Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fiat Justicia Ruat Caelum

"Ha! I kill me!" Unfortunately, the death of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq is not metaphorical.

"...the rulers of the states are the most criminal group in a respective population. With a limitation of their power their criminality tends to decrease; but it still remains exceptionally high in all nations."

Pitirim Sorokin

What was the offense for which Saddam Hussein was executed?

Most people in a position to answer that question -- those with an attention span superior to that of the typical goldfish -- would probably say that Saddam suffered the long drop to the end of the rope as punishment for his multifarious crimes against humanity.

That list would include waging aggressive war against Iran, the use of chemical weapons in that conflict and against his own subject population, or for other mass murders and acts of domestic terror.

The correct answer, as former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi recalls, is that the formal charge for which Saddam was hanged was not the murder of millions or even thousands, but rather the execution -- following a proper trial, conducted under established law and settled standards of due process -- of 102 Shi'ite men from the village of Dujail.

Those men were convicted of plotting and carrying out an attempt on Saddam's life when he visited the Shi'ite village 35 miles north of Baghdad in July 1982.
At the time of that assassination attempt, Saddam was a subcontractor for the world's most malevolent regimes -- the one infesting Washington, and the one afflicting Russia -- and so he was obviously capable of bestial behavior. Yet in dealing with the attempt on his life, Saddam behaved as if he were a legitimate head of state*.

Saddam let his security forces round up about 800 people and winnow from them the relative handful of people who had some direct connection to the attack. After a two-year inquiry, a 361-page indictment was compiled naming some 148 suspects. By that time, 46 of the suspects had died under torture at Abu Ghraib prison, a fate not unfamiliar to those imprisoned there under American rule following Iraq's "liberation." The remaining 102 were tried, convicted, and executed for the attempt on Saddam's life.

Interestingly, the attempt by Shi'ite radicals to murder Saddam came just months after the Syrian regime of fellow Ba'athist Hafez al-Assad dealt with an uprising organized by the Muslim Brotherhood (
a beneficiary of U.S. aid since the early 1950s, as Robert Dreyfuss documents in his book Devil's Game) in a small town called Hama. Assad dealt with that rebellion by unleashing his military and pounding Hama into blood pudding massacring an estimated 10,000-25,000 people.

Saddam dealt with a much more personal threat in Dujail. Had he behaved as the prevailing caricature would suggest, that village would have been destroyed root and branch: The town itself would have been subject to Carthaginian destruction, and the extended families of its residents would have been liquidated.
Instead, Saddam's government undertook to distinguish the guilty from the innocent and punished only those determined to have been complicit in the attempt on his life.

As Bugliosi notes, Saddam "was killed [by execution] for killing those who first tried to kill him." More than five years ago, George W. Bush ordered American military personnel to invade and occupy Iraq, thereby authorizing the killing of Iraqis who had never harmed or threatened Americans in any way. Thousands of Americans and -- most likely -- hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as a result of Bush's orders. Sundry justifications have been offered for this unnecessary bloodshed. Among them was the charge that Bush flung at a September 2002 fund-raiser in Houston: "After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my Dad." Even if that were true -- something we have ample reason to doubt -- it must be pointed out that Bush's Daddy tried to kill Saddam first during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The revenge motive, whether or not it reflects genuine filial passion on Bush's part, makes as much sense as any of the other rationales for the ongoing conflict in Iraq, aka The War In Search Of A Reason. And this fact underscores the fact that the legal case for convicting Bush is much stronger than the one used to convict Saddam.

Consider: Saddam was the direct target of a documentable assassination attempt, and his response was to find those specifically responsible and punish them. Bush the Younger, claiming an irrepressible desire to punish those responsible for a dubious alleged attack on his father, instigated a war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, devoured hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth, helped bring about an accelerating economic crisis, and threatens to metastasize into a regional or even global conflict.
Saddam was made to stretch a rope for much less than this. In fact, the "crime" for which Saddam was executed was nothing of the sort.

In his new book,
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Vincent Bugliosi takes note of this contrast, but he curiously doesn't elaborate on it. That's probably the only notable shortcoming in the case made by Mr. Bugliosi in his timely and necessary book.

Bugliosi made his reputation by prosecuting the Charles Manson, so he's well-equipped to deal with the blank-eyed sociopath defiling the White House. He insists that Bush can and must be put on trial -- within the United States, not at The Hague -- for the deliberate, premeditated murder of Americans sent to die in Iraq. Those deaths were entirely unnecessary and occurred because of the depraved indifference to human life displayed by the Grand and Glorious Decider in bringing about the Iraq War.

According to Bugliosi's analysis, Bush can find no legal refuge in the fact that Congress "authorized" and funded the war, since "consent is
not a defense to the crime of murder. Further, even if it were, it is [well-established] law that fraud vitiates consent. So the consent that Congress gave Bush is nullified by the deliberate misrepresentations he made to Congress in inducing it to give him its consent."

