Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bush's Greatest Regret

Recently Bush has been focusing his efforts on improving his reputation - creating a positive, albeit false, legacy. His efforts are no less unsuccessful than the whole of his presidency.

When asked what he considered his greatest regret Bush stated, "I regret that we did not find WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq." We have learned that Bush had no evidence of WMD before he invaded Iraq, yet, he convinced Americans and our allies that such evidence existed. Without WMD the war in Iraq is unjustified. He could have said that he regrets having started the unjustified war in Iraq that has, so far, resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 Iraqis and almost 5,000 American and allied soldiers but he didn't say that because he wanted the war in Iraq - his “gut feeling” told him that the war was necessary. However, without WMD he can’t prove that his “gut feeling” was correct! That is his ONLY regret. He doesn’t regret the massive loss of life. He doesn’t regret the destruction of Iraq. He doesn't regret America's loss of standing in the world. He ONLY regrets not being able to find WMD with which to justify the war that he was going to wage whether WMD existed or not.

Bush isn't a good man because he lacks compassion for others. Bush was not a good leader; he used his presidency to serve himself rather than the people. His legacy consists, in part, of an unjust war of his making, the deaths of more than 100,000 innocents, the destruction of Iraq and violations of our laws, our Constitution and our treaties. I say "in part" because the war in Iraq was only one of many disasterous products of his presidency.

War Criminals Must Be Prosecuted

Obama and his appointees seem reluctant to investigate U.S. war crimes committed while George W. Bush was president. We should not treat our war criminals differently than we have treated war criminals from other countries. War crimes were committed; of that there is no question. We already know at least two of the people who committed these crimes. In the last few weeks President Bush and Vice President Cheney admitted on television that they ordered the use of torture in violation of U.S. law and multiple treaties. In spite of their claim, being President and Vice President does not put them above ANY U.S. law or treaty. They asked a Bush appointed Department of Justice lawyer if the types of torture that they wanted to use were legal as if that was enough to protect them from prosecution. If we let these crimes go unpunished we are as guilty they are.

This is not a party issue or liberal versus conservative or Christian versus non-Christian. Some of the people who support Bush and his use of torture will use the Iraq war, the defense of our nation and patriotism as justifications. Bush’s supporters will accuse me of being anti-war, weak on defense and/or unpatriotic. These, true or not, have nothing to do with my call for war crimes prosecution. These acts were criminal regardless of the context within which they were committed.

Torturing prisoners of war and “detainees” did not save any lives and it did not prevent other terrorist attacks on the U.S. Experts, including the FBI, have always maintained that torture does not yield valuable information and, in spite of such claims by Bush and Cheney, investigators say that none of the information obtained was helpful. What we know to be true is that torturing cost American and allied lives in the war in Iraq. It was a rallying call to all extremist Muslims to join the fight in Iraq. It inspired the enemy to begin beheading their captives, both military and civilian.

If we let our war criminals go unpunished we send a clear message to all future presidents that they are above the law and free to violate international treaties. If we let them go unpunished we will lose the respect of other nations and the right to expect them to honor our treaties.

I call for Obama to investigate all claims of war crime and to prosecute the criminals without prejudice or favor.