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Activist judges and the military lawyers who love them
July 11, 2006 7:16 AM   Subscribe


 
Next up: War crimes trials for Bush and company?
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 7:26 AM on July 11, 2006


(or an alternate title of JAG Kicks Dubya's Ass)

It's nice to see some sanity now and again instead of the steady stream of nuthouse drivel being "justified" by the good hair network.
posted by nofundy at 7:28 AM on July 11, 2006


If Bush were convicted of war crimes (entirely theoretically, of course -- I'm sure he'll he retired into luxury no matter what happens), could he (again, theoretically) get the death penalty? Cause that would be (actually, not just theoretically) amusing.
posted by pracowity at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


A shred of sanity at long last.
posted by BeerGrin at 7:40 AM on July 11, 2006


Yes, Bush could indeed get death if convicted of committing crimes against peace and planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression. And that's before you even get to the "war crimes".

This has, famously, happened before.

Of course, in the real world high-ranking politicians only get tried for their war crimes by the winners of wars that the criminals lost, and it is unlikely that whatever collection of lunatics and murderers ends up coming to power in Iraq will conquer the USA and put the USA's lunatics and murderers on trial.

(Plus Blair. And Howard, while they're at it.)

But, as you say, we can dream.
posted by dansdata at 7:43 AM on July 11, 2006


Does this include the ghost detainees, who the U.S. won't admit to holding and doesn't report to the Red Cross? (Existence of these was publically admitted by the U.S. military in 2004.) Does it include the ones at prison camps in eastern Europe? (Denied by the U.S., though the evidence is overwhelming.) How about the ones held in Afghanistan and Iraq? (Publically acknowledged.) How about the ones held by the CIA, not the DoD?

That the U.S. is engaged in systematic, government-approved torture is not deniable.

Re: war crimes: please remember that "Waging aggressive war" is a war crime in itself. Torturing prisoners to death is also a war crime, but it's not even necessary to prove that one, when you've got the "waging aggressive war" one staring you in the face. All that is necessary is for someone to have the balls to arrest Bush.
posted by jellicle at 7:45 AM on July 11, 2006


I don't think that prosecution of Bush, Blair and Howard is possible unless there were a sea change in the governments in all three countries. Don't forget that Eden was never formally punished for the debacle that was the Suez War.

I am certain that what will happen is that some anti-war leader will come along who will mention something along the lines of a withdrawal from Iraq and then continue to secretly bomb there. That person will eventually be implicated in some scandal and resign or be impeached. Does this sound familiar. I bet a lot of people reading this voted for Nixon to end the war in Viet Nam.
posted by parmanparman at 8:04 AM on July 11, 2006


As a minor point of pride, Admiral Hutson is currently the Dean of my alma mater. He's been all over this issue, and the news, for quite some time.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:12 AM on July 11, 2006


We so need to get over the wet dream of impeaching Bush, and get on with the dream of impeaching Cheney. It is so much more likely, supported by facts, sell-able to all of the GOP, pallatable to the media, and desirable by Bush, the Republican machinery, and the conservative base. He would make a convincing scapegoat (although he is actually the most guilty party). It's his hands which are on all the cookie jars, not Bush's.
posted by rzklkng at 8:15 AM on July 11, 2006


And I mean impeaching or war-crimes indictments, etc. and other miscellaneous legal proceedings. I suspect that his entire life post-presidency will be spent dealing with various civil lawsuits, provided citizens can sue him for his actions.
posted by rzklkng at 8:16 AM on July 11, 2006


And where would these war crimes trials be held? Under what law?

And who is going to arrest him? It's not a matter of balls, it's a matter of law. No one has the authority to arrest Bush except, wait for the irony, an invading outside force waging a war of aggression identical to the one waged in Iraq. Bush did not break any U.S. law, therefore the cops can't arrest him. The military can't arrest him because the military can't arrest anyone, and any police force anywhere else on the planet doesn't have jurisdiction. There is no U.N. police force because, apart from other reasons, the U.N. isn't a government.

