Torture, Murder, and Other Crimes

I've got something important for you to take a look at. Clear just 11:43 minutes from your schedule to watch something that is really no fun at all.

That video (courtesy of Crooks and Liars) is from an interview by Ralph Nader of Judge Andrew Napolitano, a former federal judge and frequent FOX News legal analyst, about Napolitano's book Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History. C&L also provides a partial transcript:

Nader: What about the more serious violations of habeas corpus. You know after 9-11 Bush rounded up thousands of them, Americans, many of them Muslim Americans or Arabic Americans and they were thrown in jail without charges, they didn't have lawyers, some of them were pretty mistreated in New York City. You know they were all released eventually.

Napolitano: Correct.

Nader: Is that what you mean also about throwing people in jail without charges violating habeas corpus?

Napolitano: Well that is so obviously a violation of the natural law, the natural right to be brought before a neutral arbiter within moments of the government taking your freedom away from you. And the Constitution itself, as the Supreme Court in the Boumediene case pretty much said, wherever the government goes, the Constitution goes with it and wherever the Constitution goes are the rights of the Constitution as a guarantee and habeas corpus cannot be suspended by the president ever. It can only be suspended by the Congress in times of rebellion which in read Milligan says meaning rebellion of such magnitude that judges can't get into their court houses. That has not happened in American history.

So what President Bush did with the suspension of habeas corpus, with the whole concept of Guantanamo Bay, with the whole idea that he could avoid and evade federal laws, treaties, federal judges and the Constitution was blatantly unconstitutional and is some cases criminal.

Nader: What's the sanction for President Bush and Vice President Cheney?

Napolitano: There's been no sanction except what history will say about them.

Nader: What should be the sanctions?

Napolitano: They should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants. I'd like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you're under oath, lying is not a crime. At least not an indictable crime. It's a moral crime.

Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has probably run out on most of Bush's crimes. But Napolitano does mention former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. There is no statute of limitation for murder.

Of course, none of this means that anyone is ever going to do anything about Bush's crimes. One of the things I was prepared for when Barack Obama won was disappointment. I knew he wasn't going to be everything I'd hoped for, because -- as I always say -- the only way you're going to elect someone who agrees with you on everything is to run yourself. So, given the (not so) unhappy fact that I'll never be elected to the Oval Office in a billion years, I resigned myself to reality -- I would be disappointed.

But one of the points where I'd hoped I'd avoid disappointment was on the issue of torture and investigating Bush administration crimes. I can't overstate just how much damage this one issue has done to the nation. Before Bush showed up, we as a nation would've jeered someone who seriously advocated torture. Now, a significant percentage of us either don't care about torture at all or have allowed the Bush administration to define it so narrowly that it only describes something that never really happens.

And this puts us in danger. Terrorists don't even have to lie about us anymore -- all they have to do is say, "Look, they torture. Americans are evil!" Every idiot talking head who defends Bush administration crimes of torture is a victory for al Qaeda. We now confuse revenge with justice, safety with freedom, fear with justification. In eight short years, George W. Bush took us from a nation based on the concept of law to a nation of cowards, ready to throw any right away, eager to destroy our own freedoms, for a complete and total lie -- that it's possible to be entirely safe from terrorism.

One of the things that left me some reasonable belief that Barack Obama would investigate Bush's crimes was that he was legally obligated to. He may be able to ignore other abuses of law, but torture has to be investigated. To do anything else is to commit an additional crime. The Convention Against Torture, signed by Reagan, states "Each State Party [i.e., signatory nation] shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law," and that, if torture is committed, the nation must "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution." There is no way around it. Not investigating torture is being complicit in the crime. Like George W. Bush before him, Barack Obama has decided to ignore the law.


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