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Why We Shouldn’t Look the Other Way on Bush’s Iraq War Crimes

Rumsfeld may be distancing himself, but Bush and Cheney are still remorseless and still guilty.

Protesters gather at an anti-Bush rally at Whitehall, in London, England, June, 2008. (Photo: ckchiu /

Donald Rumsfeld is this generation’s Robert McNamara.

Over 12 years after overseeing and helping to design the 2003 invasion of Iraq – the former secretary of defense is now re-writing his own role in the invasion.

In an interview with The Times of London, Rumsfeld called the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq “unrealistic.”

He was referring specifically to the Bush administration’s goal of toppling a dictatorship and building a model democracy in the Middle East – and he said,

“I’m not one who thinks that our particular template of democracy is appropriate for other countries at every moment of their histories. The idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic. I was concerned about it when I first heard those words.”

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

The statement is stunning considering that Rumsfeld, along with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, was one of the biggest architects and cheerleaders of the invasion that destabilized the region and provided fertile ground for ISIS and other extremist groups to begin their current reign of terror in the region.

But like Robert McNamara did 30 years after Vietnam – Rumsfeld is admitting that the war may not have been such a good idea.

But Rumsfeld isn’t going as far as McNamara did – McNamara admitted that the Vietnam War was “wrong, terribly wrong.”

Rumsfeld’s not saying that the war itself was wrong – he’s just saying that he didn’t think it was possible to rebuild Iraq as a democracy.

And that’s still more than Bush or Cheney have admitted.

Which raises the question – why hasn’t anyone prosecuted Bush and Cheney for the 4,500 American soldiers murdered in Iraq?

It’s possible – as former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi pointed out on this show last year – take a look.

Why does it have to be a local district attorney?

Before he passed way this weekend – Vincent Bugliosi presented the case against George W. Bush in a book called The Prosecution of George W. Bush and a documentary called The Prosecution of an American President.

In his presentation, he outlines why the Obama administration can’t be expected to charge Bush or Cheney for war crimes – and it goes back to a precedent of pardoning set by Gerald Ford.

Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon in September 1974 – less than a month after Nixon resigned. And Clinton opted not to prosecute Reagan for the Iran-Contra affair – among other crimes.

And now 40 years after Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, the precedent has been set that the standing president simply ignores the crimes of his predecessor.

Or as Barack Obama put it in 2009 before he even officially took office: “We need to look forward, as opposed to looking backwards.”

In other words, the Obama administration is simply looking the other way on Bush’s war crimes.

It’s absurd to say that holding criminals accountable for murder is “looking backwards”; by that logic, no criminals should ever be tried for crimes they’ve committed.

And even though ISIS and the current bloodshed in the Middle East are a direct result of Bush’s failed attempt at nation building, the fact that Obama has encouraged Americans to look the other way means that the architects of the war can rewrite their own roles in the disaster.

Like Donald Rumsfeld saying that he never supported the idea of building a democracy in Iraq.

Rumsfeld may be distancing himself, but Bush and Cheney are still remorseless and still guilty.

Which is why Vincent Bugliosi was right – we need “some courageous prosecutor” to demand justice and to charge George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their lies and the murders of 4,500 American soldiers and over half a million Iraqis.