Three years ago, Easter dawned on Crawford,
Texas, for the many friends of justice and peace who were gathered there
to celebrate new hope.
Rev. Joseph Lowery gave an inspired
message that morning, in what turned out to be a warm-up for his Benediction
at the Inauguration of our new president in January 2009.
Camp Casey that Easter 2006 was a relatively
quiet occasion to reflect and celebrate new life and one another.
The best known resident of Crawford had decided to avoid the crowd assembling
there, opting instead to spend Easter at Camp David in the mountains
of Maryland. There troublesome questioners could be kept farther
away-I mean people like Cindy Sheehan, who would not stop asking why
our sons and daughters were being killed and maimed in an unnecessary
The previous summer Sheehan had become
the Rosa Parks of Crawford, challenging the president to tell her what
was the "noble cause" for which her son Casey died in Iraq on April
4, 2004. Sadly, we were not surprised that an answer-less president
preferred clearing brush to clearing up what he meant by saying such
deaths were "worth it."
Ironically, President George W. Bush
seemed supremely comfortable talking about evildoers-other evildoers.
We, in contrast, saw evil in the launching of what the post-WWII Nuremberg
Tribunal labeled a "war of aggression," defined as the "supreme
international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it
contains the accumulated evil of the whole."
As I gathered with other pilgrims in
Crawford those sad summers of 2005 and 2006, there was a strong sense
of responsibility and determination to confront "the accumulated evil
of the whole"-particularly torture.
In August 2006, the timid journalists
of the western White House told us the president had sweat on his brow
from clearing brush. And as we gathered one evening, someone quoted
from the musical Camelot: "I wonder what the (self-styled)
king is doing tonight; what merriment is the king pursuing tonight."
With damning disclosures coming left
and right about the torture procedures unleashed by that president,
it seems a good guess that, rather than making merry, he was sweating
the evenings away, as well. You see, President George W. Bush
had left his fingerprints on accumulated evils for which he was likely
eventually to be held accountable, in one way or another. And
during the summer of 2006 the chickens were coming home to roost.
On June 29 of that year, in a 5 to
3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration was
wrong in denying detainees the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions.
Bush had done so by Executive Order of February 7, 2002. Don't
look for it in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM); simply Google it.
Worse still from Bush's point of
view, Justice Anthony Kennedy saw fit to say out loud the obvious; i.
e., that disregarding Geneva amounts to a war crime. One Bush
aide is reported to have gone quite pale when Kennedy warned that violations
of Geneva "are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal
So as we stood watch in Crawford in
August 2006, Bush sweat was dripping not so much from clearing brush,
but rather from a hasty effort to have the Republican-controlled Congress
pass a law granting administration officials-from Bush on down-
retroactive immunity from prosecution for the illegal detainment and
abuse of detainees. That effort came to fruition in September
when Democrats as well as Republicans acquiesced in passing the so-called
"Military Commissions Act."
"Is this a great country, or what?"
you may be saying to yourself. But wait; laws can be amended,
changed; new laws can be passed. The stay-out-of-jail pass that
was given to the perpetrators of accumulated evil can bear an expiration
date. Despite the best efforts of crafty lawyers and loyal legislators,
perpetual immunity is probably not in the cards.
Still Feeling the Heat
On December 11, 2008, after a two-year
investigation, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Carl Levin released the summary
of a Senate Armed Services Committee report, issued without dissent,
demonstrating that Bush's Executive Order of February 7, 2002 had
"opened the way to considering aggressive techniques" that were
then ordered implemented by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Coming soon: the full text, which, even with heavy redactions, will
provide ample grist for courses in criminal law for years to come.
More damning still is an authoritative
report by the International Committee of the Red Cross-the body legally
responsible for monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and
supervising the treatment of prisoners of war-that was given initially
to CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo in February 2007 but not published
in full until this past Sunday. That report describes in gory
detail the torture techniques let loose by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/ and
their Mafia-style attorneys for use on so-called "high-value" detainees.
Google that report too, if you have the stomach for it and can bear
George W. Bush had better have a swimming
pool in his new Texas digs, because that report puts the final nail
in the coffin, so to speak, of any plans he may have had for foreign
travel. If he steps onto an international flight, he is likely
to have more to duck than shoes, wherever he lands.
Even if the administration of Barack
Obama continues to shirk its duty to appoint a nonpartisan, independent
prosecutor to launch an appropriate investigation, the former president
and his accomplices cannot risk the possibility of being apprehended
abroad, brought to The Hague, and tried for war crimes.
I am not making this up. Remember
how former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to sneak out of France
in October 2007, reluctant to wait for a Paris prosecutor to decide
how to handle a criminal complaint against him for approving torture?
Rev. Lowery's Easter sermon to the
gathering alongside Prairie Chapel Road just three years ago rings ever
"Don't tell me
Easter's not real! Don't tell me righteousness will not overcome
evil! Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
That's the message of Easter."
Let the church say Amen.