A Good Time to Review Bush's War Crimes
By David Swanson
I'll be speaking at the upcoming Iraq Tribunal about war lies of 2002-2003 vintage. I'm nostalgic for the days when presidents had to lie to Congress and the public and obtain some modicum of support before bombing a foreign country.
Already by the day after this week's election we saw the return of street protests, of big plans for mass mobilizations, and of preparations to urge a presidential impeachment as soon as Trump commits the first obviously impeachable offense not routinely committed by Barack Obama.
But we are not going to see the return of the office of the presidency as it was inherited by George W. Bush or even as it was passed along to Barack Obama. When Bush became president, spying on everything everybody did was deemed unacceptable. Imprisoning people without charge or trial was an outrage. Torture was illicit. Going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays to pick whom to murder with a drone would have filled the streets with protest. When Congress passed laws, presidents were supposed to veto them, sign and obey them, or quietly ignore them in secret until caught, not sign them and publicly announce which parts they would violate.
When Obama became president, illegal surveillance was a crime of his predecessor awaiting prosecution. Guantanamo and similar death camps were a problem to be remedied. Torture was a felony the prosecution of which was mandatory under the supreme law of the land. And drones were just one weapon of many to be used in existing wars.
Donald Trump -- elected by Republicans after admitting the 2003 attack on Iraq was a disaster that helped create ISIS, and after pretending that he had opposed launching that war at the time -- now moves into the White House with the power to spy on everything, the power to imprison anyone, the power to torture without consequences, the power to kill anyone in any place, and the power to start new wars anywhere in the world at his whim using the most costly military in the history of the earth, mobilized from more bases in more countries than any military ever before inherited by any ruler. For Trump, obeying laws or even announcing plans not to obey laws will be totally optional, and scrapping laws invented by previous presidents outside the legislative process is now routine. So is concocting new laws. And potential whistleblowers have been conditioned during the Obama years to know that they will be mercilessly persecuted.