the U.S. Congress--and also to discourage future presidents from following in the footsteps of George W. Bush and his gang. As the impeachment proceedings against Nixon and Clinton have shown--these undertakings can be very disruptive--but also very instructive. To actually go through with an impeachment at this time would be counterproductive--but we can still benefit from the instructive nature of the 35 articles filed--even if they will never be acted upon.

Besides, there are two inconvenient truths that Bush and the Congress seem to overlook:

First: thousands of people have died for an out and out malicious lie. I am not just talking about U.S. soldiers, but also about innocent Iraqi civilians--to say nothing of those who survive with severe trauma and life long impairments--or the monetary damage done to our country and to the readiness of our armed forces at a time when we can least afford it. Or to future generations of Americans who will have to pay the price for the debt of trillions of dollars Bush and his cronies have inflicted on them. And last but not least the damage to the environment of our planet because of Bush's criminally  irresponsible and misplaced sense of  priorities. So much money, so many resources, so much effort have been wasted that could have been put to so much better use,  given the global crisis humanity and the planet are in. 

Who will make the country and the world whole for these crimes? What can we say to the victims of Bush's war? Can we really make it all go away by ignoring the historical record? I don't think so.

Second: Under international law, if a nation is unable or unwilling to prosecute criminal acts against humanity, other nations have the right and the responsability to take up the cause under the principle of  Extraterritorial jurisdiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

It was under this principle that The Nuremberg Trials  were held, as also The Adolf Eichmann Trial in Israel. No one would dispute the justice or humanity of that principle.

Vincent Bugliosi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is a famous prosecutor who never lost a case. He prosecuted over 20 murder cases to justice, beginning with the Charles Manson murders, which brought him fame as the author of the book Helter Skelter (book) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia-

Helter Skelter is a true crime book by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. The subject of the book is the 1969 Manson Family murders and Bugliosi's own prosecution of Charles Manson and his followers.

Helter Skelter was first published in the United States in 1974 and became a bestseller. The book takes its title from the song by The Beatles, with which Manson was obsessed. Manson used the phrase for an anticipated race war. Helter Skelter won a 1975 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime book and was the basis for two movies, released in 1976 and 2004.

Bugliosi is a prosecutor's prosecutor and passionate about the case against Bush. He  knows what he is talking about and his new book entitled  The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder is presently a New York Times best seller. In this book he has outlined the case to be made against Bush for premeditated murder. He asserts with great authority that he has done the meticulous research required to establish federal as well as state jurisdiction over Bush--which means that any state prosecutor could at any time in the future take up the case against the soon to be former President on behalf of any constituent in any state or county of the U.S. --since there is no statute of limitations in murder cases.  he also asserts that from his experienced point of view there is a water tight case to be made against Bush for premeditated murder. 

Any situation of a soldier that died in battle would constitute a case against Bush for murder, says Bugliosi. He has sent copies of his book to numerous state attorneys general and federal procesutors to prepare them for what will have to follow in the cause of justice.

On the unnumbered page following page xi of his book Bugliosi observes:

The preferable venue for the prosecution of  George W. Bush for murder and conspiracy to commit murder would be in the nation's capital with the prosecutor being the Attorney General of the United States acting through his Department of Justice. This book however, establishes jursidiction for any state attorney general (or any district attorney in any county of a state) to bring murder and conspiracy charges against Bush for any soldiers from that state or county who lost their lives fighting Bush's war, which...applies to every state in this nation.

He furthermore states in his discussion of what constitutes malice aforethought that this is a highly technical term of art which has evolved to mean not exactly what the term might seem to imply at first glance. In most state jurisdictions a distinction is made between express malice and implied malice aforethought. The term aforethought moreover, need not refer to a timespan of more than just a few seconds. In expres malice situations, there must be  a specific intent to kill, but in cases of implied malice this is not the case--rather there must be an intent to commit a highly dangerous act with reckless disregard for the consequences and indifference to human life.

Falsely crying out FIRE! in a crowded theatre is the classic example of such reckless disregard for human life-- and falsely repeating over and over unfounded assertions about the dangers from a nuclear attack by Irak, essentially crying MUSHROOM CLOUD! in the media contrary to available intelligence reports  is in no way different from crying FIRE! in a crowded theatre.

In the FIRE! case, the reckless disregard for human life has to do with the predictable panic in the theatre and the stampede of people crushing each other to death while trying to escape out of fear of being burned alive--when in fact you know or should have known that no such danger existed.

In the MUSHROOM CLOUD! situation the reckless disregard for human life has to do with the decision to whip up popular support and obtain congressional authorization to send thousands of soldiers to death out of fear of an impending  nuclear attack--when in fact you know or should have known that no such attack was impending.

What is more, in some jurisdictions, like Texas, no distinction is made between express and implied malice--and hence no distiction is drawn between murder in the first and second degree. In Texas style jurisdictions,  therefore, even the death penalty could apply to murder with either express or implied malice aforethought. 

Bush will  still be relatively young when he leaves office--he must not be left to sleep easily in retirement--not while so many of his victims will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives, as was documented for instance in Body of War:

Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine - wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week.  Body of War is Tomas' coming home story as he evolves into a new person, coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, and features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a naked and honest portrayal of what it's like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.

