Electing Barack Obama president was the first step in redeeming American democracy. The second step must be indicting ex-president George W. Bush, giving him a fair trial, finding him guilty of many criminal acts and putting him in prison. Forget revenge. Think rule of law and justice.
I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush. Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.
If moral honesty and courage have any meaning, then the nation must take seriously the concept that no president can ever be allowed to be above the law. How can President Obama not strongly support this? Surely no president must be allowed to disrespect and dishonor the US Constitution. George W. Bush broke his oath of office. His behavior was treasonous. Instead of defending the Constitution he disgraced it. Instead of protecting constitutional rights, including privacy, he sullied them. He asserted his right to ignore or not enforce laws so he could break them. Respect for the office of the presidency must never be allowed to trump truth and justice.
Millions and millions of Americans and people worldwide know that George W. Bush made 9/11 the trigger for initiating an illegal war in Iraq that has killed and maimed so many thousands of people. What Vincent Bugliosi, author of “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" called “the most serious crime ever committed in American history.” I say convict Bush of myriad counts of criminally negligent homicide related to both Iraq and the Katrina disaster and put him in prison. A former president in prison would not disgrace the presidency. It would restore honor to the office and the Constitution.
Surely millions more people now understand that George W. Bush bears responsibility for creating the conditions that encouraged greed-driven capitalism to rape and murder the middle class and push us into the current global economic meltdown. By removing government oversight and regulation he committed the greatest acts of fraud in the history of mankind. After he made American democracy delusional he made prosperity delusional.
We the people are paying the price for George W. Bush’s criminal acts and so must he. When George W. Bush is sent to prison everyone will see that American democracy has earned the respect of the world. Everyone will better understand that evil comes in many forms and that even an elected president of the United States of America can and must be recognized as a perpetrator of horrendous criminal acts.
Please President-elect Obama, make it so. Be the principled person we want you to be. Make the USA the nation it is supposed to be. Have the courage to do what Congress refused to do when it did not impeach George W. Bush. Change history by showing the world that American justice applies as equally to the president as it does to anyone else. Do not let George W. Bush escape the justice and prison sentence he deserves. Do not let respect for the presidency trump respect for justice. If we do not bring George W. Bush to justice that probably only you can make happen, then surely we do not restore respect for the office that you worked so hard to achieve.
To ensure that no future president behaves like George W. Bush we must punish him. Not merely through the words of historians, but through the physical punishment that he has inflicted on so many millions of people. In previous eras citizens would have demanded “off with his head.” Now we must demand “lock him up.” How poetic for a pro-torture ex-president. As summed up at www.imprisonbush.com: “Bush must be made accountable to the law, to serve as a lesson to all those who would attempt to destroy the American system of laws and liberty for the sake of their own power.” This is a test for both President Obama and American democracy.
If there is any kind of God in the universe, then George W. Bush must go to prison. When he does, then and only then should God bless America.
[Formerly a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association, Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of nonfiction books, including Prosperity Without Pollution, Sprawl Kills and Delusional Democracy.]