International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration, Riverside Church – Speech Notes – PDF

2006 Bush Commission Riverside Church

Almost 40 years ago—in 1968—there was another people’s trial—

It was held in Sweden and Denmark—originally in France—but prohibited—

Witnesses and well known progressives—jean paul sartre—gathered together in Stockholm and Copenhagen–

They were there to judge another inhuman outrage in our history—the brutal and inhuman Vietnam war—

Bertrand Russell the famous English philosopher was one of the key participants—in fact it was called the Russell war crimes Tribunal:

Here is Russell said in opening that trial:

We meet at an alarming time–

Overwhelming evidence besieges us daily of crimes without precedent-

We investigate in order to expose —

We document in order to indict—

We arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance—

And so as Russell said then—we say today:

We are putting the Bush administration on trial:

We investigate in order to expose —

We document in order to indict—

We arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance—

We want this trial to be a step in the building of

Mass resistance to war, to torture, to the destruction of our earth and its people;

Our country and our world are at a tipping point—-

Tipping toward permanent war, the end of human rights, and the impoverishment and death of millions—-

We still have a chance, an opportunity to stop this slide into chaos

It is up to us—

We must Not sit without arms folded

We must be as radical as reality—-

The witnesses you will hear over the next few days are the truth tellers­–the witnesses to the carnage this county and administration has wrought=

That truth challenges us all to act————–

We, particularly the American people, have not heard or seen the truth;

and if some do, in their comfort and complacency, they often turn away-

The truth is hidden: it is hidden thru cover-up language, euphemisms, legalism, obfuscations, false investigations and the blaming of individuals; all meant to hide the reality of the criminal involvement of high officials of this administration—-in war, torture, global and human destruction—-

Let’s take a look at a few examples of the cover-up—the failure to look at the reality—a reality this commission will examine—

I am sure most of you are familiar with the first example:

The war in Iraq—supposedly to eliminate Iraq’s WMD—

Now it is said—that was a mistake—it was bad intelligence—the administration says it; and much of congress says it; the press says it—had we only known—but we thought they had wmd’s—-so we must in the future get better intelligence—as if that explains or excuses why we went to war——

But of course that explanation—failure of intelligence–still the current explanation of today by the elites—hides the real reasons for war–­Blames some negligent individuals at the CIA for leading us into war All we need to do is correct that and “mistaken wars” will come to an end—you believe that—you believe in the tooth fairy—

We all know that is not the truth—-(67—king here and predicted it—wrong side of history—protests for the rest of our days)–unless right side

The truth of the Iraq war will come out here at this commission: I guess if I could summarize it in three or four words it would be oil, the middle east and imperialism—

Why did we—progressives– know the WMD story was a cover for war but congress and the media claimed they did not —

Because they were all—dems and repubs–reading from the same page-­And that page is US world exploitation and domination—-

And of course what does the truth tell us about the war in Iraq: That it is an aggressive war; a crime against peace— and according to the judgment at the Nuremberg trials the most heinous of all war crimes—

I want to give you a second example of the failure to look at the reality—the failure to tell the truth—the failure to admit that this administration is torturing people—particularly Muslims–

All of a sudden in this country, torture is not torture—or at worst it is abuse; and even that abuse is no worse than a fraternity prank;

Or if there was abuse it was because some abusive techniques were only for use in Guantanamo and somehow “migrated” to Iraq–what does that mean? Like a bird migrates? Without any human agent?

Or if there was torture it was due to a lack of training or because the rules were not clear—and somehow soldiers did not know that snarling unmuzzled dogs should not be used in interrogations—

Or that it was a lack of supervision that allowed it to happen—a lack of supervision in the military where they know everything you do—

Or that it was only a few bad apples–but no responsibility higher up

And the media has gone along with this—with these lies—these cover-ups—

Worse—serious media discussion and respectability is given the legal justifiers—for example–john yoo—torture in the name of national security—-

Shocked the other day—op ed page NYT—one of those asked to submit his ideas for questions for alito—

Credibility to his position—when he ought to be in the dock—-

Let there be no doubt—administration engaged in massive violations of the law—torture is an international crime; grave breaches of Geneva–­Almost no one is telling you that—-and in this county it is anathema to do so

I want to give you a third and last example of the hiding of reality, of the blaming on individuals instead of the nature of this country and its leaders—-

The third example is preparation for and aftermath of Katrina–­What do we hear and read?—it was an unpredictable act of god; it was a failure of FEMA; FEMA had a bad manager; all sorts of excuses–­Similar to what we heard around the so called intelligence failure in the Iraq war-

