Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.
1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.
2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda.
3. He covered up his past. He was a party boy, the scion of a powerful political family who got away with being a deserter during the Vietnam War. He was reportedly AWOL for over a year from his assigned unit, the Texas Air National Guard, which other military outfits called the “Champagne Division.”
4. He loved the death penalty. As Texas governor from 1995-2000, he signed the most execution orders of any governor in U.S. history—152 people, including the mentally ill and women who were domestic abuse victims. He spared one man’s life, a serial killer.
5. He was a corporate shill from Day 1. Bush locked up the GOP nomination by raising more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time. He lunched with CEOs who would jet into Austin to “educate” him about their political wish lists.
6. He gutted global political progress. He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, saying that abiding by the agreement would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.”
7. He embraced global isolationism. He withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia’s protest, taking the U.S. in a direction not seen since World War I.
8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. He ignored the Aug. 6, 2001 White House intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” Meanwhile, his chief anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, and first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, testified in Congress that he was intent on invading Iraq within days of becoming president.
9.Ramped up war on drugs, not terrorists. The Bush administration had twice as many FBI agents assigned to the war on drugs than fighting terrorism before 9/11, and kept thousands in that role after the terror attacks.
10. “My Pet Goat.” He kept reading a picture book to grade-schoolers at a Florida school for seven minutes after his top aides told him that the World Trade Centers had been attacked in 9/11. Then Air Force One flew away from the school, vanishing for hours after the attack.
11. Squandered global goodwill after 9/11. Bush thumbed his nose at world sympathy for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, by declaring a global war on terrorism and declaring “you are either with us or against us.”
12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan. The Bush administration soon started beating war drums for an attack on Iraq, where there was no proven Al Qaeda link, instead of Afghanistan, where the 9/11 bombers had trained and Osama bin Laden was based. His 2002 State of the Union speech declared that Iraq was part of an “Axis of Evil.”
13. Attacked United Nation weapons inspectors. The march to war in Iraq started with White House attacks on the credibility of U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, whose claims that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons proved to be true.
14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons. In a major speech in October 2002, he said that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to send unmanned aircraft to the U.S. with bombs that could range from chemical weapons to nuclear devices. “We cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” he said.
15. He ignored the U.N. and launched a war. The Bush administration tried to get the U.N. Security Council to authorize an attack on Iraq, which it refused to do. Bush then decided to lead a “preemptive” attack regardless of international consequences. He did not wait for any congressional authorization to launch a war.
16. Abandoned international Criminal Court. Before invading Iraq, Bush told the U.N. that the U.S. was withdrawing from ratifying the International Criminal Court Treaty to protect American troops from persecution and to allow it to pursue preemptive war.
17. Colin Powell’s false evidence at U.N. The highly decorated soldier turned Secretary of State presented false evidence at the U.N. as the American mainstream media began its jingoistic drumbeat to launch a war of choice on Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
18. He launched a war on CIA whistleblowers. When a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed saying there was no nuclear threat from Iraq, the White House retaliated by leaking the name and destroying the career of his wife, Valerie Plame, one of the CIA’s top national security experts.
19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker. Before leaving office, Bush pardoned the vice president’s top staffer, Scooter Libby, for leaking Plame’s name to the press.
20. Bush launched the second Iraq War. In April 2003, the U.S. military invaded Iraq for the second time in two decades, leading to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and more than a million refugees as a years of sectarian violence took hold on Iraq. Nearly 6,700 U.S. soldiers have died in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
21. Baghdad looted except for oil ministry. The Pentagon failure to plan for a military occupation and transition to civilian rule was seen as Baghdad was looted while troops guarded the oil ministry, suggesting this war was fought for oil riches, not terrorism.
22. The war did not make the U.S. safer. In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and had worsened the terror threat.
23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear. From inadequate vests from protection against snipers to Humvees that could not protect soldiers from roadside bombs, the military did not sufficiently equip its soldiers in Iraq, leading to an epidemic of brain injuries.
