George W. Bush: War Criminal?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe organization Human Rights Watch has urged the Canadian government to arrest and try former U.S. President George W. Bush on charges of torture and crimes against detainees during his rule. According to Human Rights Watch, two of those detainees were Canadian citizens, so Canada has the legal right to detain, arrest and try Bush for crimes against humanity. Amnesty International has released a statement that Canada should also arrest former President Bush for authorizing torture against terrorist suspects.

The evidence is not only compelling but has been officially justified by the U.S. government under former President Bush. The problem is that the U.S. government, even under current U.S. President Barack Obama, does not believe that what it calls “enhanced interrogation techniques,” amounted to torture. However, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, what Bush did does amount to torture as established under the United Nations’s Convention on Torture. And since Canada is a signatory of that convention, it must arrest anyone responsible for such acts against its own citizens even if the person in question is a former U.S. president.

One of thos e Canadians tortured was Maher Arar. A Syrian by birth, he became a Canadian citizen upon fleeing Syria. In 2002, when Arar landed at Kennedy International Airport after visiting family in Tunis, he was taken by U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel and held incommunicado. He was then forcibly sent back not to Canada but to Syria where he endured vicious torture. Eventually through pressure from the Canadian government he was released by the Syrians. During the time the U.S. government had consulted with the Canadian government about Arar’s fate, and the fact that the Canadian government did not stop Arar’s forced return to Syria became a major scandal in Canada.

Eventually the Canadian government apologized to Arar for what it had done and provided compensation to Arar. The U.S. government, to this day, still justifies its actions against an innocent man and still says he “has” ties to Al Qaeda even though the Canadian government has proven he never had. One interesting note: George W. Bush had planned to visit Switzerland back in February of this year. However, because charges were filed against Bush in a Swiss court (and yes, Switzerland takes its laws seriously), Bush did not go to Switzerland lest he arrested. Will the same thing happen if Bush goes to Canada? Bush will go to Canada as a private citizen. By the law Bush should be arrested in Canada.

This is not likely to happen. Even though the evidence for what Bush did is more than circumstantial, the Canadian government will think twice before touching a former American head of state. Anything else might be considered by the U.S. government as an act of war even though the law is on Canada’s side. You can be very sure that U.S. President Barack Obama and all other American politicians would be terrified of one day being hauled into a court and tried for what crimes they committed during their tenure in office. I seriously doubt that the Canadian government would touch Bush even if he visited Canada. Whether we will ever see George W. Bush ever tried for any crime he may have committed or he will be allowed to die of old age peacefully remains to be seen. In this imperfect world of ours, there will be some people who will be held accountable for their crimes and some who will not.

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