Terror, War Crimes, and Regrets
by Mike Mosher
On September 11, 2001, twenty Saudi and Yemeni members of Al-Qeada, allegedly under the orders of Osama Bin Laden, hijacked four airplanes in order to attack the World Trade Center and Pentagon. This coordinated action resulted in over 3,000 deaths on US soil.
Here in Michigan, I manage to put my thoughts and visual images into pixel at a tortoise-like pace, and so completed, often publish them here. Not a productive blogger, or with the regularity of a professional journalist, but occasionally. I realize how ineffectual that gentlemanly, amateur’s pace is in the rough-and-tumble, fast-moving real world of politics and events.
Shortly after 9/11, the US Congress voted President George W. Bush authorization to pursue Bin Laden in Afghanistan. As US troops drew close, Bin Laden was apparently allowed to escape. Meanwhile Bush, Cheney and their staff began preparations for war in Iraq, fabricating reasons why invasion should proceed. They denied international weapons inspectors' requests to complete their work, which would have disproved the Weapons of Mass Destruction justification.
On March 19, 2003, the US heavily bombed then invaded Iraq. The occupation continued until the end of 2011
As of December 15, 2011, when President Obama declared the end of US troop presence, almost 4500 of my nation's troops have died in Iraq. Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland in February 2011, allegedly because there was a chance he would be arrested there for war crimes, while in October, a court in Malaysia tried him for war crimes in absentia. In December, 2011 Amnesty International called on three African nations Bush was scheduled to visit to arrest him.
At the beginning of March, 2011 I realized that we were six months away from the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01, the day that US laws, politics, public morality and the US economy changed for the worse in ways that have not been reversed.
After Facebook proved itself especially effective in creating change in Tunisia and Egypt, I thought that creating a Facebook group advocating Trials for Bin Laden, Bush and Cheney by 9/11/11 would be a good thing. Pursuit of Bin Laden had been the only avowed reason the US invaded Afghanistan early in 2002; only California Representative Barbara Lee clearly saw that Bush couldn’t be trusted with any war powers. Bin Laden was allowed to escape, and instead the US invaded Iraq, which—despite dictator Saddam Hussein’s proven cruelty—was entirely uninvolved, and no threat to the US. Even Pope Paul II publicly opposed the invasion.
But by May, two months after I first thought of my big idea, I hadn’t gotten around to creating the Facebook group. Oh, I cobbled together a graphic for it…but that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. My page was going to call on the US Congress to indict Bush and Cheney. My page was going to call on the International Criminal Court to indict Bin Laden.
Then Navy Seals stormed Bin Laden’s comfortable compound in Pakistan and killed him in May, 2011. “Justice was done”, assured President Obama, but now Bin Laden will never be brought to trial, never have his day in court, never tell us what he knows about what happened on 9/11 a decade ago. Was he protected from serious pursuit? Were Bush and Cheney complicit in his escape and comfortable exile, or merely incompetent in allowing it?
There are activists in Saginaw, many in their seventies, who maintain weekly antiwar vigils on a busy street corner throughout the icy storms of late fall, winter and early spring. But sheesh, I was even too lazy and distracted to even get a Facebook page up, so missed my chance to call for capture and public trials for all three of these war criminals. Regrets for a missed opportunity to do good are often the saddest.
Under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (whose continued employment in that role until 2011 may have been one condition of Obama becoming President), a "surge" was authorized in Afghanistan; I continue to wonder if there has been anything accomplished in Afghanistan or Iraq that was worth a single American life. To the populations of both nations, our occupying armies have been a major problem, not the solution.
Reads the bumper sticker the Friends Committee for Political Action sent me, War is Not the Answer. Yet there must be justice served upon those who launch wars. As I concluded my antiwar letters around 9/11 to newspapers, in affirmation of solidarity with my traditional, patriotic neighbors and to move them to action:
God bless America and the men and women of the armed forces who protect us. May God--and the American people--sternly judge those venal politicians who needlessly put our defenders in harm’s way.
--Memorial Day/Veteran's Day/December 16, 2011
Mike Mosher, Bad Subject since 1995, is an artist, and art & digital media professor, in mid-Michigan.