¤ INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION OF THE UNITED STATES (Bush Crimes Commission); verdict on September 13, 2006
VERDICT and Findings of Fact
(September 13, 2006)
(Bush Crimes Commission
New York, NY 10013)

Preface
With this international commission we are looking at the crimes against humanity, which we
have been experiencing for some years, ever since the Bush administration came into office, but
whose antecedents really go back far into American history. It is a history of a very aggressive foreign policy, a history which starts with the extermination of the Indians driving them out of this continent, killing them, which proceeds with the invasion of Mexico, and goes on to send troops into the Caribbean and then into the Philippines. And we've seen in this post-World War II America, what was called by Henry Luce, the "American Century," the military dominance of the United States in the world.
The problem is that it is has not been moral dominance. The military dominance has gone along
with an immorality, which in these last years especially, has now reached the point of crime,
crimes against humanity, a phrase which came into general understanding after World War II
when the Nuremberg trials talked about the Nazis and their crimes against humanity. And it's a
shame that we are at this point in American history where the charge that was made against the
Nazis is now a charge that people all over the world, and now more and more people in the
United States, are beginning to level against this administration.
Here is an administration that has taken this country into two wars in five years, ruthlessly sending troops, first into Afghanistan and then into Iraq, under the guise of a war on terrorism, but in fact waging war, carrying out acts of terrorism, against the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Bush Administration has been reserving to itself the right to unilaterally act whenever it felt obliged to act, presumably in the interests of democracy and liberty, but actually in the interests of business, big business, the oil business in this instance.
I remember during the Vietnam War, there was an artist who did a poster, which was distributed
by the thousands. The poster had simple words on it. It said, "War is good for business. Invest
your son." That's the situation we're in now. Our sons, daughters are being invested for business
purposes. People all over the world know this, and now the American people recognize the immorality of what we are doing.
The destruction of life abroad is accompanied by the destruction of our liberties at home. Whenever the government was engaged in war, in near war, or in a foreign policy crisis, then it has
used this as an excuse to say to the nation: "The First Amendment doesn't count anymore. We
are in danger." Precisely at that time is when people most need their freedom of speech, when
constitutional rights are most required, yet exactly at that point are they crippled and destroyed,
as is happening now with this administration with its Patriot Act, with its surveillance, with its
barging into libraries to demand the names of people who take out books, with its detention of
people without any due process and without trial.
The Bush Administration has been following a course, which can only now be described as a series of crimes against humanity. The Constitution provides for impeachment for what it calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." It has never been made exactly clear what this means. Generally, the presidents that have been impeached or threatened with impeachment have had that happen, not as a result of high crimes, but as a result of relatively small actions which irritated the opposite political party. But in this case, this is a clear case for the removal of a president for committing "high crimes." What could be a higher crime than sending the young people of the country into a war against a small country on the other side of the world, which is no danger to the United States, and in fact a war which is condemned by people all over the world and a war which results in, not only the loss of American lives and the crippling of young Americans, but results in the loss of huge numbers of people in Iraq? These are high crimes.
Along with it, of course, comes the incapacity of the government to use its resources, because the
resources are being used for war. We are in the midst right now of international catastrophes, of
hurricanes, of earthquakes, which are taking the lives of tens of thousands of people. It is a crime
that we have military equipment and soldiers fighting a war, when they could be used in other
parts of the world to save peoples' lives. These are crimes, which I think the American people
now are more and more recognizing. If Congress doesn't act, and Congress has been so reluctant
to act, with the Democratic Party so feeble and really cowardly in its subservience to the Administration and its policies, in such a situation, where the political mechanisms of the government
are inadequate to address these crimes, then it is the responsibility of the people to speak up
and to demand that these crimes be recognized and that the people responsible for these crimes
be removed from office and brought to justice.
The Declaration of Independence, which is our founding philosophical document for democratic
ideas, says that "governments are established by the people" and that the purpose of government
is to ensure that people have an equal right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And
when governments become destructive of these ends, when governments become destructive of
these ends, "it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government." That is the situation
we are in today. This government is destructive of the rights of people, of their right to life, their right to liberty. It is also destructive of the right to life of people abroad, which is why the rest of the world has opposed this war in Iraq. The government is destructive of the health of people, because, while people are dying of disease in Africa and Asia, and the Middle East, and even in this country, this government with enormous wealth at its disposal is using that wealth to wage.
We're facing a situation which really is intolerable from a moral point of view, a situation which,
not being redressed by Congress or by the Supreme Court, a situation in which democracy must
arise. Democracy must come alive, as historically in the past, where the government has failed to
act on behalf of human rights, where the government has failed to act for racial equality. Black
people in the South had to take it upon themselves to create the kind of commotion in the country
that would bring about a change. When working people were facing 12-hour days and couldn't
survive and the government was not doing anything about this, the working people themselves
had to go out on strike and stop the machinery of the economic system. Those are situations
when democracy came alive. And we face that kind of situation today. My hope is that this tribunal
will be an important step in advancing a movement which will demand that the crimes taking
place now stop, that the people responsible for it be removed from office, and that democracy
be restored in the United States.

Howard Zinn
*
FINDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON CRIMES
AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED BY THE
BUSH ADMINISTRATION OF THE UNITED STATES

The Commission's panel of jurists has reached a unanimous decision that George W.
Bush and his administration have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
We find the Bush Administration guilty of all five indictments presented for which we
have received evidence: wars of aggression, torture and indefinite detention, (...).
Each of these constitutes a shocking crime in itself, and taken together the full horrors are
all the more unconscionable. It is also clear that this is an administration that demonstrates an
utter disregard for truth and flagrantly lies about the reasons for its actions.
In arriving at this decision the jurists were particularly alarmed by the degree to which
the Bush Administration's actions in all five indictments were informed by the extreme right. It
was the politics and perspective of the extreme, often religious, right that appeared in most cases
to provide the ideological framework for the Bush Administration within which the lives of the
poor, people of color and frequently non-Christians, were devalued to the extent that their human
rights were flagrantly violated. Thus, although the specific conduct differs among the indictments,
the result is the same: human life was debased and devalued by gratuitous acts of violence,
torture, narrow self interest, indifference, and disregard.
The findings outlined below were reached after careful assessment of the evidence presented
to the Commission in October 2005 and January 2006 as well as documents submitted by
the prosecutors after the hearings at the request of the jurists during the hearings.[1] The findings
are based on our application of the Standards of Judgment for the International Commission of
Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration of the United States.
As required by this standard, the Commission relied on fundamental principles of morality and
justice, and, where appropriate, customary international law and international law principles including
the United Nations Charter, The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Principles
of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Geneva Conventions, the Torture Convention, the Torture Victims'
Protection Act, the War Crimes Act, and the international law of War Crimes and Crimes
Against Humanity.
Finally, the Commission has fulfilled its responsibility outlined in the Charter of the International Commission of Inquiry: "When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes
against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the
nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes
and crimes against humanity." We find that the acts of the Bush Administration in the five indictment areas do "rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Members of the panel:
Adjoa Aiyetoro
Dennis Brutus
Abdeen Jabara
Ajamu Sankofa
Ann Wright