24. Meanwhile, the war propaganda continued. From landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to declare “mission accomplished” to surprising troops in Baghdad with a Thanksgiving turkey that was a table decoration used as a prop, Bush defended his war of choice by using soldiers as PR props.
25. He never attended soldiers’ funerals. For years after the war started, Bush never attended a funeral even though as of June 2005, 144 soldiers (of the 1,700 killed thus far) were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, about two miles from the White House.
26. Meanwhile, war profiteering surged. The list of top Bush administration officials whose former corporate employers made billions in Pentagon contracts starts with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which made $39.5 billion, and included his daughter, Liz Cheney, who ran a $300 million Middle East partnership program.
27. Bush ignored international ban on torture. Suspected terrorists were captured and tortured by the U.S. military in Baghdad’s Abu Gharib prison, in the highest profile example of how the Bush White House ignored international agreements, such as the Geneva Convention, that banned torture, and created a secret system of detention that was unmasked when photos made their way to the American media outlets.
28. Created the blackhole at Gitmo and renditions. The Bush White House created the offshore military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as secret detention sites in eastern Europe to evade domestic and military justice systems. Many of the men still jailed in Cuba were turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.
29. Bush violated U.S. Constitution as well. The Bush White House ignored basic civil liberties, most notably by launching a massive domestic spying program where millions of Americans’ online activities were monitored with the help of big telecom companies. The government had no search warrant or court authority for its electronic dragnet.
30. Iraq war created federal debt crisis. The total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, when the long-term medical costs are added in for wounded veterans, a March 2013 report by a Harvard researcher has estimated. Earlier reports said the wars cost $2 billion a week.
31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding. At the height of the Iraq war, the White House cut funding for veterans’ healthcare by several billion dollars, slashed more than one billion from military housing and opposed extending healthcare to National Guard families, even as they were repeatedly tapped for extended and repeat overseas deployments.
32. Then Bush decided to cut income taxes. In 2001 and 2003, a series of bills lowered income tax rates, cutting federal revenues as the cost of the foreign wars escalated. The tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, with roughly one-quarter going to the top one percent of incomes compared to 8.9% going to the middle 20 percent. The cuts were supposed to expire in 2013, but most are still on the books.
33. Assault on reproductive rights. From the earliest days of his first term, the Bush White House led a prolonged assault on reproductive rights. He cut funds for U.N. family planning programs, barred military bases from offering abortions, put right-wing evangelicals in regulatory positions where they rejected new birth control drugs, and issued regulations making fetuses—but not women—eligible for federal healthcare.
34. Cut Pell Grant loans for poor students. His administration froze Pell Grants for years and tightened eligibility for loans, affecting 1.5 million low-income students. He also eliminated other federal job training programs that targeted young people.
35. Turned corporations loose on environment. Bush’s environmental record was truly appalling, starting with abandoning a campaign pledge to tax carbon emissions and then withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases. The Sierra Club lists 300 actions his staff took to undermine federal laws, from cutting enforcement budgets to putting industry lobbyists in charge of agencies to keeping energy policies secret.
36.. Said evolution was a theory—like intelligent design. One of his most inflammatory comments was saying that public schools should teach that evolution is a theory with as much validity as the religious belief in intelligent design, or God’s active hand in creating life.
37. Misguided school reform effort. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative made preparation for standardized tests and resulting test scores the top priority in schools, to the dismay of legions of educators who felt that there was more to learning than taking tests.
38. Appointed flank of right-wing judges. Bush’s two Supreme Court picks—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito—have reliably sided with pro-business interests and social conservatives. He also elevated U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to an appeals court, despite his known segregationist views.
39. Gutted the DOJ’s voting rights section. Bush’s Justice Department appointees led a multi-year effort to prosecute so-called voter fraud, including firing seven U.S. attorneys who did not pursue overtly political cases because of lack of evidence.
40. Meanwhile average household incomes fell. When Bush took office in 2000, median household incomes were $52,500. In 2008, they were $50,303, a drop of 4.2 percent, making Bush the only recent two-term president to preside over such a drop.
