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GEORGE BUSH PLANS HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS:
Why We Are Marching on October 26th
By Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
[The authors, attorneys and co-founders of the Partnership
for Civil Justice - LDEF, are members of the national
steering committee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop
War & End Racism) Coalition.]
George W. Bush has declared his intention to wage a
'preemptive' war against Iraq and is now seeking to
strong-arm the international community, the U.N., and the
Congress into support and submission. As members of
Congress rush to show their obedience and member states of
the U.N. line up to receive the anticipated spoils of war,
the administration is now waging a campaign to convince
the people of the United States to fall into step and
finance with money and blood this war brought for conquest
on behalf of the corporate and oil interests that make up
Bush's true constituency.
Bush's preemptive war is a war of aggression. The U.S.
policy supporting the war is not the rule of law, but the
rule of force.
But no U.N. resolution and no Congressional resolution can
legalize an illegal war. With pen to paper and votes of
support, they can only commit to wilful ratification,
complicity and responsibility for illegal acts by
endorsing a criminal enterprise.
A war of aggression violates the United States
Constitution, the United Nations Charter, and the
principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal. It violates the
collective law of humanity that recognizes the
immeasurable harm and unconscionable human suffering when
a country engages in wars of aggression to advance its
government's perceived national interests.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY:
BLUEPRINT FOR GLOBAL EMPIRE
On September 20, 2002, the Bush Administration issued its
blueprint for global domination and ceaseless military
interventions, in its comprehensive policy statement
entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United
The National Security Strategy sets forth the U.S.
military-industrial complex's ambition for the U.S. to
remain the world's superpower with global political,
economic and military dominance. The stated policy of the
U.S. is "dissuading military competition" (See source I)
and preventing any other world entity or union of states
"from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing,
or equaling, the power of the United States." (See source
The strategic plan elevates free trade and free markets to
be "a moral principle . . . real freedom" (See source III)
and endorses a comprehensive global conquest strategy
utilizing the World Trade Organization, the Free Trade Act
of the Americas, the International Monetary Fund, the
World Bank, among other mechanisms.
The Washington Post reports that the National Security
Strategy gives the United States "a nearly messianic role"
in its quest for global dominance. (See source IV)
The National Security Strategy confirms and elaborates
what was reflected in the January 2002 Nuclear Posture
Review, that the Bush Administration maintains a policy of
preemptive warfare contemplating the use of
non-conventional weapons of mass destruction as a first
strike measure. (See source V)
TURNING LOGIC ON ITS HEAD
Bush's preemptive war policy is a war without just cause.
Under international law and centuries of common legal
usage, a preemptive war may be justified as an act of self
defense only where there exists a genuine and imminent
threat of physical attack.
Bush's preemptive war against Iraq doesn't even purport to
preempt a physical attack. It purports to preempt a threat
that is neither issued nor posed. Iraq is not issuing
threats of attack against the United States. It is only
the United States which threatens war.
It is not a war for disarmament. It is the U.S. which has
stockpiled nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It is
the U.S. which is directly threatening to use these
weapons against another country. It is the U.S. which has
bombed Iraq relentlessly for more than ten years, killing
scores of innocent civilians.
The Bush Administration turns logic on its head, twisting
reality in order to create the pretext for its war of
aggression. The Administration claims that the necessary
prerequisite of an imminent threat of attack can be found
in the fact that there is no evidence of an imminent
threat, and therefore the threat is even more sinister as
a hidden threat. The lack of a threat becomes the threat,
which becomes cause for war.
By the U.S. Government's own claims, it destroyed 80% of
Iraq's weapons capability in the earlier Gulf War, and
subsequently destroyed 90% of the remaining capacity
through the weapons inspections process. There has been no
evidence that Iraq is capable of an attack on the U.S.,
let alone possessing the intention of carrying out such an
BUSH'S PROPOSED WAR AND CURRENT THREATS VIOLATE THE U.S.
CONSTITUTION, THE U.N. CHARTER AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
Bush's preemptive war policy and proposed attack on Iraq
cannot be justified under any form of established law.
The preemptive war policy and Bush's threatened new
military assault on Iraq violates U.S. domestic law and
international law. The warmongering, preparations for war,
and threats of violence coming from Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld, Rice and other White House and Pentagon hawks,
are in and of themselves violations of international law
and constitute crimes against peace.
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution establishes that
ratified treaties, such as the U.N. Charter, are the
"supreme law of the land."
