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The GOP tries to let Bush off the hook, to make legal crimes he's already committed!

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It's now official: George W. Bush is a war criminal, in violation of both the Geneva convention and US criminal codes. [See also: International Humanitarian Law - Treaties & Documents] Predictably, however, the GOP is already making plans to make legal -after the fact -crimes that Bush has already committed.[See ABC News] There is no slicker way to exalt Bush above the law than to simply make legal the laws he's already broken.

I have more to say about ex post facto attempts to make legal the numerous crimes Bush has committed but first the Hamden decision to date: In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, handed down June 29, the United States Supreme Court ruled that George W. Bush exceeded his authority. Neither the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), nor the so-called inherent powers give Bush a legal authority to set up military tribunals at Guantanamo.

For those of us who have maintained for some time now that Bush is a "war criminal" -who has breeched not only international conventions but also US criminal codes -the high court's decision is vindication. In effect, SCOTUS has said that for a period of some five years, the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney gang has been guilty of violating the Third Convention on treatment of prisoners of war as well as a US federal law of 1996 which binds the US executive to those relevant parts of the Geneva convention.

Predictably, a conspiratorial GOP is scrambling to let Bush off the hook -though he is most certainly guilty of violating US and international law. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says that Congress will reverse the Supreme Court's declaration and Sen. Arlen Specter is already at work on the language of the bill. I submit to Sen. McCain that Congress does not have the authority to reverse a decision of the supreme court; it can only pass a new law addressing its objections. Moreover, there is no precedent for excusing culprits ex post facto!

Ex post facto is latin for "from something done afterward" or "after the fact". Ex post facto law is retroactive. On it its face, this is unfair but more importantly, unconstitutional

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

-Article I, US Constitution

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Bush and his GOP co-conspirators are routinely at odds with the supreme law of the land but also simple common sense. Because ex post facto laws change -after the fact -the legal consequences of acts already committed, the ex post facto law becomes an instrument of oppression and tyranny. Hoping to crack down on dissenters, for example, a government need only make the voicing of certain opinions a crime but only after they've been printed, broadcast or spoken. Such a government need only make the law, round up the usual suspects, and prosecute them for actions that were legal at the time of their commission. Conversely, the dictator-in-chief in such a society, need only subvert the very foundations of law and order itself and demand that his actions be made legal -after the fact! Convenience is the enemy of the rule of law.

The notion that Congress can somehow exculpate Bush for the crimes he's already committed is not merely absurd, it's seditious and dangerous -a short road to tyranny and dictatorship.

To her credit, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has refuted every dubious point made by Sen. John McCain in defense of this pernicious strategy. She has shown the Democrats the way. If the Democratic party is to have any future at all, it must begin now to oppose with its every fiber a creeping, insidious Bush dictatorship. Allowing even a bright and capable leader the rope he needs to simply improvise his way through office is nothing less than the death of the rule of law.
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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The Existentialist (more...)

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