{[1] The final decision and judgment differs from the preliminary findings released on February 2, 2006, in several respects:
(1) the Commission has reached a conclusion on the Global Health indictment after reviewing the documents
requested at the January hearing and received after the February 2 preliminary findings; (2) the findings made for
each indictment are more detailed; (3) in one instance, the Commission found a violation although it also found that
the charge made by the prosecution was not supported by the evidence.}

*
FINDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON CRIMES
AGAINST HUMANITY COMMITTED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION OF THE
UNITED STATES
(hereinafter The Commission) [extract]
FINDINGS:
WARS OF AGGRESSION INDICTMENT
Count 1: The Bush Administration authorized a war of aggression against Iraq.
As to count 1, we find that the Bush Commission authorized, under the doctrine of "preemptive
war" and a policy of "regime change", a war of aggression against Iraq.

The doctrine of "preventive war" is not recognized as a justification for war under international law. The goal of "regime change" is also not recognized as a legitimate purpose for waging war under international law. Notwithstanding these facts, the Bush Administration launched a full scale war against Iraq, a sovereign state; it did so not in self-defense or under the authorization of the United Nations Security Council. The Bush Administration knew prior to the 2003 invasion that Iraq had no connection to Al Qaeda, was disarmed, had no weapons of mass destruction, and was incapable of mounting a credible defense much less an attack on the United States. Accordingly, the Iraq war is an aggressive war in violation of international law.2
The Bush Administration steadfastly asserted only one justification for its invasion of Iraq: it
claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction3. The Bush Administration fixed and manipulated
intelligence on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to mislead deliberately
and persuade the United States population and their elected representatives to support
the war of aggression. Accordingly, what the Bush Administration called intelligence to justify
the invasion of Iraq was politically motivated propaganda deliberately concocted to prosecute a
war of aggression.4
Count 2: The Bush Administration authorized conduct of the war that involved the commission
of "war crimes."
As to Count 2, we find that the Bush Administration authorized conduct of the war that involved
the commission of war crimes.

As discussed above, the war is a war of aggression against the Iraq people. A war of aggression
is termed the supreme international war crime in international law because it is the world's most
egregious war crime. This is so because it contains within it the combined atrocities of all war
crimes. In addition to committing the supreme international war crime, the Bush Administration,
2 Testimony of Amy Bartholomew, The Commission; Testimony of Phil Shiner, World Tribunal on Iraq, (WTI).
3 Testimony of Scott Ritter, The Commission
4 Testimony of Scott Ritter, David Swanson, Larry Everest, and Ray McGovern, The Commission; Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, World Tribunal on Iraq, and Legal appendix by Richard Falk;
pursuant to its war of aggression in Iraq, has committed additional enumerated war crimes that
include but are not limited to the following:
1. The use of force beginning with the campaign of "Shock and Awe" was not a necessary
means or necessary measure to attain a lawful objective and it was a severe example of
overwhelming, indiscriminate, and disproportionate use of military force against a nation
state.5
2. The indiscriminate use of weapons such cluster munitions, incendiary bombs, depleted
uranium, and chemical weapons for which it is reasonably foreseeable would have caused
and indeed caused significant civilian injuries.6
Count 3: The Bush Administration authorized the occupation of Iraq involving, and continuing
to involve, the commission of "war crimes."
As to Count 3, we find that the Bush Administration authorized the occupation of Iraq involving
and continuing to involve, the commission of war crimes
.
In the spring of 2003, the Bush Administration announced a military victory in Iraq signaled by
its destruction of the Iraqi Ba'athist government at which point the United States proceeded to
occupy Iraq.
For the duration of the United States occupation of Iraq, the United States is failing to safeguard
the lives of Iraqi civilians that have resulted from the devastation created by its intentionally
bombing of civilian infrastructure, termed "Shock and Awe" and created by its ongoing criminal
acts that include but are not limited to the following:
1. Because the invasion of Iraq was the supreme war crime, the resultant occupation of Iraq
itself is a war crime.7 The occupation consisted of additional war crimes such as: collective
punishment upon the Iraqi people in the form of post invasion intentional and targeted
attacks upon civilian populations, hospitals, medical centers, residential neighborhoods,
electrical power stations and water purification facilities8 the wide spread use of
torture against the Iraqi people,9 mass arrests and detention of civilians and civilian home
demolitions10 and the destruction and desecration of the cultural and archeological heritage
of the Iraqi people11
2. Killing and injuring individual civilians through random fire during military operations
or in response to attacks by resistance forces, e.g. killing of over 40 people in a wedding
near Al Qaim, and over 600 people in Fallujah, half of them women and children. The
Bush Administration declared the City of Fallujah, a population of 350,000 people, a free
fire zone. As a result, the Bush Administration bombed 70 % of the city in 2004. The
5 Testimony of Phil Shiner, WTI
6 Testimony of Dahr Jamail, Dr. Fasy, and Stephen Bronner, The Commission
7 Center for Economic and Social Rights CESR Report, June 10, 2004;
8 Testimony of Camilo Mejia, Dennis Halliday, and Dahr Jamal, The Commission; Testimony of Ramsey Clark,
WTI;
9 Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, WTI;
10 CESR Report, June 10. 2004;
11 Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, WTI;
Bush Administration also extensively and indiscriminately bombed Ramadi, Samara,
Haditha, Alkaim, Abuhisma, Sania, Najaf, Kut, Baghdad, Musul and other Iraqi cities
causing substantial civilian deaths and severe injuries.12
3. The failure of civil reconstruction, the impeding of medical care during the occupation,
and the facilitation of the corporate looting of Iraq through the rewriting of Iraq's laws.13;
4. Deliberately bombing civilian and neutral broadcasting outlets and otherwise restricting
press and media coverage of actual events.14; and
5. Extrajudicial killings at checkpoint.15

TORTURE, RENDITION, ILLEGAL DETENTION and MURDER INDICTMENT

Torture:
Count 1: The Bush Administration authorized the use of torture and abuse in violation of
international humanitarian and human rights law, customary international law, and domestic
constitutional and statutory law.

