I've been hearing increasingly from multiple quarters that the root of our problems is psychopaths and sociopaths and other loosely defined but definitely different beings from ourselves. Rob Kall has produced a quite interesting series of articles and interviews on the subject.
I want to offer some words of caution if not respectful dissent. I don't think the "because chickenhawks" dissent found, for example, in John Horgan's "The End of War" is sufficient. That is to say, just because a politician doesn't want to do the killing himself or herself doesn't mean the decision to order killing in war, or in prison, or through poverty and lack of healthcare, or through climate change, isn't heartless and calculating. Psychopaths could be running our world from behind desks.
To: Richmond, Va., Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Police Chief Ray J. Tarasovic, Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr,
From: David Swanson, author; Phil Wilayto, editor, The Virginia Defender; Ana Edwards, chair, Defenders' Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
We hope you will consider this request from deeply concerned Virginians on its legal merits rather than its acceptability in certain social circles or how it might be received by certain television talking heads.
Conspiracy to torture has long been a felony in the U.S. Code, in both Title 18, Section 2340, and Title 18, Section 2441. The United States is also a party to the Convention Against Torture, which requires the criminal prosecution of complicity in torture, and which -- under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution -- is part of the supreme Law of the Land.
A new movie has just been released based on Vincent Bugliosi's book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder." Bugliosi, of course, prosecuted Charles Manson and authored best sellers about Manson's guilt, O.J. Simpson's guilt, and Lee Harvey Oswald's guilt. Whether we all agree with all of those conclusions, it is worth noting that each book was reviewed and considered by the biggest U.S. newspapers and television networks. When Bugliosi wrote a book about George W. Bush's guilt, something we're almost all united on, the corporate media shut it out. Will the same fate greet this movie?
The political parties in Washington, D.C., have switched sides for the moment. Now the Democrats accept presidential power abuses, while the Republicans are outraged, selectively, by a few of them. Host David Swanson gives his thoughts. Guest Elizabeth Holtzman discusses the possibility of creating a climate of accountability by prosecuting George W. Bush. Holtzman was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. She proposed the bill that required review of state secrets claims, as well as the bill that created a special prosecutor -- a law that was allowed to lapse following Kenneth Starr's abuse of it. She was there for the creation of FISA. She has brought Nazi war criminals to justice. She was a leading advocate for impeaching George W. Bush. Liz Holtzman's new book, co-authored with Cynthia Cooper, is called Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution, and What We Can Do About It. In the book, and in this interview, Holzman builds a case that Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney went out of their way to carefully protect themselves from prosecution but nonetheless left themselves open to it.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson. Producer: David Swanson. Engineer: Christiane Brown. Music by Duke Ellington.
I recently sat down for 90 minutes to speak with six Afghan judges, all of them women, and an English-Dari interpreter, a man. They spoke to me as individuals. They aren't preparing any investigations or indictments. The relevance of their being judges is that they know the law. They've studied international law, and they were visiting the United States to learn about our legal and political systems. They believe the United States is guilty of war crimes.
I was the one who raised the subject. I pointed to Italian convictions of CIA agents for kidnapping, Spanish investigations of U.S. officials for torture, etc., and asked what these judges' views were on international law violations, universal jurisdiction, and what appear to be clear crimes committed by the United States in Afghanistan.
Nailing Rupert Murdoch for his employees' phone tapping or bribery would be a little like bringing down Al Capone for tax fraud, or George W. Bush for torture. I'd be glad to see it happen but there'd still be something perverse about it.
I remember how outraged Americans were in 2005 learning about our government's warrantless spying, or for that matter how furious some of my compatriots become when a census form expects them to reveal how many bathrooms are in their home.
I'm entirely supportive of outrage. I just have larger crimes in mind. Specifically this:
Spain is pursuing a case against former top U.S. officials who authorized the use of torture, including David Addington, Jay Bybee, Douglas Feith, William Haynes, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. U.S. activist groups have been encouraging Spain in this endeavor.
2011 Virginia Festival of the Book Panel: "The Imperial Presidency"
Bruce Fein; David Swanson
About the Program
David Swanson, author of "War Is A Lie," and Bruce Fein, author of "American Empire Before the Fall," take a critical look at the U.S.'s role and actions around the world. This event was part of the 2011 Virginia Festival of the Book, held annually in Charlottesville, Virginia.
About the Authors
David Swanson is the co-founder of AfterDowningStreet..org and Washington director of Democrats.com. He is the author of "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." For more, visit: davidswanson.org.
Bruce Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and general counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan. He is the author of "Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy."
If you've wanted to be part of a powerful effort to bring Bush-era officials to justice for their crimes, now is your chance. We've joined a national effort to reach out to the people of Spain, whose courts are considering prosecuting six of Bush's lawyers under international law. Our campaign includes an open letter and ads in prominent Spanish newspapers and billboards.
Even though the Obama administration has been working hard behind the scenes to stop this, our friends at the Center for Constitutional Rights have already submitted proof to the Spanish courts that our government is not taking action under international law and treaties. Now is our chance - we can keep the wheels of justice turning by doing people-to-people diplomacy now.