Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: State and Local Prosecutors Can Take Down Bush: + The Goodman's Book

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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

State and Local Prosecutors Can Take Down Bush: + The Goodman's Book

State and Local Prosecutors Can Take Down Bush:

Unless He Takes Up Residence In Paraguay!

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Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's new book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" is not just a particularly good addition to the ten-foot high stack of rants against Bush's crimes and abuses of power. It's also an argument that state and local prosecutors have the necessary jurisdiction to try Bush for murder and for conspiracy to commit murder, at least once he's out of office.

This is not a scheme based on some harebrained theory that Bush faked the suicide of a former staffer. In fact, this scheme is based on nothing more than universally accepted facts. Bush chose to send US troops into Iraq. He did not do so in self-defense or as a last resort or under an international mandate, but rather went out of his way to concoct false motives for war and to rush its launching. By sending troops into war, Bush was knowingly and needlessly but certainly condemning some of them to death.

The Iraqis who killed those soldiers in predictable and legally justifiable defense of their country fall into the legal category of "third-party innocent agent." This does not mean they are innocent, but rather that their actions do nothing to lessen the guilt of George W. Bush as murderer of those soldiers. Bugliosi calls this the "vicarious liability rule of conspiracy." Bugliosi explains:

"In other words, if Bush personally killed an American soldier, he would be guilty of murder. Under the law, he cannot immunize himself from his criminal responsibility by causing a third party to do the killing. He's still responsible. George Bush cannot sit safely in his Oval Office in Washington, D.C., while young American soldiers fighting his war are being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq, and wash his hands of all culpability.

It's not quite that easy. He could only do this if he did not take this nation into war under false pretenses. If he did, which the evidence overwhelmingly shows, he is criminally responsible for the thousands of American deaths in Iraq." In addition, Bugliosi argues, Bush could be found guilty of murder under the rule of "aiding and abetting," because he instigated the killing of American soldiers by ordering the invasion of Iraq.

Did Bush have "malice aforethought"? Yes, according to Bugliosi. We convict people of murder for driving 100 mph through a school zone and hitting a child, or for blowing up a building while unaware that someone is inside. These are cases where the murderer does not know he is committing murder but where he is reckless enough to take an unreasonable risk of doing so. In Bush's case, he absolutely knew that invading Iraq would involve US casualties, and yet he ordered the invasion, thereby acting with the intent that American soldiers be killed. Bugliosi strengthens this argument by pointing out that we often convict people of murder for...

We Hate To Bring Up the Nazis, But They Fled To South America, Too

Our paranoid friends over at Bring It On have put together a story that hasn’t exactly made Washington Whispers. It’s real short and real simple:

  • The Cuban news service reports that George W. Bush has purchased 98,840 acres in Paraguay, near the Bolivian/Brazilian border.

  • Jenna Bush paid a secret diplomatic visit to Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte and U.S. Ambassador James Cason. There were no press conferences, no public sightings and no official confirmation of her 10-day trip which apparently ended this week.

  • The Paraguayan Senate voted last summer to “grant U.S. troops immunity from national and International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction.”

  • Immediately afterwards, 500 heavily armed U.S. troops arrived with various planes, choppers and land vehicles at Mariscal Estigarribia air base, which happens to be at the northern tip of Paraguay near the Bolivian/Brazilian border. More have reportedly arrived since then.

What the hell, after the jump. Plus a BREAKING UPDATE involving, of course, The Moonies!

Now, Prensa Latina is a Cuban-government operation that is not exactly friendly toward Washington, what with Washington trying to kill Castro for 50 years and all.

But Prensa Latina didn’t invent the story. It’s all over the South American press — and not just Venezuela and Bolivia.

Here’s a version from Brazil.

Here’s one from Argentina.

And here’s one from Paraguay itself.

As far as we can understand, all the paperwork and deeds and such are secret. But somehow the news leaked that a new “land trust” created for Bush had purchased nearly 100,000 acres near the town of Chaco.

And Jenna’s down there having secret meetings with the president and America’s ambassador to Paraguay, James Cason. Bush posted Cason in Havana in 2002, but last year moved him to Paraguay.

