The year 2006 will be remembered as one in which the American people and the world rose up to challenge the criminal actions and deceit of the Bush Administration.
Despite massive evidence that top Administration officials have been complicit in systematic violations of national and international law through aggressive war, illegal occupation, rendition and detention of terror suspects without trial, secret prisons and torture, so far they have not been held accountable. Now a diverse array of forces is contesting Bush Administration impunity for war crimes and trying to reassert the rule of law over the executive branch. Each is operating in different arenas and pursuing different kinds of accountability–from public shaming and political disempowerment to international isolation and even criminal prosecution. While all of these initiatives have been reported in the press, their convergence is one of the great underreported stories of 2006. For example:
•A court in Italy will decide in January whether to try twenty-six suspected American intelligence agents for abducting an Egyptian cleric off the streets of Milan.
• The US Supreme Court issued key decisions that declared Administration actions in Guantánamo in violation of national and international law.
• A US Army lieutenant refused to go to Iraq on the grounds that the war is illegal under US and international law and made plans to use his court-martial to “put the war on trial.”
• An international team of lawyers brought a criminal complaint in a German court alleging that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and eleven other top US government officials are guilty of war crimes.
• Senator Patrick Leahy, incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said he will issue subpoenas if necessary to secure Bush Administration documents that may have authorized torture.
Here are some of the arenas in which accountability for Bush Administration war crimes is being pursued:
The exposure of foreign governments’ role in Bush Administration “war on terror” abuses has led to condemnation and legal action both against US intelligence operations and the governments that may have participated in their clandestine activities.
The German Parliament is investigating the involvement of German intelligence services in the rendition of German citizen Khaled el-Masri, who, according to an ACLU suit in Virginia, was illegally abducted by the CIA in Macedonia in 2003, flown to Afghanistan, abused at a CIA-run secret facility and dumped in Albania five months later. Canada has issued a formal protest to the United States after an official Canadian inquiry established that a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, was seized by US authorities and deported to his native Syria, where he was tortured; the case led to the resignation of the head of Canada’s national police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli. In November, the European Parliament issued an investigative report revealing that eleven European governments knew about secret US jails and that there were 1,245 suspicious CIA flights through Europe.