And while we are at it, shouldn't you be calling for the arrest of China's premier as well? And maybe the president and prime minister of pretty much every country on earth?

All that this war has proved (to americans) is that the U.S. isn't better than any other country. It certainly hasn't proved that we are worse.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:20 AM on July 11, 2006


Nice to see. But it’s not going to bring justice for the one’s who committed suicide. That’d be nice to see too.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:23 AM on July 11, 2006


Presumably this is something that was handed down from the White House since The Pentagon is part of the Executive.
posted by OmieWise at 8:27 AM on July 11, 2006


And who is going to arrest him? It's not a matter of balls, it's a matter of law.

I suppose we could impeach him and have him removed from office. Then he is no longer leader of a sovereign nation, and can therefore be arrested just like any other criminal. Right?

Of course to impeach him means either getting the GOP to throw him under the buss, or somehow managing to get a not-Republican majority in both houses of Congress in the fall elections. Hmm, which is more likely, a) conquered by invading army, b) Republicans impeaching Bush, or c) turnover of Congress? I don't think Vegas is taking odds on this one.
posted by ilsa at 8:52 AM on July 11, 2006


Next up: War crimes trials for Bush and company?

you know, if we're gonna get start handing out indictments at the hague, i think there might be some bigger fish to fry at the moment.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:07 AM on July 11, 2006


The Rule of Law: If Bill Clinton lies about oral sex. Duh!
posted by BillyElmore at 9:28 AM on July 11, 2006


I was under the impression that treaties, once signed, became U.S. law. Therefore, Bush is in contravention of U.S. law.
posted by jmgorman at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2006


I'm certainly not an expert, but as Commander in Chief I would think that Bush could be relieved of command and detained by the Military and court-martialed^.

On the other hand, I would assume that there's some sort of provision making this impossible to prevent Coup d'Etat.

It's kind of moot because it will never happen unless Bush announced a suspension of the Constitution and the USA was eventually defeated in a war waged against us by the rest of the world or some equally unlikely scenario.

No President, not even President Nader would allow that to happen to a former President. The best you can hope for is that he'll be impeached, which probably won't happen either.

He will simply stop being President at the end of his term, in all likelihood.
posted by illovich at 10:27 AM on July 11, 2006


I'm certainly not an expert, but as Commander in Chief I would think that Bush could be relieved of command and detained by the Military and court-martialed

No. He couldn't (unless you're talking about a coup, which is not going to be a constitutional move) since the president is a civilian that commands the US military rather than a member of the US military.
posted by bshort at 10:42 AM on July 11, 2006


Pastabagel : Actually, I believe it's ilegal under U.S federal law to commit a war crime... I'd wiki/google it, but I'm going out in a couple of mins :) Um ... Isn't it The Warcrimes Act?

Isn't that what Gonzales was worried about when he wrote his (in)famous memo suggesting that the President had the authority to 'suspend' Geneva? Basically 'you'd better do something about this, or we could be prosecuted under our own laws'?
posted by kaemaril at 10:57 AM on July 11, 2006


TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441

§ 2441. War crimes

(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
(b) Circumstances.— The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
(c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—
(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or
(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

That was just on a quick google, haven't time for anything more detailed :)
posted by kaemaril at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2006


kaemaril - thnks for the info, I didn't know it extended to nationals as well as military personnel.

I see words like "grave breach" (not just "breach"), and "willfully" and I'm thinking it doesn't apply. But...
posted by Pastabagel at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2006


According to this guy, the President can be arrested just like any one else, although it would probably be interesting for the arresting officer to get through the Secret Service, as he notes.
posted by illovich at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2006


If bush had managed to get one moure suprime court nominee through this wouldn't have happened.
posted by delmoi at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2006


And I mean impeaching or war-crimes indictments, etc. and other miscellaneous legal proceedings. I suspect that his entire life post-presidency will be spent dealing with various civil lawsuits, provided citizens can sue him for his actions.

