He NAILS it!

Regular antiwar.com contributor Tom Engelhardt NAILS it – – – on Democracy Now! too.

Tom Engelhardt on “The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s” Here: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/18/afghan

Jane WAS Right!

After all these years, Jane WAS Right!

British political news has been consumed for the last several weeks by a formal inquiry into the illegality and deceit behind Tony Blair’s decision to join the U.S. in invading Iraq…. A major focus of the investigation is the illegality of the war. … –Remember the illegal destruction of Iraq?, By Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Friday, Jan 29, 2010 07:30 EST

The day of accountability is at hand. The International Criminal Court at the Hague has acknowledged receipt of Prof. Francis A. Boyle’s complaint… The Hague Acknowledges Francis Boyle On His Filing Against Bush et al For War-Crime: Extraordinary Rendition, Thu, 2010-01-28 18:08.

Another Iraq War Propaganda Nugget Bites the Dust

From the New York Times, March 14, 2002:

President Bush said today that he ”wouldn’t put it past” President Saddam Hussein of Iraq to have secretly held an American pilot hostage for more than a decade.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Bush indicated that he did not know for certain the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, a Navy fighter pilot who was shot down over Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The Pentagon, which initially declared Commander Speicher killed in action, changed his status last year to ”missing in action” based on new evidence that he survived the crash of his F-18 jet.

Recent intelligence reports described to members of Congress have bolstered hopes that Commander Speicher might be alive.

”Let me just say this to you: I know that the man has had an M.I.A. status, and it reminds me once again about the nature of Saddam Hussein, if in fact he’s alive,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush said Iraq’s refusal to account for the pilot reinforced his view of Mr. Hussein. He professed disbelief ”that anybody would be so cold and heartless as to hold an American flier for all this period of time without notification to his family.” But, Mr. Bush said, he ”wouldn’t put it past him, given the fact that he gassed his own people.”

From the NYT, March 26, 2002:

The Bush administration voiced deep skepticism today over a reported offer from Iraq to discuss the status of an American pilot who was shot down there in 1991.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today that Iraq’s supposed offer to discuss Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher had been reported only through news media outlets and not through formal channels between the countries.

”I don’t believe very much that the regime of Saddam Hussein puts out,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. ”They’re masters at propaganda.

He added, ”We’re not aware of any offer by the Iraqi government.”

From the NYT, Dec. 14, 1995:

A Pentagon team is on a secret mission to Iraq, searching the desert for the remains of the first American pilot downed in the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

The mission, undertaken with the approval of President Saddam Hussein, represents a small but potentially significant step in Iraq’s attempts to end its deep isolation. Since the end of the gulf war, Iraq has been an international pariah, subjected to strict economic sanctions.

Though the mission is under the leadership of the International Committee of the Red Cross, it represents the first official visit of American military officers to Iraq since the war’s end. American military and diplomatic officials acknowledged that the Iraqi Government had made a humanitarian gesture by allowing 11 American military officers to join 4 Red Cross officials on the search. …

The Red Cross notified Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and on March 1 the Iraqi Government approved the request that a Red Cross team with Pentagon personnel be allowed to search the site. After months of haggling over details of the mission, final approval came last month. Defense Department officials said they believed the request was personally approved by President Hussein.

American officials offered a very slight tip of the hat to Iraq today.

A State Department official called Iraq’s decision “a positive humanitarian gesture.” But he added: “They did the right thing, but they did it for reasons of self-interest. If they think it’s the first building block in a grand edifice of better relations, they need to think again.

Just as an aside, aren’t you glad the Clinton administration talked tough and kept this propaganda point alive?

From the NYT, today:

Navy officials announced early Sunday that Marines in Iraq’s western Anbar Province had found remains that have been positively identified as those of an American fighter pilot shot down in the opening hours of the first Gulf War in 1991.

The Navy pilot, Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, was the only American missing in action from that war. Efforts to determine what happened to him after his F/A-18 Hornet was shot down by an Iraqi warplane on Jan. 17, 1991, had continued despite false rumors and scant information.

Conflicting reports from Iraq had, over the years, fueled speculation that the pilot, promoted to captain in the years he was missing, might have been taken into captivity either after parachuting from his jet or after a crash landing.

But the evidence in Iraq suggests he did not survive and was buried by Bedouins shortly after he was shot down.

The Paradox of Law: The Past as Prologue

by Mario Rizzo


As an economist who has specialized in the economic analysis of law, I am quite frustrated by the statements of some commentators that the Obama Administration and the Congress should not look backwards in trying to uncover and/or prosecute member of the Bush Administration who may have been guilty of illegal actions, war crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions and so forth.


