Archive for the ‘war crimes’ Category

Thinking Clearly About Bush Atrocities, War Crimes and Torture

January 27, 2009

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

It seems like only yesterday that the Brookings Institution was wringing it hands and whining about how disastrous it would be if the issue of Guantanamo detainees made it to SCOTUS. Brookings declared: ‘the Courts Can’t Fix Guantanamo’. Brookings not only got it wrong but often shot themselves in the foot.

As the case heads towards the Supremes, you’ll no doubt hear a lot about suspension of the Great Writ of habeas corpus–the ancient device by which courts evaluate the legality of detentions. And you’ll also hear a lot about Guantanamo as a legal “black hole.” It’s all a lot of rot, really, albeit rot a majority of the justices might well adopt. Cut through it, and Guantanamo poses a set of difficult policy problems, not legal ones. And, while judges have a role in the solution to those problems, that role isn’t the one most liberals seem to want them to play.

Brookings, which apparently pulled its own paper —Total Acts of Terrorism in the US 1980-98, America’s Response to Terrorism –works backward from conclusions, not a recipe for getting to the truth. In the meantime, I challenge them to re-post their above mentioned article obviously pulled because it supports a proposition that Brookings was and remains politically uncomfortable with: terrorism is worse under GOP regimes.

Brookings, like everyone who supported George W. Bush’s so-called ‘war on terrorism’, tried to have it both ways. Brookings shills called Bush’s acts of terrorism against the people of Iraq ‘war’ whenever doing so allowed the Bush regime to accrue the arbitrary or illegal powers of war. With respect to other issues –GITMO prisoners, for example –it was not a ‘war’ and GITMO prisoners were, therefore, to be denied the protections afforded to prisoners of war by law and by treaty. My question to Brookings remains: was it war or was it not war? Brookings would have it both ways depending which way the winds were blowing.

… nobody seriously believed that the federal courts would entertain challenges by aliens who had never set foot in this country to overseas military detentions–or, at least, nobody thought so who had read the Supreme Court’s emphatic pronouncement on the subject. “We are cited to no instance where a court, in this or any other country where the writ is known, has issued it on behalf of an alien enemy who, at no relevant time and in no stage of his captivity, has been within its territorial jurisdiction,” the Court wrote in 1950. “Nothing in the text of the Constitution extends such a right, nor does anything in our statutes.”

–Brookings Institution,

Brookings had swallowed the ‘Kool-aid’, the idea that somehow Bush’s so-called ‘war on terror’ was a different animal, completely unforseen by the founders, never thought of by distinguished jurists, never envisioned by great philosophers, jurists, or ordinary lawyers.


The only problems with adjudicating the often unfairly labeled ‘terrorists’ at GITMO were those associated with acts of buying into Bush’s false dichotomy, his phony paradigm.

If the courts try to dictate how the executive branch should handle these detentions, they will be wading into some very deep water without a life vest. Overseas military action, after all, is an area about which judges know little and which is peculiarly resistant to principled legal decision-making. While any reasonable approach to this problem would likely make use of judges, who are highly skilled at reviewing evidence and holding it up against legal standards, it’s a big leap from there to letting judges define those legal standards and set the rules for handling the relevant evidence.

The justices can pretend that the Constitution, international humanitarian law, or the laws of war answer the questions posed by the detentions. But it’s the wrong way to fix this system; it probably won’t work well, and its unintended consequences will, in any event, overwhelm whatever good it does.Ironically, the outlines of a good system are already in place. Right now, military tribunals determine whether the administration has rightly classified a detainee as an enemy combatant, and the detainee can then appeal the tribunal’s judgment to a federal appeals court. The real problem here isn’t the lack of habeas jurisdiction.

