Revolution #47, May 21, 2006

Ray McGovern: “We're Not Talking About Petty Crimes or Misdemeanors, We're Talking About War Crimes”

Ray McGovern helped lead the prosecution of the Bush administration for war crimes in Iraq War at the The International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration (, which brought together over 40 expert witnesses in October 2005 and January 2006 to determine whether Bush administation policies in five areas rise to the level of crimes against humanity.

The Commission’s ongoing mission is to use the evidence it gathered and the findings it reached to “frame and fuel a discussion that is urgently needed in the United States: Is the administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?” This is the purpose of the current Bush Crimes Commission national campus tour—“Speaking the Unspeakable”—co-sponsored by World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime. The tour has included McGovern, as well as other Commission witnesses including Brig. General Janis Karpinski, ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray, Ann Wright, Daphne Wysham, Ted Glick, Vanessa Brocato, Larry Everest, and C. Clark Kissinger.

McGovern’s April 24 appearance on the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to discuss the firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy for reportedly leaking information about CIA secret prison camps to the Washington Post also exemplified the “framing and fueling” of this debate. When asked about McCarthy’s action, McGovern immediately raised the question of war crimes—something rarely if ever discussed in the mainstream media when it comes to the Bush administration—and peoples’ moral responsibility to speak out when confronted with war crimes. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

“We're not talking about petty crimes or misdemeanors; we're talking about war crimes. She [Mary McCarthy] was cognizant of war crimes. She needed to do something about that, from a moral and a legal perspective. And she chose this way to do it, because the other ways were blocked for her...Now, we're talking about serious things here...I'm talking about torture...And so she's faced with a situation that's real. The director is in favor of torture. And their only other recourse is Congress. And Congress, the oversight committees—I hate to say this, but it's a joke...she has a moral responsibility and a legal responsibility.

“In other words...under Nuremberg and other international law, she is do something...And when we see this happening, somebody has to speak out...My country has launched a war that, under Nuremburg and other international agreements, amounts to a war of aggression. And Nuremberg defined...that as the supreme international crime, holding within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. What did they mean by that? They mean torture; they mean rendition, these kinds of things. And this is what's going on.”

Read the entire interview on the World Can't Wait website.

Here is what McGovern told Revolution about the Commission:

“I think the International Commission of Inquiry has been very useful in educating me and all those who attended the two main sessions in New York and the sessions of the national campus tour, and who have visited our website. The scope of the Commission was truly ambitious and I had my doubts initially as to whether the five subjects (war, torture, attacks on the environment, attacks on global public health and the response to Hurricane Katrina) could be covered. Yet they were covered in a most judicious and deliberative way, and the indictments were highly instructive. After being instructed about the Bush administration’s policies on global warming, HIV/AIDS, and Hurricane Katrina, I focused on the war of aggression in Iraq and specifically on torture. There was so much enlightenment at the Commission sessions, such as the presentations by Amy Bartholomew, Craig Murray, and Marjorie Cohn, and many others. You had all the information one needs to form an opinion, so it helps me as I write and go around the country speaking. And we are beginning to encounter a greater willingness to look at these things as crimes against humanity, and understanding torture, rendition and kidnapping as precisely what the Nuremberg tribunal meant when it said that a war of aggression holds within itself the seeds of all other crimes against humanity. This has been fleshed out, it’s not rhetoric. It’s the inevitable outcome of an illegal policy aimed at achieving objectives kept secret and justified by a mountain of lies.”

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