Stuart Taylor exhorts us not to support the prosecution of the worst offenders of the Bush administration for war crimes. They are not criminals just because they lied about WMD. They are criminals for the way they conducted the war: for torture, kidnappings and assassinatons. The criminality is not excused by their duty to keep the country safe: in fact they made us less secure and caused more American casualties in Iraq.
So who are these crazies asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor by the next administration?
Among those calling explicitly or implicitly for criminal investigations are 56 House Democrats; retired Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba, who headed the Army's investigation into the Abu Ghraib torture scandal; liberal groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the ACLU; human-rights lawyers including Scott Horton of New York and Philippe Sands of London; and the New York Times editorial page. Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, has raised the possibility of prosecuting current and former administration lawyers "in a foreign court, or in an international court."
There are very few people in the American establishment who have clean hands on the Iraq war. The Sept 12 mindset of paranoia and delusion took over almost the entire national mainstream-executive, Congress, military, journalists. Exceptions are rare and stand out for that reason: a few Congressmen like Kucinich and Ron Paul. Senators like Graham. An obscure State Senator in Illinois named Obama.
Perhaps the most shameful performance-outside of the Bush Adminsitration- was put in by the national media. Some, like Judy Miller spread lies that the administration fed them. You don't expect much from neo-cons like Kristol or conservatives like Barnes. But that period exposed Friedman of the NYTimes, Beinart of The New Republic, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, all as either dumb or spineless. No wonder that the MSM does not want a close examination of the shameful history of the Iraq war. They are just guilty of war mongering as any politician in office at that time.
Taylor is not among the worst journalists. At least he insisted back then that Congress must authorize the war. (Not that it did much good.) Taylor was definitely for the war. He wrote in Oc 2002,The Hawks Are Scary, the Doves More Dangerous. The dove are more dangerous
because they are blind to three bedrock realities that underlie President Bush's pre-emption doctrine: 1) American cities will sooner or later be erased by anonymously delivered nuclear truck bombs or boat bombs unless we can deter the world's rogue regimes and terrorist groups from developing such weapons. 2) We can deter them only by making the credible threat of pre-emptive military attack. 3) That threat will not be credible unless we can show now that we will attack if necessary to disarm or dethrone Saddam Hussein, even if we cannot get Security Council approval.
And how did that work out for us, Stuart? Bedrock realities, indeed.
So this is the guy we should listen to for common sense on how to stop another disaster like the Iraq invasion from happening?. Prosecuting those who committed war crimes in the name of defending us is the only way to make sure that it won't happen again.
Almost 60 House liberals, along with prominent lawyers, journalists, and retired officials and military officers, are lobbing an inflammatory charge--"war crimes"--toward a large number of the Bush administration's most senior current and former officials and lawyers. These critics accuse them of approving torture and other illegal interrogation methods.
We are likely to hear a growing clamor for appointment of a special prosecutor, presumably by the next administration. And human-rights activists are already suggesting that their friends abroad should snatch and prosecute any former members of what they call the Bush "torture team" who dare visit Europe.
He identifies those needed to be prosecuted correctly. In addition to Colin Powell,
Vice President Cheney; David Addington, Cheney's powerful legal counsel; Condoleezza Rice, Powell's successor; former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; former CIA Director George Tenet; and former Attorney General John Ashcroft. With the approbation of Bush, they all discussed in detail and approved specific interrogation methods, including simulated drowning ("waterboarding"), according to an April 9 ABC News report.
Taylor goes on to defend a lower level official who was part of the Torture Team. He is probably right that the first people to be investigated are likely to be not Cheney, Bush or Rumsfeld, although they shoulder most of the blame. But that is normal in criminal prosecutions. You start at the bottom and get a few accomplices to flip and testify against those higher up in the food chain. Some of those might be partially sympathetic figures. But if we are to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes, some people who took part will suffer. To quote Cheney,
Sen. McCain could have been the voice of decency on torture, given his harrowing personal story. Instead, McCain has rolled over, and is now an apologist for the torturers within the Bush administration.
UPDATED: I have updated the diary to correct the impression that the Bushies made only a mistake about WMD. They lied.