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June 14, 2008

Conyers: Stop the War Crimes


by Gordon Prather

Members of the House of Representatives have voted to refer the Articles of Impeachment [.pdf] introduced by Dennis Kucinich [D,OH] – requesting that George W. Bush be impeached by the House for specific violations of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States – to the House Judiciary Committee for appropriate action.

"Appropriate action" means the Judiciary Committee is to hold hearings on each of the articles, and after due deliberation, decide which of the 35 articles, if any, should be sent to the full House – with or without recommendations – for debate and eventual vote by Members on each count; to impeach or not to impeach.

Cynics have noted that even if Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D,MI) managed to schedule and conduct expedited hearings, there would not be enough time to complete the House indictment process, much less conduct the Senate trial this year.

True, but there will be time enough for Conyers to hold vitally important nationally and internationally televised hearings on Article VI – which calls for the House to effectively indict Bush for the crime of "invading Iraq in violation of the requirements of HJ Resolution 114 – and on Article VIII – which calls for the House to effectively indict Bush as a war criminal for ‘"invading Iraq, a sovereign nation, in violation of the UN Charter" and U.S. law.

Those hearings would amount to Conyer’s Committee essentially playing the role of prosecutors and the whole world acting as their Grand Jury.

The simple airing on national and international television of the charges included in Article VI and in Article VIII about the crimes Bush committed in waging a war of aggression against Iraq more than five years ago might – just might – prevent Bush from launching another war of aggression, this time against Iran, before leaving office.

Here are excerpts from Article VI of Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment – Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of Joint Resolution 114 – as supplied to the Judiciary Committee and now made a part of their permanent record for historians to ponder.

"In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States…exceeded his Constitutional authority to wage war by invading Iraq in 2003 without meeting the requirements of HJRes 114, the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002"…

"Section 3 of HJRes 114 states:

(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.—In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, … make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that -- reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either

(A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or

(B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq;

"On March 18, 2003, President George Bush sent a letter to Congress stating that he had made that determination.

"[However] President Bush knew that statements [made in that determination] were false, as evidenced by information provided with Articles I, II, III, IV, V and VI.

"Section 3c of HJRes 114 [further] states that "Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution … which states: Nothing [in this WPR] is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President, or the provision of existing treaties’.

"The United Nations Charter was an existing treaty and …the invasion of Iraq violated that treaty.

"[Hence] President Bush knowingly failed to meet the [necessity] requirements of HJRes 114 and violated the War Powers Resolution and, thereby, invaded Iraq without the authority of Congress.

"In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

"Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office."

Here are excerpts from Article VIII – Invading Iraq, a Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter and International Criminal Law – as supplied to the Judiciary Committee and now made a part of the permanent record for historians to ponder.

"In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed," violated United States law by invading the sovereign country of Iraq in violation of the United Nations Charter.

"Article VI of the United States Constitution, states 'This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;'

"The UN Charter, which entered into force following ratification by the United States in 1945, requires Security Council approval for the use of force except for self-defense against an armed attack …

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

"There was no armed attack upon the United States by Iraq.

"The Security Council did not vote to approve the use of force against Iraq.

"On September 16, 2004 Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking of the invasion, said, 'I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.'

"[Hence] President George W. Bush, in ordering an attack upon Iraq, a sovereign nation, is in direct violation of United States Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 118, Section 2441, governing the offense of war crimes.

"In the course of invading and occupying Iraq, the President, as Commander in Chief, has taken responsibility for the targeting of civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, use of antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas, the use of white phosphorous as a weapon, depleted uranium weapons, and the use of a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs.

"Under the direction of President George Bush the United States has engaged in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations, including but not limited to blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing over orchards.

"Under the principle of 'command responsibility,' i.e., that a de jure command can be civilian as well as military, and can apply to the policy command of heads of state, said command brings President George Bush within the reach of international criminal law under the Additional Protocol I of June 8, 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, Article 86 (2).

"The United States is a state signatory to Additional Protocol I, on December 12, 1977.

"Furthermore, Article 85 (3) of said Protocol I defines as a grave breach making a civilian population or individual civilians the object of attacks.

"This offense, together with the principle of command responsibility, places President George Bush's conduct under the reach of the same law and principles described as the basis for war crimes prosecution at Nuremburg, under Article 6 of the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunals: including crimes against peace, violations of the laws and customs of war and crimes against humanity, similarly codified in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Articles 5 through 8.

"In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

"Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office."

So, Chairman Conyers, it’s up to you.

By simply airing on national and international television the charges included in Article VI and in Article VIII you might – you just might – prevent Bush (or his successor) from launching another war of aggression, this time against Iran.

Of course, if you’ve got better things to do, nevermind.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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