Crime: (krim) n. 1. an action that is deemed injurious to the public welfare, and is legally prohibited. 2. criminal activity and those engaged in it 3. any serious wrongdoing. 4. a foolish act or practice - Random House Webster's Dictionary

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It saddens me to think it and to write it, but it would seem to be an inarguable fact that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals, and they have been supported in their reckless criminality by far too many Americans.

Because of these two men, and those who advised and enabled them, hundreds of thousands of people have died unnecessarily. More than 4,000 young American men and women have had their lives cut short in Iraq, and tens of thousands more have suffered injuries that are certain to shorten their lives, too, or, at the very least, to make their lives immeasurably more difficult and painful while they remain alive.

In Iraq, the number of orphans created by Bush, Cheney, and cohorts is impossible to count, but estimates run to the hundreds of thousands, and the best estimates of the Iraqi civilian dead have run as high as 655,000. We get used to big numbers in a war where all the numbers are big - the dead, the injured, and the amount of money squandered or stolen. But 655,000 human lives are more than just a number.

Carnage on that scale is a human tragedy beyond imagining. Wipe out all the people in Paradise, Magalia, Oroville, Chico, Gridley, and every other town within the county line, and you haven't killed enough people to equal those who've died because of Bush's war. In fact, you'd have to kill everyone in Butte County three times over to equal the number of people who have perished in Iraq because of Bush's hasty and criminal invasion of that benighted country, a nation cursed first by a brutal dictator whose iron-fisted rule kept the warring sects from killing one another, and then by the presence of the oil that motivated the invasion by U.S. forces, with the support of a small contingent of Brits, and miniscule token support from a handful of nations who submitted to American pressure to sanction the invasion.

But the invasion and the occupation of Iraq were just the beginning of the crimes that make up the case against Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and the rest of these neo-con criminals. Think of the crimes they have committed against our national values, the winking and nodding at torture and the criminal disregard for the rule of law. Think of these men (along with that mistress of ineptitude, Condoleezza Rice) sitting around the Oval Office discussing torture techniques with CIA officers. Think of Abu Ghraib, and secret rendition of prisoners to countries willing to conduct torture on our behalf, and under our supervision. Think of John Yoo, now teaching law at U.C. Berkeley, who advised Bush that the niceties of the Geneva Conventions were "quaint."

Then think of all the war profiteering that adds motive to the crimes committed by these people, all those blood-soaked bucks that have flooded into the coffers of Halliburton, Exxon/Mobil, Blackwater, or dozens of other companies extorting billions from the U.S. government, all that money borrowed against our children's futures from places like Saudi Arabia and China, a huge, crippling, and growing debt to nations we cannot trust. The extent of these crimes has not even begun to be chronicled. It will take the work of several generations of future historians to count the dead, and uncover all that criminality. But we do know that one-fifth of the Iraqi population has fled that country since our invasion. And we do know that 60 population of those refugees are children, driven from their homes by the horrors unleashed following the American invasion.

Lots of laws broken, lots of commandments shattered, all those Christian rules about not stealing, nor killing, nor bearing false witness. A legacy of crime carried out by the kind of criminals who hide behind the courage of soldiers and the fluttering of flags, powerful men who consolidate power by spreading fear.

And the loudest voices of support for these criminals came from those most frightened, the bellicose armchair warriors willing to send other people's children to early deaths in exchange for some vague promises that they would be safer as they watched the propaganda on Fox "News," and gave the lie to the notion that this is, still, the land of the free and the home of the brave. These accomplices to the big crimes of the Bush/Cheney gang were willing to sacrifice freedoms because they were afraid, and didn't care how much money got plundered or how many people died to give them the illusion of safety.

These people feel no shame for their complicity in the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, nor do they feel the slightest guilt about twice electing the worst president who ever assumed the nation's highest office - an overprivileged dunce who had the world handed to him on a platter, a dimwit custom-made to do the bidding of the rich and powerful men who brought him to power. None of that matters to these people who supported Bush, so long as what little conscience they have can be assuaged with the notion that we are fighting al Qaida, even while the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks remains on the loose thousands of miles from the scene of the crimes.

None of that matters so long as these people can delude themselves into thinking they are patriots while they watch their nation's military stretched to the breaking point, the treasury sacked, and their country's best traditions and values violated. Since they are not ashamed of what they have condoned and created, it falls to the rest of us to be ashamed for them, and of them.

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