By Matthew Rothschild on November 15, 2010

George W. Bush better stay at home.

The confessed waterboarder is a marked man. If he travels abroad, other countries can—and should—nab him and try him for the crime of torture.

In his memoir and in last week’s NBC interview, Bush acknowledged ordering waterboarding.

He says the lawyers told him it wasn’t torture. But he got bad legal advice.

Attorney General Eric Holder has recognized waterboarding as torture. So has the State Department, as the great civil liberties Bill Quigley points out at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Given that, Holder has an obligation to press charges against the former president. But neither Holder nor his boss has the guts to do that. And what a shame that is!

Prosecutors in other countries, however, may not be so spineless. “Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W. Bush,” said Claudio Cordone, senior director of Amnesty International.

“If his admission is substantiated, the USA has the obligation to prosecute him,” Cordone said, adding ominously: “In the absence of a U.S. investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”

Under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, countries that have ratified the accords have a binding obligation to exercise jurisdiction over those accused of grave breaches. (See “Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity,”)

So if I were Bush (and what a horrifying thought that is!), I’d cancel those plans to visit Spain or Germany or any other country where some prosecutor, somewhere, respects international law.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Rand Paul’s Lack of Class."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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