As to Count 1, we find that the Bush Administration authorized the use of torture and abuse in
violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, customary international law, and domestic constitutional and statutory law.

In December 2001, the Bush Administration implemented the Special Access Program that authorized the secret seizure, detention, and interrogation of persons and subjected them to torture.
The torture included but was not limited to: water boarding, beatings, the administration of electric shocks, extreme temperatures, denial of pain medication for injuries, severe burning, deprivation of food and water, and threats of death and sexual assault of family members.16.
In January 2002, the Bush Administration declared that Geneva Conventions protections will not
be honored for the "war on terror" prisoners held at the Guantánamo detention center in Cuba. In
August 2002, the Administration attempted to redefine "torture" to escape liability and/or insure
immunity for those who authorized or committed torture. Under the Bush Administration's new
torture definition, torture only exists when a person is put at risk of complete organ failure or
death. The Bush Administration also examined the ways that it could avoid liability under circumstances
where its actions exemplified its new definition of torture, including raising the defenses
of necessity and self-defense.17
The United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, admitted that Guantánamo prisoner,
Al-Qahtani was tortured at Guantánamo. Other Guantánamo detainees were subjected to ex-
12 Testimony of Dahr Jamail, The Commission; CESR Report, June 10, 2004; New York times article on Haditha,
May, 2006 ;
13 Testimony of Dahr Jamail, The Commission; CESR; Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, WTI; Testimony of
Ramsey Clark, WTI;
14 Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, WTI; Testimony of Jeremy Scahill, The Commission
15 Declaration of the Jury of Conscience, WTI;
16 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission
17 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission
tremes of temperature, deprived of food and water, shackled for days to the floor in extreme positions
calculated to cause pain, and denied medical care. As a direct result of this torture, detainees
suffered permanent injuries including the loss of limbs and broken bones. Other detainees
suffered severe personality decompensation and are now suffering from a range of mental illnesses.
The techniques of torture used at Guantánamo were transferred by General Geoffrey
Miller to and used on the detainees imprisoned at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.18
Persons held under United States custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo as well as those
held under the custody of the United States during rendition were subjected to torture, and cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment as a matter of policy and systemic practice.19
Secret detention itself is a form of torture for the person detained and for the families who were
faced with a situation that amounted to that of enforced disappearance of an individual20.
Rendition:
Count 2: The Bush Administration authorized the transfer ("rendition") of persons held in
U.S. custody to foreign countries where torture is known to be practiced.

As to Count 2, the Commission finds that the Bush Administration authorized the seizure, transfer, and detention ("rendition") of persons to foreign countries where torture is known to be practiced.
21
In late 2001, at the request of CIA Director, George Tenet, the President authorized the creation of CIA-run secret detention centers in countries outside the United States where post 9/11 detainees would be sent ("rendered") and subjected to practices that would be unlawful in the United States.22
The original rendition program was conceived by the CIA and authorized in the 1990's by the
Clinton Administration. The strategic target of the CIA rendition program has always been, and
remains the global network known as Al-Qaeda. Post 9/11, under the Bush Administration, the
CIA has taken a much larger role in the rendition program to include its participation in interrogation
of detainees rather than just placing them behind bars. Secretary of State, Condoleezza
Rice referred to this program as "extraordinary rendition.23
18 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission
19 Testimony of Jumah al-Dossari and Barbara Olshansky, The Commission; Report: Alleged Secret Detentions and
Unlawful Inter-state Transfer involving Council of Europe Member States, Rapporteur: Mr. Dick Marty, Switzerland,
ALDE June 2006, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly.
20 Information Memorandum II, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Alleged secret detentions in Council
of Europe Member States, January 22, 2006, Rapporteur: Mr. Dick Marty p. 2, see comments by United Nations
High Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour.
21 Testimony of Craig Murray, The Commission
22 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky The Commission; Testimony of Craig Murray, The Commission; Federal Register:
November 16, 2001 Vol. 66, No.222, Presidential Documents pp. 57831-36.
23 Testimony of Craig Murray, The Commission; Information Memorandum II, Committee on Legal Affairs and
Human Rights, Alleged Secret Detentions in Council of Europe Member States, January 22, 2006, Rapporteur: Mr.
Dick Marty p. 3
The result has been that captured suspects are placed outside of the reach of any judicial system and are subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques that are in themselves forms of torture.24
The Bush Administration undertook an untold number of these "extraordinary renditions" where the abductees, while under US custody or control, were tortured by CIA agents or foreign operatives.
Typical of these renditions is the case of Egyptian citizen, Hassam Mustafa Nasr, known as
Abu Omar. He was abducted by the CIA in Milan Italy on June 17th 2003 and transferred to
Egypt where he was detained. Abu Omar was tortured after his abduction and prior to his being
sent to Egypt during which time the CIA participated in the torture investigation. CIA operatives
acknowledged that rendered suspects were being tortured in Egypt. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen,
born in Syria was detained in the United States and rendered to Syria against his wishes
where he was tortured and held for ten and a half months. Mamdouh Habib was picked up in
Pakistan and sent to Egypt where he was tortured for four months before being transferred to
Guantánamo by the United States.25
Illegal Detention:
Count 3: The Bush Administration authorized the indefinite detention of persons seized in
foreign combat zones and in other countries far from any combat zone and denied them the
protections of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the protections of the US Constitution.

As to Count 3, the Commission finds that the Bush Administration authorized the indefinite detention of person seized in foreign combat zones and in other countries far from any combat zone and denied them the protections of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war and the protections of the US Constitution.
On November 13th 2001, the Bush Administration created a "trial system" for trying non-citizen
detainees where the United States does not provide these detainees due process protections that
are well established in domestic and international law. The "trial system" is to be held in
Guantánamo where detainees are deprived due process rights under the fourth, fifth, sixth, and
eighth amendments of the United States Constitution.
Persons have been or are currently detained in these detention centers without charge and are being
held indefinitely. These US controlled detention centers are in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as
well as in several sites in Eastern Europe and North Africa. The Bush Administration declared
24 Testimony of Craig Murray, The Commission; Report, Section C, 2.1 Para. 35 and 26 of Alleged Secret Detentions and Unlawful Inter-state Transfer Involving Council of Europe Member States, Rapporteur: Mr. Dick Marty, Switzerland, ALDE June 2006, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly; Also see:
Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper October 2004, The United States Disappeared: The CIA's Long-Term Ghost Detainees; Amnesty International Report, April 5, 2006: Below the Radar: Secret Flights To Torture and Disappearance
25 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission; Information Memorandum II, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe Member States, January 22, 2006, Rapporteur:
Mr. Dick Marty p. 8 and 13
that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these detainees who were defined as "enemy combatants", a term not valid under international law.26
Round ups
Count 4: The Bush Administration authorized the round-up and detention in the United
States of tens of thousands of immigrants on pretextual grounds and held them without
charge or trial in violation of international law and domestic constitutional and civil rights
law.

