Sunday, January 18, 2009

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.


Kansas Bob said...

I had similar thoughts when Ford pardoned Nixon. I may be wrong but, in hindsight, I think that he did the right thing.

Joe said...

Nixon's crimes did not go unpunished since he resigned in disgrace and others involved in the break-in and cover-up went to prison. The point was clearly made that the government and people will not tolerate Presidential violations of our laws and a corruption of the democratic process.

I will be satisfied if the crimes committed by Bush, Cheney and their minions are investigated and prosecuted to the same extent as the crimes of the Nixon administration.

We can only protect our Constitution if we fully enforce it. To do otherwise is to give away our freedoms.

Kansas Bob said...

Good points Joe but isn't it our new presidents prerogative to prosecute or not in the same way that it was president Ford's choice to pardon or not?

Joe said...

The Constitution empowers the legislature to make the laws, the courts to interpret the laws and the President to enforce the laws. Law enforcement is not optional under the Constitution; it is an obligation.

President Bush was the Commander-in-Chief of the military but his conduct and that of the military must comply with the Code of Conduct established by Congress. Compliance is not optional. Congress did not fulfill its Constitutional obligation when it did not impeach Bush for violating the military code of conduct.

In my opinion it is a grave mistake to believe that our government can pick and choose when to fulfill its Constitutional obligations.