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No One Should Be Above the Law

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Posted on Apr 25, 2007

Editor’s note: Veteran journalist and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., gave the following speech calling for impeachment.

George Bush has shredded, violated or absented America from its obligations under international law.  He has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, tried to kill the International Criminal Court, walked out on negotiations on chemical and biological weapons and defied the Geneva Convention and human rights law in the treatment of detainees.  Most egregiously, he launched an illegal war in Iraq based on fabricated evidence we now know had been discredited even before it was made public.

This president is guilty, in short, of what in legal circles is known as the “crime of aggression.”  And if we as citizens do not hold him accountable for these crimes, if we do not begin the process of impeachment, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that will have terrifying consequences.  For a world without treaties, statutes and laws is a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, will be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others.  This new order will undo five decades of international cooperation—largely put in place by the United States—and thrust us into a Hobbesian nightmare. 

We must not allow international laws and treaties—ones that set minimum standards of behavior and provide a framework for competing social, political, economic and religious groups and interests to resolve differences—to be discarded. The exercise of power without law is tyranny.  And the consequences of George Bush’s violation of the law, his creation of legal black holes that can swallow us along with those outside our gates, run in a direct line from the White House to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

George Bush—we now know from the leaked Downing Street memo—fabricated a legal pretext for war.  He decided to charge Saddam Hussein with the material breach of the resolution passed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.  He had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was in breach of this resolution.  And so he and his advisers manufactured reports of weapons of mass destruction and disseminated them to a frightened and manipulated press and public.  In short, he lied to us and to the rest of the world.  There are tens of thousands, perhaps a few hundred thousand people, who have been killed and maimed in Iraq because of a war that has no legal justification, a war waged in violation of international law.  The grief visited on American and Iraqi families demands that we as citizens begin the process to restore the rule of law.  The murderous rampages in Iraq demand this.  The torture done in our name demands this.  The empowerment of states that will act on our lawless example if we do not impeach George Bush and return to a world of standards demands this.  Simple human decency demands this. 

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A rule-based world matters.  The creation of these international bodies and rules, as well as the use of our influence over the last half-century to see they were followed, have allowed us to stand pre-eminent as a nation—one that respects and defends the rule of law.  If we demolish the fragile and delicate international order, if we permit George Bush to create a world where diplomacy, broad cooperation and the law are worthless, if we allow these international legal systems to unravel, we will see our moral and political authority plummet.  We will erode the possibility of cooperation between nation-states, including our closest allies, and see visited upon us the evils we visit on others.


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By M Currey, April 26, 2007 at 2:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When some people speak out they are shut up, one thing that comes to mind is this Gualini fellow who says that if a Democrat is ellected there will be a terrorist attack, what a stupid remark, like the terrorists think that a Democrat is so against war that they will just surrender, did not a Democrat President go to war, his name was Franklin Rosevelt.

This current administration is so much wanting to control this country that they will do anything.

Kind of like a Dictator running a country, in a corrupt government the military is the first to control the people and this country has never before been controlled by a military government, that is why this Bush/Chaney/Rice neocons must be taken to task, because the rest of the administration will be just dodge and weave, and maybe even steal the next election.

M.Currey

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By Verne Arnold, April 26, 2007 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

Well…I hear more and more talk about impeachment…besides Vermont, where is the action?
As I’ve suggested in the past; you can blame our leaders, but the ultimate responsibility is ours…at least as long as we are a democracy.  Lately I’ve had my doubts.  It seems more and more our “leaders” are sounding like and showing very Fascist like tendencies.
I have been away from the States for 4 years and just finished a 1 month visit to Oregon and Washington.  My fellow country-men and women are the wonderful and kind people I remember.  I just don’t understand why they have no sense of urgency about this administration’s policies.  These policies are 180 degrees from our historic and constitutional imperatives, not to mention laws; both domestic and International.
At 62 years old I have also never seen my fellow citizens so afraid and worse; making very bad decisions from those fears. 

Have we truly somehow been desensitized and disconnected from our truly world-class values?

Do we truly not know or care what the world thinks of us anymore?  Being an ex-pat I am able to see how many countries perceive us, by reading and listening, to their news and editorials.  I assure you…it is not good!

Some one said, “There IS one other super-power; it’s the rest of the world.”  I for one would not like to see us against the rest of the world. 

I hope we wake up and realize we may soon be the perceived “Devil and Axis of Evil” rolled into one.  I fear this is closer than we realize.  If the present administration is allowed to continue for another two years it will be too long and world opinion will tip completely against us.

The world is far too small for us to survive that reality.  One only needs to see the anti-U.S. alliances forming all around us.

Chris Hedges is completely and thoroughly right on and sees very clearly.  I hope he will be joined by the majority and we will become the hope of the world once again instead of the most feared nation in the world.

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By Michael Boldin, April 25, 2007 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

Absolutely right - no one is above the law, the US Constitution.  But, in waging war without a congressional declaration, the president did just that, on top of all the other legal violations mentioned by Chris Hedges.

The Constitution is clear - it says what the government CAN do, and the Bill of Rights says what it CANNOT do.

If we look at the activities this government engages in on a daily basis, we see continual violations of our rights.

If they just obeyed the constitution, our tax dollars wouldn’t be given away as “aid” to prop up foreign dictators, we wouldn’t have military bases in 100+ countries, no aggressive wars would be waged, and on and on and on.

Impeachment is the first step in demanding that the politicians follow the law - now, and in the future.

For additional reading on the law, read “Contract with America: Bill of Rights”

http://www.populistamerica.com/contract_with_america

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By desertdude, April 25, 2007 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

AMEN NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL AMERICANS TO WRITETHEIR SENATORS AND REPRASENTATIVES TO ASK FOR IMPEACHMENT. FLOOD THE CONGRESS WITH LETTERS SO THEY HAVE TO ACT.

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