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Law School Dean Says War Criminals Have to Be Punished


By Mark Anderson

THE DEAN OF A NEW ENGLAND law school announced that the departure of President Bush next January may not provide him and his cronies with a sanctuary from justice. The message from Lawrence Velvel, dean and co-founder of the Massachusetts School of Law, is:

Where impeachment ends, an independent tribunal begins. Punishment of the guilty is being openly discussed by conference planners—including capital punishment.

As announced on the website After Downing, and confirmed for AFP by Dean Velvel, his assistant, Jeff Demers, and longtime publicist Sherwood Ross, a conference [see conference agenda on page 5—Ed.] is being called for by Velvel “to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes.” It will be held Sept. 13-14 at the school, a small, respected institution in Andover founded in 1988 that resisted the regulations and standards of the American Bar Association and instead sought accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Specifying what may shock readers of independent media—but which will never appear in the prostitute press—Velvel said the program “is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred. It is, rather, intended to be a conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth” as stated in his column posted online June 24, on his “Velvel on National Affairs” blog.

“We must try to hold the Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice,” Velvel said. “And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war criminals in the 1940s. America’s chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Justice Robert Jackson, said we were invoking principles that would govern our nation as well as our defeated enemies. We must attempt to make a truth teller of Jackson, instead of allowing our leaders to make a liar of him.”

Velvel said this conference is intended to do away with the past practice of allowing U.S. officials responsible for war crimes (in Vietnam and elsewhere) to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office.

“President [Lyndon] Johnson retired to his Texas ranch, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (a longtime Council on Foreign Relations fixture who also served in that position under JFK) was named to head the
World Bank; Richard Nixon retired to San Clemente, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger [a Bilderberg luminary] was allowed to grow richer and richer,” Velvel said, while citing former Kennedy/Johnson Secretary of State Dean Rusk as another unpunished wrong-doer.

“For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and [torture advocate and Bush advisor] John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future U.S. leaders,” Velvel said.

The issues to be handled at the conference include the nature of domestic and international crimes committed; which high-level Bush officials, members of Congress and federal judges are chargeable with war crimes; and which foreign and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them.

“It is for all these reasons that I have called [the] conference . . . entitled Planning for the Prosecution of High-Level American War Criminals. . . . The underlying law and facts will be discussed in the context of laying plans to pursue the guilty in courtrooms so that in the future there may be no more Vietnams, no more Iraqs,” Velvel said. AFP interviewed Velvel June 24.

An “umbrella coordinating committee” also will be put together consisting of those from noted legal groups concerned about war crimes, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights.

New York attorney Carl Person questioned if this conference will lead to real results. He wondered if subpoena power will be achieved. “There is no convening authority. Nobody has to come to testify,” he said, though he agrees justice should be sought.

Email Corresponding Editor Mark Anderson at [email protected].

(Issue # 27, July 7, 2008)

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