By Ralph Nader
George W. Bush is on a roll—a money roll with a $7 million
advance for his book Decision Points and a rehabilitation roll to
paint his war crimes as justifiable mass-slaughter and torture.
His carefully chosen interviewers—NBC’s Matt Lauer and Oprah
Winfrey—agreed to a safe pre-taping to avoid demonstrations and
tough questions. Requests for him to speak are pouring in from
business conventions and other rich assemblages willing to pay
$200,000 for “the Decider’s” banalities. This is “Shrub’s” month
in the sun.
In his first week of book promotion, he was asked about anything
he would have done had he known then what he knew now—especially
regarding Iraq and its encircled dictator. Well, he deplored
receiving “false intelligence” about Saddam Hussein having weapons
of mass destruction which was one of several false claims he fed
the American people before invading Iraq in 2003. But he has no
regrets, saying that “the world was undoubtedly safer with Saddam
But was it safer for over a million Iraqis who lost their lives
due to the invasion, over 4 million refugees, 4500 American
soldiers lost, 1100 amputees, tens of thousands injured, sick and
tens of thousands more GIs coming back with trauma to lost jobs,
broken families and permanent damage to their health.
Was it worth a trillion dollars to blow apart the country of
Iraq and incur many more enemies? Was it worth starting a war paid
for by a massive debt handed to our children so that George W. and
Dick Cheney could give themselves and their rich buddies a massive
tax cut? Ex-presidents possess self-excusing delusions, but this
is non compos mentis run amuck.
Then there is his escape from legal sanctions because the law
enforcers in the Justice Department act as if Bush and Dick Cheney
are above the law. “What is Attorney General Holder waiting for,”
declared conservative/libertarian former Judge Andrew Napolitano,
the legal analyst for Fox News, adding that Holder should
criminally prosecute both Bush and Cheney for their many crimes.
Just as a Justice Department task force was about to do to Richard
Nixon after he resigned his office in 1974, for far lesser crimes,
when President Ford pardoned him.
I asked Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under
Ronald Reagan, constitutional rights litigator, author of books
and articles and many Congressional testimonies on the imperial
presidency, and its unlawful penchant for Empire, for his
reaction. Here is his response:
“Former President Bush’s selective memoir is a little like
Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. With the exception of
authorizing waterboarding, a form of torture, Bush neglects his
serial vandalizing of the Constitution and the federal criminal
code: five years of illegal surveillances of Americans on American
soil; a war against Iraq without proper authorization by Congress;
illegal detentions of enemy combatants without accusation or
trials; hundred of unconstitutional signing statements professing
an intent to refuse to faithfully execute the laws;
unconstitutional defiance of congressional subpoenas; and,
employing unilateral executive agreements to circumvent the treaty
authority of the Senate over military commitments.”
“Despite his constitutional literacy, President Obama has balked
at faithful execution of the laws against torture, warrantless
spying on Americans, or obstruction of justice perpetrated by Bush
and his servile minions. On that score, Obama resembles President
Nixon, who was impeached by the House Judiciary Committee and
forced to resign for sneering at his constitutional obligation to
enforce, not ignore the laws.
“If Obama believes exculpatory circumstances justify
non-prosecution of Bush-Cheney,” Fein continued, “then he should
pardon them as authorized by the Constitution. A pardon must be
accepted by the recipient to be effective, and acknowledges guilt
and the inviolability of the rule of law. Ignoring lawlessness at
the highest levels like Obama wounds the rule of law, and creates
a precedent that lies around like a loaded weapon ready to destroy
the Constitution. Obama himself is thus violating his oath of
office by nonfeasance.”
Lawyer Fein is not referring to a one time episode like
Watergate but a recurrent, pattern of massive outlawry here and
abroad stretching for years. In 2005-2006, the large and very
conservative American Bar Association, led by its then president,
corporate attorney, Michael Greco, convened three task forces that
produced white papers documenting three patterns of Bush’s
unconstitutional behavior. Mr. Fein served on the panel that
condemned the outpourings of Presidential signing statements.
Although addressed and sent to President Bush, the ABA received no
response to these unprecedented condemnations.
Our legal system and Constitution touted as the greatest in the
world, decay when we allow epidemics of grave violations by the
President and other White House violators to be rewarded for their
unconstitutionalism and criminality.
On Armistice Day, November 11, 2010, The Washington Post put on
page one the excruciating, but brave struggle of quadruple
amputee, Marine Cpl. Todd A Nicely trying to make the best of his
surviving an explosive device in Afghanistan. On the reverse page
two there was a picture of a smiling George W. Bush signing his
book. He is getting away with it.
Holding Bush/Cheney accountable by the soldiers he sent to kill
and die in illegal wars, with few exceptions such as the Military
Families Speak Out (MFSO.org) and the Iraq Veterans Against the
War (ivaw.org) and Veterans for Peace (veteransforpeace.org) are
not being made in public by enough soldiers after their service.
Many know who was responsible but under pressure from their
superiors and not wanting, along with their families, to admit
publically that they suffered and fought in vain, they remain
silent. With their credibility, more of them need to exert real
patriotism and speak out against the militant White House
draft-dodgers and their neo-con advisors who drove them and our
country into these boomeranging, destructive wars.
The Post completed this grim trilogy with a full page color ad
by the profitable munitions manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, which
taxpayers paid for, thanking the “commitment” and “sacrifice” of
those who are serving today in America’s military forces.
For the political cowards and their corporate profiteers, wars
do not demand their sacrifice, they only invite their manipulative
flattery. Same old racket, recalling double Congressional Medal of
Honor winner, Marine General Smedley Butler whose book “War Is A
Racket” said it all decades ago.
Of course more members of another profession should declare
itself for prosecution—the one million-strong licensed attorneys
sworn to uphold the law as “officers of the court”!