Additionally, after he leaves office Bush is fully liable for any criminal actions he committed while he was president, unless his successor issues a plenary pardon.
Under existing law, it is not necessary to prove a specific intent to kill in order to demonstrate "premeditation"; the act of "lying in wait" to attack a victim who subsequently dies is sufficient.

No lack of jurisdiction: Bush's murder victims come from every state and most U.S. territories. Any state Attorney General, or county prosecutor, could pursue an indictment against Bush.

As applied to Bush's crimes, this principle would mean that it's not necessary to prove that Bush intended for any specific American or Iraqi to die in order for him to face the charge of first degree murder.
At an absolute minimum, however, "Bush's taking the nation to war would constitute implied malice, that is, an intent to do a highly dangerous act with reckless disregard and indifference to human life, and hence, at least second degree murder in every state, as well as under federal law," writes Bugliosi.

Thus "any state attorney general in the fifty states (or any district attorney -- called the state's attorney in cities like Chicago and Miami -- in any county of any state) could bring a murder charge against Bush for any soldiers from that state or county who lost their lives fighting Bush's war," the author continues.

In fact, such an attempt has already been made by Ed Felien, a former City Councilman from Minneapolis. Last May, Felien petitioned the Minneapolis District Court for a writ of mandamus "alleging that President Bush committed third degree murder by sending Minneapolis National Guard troops to Iraq on false pretenses," reported Jason Leopold of
The Public Record. Felien has appeared before a District Court judge to argue "that a county attorney should be ordered to arrest the president on murder charges when he arrives in the city for the 2008 Republican National Convention."

Unfortunately, Felien's complaint is attenuated -- and thus made ineffective -- by various less important allegations of oil price-fixing and drug distribution.

But this doesn't foreclose the possibility of other, more tightly written complaints being filed by other officials in Minnesota or elsewhere.

George W. Bush habitually displays the sociopath's frigid indifference to the suffering of others, but he is exquisitely sensitive to impositions on his own leisure time.

Yeah, war's a real laugh riot -- isn't it, Idiot Boy?

Witness, as just one example, Bush's recent lie (widely reported while Bugliosi's book was on the presses) that he had given up golfing as an act of sacrificial solidarity with U.S. troops and their families. Bugliosi points out that of the approximately 2,535 days of Bush's presidency through last January 1, "Bush spent all or part of 908 days, an incredible 36 percent of his time, on vacation or at retreat places.... Two and a half years of the less than seven years of his presidency in which his main goal was to kick back and have fun."

And boy, has the Bushling had fun.

While Iraqis are dying by the tens of thousands, American troops are on their fourth and fifth rotations into hell, and more than four thousand American families have lost children, husbands, fathers, and mothers, Bush's life has been one protracted lark punctuated by the unpleasant occasional necessity of pretending to work.
Neither the rigors of education nor the burden of painfully acquired wisdom has ever left is impress on Bush's face -- something genuinely remarkable for someone in the seventh decade of life.

During the past five years of war, the expression most often seen radiating from the face of that in-bred, pampered Man-Child has been the kind of delight one would expect of an idiot child who can indulge every transient whim.
No matter the suffering inflicted on others by his war, no matter how many Americans die or suffer life-altering injuries, Bush "is always seen with a big smile on his face ... and is in good spirits," notes Bugliosi. "How would that be possible if he was suffering?" Just weeks after 9/11, while Americans were still shattered by the event, the New York Times noted that "Mr. Bush's nonchalant, jocular demeanor remains the same."

In an August 2002 interview with Runner's World, while Americans were killing and dying in Afghanistan and his administration was getting ready to roll out the case to expand the killing to Iraq, Bush complained that his daily jogging regimen was suffering: "It's sad that I can't run longer. It's one of the saddest things about my presidency."

"All in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me," effused Bush in December 2001, a year incurably disfigured in the memory of the rest of us by 9/11 and its aftermath. "We're having the time of our life," he gushed during his second inaugural in January 2005, nearly two years into the war of choice he inflicted on the world.

Given that his reign has taken place in a permanent state of quasi-vacation, Bush probably won't notice a dramatic change of lifestyle when he retires. Perhaps the only significant difference will be that he'll no longer be able to kill people at whim. He really should spend the remaining decades of his life being either pursued or punished for the murders he has committed. One wonders how the Secret Service would react to process-servers or bounty hunters charged to carry out court orders resulting from the legal process Bugliosi outlines; I think such incidents would be both entertaining and edifying.

While Bugliosi's criminal case against Bush is compelling, there are weaknesses in the rest of the book.

