Part One: Criminality and Immorality
According to Article VI of our U.S. Constitution, treaties entered into by the United States become the "Supreme Law of the Land." At the urging of President Harry Truman, on July 28, 1945, the U.S. Senate ratified the United Nations Charter by a vote of 89 to 2, with 5 abstentions. Thus the UN Charter became the supreme law of the land. And, thus, the United States was legally prohibited from waging war unless attacked, unless an attack was imminent, or unless the United Nations approved such a war.
Not for the first time, but most egregiously, did a President of the United States violate both his oath to uphold the Constitution and international law when President Bush ordered the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Unbeknownst to the American public at the time, criminal plans for removing Saddam Hussein not only dominated the early 2001 meetings of Bush's National Security Council, they also crowded out time and attention that would have been better spent attempting to thwart the impending terrorist attacks by al Qaeda terrorists -- about which the Bush/Cheney regime had been frequently warned.
Why the obsession with Iraq? Credit the decade-old drumbeat for war by America's neoconservatives. Then, like cockroaches, they literally infested the newly installed Bush/Cheney regime. Thus, it became an article of faith - explicitly expressed during the NSC meetings in early 2001 -- that regime change in Iraq would reshape the Middle East and, thus, enhance Israel's security and strengthen America's ability to leverage the region's oil.
Unfortunately the very success of al Qaeda's criminal plans for 9/11 provoked the very anger and fear within the U.S. that enabled the Bush/Cheney regime to implement its criminal plans. By successfully (although falsely) linking Iraq to al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, the Bush/Cheney regime was able to portray its long-planned war as unavoidable self-defense. After all the UN Charter permits its members to engage in wars of self-defense while explicitly prohibiting "the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
Thus, members of the Bush/Cheney regime soon were giving speeches that falsely and maliciously conflated 9/11 and Iraq. Subsequently, they also began to warn about the grave and growing threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ties to al Qaeda. Although nobody but the dumbest of ignorant Americans should have been persuaded by hints of Iraq's complicity in the 9/11 attacks, in fact, a majority of Americans were persuaded. Imagine, then, how easily persuaded they were by false assertions about Iraq's WMD and ties to al Qaeda.
Only after the invasion would Americans learn conclusively that Iraq possessed no WMD, that Iraq had no significant ties to al Qaeda. Then the questions cascaded: Were the false assertions by the Bush/Cheney regime mere mistakes or were they evil lies?
The Bush/Cheney regime responded by blaming the failure to find WMD on the poor intelligence provided by America's intelligence community -- adding that the intelligence services of other countries also mistakenly believed that Iraq possessed WMD. Although such scapegoating contained a large nugget of truth, it was designed to obscure two important facts: (1) the intelligence reports often contained qualifiers, expressions of doubts about Iraq's WMD that were not publicized by the Bush/Cheney regime before the invasion and (2) senior officials in the Bush/Cheney regime embellished the faulty intelligence, lied about it, and fabricated contrary intelligence to render the evidence more ominous than it actually was (see "Immorality").
Moreover, when it became certain that the UN would not approve a second resolution, one that authorized the use of force against Iraq, the U.S. (acting jointly with Britain and Spain) withdrew its draft of the second resolution from the UN Security Council. Why? Because Britain's Lord Goldsmith warned, "if the sponsors of the U.S.-UK draft resolution sought a vote at the council and failed to get it, serious doubts would be cast on the legality of military action against Iraq."
After withdrawing the second resolution, the Bush/Cheney regime made the following argument: because resolution 1441 "decided that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of all relevant resolutions," the U.S. already possessed the authority to use force. This argument was blatantly false, especially because it is up to the UN Security Council, not individual members, "to decide whether and how to enforce its resolutions." [John Burroughs and Nicole Deller, "The United Nations Charter and the Invasion of Iraq," Neo-Conned Again pp. 368-69]
Such slimy behavior fooled almost nobody in the world except a large number of Americans, including Americans in the news media. Which explained why the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, called the Bush/Cheney regime's subsequent invasion of Iraq "illegal." In fact, as the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal put it (in the wake of Nazi Germany's defeat), "To initiate a war of aggression" is "the supreme international crime."
Lesser war crimes by the Bush/Cheney regime already had been committed. As the Guardian reported, "Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantanamo Bay reached the highest level of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, chose to do nothing about it." ["Bush team 'knew of abuse' at Guantanamo," Sept. 13, 2004] The paper also reported, "The secret 'special access program' facilitating much of the mistreatment, widely held to have contravened the Geneva convention, was established following a direct order from the president." [Ibid]
The criminal rot from Guantanamo was "eventually transferred wholesale" to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where subsequent revelations of prisoner torture there by U.S. soldiers irreparably dishonored the United States in the eyes of the world. Writing in the 27 June 2007 issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh notes a May 2004 meeting, during which Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba informed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others about the torture of prisoners occurring at Abu Ghraib. Taguba "described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.'"
According to Hersh, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the Abu Ghraib abuses in January 2004. Thus, Rumsfeld appears to have lied when, "in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, [he] claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse." [Hersh, New Yorker 27 June 2007] Only when the scandal became public, did the regime's cover-up fall apart.
Yet, the crimes continue. According to Human Rights Watch, "In the past five years the administration has authorized torture and other abusive interrogation techniques, "disappeared" dozens of suspected terrorists into secret prisons, twisted domestic law to permit indefinite detention without charge of persons suspected of links to terrorism, and confined hundreds at Guantanamo Bay without charge while denying them information about the basis for their detention and meaningful opportunity to contest it. The administration has sought to exempt its actions from court oversight." [Human Rights Watch, "United States," World Report 2007]