Impeach Bush Coalition
A United Coalition of Bloggers for the Impeachment of George W. Bush

From The Brouhaha: Part 2: Impeach Bush Under the War Crimes Act of 1996

Monday, September 26, 2005
(From RenaRF - Part 2 from The Brouhaha. Check out the posting of it on Daily Kos. It was on the recommended list over the weekend and got some good comments as well.)

James Madison felt that impeachment could arise not only from criminal acts but also grave breaches of the public trust. In this post, I'll discuss a few of these breaches, but most importantly, I'll discuss the law under which George Bush may be impeached: The War Crimes Act of 1996.

First, for those of you who aren't familiar with the law, I'll post the text of the War Crimes Act.

War Crimes Act of 1996 (as amended)

18 U.S.C. § 2441. War crimes

(a) Offense.--Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

(b) Circumstances.--The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such breach or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

(c) Definition.--As used in this section the term 'war crime' means any conduct--

(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non- international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

As you can see, any violation of the Geneva Conventions is considered a war crime under this law. It can be argued that since the Geneva Conventions uphold the UN charter's assertion that every state has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of any state that the entire war of aggression against Iraq is in violation of the War Crimes Act. After all, the US invasion of Iraq was an unprovoked attack on another sovereign nation. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression and violation of UN sanctions, however, this argument isn't enough to prove the crime. What is needed is a specific example of a violation.

We find such an example in the 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah. During this attack, one of the first targets attacked was the local hospital. The reason given for this by the Pentagon was that US forces didn't want doctors at the hospital reporting "inflated" casualty numbers. The Geneva protocols are very clear on the status of hospitals.

From Article 18, Geneva Conventions, 12 August 1949: Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.

Hospitals may only be attacked if attacks are being staged from them. The Pentagon's reasoning of "inflated casualty figures" does not qualify as a reason to attack the facility. The most likely reason for this attack was to make it impossible for wounded insurgents to receive medical care, another violation of the Geneva protocols.

A doctor from the hospital, Dr. Salih al-Isawwi confirms this. "The American troops takeover of the hospital was not right because they thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance, but they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the militants. " During the attack on the hospital, it was pounded by gunfire from helicopters and when US Marines arrived on the scene, they handcuffed doctors and sick patients alike, forcing them to the ground.

Doctors in the Fallujah hospital talk of being kept by armed soldiers from emergency vehicles, which in itself is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Other stories include lights being shot out in hospitals and sick patients being interrogated by US military personnel.

The Geneva protocols also forbid photographing and humiliating prisoners. The pictures from Abu Ghraib and other facilities show violation after violation of this protocol. Indeed, the very interrogation methods promoted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez were given the government's seal of approval only after they resorted to absurd legal language identifying prisoners as "enemy combatants" and not true "prisoners of war." This sort of flimsy language does not hold up under the Geneva protocols, and violations of those protocols are violations of the War Crimes Act.

Many people make the case that the Bush Administrations lies to Congress and the American people about Iraq's weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda are grounds enough for impeachment. Going with James Madison's ideas on the subject, I'm inclined to agree. Those breaches of the public trust are certainly worthy of having their own articles of impeachment. What we have in this case, however, is far worse than a breach of public trust. What we have here is a war crime, not defined by the World Court or the United Nations, but a war crime as defined by the law of our land.

If perjury is a high enough crime to warrant impeachment, surely a violation of a law such as the War Crimes Act -- a law which has the maximum penalty of death -- warrants charges. It is time to hold George Bush accountable for his "high crimes and misdemeanors" against the American public and humanity as a whole.


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