Skip to main content

George Monbiot attempts to arrest John Bolton

  • Author:
  • Updated:

By Ben Cohen

Environmental journalist and activist George Monbiot attempted to make a citizen's arrest of former U.N Ambassador John Bolton at the Hay Festival in England. He failed in his attempt, being blocked by security guards as he confronted Bolton with a list of accusations.

Said Monbiot:

"I'm aware that I've made what I believe is the first attempt ever to
arrest one of the perpetrators of the Iraq War, and I believe that is a
precedent and I would like to see that precedent followed up."

Monbiot's charges were as follows:

We are conducting a citizen’s arrest for the crime of aggression, as
  established by customary international law and described by Nuremberg
  Principles VI and VII.

These state the following:

"Principle VI

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international

(a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a
  war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of
  any of the acts mentioned under (i)

"Principle VII

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime
  against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international

The evidence against you is as follows:

1. You orchestrated the sacking of the head of the Organisation for the
  Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Jose Bustani. Bustani had offered to
  resolve the dispute over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and
  therefore to avert armed conflict. He had offered to seek to persuade Saddam
  Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, which would mean that Iraq
  was then subject to weapons inspections by the OPCW. As the OPCW was not
  tainted by the CIA's infiltration of UNSCOM, Bustani's initiative had the
  potential to defuse the crisis over Saddam Hussein's obstruction of UNMOVIC

Apparently in order to prevent the negotiated settlement that Bustani
  proposed, and as part of a common plan with other administration officials
  to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in violation of international
  treaties, you acted as follows:

In March 2002 your office produced a ‘White Paper’ claiming that the OPCW was
  seeking an “inappropriate role” in Iraq.

On 20th March 2002 you met Bustani at the Hague to seek his resignation.
  Bustani refused to resign. (Charles J Hanley, Associated Press, 5 June, 2005)

On 21st March 2002 you orchestrated a No-Confidence Motion calling for Bustani
  to resign as Director General which was introduced by the United States
  delegation. The motion failed.

On 22nd April 2002 the US called a special session of the conference of the
  States Parties and the Conference adopted the decision to terminate the
  appointment of the Director General effective immediately. You had suggested
  that the US would withhold its dues from OPCW. The motion to sack Bustani
  was carried. Bustani asserts that this ‘special session’ was illegal, in
  breach of his contract and gave illegitimate grounds for his dismissal,
  stating a ‘lack of confidence’ in his leadership, without specific examples,
  and ignoring the failed No-Confidence vote.

In your book, Surrender is Not an Option, you describe your role in Bustani's
  sacking (pages 95-98) and state the following:

"I directed that we begin explaining to others that the US contribution
  to the OPCW might well be cut if Bustani remained".

"I met with Bustani to tell him he should resign ... If he left now, we
  would do our best to give him 'a gracious and dignified exit'. Otherwise we
  intended to have him fired".

"I stepped in to tank the protocol, and then to tank Bustani".

You appear, in other words, to accept primary responsibility for his

Bustani appealed against the decision through the International Labour
  Organisation Tribunal. He was vindicated in his appeal and awarded his full
  salary and moral damages.

  • (The tribunal ruling can be foundhere

2. You helped to promote the false claim, through a State Department Fact
  Sheet, that Saddam Hussein had been seeking to procure uranium from Niger,
  as part of a common plan to prepare and initiate a war of aggression, in
  violation of international treaties.

The State Department Fact Sheet was released on the 19th December 2002 and was
  entitled ‘Illustrative
  Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United States
  Security Council
’ . Under the heading ‘Nuclear Weapons’ the fact sheet
  stated –

"The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?"

In a US Department of State press
  briefing on July 14th 2003
  the spokesman Richard Boucher said “The
  accusation that turned out to be based on fraudulent evidence is that Niger
  sold uranium to Iraq” .

Your involvement in the use of fraudulent evidence is documented in Henry
  Waxman’s letter
  to Christopher Shays on the 1st March 2005.
  Waxman says “In April 2004, the State Department used the designation
  ‘sensitive but unclassified’ to conceal unclassified information about the
  role of John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, in the
  creation of a fact sheet distributed to the United Nations that falsely
  claimed that Iraq sought uranium from Niger”.

“Both State Department intelligence officials and CIA officials reported that
  they had rejected the claims as unreliable. As a result, it was unclear who
  within the State Department was involved in preparing the fact sheet”.

Waxman requested a chronology of how the Fact Sheet was developed. His letter
  states –

“This chronology described a meeting on December 18,2002, between Secretary
  Powell, Mr. Bolton, and Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary for the
  Bureau of Public Affairs. According to this chronology, Mr. Boucher
  specifically asked Mr. Bolton ‘for help developing a response to Iraq's Dec
  7 Declaration to the United Nations Security Council that could be used with
  the press.’ According to the chronology, which is phrased in the present
  tense, Mr. Bolton ‘agrees and tasks the Bureau of Nonproliferation,’ a
  subordinate office that reports directly to Mr. Bolton, to conduct the work.

"This unclassified chronology also stated that on the next day, December
  19, 2003, the Bureau of Nonproliferation "sends email with the fact
  sheet, 'Fact Sheet Iraq Declaration.doc,'" to Mr. Bolton's office
  (emphasis in original). A second e-mail was sent a few minutes later, and a
  third e-mail was sent about an hour after that. According to t=987e
  chronology, each version ‘still includes Niger reference.’ Although Mr.
  Bolton may not have personally drafted the document, the chronology appears
  to indicate that he ordered its creation and received updates on its

Both these actions were designed to assist in the planning of a war of
  aggression. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that "to
  initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime; it is
  the supreme international crime".