Bush and Cheney on Trial

Bush and Cheney on Trial


For decades, critics have politely pointed to Malaysia as a country of parallel universes. Laws separate race and religion, and people who live and work side by side are forced to coexist within different worlds as defined by successive UMNO coalitions and at times enforced by the courts, civilian and Islamic.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has attempted to change this. He has announced a series of political and economic reforms that he and the reformers in his United Malays National Organization (UMNO) hope will make Malaysia a fairer and more competitive place.

The initiatives, however, haven’t stopped protestors like the Bersih movement from campaigning for free and fair elections. They also fear Malaysia won’t change, and will instead slip back to its autocratic ways, which found real traction under Najib’s predecessors, in particular former premier Mahathir Mohamad. His style of autocracy has never been far from the surface of Malaysian political life and was again on display in Kuala Lumpur in recent weeks when political mischief went on show in the guise of putting Western leaders in the dock through a court with no jurisdiction or legitimacy other than it being backed by Mahathir, who attended the hearings.

As an eye witness to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the wanton destruction caused elsewhere by the War on Terror, I can testify to the sheer ferocity of the conflicts. There’s little doubt that a legal case against Western leaders for their behavior throughout the first decade of this century could be made. But the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) is certainly not the answer.

In its final round of hearings, the KLWCT has found former U.S. President George W. Bush along with another seven associates guilty of crimes of torture.

It said the eight accused – Bush; former Vice President Dick Cheney; former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; former counsel to Bush, Alberto Gonzales; former general counsel to the vice president, David Addington; former general counsel to the defense secretary, William Haynes II; former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and former Deputy Assistant General John Yoo – had engaged in a web of instruction and directives leading to a common plan, purpose and conspiracy to commit crimes of torture and war crimes in relation to the War on Terror as conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the evidence provided, Abbas Abid testified his fingernails had been pulled out with a pair of pliers. Moazzam Begg told how he was kept in a hood, beat and locked away in solitary confinement.

The tribunal says Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were aware that the U.S. had violated the 1984 Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions but they had failed to intervene. This came after legal opinions asserted in their defense that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees and that as such there was no torture occurring within the meaning of the Torture Convention. As a result, interrogation techniques which included cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, were actually allowed.

Unanimously, under KLWCT President Lamin Mohammad Yunus, a bench of five judges ruled the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt charges of crimes of torture in accordance with Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter. The court says it was following the Nuremberg model.

People inside the court also like to compare the KLWCT with the Russell Tribunal, established by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell and his French counterpart Jean-Paul Sartre to evaluate American foreign policy in North and South Vietnam after the defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

The KLWCT wouldn’t be described as a kangaroo court if it had any form of legitimacy. It does not.

But when following the proceedings in the mainstream press or through the national wires one could be forgiven for thinking that this tribunal ranks alongside the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia or similar international courts established to try those responsible for tragedies in Rwanda, Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia.

Indeed, the coverage has been unquestioning and has found friends elsewhere. The Tehran Times, for example, trumpeted the Malaysian verdict as: “It’s official – George W. Bush is a war criminal.”

It was a second KLWCT conviction for Bush. He and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were last November found guilty in absentia of committing “crimes against peace” during the Iraq war after a four day hearing. It then said: “Unlawful use of force threatens the world to return to a state of lawlessness. The acts of the accused were unlawful.”

October 12, 2012 at 12:07

Irresponsible of the diplomat in letting something irrelevant to wider regional issues by allow for its post on the site (guess this why no author name is listed).  I read the diplomat for strategic issues and unless some dude holding a cardboard sign means the entire region is going to pursue a criminal case then it has no merit even being mentioned here.
Am I the only who sees The Diplomat as becoming more partisan rather than the non-partisan master piece it was not long ago??

May 19, 2012 at 21:30

Having attended the KL War Crimes Tribunal and thereafter conducted research on the background of the judges, I found out interesting bits of news:

1. One of the judges presiding over the whole trial is the wife of one of the organizers of the committee.

2. The judge from the US is into a conspiracy theory; founder of exoscience in the US. He believes that US elections are flawed and that the presidency of Clinton, Bush and Obama was known beforehand.

In other words, in addition to the trial being criticized as a show trial, a ‘kangaroo court’, the other flaw that was noteworthy was that the composition of judges was quite controversial and questionable.