Which they can't.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 AM on July 11, 2006


I bet Colombo could nail him.
“Ahh, just one more thing Mr. President...”
he even nailed Johnny Cash.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2006


Smedleyman: I bet Colombo could nail him.
“Ahh, just one more thing Mr. President...”
he even nailed Johnny Cash.


That is, simultaneously, my favorite haiku and favorite inspiration for slash fiction of the day.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2006


I share in the sense of victory over an out-of-control Executive branch and a slap on the wrist to a lapdog Legislative one, but ya know what's really good about this decision, and hopefully the notion that the US should use courts (domestic, foreign, and international) as tools rather than ignore them entirely? It's that maybe we can actually begin to systematically locate, capture, and try religiously motivated asshats who want to wipe out major swaths of a given country's population.

Of course, see my unsurprised face if the Bush junta just goes deeper down the rabbithole and tries to hide everything from the SCOTUS and Congress. But at least people are starting to realize what a uniquely corrupt and arrogant regime this White House has become. And that further malfeasance on their part deserves nothing less than, yes Virginia, impeachment.
posted by bardic at 1:30 PM on July 11, 2006


Pastabagel: No one has the authority to arrest Bush...

You seem to be confusing authority with either opportunity or evidence and cause.

Any American law enforcement officer has the authority to arrest President Bush. What's more problematic is getting evidence to provide cause; and then, once that happens, to get an opportunity.

That he "couldn't get arrested" in this berg has much more to do with custom than law.

Just sayin'.
posted by lodurr at 1:43 PM on July 11, 2006


And I mean impeaching or war-crimes indictments, etc. and other miscellaneous legal proceedings. I suspect that his entire life post-presidency will be spent dealing with various civil lawsuits, provided citizens can sue him for his actions.

Which they can't.


Paula Jones?
posted by jlub at 2:45 PM on July 11, 2006


Sure, they can sue Paula Jones. Seems kind of mean-spirited at this point, though.
posted by cortex at 4:32 PM on July 11, 2006


Ok, cortex, that was funny, I have to admit. :)

But, speaking as a Canadian who knows little on this subject, why can't American citizens sue the president? From what I can see from here, taxpayers have grounds for "breach of faith" lawsuits for misuse of their tax dollars for the past 100 years or so.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2006


And who is going to arrest him? It's not a matter of balls, it's a matter of law. No one has the authority to arrest Bush except, wait for the irony, an invading outside force waging a war of aggression identical to the one waged in Iraq.

Sadly true. So what to do about obvious war criminals who are militarily untouchable? Assassination is the usual answer, of course. Not that anything so direct would happen in today's America, of course.
posted by Decani at 5:52 PM on July 11, 2006


I love how bloodthirsty all these war opponents are.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:27 PM on July 11, 2006


Pentagon memo (with commentary). http://www.slate.com/id/2145592/entry/0/
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:36 PM on July 11, 2006




I love how bloodthirsty all these war opponents are.
posted by Krrrlson


I don't love how bloodthirsty all these war proponents are.

There, fixed it for you.
posted by nofundy at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2006


I love how bloodthirsty all these war opponents are.

Oh yeah, we're the absolute pits when it comes to blood.

Think before you try to be a fucking smartarse, you damned idiot. Shame on you for such a lazy, blinkered, witless comment. Oppose the people who are actually spilling blood or else for Christ's sake zip it and stop embarrassing yourself.
posted by Decani at 7:34 AM on July 12, 2006


I find it difficult for us to buy in to the notion, ‘let’s just trust the president’s judgment,’ ’’ Mr. Biden said. “God love him, his judgment has been terrible."

*snort* That one made me chuckle.

You have to wonder how long you can detain people while having no proof of their wrongdoing. If they could prove something I'd bet they'd have hustled to move them on through the legal system just so Bush could jump on tv and say "Look A-MUR-ica, I caught one!! See I told you sending all those troops was for a good reason!'
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:23 AM on July 12, 2006


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