It is that these tribunals are too cursory. The detainee has no right to assistance from a lawyer and often doesn’t see the evidence against him. The consequence is that the tribunal that consigns him to indefinite detention has no clear picture of the evidence, and any reviewing court has only the most limited record to evaluate.Yet in this flawed system lies the nucleus of a procedure better than either the current one or any attempt to supplant executive power with judicial power. The compromise would beef up the combatant-status tribunals, making them fairer and more robust–and clarifying the form of judicial review that would follow them.

–Brookings Institution, The Courts Can’t Fix Guantanamo

It is the role of the courts to keep the executive ‘honest’ with respect to human rights, civil rights and matters of Constitutionality in general. If the courts don’t or won’t do this, who will? Who must? Who can? Brookings –not surprisingly –misses the point time and again!

Brookings went on to say that “human rights groups and lawyers for the detainees would have to drop their insistence on habeas corpus litigation as the essential mechanism of judicial review in this conflict”. A ‘Sacred Cow’ it is called. One wonders how many other ‘sacred cows’ Brooking would have us give up?? Due Process of Law, perhaps! The right to trial by jury, perhaps! The right to legal counsel?

It is clear to me that it was and remains the intention of the founders, the intention of those drafting US Codes criminalizing violations of our international commitments that government may not exercise arbitrary and unrestrained powers to decide what is an inviolate ‘right’ and what is but a ‘sacred cow’!

Taken to its logical conclusion, the Brookings position means that US obligations to the Geneva Conventions and Nuremberg are moot, that there is no mechanism by which the US government may be held –under law –to its commitments.

Clearly –Brookings is dead wrong and indefensible. It is a fact that the illegal practice of torture was carried out at Abu Ghraib, GITMO, and various US gulags and hell-holes throughout Eastern Europe. By any Orwellian name given it by Bush or his minions, it is torture.

Recent ACLU-compelled disclosures of previously concealed DOJ documents reveal many of the details of what has been long known: that the highest levels of the Bush administration secretly implemented an illegal torture regime. But while those torture programs began in secret, we have gradually learned more and more about them. The more time that goes by and the more we learn � particularly if we do nothing meaningful to stop it � the more the responsibility for these policies shifts from the administration to all of us collectively.

–Glenn Greenwald: Growing Responsibility for the Bush Torture Regime

Torture is a crime which if it results in death, the penalty is death. That law applies to the architects and defenders of the policy of torture. It applies to Bush –its chief architect, defender and practitioner.

The disclosure that the Justice Department advised the White House in 2002 that the torture of al Qaeda terrorist suspects might be legally defensible has focused new attention on the role President Bush played in setting the rules for interrogations in the war on terrorism.

An Aug. 1, 2002, memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, addressed to Gonzales, said that torturing suspected al Qaeda members abroad “may be justified” and that international laws against torture “may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogation” conducted against suspected terrorists.

The document provided legal guidance for the CIA, which crafted new, more aggressive techniques for its operatives in the field. McClellan called the memo a historic or scholarly review of laws and conventions concerning torture. “The memo was not prepared to provide advice on specific methods or techniques,” he said. “It was analytical.”

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday refused senators’ requests to make public the memo, which is not classified, and would not discuss any possible involvement of the president.

In the view expressed by the Justice Department memo, which differs from the view of the Army, physical torture “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” For a cruel or inhuman psychological technique to rise to the level of mental torture, the Justice Department argued, the psychological harm must last “months or even years.”

A former senior administration official involved in discussions about CIA interrogation techniques said Bush’s aides knew he wanted them to take an aggressive approach.

Memo on Torture Draws Focus to Bush

Just as Brookings wrote doggerel about wars that were not wars and non-wars that were, Bush himself took center stage to defend practices which he had denied took place, the best clue yet to his guilt of capital crimes.

(a) Offense.� Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

US CODES, TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > � 2441

Brookings contends that the US must ‘stop pretending that, legally speaking, this is a war like any other and requires no additional legislative imagination.’ Brookings does not go far enough. In fact, not only was the ‘war on terrorism’ not a ‘war like any other’, it was not a war at all. It was a the act of a mass murderer ordering acts of mass murder by proxy.

