Fall 2005 Call for Indictment

We couldn't stop him from taking office, but we can ensure that his presidency ends as the public disgrace that it is.

Posted Fall 2005

Why indictment?

  • The numerous war crimes, including torture and other "grave breaches" of the 4th Geneva Conventions, are not the product of the "fog of war" but instead are the result of deliberate and well-thought out policies formulated by the Bush Administration and signed off on by President Bush himself. The President and his senior officials must be held legally accountable for the systematic commission of war crimes in the name of the American people.

  • Impeachment is a political process, and one that has no chance of succeeding in the current Congress.

  • Indictment is a criminal legal process that is less dependent on which party is in political power.
  • The Bush Administration is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large number of them through deliberate military actions that could only have resulted in their death and was therefore deliberate, and as such illegal.

  • Torture continues to be practiced in US detention facilities, and according to Federal torture laws, once senior Administration officials (civilian and military) were made aware of its existence and did not put a stop to it, they became criminally responsible for subsequent acts of torture committed by US personnel lower down the chain of command.

  • As Commander-in-Chief, President Bush is responsible, according both to US law and US military regulations (Army Field Manual 27-10) for the systematic commission of war crimes by forces under his control.

As the violence, chaos and corruption associated with the US occupation of Iraq, and larger war on terror, take an ever increasing toll on Iraqis, Americans, and people around the world, Americans are increasingly realizing that the core policies of the Bush Administration--against which Code Pink and its sister organizations has been struggling for the last two years--are a direct cause of the deepening quagmire we as a country as facing. During this period, some progressives began calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush on the grounds that his misleading (or even outright lying) of the American public to win approval for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and his conduct surrounding both constitute a far graver “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” (as the Constitution defines them) than the actions that led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

We agree that President Bush deserves to be impeached, but the results of the November elections, along with the solid Republican majorities in the House and Senate, demonstrate the practical impossibility of his being removed from office by these means. Yet the extent of the criminal violations of international and US law by the Bush Administration continues and has even increased with each passing month. And it is this very fact--the massive and incontrovertible evidence that the Bush Administration at the highest military and political levels has long been aware of, countenanced, and perhaps even directly authorized the systematic violation of international humanitarian law, including innumerable war crimes--that has led a group of leading lawyers, scholars and activists to call not for his removal from office, but instead for the Federal investigation, indictment and trial of the senior military and political planners of the Iraq war, up to and including President Bush himself.

In recent weeks leading organizations around the world have initiated criminal proceedings against President Bush and/or senior US officials. In a Germany, the Center for Constitutional RIghts has
asked a German Court to open a criminal investigation into the culpability of US officials for the torture--which continues as you read this--at Abu Ghraib prison. These accusations are supported by recently released memos from FBI agents who witnessed such practices (to their surprise and horror) at Guantanimo, and warned of dire consequences should they be allowed to continue (which they were). In Canada, Osgoode Law School Professor Michael Mandel and an international team of legal scholars have filed torture charges against President Bush and other senior US officials On the grass roots level, several “people's international courts” or “tribunals” have provided the public with clear evidence of the crimes associated with the occupation of Iraq.

We believe that there is significant, even overwhelming evidence to support the charge that the President and his immediate subordinates are politically, morally, and most important, legally, responsible for the systematic commission of war crimes and other violations of international law. Yet we are equally convinced that attempts to bring them to justice through international legal mechanisms will prove fruitless, precisely because most Americans have been taught to be suspicious of and even openly hostile to the institutions of international law that the United States once helped to shape. Because of these, we believe that President Bush and other senior Administration officials should face justice right here in the United States, in the US federal court system which has direct jurisdiction over the crimes with which we are accusing them, and where their fate would be judged by a jury of their peers. As former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman (who wrote the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon during Watergate)
argues, the principles of democracy and accountability, and the sacred nature of our Constitution, demand no less at this moment of grave peril to our democracy.

