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November 21, 2004 - Well, this is an idea...

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Here’s an interesting idea that came up Tuesday last week.


Should Canada Indict Bush?

Thomas Walkom, The Toronto Star (Nov. 16, 2004. 01:00 AM)


The premise -


When U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Ottawa — probably later this year — should he be welcomed? Or should he be charged with war crimes?


It's an interesting question. On the face of it, Bush seems a perfect candidate for prosecution under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.


This act was passed in 2000 to bring Canada's ineffectual laws in line with the rules of the new International Criminal Court. While never tested, it lays out sweeping categories under which a foreign leader like Bush could face arrest.


In particular, it holds that anyone who commits a war crime, even outside Canada, may be prosecuted by our courts. What is a war crime? According to the statute, it is any conduct defined as such by "customary international law" or by conventions that Canada has adopted.


The detail -


War crimes also specifically include any breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, such as torture, degradation, willfully depriving prisoners of war of their rights "to a fair and regular trial," launching attacks "in the knowledge that such attacks will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians" and deportation of persons from an area under occupation.


Outside of one well-publicized (and quickly squelched) attempt in Belgium, no one has tried to formally indict Bush. But both Oxfam International and the U.S. group Human Rights Watch have warned that some of the actions undertaken by the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Iraq, may fall under the war crime rubric.


The case for the prosecution looks quite promising. First, there is the fact of the Iraq war itself. After 1945, Allied tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo — in an astonishing precedent — ruled that states no longer had the unfettered right to invade other countries and that leaders who started such conflicts could be tried for waging illegal war.


Concurrently, the new United Nations outlawed all aggressive wars except those authorized by its Security Council.


The writer goes on to explain that a strong case could be made that Bush violated the Nuremberg principles by invading Iraq.  And, after all, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has already labeled our little war illegal, ay least in terms of the U.N. Charter, for what that’s worth.


And too, we didn’t do it very well -


The mistreatment of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is a clear contravention of the Geneva Accord. The U.S. is also deporting selected prisoners to camps outside of Iraq (another contravention). U.S. press reports also talk of shadowy prisons in Jordan run by the CIA, where suspects are routinely tortured. And the estimated civilian death toll of 100,000 may well contravene the Geneva Accords prohibition against the use of excessive force.


Canada's war crimes law specifically permits prosecution not only of those who carry out such crimes but of the military and political superiors who allow them to happen.


What has emerged since Abu Ghraib shows that officials at the highest levels of the Bush administration permitted and even encouraged the use of torture.


Well, the question is whether Bush himself is responsible for such stuff – or just a few bad apples doing really, really bad things he would never really authorize.


And Guantánamo Bay?


The U.S. says detainees there do not fall under the Geneva accords. That's an old argument.


In 1946, Japanese defendants explained their mistreatment of prisoners of war by noting that their country had never signed any of the Geneva Conventions. The Japanese were convicted anyway.


Oops.  Well, we fixed it so the new international criminal court has no jurisdiction over any American.  Bush is included.


But the writer remind us that Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has staked out his strong opposition to war crimes.  He doesn’t like them.  He said so last December at the UN.


Ah, but would the Canadian DARE to act?


Nope.  But it is an amusing idea.


Here is what might happen….


Ohhhh, me hearties, I know it’ll never happen, but wouldn’t it be too, too great?  Picture it: A group of Mounties descends on King George as soon as he disembarks from AF-1, guns drawn, reads the arrest warrant, puts a bag over his head, and claps him in cuffs.  Condi looks on in horror and runs after him screaming, “No! Not my husb, er—boss!” and she must be sedated and taken to hospital.  Laura, following Condi out, asks for political asylum.  The PM refuses to budge—no bail pending trial, but he will allow George to have a lawyer.


Yeah, sure…


Our own Bob Patterson?


There's a better chance he'll serve a third term that that the Canadians will even give him a speeding ticket.


It's even more likely that he will become "Chancellor for life" than the Canadians would even talk about it in secret.


More likely the Pope will do that thing that starts a fellow on the road to being named a saint.  Isn't the first step "beatification"?


Besides, he has to start a war with Iran and doesn't have time to play silly courtroom games.


As Cher said in the movie "Moonstruck" - "Snap out of it!"


But it would be cool.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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