On the one hand, Brookings claims that the issues were not a matter for the courts, not a matter for the legislative branch. How convenient! Had the legislative declared war, it might have been a matter for the ‘legislative’ –but as the Constitution itself was violated when Bush ordered the war without a declaration, the matter is, indeed, a matter for the courts: the International Court at the Hague.

Given that Bush’s war was from the outset illegal –a war crime –none of the GITMO detentions were legal. Each detention is a war crime! If SCOTUS was not up to the task of ordering an immediate release, then who was, who could, who would? As the US is signatory to treaties prohibiting Bush’s actions, what has Brookings to say about the undeniable fact that George W. Bush committed war crimes violating both US Codes and US treaty commitments, crimes for which the penalty is death?

Brookings is cowardly silent!

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VIDEO– U.N. official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes

January 27, 2009

By GottaLaff

This video is from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Jan. 26, 2009.

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Original (videoless) post here.

Israel Killed the Prospects of Peace

January 21, 2009


It is very troubling and sad that more than 80% of the Israeli public supports, with no reservation, their government�s aggression against the Palestinians that murdered more than 400 children and 300 mothers in Gaza! A vast majority of the Israelis supported their military actions that have been described by the Red Cross, the UN human rights organizations and Amnesty International as war crimes and breaches of the Geneva Convention. These include �bulldozing houses with civilian families inside, killing civilians who were raising white flags attempting to escape the bombed war zone, opening fire on ambulances trying to reach the injured and firing white phosphorus shells and dime bombs on crowded civilian residential areas�. The architects of these massacres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, gained popularity among the Israelis, and some demanded that the military should hit the Palestinians even harder.

The Israelis have become brainwashed sheep dancing to their sadistic and psychopath masters� biddings, exactly like the Germans who supported the Nazi genocide in Auschwitz and Dachau. The main Israelis� argument against the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank or the refugee camps or in Israel proper is that �the Palestinians are not Jews�, the same like the Nazis� argument against the Jews that �they were not Germans�. The Israelis� sense of arrogance and supremacy was expressed by Ehud Barak description of Israel as �a villa in the middle of a jungle�, a civilized nation surrounded by savages (Arabs!).

Israel unleashed and sustained a massive bombing assault from air, sea and ground on Gaza on December 27, 2008. Its military, one of the strongest in the world directed the firepower of its planes, tanks and ships under the mantra of self-defense against a malnourished population of refugees who had been under complete siege since Israel and Egypt sealed off the strip 18 months ago. Its first targets were government and civilian institutions and social welfare and humanitarian infrastructures including police stations, schools, social centers, universities, mosques, clinics, small factories and water and sewage systems. The Israeli Air Force dropped more than 400 bombs in the first few minutes of the assault on Gaza killing more than 400 Palestinians according to the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Then for three weeks it carried out continuous bombardment of the crowded neighborhoods, ambulances while transporting the injured, relief trucks carrying food supplies, UN schools that sheltered some of the war displaced families, a major hospital in Gaza city and the UNRWA compound injuring three of its employees and setting fire to food and fuel while the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon was holding talks in Jerusalem. Israel war machine killed more than 1,300, most of them children and women, injured more than 5,000 and still counting. The Independent newspaper reported more than 4,000 homes had been destroyed completely, some of them on top of their occupants and 20,000 homes seriously damaged. The indiscriminate killing of the Palestinians in the cage that is called Gaza, where people have no where to go and no means to defend themselves, is a mindless tragedy that will make peace less likely to reign in Palestine.

The West studied the holocaust in universities and schools and memorialized it by passing laws and building lavish museums as memorials to the Jewish victims; but the same West has not lifted a finger to stop the atrocities against the Palestinians in Gaza. The West especially the US set no value on Palestinian lives as long as they are slaughtered by Israel. They never accounted for the Palestine�s everyday living situation for the past sixty years; and they had no sense of urgency to stop the massacres today; and the Western media has not reported with due consideration the appalling Israeli war crimes.

