If it is true that the war in Iraq is illegal, as I and others believe it is --including the Secretary General of the United Nations --then all the deaths and atrocities that have occurred to date, inflicted by our coalition forces, are the acts of individuals who, knowingly or unknowingly, with good intentions or not, have been willing to break the law in order to follow the orders of superiors.
Each member of the US military took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Each also took a pledge to follow the legal orders of the Commander in Chief. Under the Constitution, no soldier is required to follow an illegal order. But that's what many Americans have been doing now for quite some time. And this is not confined to our military personnel, but also to members of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA (the folks who have been carrying out those illegal wire taps), outsourced contractors, the media, and perhaps most egregious of all -- elected members of Congress, who for all intents and purposes, put their conscience and oversight responsibilities on hold as they get their marching orders from the Oval Office or from party leaders.
I believe the reason that many of those who do follow illegal orders, or otherwise fall into line under pressure, is that if they refused, they would be subject to severe ridicule and/or punishment. They know that if they subjected themselves to this ridicule or punishment, that we would not do anything to protect them from that injustice.
The stories of individuals who have been damaged by the illegal acts of our government and their agents are beginning to filter through. But the damage that's been done is far greater than the stories yet told. Damage done to our Constitution and to our self respect will likely take a heavy toll for generations to come.
And yet for most Americans their sensibilities are not disturbed by what's been happening ... many do not want to hear about it. Those who do hear about it, make up their own rationalization of why it's ok. Many simply don't know what to think or do.
Since the atrocities and illegalities for which his administration is responsible have not been repudiated by Congress or the American people, he and his conspirators will continue to conclude that there is no limit to their power ... all they have to do is take however much they want... but do it just a little bit at a time. And there is no reason to suspect that they will not do just that and use that power for their own purposes, whatever that might be.
I say to you: the ends do not justify the means. If we do not identify, explore, and repudiate the illegal acts of this government, soon the fist of injustice will come knocking at every door ... if history teaches us anything at all, it surely teaches us that.
There is good reason for secrecy in the Bush administration. The reason they don't want to conduct or discuss their activities in the light of day is because eventually the American people would figure it out: they would come to the conclusion that the reason the so called terrorists are out to kill Americans is because secretly the American government has been responsible for murder and the disenfranchisement of decent people all over the world. The United States has been active in destroying democratic institutions for a long time. We have done this to satisfy American greed for resources that don't belong to us, oil being supreme among them. We have caused people in middle eastern countries to suffer tyrants like Saddam Hussein and the Saudi family.
American leaders favor tyrants. We help install them. We work very hard to keep them in place. We like tyrants because we can buy them off in a protection racket. We use our money and our military power to support their illegitimate regimes in exchange for cheap oil, or whatever the resource happens to be. In all countries it works pretty much the same. And in these countries it is ordinary people who suffer because of our policies.
When some of these people finally decide to strike out, fight back, to get us to stop, our leaders call it terrorism and then they ask us to send our children to die in battle fighting these 'bad' guys. They tell us that we are being attacked for no other reason than that they hate our freedom and our democracy. And we believe them; and we send our children to die and to kill because we don't have the knowledge or courage not to believe them. We are so afraid, we are even willing to send our beautiful children to die and to kill. What a price to pay for ignorance and blind faith.
Stand up. Speak out. Remove the traitors from their perches or they will take our children and turn them into criminals like themselves.
Mark A. Goldman is a financial planner who lives on Vashon Island, WA . He has written three books of political commentary since Bush took office in 2000. Additional information and commentary can be found at his web site: www.gpln.com. You can email Mark at: email@example.com