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(Since the DNC Convention is less than two weeks away and there is going to be LOTS to blog about, I’m going to wrap up the remaining two parts of this 4-part series with today’s entry. – Mugsy)

WAR! blared newspaper headlines across the country on December 8, 1941… the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ever since the invasion of Iraq five minutes before midnight on March 19, 2003, Bush defenders have tried to draw a historic parallel between “the U.S. going to war with Germany after being attacked by the Japanese” to “going to war with Iraq after being attacked by al Qaeda in Afghanistan”. Of course, it is helpful to have little or no knowledge of history when making that absurd comparison… and as I’ve said many times before, NeoCons have NO “accurate” historical memory (oh, they love to make historical references, but they are almost always inaccurate), nor can they see more than two steps ahead when considering the repercussions of their agenda.

Japan, Germany and Italy were part of the “Axis Alliance” (no relation whatsoever to Bush’s “Axis of Evil”). While Japan sunk our battle ships in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii (it wasn’t made a state until after the war), Germany declared war on the United States just four days later. Unlike Germany, Iraq was not “allied” with the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 (though, as was revealed just last week, the Bush Administration did try to concoct a phony connection between the two on at least one occasion, giving them a false pretext for war.)

Which brings us back to the 1945 Nuremberg Trials.

Count Three: War Crimes – the more “traditional” violations, including mistreatment of prisoners of war, slave labor, and use of outlawed weapons. And Count Four: Crimes Against Humanity – the actions in concentration camps and other death rampages.

The fact that there is even a debate in this country today on whether or not the use of “torture” is acceptable is already the “canary-in-the-coalmine” of just how much damage 28 years of Conservative politics has destroyed America’s sense of morality. Even John McCain, who owes his political career to his celebrity as a former POW, once decried the use of torture by America on “detainees” held in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, stating on the floor of Congress that, “It’s not about who they are, it’s about who WE are”, only to “flip-flop” in his quest to become the Republican Presidential Nominee because his opposition to the use of torture was unpopular among Republicans.

The crimes that were committed at “Abu Ghraib” are well documented. And reports of similar practices having taken place in “Gitmo” have likewise been reported. “One” incident of torture in a fluke. The existence of “black-site” prisons regularly using torture to elicit information from prisoners, coupled with a Republican Party that defends the practice, and an administration that has made torture “official U.S. policy“, is a pattern showing those abuses were by design.

The Bush Administration defends the practice of using torture on “detainees” (they can’t call them “prisoners of war” without opening themselves up to possible prosecution) on the grounds that “al Qaeda is not subject to the Geneva Convention”. There are several problems with this defense:

One: It assumes that ONLY members of al Qaeda or rogue Iraqi “insurgents” are detained in our military prisons, or ONLY al Qaeda and insurgent detainees are being subjected to torture.
 
Two: As I mentioned last week, the Nuremberg Trials pre-date the Geneva Convention. It was, in fact, this trial that pointed out the need for a globally agreed-upon definition of “war crimes”.
 
Three: The “International Criminal Court” (ICC) has concluded that members of The Taliban ARE protected by The Geneva Conventions because they were the ruling government power in Afghanistan.
 
Four: Iraqi soldiers captured at the time of the 2003 invasion are likewise protected under Geneva because they were part of a governmental military at the time.

Taking these one at a time, first, the Bush Administration paid “bounties” to anyone that turned in a “member of al Qaeda” to dirt-poor Afghan farmers and unemployed Sectarian Iraqi’s, neither of whom thought twice about handing over a personal enemy… guilty or not… to U.S. troops for the reward. And why would we be torturing “Iraqi insurgents” anyway? One of the arguments defending the use of torture the Cons use is the “ticking time bomb” scenario. There is not, nor was there ever, a threat of “massive imminent attack” by street fighters in Iraq against the United States. Second, using the “Geneva” defense to justify the use of torture in the execution of any conflict does not automatically mean “war crimes” were not committed, because WE prosecuted “war crimes” PRIOR to the existence of “Geneva”. Three, while no one is eager to defend members of the Taliban, just as with “member of al Qaeda”, there is no way of knowing just who is or is not a member of the Taliban. So if you torture someone and they turn out to be a member of the Taliban, you’ve committed a war crime. And the fourth is self-explanatory… former Iraqi Soldiers are not “stateless sponsors of terrorism” that can (according to the neocons) legally be tortured without violating the Geneva Conventions.

I remember playing “made up” games when I was a child with my friends… you know, the kind of games where you make up the rules as you go along? (“Oh, I forgot, that tree is out of bounds.”) The Bush Administrations’ torture policy feels a lot like that. “You can torture this guy, but you can’t torture that other guy.” And if they believe they REALLY NEED TO torture someone that the law says they can’t, they’ll just demand a new law that makes an exception, OR, as he’s already done more than 150 times to circumvent over 1,149 proclamations he personally signed into law, President Bush will simply issue a “signing statement” that says “he doesn’t have to obey his own law”.

The second part of Count Three, “slave labor”, does not appear to have been violated. If anything, the Bush Administration has been eager to grossly overpay American contractors Billions of dollars worth of “no-bid” contracts to provide every service imaginable, from cooking, cleaning and general services, to building weapons and constructing military facilities.

This brings us to the third part of Count Three… the use of “banned weapons” (mini-nukes, depleted uranium, “white phosphorus”, etc).