But the blame FEMA, blame the individual obscures what we know occurred in New Orleans—

what we saw in New Orleans and the superdome was—something very different—

it was the legacy of slavery, jim crow, and separate but equal —and it was the legacy and the current practice and policy of our country that human beings are seen as disposable particularly if they are poor and black—-

that is the reality of new Orleans; that is the reality faced every day in this country—-

The war, torture and the effects of Katrina are not looked at as failures or the products of the system—the truth is hidden and by hiding it we are disempowered—

So we are here this weekend to hear truth tellers—-to empower people–

It is not just a few bad apples–

It is not just mistakes—or bad choices–

It is not just bad managers—and getting better ones–

But more fundamental—-that awful alchemy as MLK described it again in this very church:

the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism

I want to say a few words about one aspect of the current period that is extremely frightening—-although it does have roots in prior administrations-

  • it may well be the most frightening aspect of our current situation—
  • the short hand for it is the expression “the king can do no wrong”

I recall that shortly after 9/11—within 6 months—wrote an article entitled—

Moving toward a police state or have we arrived—

Not sure—although had some evidence in front of me:

patriot act, internal detentions, military order—detention and trial—gitmo

A police state to me is one where authority is not under law, where legislature is overridden and where courts are ignored; where one can be jailed without court proceeding or trial; and where the president, king or what have you—can do as he pleases—wiretap, torture, disappear people—-

Unfortunately and dangerously, that is the situation we are in today–­—-you are familiar with much of the evidence—some of which I have laid out—the next two days will address—

But there is –one more important piece of evidence I want to bring to your attention—in which the President is open and notorious about his aims—public if you will—about what we must call a coup d’etat in America–

It is the signing statement to the mccain—dec 30—-

You recall the mccain amend—ban cidt/–president resisted it—had to sign

When president signs a bill sometimes issues a signing statement about the new law–

The president’s statement on mccain is only one short paragraph:

But it is historic and unprecedented—

It makes 3 points—-and I am paraphrasing—

  1. my authority as commander in chief allows me to do whatever I think is constitutional including use torture—
  2. the commander in chief cannot be checked by congress–
  3. the commander in chief cannot be checked by the courts—

In other words the republic and democracy is over; in Germany they called this Fuhrers law—for furherer was the law—-

This is the Crossing of the Rubicon—when Caesar crossed that river with his troops it was the end of the roman republic and onset of dictatorship—

This assertion of power is so blatant, open and notorious that it is finally

shocking some people such as former VP Gore—

As he said in his recent speech on MLK Day:

“the President of the US has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently” referring to nsa spying—

66 president who breaks the law if a threat to the very structure of our government”

Gore states that an executive who acts free from will of congress or the check of the judiciary “becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the constitution”

And he quotes Madison that to the effect that this is the “very definition of tyranny”

I believe the president and this grab for power will be repudiated—

But it will not just happen—an aroused public————-

So—Where do we go from here?

One place not to go—despite gore—who is not in office–

Don’t look to Democrats to save us—naive to do—

Most democrats rats fully complicit and obfuscate—-

Graham Levin;——- nullifys; strips evidence of torture



CIA black sites—reporting

Nsa spying—-

Alito, charade—open minded on abortion-the const right of 50 pct–

Lessons of history teach us—not move our leaders without the passion and protest of the people—-

Close with a sense of hope—-
Administration is unraveling-

Split in the elites—gore—best example—

And everywhere we see former admin officials speaking out—

Realize administration has gone too far—and want to save some remnant of

democracy —

Indictments from scooter libby to DeLay coming fast

Miller general for torture takes 5th

Sanchez retires without a 4th star

A real opening for us—-

But not to simply go back to the normal—

The malady is deeper then that—

We need a radical transformation of our society—-

My hopes for today and for the future— is that truth will arouse resistance—and with resistance there will come change—-

I mean resistance of every sort—mobilizing, protesting, disobeying and disobedience——-

Sometimes we can wait to long to take action or as King said, you can be too late:

So let me end with kings directive to us all:

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends that tomorrow is today.

We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. …There is such a thing as being too late.

We still have a choice today:…Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”—

Belafonte—recently in Venezuela—after 6 hours with president Chavez:

No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we’re here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution,”

Later at children’s defense fund—

So when I make my remarks, they may stir up controversy, but then it’s time to talk about new definitions, new points of view.

And that is what we are here to do this weekend—-

King speech—April 67 —”beyond Vietnam:”

Historic place—

Began that speech with

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. ”

Went on:

—program—remove all forg troops-9 more years—

We model our conduct on Dr. Kings—

As he said then— we say today:–a time comes when silence is betrayal—-

That time has come for us in relation to Iraq—it is time to bring the troops home now—-