41. And millions more fell below the poverty line. When Bill Clinton left office, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, there were 39.8 million, according to the U.S. Census, an increase of 26.1 percent. The Census said two-thirds of that growth occurred before the economic downturn of 2008.
42. Poverty among children also exploded. The Census also found that 11.6 million children lived below the poverty line when Clinton left office. Under Bush, that number grew by 21 percent to 14.1 million.
43. Millions more lacked access to healthcare. Following these poverty trends, the number of Americans without health insurance was 38.4 million when Clinton left office. When Bush left, that figure had grown by nearly 8 million to 46.3 million, the Census found. Those with employer-provided benefits fell every year he was in office.
44. Bush let black New Orleans drown. Hurricane Katrina exposed Bush’s attitude toward the poor. He didn’t visit the city after the storm destroyed the poorest sections. He praised his Federal Emergency Management Agency director for doing a “heck of a job” as the federal government did little to help thousands in the storm’s aftermath and rebuilding.
45. Yet pandered to religious right. Months before Katrina hit, Bush flew back to the White House to sign a bill to try to stop the comatose Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed, saying the sanctity of life was at stake.
46. Set record for fewest press conferences. During his first term that was defined by the 9/11 attacks, he had the fewest press conferences of any modern president and had never met with the New York Times editorial board.
47. But took the most vacation time. Reporters analyzing Bush’s record found that he took off 1,020 days in two four-year terms—more than one out of every three days. No other modern president comes close. Bush also set the record for the longest vacation among modern presidents—five weeks, the Washington Postnoted.
48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. Not since Richard Nixon’s White House and the era of the Watergate burglary and expansion of the Vietnam War have there been as many power-hungry and arrogant operators holding the levers of power. Cheney ran the White House; Rove the political operation for corporations and the religious right; and Rumsfeld oversaw the wars.
49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions. From Iraq war General Tommy Franks’ declaration that “we don’t do body counts” to numerous efforts to impeach Bush and top administration officials—primarily over launching the war in Iraq—he has never been held to account in any official domestic or international tribunal.
50. He may have stolen the 2004 election as well. The closest Bush came to a public referendum on his presidency was the 2004 election, which came down to the swing state of Ohio. There the GOP’s voter suppression tactics rivaled Florida in 2000 and many unresolved questions remain about whether the former GOP Secretary of State altered the Election Night totals from rural Bible Belt counties.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorically refused in defiance of its own mandate to share evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of Depleted Uranium and other weapons have not only killed many civilians, but continue to result in the birth of deformed babies.
This issue was first brought to light in 2004 in a WHO expert report “on the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population resulting from depleted uranium (DU) weapons”. This earlier report was “held secret”, namely suppressed by the WHO:
The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organization (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO. (See Rob Edwards, WHO ‘Suppressed’ Scientific Study Into Depleted Uranium Cancer Fears in Iraq, The Sunday Herald, February 24, 2004)
Almost nine years later, a joint WHO- Iraqi Ministry of Health Report on cancers and birth defect in Iraq was to be released in November 2012. “It has been delayed repeatedly and now has no release date whatsoever.”
To this date the WHO study remains “classified”.
According to Hans von Sponeck, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations,
This tragedy in Iraq reminds one of US Chemical Weapons used in Vietnam. And that the US has failed to acknowledge or pay compensation or provide medical assistance to thousands of deformed children born and still being born due to American military use of Agent Orange throughout the country.
The millions of gallons of this chemical dumped on rural Vietnam were eagerly manufactured and sold to the Pentagon by companies Dupont, Monsanto and others greedy for huge profits.
Given the US record of failing to acknowledge its atrocities in warfare, I fear those mothers in Najaf and other Iraqi cities and towns advised not to attempt the birth of more children will never receive solace or help.
A United Nations that is no longer corrupted by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council is what is needed.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (Aug. 20, 2013) — In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.
Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.
“The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.
The “Westfall Act certification,” submitted pursuant to the Westfall Act of 1988, permits the Attorney General, at his or her discretion, to substitute the United States as the defendant and essentially grant absolute immunity to government employees for actions taken within the scope of their employment.
