TED Conversations

Michelle Rosenthal

social worker, Dr Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

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There are many websites calling for Bush and Cheney to be put on trial for war crimes and to still be impeached. What do you think?

Do you think that G W Bush and Cheney should be placed on trial for war crimes or should we be thankful to them for taking decisive actions to protect America against a looming threat?

Before both Gulf wars I called the White House Comments line and organized prayer groups requesting the then presidents just request a trial of Saddam Hussein for crimes that he may have been guilty of rather than to initiate a war.

My simple advice was not taken but should it have been? Should we try end war through the legal process of trial? Even if Saddam Hussein did not appear in court could he not have been tried in abstentia? Wouldn't this have been a better option for all humanity over all in this case and over and over again in the future?

Think of how many innocent lives would have been spared and how many trillions of dollars would have been saved if this one simple suggestion would have been listened to. Is this concept too naive or is it the right thing to do in the future?

Are we are going to be headed for many more wars in the future to defend against a potential of a first strike that has not actually happened.
Could I have advocated more for the use of the judicial process to avoid the wars? In reality all protests were ignored and all international rules of law were ignored. Could humanity have said or did anything to have impacted on this decision to go to war?. I ask how do we nonviolently stop an unstoppable force that may use propaganda to convince the nation and the world that a war is needed and justified when in fact it may not be.

Please see the NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes-se.com/2009/07/04/court-indicts-bush-on-high-treason-charge/

http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/scott-ritter/the-history-of-theweapons-of-mass-destruction-fraud.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTWAXiaIzOs

http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/scott-ritter/waging-peace.html

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    Nov 22 2011: I actually think the entire Bush government, including many current senators, and congressman should be put on trial for treason, because the patriot act erased the bill of rights, and the bill of rights is the fundamental basis of the success of American government. The bill of rights is of course also part of the constitution which all of them swore to protect and uphold. The patriot act directly violates the US Constitutions, and thus signing it into law was treason. War crimes are a tougher argument, because the legal definition of torture is so contested... There is no way that a competent judge could say that the patriot act doesn't directly violate my right to privacy, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, and freedom to a trial by jury. It is embarassing to our entire nation that these polliticians are still free men.
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      Nov 23 2011: Unfortunately, members of Congress cannot be charged with a crime for their utterances or votes in the Congress. The Constitution provides immunity against that. It would be helpful to those who are not familiar with the U.S. "Patriot Act" if you could mention which provisions violate your rights to privacy, trial by jury, etc.
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        Nov 25 2011: All of them... The whole point of The Patriot Act is to create a second class American citizen by defining them an "enemy combatant", "terror suspect", or "lone wolf". These second class citizens, no longer have any rights. The CIA, FBI, etc. can just put a tap on your phone without a warrant. They can place you under surveillance, they can seize business assets, and they can try you without jury.

        This is not only incredibly illegal, it's also incredibly expensive, as we're literally paying loads of defense administrators to follow around young punks, and random muslims. All so that American citizens accused, not convicted mind you, of terrorist threats, can be thrown in jail without trial, because of evidence gained illegally. It's also the impetus for our taking away all other countries rights in Guantanamo Bay.

        It literally erases the bill of rights for people deemed "enemy combatants", "terror suspects", or "lone wolves". The American people have lost all of the first ten amendments to the constitution, save 2 and 10, the right to bear arms, and the right for states to decide what to do if it's not written down. We are the oppressive communist state that Europe wants us to be... We are not capitalist anymore, and we do not have freedom of speech anymore... we just also don't have government healthcare yet ; p

        George Bush literally shattered every American ideal that existed, and he did it in less than a decade, which would be impressive if it wasn't so tragic. Now my countrymen have to pick up the pieces...
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          Nov 25 2011: Sorry to see that my question about specifics resulted in no specifics. "All so that American citizens accused, not convicted mind you, of terrorist threats, can be thrown in jail without trial, because of evidence gained illegally." So that was Congress' motive behind the Act? To have the chance to throw people in jail? I would say it was to to beef up security against a serious threat.

          The P.A. is typical of much wartime legislation. After Bill Clinton had done nothing serious about the Al Qaeda threat for years while they bombed our embassies, ships, and the WTC, GWB (and I'm no fan of his) finally decided to put the nation on a partial war footing, with respect to this threat. The resulting reorganizations, budgeting, and legislation have resulted in security measures and international cooperative police work that have foiled a large number of terrorist operations by Al Qaeda and related groups, especially in the U.S. and in Europe. You don't say what your plan would have been, instead of this active counterattack. Would your plan have managed to find and foil the terrorists? Or wasn't that important?