As to Count 4, the Commission finds that the Bush Administration authorized the round-up and
detention in the United States of thousands (the exact number is unknown) of immigrants on pretextual grounds and held many of them illegally long past the resolution of their immigration status.

The FBI and INS, under the rubric of very large immigration sweeps, rounded up and detained
immigrants, mostly Arabs, Muslims or South Asian men. The sweeps were a flagrant example
of racial profiling. The detainees could not call their family, nor call their consulate. Very few
were permitted out on bond. They were in a legal black hole. Many were brutalized by guards
and held in virtual solitary confinement. These actions were in violation of international law and
domestic constitutional law.
In September 2001, the Bush Administration authorized the seizures and detention of US immigrants
in US detention centers. The seizures and detentions in the United States were called "material
witness "seizures by the US Justice Department. The Commission finds that the Bush Administration
held possibly hundreds of people under the material witness statute without charge
or trial in violation of international and domestic constitutional and civil rights law. In many
cases, people who merely looked Arab or South Asian were picked up first based on uncorroborated
tips and then held if they had a minor immigration violation or were designated as a material
witness. No one knows exactly how many are still being held in the United States pending
deportation or as material witnesses; evidence strongly suggests that it may be hundreds. They
are held without charge and denied basic principles of due process and judicial review. These
practices contravene the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.
Another category of detainees are people who entered the United States for purposes other than
becoming a permanent resident, for example, on a visitor or student visa (non-immigrants).
Thousands of such individuals were subjected to the National Registration Act, a post 9/11 law.
This act was intended to register and monitor non-immigrants from countries designated by the
Secretary of State entering or already in the United States but in fact was used as a means of ar-
26 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission; Report, Section C, 2.1 Para. 35 and 26: Alleged Secret Detentions
and Unlawful Inter-state Transfer Involving Council of Europe Member States, Rapporteur: Mr. Dick
Marty, Switzerland, ALDE June 2006, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly;
Also see: Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper October 2004, The United States Disappeared: The CIA's Long-Term Ghost Detainees; Amnesty International Report, April 5, 2006: Below the Radar: Secret Flights To Torture and Disappearance
resting and deporting these individuals. In addition, the Act was enforced in an discriminatory
manner only against Muslims and Arab visitors, and in an arbitrary manner in that some people
were deported to countries from which they had previously been granted political asylum. The
discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement of the Act contravene the International Covenant for
Civil and Political Rights.27
Indefinite Detentions
Count 5: The Bush Administration used military force to seize and detain indefinitely
without charges U.S. citizens, denying them the right to challenge their detention in U.S,
courts.

As to Count 5, the Commission finds that the Bush Administration used military force to seize
and detain indefinitely without charges U.S. citizens, denying them the right to challenge their
detention in U.S. courts.

The Bush Administration seized and detained within the United States persons who are United
States citizens. The Bush Administration has classified these seized persons as "enemy combatants."
For example, Yaser Hamdi, A US citizen, was detained in Afghanistan and placed in
United States custody. There is also Jose Padilla, a US citizen, who was arrested in O'Hare airport
by law enforcement agent and later transferred to military custody at the request of the
President. These detainees were taken into US military custody after they had been declared
"enemy combatants" by the Bush Administration. All such "enemy combatant" detainees were
denied a judicial hearing on the facts or on the legality of their detention. In each case and in
violation of the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, the United States took the position
that the president has the authority to hold "enemy combatants" and decide their status unilaterally.
The US Supreme Court subsequently gave meaning to the Bush Administration's made up term
"enemy combatant." The Court limited the meaning to persons who, while in Afghanistan, had
taken up arms against the United States in alliance with the Taliban or other terrorists and as long
as hostilities existed. The Bush Administration proceeded to violate the Supreme Court's definition
as exemplified by the fact that Mr. Padilla was not arrested in Afghanistan or anywhere
near a battlefield, and was not shown to have ever taken up arms against the United States in Afghanistan
or elsewhere.28
Murder
Count 6: The Bush Administration committed murder by authorizing the CIA to kill those
that the president designates either US citizens or non-citizens, anywhere in the world.

27 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission
28 Testimony of Barbara Olshansky, The Commission; (Also see: Supreme Court, US decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld,
No. 05-184, 2006)
As to Count 6, the Commission finds that the Bush Administration committed murder by authorizing the CIA to kill those that the president designates, either US citizens or non-citizens, anywhere in the world and where this authorization was acted upon causing death.
Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, issued a secret directive to Special Operations forces
allowing them to "capture terrorists for interrogation or, if necessary, to kill them" anywhere in
the world.29. The Bush Administration had already issued a presidential finding authorizing the
killing of terrorist leaders, but the secret Rumsfeld directive increased such efforts.30 The Bush
Administration, claiming that terrorists are military combatants, never rescinded a preexisting
presidential executive order signed by US President Ford in 1976 that banned all assassinations.
In February 2002, a Predator drone missile was launched by the CIA; it targeted for assassination
someone intelligence agents thought was bin Laden. The drone hit its target, but killed three innocent
Afghan farmers instead.31 The first successful assassination takes place in November
2003 when the CIA launched a Hellfire drone missile that killed US citizen Kamal Derwish and
five others in Yemen. The United States considered the dead men to be enemy combatants in its
global war on terror.32
(...)
*
The Commission is sponsored by the Not In Our Name statement of conscience, joined by the
following individuals and organizations:

