Cage Match: Criminal Complicity on the Campaign Trail

We've examined various aspects of America's Torture State many times at this site (most recently here), but in his latest column, Ted Rall pulls it all together and provides a succinct and powerful bill of indictment (excerpts below), drawing the only conclusion that anyone not corrupted or cowed into servility can possibly draw: George W. Bush and his chief advisers should be arrested and tried on charges of torture and murder.

Anyone who actually believed in democracy and the rule of law -- anyone who actually believed that the constitutional republic of the United States was worth preserving and strengthening -- anyone who had even a vestigial sense of morality or the most flickering commitment to the idea of justice -- would already be calling for the prosecution of Bush and his minions for these capital crimes. This goes double for anyone in public life, holding public office, with a national platform to speak from, and institutional tools at their disposal for investigating these crimes.

So where are these voices in the citadel of power calling for justice to be done? They are silent. In both houses of Congress, in both major parties, they are silent. On the campaign trail, preening before the public as wise and virtuous leaders worthy to lead a nation, they are silent.

It is clear -- clear beyond all doubt or dispute -- that our public officials do not believe in democracy and law. They don't want to preserve the constitutional republic. They have no sense of morality or the slightest commitment to justice. If they did, they would already be taking action, standing up, leading the nation out of this blood-drenched cesspit.

Barack Obama -- whom we are told is performing a transcendent miracle by "changing the very nature of politics" -- doesn't believe in law, or justice, or the republic; he won't fight for them, he won't stand up for them. Neither will Hillary Clinton. Neither will John McCain. Like all of our "leaders," they will talk of such things; they will extol law and justice and the Constitution in the loftiest terms. But when it's time to lay it on the line, to put their professed beliefs into action -- they fold. They shift. They dissemble. When they are confronted with overwhelming evidence of high crimes by the president and his henchmen, they "take impeachment off the table." For as Obama says, impeachment should be reserved for "exceptional circumstances." And outright violations of United States law against torture and murder are not, in Obama's eyes, exceptional circumstances.

This is why I don't take the presidential election seriously. None of the candidates believe in or support the constitutional republic that I believe in. They are vying for the leadership of a different country altogether; or rather, they are fighting, like vicious weasels in a cage, to gain temporary ascendancy over a savage and monstrous power system imposed on the country -- a system unconcerned with democracy or the common good, and rigged to serve a rapacious elite.

Yes, as we've noted here many times, there could be some not insignificant differences, on the ground, in the lives of many people, depending on which of these amoral power-seekers emerges, ripped and bleeding, from the cage. So the contest is meaningful in that respect -- just as intramural squabbles among the elite always have meaningful impacts on the lives of the people they dominate. Naturally, one takes an interest in who the new tsar will be, or which faction at court is on the rise -- "the packs and sects of great ones, that ebb and flow by the moon."

But the current cage match is not a serious campaign for the presidency of a law-abiding republic, because none of the candidates believe in such a thing. If they did, they would be bending all their strength toward addressing the crimes that Rall outlines below.

From "Arrest Bush" (via

“According to a former CIA official involved in the process,” ABC reported, “CIA headquarters would receive cables from operatives in the field asking for authorization for specific techniques.” Can we beat up this guy? Can we waterboard him?

The Bushies weren’t otherwise known for dwelling on details. Osama was in Pakistan; they invaded Afghanistan instead. Two years later, he was still in Pakistan. They invaded Iraq. Bush and his top officials still found time to walk through every step of torment a detainee would suffer in some CIA dungeon halfway around the world.

“The high-level discussions about these ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were so detailed, [Bush Administration] sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic. These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top Al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.”

Bush knew. Not only did he know, he personally approved it. He likes torture.

“Yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue,” he confirmed. “And I approved.”

When the U.S. signs a treaty, its provisions carry the full force of U.S. law. One such treaty is the U.N. Convention Against Torture, of which the U.S. is a core signatory. As Philippe Sands writes in his new book “Torture Team:” Parties to the… Convention are required to investigate any person who is alleged to have committed torture. If appropriate, they must then prosecute — or extradite the person to a place where he will be prosecuted. The Torture Convention… criminalizes any act that constitutes complicity or participation in torture. Complicity or participation could certainly be extended not only to the politicians and but also the lawyers involved…”

George W. Bush has publicly confessed that he ordered torture, thus violating the Convention Against Torture. He, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the other Principals must therefore be arrested and, unlike the thousands of detainees kidnapped by the U.S. since 9/11, arraigned and placed on trial.

Because the torture ordered by Bush and his cabinet directly resulted in death, they must additionally be charged with several counts of murder. Fifteen U.S. soldiers have been charged with the murders of two detainees at the U.S. airbase at Bagram, Afghanistan in 2002. They were following orders issued by their Commander-in-Chief and his Principals....

If George W. Bush were an ordinary citizen, there can be little doubt that he would face a long prison sentence for the scores of acts of torture he authorized both specifically and generally....If Bush weren’t president, he would face murder charges. The maximum sentence in a federal murder case is death.

If Bush and his co-conspirators are not above the law, if the United States remains a nation where all citizens are equal, they must be arrested and indicted.

...Congress could ask a U.S. Marshal to arrest Bush as part of impeachment charges. But the ultimate outcome — removing him from office a few months before the end of his term — seems woefully inadequate given the nature of the charges. In any case, Democrats have already said that impeachment is “off the table.”

...There is, however, a person who could begin holding Bush and the others accountable for their crimes.

She is Cathy L. Lanier, the 39-year-old chief of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department. Chief Lanier, take note: you have probable cause to arrest a self-confessed serial torturer and mass murderer within the borders of the District of Columbia. He resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Go get him.