As minor African despots are dragged before the International Criminal Court, ex-President George W. Bush remains free, despite having committed major war crimes like torture and aggressive war. With the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands, he will now celebrate his presidential library, Coleen Rowley notes.
By Coleen Rowley
A recent news report asking “Where is Dubya?” found the former president totally unengaged, spending his time painting strange portraits of himself in the bath. In what seems to be a weird personal attempt to emulate Winston Churchill (but more reminiscent of Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess in her last days), the former president calmly ignores the sickening truth that slowly but surely emerges about his administration’s crimes as well as recent UN demands that U.S. leaders be charged with war crimes.
Ben Emmerson, the lead special investigator, recently described to gathered UN dignitaries a setting of self-approved legal immunity among U.S. and UK national leaders. He called the two governments’ standing policy, “A policy of de facto immunity for public officials who engaged in acts of torture, rendition and secret detention, and their superiors and political masters who authorized these acts.”
So the hard task will clearly fall to George W. Bush’s soon-to-open Presidential Center to re-fashion history and create the legacy of the great “Decider” who, with neo-con help, so longed to be a “war president” that he decided to illegally and recklessly launch a “war of choice” (otherwise known as the illegal and catastrophic war of aggression upon Iraq based on false premises).
The new Bush Library will undoubtedly also credit their namesake with the idea of initiating the “global war on a tactic (GWOT)” that, despite a recent bipartisan congressional bill to end it, teeters on the verge of being made permanent. Bush’s successor having cleverly re-named it, then stretched and expanded GWOT to so many new countries that it now has come full circle under rhetoric of “keeping us safe” from foreign enemies that it now targets U.S. citizens for what could possibly be indefinite detention and assassination and includes the U.S. as part of its ever-widening global battlefield.
(Though to be fair, Bush already had established those principles with his military detention of alleged terrorist and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, arrested and imprisoned on U.S. soil as an “enemy combatant.”)
Whoever said we can’t look back must not have reckoned with the fact and force of such a Presidential Lie-Bury! Luckily some Dallasresidents have sprung to the task of putting forward an honest “People’s Response” to the deceptive refashioning of this unethical and illegal history. Here’s an excerpt from their press release:
“When the George W. Bush Library and Policy Institute is dedicated on April 25, 2013, at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, protestors will be there to demand the ex-president be held accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of U.S. and international law. President Barack Obama, formerU.S.presidents and many heads of state are expected to attend the dedication ceremony. “
A coalition of local, state and national peace and justice groups organizing the protest is inviting people from across the country to participate in an event called “The People’s Response.” According to Leslie Harris of CODEPINK Greater Dallas, “The illegal invasion of a sovereign nation was declared a ‘supreme crime’ at theNurembergtrials. That Bush and his advisors walk free today is unconscionable; there must be accountability so history won’t repeat itself.”
Reverend Bill McElvaney, professor emeritus, Perkins School of Theology at SMU, an early opponent of locating the George W. Bush Institute on campus, said, “The invasion of Iraq, and the approval of torture are violations of the United Methodist Social Principles, thus placing Southern Methodist University in contradiction to its own heritage as an institution of The United Methodist Church.”
I plan to participate for a lot of reasons but most fundamentally, from having spent 24 years as an FBI agent working in the criminal justice system always and inherently focused on looking backward to solve the worst crimes, I understand the true purpose of Obama’s ridiculous “only look forward” cover-up was to continue, make worse and even expand upon Bush’s illegal wars, war crimes and war profiteering.
It’s hard to put this into words better than author and researcher, “War Is A Crime” and “Let’s Try Democracy” activist David Swanson as he explains “Why I’m Attending the Dedication of the Bush Lie Bury:”
“On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas. It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good. I’ll be there, joining in the people’s response (http://ThePeoplesResponse.org) with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.
” ‘The BushCenter’s surrounding native Texaslandscape,’ the center’s PR office says, ‘including trees from the Bush family’s Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush’s longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency.’ Does it, now? Is that what you recall? Bush the environmentalist?
“Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury’s claims for decades to come? According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them. This is something to be proud of, we’re told.
“The Lie Bury’s annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama. No blood is anywhere to be seen. The Lie Bury’s website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war. ‘The Warrior Open,’ it explains, ‘is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in theDallasarea. The event honorsU.S.service members wounded in the global war on terror.’
