War Crimes, and Rep. John Conyers

Upon the request of this site’s Master, I am posting a diary that was originally published on Daily Kos over one year ago, and read on the Mike Malloy show on January 30, 2007. Of course, the diary remains as strong today as it was a year ago. The Opposition Party has yet to act appropriately on putting a stop to the Bush Crime Family and their criminal activities, at home and abroad.

When the Democrats were the Minority Party, it was always somewhat encouraging to hear about this or that Democratic Senator or Congressperson sending letters to senior Bush Administration officials letters regarding the officials’ bad behavior. There was a sense one experienced of being along with others in a fight, that if only we had a majority, would be won.

So, everyone on this site worked hard this past year, handing out fliers, making phone calls, going to rallies, and looking forward to voting on Election Day. Well, we did our jobs quite nicely. Most of us can now say that our candidate won! Whether it be a congress, senate, state senate, or governor, most of were successful. Now, we look and several of us are happy with the progress being made, or are content knowing that there are many in Washington that are dedicated to completing a Democratic agenda. While others of us want to see some of those outstanding letters considered with more intensity and urgency.

This diary discusses a letter of John Conyers, now Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  If you read nothing else below, please click on the link to the letter, read it, and note the signatures of fifty elected officials who, as far as I can tell, have remained silent on this issue for the past year…

One of the most encouraging letters written, while the Democrats were a minority, is the John Conyer’s letter, dated May 12, 2005, addressed to Attorney General Gonzalez, suggesting the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996, and the Anti-Torture Act, against senior members of the Bush Administration.

If there was one issue that was the most important one to me, it was seeing a Democratically elected Congress who would, with that majority, make sure that senior Bush Administration were held to account for the several war-crimes committed.

If the United States is every to regain a single shred of respect from the international community, it must hold its leaders accountable for its acts of aggression in its invasion of Iraq, and it most hold those responsible for the war-crimes committed.

Fortunately, there is an existing US statute dealing with war-crimes, the War Crimes Act:

   ยง 2441. War crimes

   (a) Offense.- Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

   (b) Circumstances.- The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

   (c) Definition.- As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct-


 (1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

       (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

       (3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

       (4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians

And, the Anti-Torture Act:

   (a)  Offense.- Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

   (b) Jurisdiction.- There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if-

       (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or

       (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

   (c) Conspiracy.- A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

I have personally made at least a dozen attempts to get a response from Representative Conyers requesting an update on any correspondence regarding this letter, and whether he will use his newly-minted status to pursue the letter with more aggressive methods. Since the Representative is a diarist at this site, I am hopeful that he or one of his aides will respond to this with a diary, or, at least a comment.

N.B. This has nothing to do with having Impeachment proceedings tabled by the Democratic Majority, including Chairman Conyers. Investigations pursuant to an existing statute is not a political option, as Impeachment is. No, it is a duty to uphold the Constitution and statutes that the Congress have passed pursuant to it.

Further, these investigations need not be only against the President and the Vice-President. They would lead to the Attorney General Gonzalez; his assistants at the Justice Department, former such as John Yoo, and present; Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and the military generals who violated the statute.

If this letter was written in earnest last year, and was co-signed by fifty members of Congress, the Chairman Conyers ought to be obliged to pursue the matter now that he is the Chairman of the Committee charged with the matter. To do otherwise, to do nothing, is giving a de facto pardon the senior Bush Administration officials.  Is that what we fought so hard to achieve with a Democratic majority? This voter certainly did not do so.



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  1. Photobucket

    • Tigana on February 7, 2008 at 23:14

    Foreclosed bandar t

  2. as when you first posted it a year ago.

    I have just one thought pertaining to this, however:

    N.B. This has nothing to do with having Impeachment proceedings tabled by the Democratic Majority, including Chairman Conyers. Investigations pursuant to an existing statute is not a political option, as Impeachment is. No, it is a duty to uphold the Constitution and statutes that the Congress have passed pursuant to it.

    Are you sure about this (bolded) statement?  I am just wondering.

    I don’t read Impeachment as being a political option.

    Section 4, Article II of the Constitution says:

    Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

    The Constitution uses the word shall. I do not construe this to mean that the Congress “might” or “may be” removed . . . etc.  To me, “shall” is emphatic and leaves no option, political or otherwise.

    Declaration of Independence:

    . . . . That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, . . . .

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. . . .

    Here, We the People, are provided with not only the right, but it becomes and is our duty to cast off such a government.

    We the People are screaming for Impeachment — that is our right, that is our duty.  And the Congress should be bound by not only the voice of the people, but also, by the Constitution’s demand that those persons in our government SHALL be removed who are guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.  

  3. and tells us what the hell happened to him. THE most stunning turn around ever. They better have something REALLY good on him.

    But in the meantime, I hope to hell he is working to overcome whatever it is. And that he wins.

  4. Freedom Rider: Conyers Must Decide

    . . . . In a recent interview he testily claimed that Pelosi “can’t stop me from anything really.” In the same conversation he immediately back pedaled, claiming that the Republicans would use impeachment to demonize Democrats in the upcoming elections. He didn’t mention that Republicans’ efforts to do the same thing in November 2006 failed when Democrats won the day. He makes the bizarre claim that a losing strategy should be feared.

    Democratic voters across the country must do anything and everything in their power to impeach Cheney and or Bush. Those Democrats, especially those on the Judiciary committee, who oppose impeachment must themselves be opposed. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the rotten leadership will be forced to take notice and act as most Americans want them to act.

    “Those Democrats, especially those on the Judiciary committee, who oppose impeachment must themselves be opposed.”

    FRConyersWname Impeachment is the great issue of 2008, more so than the presidential election. There is no reason to believe that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will stand up if Bush starts a new war, suspends habeas corpus rights for the entire population, or declares martial law. Impeachment will have two benefits. It will keep Bush from doing further damage and it will put President Clinton or President Obama on notice that Democrats will not stand for being ignored. We will have two victories for the price of one.

    Hopefully a good progressive candidate will emerge to run against Conyers. Nostalgia for the old John Conyers, or sentiment about the loss of a chairmanship held by a black person will only keep the tyranny alive. “Let black Democrats be black” was the Black Agenda Report rallying cry in 2006. If Conyers won’t act in the way black America wants him to, there is little reason to fight for him. A concerted effort to impeach is the only hope left for democracy. If our representatives won’t do that, they must step aside and cede their place to people who will.

  5. opposed to Impeachment BIG TIME.  Phone calls — LOTS OF THEM!

    • Nordic on February 8, 2008 at 04:08

    Nobody should try to politicize war crimes, it simply isn’t in fashion right now in Washington.

    Just like with the 9/11 “investigation”, they went to great pains to not politicize that, either.  Can’t point fingers, you know.  Can’t place any blame anywhere, for anything.  

    Sometimes shit just happens.  Doesn’t mean anybody did anything WRONG.

  6. Define “Nation”.






    I was too far into “conspiracy” theories for Markos.

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