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The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The Bush administration's security and intelligence-gathering policies have inspired few critiques as thorough as Ratner's. The president of the progressive Center for Constitutional Rights presents a mock trial of 14 U.S. government and military officials, Donald Rumsfeld chief among them; with immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, Bush and Cheney are named as unindicted co-conspirators. The charge is torture and war crimes. The opening statement describes the Bush administration's alleged torture program in detail and the role the defendants played. The prosecution evidence includes statements of former Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo detainees describing tortures such as sleep deprivation, water-boarding and stress positions. Ratner presents the defense primarily through government documents, such as the infamous John Yoo memo rejecting the application of the Geneva Accords to detainees. This defense is followed by a rebuttal based on international law that systematically rejects the government's arguments. Of course, a real trial would give the defense an opening and closing statement, and books don't allow for cross-examination. Though his case appears strong, Ratner's conceit will appeal primarily to those who have already voted guilty. Photos. (Sept.)
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[...] Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights, call for criminal prosecution. Their book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld, convincingly makes the case that Rumsfeld committed war crimes... (David Cole - New York Review of Books)
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In the other universe, John McCain has been supporting torture for years now, but virtually every informed observer recognizes that torture serves no practical purpose and is dragging world opinion of the United States into the gutter, making us less safe. In this other world, we encounter information like that collected in a new book by Michael Ratner called "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld." We discover that there is voluminous evidence in the form of photographs and first-hand testimony that our nation has been engaged in using a wide array of the most abusive torture techniques possible for years now, resulting in many known cases of murder -- of the torture resulting in death.
In this other world, sometimes known as reality, there is extensive documentary evidence that torture has been authorized by many top U.S. officials, including George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Stephen Cambone, Ricardo Sanchez, Geoffrey Miller, Walter Wojdakowski, Thomas Pappas, Barbara Fast, Marc Warren, Alberto Gonzales, William James Haynes II, David Addington, John C. Yoo, and Jay Bybee. There are other names that could be added, but those are the individuals indicted in Ratner's book. Ratner actually leaves out Bush and Cheney, but says he is only doing so because they are still in office.
Ratner presents the evidence against these torturers, and then presents substantial evidence in their defense in the form of memos they've written trying to argue that what is blatantly illegal is legal. Then Ratner debunks their claims. His book does for torture what Elizabeth de la Vega's book ("U.S. v. Bush et alia") did for defrauding a nation into war: it lays out the case to a grand jury, or to a jury. There is sufficient evidence in this book to put these people behind bars. There is sufficient material here to understand how these criminals would defend themselves in court as well. And all of this exists in a world apart from Congress and television.
I'm not arguing for actual conviction by book. While we can guess how people might defend themselves, they must be given a fair chance to actually do so before being convicted. But every book like this that emerges should help us break through the erroneous idea that we need to investigate before we can conclude that torture has been committed, that it is illegal, and that the individuals named above bear legal responsibility for it.
In the parallel universe inhabited by Congress, the furthest reaches of advocacy for justice are inhabited by things like the resolution Rep. Tammy Baldwin introduced on Friday, urging the next president to please stop committing some of the unconstitutional and illegal abuses of the current one, but at the same time urging the next president to investigate whether the current one or any of his subordinates committed any crimes. This eternal demand for investigations (even while acknowledging the crimes) is much like the demand of other politicians for additional proof before they'll believe global warming exists. Both pretenses are motivated by corrupting influences. To admit that no investigations are needed of torture and war crimes would be to admit that Congress could very quickly impeach the president if it chose to. Baldwin is one of a small minority of Congress members who have supported impeachment. She announced her new resolution on a Friday night during a presidential debate when almost nobody would notice and focused it entirely on appealing to the executive branch not to misuse its dictatorial powers, as opposed to stripping those powers away and restoring Congress to its proper place in our government. And 434 other Congress members did even less than that.
Books can't cross from one universe to another. Nobody could pretend further investigations were needed if they held a copy of Ratner's book. Ratner lays out the case on torture, including the evidence, the counter-arguments, and their refutations, exactly as if we were all living in the real world. Prosecution is possible abroad, but courts abroad will be heavily influenced by the amount of public pressure we can create for prosecution within the United States. Strategies for prosecution within the United States and abroad are being organized. The trick will be to properly merge this movement with the universe of the media-congressional-military complex.
Mr. Ratner has formed his legal plan to prosecute these criminals. It is time to lay to rest the lawlessness that has been perpetuated in our country's name and of it's citizens. If, as a citizen, you are at all interested in enforcing the rule of law and understanding exactly how it was avoided, you must read this book!