James Abourezk, former United States Senator
As'ad AbuKhalil, professor of politics & public administration, California State University-Stanislaus
Dirk Adriaensens, BRussells Tribunal executive committee and coordinator SOS Iraq
After Downing Street
Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, social anthropologist at the Univ. of Exeter, founding member of Act Together: Women's Action on Iraq & and member Women in Black UK
Anthony Alessandrini, organizer with the World Tribunal on Iraq and New York University Students for Justice in Palestine
Edward Asner
Michael Avery, president of the National Lawyers Guild and professor, Suffolk Law School
Russell Banks, novelist
The Rev. Luis Barrios, Ph.D., associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Anglican Priest
Amy Bartholomew, professor of law at Carleton University
Greg Bates, Common Courage Press
Tony Benn, former chairman of the British Labour Party
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Michael S. Berg, grieving father of Nick Berg killed in Iraq May 7, 2004, and one man for Peace
Ayse Berktay, from the organizing team of the World Tribunal on Iraq
William Blum, author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
Francis Boyle, author of Destroying World Order and professor at the University of Illinois College of Law
Jean Bricmont, BRussells Tribunal executive committee
Center for Constitutional Rights
Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild
Lieven De Cauter, BRussells Tribunal executive committee
Patrick Deboosere, BRussells Tribunal executive committee
Eve Ensler, playwright
Peter Erlinder, William Mitchell College of Law and lead defense counsel, United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania
Larry Everest, author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda and Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide's Bhopal Massacre
Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law, Princeton, and Visiting Professor in Global and International Studies, UC-Santa Barbara
Thomas M. Fasy, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, member, American Academy of Arts & Letters and founder & editor in chief, City Lights Books, San Francisco
The Rev. Dr. James E. Fitzgerald, minister for mission and social justice, The Riverside Church
Ted Glick, former coordinator, Independent Progressive Politics Network
Dr. Elaine C. Hagopian, former president of Association of Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) and primary founder of the Trans-Arab Research Institute (TARI)
Sam Hamill. director, Poets Against War International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia
Abdeen Jabara, past president, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Dahr Jamail, U.S. independent journalist who has reported extensively from Iraq since the invasion
C. Clark Kissinger, contributing writer for Revolution and initiator of the Not In Our Name statement of conscience
The Reverend Doctor Earl Kooperkamp, Rector, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, West Harlem, New York
Joel Kovel, editor-in-chief, Capitalism Nature Socialism: A Quarterly Journal of Socialist Ecology, and author of The Enemy of Nature
Jesse Lemisch, professor of history emeritus, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine and author of The Left Hand of God: Taking Back America from the Religious Right
Rev. Davidson Loehr, Ph.D., First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Texas National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Rev. Davidson Loehr, Ph.D., First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Texas
Robert Meeropol, Executive Director, Rosenberg Fund for Children New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee
New Jersey Workers Democracy Network
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Not In Our Name Project
Barbara Olshansky, deputy legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author of Secret Trials and Executions
James Petras, professor emeritus of sociology at Binghamton University, New York
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and author with Ellen Ray of Guantanamo: What the World Should Know
Stephen F. Rohde, civil liberties lawyer and co-founder of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Marc Sapir, MD, MPH, co-convener of the UC Berkeley Teach In on Torture and executive director of Retro Poll
Sister Annette M. Sinagra, OP
Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
State of Nature on-line magazine
U.S. Tour of Duty
Inge Van de Merlen, BRussells Tribunal executive committee
Gore Vidal
Anne Weills, civil rights attorney in Oakland, National Lawyers Guild
Leonard Weinglass, criminal defense attorney
Naomi Weisstein, professor emeritus of Neuroscience, State University of NY at Buffalo
Howard Zinn, historian
[institutions for identification only]
*
Standards of Judgment for the International Commission of
Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the
Bush Administration of the United States

When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people
of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of
these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes
against humanity. That is the mission of the International Commission of Inquiry on
Crimes Against Humanity. This tribunal will, with care and rigor, present evidence and
assess whether George W. Bush and his administration have committed crimes against
humanity.
-- From the Charter of The International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes
Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration of the United States
The need for this tribunal, as an instrumentality of world humanity, arises from the historical,
moral and political responsibility of people of conscience to sit in judgment of this administration:
to inquire and assess whether this administration has committed crimes that do in fact rise
to the levels of crimes against humanity as popularly understood and conceived, that is, acts that,
by their scale or nature, shock the conscience of humankind.
Crimes against humanity are brutal crimes that are not isolated incidents but that involve large
and systematic actions often cloaked with official authority. These include mass murder, extermination,
enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts perpetrated against a population,
conducted in wartime or not. Apartheid and persecution on political, ethnic, and gender grounds
have also been considered inhumane acts causing great suffering, and therefore crimes against
humanity.
We see the need to proceed from this first-principles definition of crimes against humanity precisely
because of the singular nature of some of this administration's actions and the lack of relevant
precedent in existent law. This is especially true for judging categories of crimes other than
wars of aggression and torture, where precedent and conventional standards do exist within international
law.
We are not pre-determining a minimum quantitative level required to constitute a "mass scale" --
or "large and systematic action" -- within our definition of crimes against humanity. Rather, we
are focusing on the overall nature and scope of the impact of these actions and policies. Nor are
we making a criterion of explicit intentionality. The jury of conscience will inquire into and assess
whether the Bush administration policies involve foreseen or foreseeable risk of catastrophic
or genocidal proportions. The question is not whether the Bush administration is intentionally
setting out to make millions suffer with its global warming and global health policies, for example.
Rather, the question is, whether such suffering is clearly the predictable consequences of
policies guided by ideological and political goals?
Such culpability must also distinguish actions specific to the Bush administration from general
systemic causes and the actions of previous administrations (even where such actions themselves
may rise to the level of crimes against humanity).
Proceeding from the tribunal's Charter and its mission, the character of this commission is sui
generis -- a unique response by people of conscience to the unprecedented historical responsibility
before us. The Commission's Charter states, "The tribunal's legitimacy is derived from its
integrity, its rigor in the presentation of evidence, and the stature of its participants." Its political
and moral authority is based on high standards which are not arbitrary and capricious but predefined
and consistent. These standards are critical to safeguarding findings of this commission
from arbitrariness, a priori political motivations, or other forms of subjectivity.
Though it is not a court of law with power to impose sanctions, the "judicial" character of the
Commission's conduct, proceedings, and verdict is foundational to its integrity and its historic
mission. As the Charter states, "Well-established international law will be referenced where applicable,
but the tribunal will not be limited by the scope of customary international law." This
commission is neither attempting to develop new international law per se, nor tortuously applying
current law to force-fit its proceedings and findings into existing legal frameworks. Rather,
through the rigorous presentation of expert and witness testimony, documents, and other evidence,
the Commission aims to establish the truth about major acts and policies of the Bush administration
in the areas specified in the Charter. In addition, "representatives of the administration
will be invited to present a defense."
The historic and political responsibility before this tribunal lies in delivering findings of fact and
a verdict on the central question before the commission: "whether George W. Bush and his administration
have committed crimes against humanity." As the Charter mandates, "The Commission's
jury of conscience will come to verdicts and its findings will be published." The jury of
conscience will carefully assess the evidence and base its conclusions on the sufficiency of the
evidence. In assessing sufficiency, we are aware that some acts constitute crimes against humanity
in and of themselves, while other particular acts may be instances of more general patterns of
conduct that constitute such crimes.
We must continuously return to the fact that the need for this Commission flows precisely from
the real and horrendous crimes being committed and our historical, moral and political responsibility as people of conscience.
We reaffirm that "The Commission will conduct its work with a deep sense of responsibility to the people of the world."

