War Criminal at Bay
By Paul Craig Roberts
Clearing House" -- -- President George Bush, betrayed by the
neoconservatives whom he elevated to power and by his Attorney
General, Torture Gonzales who gave him wrong legal advice, is
locked in a desperate struggle with the Republican Congress to
save himself from war crimes charges at the expense of America’s
reputation and our soldiers’ fate.
Beguiled by neoconservatives, who told him that the virtuous
goals of the American empire justified any means, and misled by
an incompetent Attorney General, who told him that the President
of the US is above the law, Bush was deceived into committing
war crimes under Article 3 of the Geneva Convention and the US
War Crimes Act of 1996. Bush is now desperately trying to save
himself by having the US Congress retroactively repeal both
Article 3 and US law.
Under the US Constitution retroactive law is without force, but
desperate men will try anything.
President Bush has given no thought to the impact on America’s
reputation of his strident campaign to write torture into US
law. He has given no thought to what saving himself means for
captured US troops if the US government guts Article 3 of the
How could he care? This is the same president who prevented the
world from intervening to stop Israel’s slaughter of Lebanese
civilians. This is the same president who describes tens of
thousands of slaughtered Iraqi and Afghan civilians as
“collateral damage.” What sort of war is it when civilian
casualties far out number casualties among combatants?
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was used by Bush to
lie to the UN in order to create a pretext for Bush’s illegal
invasion of Iraq, denounced Bush’s attempt to repeal Article 3
of the Geneva Conventions. Powell said Bush’s proposal causes
the world to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against
terrorism” and will “put our own troops at risk.” Republican
senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham agree with
Powell, although their arms may yet be twisted out of their
Bush’s claim that America cannot fight the “war on terror”
without employing torture is just another Bush lie. It is a
known fact that torture produces unreliable information. Torture
can make people talk but it cannot make them give reliable
Very few of the tens of thousands of “suspects” that the US has
detained are guilty of anything. We know this because the US
Iraqi Command says that 18,700 Iraqis have been released since
June 2004. US officers told the International Red Cross that 70
to 90 percent of the Iraqi detentions were “mistakes.” (See
Associated Press reporter Patrick Quinn, September 17, 2006
Most of these mistakes were people who were simply pulled out of
their beds or grabbed off streets as “suspected insurgents,”
victims of military sweeps akin to the KGB street sweeps of the
Stalin era, which resulted in so many Soviet citizens
disappearing into the Gulag. Others were sold to naive Americans
by warlords who collected a bounty for turning in “terrorists.”
When innocent people are tortured they invent information in
order to stop the pain. Sometimes they settle a score with a
personal enemy or someone they dislike by giving their name.
People who experienced Soviet torture and survived say they
tried to remember names of deceased persons to identify as
“enemies of the state.”
An actual terrorist or insurgent who believes in his cause is
not going to give accurate information. If his torturers demand
information on a pending attack, he will give the wrong
location. If they demand the identities of his group, he will
give the wrong names. He is worth very little as an information
source, because his colleagues, aware that he is captured or
missing, will change plans and arrangements.
The US military has not learned anything from torturing
detainees and continues to loose the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan despite its widespread use of torture.
Lying is now a full time occupation for US military
spokespersons as well as for President Bush. Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin
Curry, a spokesman for US military detainee operations in Iraq
says that every detainee “ is detained because he poses a
security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or
coalition forces.” President Bush says, “These are enemy
combatants who are waging war on our nation.” Someone needs to
tell Bush and Lt. Col. Curry that what they allege cannot be
true if 70-90 percent of detainees are mistaken detentions and
if 18,700 detainees have been released in the last 14 months.
Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi is a good example. He
languished in detention limbo for 20 months without charges and
without apology when released.
Many studies have concluded that people who go into
interrogation and police work are bullies who like to exercise
power and to hurt people. Bush is willing to make such people
even less accountable in order to protect himself from war
If Bush were a real man, he would fire Gonzales and the neocons.
He would say he was given bad advice and regrets that he didn’t
know better than to follow it. He would order closed all the
secret prisons, end the illegal policy of rendition, and order
that all US military detention facilities be run in strict
accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
This would serve Bush and America’s reputation far better than
his attempt to legalize torture.
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