In her lawsuit, Saleh alleges that:
— Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz began planning the Iraq War in 1998 through their involvement with the “Project for the New American Century,” a Washington DC non-profit that advocated for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
— Once they came to power, Saleh alleges that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz convinced other Bush officials to invade Iraq by using 9/11 as an excuse to mislead and scare the American public into supporting a war.
— Finally, she claims that the United States failed to obtain United Nations approval prior to the invasion, rendering the invasion illegal and an act of impermissible aggression.
“The good news is that while we were disappointed with the certification, we were prepared for it,” Comar stated. “We do not see how a Westfall Act certification is appropriate given that Ms. Saleh alleges that the conduct at issue began prior to these defendants even entering into office. I think the Nuremberg prosecutors, particularly American Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, would be surprised to learn that planning a war of aggression at a private non-profit, misleading a fearful public, and foregoing proper legal authorization somehow constitute lawful employment duties for the American president and his or her cabinet.”
The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST).
See the attached certification, publicly filed on ECF / PACER system.
For further information contact:
901 Mission Street, Suite 105 San Francisco, California 94103
Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.
The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.
It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.
The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.
A BBC spokesman
Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.
“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.
“Instead the picture was taken by me andit’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam.
“What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.
He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.
“Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose.”
A spokesman for the BBC said: “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours of this morning following the most recent atrocities in Syria.
“We used it with a clear disclaimer saying it could not be independently verified.
“Efforts were made overnight to track down the original source of the image and when it was established the picture was inaccurate we removed it immediately.”
Last week the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar with the US government’s blessing. They raised the Taliban flag at the opening ceremony and referred to Afghanistan as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” – the name they used when they were in charge before the US attack in 2001.
The US had meant for the Taliban office in Doha to be only a venue for a new round of talks on an end to the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban opening looked very much like a government in exile. The Karzai government was annoyed that the US and the Taliban had scheduled talks without even notifying Kabul. Karzai’s government felt as irrelevant to negotiations on post-war Afghanistan as they soon will be on the ground. It seemed strangely like Paris in 1968, where the US met with North Vietnamese representatives to negotiate a way out of that war, which claimed nearly 60,000 Americans and many times that number of Vietnamese lives.
For years many of us had argued the need to get out of Afghanistan. To end the fighting, the dying, the destruction, the nation-building. To end the foolish fantasy that we were building a Western-style democracy there. We cannot leave, we were told for all those years. If we leave Afghanistan now, the Taliban will come back! Well guess what, after 12 years, trillions of dollars, more than 2,200 Americans killed, and perhaps more than 50,000 dead Afghan civilians and fighters, the Taliban is coming back anyway!
The long US war in Afghanistan never made any sense in the first place. The Taliban did not attack the US on 9/11. The Authorization for the use of force that we passed after the attacks of 9/11 said nothing about a decade-long occupation of Afghanistan. But unfortunately two US presidents have taken it to mean that they could make war anywhere at any time they please. Congress, as usual, did nothing to rein in the president, although several Members tried to repeal the authorization.
Afghanistan brought the Soviet Union to its knees. We learned nothing from it.
We left Iraq after a decade of fighting and the country is in far worse shape than when we attacked in 2003. After trillions of dollars wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost, Iraq is a devastated, desperate, and violent place with a presence of al Qaeda. No one in his right mind speaks of a US victory in Iraq these days. We learned nothing from it.
We are leaving Afghanistan after 12 years with nothing to show for it but trillions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives lost. Afghanistan is a devastated country with a weak, puppet government – and now we negotiate with those very people we fought for those 12 years, who are preparing to return to power! Still we learn nothing.
Instead of learning from these disasters brought about by the interventionists and their failed foreign policy, the president is now telling us that we have to go into Syria!
US Army Col. Harry Summers told a story about a meeting he had with a North Vietnamese colonel named Tu while he visiting Hanoi in 1975. At the meeting, Col. Summers told Tu, “You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield.” Tu paused for a moment, then replied, “That may be so. But it is also irrelevant.”
