Citizen’s Arrest of War Criminals Tony Blair and George W. Bush
Professor Boyle’s intervention with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute the Bush War Cabinet for international crimes is welcome news. Professor Boyle’s meticulously documented charges come shortly after news of a reward being set up in Great Britain for those who attempt citizens’ arrests of crebibly accused war criminal, Tony Blair.
All over the world, citizens are mobilizing to take action to demand accountability from those who have been committing with impunity the highest order of international crime. About a year ago I joined this global movement. At an invited presentation hosted by the Sociology Department at the University of Winnipeg in March of 2009, I proposed that George W. Bush should be arrested during his forthcoming speaking engagement in Calgary Alberta. I began the paper by criticizing the ICC for focusing all its attention on prosecuting African war lords while ignoring the blatent criminality being displayed at the highest levels of the feeding chain of military, political and economic power. The presentation went more of less viral on the Internet.
Professor Boyle’s intervention significantly increases the pressure that some of us have being trying to place on the ICC to enforce international criminal law against credibly accused war criminals in not only in Africa, but also in North America, Europe and Israel.
When I first presented these ideas at the University of Winnipeg, my host, Professor Heidi Rimke, and I were confronted by an organized group who surrounded us after my presentation and tried to associate my words with Nazi symbols. This surprising tactic spoke to me of the desperation and intellectual bankruptcy of the lobby seeking to prevent a real discussion of these vital matters strictly on their merits. Fortunately, there was a fairly strong reaction in Winnipeg and beyond that drew attention to the inappropriateness, to say the least, of such tactics to divert attention away from the need to address the culture of impunity that is permitting state-sponsored terror to proliferate in the name of the fraudulent Global War on Terror. As Professor Boyle indicates, this pattern of war crimes at the top is continuing and even accelerating during the presidency of Barack Obama.
As important as it is to show support for US and British-based initiatives to enforce the rule of law on the highest order of criminality, I humbly suggest that Canadians might want to get involved in similar initiatives unfolding in Canada. When George W. Bush came to Calgary, law enforcement officials ignored my efforts along with those of Lawyers Against War to provide them with evidence that the former US president had violated international law as well as the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
When it became apparent that police would not adhere to the Nuremberg Principles by arresting Bush, my friend and colleague, Splitting The Sky, attempted a citizen’s arrest.
An Attica Brother and Mohawk activist, Splitting The Sky had come to Calgary carrying a letter from his lawyer, the former US Attorney-General Ramsay Clark, outlining the case why the former US president should be arrested. We held a press conference the day before Bush’s visit to inform the media of the existence of that letter.
Instead of arresting Bush the police arrested Splitting The Sky. The authorities jailed him and and charged the Mohawk activist with obstructing justice. STS’s trial is scheduled to take place in Calgary Alberta in early March of 2010, which as I write these words is only about five weeks away. The local media, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has covered up the arrest and the circumstances behind it right up to this day. I lodged a formal complaint with the Ombudsman of the CBC, Vince Carlin, complaining about the public broadcaster’s biased and unprofessional coverage.
Since the arrest of STS former US Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate and international anti-war activist, Cynthia McKinney, has been outspoken in calling attention to the importance of the STS-Bush case. Last November, for instance, Ms. McKinney addressed an international conference entitled “Criminalizing War” at Kuala Lumpur. Standing on the podium beside British MP, George Galloway, Ms. McKinney drew attention to the Canadian proceedings that she placed in the context of the history of COINTELPRO dirty tricks aimed at destroying the American Indian Movement
I have continued the agenda that Splitting The Sky and I started after he telephoned me about one year ago to inform me that George W.Bush was coming to Calgary in his first public speaking engagement following his presidency.
Along with Splitting The Sky, I attended the Bush-Clinton speaking event in Toronto. I wrote about that episode in a widely disseminated article that appeared on many web sites, including that of Paul S. Graham of the Winnipeg Peace Alliance.
Unlike the United States, Canada is a member of the International Criminal Court. If the government of Canada truly respected the jurisdiction and mission of this new and still untested court, it would have made sure that credibly accused war criminals George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and other members of the Bush War Cabinet were arrested when they have touched down on Canadian soil during previous months. But given the present composition of the Canadian government, there is no chance that it will respect international criminal laws that some of its own members, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, could and should be accused of violating.
Moreover all of those police officers who failed to arrest George Bush when they were presented with the possibility of doing so became complicit in violations of international law, including the Nuremberg Principles. Following orders does not provide a legitimate defense for officials who fail to uphold the rule of law when it comes to the responsibility of dealing with the highest order of international crime. Again and again we see evidence that the rule of law does not apply to those at the top of military, corporate, political and financial chains of command. Under these circumstances the idea that we live in societies governed by the rule of law has become a sad hoax.
The severity of the dangers that surround us as the 9/11 Wars continue kill and maim millions and on the frontiers of empire and to subvert our governments and societies here in the imperial heartlands of North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia has been well explained by Professor Boyle as well as by Canadian professors Peter Dale Scott, John McMurtry, Graeme MacQueen, Michael Keefer, and Michel Chossudovsky among others. Yesterday Professor Scott’s most recent observations on the lawlessness that permeates the highest levels of our governments was published at
Founder of the Peace Studies Centre and the Peace Studies program at McMaster University, Professor MacQueen, has added his voice to the mix. He has emphasized the importance for the peace movement of understanding “fraudulent trigger incidents.” Prof. MacQueen argues that key elements of the peace movement have gone astray. He accuses some of his fellow activists of refusing to research the case being developed of one of the world’s most vital and determined movements of civil society and falling back on uncritical acceptance of what he calls the “government explanation” of the 9/11 Wars. See
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUISz8Uwh6A
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY9IlDDpvzc
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Bte5ULPD8
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCzHeCCDp74&feature=related
Anthony J. Hall is Professor of Globalization Studies at University of Lethbridge