Bush has published and is promoting Decision Points, his new book, just released, and one may suspect, designed to absolve him from responsibility for a number of accused war crimes and immoral conduct during his presidency. Some Congressional members have suggested that a full investigation may be in order. We should review some of the matters that a full investigation might include.
In the days following the destruction of the World Trade center, in New York City, by unknown terrorists, the president made a determination to strike Iraq, this determination linked in the minds of most Americans to that September attack. Iraq was found to have little or no involvement with the attack. Among Bush’s arguments in support of a preemptive strike was his avowal of the presence in Iraq, he said, of “weapons of mass destruction”, including nuclear weaponry. The Western Alliance sent inspectors to that sovereign nation with full authority to inspect any area of Iraq, whenever they chose. They uncovered no weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi Air Force was, as shown in satellite surveillance photos, buried in the desert. At Bush’s insistence, the strike went forward, never-the-less.
The President believed weapon-grade uranium was being purchased by Iraq from Africa. The CIA investigated the allegation, sending an operative, Joseph Wilson, to Africa to fully substantiate or refute the claim. Wilson’s investigation proved the claims were false. When the President sought to suppress the indications of the investigation, career diplomat Joseph Wilson, on his return from Africa, and in the awareness that his findings were being ignored, came forward bringing the results of the investigation directly to the American people. He wrote a letter directly to The New York Times. Infuriated, G W Bush sought to punish Wilson by exposing and endangering Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame. Iraq had no nuclear capacity, weapon grade, or otherwise.
In February of 2006, The President sought to turn six American Ports over to Dubai, an area which gives refuge to terrorists, and recognizes Al Quada. We can only speculate on his reasoning. He attempted to make this change while congress was on break. The United Arab Emirates, in which Dubai is located, in one of only three nations to consider the Taliban to be the ruling government of Afghanistan.
Bush, following the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, which involved massive bombing and ruinous artillery barrages, had to choose a company to go into the devastated areas and to rebuild. Bush and his administration chose Halliburton Industries, the Presidential family corporation. Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries in 1998. Dresser had been founded by Solomon Dresser in 1880, and taken over in 1928 by W.H. Harriman & Company, an investment bank owned by the descendants of railroad magnate E.H. Harriman, himself a front for the British Royal Family. Under Averell and Roland Harriman, Dresser was a Skull & Bones shop, whose board included Bonesman and presidential father and grandfather Prescott Bush – Yale University, class of 1917. Dick Cheney the Vice-President under George W. Bush, personally negotiated the purchase of Dresser Industries. Cheney is a past CEO of Halliburton.
During May of 2006, General Michael Vincent Hayden, of the CIA, was associated with questionable warrantless surveillance on Americans, and was also associated with detention facilities; secret prisons, used for rendition of terror suspects. In spite of actions in Congress toward censure, the administration continued to ignore traditional values and existing laws, and tracked phone calls, numbering in the millions, in concert with the “war on terror.” During that period, USA Today disclosed the existence of the massive domestic intelligence-gathering program. The effort began soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The agency collected call records on tens of millions of personal and business telephone calls made in the United States.
On October 5, 2007, President Bush responded to an uproar in Congress over disclosure of formal opinions within the Bush Justice Department permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Bush said, “This government does not torture people.” He then went on to clarify: “I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to better protect the American people. And when we find somebody who may have information regarding a potential attack on America, you bet we’re going to detain them, and you bet we’re going to question them, because the American people expect us to find out information – actionable intelligence - so we can help protect them. That’s our job.” President Bush declared that interrogation methods had been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.”
In two separate legal opinions written in 2005, the Justice Department under Bush authorized the C.I.A. to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures. It was speculated that the actual practices extended far beyond the limits described by the president. We may consider the case of one suspected supporter of al Qaeda, German Murat Kurnaz. Kurnaz was tortured. For nine months he was kept permanently under a bright light round the clock. This light was never switched off. Kurnaz has said he suffered abuse at Guantanamo; interrogation techniques including sexual humiliation, water torture and the desecration of Islam.
Torture that seems to go far beyond the president’s description has long been reported at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At one point it was reported that although news reports indicated that the “stink should soon be ending”, inmates were attempting suicide at an unprecedented rate. The UN Committee Against Torture said the US should release detainees or give them access to a judicial process. In December of 2006, a lawsuit was filed by two civil rights groups that would hold then American Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, under Bush, personally responsible for allegations of torture in overseas military prisons. The lawsuit describes the imprisonment of nine foreigners detained in Iraq and Afghanistan. It contends the men were beaten, suspended upside down from the ceiling by chains, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked inside boxes and subjected to mock executions.
The United States was criticized by human rights groups and some of its allies for holding an estimated 450 foreign guerrilla suspects at the naval base in Cuba, many for four years or more and without charge. There suspects were held without trial, unadvised of their charges and subjected to torture. Early in the Iraq war, one detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani, was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, forced to wear women’s underwear, and perform “dog tricks” on a leash, for 18 to 20 hours/day, for 48 of 54 days.
The UN Torture Committee recommended the closing of the facility at Guantanamo Bay, recommending that all secret US detention facilities abroad, which would include Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, should be closed. It called for “immediate measures” to eradicate torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US military personnel “in any territory under its jurisdiction”. A similar report from a committee of the European Parliament drew similar conclusions. It accused Poland and 10 other countries of being complicit in the CIA’s practice of rendition and other operations in which terrorism suspects were taken to countries where they likely would face torture.