North Carolina Religious Leader Blasts Bush Visit to Raleigh

Former president George W. Bush is due in Raleigh this Wednesday to speak at a luncheon arranged by local Boy Scout and business organizers. Following is a commentary by the Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Rev. Dr. Copeland’s commentary was rejected by The Raleigh News and Observer and The Charlotte Observer. ~ Ray McGovern

As the proud parent of an Eagle Scout (Occoneechee Council), the announcement that Boy Scout organizers have invited former president George W. Bush to address the Scouts in the Raleigh area next week was a grave disappointment. In addition to being the parent of an Eagle Scout, I am also deeply invested in raising public awareness about the atrocities committed during the Bush administration when our country defiled itself by authorizing torture. Scouts are commended for their integrity, indeed promising to be "morally strong" each time they gather as a Troop. Torture is immoral.

This is particularly relevant for North Carolina, a state that played a large role in the U.S. torture program by allowing our airfields to be used to "render" people for torture abroad. The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture report four years ago has extensively documented these facts.

On the conscience of every North Carolinian should be the 48 men and one woman whose rendition missions were launched from our state. The youngest was 16 at the time of his CIA abduction, about the age some Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle. The woman was pregnant. The tortures visited on these prisoners were grim: severe beatings, prolonged painful stress positions, anal rape, sleep deprivation until psychological damage, and much more.

Here’s what we know about what happened in those years:

February 7, 2002: Bush issued an action memorandum authorizing torture. When its text was published, the New York Times editorialized: "The administration had decided to exempt itself from the Geneva Conventions and then spent months debating whether there was a legalistic way to justify what ordinary people would consider torture of prisoners."

September 6, 2006: On the very day Bush touted the effectiveness of what he called "enhanced Interrogation techniques," General John Kimmons, Chief of Army Intelligence, publicly stated: "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that."

December 11, 2008: The Senate Armed Services Committee concluded that it was President Bush himself who, by the Executive Memorandum of February 7, 2002, "opened the door" to the abuse that ensued. Conclusion Number One of the committee report states: "Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions . . . were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in US custody."

December 9, 2014: The Senate Intelligence Committee, basing its conclusions on original CIA documents, exposed CIA torture techniques such as "waterboarding" and "rectal hydration" in the 525-page Executive Summary of the heavily redacted study (Senate Report 288). The study found that "enhanced interrogation techniques" had not been effective; that the CIA’s claims to the contrary were "inaccurate"; and that "the interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others."

Our own Senator Richard Burr ordered all copies of the 6,700-page report returned to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he became its chairman in January 2015. Since then, there has been no effort to publish the full report, even with redactions. And torture coverup has been a bipartisan affair: President Obama fought tooth-and-nail to prevent publication of the Senate findings. He held none of the perpetrators to account, acknowledging simply: "We tortured some folks." We should hold Obama accountable for these events as well, perhaps keeping him away from the Scouts.

If George W. Bush comes to Raleigh on Wednesday, he will be surrounded by Secret Service agents and in no danger of legal jeopardy for torture. At the same time, he cannot risk traveling abroad without fear of arrest under the well-established principle of "universal jurisdiction." Bush narrowly avoided arrest in February 2011 at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, on a torture complaint. Scheduled to deliver a major speech, he abruptly canceled his trip after learning about the plans to arrest him. He is, in effect, a fugitive from justice, as it relates to universal jurisdiction abroad.

There is ample time for the Scout organizers to rescind the invitation. This would signal clear priority to the integrity of Scouting. Not to do so signifies endorsing the behavior of someone implicated in torture, a charge that occupies the same moral category (intrinsic evil) as rape and slavery.

The North Carolina Council of Churches has long been on record calling for full accountability from those involved in torture. Bush has shown no public remorse for his role. Acknowledging the wrongs of our past (confession) is the first crucial step to accepting forgiveness and working toward reconciliation. That’s a concept the Scouts can get behind.

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland is Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches.

24 thoughts on “North Carolina Religious Leader Blasts Bush Visit to Raleigh”

  1. Anyone who claims to have religion of any sort should refuse the Fascist Bush!

    May 22, 2022 George Bush Takes Prank Phone Call From Russian Comedians

    The International Criminal Court may not have caught up with George Bush yet, but a couple of comedian pranksters from Russia recently managed when they placed a phone call to the former President purporting to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the ensuing conversation Bush made some rather shocking admissions about U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine and provocative actions against Russia.

      1. Oh most assuredly I could go back a hundred years, and add more. They did miss Reagan’s contra shenanigans.

        Trump however, they missed entirely.

        The illegal invasion, and occupation of parts of Syria, establishing military bases there to bomb Syrian troops, civilians, and civilian infrastructure.

        The ongoing support for the illegal war in Yemen. With the support of US intel, and satellites, in air fueling, arms supply, logistics, and maintenance of military equipment, targeting of civilians, and civilian infrastructure. Including the incineration of 44 children in a clearly marked school bus hit by an American laser guided bomb.

        Trump earned his spot in the war criminal hall of infamy.

        1. My friend, that is a 6.5hr video.
          You’re going to have to tell me what it is you’re hinting at.

          1. Ah, no.
            I have enough podcasts to keep me busy when driving.
            Any video more than 5 minutes long better have Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift, and Ana de Armas in a threesome.

            Life is way too short to listen to the orange real estate hustler, and the circus midget that starves millions of people have a chin wag.

          2. @Gary Brown seriously dude?
            You downvoted me across several sites, then deleted your posts, and blocked me because of what I said about Trump?

            Not a good look bruv, not a good look.

          3. Brutal. Trumpkins don’t like criticism of their orange god. Gary Brown seems a little thin skinned.

          4. He literally illegally invaded another country, (Syria) bombed civilians, and civilian infrastructure, while fully supporting in every way another illegal war where war crimes were/are being carried out by the guys he armed, supplied munitions, intel, and targeting to…who slaughtered civilians.

            His own (and Obama’s lawyers said the same to him) lawyers told him would be considered a war criminal because of those two wars.

            That’s not peaceful. Sorry dude, but him, and Obama should be in a cell fighting over who gets top bunk.

        2. You should have also mentioned Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and sending a drone to kill Soleimani and cutting back on trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba.

      2. The list was before Trump’s term ended. Otherwise it would include what Trump did and what Biden is doing now. None of the presidents before Reagan are included. Carter urged the Russians to invade Afghanistan because he wanted it to be their Vietnam. Before I knew that, I believed Carter was a good man but not a good president. Now, I know he is a bad man and a bad president.

        1. He was just as corrupt as everyone else in DC.

          (Jan.1998) US history – “How Jimmy Carter I Started the Mujahideen” – Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor 1977-1981

          “Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs *From the Shadows*, that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

          Zbigniew Brzezinski Taliban Pakistan Afghanistan pep talk 1979

          In 1979 Carters National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski went into Pakistans border regions with Afghanistan to give a little pep talk to some prospective majehadeen (Holy Warriors).

  2. What kind of organization schedules a known torturer to speak? What kind of value is that to promote? How much further from a code of ethics can you get?

      1. The scouts should all go to the event in orange jumpsuits with oven mitts and blacked out goggles. Be prepared.

  3. I don’t disagree about Bush, but the notion that the Boy Scouts are some lofty organization filled with honor and integrity is risible considering the sheer number of sex abuse cases. And this from an organization that banned homosexuality! There’s a reason they accepted girls into the Boy Scouts and it wasn’t because they suddenly became “woke”. It’s because they are desperately trying to stay relevant.

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