Sadly, that is the story of our foreign policy. We have attacked at least five countries since 9/11. We have launched drones against many more. We have deposed several dictators and destroyed several foreign armies. But, looking around at what has been achieved, it is clear: it is all irrelevant.
Cindy Sheehan and others are in the beginning stages of planning a bike ride from Casey Sheehan’s grave in Vacaville, Ca to WashedUp, DeCeit (Washington, DC) to demand true and positive change. The ride will begin on the day that Casey was KIA in Iraq (April 04)and end in DeCeit on July 3rd.
We are hoping that MANY riders will join us for all or part of the way, but especially join us for a convergence atArlington Cemetery on July 3rd, to ride on the White House to present our demands. We are also hoping that activists and groups along the way will sponsor meetings, rallies (with vegetarian potlucks), comfy beds, and support, to help us organize for PEACE, to help us to raise money to help fund the tour AND raise money for good causes to help the devastated people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Become a part of this amazing action
Go to the Get Involved Page and tell us how you can participate
The leadership downplayed the announcement, however, saying that they have never really kept al-Qaeda ties a secret. Al-Qaeda certainly hasn’t kept it a secret either, loudly endorsing the group on a regular basis.
The formalization of those ties complicates the Syrian rebellion, however, with secular factions getting ready to fight a secondary war with the Islamist blocs, which are getting stronger all the time.
Then there’s the Iraq connection. With AQI more formally involved in the Syrian war, Iraqi Shi’ite militias are less shy about sending their own fighters to Syria to attack them, carrying the Iraqi sectarian civil war across the border
An American soldier at Bagram air base: the US recently suspended the transfer of new detainees because of apparent disagreements with Kabul. Photograph: Staff/Reuters/Corbis
For several decades, the US government – in annual “human rights” reports issued by the State Department (reports mandated by the US Congress) – has formally condemned nations around the globe for the practice of indefinite detention: imprisoning people without charges or any fixed sentence. These reports, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her preface to last year’s document, are grounded in the principle that “respect for human rights is not a western construct or a uniquely American ideal; it is the foundation for peace and stability everywhere.” That 2011 report condemned numerous nations for indefinite detention, including Libya (“abuse and lack of review in detention”), Uzbekistan (“arbitrary arrest and detention”), Syria (“arbitrary arrest and detention”), and Iran (“Authorities held detainees, at times incommunicado, often for weeks or months without charge or trial”).
In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US government is engaged in a fierce and protracted battle over the fundamental right to be free of indefinite detention. Specifically, the US is demanding that the governments of those two nations cease extending this right to their citizens. As a Washington Post article this morning details, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is insisting that the US fulfill its commitment to turn over all prisons, including the notorious facility at Bagram, to Afghan control, but here is one major impediment [emphasis added]:
“Afghan and U.S. officials have also disagreed on the issue of detention without trial. Washington wants the Afghan government to continue holding certain prisoners it views as dangerous, even if there is not enough evidence to try them.
“Aimal Faizi, the chief spokesman for Karzai, told reporters Monday that detention without trial is illegal in Afghanistan and that more than 50 Afghans are still being held in U.S. custody at Bagram, 35 miles northeast of Kabul, even though they have been ordered released by Afghan courts.”
The US has long been demanding that the Afghan government continue the American practice of indefinite detention without charges, and still presses this demand even after the top Afghan court in September ruled that such detentions violate Afghan law. Human rights workers in Afghanistan have long pointed out that America’s practice of imprisoning Afghans without charges is a major source of anti-American sentiment in the country. In a 2009 interview, Jonathan Horowitz of the Open Society Institute told me: “The majority of the people who I have spoken to cite the way that the US captures and detains people as their main complaint against the US, second only to civilian casualties.”
This US-Afghan battle over basic due process has extended beyond detention policies. In 2009, the Obama administration’s plan to assassinate certain Afghan citizens it suspected of being “drug kingpins” – with no charges, trial or any other due process – sparked intense objections from Afghan officials. Those officials tried to teach Obama officials such precepts as: “There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” and: “if you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?”, and: “[The Americans] should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes. We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own.”