He insists, for instance, that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were somehow less inclined toward the promiscuous murder of foreigners than Bush has been, which is demonstrably untrue.
Clinton shed blood needlessly in Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as in the politically convenient anti-impeachment military campaigns of 1998: The "Monica Missiles" missile attacks on Afghanistan and Somalia in August, and the "Desert Fox" bombing of Iraq in December. And Clinton's 1999 78-day terror bombing of Serbia, supposedly to prevent "genocide" in Kosovo, was an act of mass murder easily as prosecutable as Bush's assault on Iraq.

Don't forget Clinton's war crimes: Belgrade, the capital of a pro-U.S. European country, burns under assault by NATO bombers during the 78-day terror bombing ordered by Clinton in 1999 (left); a young girl who lost her legs in a bombing attack is just one of hundreds of civilian victims of the assault (below, right).

Where Bush -- as Bugliosi capably documents -- did everything he could to precipitate war with Iraq (to the point of discussing with Tony Blair various ways of provoking a first strike from Saddam), Clinton used a January 1999 diplomatic meeting in Rambouillet, France to present the Serbs with an ultimatum he knew they would have to refuse: The price of avoiding a bombing was Serb acquiescence to the military occupation of their country. "They [the Serbs] need some bombing," one State Department Clintinoid commented at the time, "and that's what they are going to get."

If it was just for Saddam to be forced to dance between heaven and earth because he executed would-be assassins, Bush deserves no less for his acts of mass murder, and Clinton really should join his successor in the dock as well. That's one reason why both wings of the Ruling Party will work in tandem to shelter Bush and his minions: Both sides are mired in the same morass of murderous criminality.

This is why Barack "The Holy One" Obama has disavowed any intention to pursue criminal investigations of the previous administration should he be elected, or even to support impeachment this year.
"I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president's authority," he commented more than a year ago.

Apparently, waging aggressive war, institutionalizing torture, and eviscerating due process protections are merely "policy options" from Obama's perspective. That's certainly the view of the criminal class that produced him, and in whose service Obama would deploy his remarkably well-developed gift for mass deception.

* By using the term "legitimate" in this context, of course, I don't intend to imply that the state enjoys any innate legitimacy.

Available now!

Dum spiro, pugno!


Anonymous said...

The question, too, is, what about the Congressmen/women who voted to give away their Constitutional responsibilities; the military commanders who were "just following orders" by obeying the order to invade while knowing that Congress had not declared war and that they were aiding the enemies of the Constitution...those they had sworn to fight to defend that document. It seems there are few stopping places once indictments begin to appear. There is enough blame to go around. Louis

Anonymous said...

Oaths made by elected officials mean nothing to those making the oaths in the US of A.

Saddam was a boy scout compared to Bush the Lesser, but as leader (sic) of the mightiest power on earth, quis ut Deus ?

Anonymous said...

"By using the term "legitimate" in this context, of course, I don't intend to imply that the state enjoys any innate legitimacy." Actually, civil authority is an institution sanctioned by God in the Bible, so the state does have a legitimate function, albeit a very, very limited one.

There will be attempts at trials after the war criminal leaves office, but it looks like he's going to Paraguay. How convenient. Still, Bush is going to need heavier secret service protection after he leaves office than he enjoys now. I could easily see some distraught veteran, or a family member of a murdered veteran , taking their vengeance.

liberranter said...

One wonders how the Secret Service would react to process-servers or bounty hunters charged to carry out court orders resulting from the legal process Bugliosi outlines; I think such incidents would be both entertaining and edifying.

A nasty scuffle between two competing groups of armed, murderous thugs in the State's employ that escalates into an all-out gun battle? I'm ashamed to admit it, but such an incident would make my decade. Too bad that there isn't that much divine justice in the universe. We stand a better chance of seeing Ron Paul win the November election in a write-in landslide.

Anonymous said...

As I reflect back on my nearly half century mark - damn getting old sucks - I cannot recall an amerikan administration that has not engaged in this kind of behavior. It is the natural consequence of our arrogant ignorance that it continues. And not just abroad, but here on our own soil as well.

I read a piece by James Bovard just today that makes the case very well, and one that I have held for many years, that in a society where a majority have become dependent on government largesse tyranny reigns and demise becomes imminent. And when I look at the mainstream political candidates I only ponder one question - which one will dash the ship of state into the rocks more quickly?

The only salvation we can hope for as a country is to find in ourselves a spirit and resolve that will render Saddam's fate unto every bureaucratic pud puller in the country with extreme prejudice. And that isn't likely to happen in a country dependent on the government teat.

"And this is how democracy dies - with thunderous applause . . ." (A quote I like to test your skills at celluloid attributions Will)

Sic Semper Tyrranis

William N. Grigg said...

Anonymous, I'm about to pass -- that is, to fail -- your Geek Test by saying that Senator Amidala's bitter aside was my favorite line in that movie.