In a sense, the prosecution of any alleged criminal is pointless. The act is done – the past is irrevocable – so why not just look to the future and not let it happen again?


Life is not like that. The law looks backwards so that it won’t happen again – or, at least, that the chances that it will happen again are reduced. To wax philosophical for a moment: We live in time and there is continuity between the past, present and future.


With all of the advantages of power – especially secrecy – what are the incentives to keep the State in line? We have laws and treaty obligations. When they are violated, is it enough that those guilty merely be subject to public disapproval? We cannot vote Bush out of office. We cannot now impeach him. We cannot convict him in a trial before the Senate. Any Administration can avoid all of these things by keeping things covered up until they are out of office. So the incentive to secrecy is great. The power is there to accomplish it. So the “political system” can be prevented from doing its job of disciplining office holders.


So now what? If the Constitution and our laws have worth beyond the papers they are written on, there must be consequences. There must be investigations and prosecutions if warranted. There is no other option that can make the system honest.


People will say that there have been worse crimes than possibly approving torture, illegal wiretapping, etc. For example, there was the fire-bombing of Dresden during the Second World War – an act without justification except vengeance. (And I have not mentioned Harry Truman deeds.) But this is just evidence of what the government is capable of where there are no consequences.


More relevantly, there is the objection that an inquiry into the Bush Administration actions will split the country and cause unrest. My answer is simple. Americans need to know what went on if they are going to control their government in the future. If people argue about what the government has done and whether it was justified, then that is all to the good. It will take the place of discussions about Michelle Obama’s dresses, the first-dog, etc.


Finally, if we expose what was done and it is bad, then that exposure will give “ammunition” to our enemies.  First, the enemies almost certainly know more than the American people. (Perhaps they read the Washington Post or New York Times.) Second, we have bigger fish to fry: the integrity of our system of government. We can survive terrorist acts but we cannot survive the collapse of the rule of law. Third, we would not be simply exposing what when on but punishing it when appropriate. This is loyalty to great ideals. The world will notice.

What would that be like . . .

Marc Garlasco helped target laser-guided bombs during the Iraq invasion, and he claims in an NPR interview entitled “Assessing the Human Cost of Air Strikes in Iraq,” that the military does a careful calculation of how many innocent civilians will be killed for each bomb dropped. According to Garlasco, they’re VERY careful. If more than 29 innocent civilians are calculated to become “collateral damage,” they have to get White House approval.

What would that be like . . . .

FC [Field Commander]: Mr. President – we’ve got the 3rd highest ranking al’Qaeda commander in Iraq lined up in our sights, but if we bomb, we might kill more than 29 civilians. What should we do?

W [Dubya]: 3rd highest? Didn’t we already get him?

FC: Sir – this is the new, new 3rd highest in command.

W: Oh, well that sounds serious. I hate to butcher so many innocent Iraqis everyday. On the other hand, maybe that madman will someday muster the capacity to kill more than 29 people, so … let’s bring Dick in on this … Dick?

DC [Dick Cheney]: Look George, I thought we agreed that we were used to collaterally damaging Iraqi civilians by now, and that it’s worth it in our epic battle of good vs evil. After all, your predecessor set the precedent.

W: Huh?

DC: Remember the Leslie Stahl 60 Minutes interview with Madeline Albright?


DC: Where she said the death of 500,000 Iraqi children in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy was O.K.?

W: Ah, . . .

DC: Here, look at this video again – – –

W: Oh. Right. I guess if Clinton’s UN Ambassadors think 500,000 dead kids in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy is O.K. – – – – But don’t some of those Iraqis have families friends and loved ones who might turn into terrorists against us?

DC: No, they don’t. And anyway, remember, we agreed that all Iraqis are potential terrorists.

W: Oh yeah. Well go ahead FC. You have my authorization.

[Minutes pass]

FC: Sir – we obliterated the terrorist-nest village, but the madman seems to have escaped. Don’t worry, we’ll get him tomorrow. That’s one village that will never again harbor terrorists.

W: Weeee! Heck-of-a-job, FC! How many potential al’Qaeda recruits did we bring to justice?

DC: I’ve asked you before to stop asking that. Remember we aren’t supposed to keep count.

FC: Oops! They’re saying we targeted the wrong new 3rd highest in command. Apparently the real new 3rd isn’t in this part of the country. He was having a secret meeting with Condy.

W: Rat feathers! How many times have we missed like that?

DC: We don’t keep track of that either.

–And thanks to Fileman