Crime and Punishment; Pardon Me? edition

On February 7, 2003, the Bush administration continued its increasing drumbeat for taking down Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi honcho, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld  estimating  that such an invasion could last “Six days. Six weeks. I doubt six months”.

On March 20, 2003, the U.S. invades the country of Iraq.

In case one doesn’t recall the run-up to that march 2003 start of the Iraq war, allow me to remind such a reader that it’s official ending date is noted as December 18, 2011. About 130,000 U.S. soldiers entered into that invasion, along with about 45,000 British troops. According to National Geographic “war and occupation directly and indirectly claimed the lives of about half a million Iraqi civilians. The American military death toll stands at about 4500.

In the ensuing years since March 20, 2003, investigations into the assertions by the Bush administration used to justify the invasion have irrefutably shown that Hussein did not possess, nor was trying to develop, “weapons of mass destruction” to be used against the U.S. This is not only based on reporting by the likes of Mother Jones, but from our own CIA and FBI, which as the rush to war was reaching a fever pitch in early 2003, concluded the “evidence” was not reliable. Meetings, the CIA and FBI claimed, that were alleged to have taken place in which “proof” of Saddam’s WMDs were discussed,  never took place. If you doubt that the Iraq war was based on lies, distortions and propaganda 101’s “demonization” strategy, then do your own research (but check your sources, as there are many sites that spew a toxic stew of prevarication and pre-fabbed “facts”). Bush and Iraq was fake news long before our current Tweeter-in-Chief popularized the term. Unfortunately, the mainstream media, both electronic and print, at the time did not seem interested in truth-telling. The general (clearly non-critical thinking) public gave the invasion a thumbs up at around 70% at its start. By 2011, when President Obama officially ended our occupation of Iraq, 75% (Gallup poll) approved of the withdrawal. That’s a strange reversal of support, inasmuch as George W.Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and others from back in 2003 have yet to admit to any such fear mongering, deadly bait-and-switch tactics. The”Bushies” have never admitted to any wrongdoing to this day.  Keep in mind, however, that the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, a tribunal consisting of five judges with judicial and academic backgrounds reached a unanimous conclusion, in late 2011, BEFORE the withdrawal from Iraq, that George W. Bush and Tony Blair (Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time) were guilty of “crimes against peace, humanity, and genocide” as a result of their roles in the Iraq war.

That Rumsfeld estimation of the invasion likely not lasting even six months was off by 7.5 years. As noted above, as many as half-a-million civilians died during those years, along with several thousand “coalition” forces. And, in certain other parts of world, Bush, Blair and Associates are considered guilty of crimes against humanity. Those are serious charges, to say the least.

Has there been any official punishment for the now solid evidence that Bush and company lied the U.S. into a deadly war? Guilty of genocide?! Here’s the verdict on that: no way! Not a chance! And who cleared the path for Bush & Associates to still walk the streets like free men (and women, per Condy Rice and the New York times reporter Judith Miller)? None other than President Obama. Recall (if you can) that when Obama became President he had both the House and Senate with a majority of Democrats . That’s alot of power to effectively and justly serve  we the people. But when  asked if he was considering his Justice Department looking into the allegations against Bush invoked above, his response was simply “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”. No wonder the Republicans have always accused the Democrats of being “soft on crime”. No, wait. they didn’t offer that retort to Obama.

No way. It’s all circumstantial, selective perception, apparently


Which brings this blog posting to its actual point: Not all crimes are created equal.  Quite clearly. Nor are they prosecuted equally. Which further brings me to the matter of Tuesday’s pardoning of Rod Blagojevich by the Tweeter-in-Chief. Blago, as he is often referred to, was serving a 14 year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado. He had served eight of those years at the time his pardon was granted. Since Tuesday, his release from prison has been reported on breathlessly by both local and national news. The media spin on this matter has suggested there was a miscarriage of justice committed by freeing Blago before his scheduled release in 2024. And why not? After all, are we not a nation founded on the rule of law? Do the crime, do the time. Damn straight!

