On MSNBC, Michael Moore explained that we must prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes in order to send a message to future presidents.
Clip courtesy of MSNBC:
Moore said, “This is willful deceit, and it is the worst crime I think a person can commit. To lie to a whole nation of people in order to send their sons and daughters off to war. That is just the most despicable thing, and I hope in my lifetime that there is criminal justice here when it comes to Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz and the whole gang of them.”
Later the Oscar winning filmmaker said, “I do hope. See if we don’t prosecute them is that it sends a message to future presidents that they can literally get away with murder. The only way you can send a message to future criminals is to tell them and show them what’s going to happen if they do such a thing.”
Moore said that Obama took a wrong headed position when he decided not to prosecute Bush and Cheney.
Michael Moore’s comments bring up an interesting contradiction. Many on the left are opposed to the White House’s drone policy because they view this as sort of an unprecedented expansion of executive power. (Executive power granted to Obama because the congress gave Bush a blank check on Iraq and Afghanistan.) However, these same people on the left who decry executive power in the drone policy want to the president to take the unprecedented step of investigating and indicting Bush and Cheney.
We live in an age where every political maneuver has become deeply partisan. I think it would be unwise for any president to open the door to investigations and criminal convictions of prior presidents, but I do believe that the Obama administration should not go out of their way to protect war criminals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from international prosecution. Bush and Cheney committed crimes against the world, so they should be tried in an international court.
Bush and Cheney should be held accountable, but opening the door to presidents using the power of their office to investigate and prosecute former presidents is not the way to do it. Executive powers expanded for any reason, just or not, are nearly impossible to take back.