Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Preemptive Pardon

We were talking at a meeting of the minds breakfast this morning and the issue of establishing a truth commission came up. You know, something like occured in South Africa or in Guatemala. Of course, we were not talking about the crimes against humanity that were perpetrated by the South African government or the crimes of the Guatemalan military, we were talking about the war crimes committed by the Bush Cheney Administration.

As you might imagine, such a Commission against the administration was established back in 2006. Here is part of their Charter.

When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

That is the mission of the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity. This tribunal will, with care and rigor, present evidence and assess whether George W. Bush and his administration have committed crimes against humanity.(clip)

The tribunal will deliberate on four categories of indictable crimes:

1) Wars of Aggression, with particular reference to the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

2) Torture and Indefinite Detention, with particular reference to the abandonment of international standards concerning the treatment of prisoners of war and the use of torture.

3) Destruction of the Global Environment, with particular reference to systematic policies contributing to the catastrophic effects of global warming.

4) Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights, with particular reference to the genocidal effects of forcing international agencies to promote “abstinence only” in the midst of a global AIDS epidemic. more

Of course, this Commission has no real authority. But as this Dec 24th piece in Al Ahram shows, the prosecution of this Administration's War Crimes is still very much on the minds of many global citizens who have watched the last eight years with the same horror and dismay as our brunch group.

Several advocated this morning that much like the 2006 Commission Charter states, "people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. "

The truth is though, this simply will not happen. And if it did , the Right Wing of this country will go Postal.

So what should people of conscience do?

Just as important, how should the new administration actually deal with the negative international sentiment that the Bush Cheney years have created?

At first, I suggested that Obama should simply issue a preemptive pardon for their acts. It's very hard to argue that you have done nothing wrong if the President pardons you. Even if you haven't been convicted, it must have been eminent or likely.
But this was not enough for the group, not nearly enough. As we continued to debate the practical realities of the creation of a Truth Commission with real authority, most agreed it just won't happen in this country. Still, a Presidential pardon for unprosecuted and unrepented crimes just wasn't doing it for them.

So we added this.

President Obama should not only pardon Bush, Cheney, and their collaborators, he should do something physical, something that serves as a Global signal that indeed, real change in the United States has occurred.

President Obama, we more or less agreed, should raze Abu Ghraib prison, and have its broken, pulverized pieces rebuilt into a monument for human decency and respect. He should announce that Guantanamo will not only be closed, it will never be used as a prison again.
He must tell the world that the time of torture, and illegal renderings, and the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive War has no place in our National soul.
A preemptive pardon may or may not stop the international community from putting these folks in the light of truth in whatever venue might be appropriate, be it the ICC or some other authority. And it shouldn't.
But it will tell the world that we know we did wrong.
And perhaps subsequently,
We can forgive ourselves,
And we can begin to focus
on the important work ahead.
That's CHANGE we can all believe in.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be interesting if Bush issued pardons for ever one in his Administration, leaving Obama to deal only with Bush?

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the creative idea of razing Guantanamo and building a monument to human rights. But that is not enough.

We must do something like the truth commission and if that means acting with the International Court of Justice, then we should.

Let the right go Postal! They are out of office and it is high time they learn that there are consequences for their actions and ideologies.

The American people have got to show that they have a spine - they set by idly over the last 8 years and let these atrocities happen without taking a single action!

This administration should have its Nuremberg! And the people of America should issue an apology for refusing to act.


4:42 PM  

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