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The Huffington Post

Crimes Without Punishment

Sherman Yellen

This weekend, thanks to Arianna Huffington, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson's brilliant documentary about the Iraq war, the buildup, the fuck-up and the slide into chaos. See it now at whatever theatre has the guts to show it. Don't wait until it comes to Netflix because this is one film that must be seen in a theatre with a full sized theatre screen, not on a television set, no matter how large the set. This isn't about watching football, it's about watching history, really bad, tragic history. Only in the theatre will you see the true dimensions of the horror and the chaos that Bush brought down on the Iraqi people, and the criminal ignorance of the Bush administration that brought us to where we are today. It's Halloween -- a horror film in the shape of a fine documentary, one that lets events do the talking, the very best way to review history.

There is a point where incompetence and willed ignorance, infused with constant lying, becomes a criminal act. And this has happened to the Bush administration, where their mistakes have become crimes. This film is a stunning indictment of our President and his cohorts and the hell that they brought down on the Iraqi people, and its consequences for all Americans, beyond the insurgency -- the hatred that makes us so vulnerable today from any terrorists that our president created. It is hard to look at this film and not believe that Bush was a mole, a secret agent of Al Qaeda, for nothing those terrorist criminals might have done could have wreaked such havoc on the world and America as the acts of George Bush and company.

Just today the news reported the accidental killing of a group of adult Iraqis and a small child by our soldiers who were seeking insurgents and killed the innocents in error. Each of these incidents adds to the crimes that this administration has brought to the world, and the hatred for America. I love this country, and it hurts me and many like me to discover that we are regarded as enemies of peace. Here is the big questions raised in my mind. Will these crimes go unpunished? Will an Obama or a Hillary, if elected, advise us that we must look ahead, not backwards to the recent past? I long for the bad-old days, the really bad old days when a Napolean was exiled to Elba and St. Helena to spend his last days in exile after being responsible for the deaths of millions, cut off from the company of mankind. Chances are Bush will return to Crawford, start work on his library, and attempt to revise history so that his crimes are made to appear bold actions, not the murderously stupid, irresponsible acts that they were. If ever there was an argument for keeping our base at Guantanamo it would be that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, together with Condoleeza Rice would be sent there into permanent exile. This won't happen, of course, but one can dream.

In every other aspect of life we seek justice and accountability, but in the case of the rogue Bush government, many feel that getting these bozos out of Washington this year will be enough. Not me and many like me. If it's not actually murder they committed, it is most assuredly manslaughter (particularly in the case of Rumsfeld who told our soldiers who complained of being sent into battle with Humvees lacking armor-plate that you go to battle with the army you have, smiling at his own wit, surrounded by the smug, the dishonest, and the dishonorable, of which he was and is a charter member.


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No matter who gets elected (and this leaves out Uncle Daffy, Mr. Surge McCain) there will be great difficulties in extricating ourselves from Iraq. We cannot turn our backs on those Iraqis who helped us or those who fled into exile and dire poverty. But a band-aid of alms for the Iraqi poor won't cut it, not after leaving guns about for the insurgency, and tossing them to the mercy of their old enemy Iran. There is no way that we can leave Iraq in the short period of time proposed by Obama or Hillary with any moral authority, and someone should tell the truth to the American people about our obligation to the Iraqis. First, however, we must be assured that the Congress investigates the various crimes of the Bush administration. Henry Waxman may help there by investigating the corruption of those unbid contracts of Blackwater, and it may be such corruption -- like the tax conviction of Al Capone that brought him down, that brings down Cheney and others -- but Waxman lacks the support of too many cautious Democratic representatives who want to push the Bush years out of sight.

Nancy Pelosi believed that she was making a smart tactical move by refusing to consider an impeachment of Bush, but it was a great mistake because without clearing the rubble and assigning blame where it belongs, we leave behind us a history of crimes without punishment, a blow to any sane notion of justice. And far worse, this country cannot truly move ahead without a full hearing and an assignment of blame for this disastrous war. Call me vindictive. I can live with that. But I can't live with the idea that all these villains, and that's what they are, will walk away into their new lives in academia, business, or just their corrupt and comfortable billionaire-dom, and pay nothing but in reputation for their crimes. Government leaders went to prison for far less in the Teapot Dome scandal of the '20s, and for Watergate in the '70s. The crimes of the Bush administration dwarf any committed by their predecessors. See No End in Sight, and I believe that you will agree.

Sherman Yellen is a screenwriter, playwright, and lyricist.

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