Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008
President Bush took credit yesterday for “keeping America safe” from terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, arguing that his administration had prevented more bloodshed at home through aggressive policies and that such a result should outweigh any second-guessing of his methods.
As he nears his final month in office, Bush told a friendly audience at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., that he took “a deliberate and comprehensive approach” to preventing terrorism that combined military action overseas with strong defensive measures at home.
“While there’s room for an honest and healthy debate about the decisions I made — and there’s plenty of debate — there can be no debate about the results in keeping America safe,” Bush said. “Here at home, we’ve prevented numerous terrorist attacks.”
Looking back at Sept. 11, when more than 3,000 people were killed, Bush said that “virtually no one would have predicted that more than seven years would pass without another terrorist attack on our soil.”
“It’s not a matter of luck,” he continued. “It is a tribute to the dedicated men and women who work day and night to defend our great land. It’s the result of tough decisions that we began making immediately after September the 11th.”
Bush made a rare reference to Osama bin Laden, the fugitive al-Qaeda leader who has eluded capture by U.S. forces for the past seven years. “We have delivered a devastating blow to al-Qaeda in the land Osama bin Laden once called the central battleground in the war on terror,” Bush said of Iraq.
The president focused on the defeat of the Taliban and the holding of elections in Afghanistan, making no mention of the rapidly deteriorating security situation there. Bush made unannounced visits to Afghanistan and Iraq over the weekend.
In Washington, Bush homeland security adviser Kenneth L. Wainstein also highlighted the administration’s counterterrorism efforts when he sat down with reporters. Wainstein cited the USA Patriot Act, intelligence and homeland security reorganizations, and the removal of legal barriers to cooperation between intelligence and law enforcement agents as important steps.
Wainstein noted that al-Qaeda or its followers have often struck within days or months of political transfers, including the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; and the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
“The people that I’ve been working with [on President-elect Barack Obama‘s transition team] recognize that the terrorist threat is real,” Wainstein said. “Based on my discussions with them, they recognize it takes intense and sustained focus.” source
Still kicking this dead ‘dog’ long after he’s been gone.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — U.S. President George W. Bush, who is leaving the White House on Jan. 20, said on Wednesday that the war on terror will continue long beyond his presidency.
Bush said that “the struggle against terror will be a generational conflict.”
“Around the world, we’re driving the terrorists from their safe havens. We are choking off their financing. We are severely disrupting their operations.”
“Together with our allies, we’ve killed or captured hundreds of Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives, including the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”
In an interview earlier this week, Vice President Cheney admitted to personally approving the torture of high-profile detainees. In a new interview with the Washington Times, Cheney stridently defended the Bush administration’s torture policies, saying, “I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do.” He added emphatically that he would “do exactly the same thing again.”
Most audaciously, Cheney specifically defended the morality of torture, suggesting that it would have been immoral for the United States to not torture:
“In my mind, the foremost obligation we had from a moral or an ethical standpoint was to the oath of office we took when we were sworn in, on January 20 of 2001, to protect and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. And that’s what we’ve done,” he said. […]
“I think it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to do everything we could in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11,” Mr. Cheney said.
Cheney insisted that the torture policies he helped craft were “directly responsible for the fact that we’ve been able to avoid or defeat further attacks against the homeland for 7 1/2 years.”
Torture has endangered, not protected, American lives. Military experts say that the U.S.’s torture policies have been the single greatest recruiting tool for al Qaeda. A former interrogator who worked in Iraq stated unequivocally, “The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Cheney appeared unconcerned about the possibility of being held legally responsible for what many are calling an admission of war crimes. He insisted that waterboarding was not torture, and explained, “We spent a great deal of time and effort getting legal advice.” However, speaking on MSNBC last night, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said, “You can’t just suddenly change something that is illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion that saying it’s legal.” source
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: “I will be known as somebody who saw a problem and put the chips on the table to prevent the economy from collapsing.
I’m a free market guy, but I’m not going to let this economy crater, in order to preserve the free market system.”
Although Americans have access to the greatest selection of information sources in the world, including books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cable, and the Internet, the frequency of the news cycle has increased to the point where we have forgotten that our president and vice president have committed horrendous war crimes, or we may have missed the fact as it flashed by.
Most of us may have been fleetingly aware in 2006 that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were lying to us about their reasons for the Iraq War, which caused the murder and maiming of tens of thousands of our American troops and the waste of billions of our tax dollars. We elected a majority of Democrats to Congress to hold them accountable; however, the Democratic leadership immediately announced that impeachment was off the table and it has been business as usual ever since.
Recently, there has been a flood of new evidence clearly proving beyond any reasonable doubt that our president and vice president, along with others, conspired to engage the United States in an unnecessary and illegal war and repeatedly and deliberately lied to the American people about the true facts of the matter. Most specifically, the president committed felonies when he lied to Congress about his justification for ordering the attack on Iraq which resulted in the murder of all who have died in his fraudulent “War on Terrorism.”