The Article 1 of the U.N. Charter establishes
"The purposes of the United Nations are . . . To maintain
international peace and sovereignty, and to that end: to
take effective collective measures for the prevention and
removals of threats to the peace, and for the suppression
of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and
to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with
the principles of justice and international law,
adjustment or settlement of international disputes or
situations which might lead to a breach of the peace . .
Article 2 states that all member states "shall act in
accordance with the following Principles"
". . . All members shall settle their international
disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that
international peace and security, and justice, are not
"All members shall refrain in their international
relations from the threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity or political independence of any
state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the
Purposes of the United Nations . . ."
Under this framework, acts of aggression, such as Bush's
threatened attack, are to be suppressed and force is used
only as a last and unavoidable resort.
The U.N. Charter was enacted in 1945 in the aftermath of
the devastation and suffering of World War II. The Charter
was enacted to bring an end to acts of aggression, "to
save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which
twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to
Disputes which might lead to a breach of the peace are
required to be resolved *by peaceful means.*
Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, "Pacific Settlement of
Disputes," requires countries to "first of all, seek a
resolution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation,
conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to
regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means
of their own choice."
NO RESOLUTION BY THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL CAN LEGALIZE A
PREEMPTIVE WAR OR FIRST STRIKE PLAN
Bush has asked the U.N. Security Council to support
execution of Bush's policy of a potentially nuclear
"preemptive" war, as if that Council could endorse a war
of aggression. The Security Council lacks the legal
authority to grant such permission. The Security Council,
by affirmative vote or by acquiescence to U.S. policy,
cannot abrogate its own mandate. No collective action by
the fifteen permanent and temporary members of the
Security Council can lawfully violate the Charter which is
the sole source of their collective authority.
This is made clear in the U.N. Charter itself, which
provides in Article 24, that "In discharging these duties
the Security Council *shall act in accordance with the
Purposes and Principles of the United Nations*."
While there are, of course, procedures by which collective
use of force may be authorized by the Security Council to
maintain or restore international peace and security
(Articles 41 and 42) those procedures may not be used to
endorse aggression in violation of the primary purposes of
the U.N. Charter. Article 51 of the U.N. Charter
acknowledges the right to self-defense ?if an armed attack
occurs against a Member of the United Nations until the
Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain
international peace and security." None of the provisions
allow for authorization for Bush's war plans and first
strike strategies. Any resolution authorizing a preemptive
war of aggression is *ultra vires*, or null and void as
beyond the authority of the Council to enact.
The very issuance of the Bush doctrine of preemptive
warfare and also the threat to wage war against Iraq are,
each, a violation of international law as a crime against
peace, which is defined in the Nuremberg Charter as the
"Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international
treaties, agreements or assurances."
RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAR CRIMES
Neither Congress nor the President has the right to engage
the U.S. in a war of aggression and any vote of
endorsement, far from legalizing or legitimizing global
war plans, serves only as ratification of war crimes.
Under the principles of universal accountability
established at Nuremberg, "The fact that a person who
committed an act which constitutes a crime under
international law acted as Head of State or responsible
Government official does not relieve him from
responsibility under international law." (See source VI)
The execution of economic sanctions by the Bush I, Bush II
and Clinton Administrations, which has caused the deaths
of over one million people, primarily children and their
grandparents, is likewise sanctionable as a crime against
humanity under the Nuremberg Charter and under the
International Criminal Court Statute as "the intentional
infliction of conditions of life, . . . the deprivation of
access of food to medicine, calculated to bring about the
destruction of a part of a population. (See source VII)
The Bush Administration has rejected the International
Criminal Court treaty signed by over 130 countries. This
rejection is an admission of the administration's
consciousness of guilt and of criminal intentions. The
Bush administration acts with a conscious disregard of
humanitarian laws and a stated intention to avoid
accountability for their crimes under international law
prohibiting crimes against the peace, war crimes and
crimes against humanity. The National Security Strategy
promulgated by the Bush administration states that the
United States "will take the actions necessary to ensure
that our efforts to meet our global security commitments
and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential
for investigations, inquiry or prosecution by the
International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction
does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept."
(See source VIII)
ENDLESS WAR, AGGRESSION AND TERROR
Once this policy of preemptive wars of aggression is
invoked by the Bush Administration to justify unprovoked
attacks against the centers of population in Iraq, the
doctrine will be used by the hawks in the administration
time and time again, and will also be adopted by nations
and individuals internationally as a justification for the
preemptive use of catastrophic violence against centers of
population worldwide. The legitimization of preemptive
wars of aggression will be used to justify attacks against
U.S. centers of population, and will bring greater violent
retribution upon the cities and people of the United
States for actions that the government is taking in their
names, without their informed consent.
