On September 11, 2001, 19 men from the jihadist organization al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Over 3,000 people were killed, thousands more were injured, and millions of dollars in damage were caused by the attacks. 

Following the attack, the United States Congress several laws allegedly designed to combat terrorism, including the PATRIOT Act, the Detainee Treatment Act, and the Military Commissions Act. These law bestowed the president unprecedented new powers in the so-called War on Terror. The executive branch was also given authority to invade Afghanistan and Iraq in order to uproot al-Qaeda and unseat Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

In the course of waging the War on Terror, President George W. Bush and his administration launched a campaign attacking the human rights and civil liberties of any the administration designated a terrorist, a designation that was often assigned with very little evidence. Most egregiously, President Bush established secret detention centers known as "black sites" where prisoners of war and suspected terrorists would be sent for "enhanced" interrogation, torture techniques such as water boarding, stress positions, and sexual humiliation.

Gul Rahman

One person subjected to enhanced interrogation was Gul Rahman. Gul was an Afghan who had fled post-invasion Afghanistan for the safety of a Pakistani refugee camp. There, he was arrested by the United States on suspicion of being a bodyguard for an Afghan warlord and imprisoned at the "Salt Pit," an abandoned brick factory converted into a black site by the CIA. At the Salt Pit, Gul was tortured in various ways, including through beatings and sleep deprivation, a tactic that often leads to psychotic hallucinations. In late November, 2002, Gul was subjected to torture by being stripped and shackled to the floor in freezing temperatures while interrogatorsthrew cold water on him. He was then left, still mostly naked, shackled to the floor. When his interrogators returned early on the morning of November 20, Gul was found to have frozen to death. The Bush administration never contacted his family to inform them of his death, nor was his name even made public until a report by the Associated Press revealed it in 2010.

Manadel al-Jamadi's wife and son hold a picture of US Army Military Police Officer Sabrina Harman smiling over Manadel's dead body. Harman was sentenced to only six months in prison for her role in the sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of prisoners, including Manadel.

Another victim of President Bush's enhanced interrogation Manadel al-Jamadi. Manadel was a suspected terrorist who was arrested on suspicion of having participated in a 2003 attack on a Red Cross facility in Iraq. Upon his arrest, Manadel jailed Abu-Ghraib Prison (since renamed Baghdad Central Prison). There, he was beaten and hooded before being placed in a stress position where his outstretched arms were locked behind his body to window bars, a technique paralleling crucifixion.  It is believed that thisposition, in conjunction with the broken ribs Manadel sustained from his beating and the hood placed over his head, made it difficult for him to breathe. Manadel suffocated and died shortly after being locked to the window bars. Though the US military has ruled his death a murder, no charges have been brought.

Abu Zubaydah was a third person interrogated with enhanced interrogation. Suspected of being a senior member of al-Qaeda, Abu was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He was then transferred between a number of different detention centers around the world before finally being detained at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. Throughout his time in U.S. custody, Abu has been exposed to a wide array of torture techniques, including:

Abu Zubaydah.

  • waterboarding, a method of controlled drowning that can lead to death;
  • exposure to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, a technique that can lead to serious physical illness;
  • confinement to a small coffin-shaped box, a form of sensory deprivation and limitation of movement reminiscent of Medieval iron maidens;
  • stress positions similar to the one that killed Manadel al-Jamadi;
  • sleep deprivation.

Despite having having been imprisoned for more than 14 years at this point, no charges have ever been brough against him. Abu remains imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

The people profiled above were not the only ones tortured by the US while in custody, nor were the torture techniques described above the only ones used by the Bush Administration. Other torture techniques that have been detailed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program (also referred to as the "Senate Torture Report) as well as by various media agencies include:

  • starvation;
  • dehydration;
  • mutilation by ripping of fingernails;
  • forced sodomy with foreign objects;
  • forced sexual humiliation;
  • forced hallucinogenic drug use;
  • threats of imminent bodily harm.