Witnesses
Annette A., New Orleans survivor of Hurricane Katrina
Saleh Ajaj, Victim of arbitrary detention in the US after 9/11
Anthony Alesandrini, World Tribunal on Iraq

Jay Arena, Housing rights advocate from New Orleans
Abigail B., School bus driver from Houston blocked by authorities from rescuing people from
New Orleans
Amy Bartholomew, Professor of law, Carleton University
Dr. Alan Berkman, Professor of epidemiology, Columbia University School of Public Health
Vanessa Brocato, International Policy Associate, Sexuality Information and Education Council
of the United States (SIECUS), author of SIECUS PEPFAR
Stephen Bronner, Professor of political science, Rutgers University
Dr. Robert Bullard, Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University,
Author, "Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights & the Politics of Pollution"
Eric Carter, Common Ground Collective, New Orleans
John Clark, Professor of Environmental Studies, Loyola University, New Orleans
Naina Dhingra, Advocates for Youth
King Downing, National Coordinator of the ACLU's Campaign Against Racial Profiling
Larry Everest, Author, "Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda"
Dr. Thomas Fasy, Professor of pathology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Campaign Against
Depleted Uranium

Chris Fox, Chairman, Department of Environmental Science & Technology, Community College
of Baltimore County
Lindsey German, Convenor, UK Stop the War Coalition
Ted Glick, Climate Crisis Coalition
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
Arron Guyton, Common Ground Collective, New Orleans
Denis Halliday, ex-UN Assistant Secretary-General, former head of UN Humanitarian Mission
In Iraq
Dahr Jamail, Independent journalist, reported extensively from Iraq

Tanya Jones, Filmmaker from New Orleans
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former commander Abu Ghraib prison, author of "One Woman's
Army : The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story"

Mark Krasnoff & Monique Verdin, Cajun community activists and filmmakers
Eric Lerner, New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee
Larry McBride, who was left to drown in a New Orleans prison when Katrina struck
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst
*
Panel of Jurists
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has
servied as Executive Director, National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the Director of
Administration for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., a consultant to the Lawyers'
Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Chief Legal Consultant for the National
Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA).
Dennis Brutus, professor emeritus, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh.
Currently visiting scholar. Centre for Civil Society University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South
Africa. Holds several honorary doctorates, former political prisoner on Robben Island in South
Africa. Published several books including Poetry and Protest; a Dennis Brutus reader, Haymarket
Press Chicago. University of Kwazulu Press, Durban.
Abdeen Jabara, former President, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In the mid-
1980s, he played a major role in exposing the Nixon administration's Operation Boulder program,
a program begun in the 1960s that included surveillance, deportations and other incidents
involving the Arab and Arab-American community in the United States.
Ajamu Sankofa, lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is a human rights public policy specialist and community
organizer. He is the former executive director of the NYC chapter of Physicians for Social
Responsibility. He is a consultant for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in
America, Legal Defense, Research and Education Fund and he chairs the NYC local organizing
committee of Health Care-Now.
Ann Wright, is a retired United States Army Colonel, retired official of the U.S. State Department,
and now full-time anti-war activist. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for organizations
Operation Truth/Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Veterans for Common
Sense. Wright is most noted for being one of three U.S. State Department officials to publicly
resign in direct protest of the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003.
Prosecutors
Wars of Aggression: Stephen Bronner, Larry Everest, Ray McGovern
Torture and Detention: Marjorie Cohn, Eric Lerner, Barbara Olshansky
Global Environment: Ted Glick
Health and Reproductive Rights: Ida Susser, Jonathan Garcia
Destruction of New Orleans: Carl Dix, King Downing, Dionne Franklin, Chokwe Lumumba
*
WE GO IN THE FINAL HOUR,
TO THE MOST IMPORTANT LINE OF BATTLE:
THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES
by Harry Belafonte

Thank you very much. I would to first express my great sense of privilege, and opportunity to be
part of this evening's tribunal and what we will be seeing and hearing. I would like to also extend
my respects to the panel and to the tasks you have before you, and what we will be hearing.
It is most gratuitous that this should be taking place at the end of a week of celebration of the
memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This nation has never, ever produced a greater citizen,
who stood and still stands for the principles for why we are all gathered here: the pursuit of justice, the pursuit of human rights, the pursuit of human dignity.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that when the powers of state, that having been mandated to reach out and to protect the interest of the people, begin to usurp the Constitution and undermine our laws, that it is the responsibility of the citizens to rise up and to speak against this process. And, to in fact, insist upon the changing of the guard, the changing of regime. And those, (applause), those citizens who fail to hear that call, in fact should be charged with patriotic treason (Applause).
I think none gathered here this evening can be so charged.
It is important when all the instruments of government collapse, we go in the final hour, to the
most important line of battle: the people themselves. The people of this nation, I think, and I
know it, are awake, and are being more awakened every day. They are hearing and sensing the
danger that sits on the horizon. Looking at the international oppressions that we are a part of,
looking at how we have violated international humanity and law, one day this tribunal I hope,
will reach out, and in its investigation look at the oppression and illegal experiences people in
this nation are experiencing themselves.
On 9/11, we were all stunned by the tragic events that took place when the Twin Towers collapsed,
and this terrorism was put upon our people. Two thousand lost their lives. Two thousand
who were innocent, two thousand who did not cause war. And we said they were terrorists and
we should hunt them down and bring them to justice. Tell me, where for you does the line blur?
When a nation as powerful as this, the most powerful in the history of human existence, and
those who have dubiously come to power and who are reigning over the will of this nation, when they lie and mislead the citizens of this country, when they put before us fear and then govern by terrorism -- where does the line blur for you? When our sons and daughters are sent to die in foreign battlefields, each day we claim the lives of tens and thousands of innocent men, women, and children, in other places -- where for you does terrorism end and where does it begin, and who are the terrorists?
Those who would choose to detract the real meaning of this tribunal, the real meaning of this
people's moment, would suggest to you that we are somehow perhaps irrelevant. Well, I guess
Paul Revere was considered at one point irrelevant, when he called for the alarm against the red
coats.
I know very well that at the beginning, Dr. Martin Luther King was considered irrelevant. I know
that there are so many that have called for the awakening of our citizens to look at what is happening
to us and to seize our rights to put us back into democratic governance. Always in the beginning,
we are minimalized, marginalized and relegated to the dustbins of history. We have
prevailed before and we will prevail again.
I am honored to be a part of this process, and anything
I can do to help broaden its base, to help broaden it's inquiry, and to help save the soul of
our nation, I welcome the opportunity and I will so serve. Thank you.
*
TOMORROW IS TODAY:
THE FIERCE URGENCY OF INDICTING
– AND DRIVING OUT –
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
By Michael Ratner