As governor of Texas, Bush executed 152 people, including Karla Faye Tucker, a born-again Christian, whose plea for clemency caused Bush to purse his lips in a false smirk of desperation and to whimper, “Please don’t kill me.” Under the “Felony Murder Rule,” known in Texas as the “Law of the Parties,” if a person commits a felony and someone dies during the course of the felony, all parties to the felony are guilty of murder irrespective of which one actually does the killing.
There is strict liability under the rule, even if the death is accidental or unintended. Almost 20 percent of all murder prosecutions result from the rule, and a significant number of Bush’s 152 executions involved criminals who had engaged in felonies where the actual killing was done by others.
Not only has the president escaped all accountability for the serial murders he committed during his phony “War on Terrorism,” he recently asked Congress to further aid and abet his crimes by acknowledging “again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”
We now know to a high degree of certainty who the slaughterers are. The only remaining question is whether the murderers will escape justice.
Title 18, Section 2 of the U.S. Code says, “Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.” Section 1111 defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought” and specifically holds that murders perpetrated by any kind of “willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing” are murders “in the first degree. Any other murder is murder in the second degree.”
If Bush willfully and deliberately misled Congress into authorizing him to engage in an unlawful war in which American troops and Iraqis were killed, he is guilty of murder. Not only would such killings be premeditated, but they would also be the legal result of his lies to Congress.
Title 18, Section 1001 prohibits anyone from “knowingly and willfully” making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” in “any matter within the jurisdiction of the . . . legislative . . . branch of the Government.” Felony prosecution under the statute was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1955, and a violation of the statute is a crime.
Bush lied to Congress on a number of occasions. Most specifically during his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Bush told the following lies to Congress:
► “The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.”
► “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
► “Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction.”
► “With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.”
► “And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.”
► “We seek peace. We strive for peace.”
Ignoring the reports of UN inspectors that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush ordered its invasion on March 20, 2003 because: “the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised” and Iraq “has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.” When Bush deceptively ordered American troops to invade Iraq, he and his co-conspirators not only became war criminals under international law, they became murderers of all those who died as a result of their felonious conduct.
It can now be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Bush was deliberately lying about his justification for war against Iraq, and as of today 4,151 American soldiers and perhaps as many as a million Iraqis have become his victims.
Bush’s conspiracy of deception held for several years, but on May 1, 2005, the Times of London published the first of the so-called “Downing Street Documents.” The documents informed us that Bush, irrespective of the lies he was telling at the time, was already committed to going to war with Iraq as early as 2002.
Calling the evidence of weapons of mass destruction “thin,” the British memos documented that “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s secret intelligence service later said that the Bush administration buried British information about the lack of WMDs.
We also learned that both the CIA and the State Department attempted to keep Bush from referring in his 2003 State of the Union Address to Saddam’s attempted purchase of “yellowcake” uranium from Niger. Indeed, the unsubstantiated allegations were later found to be a complete hoax based on a crude forgery disseminated by Sismi, the Italian intelligence service.
It has been revealed that Michael Ledeen, a representative of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s Office of Special Plans, had been in Rome at the same time gathering intelligence to support military intervention in Iraq and that the Sismi’s director later met with Stephen Hadley, Bush’s deputy national security advisor, after the CIA rejected his initial overtures.
Additional evidence has been provided by Pultizer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind in his new book, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism. Suskind reveals that Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the head of Saddam’s intelligence service, was secretly reporting the true status of Iraq’s WMDs to the British.
Habbush informed the British (and the Bush administration) in January 2003 that there were no WMDs in Iraq. When CIA Director George Tenet told Bush about Habbush’s information, Bush replied, “Well, why don’t you tell him to give us something we can use to make our case?”
Rather than using Habbush to provide Saddam with effective disinformation, to arrange Saddam’s removal, or to even make operational use of the valuable intelligence, the U.S. terminated further communication with Habbush, paid him $5 million to keep quiet and resettled him in Amman, Jordan. Officially, Habbush is still wanted by the U.S. and there is a $1 million reward offered for his capture.
Further evidence that Bush had official knowledge that there were no WMDs in Iraq was provided by Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, in autumn 2002. He passed information through a French government official that Iraq’s “WMD program” was actually a ruse to ward off Iran and other foreign enemies.
Sabri was paid at least $200,000 by the CIA and French intelligence to provide documents about Saddam’s WMDs; however, Bush rejected Sabri’s intelligence as worthless when CIA director George Tenet tried to tell him about it on September 18, 2003. According to a senior CIA officer, “Bush didn’t give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up.”
Sabri received safe passage to Cairo during the first days of the Iraq invasion and is presently enjoying a comfortable retirement teaching journalism in Qatar.