Pinochet’s trial was mentioned during the court proceedings and a few times during the press conference that was held after session. The spokespersons used this case to point out the necessity of condemning him as a criminal who tortured and killed millions of people. Parallels were made between his behaviour and that of George Bush, Tony Blair and the other accused members.

Did the same people conveniently forget that during Pinochet’s trial, the fundamental principle of Nemo Judex in Causa Sua(no man can be a judge in his own cause) was violated? Did they forget that Lord Hoffman’s involvement with Amnesty International have the decision quashed and the trial reordered from scratch?

No. Otherwise the composition of the current KL War Crimes Tribunal would not have been replete with believers of conspiracy theories and members who already had a verdict in mind before they even attended the hearing.

John Chan
May 16, 2012 at 22:10

There is a clear distinction between Mao, Kims and USA presidents. Mao and Kims were involved in internal struggles like French revolution and American Civil War; yet American presidents are involved in external aggressions like the Nazi Germans. If you can put prejudice aside for a moment, Mao and Lincoln are the same in term of slaughtering, Mao may win in absolute number, but Lincoln may win in ratio number.

Straw Man tactic cannot stand up the test of Nuremberg Trail standard.

May 16, 2012 at 07:54

What’s the current punishment for being a mass murderer in Malaysia? Let’s execute these scum publicly so that the next bunch of scum coming to the fore think twice before they do the same thing.

May 16, 2012 at 02:48

All but Israel? …Really?

May 16, 2012 at 01:08

@John Chan

There are a number of leaders who could have been tried. Not just American though…I wonder how Mao would fair if we weighed in the “invasion of Tibet” or the “Cultural Revolution”? I doubt the Kims of North Korea would fair well either.

May 15, 2012 at 21:01

@john Chan
That is why the world has Pax Americana.It is the big bully boy on the block.Chile under Allende is the best example.

May 15, 2012 at 20:58

Who suppied all the weapons and poisonous gas to Iraq under Saddam?

May 15, 2012 at 17:28

Well,this court is as serious as Dr Mahatir,the ex-Dictator of Malaysia.

May 15, 2012 at 14:08

To Malaysia with love. Wonderful country and people.

Politics, however, have a reputation of being manipulated by a master to co-opt rival religions, casts, political parties, clans, race and nationalities.

Unfortunately, like the current president in America, the poeple eventually learn over and over that untruths, sleights-of-hand, manufactured outrages to distract from pressing citizen matters of urgency finally numb the mind and lay dormant until the light of right, decency, liberty and freedom arises to sweep the vitriolic self-serving pretenders from power in a clean sweep either by elections, civil war or revolution.

Very few people understand the American progressive, leftist, socialist sway which the American Media can formulate into a concentrated, focused torment of indignation against any person or group which has any potential of upseting the idealistic utopian nirvana conjured up into a dogma of self-righteous deception.

Many who supported the invasion of Iraq turned on a dime as soon as it was successful and used any and all manufactured indignation to stir emotions against the Bush Administration for their own political gain. This is very typical of the Democrat Party in America.

However, with this in mind, please understand that there were those specialist analysts who followed the blood thirsty dictator in Iraq. There were those with track records that had correctly called for the original Iraqi invasion into Kuwait with precient diligence. Many believed that there were truely nuclear weapons in the hands of an unstable dictator that was a powder keg nearing the boiling point.

I would like to point out that the Dictator of Iraq used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), poisonous gasses, to slaughter entire villages. Some figures I have read state that there were as many as 200 instances were these WMD’s were used to exterminate inconvenient populations of Iraqi citizens.

Finally, my humble piece of advice would be that—what goes around, comes around. There is a rising tide of memory that one day might recall which leaders and countries stood by our side and could one day in the near future genuinely be called friends.

America holds out the hand of friendship to all. I am sure that the world must be aware that our current president considers every nation, but Israel, his friend no matter how deliberate and insidious an enemy.

May 15, 2012 at 12:16

Quite a dismissive piece by Luke Hunt and glosses over the double standards and hypocrisy in ICC and their prosecutors, who issue arrest warrants for alleged crimes that are really miniscule in comparison to the war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

The world already knows which is the real Kangaroo court and really don’t need the author’s approval.

John Chan
May 15, 2012 at 12:13

Just based on the title of the article “Bush and Cheney on Trial” it seems rather unfair to these two fellows; if Nuremberg Trail standard can be upheld, legally speaking, there is a very solid case for impeaching every American president since the Second World War. They have all been either outright war criminals or involved in serious war crimes.

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