There is a heartwrenching scene captured on camera, where Tomas sits in a car and is joking with his mother who has to help him pee by pushing a catheter into his penis, after using vaseline for lubrication. The catheter slips out and they both get pee all over themselves.

They both laugh and she says:  OK, this is not the first time you peed on me Tommy.

So why shouldn't we hold Bush personally responsable for the plight of many thousands of victims that were 'lucky' enough not to have died but must live an excruciatingly painful daily existence in such a manner?

The man deliberately lied to bring us to this pass! He lied with reckless disregard for the truth and for human life--and with clear intent to deceive the American public for his own purposes, whatever they may have been.  So where does the buck stop other than with Bush? Case closed. He should be brought to justice.

Clearly, this is not a partisan issue. Neither major political party has shown the stomach or the inclination to delve  into this matter. Even Ralph Nader told Bugliosi that his book could never be even printed, let alone be a best seller. But if I were the relative of a fallen soldier, or a soldier affected by life long trauma and injury, especially the many thousands who have been so very badly treated by Bush Administration policies, I would certainly wish to see this matter pursued.

Even if the criminal case failed in the end, for whatever reason, someone might be able to  file a civil case for monetary and punitive damages against Bush and some of his deep pocketed co-conspirators.

That's what happened to O.J. Simpson--and he only killed two people. Bush and Cheney killed thousands!

Where would we house Bush and Cheney cum suis upon criminal conviction-- if they can avoid the death penalty? I can think of a pleasant life time leisure resort on the island of Cuba that might be vacant by then. 

For the above reasons, I am glad that Dennis Kucinich has done his homework in formulating the 35 articles of impeachment, for they will set the tone for the inevitable future criminal prosecution of Bush and his co-conspirators in perpetrating this lie on our country, our people and the world.

And if no one in the U.S. will bring these despicable men to justice, there will undoubtedly be others,  in countries  outside the U.S. who will claim extraterritorial jurisdiction to bring this matter to rest. It should not be necessary, for there are plenty of people within the U.S. who have not yet lost all sense of proportion and will take a good look at the crimes these men have committed. No one is above the law.

Enough literature has already been written on the crimes of the Bush administration to dwarf whatever positive literature this impostor may eventually choose to display in his future 'presidential library'--and his administration is not even over yet. Much more is bound to come out in years to come as scholars poor over the hidden records of these dark and secretive years. In fact the location of his future library is already mired in controversy. See:  George W. Bush Presidential Library - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rejection by the United Methodist Church

In December 2006, the Texas Monthly reported "The likelihood that the George W. Bush Presidential Library will be located at SMU has not been welcome news for at least one segment of the university community."[8] The letter, from "Faculty, Administrators, & Staff" of the Perkins School of Theology in part, stated "We count ourselves among those who would regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious."[8] The article fears that there are two different attitudes about the library: "a neutral space for unbiased academic research conducted by scholars, or a conservative think tank and policy institute that engages in legacy polishing and grooms young conservatives for public office."[8]

On January 9, 2007 a group of SMU faculty complained about the lack of consultation in the decision to house the library at SMU.[9] A group of Methodists, including ten active and retired bishops, launched a petition to opposing plans to build the library and museum at SMU.[10] The petition, called the Protect SMU Petition says that "[a]s United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate" and calls on "Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University and the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church to reject this project".

I knew last night I would have to write something on this today--but I didn't sleep well, for it is a very unpleasant subject to be dwelling on and I really wish I could just ignore it. But it is just not a matter easily ignored. The stories of badly treated soldiers, soldiers that were punished for sustaining post traumatic stress, benefits taken away after years and years of loyal service, stories of lies for the sake of cheap theatre and propaganda,  the stories of the winter soldiers about deliberate ill treatment and humiliation of Iraki civilians. And then there are the stories of innocent people languishing in torture chambers--in the name of us, the people of America!

What happened to John Winthrop's  City upon a Hill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia of which he said: For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us....

I take no pleasure in writing this journal entry, but I felt I had to get this off my chest.

It is part of grass roots responsability to spread awareness of injustice--awareness of violations of human rights--awareness of premeditated murder when so many have been killed for a deliberate lie.

Last night I heard poetry written by  the  Chilean poet Ariel Dorfman who first read from  some of his own work, written in the times of Chile's darkest hours during  the Pinochet years--and then concluded with the following  poem written by an inmate of Guantanamo Bay--held without trial and without due process:

OSAMA ABU KADIR: Is It True? by Osama Abu Kadir

Is it true that the grass grows again after rain?

Is it true that the flowers will rise up again in the Spring?

Is it true that birds will migrate home again?

Is it true that the salmon swim back up their streams?

It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.

But is it true that one day we’ll leave Guantanamo Bay?

Is it true that one day we’ll go back to our homes?

I sail in my dreams. I am dreaming of home.

To be with my children, each one part of me;

To be with my wife and the ones that I love;

To be with my parents, my world’s tenderest hearts.

I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.

But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?

We are innocent, here, we’ve committed no crime.

Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still

Justice and compassion remain in this world!

