President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. ...an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses ~ Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith writing for The Center for Public Integrity, 1/23/2008.
When commenting on other blogs I often, when the topic comes up, refer to George bush (and others in his administration) as "war criminals". The reason I believe the label is applicable is mainly due to his invasion of Iraq and authorization of waterboarding. But lately, on a another site the blogger dmarks (real name Dennis Marks) has been "calling me out" for my "hypocrisy" whenever I do it (use the "war criminal" label when referring to bush and bush administration officials).
According to Mr. Marks, if I were consistent and not a hypocrite, I'd have to acknowledge that Bill Clinton is also a war criminal, because he authorized the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 without UN authorization, which is the "same" thing bush did when he ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2002.
Dennis says the only reason I say bush is a war criminal while Bill Clinton is not is because bush has an "R" behind his name. Of course these accusations are patently absurd due to a few important distinctions between the bombing of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Iraq.
In order to "catch" me in my hypocrisy, Dennis asked me if "George W. Bush [was] lying when he said that Saddam Hussein had been engaged in the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction technology which was a threat to countries in the region and he had made a mockery of the weapons inspection process"?
Turns out this is actually something Nancy Pelosi said, so when I said, "yes, bush lied", Dennis responded with the following...
|Dennis Marks: Bush told the truth. We all know this. However, the quote I gave you was a bit of a "sting". It proved two things: your hypocrisy, and that you never bother to check anything. (5/9/2012 AT 8:11am).|
So it looks like Dennis got me good, huh? Except that the Nancy Pelosi comment is from 12/16/1998 (when Clinton was president) and actually represents what the politicians believed to be true at the time. Also, Nancy Pelosi did not then conclude that we must go to war with Iraq in order to "disarm" them, and neither did president Clinton.
Also, what Nancy Pelosi said was in line with what United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter reported regarding Iraq's WMD program. In August of 1998 Scott Ritter said that, absent effective monitoring, Iraq could "reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program".
The intent of Pelosi's statement was to keep up the pressure on Iraq and to signal her support for the UN inspections. The Clinton administration was in favor of containment and inspections and not of waging war. And the Clinton administration policy of keeping the pressure on Iraq paid off, because in June of 1999 weapons inspector Scott Ritter said, "when you ask the question, does Iraq possess militarily viable biological or chemical weapons? the answer is no! It is a resounding NO. Can Iraq produce today chemical weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No! It is NO across the board. So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed".
In early 2003 The UN weapons inspectors (who had been absent from Iraq for several years) were in the process of verifying if Iraq was in compliance with the UN Resolutions calling for Iraq to disarm. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said the inspectors "found no stockpiles of WMD and had made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament". According to Blix the open issue would be resolved in a matter of months.
Then, on 3/7/2003, the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, confirmed that what Scott Ritter said in 1999 was true when he told the UN Security Council that, after his team had done 247 inspections at 147 sites, they found there was no evidence of resumed nuclear activities, nor any indication of nuclear-related activities at any related sites. He went on to say that evidence suggested Iraq had not imported uranium since 1990 and no longer had a centrifuge program. He concluded that Iraq's nuclear capabilities had been effectively dismantled by 1997.
So, the question is why - even though it appeared as though Iraq was complying - did bush order "shock and awe" on 3/19/2012 and a ground invasion on 3/20/2003... a mere 12 days after Mohamed ElBaradei said Iraq was complying and no WMD had been found? According to bush the mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people". How could disarming Iraq be bush's primary reason for toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein when the UN weapons inspectors on the ground were reporting that Iraq was already disarmed?
bush obviously did not "tell the truth". Given what the inspectors ON THE GROUND were saying, bush clearly LIED. So, not only did bush invade Iraq without UN authorization (violating articles 33 and 39 of the UN Charter) but he ordered an invasion to "disarm" Iraq when the UN inspectors were telling him Iraq was already disarmed.
This is quite different than what Bill Clinton did when he authorized the use of American troops in a NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Albanians by nationalist Serbians in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's province of Kosovo. Yes, Bill Clinton bypassed The UN. According to Wikipedia, "the issue was brought before the UN Security Council by Russia, in a draft resolution [that said] 'such unilateral use of force constitutes a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter'. China, Namibia and Russia voted for the resolution, the other members against, thus it failed to pass".
So neither president's war (Clinton/Yugoslavia and bush/Iraq) was authorized by the UN, and, because of this, I think the case can be made that each is a war criminal - if UN authorization is the only criteria used in determining if a war is "legal". Certainly others HAVE argued that Bill Clinton is a war criminal (do a Google search if you don't believe me). But SHOULD each be charged with war crimes? I say "no", because Bill Clinton did obtain the authorization of another international body (NATO), whereas bush went to the UN and argued his case... and the UN specifically said "no". And not only did they say no to the invasion, they also said no to his claim that Iraq was not disarming.