What was Blago’s crime? Well, he, like many another public office holder, abused the public’s trust. Corruption. Wheeling and dealing. Shocking, no? A public official abusing his/her power? Blago was tried–twice–before getting that 14 year sentence. The essence of his corruption during his tenure as Illinois governor had to do with his apparent attempt to “sell” former U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s senate seat, vacated when Obama was elected President in 2008. See any irony in that scenario? Obama, who had no interest into even tinkering with the idea of holding George W.Bush to account for a war built on lies. A war with estimates ranging from at least a few hundred thousand Iraqi civilians having lost their lives. Not to mention our own military dead.

But Blago? U.S.Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald went after the former governor like Elliot Ness going after Al Capone. Sell Obama’s seat? That will NOT be tolerated!

Okay, fine then. Crime and punishment. Ness–err Fitzgerald, finally got his man behind bars. The sentence: 14 years! That’ll teach him, and all all other corrupt politicians. The rule of law…

But, wait. Blago didn’t kill anyone. No money ever changed hands. He was a lot of bluster. An easy target. But 14 years? And now that he gets out early because of the pardon, to hear the news reports and opining about such an action sending the wrong message, may I just say this: What a steaming, stinking pile of bullshit!

For all the local pundits, broadcasters, analysts and a lot of John and Jane Q.Public, please shut the fuck up about it. In this case, your political ignorance, your facile indignation, your simple minded assessment of what crime deserves what  punishment is so absurdly skewed into the twilight zone of hypocrisy it reminds me of–wait for it–an episode of South Park. That would be the episode where Cartman, a fat, white, blowhard 4th grader, always in it for himself and himself alone (hmm. Isn’t there someone else who fits that description? Yeah, and while Cartman is a cartoon character this other person, a human, is not a cartoon–damn what IS his name?–but acts cartoonish…and self-absorbed and…ah never mind) impulsively throws a rock intended for one of his playground classmates, but it hits another kid, who happens to be black. The school counselor puts Cartman in detention for two weeks, but two federal agents show up and haul the kid away, charging him with a hate crime. Cartman is sentenced to a juvenile detention center until he is 21! As the judge says, upon his passing sentence, “I’m making an example out of you that if you intend to hurt someone, make damn sure that person is the same color you are”.

Blago’s sentence seems similarly intended to make an example out of him as far as political corruption goes. The judge isn’t letting him off easy. He crossed the line!

However, Blago didn’t smash anyone’s head with a rock, although his dubious “seat for sale” gambit might be the result of a blow to the head and and a resulting lack of ethical reasoning. What it was NOT however,was  an act that caused anyone, anyone at all, any physical harm. If anything, it may have amused some of his fellow political pals otherwise ready to wheel and deal.

One politician (and his fellow wheeler dealers) falsely asserts evidence that propelled the U.S.military troops into harms way. Then, in the span of eight years kills hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention destabilizing a critical part of the Middle East, from which even today Iraq is still trying to recover from the carnage. That criminal action resulted in no legal action whatsoever. We need to look forward, as opposed to looking backwards…

And so, all of the hand-wringing and finger pointing about justice not being served in the Blagojavich case is asinine. He served eight years more than any of the above named, tribunal-convicted perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide, and certainly a breach of the public (lazy and gullible as they may be) trust.

I, for one, am glad Rod has been let out of prison. He paid his dues after the first few years of that sentence, given his actual failure to even close the deal.

If only sinister and cynically manufactured reasons to go to war with a consequences be damned cold bloodedness warranted any punishment at all. Too big to fail is one thing. Too big to jail?








About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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3 Responses to Crime and Punishment; Pardon Me? edition

  1. “A war with estimates ranging from at least a few hundred thousand Iraqi civilians having lost their lives. Not to mention our own military dead.”

    I was hoping the International Criminal Court in the Hague would look into this matter and bring some ‘justice’ to the war crimes that the US was perpetrating. [The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.] It is estimated that the US military has killed between 20-30 million people since the end of WWII. Now, the military, under Trump’s ‘great’ leadership, is given trillions of dollars.

    There is never money to help people, just more money for killing and destruction. There’s a reason there is no money for Medicare for All, Green New Deal or raising monthly payments on Social Security.


  2. Great insights on travesties of criminal justice in this nation — “too big to jail” indeed!


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