I know some people live by the credo "let bygones be bygones." I know that Obama himself has stated he prefers to "look forward as opposed to looking backward."
But I happen to think George W. Bush needs to be held accountable for war crimes.
Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV (12 August 1949) holds that the following activities are considered grave breaches:
(i) Willful killing;This list reads like a play-by-play from September 11th on--all the way to the current administration's willingness to indiscriminately fire missiles from drones which kill civilians.
(ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;
(iii) Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;
(iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
(v) Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power;
(vi) Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;
(vii) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;
(viii) Taking of hostages.
Bush would likely answer that these laws do not apply to unlawful combatants. And who was defined as an "unlawful combatant"? Anyone some dirt poor Afghan farmer eager to claim a life-changing bounty said was. So scores of people were picked up mistakenly by American soldiers who didn't speak Urdu, or Arabic, or Pashtu, or Kurdish, since all the translators were fired for being gay. And these people, many of them no doubt wondering where the fuck it had all gone wrong, were held in American facilities in country where techniques like sleep deprivation, starvation, sensory deprivation, sexual humiliation--including smearing of menstrual blood on the faces of devout Muslim men, sweatboxing, waterboarding, and "Palestinian hanging" were used to find out that they didn't know anything, or that they would say just about anything when the pain got too great. And for those who wouldn't, they were hooded and spirited away to prisons in Egypt or Syria where torture isn't limited to the namby pamby above.
Today Ben Emmerson, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, will address the U.N. Human Rights Council and will call on the Obama administration to release 6000 pages of classified findings of Dianne Feinstein's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence into allegations of torture during Bush's presidency. The findings are believed to conclude that very little "significant intelligence information" was gained by torture--although I would contend that such a statement assumes that torture is justified as long as it leads to the pot at the end of the rainbow.
Is there any chance that Bush--along with his rogue's gallery Cheney, Rumsfeld, John Yoo, etc.--will ever see justice? Don't forget that Attorney General Eric Holder was nominated only after a wink wink nudge nudge indicated that "he was not intent on pursuing intelligence officials who acted in good faith with proper authorization in the conduct of interrogations."
In 2008, as the sun set on his confusing mishmash of tomfoolery and brutality, George Bush's softshoe made clear his complete lack of trepidation--he knew he would never answer for what he had done.