To Clinton the UN did NOT say "no". To bush they did say "no".
Also, while Bill Clinton authorized bombing to stop war crimes, which resulted in the real war criminal (Slobodan Milosevic) being brought to trial, bush authorized an invasion based on a lie. Iraq had no WMD, which the UN weapons inspectors told him BEFORE he invaded. Later, when no weapons were found, bush blamed an "intelligence failure".
I think this explains why the people of Serbia consider President Clinton a hero and erected a statue statue to honor his actions that stopped the brutal Serb forces' crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians, whereas, in Iraq, one Iraqi showed his appreciation for bush's invasion by calling him a "dog" and throwing his shoe at him (which is a sign of contempt in Arab culture). According to Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi television journalist who threw the shoe bush narrowly ducked, his action was intended as "a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people".
"This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq" al-Zaidi shouted as he threw his second shoe. He was referring to the huge number of Iraqis killed since the war began. A peer-reviewed study from the prestigious medical journal The Lancet says approximately 1.4 people have been killed as a result of the conflict. Although the 1.4 million figure is an estimate, it is an estimate with a 95 percent confidence interval (Wikipedia: "In statistics, a confidence interval... is used to indicate the reliability of an estimate").
Also, Lila Guterman, writing in a in a January 2005 Columbia Journalism Review article stated, "I called about ten biostatisticians and mortality experts. Not one of them took issue with the study's methods or it's conclusions. If anything, the scientists told me, the authors had been cautious in their estimates".
The blogger who declared me to be a hypocrite says the Lancet's casualty estimates are "pulled from thin air with no evidence", but the real reason he objects is because pointing out how many innocent lives bush's illegal war has cost illustrates how enormous and disgusting a lie his claim that "bush told the truth and saved lives" is.
There is also the failed reconstruction, the primary purpose of which was to enrich the bush administration's contractor buddies. Given the fact that so many of these contractors over billed the government and did shoddy work on top of that, and so few of them were prosecuted - what else can one conclude?
Finally there is the bush administration's violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Third Geneva Convention, which deals with the treatment of prisoners of war, states that "physical or mental torture [as well as] any other form of coercion" is prohibited. Under the Geneva Conventions torture is defined as a "grave breach" and individuals involved can be prosecuted for war crimes.
Furthermore, during the tribunal that convened following the war in the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court found that these "provisions are considered customary international law, allowing war crimes prosecution by the United Nations and its International Court of Justice over groups that have signed and have not signed the Geneva Conventions.
bush authorized torture by his own admission, although the torture he admits to authorizing is "only" the waterboarding of three individuals. But far more individuals than the three detainees who were waterboarded were subjected to torture. The photographic evidence of the torture that took place at Abu Ghraib is proof of that.
Human Rights Watch says that "Al-Qaeda detainees would likely not be accorded POW status, but the [Geneva] Conventions still provide explicit protections to all persons held in an international armed conflict, even if they are not entitled to POW status. Such protections include the right to be free from coercive interrogation, to receive a fair trial if charged with a criminal offense, and, in the case of detained civilians, to be able to appeal periodically the security rationale for continued detention".
In regards to "detained civilians", bush administration official Lawrence B. Wilkerson (chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell) contended that there are innocent civilians being held (indefinitely) at Gitmo. Mr. Wilkerson said, "there are still innocent people there. Some have been there six or seven years". Gavin Sullivan of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights says "[bush] bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the torture of thousands of individuals at places like Guantánamo and secret CIA black sites around the world".
The Iraqi people are aware of all of these factors - bush lying about WMD, the large number of deaths from collateral damage and the civil war the invasion unleashed, the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib and detention of innocent Iraqis, the billions that went to corrupt US companies instead of to Iraqis (who could have rebuild their own infrastructure), and the theft of their oil on behalf of Western oil firms - and this is why they will NEVER erect a statue in bush's honor.
Most recently the blogger who criticizes me said that my "ignorant, personal interpretation of international law [has] crumbled to dust". The straw man he has set up is that the ONLY reason I call bush a war criminal is because he violated the UN Charter by not obtaining UN authorization to invade Iraq, but Clinton did the same, and since I don't agree I'm an ignorant hypocrite.
But, as I've just proven, aside from neither Clinton nor bush receiving UN approval for their military actions, the situations are not at all comparable. And, when Dennis says my case against bush rests "entirely" on the singular fact that bush invaded Iraq without UN authorization, he's lying. I'm not a hypocrite, and bush IS a war criminal, albeit an unprosecuted one.