When Clark Kissinger called me yesterday and said, I'll be sharing a platform with Harry Belafonte,
I said, "well, maybe you want to put me on for tomorrow." But here I am, and of course
I'm proud to be even in any kind of association with Harry Belafonte. And I'm sure you're all
familiar with Harry Belafonte's comments that he made to President Chavez in Venezuela a few
days ago. And if you don't remember them, I'll repeat them. "No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush, says, we're here to tell you that not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people support your revolution."
Now what's remarkable about that, and of course Harry Belafonte was heavily attacked for that. But, as he has never been willing to do, he did not retreat from the statement. And if you go on the net you come to what he said, at the Children's Defense Fund, a few days later, and what he says
was, "so I made my remarks, they may stir up controversy, but then it's time to talk about new
definitions, new points of view." And that's what Harry Belafonte was doing, and that is what
we are doing here today, and over the next two days, at these Commissions.
The other important point about being here, at Riverside of course, is that in April 1967, this is
the place, this church, where Martin Luther King openly, and notoriously I should say, opposed
the war in Vietnam. The speech was called "Beyond Vietnam: A time to break the silence." It's a
historic place for that reason, and he began that speech with these words: "A time comes when
silence is betrayal. That time has come for us, in relation to Vietnam." And then in that speech,
he lays out a 5-point program. But the ultimate point of that program was: remove all foreign
troops from Vietnam. Incredibly, even though it was Martin Luther King saying that, in 1967, it
took 9 more years, millions of Vietnamese deaths, and thousands of American deaths, to do so.
We today model our conduct on that of Dr. Martin Luther King. As he said then, we say today, a time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us, in relationship to the war in Iraq. It is time for us to bring the troops home now.
A people's trial, a people's commission, is not without important precedents. Almost 40 years
ago, in 1968, there was another people's trial. It was held in Sweden and Denmark. Originally it
was to be held in France. But the French wouldn't allow it; they prohibited it, because it was
about Vietnam, and of course the French had been very deeply involved in the subjugation of
Vietnam. The witnesses at that people's trial were well-known progressives, including Jean-Paul Sartre. They gathered in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and they were there to judge another human outrage in our history, the brutal and inhuman Vietnam War. Bertrand Russell, the famous English philosopher, was one of the key participants in that trial. In fact, it was called the Russell War Crimes Tribunal. Russell opened that trial, and here is what he said: "We meet at an alarming time. Overwhelming evidence besieges us daily of crimes without precedent. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance."
And so, as Russell said then, we say today: we are putting the Bush administration on trial. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance. We want this trial to be a step in the building of mass resistance to war, to torture, to the destruction of earth and its people. It's a serious moment.
Our country and our world are at a tipping point. Tipping toward permanent war, the end
of human rights, and the impoverishment and death of millions. We still have a chance, an opportunity
to stop this slide into chaos. But it is up to us. We must not sit with our arms folded,
and we must be as radical as the reality we are facing.
The witnesses you will hear over the next few days are the truth-tellers: the witnesses to the carnage
this country and this administration has wrought. This truth challenges us — challenges us
all to act. We, particularly the American people, have not heard or seen the truth. And if some
do, in their comfort and complacency, they often turn away. The truth is hidden. It is hidden
through cover-up language, euphemisms, legalisms, obfuscations, false investigations, the blaming
of low-level individuals: all meant to hide the reality of the criminal involvement of high officials
of this administration. The criminal involvement in war, torture, global and human destruction.
Let's take a look at a few of these examples, and there are many. The failure in this country, and
the media, my pundits everywhere we look, to look at the reality- a reality this commission will
examine. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the first example: the war in Iraq. Supposedly,
the war was to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Now it is said: that was a mistake.
It was bad intelligence. The administration says it, and much of Congress says, the Press says it,
"Had we only known — but we thought they had weapons of mass destruction. So we must in
the future get better intelligence." As if that explains or excuses why we went to war. But of
course, that explanation — the failure of intelligence — and still the current explanation of today,
by the elites, hides the real reasons for war. It blames some negligent officials, individuals,
at the CIA, for leading us into war. All we need to do according to them is correct that, and we
won't be in mistaken wars any longer. Mistaken wars will come to an end. If you believe that,
you believe in the tooth fairy. We all know that is not the truth. In fact, in 1967, Martin Luther
King predicted it. He said we will be marching and protesting wars for the rest of our lives as
long as we are on the wrong side of history. And we are on the wrong side of history.
Sometimes I ask myself: why did we progressives know the weapons of mass destruction story
was a cover for war? But Congress and the media claimed they could not? Because they — all of
them, Democrats, Republicans, the media — they were all reading from the same page. And that
page is U.S. world exploitation and domination. And of course what does the truth tell us about
the war in Iraq? It tells us that it's an aggressive war, a crime against peace, and according to the judgment at Nuremberg, that kind of war is the most heinous of all war crimes.
I can give you
other examples: Clark had referred to one. For example, the fact that they say that we do not torture.
All of a sudden in this country, torture is not torture. Or at worst it is abuse. And even that
abuse, it is no worse than a fraternity prank. Or if it was abuse, it was because abusive techniques
were only for use in Guantánamo. What sense does that make? Used in Guantánamo — and
somehow they migrated to Iraq? But what does "migrated to Iraq" mean? Are they birds, like a
bird migrates? Without any human agent, torture techniques move from one place to another? Or
we are told that it is a few bad apples, but no responsibilities for the higher-ups. And yet the media
has gone along with this, with these lies and these cover-ups. Even worse, serious media dis-
cussion and respectability is given to the legal justifiers. For example, John Yoo, a lawyer for the
administration, who wrote that you could torture in the name of national security — much like
the Pinochet defense, torture in the name of national security. I was utterly shocked the other day
when I picked up the New York Times and there on the back page they had asked half a dozen
people what questions would you ask the potential new Supreme Court Judge Alito? And there
they asked John Yoo, 'what question would he ask him'. They are giving credibility to a man
who should not be on the back of the New York Times but should be in the docks but who
should be in the docks facing justice.
Let there be no doubt this administration is engaged in massive violations of the law. Torture is
an international crime. It is a grave breech of the Geneva conventions. And almost no one is telling you that. And in this country it is anathema to do so.