          I travel several times a year between Europe and the U.S., and I hate having to go through the security rigmarole. It's a pain in the butt. But I'm glad it's there. G.W. Bush put that in place. Without it a number of airliners would have blown up.

          Be realistic. If you're fighting Mexican gangs in L.A. or Chinese gangs in S.F., you don't start rounding up Lutherans in Minnesota. You limit your resources to identifiable groups. Call it racial or ethnic profiling if you want, but distasteful as it is, it's necessary in counterterrorism operations.

          Parts of the P.A. are time-limited, and some have sunsetted, while some have been reauthorized. No doubt the Act overreached, and courts are dealing with that. The most useful thing you could do for us is to outline what should have been done, if anything, in the fall of 2001, that would have worked better in this war.
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        Nov 25 2011: I don't understand what you mean by specifics, that's the only thing the patriot act did. It created a new classification of citizen that no longer had rights. That was the impetus. There was no other reason. Our millitary and CIA didn't have the right to warrantlessly wiretap, or torture American citizens, and The Patriot Act gave them that right. The Patriot Act did not need to be written, save to take away my constitutional rights should I be seen as something other than a patriot.

        To pretend that that is acceptable in a free society, is pathetic, and embarassing. As far as "What should we have done?". The same thing you always do when a nutjob kills peolpe, investigate, and have trials. The CIA was ready to kill Bin Laden really quickly and George Bush told them not to, so that the Afghan government he created could get credit.

        Bush did everything he could to keep Osama Bin Laden alive, for pollitical reasons. Nothing done by the patriot act was designed to secure anyone. It was designed to take away the rights of American citizens, mostly muslims... And I'm sorry there is no statistic you can measure, that doesn't show white Christians, just as violent if not more so than muslims.

        Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11... We've killed over 500,000 Iraqi's at random, who had nothing to do with 9/11. We're the bad guy... We need to fix it. The first step is erasing the patriot act, and making sure our children have a bill of rights again, if they don't, then the entire American experiment is over. George Bush single handedly destroyed everything good about America, he erased our Bill of Rights in one presidency, and that any one would defend him is beyond me.
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        Nov 25 2011: If you meant that you want concrete examples of them using the Patriot Act to take away an American Citizens rights. Bradley Manning was tortured for one year, he's been in prison another year, and he's never had a hearing. He's also done nothing immoral... but The Patriot Act allows us to torture people who talk to WikiLeaks... Sorry, people accused, not convicted, of talking to WikiLeaks.
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          Nov 26 2011: Well, I had asked which provisions of the Patriot Act "directly violate" your rights to privacy, trial by jury, etc., as you had claimed. You give instead an anecdote about an active duty soldier in a war zone who was put in the brig for allegedly releasing U.S. military secrets. (That's not "talking to WikiLeaks.") This soldier was charged and will be tried under the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice. It has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. I think we're in any case off the subject of this thread, so let's spend our time doing something else. Cheers, Paul
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        Nov 27 2011: Wikileaks, gave the government over one month do deal with the intelligence information and get its troops out of danger. Wikileaks put the "secrets" of the US millitary in the public domain. This could easily be referred to as "telling the american people what it's government is doing". In no way is that immoral or illegal, unless we want to live in a country where the government doesn't have to tell the people it governs what it's doing.

        They made me pay taxes to pay for them to do that. Also they silence Bradley's voice because he was screaming "If this doesn't start an honest debate amongst the American people about there place in the world and what they need to start changing, than humanity as a species is doomed." We need that voice right now.

        If you want an actual way they violated me... Who knows? You can't know anymore, you don't have a right to know if they're wire tapping you. They took away my constitution, I don't have any rights left for them to violate. I only know they silenced my heroes, wasted my money, erased my constitution, as admitedly many warring nations do, and destroyed my countries international credibillity. If that's not a crime can't we make it one and arrest him?

        : p
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    Nov 22 2011: Readers should be aware that the first website link in Michelle's issue statement, referred to as a "NY Times Article," is not from the New York Times at all, but is a fairly subtle and somewhat amusing parody of the NY Times, dated July 4, 2009, apparently originating from Sweden. The story that the link points to, purporting to report that Bush has been indicted for treason, is pure fantasy.

    "Impeachment" is a process of the Congress for removal of holders of public office. Since Bush and Cheney are no longer in office, impeachment is no longer relevant. (I will admit I urged the impeachment of Mr.Bush, not for the Iraq war but for his abuse of presidential power through his practice of issuing "signing statements" that amounted to line item vetoes, thus overriding congressional intent time after time. One drawback to an impeachment at that time was that we would have ended up with "President Cheney" unless he was impeached at the same time.)

