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Beneath a blustery wind, about 60 protesters huddled Friday in Pioneer Park, cheering on speaker after speaker who excoriated former President George W. Bush as a "war criminal."
"The guy's a crook and shouldn't be out running around, man," said West Valley City's Randy Carlsen.
Some 15 miles south, Bush was scheduled at the Sandy Costco to sign copies of his new memoir for hundreds who camped around the big-box store overnight.
In downtown Salt Lake City, the tone was decidedly more hostile. Signs declaring "Torture Stains Everyone," "Worst President Ever" and "Arrest Bush" waved as freeway-bound cars honked.
The "Rally for Accountability" was organized by former Mayor Rocky Anderson, who staged much larger protests during Bush's previous visits to the Beehive State. Despite both men being out of office, the message was far from muted.
"We and the entire world know that George Bush is a war criminal," yelled Anderson, now the executive director of the nonprofit High Road for Human Rights. Until Bush is brought to justice for authorizing torture, Anderson declared, "the stench of his presidency will hang over our great country."
Anderson asked how soldiers can get prosecuted for torture, while Bush can be warmly received in Sandy, "bragging" about having said "damn right" when asked if he authorized torture.
President Barack Obama "sadly" has not acted, Anderson added, saying the lack of a Bush prosecution equals "complicity" by Americans.
"It's nothing new," Utah GOP Chairman Dave Hansen said of Anderson's rant. "He was basically preaching into the wind that was blowing out there."
Hansen said the most telling contrast about Utahns' allegiance was the "literally hundreds" who came to Costco vs. the 50 or 60 at Pioneer Park.
During the 45-minute rally, David Irvine, a former brigadier general and state GOP lawmaker, politely asked the crowd to remove the war-criminal signs from his backdrop, saying they didn't make him "quite comfortable" as a military officer.
But he didn't pull punches in saying the "reddest of red states" cannot simultaneously oppose abortion and endorse torture. If torture really is a panacea, Irvine asked, why hasn't the United States incorporated it into its criminal-justice system?
"This debate is not about who's a wuss on the war on terror," Irvine said. "It's about ... who's for upholding the Constitution."
As the speakers railed against Bush and Obama for failing to prosecute his predecessor a Bush backer climbed atop a utility box in silent protest. His hand-drawn sign said, "We [heart] Bush."
Walking away arm in arm, Russian couple Alexei and Irina Efros said they came to the rally because they have a unique sensitivity to the dangers of torture.
"We understand the rules very well. Forty million people died in Russia because of these same practices," Irina Efros said. Asked what she thought of Bush's being at a Costco to sign books referencing torture, she said, "we also want him to be in the prison. He and [former Vice President Dick] Cheney."
Insisting the evidence of torture is clear, Utah Coalition of La Raza Chairman Archie Archuleta also called for action. "President Obama," he pleaded, "please push it."
A youth activist, who took the microphone last, said it is important to educate young people not to be complicit. Despite signs that often read, "The America I know doesn't torture," Molly Robbins said, "the America that today's youth knows does torture."
Standing quietly to the side after the crowd dispersed, Sandy's Amy Fleming choked back tears, saying her father was tortured as a prisoner during World War II.
"If we continue to do that to other people," she said, "they will continue to do that to us."
So, can rallies like this make any difference?
"It has to," Fleming said. "Or we won't have a United States."