Instead of informing the military, Secretary of State Powell, or Congress about Sabri’s high-quality intelligence, the CIA rewrote the report of his debriefing into an opposite falsehood stating that Saddam was “aggressively and covertly developing” nuclear weapons and that he already had chemical and biological weapons. The restructured report was then passed on to British intelligence to share with Prime Minister Blair.
During the same period, Saad Tawfik, an electrical engineer in Iraq, was identified by the CIA as a “key figure in Saddam Hussein’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.” His sister lived in Cleveland and was recruited by the CIA to meet with her brother in Iraq and to obtain details about the program. Tawfik told her the program was completely abandoned in 1991 and there were no centrifuges or nuclear weapon facilities. The CIA obtained similar results from 30 other former Iraqi WMD experts who also told relatives the same thing.
Evidence of Bush’s consciousness of guilt can be found in Ron Suskind’s report of the White House’s subsequent attempt to create a fraudulent justification following the invasion of Iraq and the failure to find any WMDs. The White House ordered the CIA to forge a backdated letter purportedly sent from Habbush to Saddam.
The resulting handwritten forgery dated July 1, 2001 talked about Saddam buying yellowcake uranium from Niger with the help of al Qaida. Fortuitously, the phony letter also mentioned that 9-11 ringleader Mohammad Atta was in Iraq at the time being trained by al Qaida terrorist Abu Nidal for an upcoming righteous mission.
Since the CIA is prohibited by law from engaging in covert activities intended to influence the U.S. political process, public opinion, policies, or the media, the forged letter was leaked through an aide to Ayad Allawi (a member of the Interim Governing Council and British intelligence informant) in Baghdad to an English journalist.
Con Coughlin, who has previously served as a conduit for British intelligence, wrote a front-page story in London’s Sunday Telegraph on December 14, 2003 headlined, “Terrorist behind September 11 strike ‘was trained by Saddam.’” As intended, the story was picked up and recycled by the U.S. media, including William Safire and Tom Brocaw, who treated the letter as genuine.
Suskind quotes two former CIA officers, Robert Richer and John Maguire, as witnesses to the forgery. Although both officers now deny any role in fabricating the false letter, Suskind states his interviews with them were tape recorded. On one recording, Richer is heard telling Suskind how Tenet assigned him to deal with the fabricated letter: “What I remember is George saying, ‘We got this from’ – basically, from what George said was ‘downtown.’” After Suskind says, “Which is the White House?” Richer says, “Yes. . . . I would probably stand on my, basically, my reputation and say it came from the vice president.”
When asked about the forgery, Tenet said, “There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from the CIA ever involved in such effort.” Suskind calls such statements “part of George’s memory issue.”
On December 14, 2004, Bush engaged in yet another coverup. He rewarded Tenet with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Bush said that Tenet’s “tireless efforts have brought justice to America’s enemies and greater security to the American people.”
Impeachment. On May 10, 2006, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi stated she was not interested in pursuing impeachment of President Bush; however, she has subsequently said that “If somebody had a crime that the president had committed, that would be a different story.”
On December 8, 2006, then-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; however, her bill expired with the 109th Congress. McKinney is presently the Green Party’s nominee for president.
On November 6, 2007, Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to impeach Vice President Cheney.
On June 10, 2008, joined by Congressman Robert Wexler as cosponsor, Kucinich introduced a resolution of impeachment against President Bush listing 35 articles. The matter was referred to the Judiciary Committee by the House of Representatives; however, Speaker Pelosi refused to allow any hearings on the resolution.
On July 15, 2008, Congressman Kucinich introduced a new resolution of impeachment of President Bush limited to a single count stating that “President Bush, in violation of his oath of office, deceived Congress with fabricated threats of Iraq weapons of mass destruction to fraudulently obtain support for the authorization of use of force against Iraq and to commit troops to combat in Iraq.” The matter was again referred to the Judiciary Committee.
A hearing was held on July 25, 2008; however it was limited to “Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations.” Although Kucinich and others were allowed to testify, the question of impeachment was “not on the table.”
President Bush’s approval rating is around 28 percent; however, Congress’ rating, perhaps because of its inability or refusal to impose any accountability on President Bush and his co-conspirators, is just 18 percent and falling.
Impeachment is the only Constitutional way to stop a corrupt or insane president from defying the Constitution and becoming a dictator. A new president will be inaugurated on January 20, 2009, just 142 days from now. It is unlikely that Congress can or will act in that time; however, that refusal to act will surely go down in history as one of the greatest failures of our democracy.
Criminal Prosecution. It is generally assumed that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution while in office; however, following President Clinton’s impeachment acquittal by the Senate, the special prosecutor impaneled a grand jury to hear the same evidence and to seek an indictment once he left office. Clinton avoided indictment by entered into a plea bargain one day before he left office requiring him to publicly admit his false testimony, to surrender his law license and to pay a fine of $25,000.
