A former International Court of Justice has breathed new life into arguments that Dick Cheney should be tried for war crimes. In an interview with Newsweek, Thomas Buergenthal said that not only is George W. Bush an ignoramus, but there is a distinct possibility that, eventually, Cheney will be charged for his crimes during the Iraq war.
Buergenthal says that Bush’s decision to enter Iraq was not, as has been shown time and again, an effort to fight terrorism but was rather an attempt to show off for his mother. The former judge describes our former President as “an ignorant person who wanted to show his mother he could do things his father couldn’t.” He added that even Richard Nixon was more “more intelligent,” as Buergenthal doesn’t “think Nixon would have got involved in Iraq.”
While he declined to offer an opinion on whether or not former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should be charged as a war criminal, Buergenthal was not quite so kind to Cheney:
“But some of us have long thought that Cheney, and a number of CIA agents who did what they did in those so-called black holes [overseas torture centers] should appear before the ICC. We [in the USA] could have tried them ourselves.”
He added that the United States “made a great mistake” in not charging the criminals in the Bush administration, but that there is still hope. “I think – yes – that it will happen,” he said.
Buergenthal’s expertise on the matter of war crimes is fairly solid, as he is a Holocaust survivor. Before he moved to the United States from the former Czechoslovakia, served as a judge on the International Court of Justice for 10 years, and ultimately became a U.S. citizen and landed a job as a Professor of Law at George Washington University, he was imprisoned at Auschwitz. While Buergenthal and his mother were fortunate enough to live through their ordeal at the Nazi concentration camp, his father was not so lucky.
Perhaps seeing Cheney — or Bush — brought to justice is a pipe dream, perhaps not. But the pair have been convicted by at least one court…in absentia…in Malaysia.
In 2012, Foreign Policy Journal reported:
At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Full transcripts of the charges, witness statements and other relevant material will now be sent to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as the United Nations and the Security Council.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission is also asking that the names of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, Addington and Haynes be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals for public record.
While the hearing was largely symbolic, perhaps some day a higher court will take interest in bringing members of the Bush administration to justice for their crimes. Not only would it bring vindication for the American people, who were lied to and tricked into a war for profit, but it would send a strong message to the rest of the world- that we are not above the laws that we enforce on other nations, and that we are not afraid to hold our own criminals responsible for the crimes they commit in foreign lands.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.