President Bush broke a 35 year old nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) from 1970 when he refused to promise the United State would not develop any new nuclear weapons. Their excuse: the need for 5 megaton mini-nuke deep penetration “bunker-buster” bombs that could reach into terrorist fortresses built deep into the mountains of Afghanistan.” But the excuse of needing “bunker-busting mini-nukes” was just that… an excuse. President Bush was already seeking to break the nuclear non-proliferation ban from almost the beginning. CommonDreams reported on whether or not President Bush was already seeking to opt out of the nuclear test ban treaty in this article… notice the date: June 30, 2001, more than three months before 9/11, when the only thing on Bush’s radar screen was invading Iraq. Whether or not these low-yield “mini nukes” were ever built is not known, but the fact President Bush broke the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1970 is indisputable.

The United States under George Bush has been using mortar rounds made of “depleted uranium” (DU), leftover (waste) uranium from other sources like nuclear reactors and such. Still highly radioactive, but too weak to be used in an actual reactor. But when shaped into a military shell, it has the unique ability of slicing through a tanks iron walls like a hot knife through butter. DU is also fairly brittle (as metals go), so when it scrapes its way through a metal target, the scrapped away metal “aerosols” out in a cloud of dust that wafts through the air, permeates the ground, comes in contact with human skin and contaminates ground water (the shells themselves, highly radioactive, are also left behind on the battlefield… which in this case, is often the public streets of Iraq. Though not a “bomb”, DU is considered a prohibited “nuclear weapon” by international law.

Third is a chemical known as “white phosphorus” (WP). WP was not designed to be used as a weapon. It is an incendiary (ie: fire) device whose purpose is to light up the sky during night battles. Problem is, not only does WP allow you to see your enemies, but it allows your enemies to see you. Since the advent of “night vision goggles”, the military has had little use for white phosphorus, yet it still keeps a steady supply on hand. If WP comes in contact with human skin, it will (or course) cause severe burns. As such, the use of WP as a contact weapon was banned by international law in 1925… a ban that was strengthened by George HW Bush Sr. his last week in office (January 13, 1993) to include banning the stockpiling of the incendiary for military use. The United States accused Saddam Hussein of using white phosphorus as a weapon in 1991. Despite the international prohibition of the use of WP as a weapon, and condemning Saddam Hussein for using it in ’91, the Bush Administration allowed its use as a contact weapon in the 2005 Battle of Falluja.

Without a doubt, the Bush Administration has willfully and recklessly violated Count Three of the Nuremberg charges. So on War Crimes Count Three, without question: Guilty.

Count Four: Crimes Against Humanity, actions that took place inside the concentration camps and various other “death rampages”, seems like a slam-dunk (apologies to George Tenet). But crimes of “prisoner abuse” were already covered in the third indictment. This is a bit more tricky because, if the simple act of rounding up and imprisoning innocent civilians was a sufficient violation, then the United States itself was already guilty of this crime following the (atrociously named) 1942 “Japanese Family Leave Act”, where thousands of “Japanese” Americans, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, were forced to live in U.S. Concentration Camps for the duration of the war. Since the United States prosecuted Germany for this crime three months later, it can be assumed that simply imprisoning innocent people without charge is not enough to justify a “war crime”.

So when does a “concentration camp” become a “war crime”? When people die in the camp at the hands of their captors. In mid 2004, the Pentagon revealed that 37 Iraqi & Afghan POW’s had died while being held in U.S. custody. I can find no more-recent statistics, but I think it is safe to assume that more than four years later, that number is likely considerably larger.

“Death rampages”. How does one define a “death rampage”? The simple act of war could be considered a “death rampage”, but I doubt that is how it was defined during that trial in 1945. The invasion and slaughter of every living thing in an individual town could be defined as a “death rampage”. Whether by soldiers on the ground or carpet-bombing from the air, the total annihilation of a town full of civilians could be regarded a “death rampage”.

I feel there is insufficient evidence (based upon my limited research capabilities) to conclude whether or not it is possible to return a guilty verdict on this indictment, and must therefore rule count four as: undetermined.

Conclusion – The Bush Administration is clearly guilty on both Counts One & Three of the Nuremberg Tribunal, with Count Four clearly unresolved. Guilty on even one count is enough to subject members of the Bush Administration, and even the President himself, to the death penalty.

Current historical perspective:

On Friday, the Russian army invaded the neighboring country of Georgia. Like Bush, former Russian President-turned-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was spoiling for a fight, and Georgia handed it to him on a silver platter when they (I’m a bit fuzzy on the actual circumstances here, so don’t quote me) sought to reclaim the Ossettia region of their country back from Russia.

Friday evening, as the world watched the stunning opening day celebration at the Beijing Olympics, President Bush and Prime Minister Putin could be seen in the stands sharing smiles and exchanging “small talk”, separated only by their wives, while Russia was in the process of slaughtering 1,400 Georgians… American allies in Bush’s “War on Terror”, the third largest contingent in Iraq with 2,000 soldiers. The very next day, President Bush was on TV condemning Russian aggression against Georgia:

“Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state, and threatens a democratic government elected by its people,” he said. “Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.”

The utter hypocrisy of George Bush admonishing another country for invading a sovereign nation was almost too much to bear. And don’t try and tell me Bush didn’t already know about the invasion earlier that morning when he was smiling and chatting with Putin in the stands that evening. Makes one wonder just how sincere President Bush’s condemnation of Russia truely was the next morning.

Let us not forget that soon upon entering office in 2001, President Bush met with the former KGB Agent and told us he knew Putin was a good person because he “peered into his soul”. Since then, Putin has imprisoned political opponents, rolled back many Democratic reforms, and was quoted saying:

“One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century was the fall of the Soviet Union.”

With judgment like that, is it any wonder we’re in the mess we’re in?

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