Inasmuch as Attorney General Michael Mukasey serves at the pleasure of President Bush, it is highly unlikely that the current Justice Department will seek an indictment of Bush for the crimes he has committed while in office. However, given the fact that there is no statute of limitations for murder, a future Attorney General appointed by a different president may be more inclined to investigate and indict Bush and his co-conspirators for their criminal behavior.
One does not need to be a trial lawyer to review the preceding paragraphs and to identify the actual witnesses who could be called to testify, either before Congress or in a criminal trial. It is quite easy to say something like “to the best of my knowledge” to a journalist; it is much more difficult to equivocate under oath during vigorous questioning in criminal proceedings or to hide behind the Fifth Amendment.
Pardons. A president’s power to pardon is essentially absolute and is without legal review; its only constraint is the threat of impeachment. With impeachment “off the table” and with the holidays and the end of the president’s term approaching, the likelihood of mass pardons increases. There is a family precedent. With less than a month remaining in his term in 1992, President Bush’s father pardoned Caspar Weinberger, his former Secretary of Defense, and five others for the crimes they committed during the Iran-Contra fiasco.
The political pardons by Bush Sr. cancelled one conviction, three pending guilty pleas and two pending trials. Weinberger’s trial, which included charges of lying to Congress, was scheduled to commence within days of the pardon. The trial would have produced “evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public.” By issuing the pardons, Bush Sr., who had refused to turn over his own “highly relevant contemporaneous notes,” avoided being called as a witness to testify under an oath about how he had come to be “out of the loop.”
The Constitution prohibits a president from interfering with the impeachment process; however, it is unclear if Bush can pardon his own crimes to avoid criminal prosecution. One scenario being circulated is for Bush to issue pardons to everyone conceivably subject to criminal prosecution arising out of their service in his administration, including Vice President Cheney, and for Bush to then resign from office. President Cheney could then pardon “former President” Bush for any and all crimes he committed while in office.
International Law. In one of his last official acts, President Clinton signed the “Rome” treaty establishing the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands to prosecute individuals accused of mass murders, war crimes, and other gross human rights violations. The treaty became effective on July 1, 2002; however, one of President Bush’s first acts was to “unsign” the treaty on behalf of the United States.
Even though George Bush rejected the jurisdiction of the International Court, the court has not rejected jurisdiction over him. Accordingly, while the United States can refuse to arrest and extradite a former president charged with war crimes, the treaty has been signed by 139 other sovereign nations and ratified by at least 107, all of which are legally committed to prosecuting war criminals whenever their own country refuses to or cannot do so.
Thus, while Bush may presently enjoy cutting brush in Crawford, Texas, his ability to vacation overseas might be severely curtailed in the future during his retirement years. Moreover, depending upon who the president is at the time charges are brought against Bush by the International Court, the United States could hand over Bush to the court for prosecution.
From childhood, George Bush displayed a disturbing lack of empathy. “Slapped around” by his mother as a boy, Bush enjoyed blowing up live frogs by putting firecrackers in their mouths and shooting at his brother with a BB gun. As he grew older, Bush presided over and defended the branding of pledges to his fraternity at Yale using red-hot wires and cigarettes; he became addicted to alcohol; he was arrested for drunk driving and he abused illegal drugs.
During the Vietnam War, Bush avoided military combat and was absent without leave from his stateside reserve assignment for more than a year. Using his father’s influence to gain political office, he smirked, giggled, and displayed other inappropriate behavior in response to the most serious of subjects.
Untreated, Bush’s sociopathy evolved as he achieved command of the most powerful military on earth and used its weapons to commit mass murder. Whenever a roadside IED explodes in Iraq and another American soldier dies, every time another wedding party is mistakenly bombed and children die, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney commit murder. Are we not willing accomplices if we continue to allow these crimes to continue?
Those whom we empower by our vote to either serve us in Congress or to lead our nation as president have a duty to use the power we give them to ensure accountability for its abuse. They have a duty to focus and to maintain attention on the most egregious and deadly violations of our laws and to not allow murder to go unpunished. They have a duty to do whatever it takes to make such crimes the headline of every newspaper and the lead of every radio, television and cable news program during every news cycle until such time as the murderers who occupy our nation’s highest offices are held fully accountable.
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William John Cox is a retired supervising prosecutor for the State Bar of California. Acting as a public interest, pro bono, attorney, he filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 on behalf of every citizen of the United States petitioning the Supreme Court to order the other two branches of the federal government to conduct a National Policy Referendum; he investigated and successfully sued a group of radical right-wing organizations in 1981 that denied the Holocaust; and he arranged in 1991 for the publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls. His 2004 book, You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency is reviewed at yourenotstupid.com, and his political writings are collected at thevoters.org. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 William John Cox