War Criminal at Bay

President George Bush, betrayed by the neoconservatives
whom he elevated to power and by his Attorney General,

Torture Gonzales
who gave him wrong legal advice, is
locked in a desperate struggle with the Republican
Congress to save himself from war crimes charges at the
expense of America`s reputation and our soldiers` fate.

Beguiled by neoconservatives, who told him that the
virtuous goals of the American empire justified any
means, and misled by an incompetent Attorney General,
who told him that the President of the US is above the
law, Bush was deceived into committing war crimes under
Article 3 of the Geneva Convention and the US War Crimes
Act of 1996. Bush is now desperately trying to save
himself by having the US Congress retroactively repeal
both Article 3 and US law. 

Under the US Constitution retroactive law is without
force, but desperate men will try anything.  

President Bush has given no thought to the impact on
America`s reputation of his strident campaign to write
torture into US law.  He has given no thought to what
saving himself means for captured US troops if the US
government guts Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.  

How could he care?  This is the same president who
prevented the world from intervening to stop Israel`s
slaughter of Lebanese civilians.  This is the same
president who describes tens of thousands of slaughtered
Iraqi and Afghan civilians as "collateral damage." 
What sort of war is it when civilian casualties far out
number casualties among combatants?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was used by
Bush to lie to the UN in order to create a pretext for
Bush`s illegal invasion of Iraq, denounced Bush`s
attempt to repeal Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. 
Powell said Bush`s proposal causes the world to

"doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism"

and will "put our own troops at risk." 
Republican senators John McCain, John Warner, and
Lindsey Graham agree with Powell, although their arms
may yet be twisted out of their sockets.

Bush`s claim that America cannot fight the "war on
without employing torture is just another
Bush lie.  It is a known fact that torture produces
unreliable information.  Torture can make people talk
but it cannot make them give reliable information. 

Very few of the tens of thousands of "suspects"
that the US has detained are guilty of anything.  We
know this because the US Iraqi Command says that 18,700
Iraqis have been released since June 2004. US officers
told the International Red Cross that 70 to 90 percent
of the Iraqi detentions were "mistakes." (See
Associated Press reporter Patrick Quinn, September 17,
war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000

Most of these mistakes were people who were simply
pulled out of their beds or grabbed off streets as
"suspected insurgents,"
victims of military sweeps
akin to the KGB street sweeps of the Stalin era, which
resulted in so many Soviet citizens disappearing into
the Gulag. Others were sold to naive Americans by
warlords who collected a bounty for turning in

When innocent people are tortured they invent
information in order to stop the pain. Sometimes they
settle a score with a personal enemy or someone they
dislike by giving their name.  People who experienced
Soviet torture and survived say they tried to remember
names of deceased persons to identify as "enemies of
the state."

An actual terrorist or insurgent who believes in his
cause is not going to give accurate information. If his
torturers demand information on a pending attack, he
will give the wrong location.  If they demand the
identities of his group, he will give the wrong names.
He is worth very little as an information source,
because his colleagues, aware that he is captured or
missing, will change plans and arrangements.

The US military has not learned anything from torturing
detainees and continues to lose the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan despite its widespread use of torture. 

Lying is now a full time occupation for US military
spokespersons as well as for President Bush. Lt. Col.
Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for US military detainee
operations in Iraq says that every detainee " is
detained because he poses a security threat to the
government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition
  President Bush says,

"These are enemy combatants who are waging war on our

Someone needs to tell Bush and Lt. Col. Curry that what
they allege cannot be true if 70-90 percent of detainees
are mistaken detentions and if 18,700 detainees have
been released in the last 14 months.

Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi is a good
example.  He languished in detention limbo for 20 months
without charges and without apology when released.  

Many studies have concluded that people who go into
interrogation and police work are bullies who like to
exercise power and to hurt people.  Bush is willing to
make such people even less accountable in order to
protect himself from war crimes charges.

If Bush were a real man, he would fire Gonzales and the
neocons.  He would say he was given bad advice and
regrets that he didn`t know better than to follow it. 
He would order closed all the secret prisons, end the
illegal policy of rendition, and order that all US
military detention facilities be run in strict
accordance with the Geneva Conventions. 

This would serve Bush and America`s reputation far
better than his attempt to legalize torture.



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.