After twenty-two days of carnage in Gaza, Israel declared victory and announced unilateral ceasefire while Hamas rockets were still being fired deeper into Israel and the country�s reputation has rarely sunk so far. Then Hamas too declared victory and announced one week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw from Gaza while its population were mourning their dead and pulling more dismembered bodies from under the ruins of what used to be their homes and tens of thousands of already impoverished Palestinians homeless. Success in this war should not be measured by the number of people killed and homes destroyed.

Hamas rag tag lightly armed irregulars do not have to win a fight against the F-16 jets, Merkava tanks, gunship and unmanned drones. The thousands of civilian dead and injured victims of Israel�s war machine and the massive destruction of Gaza have overshadowed the Israeli impressive display of its military power. Its strategy was counterproductive; Israel demonstrated the futility of its conviction that the use of its military advantage is the answer to all its problems with its neighbors.

The Israelis have the unwavering US military, political and financial support while it ignored with impunity countless UN resolutions; Europe follows the US commands; the Arab regimes have no credible role beyond lip service and proposals to accommodate the Israelis� demands; and nothing can be done about that. Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are loved by the Americans and the Israelis. Their government does not fire rockets and its security people help the Israeli military identify and detain Hamas supporters in the West Bank. But after years of negotiations and so many meetings and photo-ops, Abbas has failed to halt construction in a settlement or remove one roadblock in the West Bank.

Never mined the West doesn�t care; Hamas is weakened but not humbled and won�t quit; the Israeli state is the dominant power in the Middle East; and the Arab and Muslim regimes turned irrelevant spectators asking the Palestinians to suffer in silence. The Palestinians will have the images of their burnt and dismembered children by the Zionists� war machine engraved in their national consciousness and memory for ever. The images of the children and their mothers killed and injured in their beds on the hands of the Israelis will be the battle cry of the Palestinians and demands for vengeance for generations to come. The Israeli atrocities created an environment among the Palestinians that guarantees the resurgence of armed response by surviving victims. The Observer suggests that the �status of Hamas as a preferred vehicle for resistance is enhanced� because of this aggression.

There is really no winner when Gaza is in ruins and the Palestinians everywhere are mourning their dead. But there are big losers: the Israeli people who supported the massacres of the Palestinian children, the international community that suffered from moral collapse by refusing to stop the atrocities against the impoverished besieged people in Gaza and the moderate Arab regimes that lost legitimacy and credibility.

U.N. special rapporteur on torture calls on U.S. to prosecute Bush and Rumsfeld

January 21, 2009

By GottaLaff


In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:

�Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation� to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. [�] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required �all means, particularly penal law� to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

�We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,� against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

Jonathan Turley has called for justice. Keith Olbermann has. Nancy Pelosi has. We have. The nation is practically begging for it. Bush did not issue pre-emptive pardons, so the door is wide open.

Not to mention, setting a terrible precedent by letting the Bush crime family skate at the expense of our democracy would be a real crime in and of itself.

Bush’s Capital Crimes in his own words

June 23, 2008

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

June 22, 2008

Release ‘Detainees”; Charge and Imprison Bush for Capital Crimes

June 21, 2008

The Bush administration is trying once again to rewrite history and the law, specifically ‘the official evidence against Guantanamo Bay detainees’. Typically the legal eagles in the Bush regime have it backward. Bushco should not be given a second chance to fabricate a case when it had none to begin with. Detainees have already been in detention for years in violation of US Codes and our international treaties. Bush has had years to make a case and has failed to do so. To make ‘detainees’ –illegally detained to begin with –wait still longer for justice is, in itself, another crime to be charged to George W. Bush.