(...)
The war, torture, (...) are not looked at as failures or as products of the system.
The truths are hidden and by hiding it we are disempowered; so we are here this weekend to
hear truth tellers to empower people. It is not just a few bad apples, it is not mistakes or bad
choices, it is not just bad managers and getting better ones; but something much more fundamental.
It's that awful alchemy as Dr. Martin Luther King described it in this very church — the giant
triplets of racism extreme materialism and militarism.
I want to say a few words about one aspect of the current period that is extremely frightening.
Probably the most frightening although it does have roots in prior administrations. The short
hand for the expression of this period and the scare and fear that I feel is, "The king can do no
wrong" or the word might be tyranny, police state or dictatorship. I recall that after 9/11, within a
few months afterwards, I wrote an article. It was entitled, "Moving toward a police state — or
have we arrived?" And I remember being nervous about it because this was pretty aggressive to
be saying a few months after 9/11. Was I gonna get trashed for it? Did it really reflect reality? I
wasn't sure. I had some evidence in front of me. I had the Patriot Act. I had internal detentions. I
had the President's military order that allows him to pick up people anywhere in the world and
detain them in Guantánamo or elsewhere. But I still was willing to say 'moving toward a police
state', not have 'we arrived'. And a police state to me is one were authority is not under law,
where the legislature is overridden, and where our courts are ignored. Where one can be jailed
without a court proceeding or trial and where the president, king or what have you, can do as he
pleases — wire tap, torture, and disappear people. Unfortunately, and dangerously that is the
situation we are in today.
You are familiar with much of the evidence, some of which I have laid out, some of which the
next two days will address. There is however one piece of important evidence I want to bring to
your attention. In which the president, their president, not our president, is open and notorious
about his aims, public if you will; and if you miss it you have to be an ostrich with your head in
the ground. What he has done is basically lay the plan for what has to be called a coup-de-tat in
America. And it's a small (Applause) it is a small paragraph and it's contained in what we call a
'signing statement.' It was signed on December 30th and it's the signing statement to what we
call the McCain amendment. You probably all remember the McCain amendment. That's the
amendment that prohibits cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, or supposedly prohibits it.
The president as you recall, resisted the McCain amendment. But in the end he had to sign it because
it was part of a broader military authorization to pay for what we're doing in Iraq. And
when the president signs legislation, he sometimes and more recently with President Bush, he
issues a signing statement as to what his understanding of the law is. The president's statement
on McCain is only one short paragraph. But it is historic. It is unprecedented. And if you're looking
for the grab for power that allows you, permits you, compels you to call this a tyranny it is
that paragraph.
It makes three points and I'll paraphrase. First, speaking as the president, 'My authority as commander
in chief allows me to do whatever I think is necessary in the war on terror including use
torture. Second, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by Congress. Third, the Commander
in Chief cannot be checked by the courts.' There it is. There you have it. That boring
stuff I learned as a junior high school student about checks and balances or about limited law or
about authority under law - out the window. Gone. In other words, the republic and democracy is
over. In Germany what did they call that? They called that the Führer's law. Why? Because the
Führer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here. George Bush is the law.

This assertion of power is so blatant so open, and so notorious, that it is finally shocking some
people like former Vice President Gore to speak up. And I'm sure many of you are familiar with
what he said in his recent speech on Martin Luther King's birthday. Quote: "The President of the United State has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." He was referring to the NSA spying scandal. And then he went on to say, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And then he said, "An executive who acts free of the will of Congress as this president says he can, or the check of the judiciary, as this president says he can, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution." And then he quotes James Madison. "To the effect that what President Bush has done is the very definition of tyranny." So there you have it. It's not just us, its not just progressives, but even someone like former Vice President Gore is saying the very definition of tyranny.

I believe that the president and this grab for power will be repudiated. But it will not just happen.
The pendulum does not swing back automatically. It will take an aroused public and an aroused
people. And so the question is really - where do we go from here? One place I can tell you not to
go is: don't go to the Democrats in Washington. I have to tell you (Applause) I've have never in
my life been kicked in the teeth so badly as I was on the Guantánamo cases when we took that to
the Democrats in Washington. Now I'm just gonna say it here, there is a million reasons I can
tell you don't go there, but this one is called the Graham-Levin Bill. And after we win the right
to go court for the detainees at Guantánamo, and we win that in the Supreme Court, Republican
Senator Graham and Democrat Senator Levin get together - and what do they decide to do a few
weeks ago? But strip the courts of any jurisdiction to hear the Guantánamo cases. That's what
they do - Democrats and Republicans together. And then they say you can use evidence from
torture to keep those people in jail. Kicking us right in the teeth! Kicking the courts in the teeth.
And so if you think that we're going to get far by going there, you've got it wrong. Lessons of
history teach us that we don't move our leaders without the passion and the protest of the people.
I want to close with a sense of hope. It's been a rough four years, it's been a rough twenty years,
it's been a rough forty years since Dr. King spoke. But I want to close with a sense of hope. This
administration is unraveling. There is a split in the elites. Gore is one of the best examples. Everywhere we see former administration officials speaking out. They realize the administration has gone too far. They want to save some remnant of democracy. We see indictments from Scooter Libby to Delay coming fast and furious. We see General Miller, responsible for torture in Guantánamo and Iraq, taking the 5th amendment essentially so he won't have to testify. We see
General Sanchez, who was head of troops in Iraq, retiring without that 4th star. It's a real opening
for us but it is not simply to go back to the normal. It's not simply to save a remnant of democracy.
The malady is much deeper than that. We need a radical transformation of our society. My
hopes for today and for the future is that the truth will arouse resistance and with resistance there will be some change. I mean resistance of every sort, mobilizing, protesting, disobeying and disobedience.

And then again, when I was reading Dr. King's speech, the thought that he closed
with, and that I want to close with, is that sometimes we can wait too long to take action. Or as
Dr. King said, "you can be too late." And we, unless we act, may be too late. So let me end with
Dr. King's directive to us all: "We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today.
We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. There is such a thing as being too late.
We still have a choice today. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and
bitter, but beautiful struggle for our new world."
Thank you. We'll do this together.
*
Michael Ratner is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and was co-counsel in Rasul
vs. Bush, the historic case of Guantánamo detainees, in which the Supreme Court ruled that U.S.
courts do indeed have jurisdiction over Guantánamo. Ratner is an expert in international human
rights law, and is a past President of the National Lawyers' Guild.

* * *