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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Criminality and Federal Offenders

Occasion for this Essay

Eliza Manningham-Buller, MI5 Chief from 2002-2007 in Britain, just testified that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the September 11, 2001, attack nor had any weapons of mass destruction.  She said our CIA knew the same, but that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had set up a separate intelligence agency in the Pentagon to arrive at the Bush White House's needed conclusions to declare war against the oil-rich Iraq.

What interested me was the note in the article that the London panel in the inquiry "would not apportion blame or assign criminal liability for mistakes made, but will issue a report later this year with recommendations for future operations and military missions."

In our nation, everyone knows the many people involved in creating a pretext for war with Iraq:  the President, Vice-President, and many others all colluded to lead innocent Americans and Iraqis to their deaths, all for oil fields.  Yet like those in London, few leaders in either the Republican or Democratic parties ever wanted to press for the many criminal charges possible for such conduct.  Representative Dennis Kucinich did draft articles of impeachment against President Bush, but Kucinich, not Bush, was treated as some kind of political crank and renegade.

America and Britain make great claims about being democratic nations living "under the rule of law," as if all other nations do not have their own laws.  Yet when our highest officials engage in criminal conduct, we do not treat them as we do other criminals.  No, we will not even charge them as criminals, not most of us, with people like Kucinich excepted.  We allow them to "admit error" and confess they "made mistakes."

Had no lives been sacrificed upon these plots to obtain control of petroleum reserves, I am sure I would be less motivated for justice, and less driven by the barbarity of what happened in the potentially millions of deaths of innocent people on all sides so far, and continuing.

I feel no inclination for polite slaps on the hands, or for mercy, for any who would use political power to murder innocent people.  So, knowing what I am about to write really matters to only the few, I still write for my own adult children, if no one else.

The Legal Definitions of Murder

The definition of murder is "the unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice aforethought, either express or implied."  There are three degrees of murder, where killing is:  (1) premeditated, with design; (2) lack of premeditation, but a purpose to kill or inflict injury without caring whether it caused death or not; and without provocation to reduce the charge to manslaughter; and, in some states, (3) without intent to kill, in the commission of a felony.

Note that murder is "unlawful killing."  War is lawful killing.  Regarding our past President and his cabal of oil-hungry collaborators, in their minds all they had to do was obtain the legal consent of the U.S. Congress in order to do their legal war-killing.  Their conspiracy they would call later, "a mistake on incorrect information."  Yet they constructed that incorrect information, and denied to accept the full corroborations of both the CIA and MI5 which denied their information.  Enough of this, for we all know it.

They premeditated, using the legal means of war, killing innocent Americans, and millions of Iraqis who died or will die from the war, to control oil reserves.  If somehow in their minds they pushed away these facts, then they are guilty of second degree murder, since they carried out their conspiracy in disregard of its fatal consequences for all those who would die.  Finally, if we consider the many points in Kucinich's articles which were felonious, they are guilty of murder in the third degree, since many were killed as "collateral damage" to their commissions of felonies.

The Moral Offense

Every day there are individual Americans and British who are charged, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced either to terms in prison or the death penalty.  When these murderers have committed multiple counts of victims, sentences are multiplied and issued concurrently.  No one questions, in either nation, that the deaths of innocent people require punishment; that the integrity of our nations requires justice; that our legal systems must mete out severe punishments for murder, for the sake of the dead, their survivors, the welfare of stable societies, and as warnings to those who would commit murder.

Now in America, we know that many are wrongfully convicted due to poor legal representation, other issues such as discrimination due to race or socio-economic status.  Our systems of justice do not always work well.  Yet we continue to use them, in their imperfections, because the principles of law, justice, and the preservation of society, require us to use the courts as best we can, and to learn from their errors.

Every time I see a murder conviction, and read the frequent severe punishments for the killing of one person--often twenty years without parole, in the federal system--I think about every American war declared on a pretext.  This includes Lyndon Johnson's undeclared war in Vietnam, based on The Tonkin Resolution, as well as our latest war in Iraq.

Until the people of the United States of America require that the penalties of our laws apply to all our people, without distinction, we cannot hold up our heads proudly as a free people.  Now, Britain has joined us in favoring the high and mighty, but in punishing severely the low and relatively powerless.

If the Bush girls' lives were to have been put on the front lines of battle, just as if the children or grandchildren of the entire Congress were to have been put there, the Iraq War never would have been plotted, approved, declared, and waged.  I am amazed and saddened by my Republican and Democratic acquaintances who do not see, with me, that American Justice is selectively applied only to those outside the corridors of power, money, and politics.

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