“In a phone call on Tuesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that the United States believed that Mr. Daqduq should be held accountable for his actions and that Iraq should explore all legal options toward this end, an American official said. . . .
“But Mr. Maliki told Mr. Biden that Iraq had run out of legal options to hold Mr. Daqduq, who this year had been ordered released by an Iraqi court. . . . Iraqi officials have said that they thought delaying Mr. Daqduq’s release until after the American presidential election would mollify the Obama administration. American officials have repeatedly insisted that they did not want him released at all . . . .
“After Mr. Daqduq was transferred to Iraqi custody, an Iraqi court ruled that there was not enough evidence to hold him.”
US efforts to persuade the Iraqi government to transfer him to US custody for “trial” in a US “military commission” – where he would likely be detained either at Guantanamo or a specially created military brig in South Carolina – were previously rejected by the Iraqis on the ground that they have sovereignty over acts committed in Iraq and would honor the decisions of their courts. US claims that the release of Daqduq is the by-product of Iraqi closeness to the Iranians (rather than respect for due process) may well be accurate, but that does not make ongoing imprisonment in defiance of a court finding any more justified.
It is ironic indeed that the US is demanding that the practice of due-process-free indefinite detention be continued in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries it invaded and then occupied while claiming it wanted to bring freedom and democracy there. But on one level, this is the only outcome that makes sense, as a denial of basic due process is now a core, defining US policy in general.
The Obama administration not only continues to imprison people without charges of any kind, but intended from the start to do so even if their plan to relocate Guantanamo onto US soil had not been thwarted by Congress. At the end of 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act which codifies the power of indefinite detention even for US citizens, and – after an Obama-appointed federal judge struck it down as unconstitutional – continues vigorously to fight for that law. And, of course, the power to assassinate even its own citizens without a whiff of due process or transparency – the policy that so upset Afghan officials when it was proposed for their country – is a crowning achievement of the Obama legacy.
It’s hardly unusual, of course, for the US government self-righteously to impose principles on the world which it so flamboyantly violates. Indeed, such behavior is so common as to barely be worth noting.
Just this week, President Obama managed with a straight face to defend Israel’s attacks on Gaza with this decree: “there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” As Liliana Segura, Jemima Khan and Reason’s Mike Riggs all quickly noted, this pronouncement came from the same man who has continuously rained down missiles on the citizens of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries. Meanwhile, UN Ambassador Susan Rice took to Twitter last night to denouncechanges to a draft UN resolution that condemns “extrajudicial killing” – even as her own nation and its closest Middle East ally continue as the global leaders of this practice.
Still, there’s something particularly revealing about the US demanding that the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq abandon any commitment they are attempting to develop (albeit quite selectively) to basic due process rights and instead imprison anyone the US wants imprisoned – even in the absence of evidence of their guilt and even in the face of judicial findings that their detention is without evidence and unlawful. As it turns out after all, the US is indeed spreading its core values to those two nations, though those values have nothing to do with freedom and democracy except to the extent that they are the primary impediments to achieving it.
A transcript has been posted of the keynote speech I gave on Saturday night – on civil liberties, the Constitution and Islamophobia – to CAIR’s annual event in the Bay Area. Those interested can find that here.
Also, there is what appears to be a happy ending to the case I wrote about two weeks of the US Muslim and Air Force veteran living in Qatar, Saddiq Long, who was barred by the US government – for unstated reasons and with no due process – from flying into his own country to visit his extremely sick mother. As his CAIR lawyers announced, Long, on Sunday night, was permitted to board a Delta Airlines flight to the US and is now in Oklahoma with his mother. Let us hope that he has no difficulty when he attempts to fly back to Qatar, where his family and job await
This web site contains some copyrighted material whose use has not been authorized by the copyright owners. We believe that this not-for-profit, educational, and/or criticism or commentary use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Fair Use notwithstanding we will immediately comply with any copyright owner who wants their material removed or modified, wants us to link to their web site, or wants us to add their photo.