Bush Flashback: “War Crimes Will Be Prosecuted…It Will Be No Defense To Say, ‘I Was Just Following Orders’”

Just before launching his invasion of Iraq, President Bush went on national television to issue an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, urging him to leave his country within 48 hours. Bush also had this message for “all Iraqi military and civilian personnel”:

War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, “I was just following orders.”

Watch it:

George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley argues that this statement by Bush shows that “he and his administration knew that there is no ‘good faith defense’ in committing war crimes.”

Bush also understood the need for full investigations and accountability when it comes to torture. After the Abu Ghraib scandal, Bush told Al Arabiya: “It’s important for people to understand that in a democracy, there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth. In our country, when there’s an allegation of abuse … there will be a full investigation, and justice will be delivered.” (See the video here.)

Steve Benen responds, “It seems to me if Democrats are looking for an excuse to do the right thing, they don’t have to say much more than, ‘We’re doing what Bush told us to do.’”

Please join our campaign calling on Congress to begin impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee.


In today’s Washington Post, Mark McKeon, a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, writes that the United States “cannot expect to regain our position of leadership in the world unless we hold ourselves to the same standards that we expect of others. That means punishing the most senior government officials responsible for these crimes. We have demanded this from other countries that have returned from walking on the dark side; we should expect no less from ourselves.”

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