Members of CODEPINK are well aware of the criminal nature of the Iraqi occupation. CODEPINK founders Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin, and Gael Murphy and affiliated scholars, activists and artists from Sean Penn to Micahel Franti have repeatedly journeyed to Iraq to report on the situation in the country, much of which was collected in the book Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation as well as being reported about on this
website and innumerable progressive list serves and/or articles. What we saw in Iraq, and the daily reports we receive from friends and colleagues in the country, paints a far darker picture of life twenty months into the occupation, and the violence it has unleashed, than is presented in most of the mainstream media. Moreover, we know from our own visits to hospitals, morgues, mosques, clinics and schools, and meetings with senior Iraqi doctors, lawyers, activists and ordinary citizens, that the sad reality is, as the recent report of several leading research hospitals published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet demonstrates, that US forces are directly responsible for over 85,000 Iraqi deaths, over half of them civilians, since March 19, 2003.

Indeed, there is clear evidence that the American military has systematically violated dozens of articles of the 4th Geneva Convention and similar international treatIes, many of which clearly rise to the level of war crimes and even crimes against humanity. We further know, from the very rules set out in the US Army Field Manual 27-10, as well as other federal and/or government regulations, that the “command responsibility”and thus, crucially, criminal responsibilityfor these repeated and flagrant criminal violations of international and US law, extends to the highest levels of our military and political leadership, even if they did not explicitly authorize the criminal actions in the first place.

Moreover, the overwhelming evidence available to the public suggests that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their senior military and political advisors were informed when such violations occurred and did nothing to stop them from continuing. Indeed, senior advisors went so far as to suggest changing American law or changing our interpretation of international treaties--which because they have been ratified by the Congress and signed by the President are constitutionally considered equally American laws. As we have seen with the case of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, his exploration of legal frameworks for abandoning the Geneva Conventions has been rewarded by his promotion to the very pinnacle of judicial and prosecutorial power in the country with his appointment as Attorney General. Such a move signals that the reelected Bush Administration will seek to institutionalize, not apologize and move away from, the kinds of actions made infamous by the torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and by the daily incidents of killing civilians with no good reason across the wide expanse of Iraq.

In such an environment, we feel that the only hope the peace and justice movement in the United States has to stop the horrific violence, corruption and erosion of civil liberties at home that characterize Bush Administration's record in office is to use our criminal justice system to force the judicial branch of our Government to open criminal investigations into senior members of the Bush Administration for the commission of war crimes, including but not limited to torture. But to do this we need your help! Thanks to generous donations from Code Pink supporters we have been able to hire a leading international lawyer to begin drawing up a memo that will be presented to the Justice Department in which we will detail the case against President Bush and his senior aides for the commission of torture and other war crimes. In the likely event that the Justice Department refuses to act on the memo we will proceed to Federal Court and work to find a federal judge who would be willing to compel the Justice Department to open up a criminal investigation based on the evidence we have presented.

But we do not have the funds to complete the memo. We need to raise at least $10,000 before the end of January, 2005 in order to complete it and begin the process of working through the Justice Department and federal court system to ensure that justice is done for the hundred thousand Iraqis and thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers! Additional funds are needed to promote awareness through newspaper and other media advertisements of the memo to indict President Bush make sure sufficient public pressure exists to convince at least one Federal judge to support it. Please help us with an immediate donation of whatever amount you can afford so that we can complete the memo in time for the President's inauguration! Together we can make sure that President Bush and his Administration spend the next four years fighting to stay out of jail rather than staying in Iraq and continuing with an increasingly brutal and fruitless war on terror that is only stoking the flames of hatred and violence across the world.

Please check this site regularly as we will be updating it with new information about the progress of the memo, new members of our international legal and advisory board for this effort, and links to articles and interviews with leading scholars about war crimes and possibility of prosecuting senior American officials under US and international law. Also, please note that our focus on US war crimes should in no way suggest that we sanction violent resistance to the occupation of Iraq or other occupations, or that we don't condemn terrorist and other violent actions committed by "resistance" or "insurgent" movements in Iraq, Palestine or elsewhere. The perpetrators and sponsors of such crimes should also face justice at the national and international levels. While as Americans we are specifically focusing on trying our own leaders, in US courts, because of the grave and immanent threat to our democracy their actions have caused, we urge the international community to come together to ensure that all systematic acts of war crimes be fully investigated and prosecuted in whatever venue is most assured of fairly and expeditiously judging those accused of such crimes.