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Case Number 10971: Small Claims Court

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The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings

bushcommission.org // 2006 // 166 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // March 8th, 2007

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All Rise...

The statutes of limitation on Judge Ian Visser's crimes against humanity elapsed in 1987.

The Charge

"When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes "—Charter statement of International Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

The Case

Headed by something called the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration (or maybe the ICIOCAHCBA, for short?), The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings presents five "criminal" indictments leveled against the current Bush administration. Fourteen defendants are named, ranging from the President to former Attorney General John Ashcroft and including various military and administration officials. The five charges are:

1. Wars of aggression
2. Torture and indefinite detention
3. Destruction of the global environment
4. Attacks on global public health
5. Negligent response to Hurricane Katrina

The content of The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings is sourced from two symposiums held in 2005 and 2006, respectively. A collection of former diplomats, military personnel, policy wonks, and academics each make points about violations of international codes and treaties by the Bush administration, illustrating how the government is guilty of war crimes. The speeches are inter-cut with each-other, taken from full-length presentations at the symposiums. A mix of speakers is included, from communists to a former Assistant Secretary of the United Nations to singer Harry Belafonte. In addition, each disc in the set contains a segment that summarizes the evidence on each charge and levels a subsequent verdict.

As with any opinion taken from the far end of the spectrum, it's hard to accept the participants arguments without a grain of salt; to call the speakers biased is beyond obvious. The material presented by The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings is heavy on hyperbole, but short on evidence. There are a lot of claims made about the behavior of the Bush administration, but little hard information or statistics. It's possible this perception stems from the small amount of material included from each speaker; it might have been more beneficial to hear some of the speeches in their entirety. In either case, there can be no doubt that those behind this material clearly have nothing in mind but to establish a "kangaroo court" environment with a pre-determined verdict already in place. There is certainly a great amount of policy made by the Bush administration that can be considered suspicious in its intent, but determining whether or not this constitutes an out-right crime requires an objective investigation from persons without an established difference of opinion.

Probably the greatest fault in the film is that the participants seem to be unwilling to acknowledge that most administrations could be considered guilty of same five indictments (or comparable ones), regardless of who heads them. To be sure, an unpopular war and Bush's conservative politics have sparked considerable concern from the left, but were these people as active against the Clinton administration? After all, Bill Clinton sent U.S. forces into Kosovo, attacked foreign countries with stealth bombers, and refused to ratify the Kyoto Accord. And will these same people continue to press subsequent administrations on the same charges, Republican-led or not?

It's tough to say who the audience for The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings is. Those convinced of the evil of George W. Bush won't need to be swayed any further, and supporters of the current President won't waste their time watching it. There's certainly nothing here that could be considered educational in nature, considering the lack of evidence and obvious bias. The effort merely seems like more of the same grist for the same mill. Also, considering the amount of space available on a two-disc set, the DVD certainly could have included much more of the source material, allowing viewers to see complete examples of the speeches. Some of the speakers have impressive resumes, and hearing more of their arguments may have benefited viewers.

There's not much to The Bush Crimes Commission Hearings in terms of production values. Aside from the occasional news clip or photo image, the full-screen presentation is simply talking heads standing behind a podium. The video is very clear in its quality, but this is not a professional effort and it retains a less-polished look. The audio is well-recorded and comes across clearly. There are no additional features included.

As a result of the clear bias and lack of evidence presented, The Commission of Investigations into Sub-standard Political Presentations on DVD finds this effort "guilty."

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: bushcommission.org
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 166 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• Indictment Verdicts
• Remarks by Michael Ratner
• Remarks by Harry Belafonte


• Official Site

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