Monday, June 30, 2008

The ‘W.’ Stands for ‘War Criminal’

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

By Nat Hentoff | In a June 6 letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey—largely ignored by a press immersed in the future of Hillary Clinton—56 Democrats in the House of Representatives asked for “an immediate investigation with the appointment of a special counsel to determine whether actions taken by the President, his Cabinet, and other Administration officials are in violation of the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441) . . . and other U.S. and international laws.”

This isn’t front-page news?

The letter began with a brief account of the notorious facts about Abu Ghraib (”sexual exploitation and torture”) and Guantánamo (”an independent investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross documented several . . . acts of torture . . . including soaking a prisoner’s head in alcohol and lighting it on fire”). Nor was “coercive interrogation” in Afghanistan omitted: “In October 2005, The New York Times reported that three detainees were killed during interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq by CIA agents or CIA contractors.”

This is not a call for articles of impeachment. Bush will soon be gone, and the new president and Congress have far too much to do to get mired in that quicksand. These are grave criminal charges, and since international crimes are involved as well as the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Act, other nations whose laws include “universal jurisdiction” could prosecute.

But why would House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers Jr. and Intelligence Committee members Jerrold Nadler (my congressional representative) and Jan Schakowsky—among other signers—make such dramatic and historic charges of “war crimes” now, after most congressional Democrats have not shown the same interest? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, is not on the list of signers; she and Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid have never, in their opposition to the administration, come anywhere near these shocking accusations.

Continued . . .

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