Mubarak on Trial but W. Is Not

The July 8 protests spearheaded by young Egyptian leftists to demand accountability and transparency were rewarded Wednesday by publicly broadcast trial proceedings against former president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, and several associates.

The sight of Mubarak, on a hospital bed in the in-court cage where the accused are kept during the proceedings, was electrifying to the Egyptian public. His son Gamal looked bored at points. One Egyptian activist tweeted, ‘what’s the matter, Jimmy, are we wasting your time?” The Mubaraks are accused of authorizing the killing of some 900 persons during this year’s revolution and of looting the country.

The decision to make it a civilian trial gave Mubarak more justice than he gave the 4000 persons he had tried in military courts. He faces both criminal charges and civil suits from families whose sons he is accused of having killed.

So the Egyptians may get some justice. In contrast to Americans, who will never see George W. Bush tried for torture and other violations of US and international law.

What with their lively popular revolutions, the Arabs may have something to teach us now about accountability, transparency and democracy.

17 Responses

  1. Don’t count on President Bush and his entourage avoiding prosecution forever. Recognize that is usually takes some time out of office to prosecute many other torturers. Above all recall the insight of Dr. Martin Luther King: “When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

  2. The cynic in me says the people aspiring to power would be using this to distract the masses from their own perpetuation of abuses. Lopping off the head of a rotten system goes far, but if the system itself doesn’t come down…

    Is there any validity in my fears, where Egypt is concerned?

  3. I don’t think W is the problem (Okay, hes a big part of it though). The problem isn’t just W though. Mubarak tortured/killed against the “will” of the country, whose “will” wasn’t revealed because it was effectively a dictatorship. I’m going to guess that his actions didn’t enjoy widespread popular support.

    In the US, the problem is much deeper because you have a significant segment of the population saying that the laws denying torture are unjust in the face of the “evil” we face. People always enjoy it when the Executive chooses not to enforce laws it deems unjust, such as Obama saying he will no longer enforce the DOMA (a move I applaud, especially since I’m in NY). Our problem is too many are willing to vote for and say “We like torture, because it saves children.” I’m also guessing that in light of catching Bin Laden, even if the evidence is no torture was used to get the necessary intel, any legal actions against Bush would be met with huge retaliation and probably drum up more support for torture.

    Thus, while I think it would be nice if a nice court case against W could put the issue of torture to rest, I think the problem is too deep. Unfortunately the anti-war groups have poor publicity and I think very few realize torture isn’t actually effective on average.

  4. Establishing justice both at home and abroad, as you discuss in this post, is a major goal of the Be2021 campaign. Led by Americans for Informed Democracy, the Be2021 campaign encourages youth to envision and create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world by 2021, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Please declare your vision today at link to be2021.org! Thanks! -Ian

  5. And let us not forget, please, this caged family are Personal Family Friends of the Clinton’s (and by inference Friends of Elite Families throughout our small disturbed world). I smell rot.

  6. I concur with your point, Professor Cole, as does everyone I know: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be held accountable for taking the United States to needless war in Iraq on the lie of WMDs, as well as instigating torture. They should be on trial at The Hague.

    Furthermore, the USA should GET OUT of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan now—ASAP. Ten years of pointless multi-trillion dollar war is enough! The American people have had it with our government shipping billions of dollars a week to corrupt governments and war profiteers. Our brave and weary American soldiers and their families, deserve better. Shame on us. And shame on the congress for funding these wars for 10 years—both GOPTea and Democrats.

  7. We in the US have too much experience with the artificial worlds of computer generated action films, polling results oriented political posturing (triangulation), Faux news, outright bat-guano crazy in-name-only-TeaParty delusional rants, denial of basic science concepts such as heat and entropy, and so on.

    To expect us to hold individuals accountable is too much of a cognitive shift right now; wait for oil prices to rise to the point where people in this country starve to death, then we might begin to escape out collective schizoid mindset and deal with real issues.

  8. The US has tortured and killed people unjustly all through the Cold War. No one important has ever been punished. I have no hope that Bush the Younger et al. will ever go on trial. No one went on trial for Vietnam, did they? Those who’d have to do it, fear going on trial themselves.

  9. I can dream of a day when an aspiring law firm looks at the evidence and first hand accounts of Bush cabinet memebers, such a Paul O’Neil, and his “Iraq war group”, which was formed within the White House to find ways to pitch the war to the American public, and see there is a case to be made that the war was a complete fabrication.

    If lawyers see a trillion dollar payout by the federal gov. then that might motivate them to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of those most affected by Bush and his neocon handlers. I think a jury would be sympathetic to a Gold Star mom on the stand crying her eyes out about how she lost her only son, for a neocon inspired vision of the middle east.

  10. Actually, Bush and company could be readily tried by a People’s Court. If they did not wish to appear to defend themselves, competent defense attorneys could be appointed to represent them. Some facts, no doubt, are held in secret and might not be available for a public hearing, however many facts are a matter of record. A process like this would not be particularly expensive and would allow for a well-publicized balanced accounting of the facts. One of America’s greatest failings over the last few years has been our “failure of imagination.” This failure of our culture seems to be across the board.

  11. Torture doesn’t work to get at the truth, but it does work to get people to say whatever you want them to say. And that’s what Bush et al. were really after. “Admissions” that WMDs existed, for example.

  12. The issues of tortures are not in the past, and not exclusive to Bush and Mubarak, but also the people who developed and over saw the tortures carried out. Civil trials are appropriate in the United States and not military tribunals; we are a republic of laws. The purpose of a military tribunal is to get around those laws and undermines our government.

    If one looks at the current crop of presidential contenders, in particular Mitt Romney, one will find support for a policy of torture, as well as many of the people involved in the development of the torture polices under Bush, are found among Romney’s current advisors.

    Even in the Obama administration, people are still disappearing into black holes. The kill capture policy is still carried out in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    Eric Prince in Dubai has violated the Neutrality Act, as well as violating requirements to obtain permits from the State Department before providing the training of foreign nations. Eric Price and former members of our American special forces are providing training in Dubai, which probably includes techniques of torture. The fact Prince is doing this is without permits, indicates Prince could be selling the current trade craft of our special forces to Russia, China, and who knows who else in Dubai, putting our soldiers in jeopardy if there is future conflict.

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