Sunday, November 5, 2006

Saddam Hussein, captured by American forces on December 13, 2003 in a spider hole in Tikrit, Iraq, was recently sentenced to death by hanging. The crime? Human rights violations concerning the detention, torture and murder of 148 Shi'ites in 1982.

Hussein's lawyers contended that the trial should have been delayed until after the elections, inferring that the Bush administration is politicizing the trial in a desperate attempt to garner votes for an otherwise detested Republican Party. They're right.

"It's a good day for the Iraqi people," chimed White House spokesperson Tony Snow.

A good day for the Iraqi people? Snow's standards must be low. He is talking about a country that has seen a rise in anti-American dissent and terrorist recruitment -- not a decline, as the Bush administration had hoped. The Iraqi people did not "greet us as liberators," and their supposed democracy, thanks to us, is paper-thin and the country is besieged by terrorist attacks and sectarian violence, both of which the Bush administration also thought would rapidly decline.

The Iraqi people have seen a decline in electricity, from about 4,500 megawatts to fewer than 4,000, since U.S. forces invaded Iraq. The national demand is 7,000 megawatts.

In February 2006, Stuart Bowen, the special inspections general for the reconstruction of Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iraq's water supply, sewer system, and electrical grid were in worse shape than initially thought.

But here we are, almost into 2007, three years, seven months, and seventeen days since Iraq was invaded, and just over three years and six months since Bush spoke on the USS Abraham Lincoln with the "Mission Accomplished" banner as his backdrop. Since that fateful month of March in 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom came to fruition, about 655,000 Iraqis have died, according to an epidemiological study by Burnham et al in The Lancet medical journal. Nearly 3,000 American troops have died in that time span, as well.

So, Bush is responsible for nearly 660,000 deaths in Iraq alone, yet Saddam Hussein gets the death penalty for killing 142 people 24 years ago in 1982.

When will Bush be tried?

He won't, as is evidenced by his party's not so sly tactic of releasing the verdict two days before elections.

Bush is increasingly looking like the dictator he chased out of Iraq. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 on October 17, 2006, which gives him dictatorial power in regards to "unlawful enemy combatants."

The act defines an "unlawful enemy combatant" in two ways.

A person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces).

A person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense."

The Combatant Status Review Tribunal is appointed by the President, and therefore, the proverbial deck can be stacked with "yes-men." So, Bush can declare anyone -- including any citizen in the United States like you and I -- an "unlawful enemy combatant," and put us before his self-appointed Tribunal laden with yes-men. Unlike our criminal justice system, the tribunals do not grant detainees the presumption of innocence, the right to representation (legal counsel), or the right to access evidence. Moreover, evidence based solely on hearsay is allowed, as well as evidence gained via torture or coercive action.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 doesn't stop there, however. Section 5 of the act states, "No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories." In other words, no one is protected by the Geneva Conventions (standards for international law regarding the humane treatment of prisoners of war, among others) or the Writ of Habeas Corpus (right to a trial when accused of a crime).

In layman's terms, the act gives Bush the same power that Hussein held over his people in Iraq. And let's not forget about the USA PATRIOT Act, which gives the President the power to tap his constituents' phones, look at their library records, their bank withdrawals, as well as a multitude of other private information.

President Bush has strained this country's economy (but, ironically, Halliburton, an energy company that sends checks periodically to Vice President Cheney, has profited the most off of the Iraq War) and military forces to the point of exhaustion. His almost-treasonous remarks, regarding the man that planned and executed the terrorist attacks on 9/11 -- "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority" -- are growing old. This is the same man who said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet none, in more than three and a half years, have been found, while North Korea is flagrantly testing nuclear weapons. The U.S. can't do anything, though, as the bulk of the military and money is tied up in Iraq.

If the Democrats execute and win back both sides of Congress on Tuesday, there should be a bold movement to impeach our self-described "War President," to set this country back on the track that Bill Clinton had left it on in January of 2000. We don't need to torture him or to execute him, but to punish him by taking away his fuel (pun intended) -- power. The Iraq War is not "just a comma," as Bush described it, but a complete and utter blunder for which responsibility must be taken.