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What You Can Do to Put Bush and Cheney Behind Bars

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   37 comments

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Remarks on September 14, 2008, at Justice Robert Jackson Conference on Planning for the Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals, Andover, Massachusetts.

I want to thank Dean Lawrence Velvel and also Sherwood Ross and Jeff Demers for putting this event together.

These remarks are posted at the top of in a version that has links to materials and action pages that I reference. So you don't have to catch everything I say.

I want everyone in this room to please do something before going to sleep tonight. Take a look at Alan Dershowitz's op-ed in Friday's Wall Street Journal and send a letter to the editor responding to it in your own words. It can be a sentence or three paragraphs. It should be polite and include all of your contact info. You'll find links to the op-ed and the Email address in the version of these remarks at the top of Dershowitz thinks the rule of law is no more important than preventing a situation in which a prosecution results from an election, so he wants Obama not to prosecute. But he could have had both that result and the rule of law by asking Mukasey or McCain to prosecute. Dershowitz also suggests that the crimes of Bush and Cheney, IF there have been any, are no worse than those of any previous administration.

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After you write to the Wall Street Journal objecting to Dershowitz's op-ed, please copy it from the Wall Street Journal's website and send it to the editorial page editor of your local newspaper asking when they are going to publish an editorial on the topic. They are far more likely to do that than to print a column favoring prosecution, and if they do they begin a debate they cannot win.

Tomorrow, Monday, September 15th, please go to and do everything it says to do there. The first link will take you to a page that lays out Vince Bugliosi's basic argument with an important addition. The fact is that many gold star families will oppose prosecution, but if we open the field up (admittedly as a second choice) to prosecuting attempted murder as well as murder, we may be able to work with any Iraq War veteran. You will find on the website a list of cities where we know gold star families who want to prosecute for murder, a list of cities where we know Iraq veterans who want to prosecute for attempted murder, a list of states and cities where we know of candidates for the office of prosecutor who want to prosecute, and a list of states and cities where we know of prosecutors who want to prosecute. You will also find a sample letter to send to your state and local prosecutors. Please do so.

The first argument the corporate media will use to attack this effort will be the one found in the title of Dershowitz's column, the false claim that what you and I care about is vengeance and retribution. There is a way we can weaken that attack and make clear that our motivation is deterrence. We can oppose in the strongest terms the use of the death penalty. The death penalty does not deter. Rather it teaches that violence and revenge are right and good, and it is that mindset that people like Bush and Cheney exploit and without which they never could have launched these wars. What I want is to see Bush and Cheney behind bars for decades and communicating their regrets to their successors.

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The second link you'll find at takes you to a page documenting the roles of the various lawyers and advisors and providing you with a how-to kit on making a citizen's arrest. In July Judge William Price in Iowa heard the case of people arrested for trying to make a citizen's arrest of Karl Rove. When he was told what they had done, he said "Well, it's about time!" There is also information there and more to be added soon on filing complaints, removing from state bars, and denying tenure at universities. And I support academic freedom, but using that to defend John Yoo is as misguided as using confidentiality of sources to defend Judith Miller. A liar is not a source. And a facilitator of torture about whom the evidence is public knowledge has lost the right to freedom of any sort, academic or otherwise.

The third link you'll find at tells you how to Email or mail the International Criminal Court requesting prosecution, and what points you can use to persuade them.

The fourth link will take you to a kit for passing an ordinance in your town, as Brattleboro, Vt., has done, committing your police to arrest Bush or Cheney if they set foot in the area.

The fifth link is to conviction theme music. No revolutions without dancing, remember.

The sixth link is to buy an ARREST BUSH T-shirt, which is a major way in which you can reach people.

That's six jobs for Monday.

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On Tuesday, September 16th, our task is to define the power of the presidential pardon. We can start on Tuesday morning by all making three phone calls to (202) 224-3121 and asking for our representative and then our two senators. What we want is for them to immediately introduce a bill stating roughly this:

The presidential pardon power shall not include the power to self-pardon the president, or to pardon any staff or contractors of the executive branch, including the vice president, of crimes authorized by the president, or to preemptively pardon any individuals of crimes for which they have not yet been convicted.

If they tell you there is not time to pass it, tell them that the point is not to pass it. It would be vetoed or signing statemented or ignored. The failure of this Congress to recognize two years ago that there was nothing to be gained by passing bills has resulted in a great many deaths and tremendous suffering. The point is to get 100 cosponsors onto the thing in a week and put the issue of pardons into the news, and that is completely achievable, and the bill can be reintroduced in the next Congress.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)

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