    In my view, the US attack on Iraq was a horrible, unjustified mistake. Clearing out foreign dictators has never been a proper role for the US. Nevertheless, the Senate had nearly unanimously voted to give Bush the green light to use military force against Saddam Hussein, so they couldn't possibly impeach the President for carrying it out. (Both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for the resolution authorizing war.)

    As to Iraqi civilian deaths from the war, they were too many, but fewer died annually during the war than from Saddam's ongoing terrors before the war, and by now the number of civilian lives saved by being rid of Saddam must be very considerable (assuming his slaughter would otherwise have continued), though I haven't seen any recent estimates.

    I don't think there's much appetite in the US for any trial of the Bush/Cheney team. Yes, there are web sites suggesting this, but web sites are cheap and easy to make. I think the idea will die a quiet death.
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      Nov 23 2011: .
      "As to Iraqi civilian deaths from the war, they were too many, but fewer died annually during the war than from Saddam's ongoing terrors before the war, and by now the number of civilian lives saved by being rid of Saddam must be very considerable"

      Careful here. That's dangerously close to "the ends justify the means". Fewer may have died during our campaign, but those deaths are on our hands, and that's hard to accept.

      But, I suppose you you have to be pragmatic about most things, and the lesser of two evils, and all that.
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        Nov 23 2011: Thank you, Jason.
        I don't actually think that anything justified the US involvement in the Iraq war, which I called "a horrible, unjustified mistake." But I'm glad you point out that the deaths in this case "are on our hands." That does, of course, make all the difference. The dead, whether American, Iraqi, or others as a result of the war were not the same people who might have died under Saddam, and there is no way for the US to escape that responsibility. My remark about numbers dead or surviving referred to Michelle's reference to the number of lives lost as a result of the war, and is a piece of information not meant to justify anything. (By the way, the question of ends justifying means would be a good one for a "conversation" here at TED, if that hasn't already been covered.)
  • Nov 26 2011: Sorry to jump in, but David has a real point, even if strictly not 100% on the subject. The US Patriot Act is, and should be viewed as a crime against the american people. It has nothing to do with protection, it has everything to do with manipulation and cultivation of a climate of fear. It was marketed to a paranoid public under the guise of patriotism, but in fact has nothing to do with it. It is a clever acronym - Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism. Terrorism is now used, in the US, UK and no doubt other countries, as a word to give the authorities carte blanche to do as they wish. The wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan have all been a direct result, while not necessarily of the Patriot Act itself, but certainly an extension of the control that the American public have allowed into their lives.

    This acronym is designed to inspire faith in it. It is a word that America considers itself to be built upon, and to use it in this way is a cynical and insidious way to get people to accept it. Those that oppose it are considered unpatriotic. I say it is quite the opposite. It is unpatriotic to throw away 250 years of growth and development, and to prostrate yourselves at the feet of authority and beg them to save you from a foe that they invented. If countries like Iran wish to see you blown from the face of the earth, understand it is not necessarily an act of mindless terrorism. It may very well be an act of personal protection in the face of overwhelming imperialism. But it is not the people that are to blame. It is those in power.

    This was ushered in by Chaney and his monkey faced puppet, and the others that ran America into the ground. They should be tried as war criminals, against both the countries that they destroyed and the people that supported them through it. And the UK government should go the same way.
  • Nov 26 2011: ABSOLUTELY!

    Unravel only one thing about 9/11, prove it false or prove the truth about it, and the rest will unravel almost on its own.
    Everything they are doing is unconstitutional and needs to be challenged with force, not comment.
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    Nov 23 2011: Do you really think George bush can leave this country and not be harmed? His punishment is fear, not fines.
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    Nov 22 2011: I'm no fan of those two, but I'm not certain that they need to be put on trial for anything. First off, they act on far more information than we have access to, and it's all to easy to judge their actions from this side without having a full understanding of the actual situation. Secondly, I'm not sure that it would gain us anything. They would not be likely to be convicted, and a trial like that could serve to further paint our country in a negative light as far as the international community is concerned.

    Having said that, they definitely didn't follow proper protocol, and in my opinion, they did ignore a lot of dissenting voices seemingly to push their agenda. I do find the Bush expansion of executive powers extremely troubling, and I'm really not a fan of that administration's actions on the whole. I just don't think any real good would come of what's being suggested here.
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    Nov 22 2011: They are misguided and a waste of time for the following reasons. 1. If it were to happen the current president would have to go on trial for war crimes. 2. National leaders have different goals than the person in the street. They also have different responsibilities. 3. The precedent set would paralyze national leaders from protecting the country except after an invasion starts and we see they cannot do that at all just look at the war we having going on on the southern border with drug lords and our agents. 4. It would open too many doors to revenge based trials and pogroms.