As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Let me count the ways:
* For starters, in vowing to “preserve, protect and defend the US Constitution of the United States,” President Obama, upon taking office, had a sacred obligation to prosecute the people who had gravely wounded that document prior to his assuming office. It was clear, as I wrote in my book The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office(St. Martin’s Press, 2006), that Bush and Cheney had ordered and condoned and covered up torture of captives in their so-called “War” on Terror, as well as in the very real wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, committing grievous war crimes that are not only violations of international law, but of the US Criminal Code, given that the US is a leading author and signatory of the Geneva Accords). They also were war criminals of the first degree for orchestrating, through lies to both the UN Security Council and the US Congress and the American people, about the alleged threat and imminence of any threat by Iraq to the US or its allies. President Obama, under the UN Charter and under US law, as the president, commander in chief and top law officer in the nation, was bound to investigate and prosecute those crimes. Instead, he ordered that there would be no prosecutions.
* A federal court also ruled that President Bush had committed a felony in using the National Security Agency and several complicit telecommunications companies to spy on massive numbers of Americans with no warrants. Again, instead of prosecuting the president once he replaced him, President Obama said there would be no prosecution, and he went on to expand that spying program exponentially, effectively shredding beyond recognition the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures, which had been a leading rallying issue for the revolutionists of 1776.
Obama and Bush, two war criminals and committers of High Crimes and Misdemeanors against the Constitution
* President Obama, on his own initiative, has moved beyond the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, launching illegal wars against Libya, Yemen and Pakistan, largely through the use of American military aircraft, cruise missiles and especially pilotless drones. In addition to being illegal acts of war against nations that pose no imminent threat to the US, these clear acts of war have caused vastly disproportionate civilian deaths — reportedly as many as 40 civilians, including many children, are being killed by drone strikes inside Pakistan for each of the supposed targeted “terrorists.” Jist the disproportionality of such “collateral damage” is a heinous war crime, even leaving aside the illegality of such strikes being conducted by the US within the border of a sovereign nation not at war with the US.
* The president and his surrogates, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have committed one of the gravest of crimes in the world, a Crime Against Peace under the UN Charter (which as a signed and Senate-ratified treaty is the law of the land under our Constitution), by threatening a war of aggression against the nation of Iran. Under the Charter’s terms, it is the number one war crime to attack a nation that does not pose an imminent threat to the attacker, and a nearly equally grievous crime to threaten such a crime, as the president and his secretary of state have done on multiple occasions, warning Iran that “all options are on the table” should Iran not halt its (totally legal) nuclear fuel enrichment program. Beyond just words, the President as Commander in Chief has moved several fully armed, Tomahawk Cruise-missile-equipped aircraft battle groups to positions off the coast of Iran, sent squadrons of new F22 stealth fighter bombers to airfields directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran, and positioned troops and missile-equipped submarines in invasion-ready locations, as well as providing specialized bombs and refueling aerial tankers to Israel, which itself is preparing for an attack on Iran. Yet even the most hawkish Israeli and US military and intelligence experts concede that Iran is years away from having an operational nuclear weapon even if it were to begin a bomb-development program, which there is no evidence of at present. Obama has already ordered an ongoing campaign of terrorist attacks and bombings inside of Iran, which has led to the deaths of many Iranians, including civilians.
* President George W. Bush committed an impeachable crime when he had Jose Padilla, an American citizen born in New York, arrested, held without charge on a military base in South Carolina a for years and tortured mercilessly to the point of madness, before he was finally ordered released to a civilian prison where he faced trial in a civilian court. But President Obama has moved well beyond that travesty by issuing, in April 2010, and then acting on an Executive Order that he claims allows him, on his sole authority, to declare American citizens to be “terrorists” and to have them killed anywhere in the world. Under this clearly unconstitutional order, there is no trial, no judicial ruling. Just an execution order. At least two citizens have been killed in this way, including the wholly innocent young son of an American-born target, Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a Predator drone in Yemen. President Obama has also, short of killing them, signed an order authorizing the arrest and secret detention indefinitely of American citizens, again on his own authority, without trial or legal recourse.
* He has also continued to claim the right to rendition and to torture captives that he on his own authority declares to be terrorists.