By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

High crimes and misdemeanors

In my latest for The Guardian, I dismiss the notion — put forth by the dean of the Massachusetts School of Law — to put President Bush and other top officials on trial for war crimes. But if Nuremberg II isn’t the answer, surely there must be some way of holding him — and us — accountable for the past seven and a half years.

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  1. Anonymous

    I wish there was a way to stop Bush/Cheney et al. from PROFITING from their eight years in power. I mean, once they leave office, they will engineer multi-gazillion-dollar memoir deals, get on the boards of directors of megaconglomerate corporations, etc., and the money will just roll into their bank accounts. I wish there was a way to divert that megabucks pipeline back toward the huge PUBLIC deficits that they created.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    DK – there isn’t. Nor should there be.Would you have supported a hanging verdict for Truman for using that SECOND atomic bomb? For McNamara and Westmoreland who ACKNOWLEDGED deliberately lying?’Lying’ presupposes a certain level of deliberation, of malice aforethought. Did Bush look at intelligence on WMD’s and read it in the way that most clearly dovetailed with his own opinion? Absolutely. But is that a lie? If so, then Clinton, Kerry and dozens of others who ALSO believed the Iraqi bullies’ claims about weapons – and said so publicly – are equally complicit. Which is why they all refuse to act, even as they use those events to puff their own politicl careers with hypocritical indignation.One thing fascinates me. You’re a liberal kind of guy – why the obsession with looking backwards, with ‘closure’, with belated acknowledgement, amongst Democrats? When we lost in ’92, we immediately began to scheme how to get back the White House and Congress, and did so with Gingrich. We did NOT wander the earth demanding validation that the Clinton economic boom was based on the end of a recession that had already begun when GHWB left office, and demand that be recognized. If we lose in ’08, we’ll begin on ’12 before Christmas no matter how close the vote was.For a party continually blathering about the future – and not much else – it’s just odd.

  3. Don, American

    Might I suggest a BIG “thank you” for keeping this nation safe from terrorist attacks, and for trying to keep God alive. Not impeachment, gratitude. God bless America.

  4. man who distrusts authority

    God damn it, I wrote a nicely-worded argument TWICE and Firefox mysteriously closed the window before I could submit it both times. Grrr…Peter: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The GOP resurgence in 1994 led directly to the political polarization that has been so amazingly destructive to the United States…both in real and metaphysical terms.And remember…that polarization is now driving people to demand a violent swing to the left, in a misguided attempt to achieve “balance”. Liberal as I am, I’m not foolish enough to believe that a left-wing government won’t be any less destructive than a right-wing one.However, while I agree with Dan’s point that Democrats are just as complicit as Republicans in all that ails us, I would argue strongly for the Nuremberg treatment for everyone who’s had a desk in the White House since 2000. In fact, perhaps since 1992 (or even 1980) since so many of the problems we face today have their genesis in Reagan and Clinton policies. Give ’em all a fair trial and then up with the rope. On live, national TV…every channel. Make it impossible for anyone over 18 not to watch; we have a participatory democracy, after all.Why? Simple – it is absolutely essential that a government be reminded…and often…that they must fear their citizens. That they rule at our discretion, rather than we serving at theirs.Take France, for example. As inefficient as the French system is, there is far more to admire than to scorn. Certainly moreso than our own system of government and society. Lifetime employment, truly family-friendly policies, excellent health care, true work-life balance…the list goes on and on. After all, for all the damning testimony of how awful their economy is…it’s still the fourth largest in the world (perhaps soon to be third the way the euro and the dollar are moving…heh,heh) And if there’s ONE thing the French know how to do, it’s distrust their leaders. They remove governments at the drop of a hat…and until pretty recently, the removal was done with a guillotine. The French don’t f**k around when it comes to reminding their elected officials who’s boss.And certainly the Bush era has demonstrated that there is no such thing as a “reasonable alternative” for the executive branch. Either Bush wins or you lose – nothing else will be accepted; classic bully behavior, I might add. And we all know, there’s only one way to deal with a bully: force them into a situation they cannot bully their way out of. Apparently arrest at gunpoint and a date with a rope is the extreme that must be taken to ensure that they don’t bully their way out of responsibility.And it’s hard to argue with the deterrence factor of seeing an ex-President swinging from a noose on national TV. You think John McCain or Barack Obama aren’t going to think twice about being the slimeballs Bush (and Clinton) have been when they know they can be executed for it before the drapes have even been changed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?One might argue that, as a country, “we’re better than that”. I argue, it’s because we’re a better country that we MUST do that.

  5. Neil

    Don if God needs George Bush and Dick Cheney’s help to stay alive then we (and She) are in more trouble than we think. I do feel safe now from those Iraqi terrorists so, no impeachment for them. Besides, Bush would probably decline the invitation anyway, not interested in following in the footsteps of his less bellicose predecessor. Impeachment should remain reserved for such grave affronts as lying about blow jobs, and not be wielded casually for every triviality that comes along such as leading us into war under false pretenses. We are a nation of morals after all.

  6. The King Of Music

    Of course Truman and his criminal cohorts should have been prosecuted for their war crimes, is that supposed to be a trick question or something? But it’s too late for them, that’s no excuse to not try the criminals we still have. Dan, a slick bit of logical slight of hand – having dismissed war crime trials, now what? But you are simply wrong to dismiss them. Why not believe the legal experts? You like the way Gonzales and Yoo think better? Shame, shame, shame!

  7. Dunque

    France, a dying country, held up as an example of what we should be. Alice in Wonderland stuff.

  8. Sue

    I certainly think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Alberto Gonzales, at the very least, should be tried for war crimes. Brattleboro, VT has already passed a measure directing their municipal attorney to investigate charging Bush and Cheney with war crimes, and someone in Kennebunkport, Maine, where the Bushes have a summer home, is doing the same. So are we, here in San Francisco. I will not go into the details here, but suffice it to say that the Chileans and the Spanish started to go after Augusto Pinochet, and that the World Court has prosecuted others for their atrocities in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Elsewhere, African strongmen and others are being held responsible for their crimes against humanity. Should Truman have been charged with war crimes? We would certainly be talking about that if he were living and leading now and had attacked Iran or Iraq — especially if he used nuclear weapons.

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