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Life After Torture: Righteousness Can Still Overcome Evil to Achieve Justice for Bush Crimes

The stay-out-of-jail pass given to the perpetrators of accumulated evil under Bush is bound to expire.

Three years ago, Easter dawned on Crawford, Texas, for the many friends of justice and peace who were gathered there to celebrate new hope. 

Rev. Joseph Lowery gave an inspired message that morning, in what turned out to be a warm-up for his Benediction at the Inauguration of our new president in January 2009. 

Camp Casey that Easter 2006 was a relatively quiet occasion to reflect and celebrate new life and one another. The best known resident of Crawford had decided to avoid the crowd assembling there, opting instead to spend Easter at Camp David in the mountains of Maryland. There troublesome questioners could be kept farther away -- I mean people like Cindy Sheehan, who would not stop asking why our sons and daughters were being killed and maimed in an unnecessary war.

The previous summer Sheehan had become the Rosa Parks of Crawford, challenging the president to tell her what was the “noble cause” for which her son Casey died in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Sadly, we were not surprised that an answer-less president preferred clearing brush to clearing up what he meant by saying such deaths were “worth it.”

Ironically, President George W. Bush seemed supremely comfortable talking about evildoers -- other evildoers. We, in contrast, saw evil in the launching of what the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal labeled a “war of aggression,” defined as the “supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole.”

As I gathered with other pilgrims in Crawford those sad summers of 2005 and 2006, there was a strong sense of responsibility and determination to confront “the accumulated evil of the whole” -- particularly torture.

Presidential Sweat

In August 2006, the timid journalists of the western White House told us the president had sweat on his brow from clearing brush. And as we gathered one evening, someone quoted from the musical Camelot: “I wonder what the (self-styled) king is doing tonight; what merriment is the king pursuing tonight.”

With damning disclosures coming left and right about the torture procedures unleashed by that president, it seems a good guess that, rather than making merry, he was sweating the evenings away, as well. You see, President George W. Bush had left his fingerprints on accumulated evils for which he was likely eventually to be held accountable, in one way or another. And during the summer of 2006 the chickens were coming home to roost.

On June 29 of that year, in a 5 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration was wrong in denying detainees the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions.   Bush had done so by Executive Order of February 7, 2002. Don’t look for it in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM); simply Google it.

Worse still from Bush’s point of view, Justice Anthony Kennedy saw fit to say out loud the obvious; i. e., that disregarding Geneva amounts to a war crime. One Bush aide is reported to have gone quite pale when Kennedy warned that violations of Geneva “are considered ‘war crimes,’ punishable as federal offenses.”

So as we stood watch in Crawford in August 2006, Bush sweat was dripping not so much from clearing brush, but rather from a hasty effort to have the Republican-controlled Congress pass a law granting administration officials -- from Bush on down -- retroactive immunity from prosecution for the illegal detainment and abuse of detainees. That effort came to fruition in September when Democrats as well as Republicans acquiesced in passing the so-called “Military Commissions Act.”