“Now, I actually know of some soldiers wounded in what they call by that name who don’t feel honored by Bush’s golfing, just as millions of Iraqis living as refugees within or outside of the nation he destroyed find Bush’s liberty to walk outdoors, much less golf for the glory of war, offensive. But none of them has a quarter-billion dollar ‘center’ from which to spread the gospel of history as it actually happened — as it happened to its losers, to those water-boarded, shot in the face, or otherwise liberated by Bush and his subordinates.
“When Bush lied about excuses to start a war onIraq– as with everything else he did — he did so incompetently. As a result, a majority of Americans in the most recent polls, still say he lied to start the war. But few grasp the lesson as it should be applied to wars launched by more competent liars. And memory of Bush’s lies is fading, buried under forgetfulness, avoidance, misdirection, revisionism, a mythical ‘surge’ success, and a radically inaccurate understanding of what our government did toIraq.
“I won’t be attending the Lie Bury ceremony for vengeance, but in hopes of ridding our culture of the vengeance promoted by Bush. He based a foreign policy and a domestic stripping away of rights on the thirst for vengeance — even if misdirected vengeance. We have a responsibility to establish that we will not support that approach going forward.
“Bush himself is relevant only as his treatment can deter future crimes and abuses. No one should wish Bush or any other human being ill. In fact, we should strive to understand him, as it will help us understand others who behave as he has. Bush, of course, knew what he was doing when he tried to launch a war while pretending a war would be his last resort, suggesting harebrained schemes to get the war going to Tony Blair. Bush knew the basic facts. He knew he was killing a lot of people for no good reason. He was not so much factually clueless as morally clueless.
“For Bush, as for many other people, killing human beings in wars exists outside the realm of morality. Morality is the area of abortions, gay marriage, shoplifting, fornicating, or discriminating. Remember when Bush said that a singer’s suggestion that he didn’t care about black people was the worst moment in his presidency? Racism may be understood by Bush as a question of morality. Mass murder not so much. Bush’s mother remarked that war deaths were not worthy of troubling her beautiful mind. Asked why he’d lied about Iraqi weapons, George W. Bush asked what difference it made. Well, 1.4 million dead bodies, but who’s counting?
“I won’t be attending the Lie Bury because Bush’s successor is an improvement. On the contrary, our failure to hold Bush accountable has predictably led to his successor being significantly worse in matters of abusing presidential power. And not just predictably, but predicted. When we used to demand Bush’s impeachment, people would accuse us of disliking him or his political party. No, we’d say, if he isn’t held accountable, future presidents will be worse, and it won’t matter from which party they come.
“I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them. I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Barack Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren’t on the list. Bush’s lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn’t eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now. When Obama went to war inLibya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government.
“When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could. Obama — despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers — does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open. Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy. Imprisonment without trial is ‘law.’ Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it. Murder is, however, the new torture. The CIA calls it ‘cleaner.’ I picture Bush’s recent paintings of himself washing off whatever filth his mind is aware he carries.
“Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered. We don’t know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist. We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election. Think about that. We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people.
“That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said ‘it’s more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check,’ or who said ‘impeachment would be traumatic’ — as if this isn’t.
“InGuatemalaa prosecutor has charged a former dictator with genocide, remarking, ‘It’s sending the most important message of the rule of law — that nobody is above the law.’ It’s not so many years ago that theUnited Stateshad the decency at least to hypocritically propose that standard to the world. Now, we advance the standard of lawlessness, of ‘looking forward, not backward.’
“That’s why the people need to respond to the lie bury. Ann Wright is going to be there. And Diane Wilson. Robert Jensen and Ray McGovern are coming. So are Lon Burnam and Bill McElvaney and Debra Sweet. Hadi Jawad and Leah Bolger and Marjorie Cohn and Kathy Kelly are coming. As are Coleen Rowley and Bill Moyer and Jacob David George and Medea Benjamin and Chas Jacquier and Drums Not Guns.
“Also coming will be many familiar faces from the days when we used to protest in Crawford. When we’d go into that one restaurant at the intersection in Crawford, there’d be a cardboard cut-out Dubya standing there. We picked him up and stood him in the corner, facing the corner. We said he needed to stay there until he understood what he’d done wrong. In reality, of course, he was cardboard. The lesson was for everyone else in the restaurant. It’s a lesson that still needs to be taught.”
Please join us inDallas!
Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent and legal counsel in the Minneapolis field office, wrote a “whistleblower” memo in May 2002 and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about some of the FBI’s pre-9â€Š/â€Š11 failures. She retired in 2004 and is now a writer and speaker.