a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Fwd: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes

Posted by Thomas Nephew on January 12th, 2009

Formal Petition to Attorney
General-Designate Eric Holder
to appoint a Special Prosecutor
to investigate and prosecute any
and all government officials
who have participated in War Crimes.
Sponsored by

Dear friends and family,

I have just read and signed the petition: “Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes.” Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and consider joining me in signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a difference. To join in the petition, click here.

This was already a top vote getter at Barack Obama’s “” site — but as Obama’s response shows, it unfortunately seems that he and his administration may need to be pressured on this. From Obama’s recent interview with George Stephanopoulos (emphases added):

OBAMA: …I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. […]OBAMA: “Well we have not made any final decisions but my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward, we are doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation’s going to be to move forward,” Obama said.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “So let me just press that one more time. You’re not ruling out prosecution, but will you tell your Justice Department to investigate these cases and follow the evidence where it leads?”

OBAMA: What I — I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is that he’s the people’s lawyer. Eric Holder’s been nominated. His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people. Not be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So ultimately, he’s going to be making some calls. But my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”

See also “Additional Documents Link Bush Directly to Guantanamo Torture,” (Jason Leopold, “Public Record”):

Several high-ranking members of Obama’s transition team told me this week that the president-elect will not authorize the Justice Department to initiate a criminal investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation practices nor will the agency scrutinize any individual officials for approving such policies. Instead, these aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama will review and possibly reverse some of Bush’s executive orders and withdraw some legal opinions that gave the president broad powers in the global war on terror.

“Possibly”?! Meanwhile, Bush has admitted personally OK’ing waterboarding:

And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.

He also knew of “principals” meetings where waterboarding was discussed.  Torture is a blatant war crime and crime under U.S. law.

I realize not everyone I send this to will agree with me on this, but I wanted to not take anyone’s views for granted, and also to let you know how I see it. Personally, I’ve favored impeachment for the war crime of torture, the fraudulent case for going to war in Iraq, and the warrantless surveillance that the Bush administration is guilty of — and prosecution (whether or not it leads to a conviction) would not preclude that. What I don’t favor is simply “moving on,” “turning the page,” “looking forward instead of backward,” or other formulations that seem more about avoiding hard truths and unpleasantness than about truly preventing such abuses in the future.

To me, this isn’t mainly about the people who actually carried out orders to torture (though they shouldn’t have). It is about the people who gave those orders, or justified them with legal mumbo-jumbo: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Yoo, Haynes and Addington, to name some of the most important ones. To really look “forward”, you have to look even further than the Obama administration, to a time when people like these are in a position to consider crimes like these again. When that time comes, it will be far better if such people (possibly even the same people) can look back on a special prosecutor bringing administration officials to justice.

Impeach them: yes we can

Yes We Can. Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew.

Thank you!

— Thomas Nephew

PS: Impeachment also remains a possibility even after someone leaves federal office; one of the consequences of an impeachment conviction is not being allowed to hold federal office again. Impeachment is also specifically not something a presidential pardon can prevent. For those of you wondering why I still have an “Impeach Them” sign up in my front lawn, that’s why.

NOTE: I sent the above message (slightly modified) to a great number of friends and family today, with more on the way.

UPDATE, 1/12: On the “Huffington Post,” actor John Cusack proposes two questions to ask Attorney General nominee Eric Holder:

1. Is waterboarding torture?

2. Will you prosecute? No matter what sham commission is appointed to block justice?I would hope we pressure our representatives, whomever questions Mr. Holder, to play the video of the Vice President of the United States admitting to sanctioning a torture program. He not only admits the war crimes but seems proud and pleased with himself.

Someone, anyone, for the sake of our constitution, ask Mr. Holder, the presumptive top legal authority, the man who will lead the Justice Department after the most lawless time in American history, to answer these simple, basic, direct questions.

Whomever is found guilty should not be on the lecture circuit, but in prison.


3 Responses to “Fwd: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes”

  1. RoberetNAtl Says:

    I am sitting here literally shaking, wringing my hands, and sweating bullets about your proposal. While I understand that what the Bush administration did may have been illegal, I am worried that prosecuting Bush administration officials will have the following negative effects:

    1. It will jeopardize Obama’s chances of getting 80 votes for the stimulus package, because congressional Republicans will be very, very, very upset.

    2. David Broder will write an angry column saying that Obama is not being very bipartisan — not very bipartisan AT ALL. 🙁

    3. It will divert prosecutorial resources from voter registration fraud cases. ACORN may well end up getting off scot-free.

    4. We will be looking backwards, not forward, just like at Nuremberg.

    So PLEASE reconsider your extremist stance about enforcing the law.

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Oh my, that all sounds ever so awful. Whenever David Broder gets stern, I always fret and cry. I’m very, very sorry I wrote this. 🙂

  3. Edger Says:

    Very nice article Thomas, and thank you for signing the petition.

    Some new developments today that just may turn out to be the paradigm changing ones needed to push this effort over the top into an irrepressible wave…

    Petitioning For A Special Prosecutor: The Expanding Universe

    Politics vs. Justice: Spotlighting The Holder Confirmation Hearings

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