Shortly after 11 September, Osama Abu Kadir travelled to Pakistan to perform charity work in Afghanistan with the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamat. The US claims Tablighi was providing fighters for jihad in Afghanistan and arrested Mr Kadir near Jalalabad in November 2001. In his native Jordan, he was known as a dedicated family man who worked as a truck driver. In Guantanamo, he is known as prisoner number 651.

Finally--here is an reprint from Ariel Dorfman's article:   Are We Really So Fearful? - washingtonpost.com

It still haunts me, the first time -- it was in Chile, in October of 1973 -- that I met someone who had been tortured. To save my life, I had sought refuge in the Argentine Embassy some weeks after the coup that had toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, a government for which I had worked. And then, suddenly, one afternoon, there he was. A large-boned man, gaunt and yet strangely flabby, with eyes like a child, eyes that could not stop blinking and a body that could not stop shivering.

That is what stays with me -- that he was cold under the balmy afternoon sun of Santiago de Chile, trembling as though he would never be warm again, as though the electric current was still coursing through him. Still possessed, somehow still inhabited by his captors, still imprisoned in that cell in the National Stadium, his hands disobeying the orders from his brain to quell the shuddering, his body unable to forget what had been done to it just as, nearly 33 years later, I, too, cannot banish that devastated life from my memory.

It was his image, in fact, that swirled up from the past as I pondered the current political debate in the United States about the practicality of torture. Something in me must have needed to resurrect that victim, force my fellow citizens here to spend a few minutes with the eternal iciness that had settled into that man's heart and flesh, and demand that they take a good hard look at him before anyone dare maintain that, to save lives, it might be necessary to inflict unbearable pain on a fellow human being. Perhaps the optimist in me hoped that this damaged Argentine man could, all these decades later, help shatter the perverse innocence of contemporary Americans, just as he had burst the bubble of ignorance protecting the young Chilean I used to be, someone who back then had encountered torture mainly through books and movies and newspaper reports.

That is not, however, the only lesson that today's ruthless world can learn from that distant man condemned to shiver forever.

All those years ago, that torture victim kept moving his lips, trying to articulate an explanation, muttering the same words over and over. "It was a mistake," he repeated, and in the next few days I pieced together his sad and foolish tale. He was an Argentine revolutionary who had fled his homeland and, as soon as he had crossed the mountains into Chile, had begun to boast about what he would do to the military there if it staged a coup, about his expertise with arms of every sort, about his colossal stash of weapons. Bluster and braggadocio -- and every word of it false.

But how could he convince those men who were beating him, hooking his penis to electric wires and waterboarding him? How could he prove to them that he had been lying, prancing in front of his Chilean comrades, just trying to impress the ladies with his fraudulent insurgent persona?

Of course, he couldn't. He confessed to anything and everything they wanted to drag from his hoarse, howling throat; he invented accomplices and addresses and culprits; and then, when it became apparent that all this was imaginary, he was subjected to further ordeals.

There was no escape.

That is the hideous predicament of the torture victim. It was always the same story, what I discovered in the ensuing years, as I became an unwilling expert on all manner of torments and degradations, my life and my writing overflowing with grief from every continent. Each of those mutilated spines and fractured lives -- Chinese, Guatemalan, Egyptian, Indonesian, Iranian, Uzbek, need I go on? -- all of them, men and women alike, surrendered the same story of essential asymmetry, where one man has all the power in the world and the other has nothing but pain, where one man can decree death at the flick of a wrist and the other can only pray that the wrist will be flicked soon.

It is a story that our species has listened to with mounting revulsion, a horror that has led almost every nation to sign treaties over the past decades declaring these abominations as crimes against humanity, transgressions interdicted all across the earth. That is the wisdom, national and international, that has taken us thousands of years of tribulation and shame to achieve. That is the wisdom we are being asked to throw away when we formulate the question -- Does torture work? -- when we allow ourselves to ask whether we can afford to outlaw torture if we want to defeat terrorism.

I will leave others to claim that torture, in fact, does not work, that confessions obtained under duress -- such as that extracted from the heaving body of that poor Argentine braggart in some Santiago cesspool in 1973 -- are useless. Or to contend that the United States had better not do that to anyone in our custody lest someday another nation or entity or group decides to treat our prisoners the same way.

I find these arguments -- and there are many more -- to be irrefutable. But I cannot bring myself to use them, for fear of honoring the debate by participating in it.

Can't the United States see that when we allow someone to be tortured by our agents, it is not only the victim and the perpetrator who are corrupted, not only the "intelligence" that is contaminated, but also everyone who looked away and said they did not know, everyone who consented tacitly to that outrage so they could sleep a little safer at night, all the citizens who did not march in the streets by the millions to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace its darkness?

Are we so morally sick, so deaf and dumb and blind, that we do not understand this? Are we so fearful, so in love with our own security and steeped in our own pain, that we are really willing to let people be tortured in the name of America? Have we so lost our bearings that we do not realize that each of us could be that hapless Argentine who sat under the Santiago sun, so possessed by the evil done to him that he could not stop shivering.

For further reference, see also:

An Ariel Dorfman Resource Page