George Bush, Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials probably won’t be traveling to Malaysia any time soon. They have been found guilty of war crimes by a tribunal in that country, a ruling that can’t be enforced anywhere else but adds to the record of international condemnation for the crimes those men committed.
This past Friday, a five panel tribunal delivered a unanimous guilty verdict after a week long trial that, unsurprisingly, was not covered by American media. The witnesses included several ex-Guantanamo detainees that gave testimony on the conditions and human rights violations that were systematically carried out under orders of the Bush administration.
Former President Bush, Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo that crafted the legal ‘justification’ for torture that basically said, ‘we can if we want to even if it’s illegal’ were the defendants. None were present, of course, but international war crime trials do not require the presence of the accused. The trial was run according to the standards set by the Nuremberg Trials to convict war criminals after World War II.
If this country actually did have that famous rule of law that we talk so often about, if we actually cared about the UN Convention Against Torture that we pushed through 30 years ago, if we actually gave a damn about torture and human rights as we so often grandly claim to, that trial would have taken place here. But we don’t mean any of those things. We condemn every other nation for doing what we do, then we feign offense at the outrageous suggestion that we are hypocrites. We arrest and prosecute others, like the son of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, for torture and we issue grandiose statements of our eternal commitment to human rights. That, ladies and gentlemen, is American exceptionalism.