Cason apparently gets around. A former “political adviser” to the U.S. Atlantic Command and ATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Cason has been stationed in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama … basically everywhere the U.S. has run secret and not-so-secret wars over the past 30 years.

Here’s a fun question: Why might the president and his family need a 98.840-acre ranch in Paraguay protected by a semi-secret U.S. military base manned by American troops who have been exempted from war-crimes prosecution by the Paraguyan government?

Here’s a little background on the base itself, which Rumsfeld secretly visited in late 2005:

U.S. Special Forces began arriving this past summer at Paraguay’s Mariscal Estigarribia air base, a sprawling complex built in 1982 during the reign of dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Argentinean journalists who got a peek at the place say the airfield can handle B-52 bombers and Galaxy C-5 cargo planes. It also has a huge radar system, vast hangers, and can house up to 16,000 troops. The air base is larger than the international airport at the capital city, Asuncion.

Some 500 special forces arrived July 1 for a three-month counterterrorism training exercise, code named Operation Commando Force 6.

Paraguayan denials that Mariscal Estigarribia is now a U.S. base have met with considerable skepticism by Brazil and Argentina. There is a disturbing resemblance between U.S. denials about Mariscal Estigarribia, and similar disclaimers made by the Pentagon about Eloy Alfaro airbase in Manta , Ecuador. The United States claimed the Manta base was a “dirt strip” used for weather surveillance. When local journalists revealed its size, however, the United States admitted the base harbored thousands of mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops, and Washington had signed a 10-year basing agreement with Ecuador.

Breaking, Update, Little Siren Graphic:

We’ve been directed to yet another parapolitical theory here at Rigorous Intuition, where it is reported that Rev. Moon bought 600,000 hectares — that’s 1,482,600 acres — in the same place: Chaco, Paraguay.

Another twist: The first story, from Paraguay, apparently refers to the senior George Bush as the owner of the 98.840 acres in Moon’s neighborhood.

Bush 41 was the first bigshot politician to go prancing around with Rev. Moon in public. Especially in South America:

“In the early stages of the Reagan Revolution that embraced the Washington Times and Moon’s anti-Communist movement, it was embarrassing to be caught at a Moon event,” wrote The Gadflyer last year.

“Until George H.W. Bush appeared with Moon in 1996, thanking him for a newspaper that ‘brings sanity to Washington.’” That was while on an extended trip to South America in Moon’s company.

A Reuters’ story of Nov 25 of that year describes the former president as “full of praise” for Moon at a banquet in Buenos Aires, toasting him as “the man with the vision.” (And Moon helped Bush out with his own vision thing, paying him $100,000 for the pleasure of his company.)

Bush and Moon then traveled together to Uruguay, “to help him inaugurate a seminary in the capital, Montevideo, to train 4,200 young Japanese women to spread the word of his Church of Unification across Latin America.”

Isn’t that special?

Oh, and both the Moonie and Bush land is located at what Paraguay’s drug czar called an “enormously strategic point in both the narcotics and arms trades.” And it sits atop the one of the world’s largest fresh-water aquifers.

True To Form, The Goodmans Provide A Fig Leaf For The Democrats In Standing Up To The Madness

By Christie Schaefer - 27 May 2008

Amy Goodman and David Goodman, Hyperion, 2008 (Hardcover), $23.95

Amy Goodman is well-known as the host of Democracy Now!, the independent news program broadcast on a variety of public radio and television channels, as well as the author or co-author of a number of books on political events. Her views are firmly located on the liberal left, with an orientation toward “left’ elements in and around the Democratic Party, such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and the Greens.

David Goodman, Amy’s brother, has written for a number of left-liberal magazines including Mother Jones and the Nation, as well as more mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS.

Standing Up to the Madness begins with a well-known citation: “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the American flag.” This saying, attributed to various people, has become something of a mantra in certain circles on the American left. The litany of complaints which follow—eroding civil liberties, increasingly stark economic divisions, the war in Iraq—are presented with no close examination. Each ill is viewed as having a single unifying cause, to wit: the Bush Administration.

