I have a second job. Regular readers to this blog know that this second job is playing poker at the fantastic Commerce Casino in the great city of Los Angeles (“fantastic” and “great,” of course, both being highly subjective terms). While in Los Angeles for the month, I have been spending inordinate amounts of time at my second job. Last night, I got into a conversation with a fellow at my table, a man notable for his friendly demeanor, beady eyes, and ability to drink fourteen Bud Lights without pause. He was also a conservative.
Like most gay-seeming Jewish showbiz types, I place myself firmly on the opposite side of the political spectrum than this, although I certainly hold many conservative positions (which I will not get into now because they are irrelevant to the body of this post, but one of which is that I think we should go back to the gold standard because gold is pretty). As we were talking, though, I found myself saying, “I think you could strong case that George W. Bush is guilty of treason.” He disagreed.
And then I kind of doubted it myself. I remember thinking, “That sounds kind of extreme, even from a pinko lefty like me.” But then I thought, “Could I?” meaning could I make that argument? I decided to try because, among other reasons, I am going to play Rock Band with my friend David Wain in about an hour and I had some time kill.
Keep in mind I am an actor and a comedian, not a lawyer. Not only do I have no legal training, I have never even played a lawyer, although on the TV show “Ed,” my character Phil worked for a lawyer who owned a bowling alley. That is about as close to legal training as I have ever come. Even so, I will attempt to make my case.
Because treason is such a loaded word, I decided to do something that I find utterly loathsome in writing, which is to inject a dictionary definition into my prose. I do this because, if I am going to make the case for treason against the president, it seems like I have to define the term in a way that everybody can see. For this, I choose the most trusted source on language, the built-in dictionary that came with my Mac.
This is an abridged definition, but it serves my purposes.
Treason: noun (also high treason)
the crime of betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government: they were convicted of treason.
I believe the president’s most sacred duty is that of commander-in-chief (followed closely by master of ceremonies at the annual White House Easter egg hunt). As commander-in-chief, it is the president’s responsibility to choose when and if to send our soldiers into harm’s way.
I understand that Congress has the responsibility of declaring war, which they essentially ceded to the president with the H.J. Res 114 “The Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002,” which was probably not such a great idea. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Congress passing this act? Not a great idea at all.
For this of you unclear as to what this act was – it gave the president the authorization to use force against Iraq when and if he saw fit. As it turns out, he saw fit.
Why did he see fit?
The reason we were given at the time, as all of you know, was that Iraq was a grave and imminent threat to the United States. After all, we’re the USA. We don’t just go invading other countries willy-nilly without there being a reason, do we? Apparently we do.
Or I should say, the true reason was never given. If you ask, as I do, people why we went into Iraq, nobody really knows. Was it weapons of mass destruction? Was it oil? Was it establishing a beachhead for Middle Eastern democracy other than Israel? Why did we invade? It seems to me if you are going to war, the Commander in Chief should have a pretty compelling reason. Historically, nations leading offensive campaigns define their reasons for doing so defensively, which is what we did.
For the year or so leading up to the war, various administration officials paraded in front of television cameras attempting to gin up fear for a country that had never expressed any intention of attacking the United States. They were, however, lumped in with an organization that did: Al Qaeda. Repeatedly, the administration attempted to establish linkage between the government of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. In fact, this linkage (which didn’t exist) was referred to in the bill authorizing force:
Within the body of the Joint Resolution we read (among many other things, all of which begin with the word “Whereas,” which in my opinion sounds very fancy.)
“Whereas members of al Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 are known to be in Iraq.”
Let me just point out – not true.
“Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations.”
Of course, al Qaeda was never based in Iraq, and none of the hijackers who flew the planes on September 11 were from Iraq. They were mostly from Saudi Arabia, which to my knowledge, we have not attacked.
“Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations.”
All of these passages explicitly link al Qaeda to Iraq, a tie that has been disproved. Incidentally, for those of you who think “Al Qaeda in Iraq” is the same thing as al Qaeda – it’s not. It was created after the invasion, and did not exist beforehand. Unfortunately, its creators could not think of a more creative name. For the record, when I create my terrorist organization I’m going to call it “The Kimbo Slice All-Star Freakout Terrorists and Ragtime Band.” We will probably not have an actual ragtime band in the organization just as al Qaeda in Iraq is not (or at least was not) actually part of Bin Laden’s al Qaeda.
Why is it important that these false passages were included in the Joint Resolution? Again, to give us defensive cover for invading a nation that had never threatened to invade us.
The other means of doing this was, of course, the weapons of mass destruction. There’s no need to recount this debate, but to remind readers who may still be wearing protective chemical suits and cowering behind duct tape covered doors and window sills, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. The president can say whatever he wants about the intelligence he was given in the run-up to the war regarding Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons (not to mention the famous mushroom cloud that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice warned us would be blooming over American cities if we didn’t do something about Iraq RIGHT NOW!!!), but the fact is there was conflicting intelligence about this matter, and there were also United Nations weapons inspectors in country at the time looking for those same weapons. Not surprisingly, they didn’t find any. Why? Because they didn’t exist.
In other words, the two main reasons we were given for going to war, linkage to al Qaeda and Saddam’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were both false. False. Another word for a falsehood is a lie. The nation was lied to about why the United States was going to invade a sovereign nation. In my mind, when somebody lies to me, I feel betrayed.
When you lie to a nation, and that lie results in the deaths of over four thousand Americans, the wounding of tens of thousands more, the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, and utter calamity caused to Iraq, the Middle East, and the reputation of the United States, I would say that the lie rises to the level of betraying one’s country, which as we’ve seen by my built-in dictionary, is the definition of treason.
George Bush and his cronies, for whatever reason, betrayed this country when they set in motion a plan to make war on Iraq. This was an aggressive, unnecessary war that defied everything I believe this nation to stand for. Whether or not we ultimately emerge “victorious” is irrelevant. When a nation invades another nation, there better be a damned good reason. Over five years after the fact, we are still waiting for that reason.
I am not advocating impeachment or bringing the man up on charges or anything else because I think such actions would be counterproductive and would probably greatly affect future airings of “Desperate Housewives” for network coverage of the proceedings. I’m just pointing out that one could make the argument that George W. Bush committed treason.
Now, as I said, I’m not a lawyer. Did not major in political science. Visited Washington once, but mostly hung out at Hooters when I was there. So I know that I am not the most qualified person to take on this subject, but I do know that my president betrayed his country, and one of the reasons I am such a staunch patriot is that I have the right to post my feelings of betrayal on my blog, which is usually reserved for observations about the Hulk and half-baked attempts at erotic fiction. And it is to both of those that I now return.
I also want to point out that I wrote this in about twenty minutes. You shouldn’t be able to make a case for treason against the president in twenty minutes while waiting to play a video game at your buddy’s house.