Legal Nonsense

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I love the sharp tongue of the British. A former legal adviser to the British Foreign Office has said George Bush’s war on terrorism is "legal nonsense" and confers no more power on the United States to detain people than the war against obesity.

That’s true. The British lady, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, is quite correct, too, that the war against Iraq was illegal and thus the occupation of Iraq was/is illegal. I say "was/is" because that depends on whether you believe the fairy tale of Iraqi sovereignty.

So it turns out old Saddam Hussein was correct. He is still the legal president of Iraq; the new Iraqi government is illegal and has no right to try him. That, of course, will not prevent him from being tried and eventually hanged. One of the things I hope Americans are learning, besides the fact that the war wasn’t worth it, is that the rule of law is a farce. Like language, the law is twisted to justify what the Bush administration wants to do. This administration is bound by neither law nor truth.

I’m no lawyer, but I pointed out some time ago that you can’t declare war on a tactic, and that’s all terrorism is — a tactic. Real terrorists, as opposed to people resisting occupation of their country or guerrillas fighting to overthrow a government, are criminals, and as criminals deserve to be hunted down. That, however, is not a war.

For all time, when bad governments wanted to increase their power, they spread fear and claimed the new power would allow them to "protect" the people. If there were no real enemies at the gate, they would invent them. The threat of terrorism has been enormously exaggerated by this administration to justify a very un-American lust for power. It has spread fear like a glutton spreads butter on hot pancakes.

Some local law-enforcement officers also fearmonger to get bigger budgets. Some in burgs no international terrorist could find with a satellite are warning the local folks to suspect everybody they see.

Another word that is vastly abused in this crazy time is "intelligence." Do you know what intelligence is? It’s just knowledge, and knowledge must be factual. Assertions are not knowledge. Beliefs are not knowledge. Fears are not knowledge. Regardless of what so-called "intelligence" said, the facts are that Iraq had no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, had no programs to produce them and had no cooperative arrangements with al-Qaida.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who probably should see a psychologist as well as a cardiologist, continues to claim a connection, but what he calls a connection is one or two meetings in a period of years from which nothing ever came. If a mere meeting is a "connection," then all of us have connections with every human being we’ve ever met, however briefly. This is another example of language abuse.

Another architect of the illegal war, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, still coyly claims that just because we haven’t found the weapons doesn’t mean they don’t exist. That’s true. We haven’t found any Martians, either, but perhaps they do exist, perhaps even in the offices of the Pentagon. It’s always been hard to prove a negative.

This is an administration of sick puppies whose minds are haunted by lust for power, ideological phantoms and a profound contempt for the American people. A willingness to deceive is always proof of contempt.

Hopefully, in November, a majority of Americans will decide that this administration, like its illegal war, isn’t worth re-electing.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.

© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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