As someone within uncomfortable and narrowing distance from the half-century mark myself, I can sympathize with your tacit but obvious aversion to birthdays, btw.

Robert said...

Thank you for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Clinton destroyed a medical plant in the Sudan that make affordable medicins for people who otherwise would not be able to affored it.

Anonymous said...

Bugliosi should have titled his book The Prosecution, Conviction and Execution of George W. Bush for Murder.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Might want to listen to my 2-part interview with Vince Bugliosi.

John Lofton, Editor,

Recovering Republican

Anonymous said...

One future day, I'll click on "Favorites," thence to "Freedom In Our Time," and there find only a bare "404 - File not found" message.

Your dangerous words make me curious, Will. Have you already written and cached the article that will be published by another after you've been Buttle-bagged? And, in it, do you finally suggest the necessary dissolution of the United States? After all, try as one might, it is so very difficult to see any other path if we are to live under a republican form of government once again.

And please pardon my darkness. Must be all part of being a half-centurier.

-- 1957 Human

Doug said...

The last two presidents have now completely reduced the office to nothing more than a joke. From Bill Clinton and his dalliance with the oldest "profession" to "W" and the oldest sin - revenge murder! What a pair! Two sides of the same trough.

Anonymous said...

When the 50th birthday actually arrives, it's not so bad after all. It's the run-up that's disconcerting.

The same thing happens when a child leaves home for good. The day before is sad and teary for mom, the day of is OK, and the day after you are fine with it, and life goes on and you are glad.

1953 person

Anonymous said...

Look at the evidence here presented. Read and understand...

Now tell me what the Bible says about genocide and murder of your enemies. Please keep the Bible out of this discussion of American Law.

Anonymous said...

"Ha! I kill me!" - Alf

"By using the term "legitimate" in this context, of course, I don't intend to imply that the state enjoys any innate legitimacy."

A brilliant understatement since the State derives any claim to legitimacy from the Constitution, the enabling document for all government in the United States. Which is to say the government, and all auxiliaries thereof, are only legitimate so long as they conduct themselves within the limits placed upon them by the Constitution. The moment they stepped beyond those restrictions, they lost all claims to legitimacy and are legally subject to overthrow by the People. Dangerous words, you say? All my words should be considered dangerous to tyrrants.

Furthermore, Mr. Grigg shall not be "buttle-bagged" (whatever that means). Trust me, any attempt to do so would be be most uncomfortable for any initiating authorities.

Anonymous said...


Sic Semper Tyrannis

How would you say, "Turn the other cheek—Don't Vote." in Latin?

Anonymous said...

Having read WNG's blog for sometime now, I must say I not only enjoy Will's wisdom, but that of the commenters, as well. And as someone born in the first half of the last century, "I feel your pain." No wait, that's MY pain I feel. The great ship that was these united States has run aground, and while her Captain is responsible and should be held accountable, it will be those who have ridden through the storm who will suffer her loss.

Anonymous said...

Barack is nothing but a total Marxist sociopath. A very scary man. And the opposition ? Hmmm Unstable would be a mild understatement

Anonymous said...

As Saddam was being taunted at
his execution his last words were
that he was trying to protect Iraq
from the Americans.
I think the Iraqis are haunted by
those words.

The power of our President should
make every American shudder.
This golem is of our creation
and it is up to us to contain
or destroy it.

Another great article by Grigg.
I'm thinking of moving to Idaho.

Anonymous said...

I never realized how sane Charlie looks until his photo was juxtiposed with those of the smirking chimp.

We know McCain would issue one of those pardons, just in case. I wonder about the big "O". I think it depends on what war crimes he intends to commit.

Anonymous said...

Dear Will,

Thank you for reminding us, in this our doleful season of $5-a-gallon gas and $4-a-loaf bread, of the evil and simian instigator of our misfortunes. May his vile name and all his seed be cursed till the end of time, from the highest mountain to the bottom of the sea. I am a good writer, but cannot hold a candle up to Thomas Paine, whose stirring words at the birth of our Republic, on December 23, 1776, may yet serve to be also its obituary:

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.......There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice.......Say not that thousands are gone, [but] turn out in your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all........I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder.......Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America."

Thomas Paine, "The Crisis," 12/23/1776

Anonymous said...

Will, I could not resist adding to the words above another line from Thomas Paine, this one written in January 1777 and addressed to Lord Howe following the latter's proclamation of Paine as a "traitor." ( And how many millions of us today share Paine's rejection of the "legitimate" authority?):

"As a military man, your lordship may hold out the sword of war, and call it the ultima ratio regum: "the last reason of kings"; we in return can show you the sword of justice, and call it, "the best scourge of tyrants."

Words to live by, and to die by if necessary.
Lemuel Gulliver