When Will George W. Bush Be Tried for His War Crimes?

When Will George W. Bush Be Tried for His War Crimes?
by Sheldon Richman, February 21, 2011

We should take a small measure of satisfaction in former President George W. Bush’s cancellation of his trip to Switzerland after human-rights groups threatened to bring legal action against him for authorizing torture. Persons detained by the U.S. government after 9/11 were subjected to what the Bush administration euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation,” including waterboarding. In reality those methods constituted torture, violating U.S. law and international agreements.

Under those agreements charges can be filed against members of the Bush administration in jurisdictions outside the United States. The Center for Constitutional Rights along with European groups said they will ask Swiss authorities to initiate a criminal case against Bush. They also planned to file their own complaint.

If all that Bush and members of his administration suffer for their crimes are travel restrictions, it will be a mild penalty indeed. (Alas, the U.S. government can and probably will obtain immunity for him.) They deserve far more, starting with a public criminal investigation in the United States, followed by trials. But President Obama says there will be no investigation of top officials. Wishing to “look ahead,” he has decided to treat Bush & Co. as above the law, embracing Richard Nixon’s maxim, When the president does it, it’s not illegal. In Germany that used to be known as the Führer Principle. Many of us naively thought it was repudiated at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. How wrong we were. The stain that Bush and Obama have left on America won’t fade anytime soon.

It would have been bad enough to torture people actually suspected of wrongdoing, but the Bush administration went well beyond that. Many people subjected to hideous treatment were picked up on the flimsiest of “evidence.” People were offered bounties to turn others in; naturally, some saw that as a chance to settle old scores having nothing to do with terrorism. Absence of evidence (as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might say) was not considered evidence of absence. In at least one case, a man was tortured — by the U.S. government’s helper in Egypt, Omar Suleiman — to get the prisoner to say that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda agents. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney badly wanted to justify their preexisting wish to effect regime change in Iraq by tying Saddam to 9/11. But there was never any evidence of Iraqi complicity.

That reminds us that torture was not the only crime committed by the Bush administration. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were also (and still are) outrages because, among other reasons, they were based on lies. Bush officials, such as Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, now acknowledge “misstatements,” but that can hardly be taken seriously. We know that back then grave doubts were expressed over the quality of the so-called intelligence about Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld’s excuses are pathetic. When he beat the drums for war, he said he knew where Saddam’s WMDs were. Now he says he meant he knew the location of “suspected sites.” Did he step out of Orwell’s 1984?

As many people long have believed, the Bush administration’s defector/informants were lying, but their American handlers didn’t care. The one known as Curvevball, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admits he lied about Iraq’s biological weapons. “I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that….” Janabi said, according to the Guardian.

Is he proud of the million Iraqis who died, directly and indirectly, because of the war he helped bring about? How about all the maimed children? Are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Condoleezza Rice satisfied that they relied on Janabi? Did they really have no reason for skepticism about his claims and motives?

Americans are forced to spend billions of dollars on intelligence-gathering every year. Yet many insiders doubted what the administration was told about Iraqi WMDs in 2002. So what? Bush & Co., hell bent on killing Arabs after 9/11, weren’t interested in evidence or the lack thereof. They needed a way to scare the American people into war, and nothing was going to stop them.

Let us hope the retribution against this evil bunch is only just beginning.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Visit his blog “Free Association” at www.sheldonrichman.com. Send him email.

8 responses to “When Will George W. Bush Be Tried for His War Crimes?

  1. OK let’s do a scenario. Let’s pretend that our scumbags in the West are just as bad as their scumbags in the GramscoStaliNazis world elsewhere. Or worse, if you like! Let’s pretend they are worse, because they should know better.

    It’s a great principle to apply if you are not, yourself, under daily mortal threat from GSNs who cheerfully and frankly say that you are to be made dead.

    It’s like being an Urban-London-GreeNazi, and having a wind-tubine on your roof for £15,000 (or more), and buying “specially-delivered-organic-vegetable-boxes” of whatever mud-covered shit (it gives you and the nanny orgasms, it does, to see the filthy, unrinsed stuff, smaller and dryer even than you could buy at Morrison’s on a remainder-day) which it pleases them to have flung round to you that week.

    Was it right to remove the murdering Nazi butcher Saddam Hussein “al-Takriti” or not? If you were the Principal-Secretary-of-State-for-War of a minimal-statist-liberal country, and you saw him doing what he did, and killing the people that he did (he cheerfully-admitted it all and said it was good) and building the palaces with gold toilets that he did (what the f*** does a fellow need a gold toilet for?) then what would you do with that guy?