No mention is made of the connection between the breakdown of democracy and the growth of social inequality, or between the predatory war aims of the US elite and the attacks on democratic rights at home. In a word there is no suggestion that the policies of the Bush administration reflect more than the “madness” of one individual or perhaps, at most, neo-conservative circles. The book never raises the larger question of the failure of the social and economic order, capitalism.

The question asked by the authors in the midst of it all is, “Where is the outrage?” To ask such a question is to insult the millions of people who have indeed expressed outrage, and who are suffering from the attacks described.

By implicitly blaming the population for the lack of opposition to the assault on democratic rights the Goodmans shift attention away from the critical role played by the Democratic Party—the supposed opposition party—in enabling the rise to power of the Bush Administration through the hijacked 2000 election, the passage of the Patriot Act, the war on terror and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Stop the Madness the Goodmans seek to set out positive examples of citizens who have taken on the powers that be, “grassroots activists [who] have taken politics out of the hands of politicians,” in the words of a commentator.

Such individuals may be courageous and sincere, but their efforts become part of a political argument the Goodmans are constructing: these local, “grassroots” efforts obviate the need to challenge the overall political set-up and, specifically, to make a conscious break with the Democrats.

While few of the cases detailed in the book’s chapters will be new to listeners of Democracy Now!, since many of the subjects have appeared as interviewees on the show, there is value in reviewing the stories as part of a whole, in terms of painting a broader picture of the crisis and breakdown of American bourgeois democracy.

The first subject, Malik Rahim, of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward provides special insight into what the residents of that area faced before, during and since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It was through his and his neighbors’ efforts, along with an unexpected visit from a detachment of Veterans For Peace, that the area saw any relief in the initial aftermath of the storms. Unwilling to play games with people’s lives, he and his group offered help even to the racist vigilantes who had recently threatened them with violence.

Malik’s story is an anomaly in the book, as he is the only one who seems to have any sense of the history which brought his city to that desperate point. One of the founders of Common Ground Relief, a collective dating from the first few weeks after Katrina hit, Rahim and his neighbors are determined to salvage and rebuild whatever they can while offering help to others in the Gulf area. Of all the narratives in the book, his is the most affecting, and certainly the most dramatic.

While Rahim’s organization surely is doing good works, the area affected is far beyond the scope of any small organization to fix. The treatment of the survivors of Rita and Katrina continues to be abysmal, and resources continue to be lacking on the scale needed.

Coming up on three years after the catastrophe, the people still face official stonewalling, constant threats to cut off what little aid they do receive and demonization by the press (not coincidentally around the expiration deadlines for aid packages).

The work of Common Ground is heartfelt and needed. However, it is not nearly enough. Rahim’s experience serves to point out the continuing neglect by the US government of pressing social needs as it pursues the war in Iraq and makes permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens with bipartisan agreement.

The case presented in Chapter 3, “Librarians Unbound,” begins with a visit by two FBI agents to the office of the Library Connection of Connecticut (a consortium of 27 libraries that share a computer network).

The agents were in possession of a “National Security Letter” (NSL) seeking “any and all subscriber information, billing information and access of any person or entity” using the library systems’ computers on February 15, 2005, between 2 and 2:45 p.m.

The executive director of the Library Connection, George Christian, noted in particular one clause stating that recipients of the letter could not disclose “to any person that the FBI has sought or obtained access to information or records.”

Christian, however, did tell a few people in the library system, and the executive committee met with its lawyer (an action that may very well not be legal under the draconian National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act).

The librarians realized that they had two choices—either comply with the NSL, or sue. They elected to sue then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and engaged the national office of the ACLU to represent them. With their case, John Doe vs. Gonzales, they sought an injunction against being forced to comply with the National Security Letter, and launched a challenge to the constitutionality of the NSLs. Over the course of the trial, the librarians were required to keep mum and their names were only released inadvertently when a judge ordered the release of certain court documents.

As they do throughout the book, the Goodmans focus exclusively on the role of Bush when discussing the assault on civil liberties. We read, for example, that the Patriot Act was “rammed through a compliant Congress three months after the 9/11 attacks.” A page later:

“When President Bush rammed the PATRIOT Act through a fearful Congress shortly after 9/11.” The complicity of Congress, and particularly the Democrats, in erasing the separation of powers and its leadership’s co-operation in passing and re-passing the sinister and authoritarian Patriot Act goes unmentioned except in terms of their supposedly being “forced” to comply.