The risk of suffering harm because of this doctrine is, of
course, not distributed equally among all residents of the
United States. Those who will lose their lives fighting in
wars of aggression will be the young, disproportionately
persons of color, and those who must enlist in the U.S.
military because of bleak economic opportunity. Those who
derive their wealth and security from the transactions of
war, from increased oil profits caused by global
instability or conquest of oil rich regions, and from the
constant re-building and re-arming necessary to conduct
endless wars against countless peoples premised on
imperceptible threats -- they will have the means to
acquire seclusion, protection and greater safety.
Preemptive war will not stop with Iraq. Constant military
interventions worldwide are necessary to enforce Bush?s
stated policy of global economic, political and military
domination. Just four days after the September 11th
attacks, the CIA presented its "Worldwide Attack Matrix"
identifying scores of countries that the CIA wanted
permission to attack. Bush approved the CIA wish list, and
authorized immediate covert and lethal CIA operations in
over sixty nations. (See source IX)
TAKING TO THE STREETS
As the U.S. moves at breakneck pace in execution of its
stated policy of global domination and overt military
interventions, the need for the people to take action is
Congress will not stop this policy of aggressive warfare
and global domination. Many in Congress are well served
with the tithing of the war profiteers and their corporate
sponsors who see U.S. military domination as a way to
enforce their interests, to exploit human labor at
starvation wages overseas and to drive down wages
domestically, to mine vast sources of environmental
resources globally, and to impose and expand the reach of
their "free" markets.
The U.S. Constitutional framework provides that,
regardless of who temporarily holds office, all power
remains in the hands of the people. It is time now for the
people to take the reins of power back from those who have
stated their intention to act in violation of all laws
that humankind has struggled to create to end global
conflagration and prohibit wars of aggression.
When law will not restrain the government, the people
must. We must take to the streets in mass numbers in
organized and spontaneous acts of resistance. The message
must be clearly conveyed that if the Bush administration
refuses to be accountable to U.S. domestic law, to the
U.N. Charter, to international law, to all known standards
of just conduct, then the people of conscience within the
United States will rise up to demand accountability. And
the message must be sent that the people of the U.S. will
not allow the Bush administration to spend the blood of
the people of the United States and the people of Iraq who
are not our enemies, in a needless war for oil.
The authors, Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard,
constitutional law and human rights lawyers, are the
co-founders of the Partnership for Civil Justice Legal
Defense and Education Fund, a public interest legal
organization in Washington, D.C., and authors of the
forthcoming book "Empire at Home: George W. Bush and John
Ashcroft v. the Bill of Rights."
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Partnership for Civil Justice LDEF
1901 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
For a formatted, printable version of this article, go to
(acrobat reader required)
To join the OCTOBER 26 NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC &
joint action in San Francisco to Stop the War Against Iraq
Before It Starts, and to learn more about anti-war
resources, visit http://www.InternationalANSWER.org and
see below for more information.
for "George Bush Plans High Crimes and Misdemeanors"
I) National Security Strategy of the United States,
September 2002, page 29.
II) National Security Strategy of the United States,
September 2002, page 30.
III) National Security Strategy of the United States,
September 2002, page 18.
IV) Karen DeYoung and Mike Allen, The Washington Post,
"Bush Shifts Strategy from Deterrence to Dominance,"
September 21, 2001, A1.
V) Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, "U.S. Nuclear Arms
Stance Modified by Policy Study," March 23, 2002, A14;
Thomas E. Ricks and Vernon Loeb, The Washington Post,
"Bush Developing Military Policy of Striking First," June
10, 2002, A1.
VI) Principle III, Principles of International Law
Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in
the Judgment of the Tribunal (Adopted by the International
Law Commission of the United States, 1950).
VII) International Criminal Court Statute, Article 7,
VIII) National Security Strategy of the United States,
September 2002, page 31.
IX) Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, The Washington Post, "At
Camp David, Advice and Dissent," January 31, 2002, A1; Bob
Woodward, The Washington Post, "President Broadens
Anti-Hussein Order," June 16, 2002, A1.
Momentum is building for the October 26 National March in
Washington DC & joint action in San Francisco.
For the growing list of ENDORSERS, go to
BUSES, VANS and CAR CARAVANS are coming to DC from a
growing list of cities:
HELP GET THE WORD OUT! Download flyer at:
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Oct. 26 email
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-332-5757 or
Send replies to email@example.com
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