Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The War Crimes Which Will Remain Unpunished.

I wrote the other day about the fact that a new Senate report places the blame for torture at US facilities directly at the door of Donald Rumsfeld and other administration officials.

Now Glenn Greenwald takes this up and, as always, has a fantastic overview of the way in which the MSM seem almost completely indifferent to the fact that a bipartisan Senate report - signed by the presidential nominee of Bush's own political party - has accused the administration of taking part in what amounts to war crimes.

Instead, they seem obsessed with the details of the Blogojevich affair and whether or not it bodes ill for Barack Obama. As Glenn notes:

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes. Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits -- many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals. TV "journalists" who have never even heard of the Taguba report -- the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed: "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account" -- spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich's hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words.
The simple truth is that none of us think that George Bush will ever be convicted for the crimes which he has committed but, as Glenn points out, what does it say about any political system where ordinary citizens face the full wrath of the law should they break it but there exists a political class who can do so with impunity, safe in the knowledge that, should an incoming administration ever seek to prosecute them, that a chattering class of journalists, who have themselves enabled the very crimes of which the outgoing administration are accused, would instantly accuse the incoming president of "partisanship" should he even seek to make the outgoing president responsible for the crimes which he has committed?

And the crimes are war crimes in every sense of the word, with numerous prisoners dying in US custody in questionable circumstances which Glenn amply gives examples of.
Just ponder the uproar if, in any other country, the political parties joined together and issued a report documenting that the country's President and highest aides were directly responsible for war crimes and widespread detainee abuse and death. Compare the inevitable reaction to such an event if it happened in another country to what happens in the U.S. when such an event occurs -- a virtual media blackout, ongoing fixations by political journalists with petty scandals, and an undisturbed consensus that, no matter what else is true, high-level American political figures (as opposed to powerless low-level functionaries) must never be held accountable for their crimes.
The truth is that people like Lynndie England were merely carrying out official US policy as articulated by Rumsfeld and signed off by Bush and yet, when this policy became known in the course of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Lynndie England was thrown in jail as "a rotten apple" as a way for Bush and Rumsfeld to distance themselves from what was their own policy.

For that it almost exactly what the report states. It says:
"The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own," the report finds. "The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority."
Carl Levin stated that, "Attempts by senior officials to portray [the bad apples scenario] to be the case while shrugging off any responsibility for abuses are both unconscionable and false."

So Bush, Rumsfeld and others, not only authorised crimes, they sent others to jail in order to distance themselves from the very crimes which their orders produced.

It's scandalous, but the even greater scandal is that no prosecutions will follow. The MSM will see to that by, first, ignoring the Senate report which lists the crimes and, secondly, by attacking as "partisan" any incoming administration which ever seeks to make the criminals accountable for what they have done.

Instead, we will be offered the usual platitudes as articulated by John McCain, that it matters not what happened in the past, but we must concentrate on making sure "it never happens again. As Glenn points out:
Doesn't that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood -- if not render inevitable -- that such behavior will occur again?
Just as Nixon walked away from his crimes, so will Bush, but woe betide the US citizen who steals a car, for the full weight of the law will crash down on his shoulders.

War crimes? Well that's simply not as serious as car theft.

Click title for Glenn's article.


daveawayfromhome said...

I'm curious to know if Lynndie England and those like her could sue the Bush Cabal, since they not only gave the orders, but then tried and convicted her of not following orders? Surely there's a lawsuit there? Maybe with a juicy lawsuit the press will sit up and take notice.

Kel said...

I think that's a good idea, Dave. They are certainly due something as even a Senate report now admits that they were actually following orders from the very top.