Ali Shallal al-Qaisi being tortured by American troops at Abu Ghraib Prison. Ali was told that if he fell off the box he was put on he would be electrocuted.

The torture of prisoners by the US government in the ways described above and other, similar ones began soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when Bush sent out a secret order to establish interrogation centers for the detention of suspected terrorists. Later on, Bush approved specific torture techniques to be used by interrogators, including the techniques used on Gul Rahman, Manadel al-Jamali, and Abu Zubaydah. President Bush has candidly acknowledged giving these orders in numerous places, including his memoir, Decision Points.

Evidence of President Bush's criminal behavior has been reported by almost every major news outlet in the US, from the New York Times and CBS to the Economist and the Associated Press. All major human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have called for Bush's arrest and prosecution. President Barack Obama has plainly stated that under the Bush Administration, "we [the United States] tortured some folks."

The prosecution of George Bush for torture would not be unprecedented. In 2012, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, found President Bush and several other members of his administration guilty of war crimes in absentia. This ruling has effectively restricted the Bush's travel as he can no longer go to countries that have established extradition treaties with Malaysia.

In light of the available evidence as it is laid out above, the War Crimes Project believes there is substantial information for a Federal Attorney to prosecute former President George W. Bush with war crimes under the War Crimes Act of 1996. Specifically, President Bush violated 18 U.S. code § 2441 (c)(2) by committing grave breaches of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d) in the following ways:

  1. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(a)("Torture - The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering... upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind) by committing and conspiring to commit acts intended to inflict severe physical and mental pain and suffering including, but not limited to, waterboarding, exposure to extreme temperatures, sensory deprivation, stress positions, sleep deprivation, beatings, starvation, dehydration, mutilation, sodomy with objects, forced hallucinogenic drug use, and threats of imminent bodily harm on Gul Rahman, Manadel al-Jamadi, Abu Zubaydah, and others while they were in the custody of the United States.
  2. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(b)("Cruel or Inhuman Treatment - The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act intended to inflict severe or serious physical or mental pain or suffering... including serious physical abuse, upon another within his custody or control") by committing and conspiring to commit acts intended to inflict severe physical and mental pain and suffering including, but not limited to, waterboarding, exposure to extreme temperatures, sensory deprivation, stress positions, sleep deprivation, beatings, starvation, dehydration, mutilation, sodomy with objects, forced hallucinogenic drug use, and threats of imminent bodily harm on Gul Rahman, Manadel al-Jamadi, Abu Zubaydah, and others while they were in the custody of the United States.
  3. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(d)("Murder - The act of a person who... kills whether intentionally or unintentionally in the course of committing any other offense under this subsection, one or more persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including those placed out of combat by... detention) by killing Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi in the course of torturing them and treating them in cruel and inhuman ways.
  4. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(e)("Mutilation or Maiming - The act of a person who intentionally injures... one or more persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including those placed out of combat by... detention... by disfiguring the person or persons by any mutilation thereof... any member, limb, or organ of his body, without any legitimate medical or dental purpose") by mutilating detainees by ripping out their fingernails.
  5. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(g)("Rape - The act of a person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force wrongfully invades, or conspires or attempts to invade, the body of a person by penetrating, however slightly, the anal or genital opening of the victim with... any foreign object") by invading and conspiring to invade the anal and genital openings of detainees with foreign objects.
  6. Violating common Art. 3 of the Geneva Conventions as defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2441 (d)(1)(h)(The act of a person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force engages, or conspires or attempts to engage, in sexual contact with one or more persons, or causes, or conspires or attempts to cause, one or more persons to engage in sexual contact) by forcing and conspiring to force detainees to perform sexually humiliating acts.

The War Crimes Project believes that President Bush is likely culpable and should be prosecuted for several other actions he took as president, including, but not limited to, violations of the charter of the United Nations.

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