In the chapter on American scientist James E. Hansen’s fight against official censorship of his findings on global warming, we are treated to a sub-chapter entitled “Showdown,” in which Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, is presented in the mold of Mr. Smith from the Frank Capra film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”—i.e., boldly challenging the powers that be on points of scientific freedom. Also featured are Reps. Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont, and John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky, both of whom are presented in a very positive light.

The role of villain is played by Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican of California. Waxman is one of the Democratic Party’s leading frauds, a demagogue who issues subpoenas and stages hearings without serious consequences for anyone.

The Goodmans point out that both Bush and Cheney have deep connections to the oil industry.

Unmentioned are the Democratic participants’ own backgrounds—for instance, Yarmuth’s previous career as both a Republican and as the heir to a family fortune derived in part from holdings in Ashland Oil Company. His current party affiliation, it seems, shields him from careful scrutiny by the Goodmans.

Hansen’s scientific career goes back decades, and the Office of Management and Budget had censored him during the previous Bush Administration. He also spoke about his disappointment with the Clinton administration in a January 2007 Frontline interview, stating that although the latter did not question the science, it did not do enough to act on the information provided, and noted that, “The United States’ portion of global emissions actually increased during the Clinton-Gore administration.”

The outcome of the more recent hearings into the Hansen case is left up in the air. While the authors note that certain low-level Bush loyalists involved lost their positions, there is no deeper analysis, with the chapter segueing into an account of the actions of author Bill McKibben relating to his April 2007 “Step It Up Day,” and a variety of other “actions,” including Ted Glick’s “No War No Warming” non-violent civil disobedience action on Capitol Hill in October 2007,” which incorporated polar bear costumes and at which 61 people were arrested.

It is a peculiar transition, and the authors’ spotlighting impotent civil disobedience actions is a transparent attempt to focus the energies of the population on pressuring the Democratic Party and Congress.

The chapter ends with a quote from Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize speech: “We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, and say together: ‘We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.’”

Meanwhile, as noted on the WSWS April 30, 2008, the proposals from the Democratic presidential candidates on global warming “are no more serious [than Bush’s suggestions to open ANWAR to drilling, and a moratorium on domestic emissions targets].

In addition to the [gasoline] tax moratorium, Clinton is proposing a suspension of oil input into the Strategic Petroleum reserve, a marginal increase in spending on alternative energy sources, and an increase in fuel economy over a period of 20 years.

Obama has rejected the tax moratorium on the grounds that companies would just increase their prices to make up the difference, and supports fuel economy standard increases and alternative energy investment.”

While Standing up To the Madness provides numerous stories illustrating the current assault on civil rights, its recommendations in no way add up to a viable policy to oppose war, racism and poverty.

The “Conclusion,” entitled “We are the leaders we have been waiting for,” is made up of tepid and unserious propositions. In a subsection titled “Challenge the Corporate Media,” there is first a call to support the stations that air Democracy Now!, a passage which makes for embarrassing reading in its shameless self-promotion. It is then suggested that we “Post ... stories, photos, and media at”

We are urged to become active in the “national media reform movement”; web addresses are given for such entities as the identity politics-oriented Media Action Grassroots Network, as well as Free Press, which, while more even-handed, is still thoroughly reformist in its outlook and activity.

On page 288, the Goodmans write, “Democrats and Republicans alike have been served notice that lip service and deception will not satisfy the new generation of activists that is demanding real change, and real democracy.”

Yet, there is neither a call for the building of a third, independent or socialist party, nor any critique of the capitalist profit system. There is, in short, no “or else” issued at all.

The warning is proffered as an idle and impotent threat—one which reveals the role of the Goodmans as a pressure group on the Democratic Party.

See Also:
Bush appointees censor scientists at government agencies
[15 February 2006]

Antiwar “Lefts” embrace ultra-right Republican candidate Ron Paul
[22 January 2008]

The “circularity” of hope: The Nation endorses Barack Obama
[15 February 2008]

An Ohio Update

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