Bush should apply "justice" consistently, or reconsider his position
Date: Wednesday, December 17 2003
Vive le Canada.ca, Dec. 17
To the Editor,
Yesterday, it was reported that President George W. Bush advocated the death penalty for Saddam Hussein (StarPheonix, "Saddam should face death penalty"). This should come as no surprise. Bush's position is consistent with his views on capital punishment. Indeed, when Bush was Governor of Texas, he authorized more state executions than any previous Governor. In a state infamous for its executions, the Bush name was synonymous with basic frontier justice. On many occasions, Bush would justify capital punishment by invoking some version of the biblical phrase of "an eye for and eye and..." .
In fact, it would be difficult to fault Bush on his legendary consistent promotion of capital punishment. Even in a celebrated case of a teenage criminal, with severe mental deficiencies, Bush refused clemency. The law is the law! What resolve, what courage, what devotion to justice! Of course, on this latter point, many American states, and most civilized countries have abolished the death penalty.
But this time, perhaps President Bush should not have strayed from his written script. Initially, Bush stated that he would not be drawn into the pre-judging of Saddam Hussein. This was a wise decision. It avoided giving the appearance of being the judge, jury and executioner. In fact, the principle of justice is the bedrock of our legal system. Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not in the court of public opinion.
Significantly, Bush's naked disrespect for "judicious process" will warrant little criticism in the America media. By contrast, any groups promoting a fair, transparent trial for Hussein will be lampooned, ridiculed, or even threatened, for daring to defend the "Butcher of Bagdad".
In fact, the notion of human justice has already been lost in the media frenzy to secure the most exciting sound bites.
Americian politicians, journalists, commenators and others jockey for position as they call for Hussein's execution, praise the bravery of American forces, and celebrate America's selfless role as the liberator of Iraq in particular, and the world in general.
Other than a small minority of critics who are routinely silenced (Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and others), little of substance makes its way into the US media. For example, the American public is rarely asked to consider the possibility that they are invaders, not liberators in Iraq. Other than the "left wing nuts", or journalists seeking professional suicide, the American people have never been exposed to a serious critique of what the US is doing in Iraq, or what it has done in the world for the past 50 years or so.
But, just for a moment, let's employ the Bush propensity for consistency in his respect for the law. After the terrible tragedy of 9/11, Bush announced that the terrorists (Osama bin Laden, et al) , or those helping terrorists, would be found and brought to justice. Bush stated that those helping terrorists are just as guilty as the terrorists. And, President Bush has been unequivocal in his targeting of bin Laden as the architect of 9/11.
Instead of the media repeating the stereotypical good guys versus bad guys script, they need to dig beneath the surface of issues-they would find all the intrigue, hypocrisy, treachery, and dishonesty of a fictional drama. While this makes journalistic sense in the quest for the truth, it would present a minefield of dilemmas for President Bush.
Parenthetically, because of President Bush's respect for "justice", he would have to put half of his cabinet, as well as his father, on trial. First, George Bush Sr. was intimately involved economically with the bin Laden family. Thanks to money from the bin Laden family, as well as from the Saudi Arabia government, the Bush family wealth grew exponentially. Second, the American government actively trained and supported Osama bin Laden in his killing of the Russian invaders of Afghanistan. Third, the "Butcher of Bagdad" got his carving lessons from the American CIA and other American intelligence groups. Fourth, much of the genocidal slaughter by Hussein, was done with the help of American weaponry, training, intelligence and personnel. Fifth, Donald Rumsfeld (one of President George W. Bush's most trusted confidants in the cabinet) was actually in Bagdad, delivering advice to Hussein during the war against Iran. Pictures from that era show Rumsfeld and Hussein flashing smiles and sharing laughter.
It is also important to remember that during this Iran-Iraq war "mass gassing and other atrocities" were committed by Hussein. However, these atrocities were condoned by the American government. Ironically, these are the same kinds of atrocities that President Bush refers to when he calls for the execution of Hussein.
Now, here is the Shakespearean dilemma. Should President Bush instruct the justice department to investigate his father and selected cabinet ministers for aiding and abetting known terrorists? Should they be brought to trial for their alleged crimes?
Or should President Bush re-think his position on capital punishment, just in case there is one fewer family member at his dinner table?
Sardonic humour aside, the sanctity of life should always be revered whether it is in our family, community, country, or the world at large.