    Would you leave him there? To set a bad example to other unsocialised pre-capitalist-barbarians? Would you? Would you not “go in”, and “do” him? Whatever followed, even if you then buggered off and left the poor sods, could not be worse. Your obligation is to stay, for as many ecades as it would take, to ensure that they have at least an administration not more malignant than the one we have here, today – it’s not saying much, I know, but it’s better than the Takriti bastard, who proudly chanted often that he commited his first murder aged 11. What an example to leave in charge of a country of civilised people, eh?


  2. What kind of argument is that? There are worst people in the world, so lets not blame our leaders so much? Lets not blame the guy who mugged me, because there are people who murder? That does not make any sense. The crimes committed by western leaders stand on its own.

    Bush should be tried was trying to stand above the law. What he did is highly illegal in any western country including the USA. Its not just a moral issue. If you don’t care about all the innocenct foreign lives destroyed, you should be at least very worried about the precedence that this sets. If the goverment does not need to stick to its very own laws, in this case the most fundamental laws of all, then we are all in big trouble. So lets trial these bastards.

    And for Irak. How can you still protect this? A few 100 000 innocent people are dead and nothing got better. Now you have another tyrant running the country, using the very same torture dungeons and police used under Saddam. Meanwhile in many other Arab countries the people manage to uprise against similar dictatorships on their own.

  3. The situation in Iraq is much better now than it was under Saddam Hussein.

    George Bush didn’t break any laws.

  4. Being against the Iraq war? Great for a whole myriad of legitimate and moral reasons. Worrying about dead Iraqis as one of them? Bullshit. Most of you using that as a reason didn’t care about dead Iraqis before the war, you certainly don’t care about dead Iraqis after the war.

  5. Oh, I do care about dead Iraqis under Saddam. It is an outrageous propaganda lie to suggest that people who were against the war were for Saddam. In the contrary, it speaks volumes of how naive many bush supporters are that they really think this war was about human rights. The problem is, unlike Neo-conservatives I don’t live in a Disney movie. The world is a little bit more complex. There is more than good guys and bad guy and all the world needs is that the good guys have tons of guns and shot the bad guys. In reality it just doesn’t work that way. There are an incredible number of other factors to consider. Just good intensions, even if we suggest that Bush and Blair had any, mostly make things worse. And the reality of this war is that now a few 100 000 innocent people are dead and Iraq is still a dictatorship. They just have exchanged a secular dictator for a much less secular and very pro Iran one. Indeed, if there is any true winner of this war, it is the current regime in Iran.

    I am reluctant to react to the comment that Bush did not break any law. Imprisoning people without trial and torturing them is clearly against the law. So is lying a nation into a war that killed a lot of its own young soldiers. Bush himself does not really think that he is innocent, since he clearly is reluctant to travel without getting immunity first. Oh, now I did comment on it. But indeed this is the last I am writing here. Arguing with Neo-conservatives is always a bit like arguing with Jehovah witnesses.

  6. Funny that someone should think that Libertarians are ‘neo-conservatives’ (whatever they are).

    Just to reiterate. Iraq is a much better place now than it was under Saddam (to say that Iraq is now a dictatorship is a simple lie). In addition, Bush did not break any laws. (since when is it illegal to lock up POWS without trial?)

  7. I don’t want to continue this discussion. Of course Bush and his administration broke laws. Calling the people detained in the so called War on Terror POWs is nonsense. Not a single criteria for POWs applies to them. Indeed terrorists are explicitly excluded from that status. But even if they were POWs, torture would still be illegal. There is no exception for the prohibition of torture.

    But I do indeed believe that people in favour of warfare and nation building are not Libertarians, no matter what standpoints they hold on other issues. There are many reasons for this, but there is not enough room here to really explain all of them. However, I have written a detailed analyses a while ago and it can be found here.


  8. ”I don’t want to continue this discussion.”

    And yet you do.

    President Bush didn’t break any laws and arguing against the war on the basis of legal sophistry rather than on grounds of principle is meaningless.

    As for the idea that Libertarians must oppose all wars whatever the circumstances, that is a proud and loud declaration of suicide. Fortunately, you do not have the privilege of deciding the intellectual purity test for who may be considered a Libertarian and not all Libertarians think that war always is completely wrong in the real world.