A capital crimes case against Bush is better than the ‘case’ Bush has against the ‘detainees’. This is a regime that commits war crimes and tries to make them legal after the fact –a recipe for dictatorship and tyranny.

A Federal judge will review the so-called evidence against detainees in the wake of the recent high court decision. Typically, Bushies want more time to fabricate another ‘case’. What was wrong with the case they had was this: they didn’t have one!

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration wants to rewrite the official evidence against Guantanamo Bay detainees, allowing it to shore up its cases before they come under scrutiny by civilian judges for the first time.

The government has stood behind the evidence for years. Military review boards relied on it to justify holding hundreds of prisoners indefinitely without charge. Justice Department attorneys said it was thoroughly and fairly reviewed.

Now that federal judges are about to review the evidence, however, the government says it needs to make changes.

The decision follows last week’s Supreme Court ruling, which held that detainees have the right to challenge their detention in civilian court, not just before secret military panels. At a closed-door meeting with judges and defense attorneys this week, government lawyers said they needed time to add new evidence and make other changes to evidentiary documents known as “factual returns.”

Attorneys for the detainees criticized the idea, saying the government is basically asking for a last-minute do-over.

“It’s sort of an admission that the original returns were defective,” said attorney David Remes, who represents many detainees and attended Wednesday’s meeting. “It’s also an admission that the government thinks it needs to beef up the evidence.”

APNewsBreak: US asks to rewrite detainee evidence

Rather than giving the Bush administration a second chance to ‘beef up the evidence’, Bush should be preparing a defense against charges his criminal regime held the detainees for years in violation of numerous international prohibitions, laws, as well as US criminal codes. The Bush administration should be beefing up its defense against charges that it committed capital crimes.

That assumes, of course, that Bush has a defense.

To give Bushies a ‘redo’ now is absurd. The Detainees have already been held for years in violation of every civilized principle, common law, US Codes, the principles of Nuremberg and Geneva. Bush should not be given a ‘redo’. He should be given an indictment!

There is an open and shut case against Bush for his having authorized the commission of capital crimes. He even boasted about it in his State of the Union Address of 2003.

All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let’s put it this way — they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)

–Bush, State of the Union, 2003

Bush either has a case against the ‘detainees’ or he does not. If his criminal gang had had cases, it would have made them long ago. Some seven years or so is more than enough time when, in fact, Bushco should have had ‘probable cause’ –at the time –to imprison ‘detainees’ at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other US hell holes through the Eastern European gulag. Bush then should have been given a reasonable amount of time in which to make cases or drop them. It is past time to ‘put up or shut up! It is time, rather, to be filing capital crimes and other criminal charges against Bush.

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‘George W. Bush has gotten away with murder’

June 11, 2008

Kucinich Moves to Impeach Bush

June 10, 2008

The Brutal, ‘Iraqi’ Education That Awaits John McCain

June 6, 2008

McCain was and remains on the wrong side of the unwinnable war against Iraq. He will and deserves to lose a race against any opposition and, most certainly, that of Barack Obama. McCain, typically, states a false dilemma –not unusual for the GOP, a party that has made its ‘living’ spreading lies, fallacies and propaganda.

In the wake of Scott McClellan’s scathing indictment of the Bush regime’s sprint to war, some administration pundits argue that to continue to debate why and how our country went to war some five years ago is a distraction from the more crucial issues at hand. The details and minutia of the complex decision to invade Iraq is better left to the historians to untangle. Rather, we should concentrate our efforts and attention on how best to capitalize upon the more recent “successes” of the “new” military strategy in Iraq.

Even were such optimism regarding the surge warranted, however, what these pundits fail to realize, is that military success and improved strategy does not of itself afford a moral and legal basis for continuing the occupation. Understanding how and why we invaded Iraq is relevant not only to ensure the accuracy of the historical record but, more importantly, to decide whether to continue the occupation in the hope or achieving a yet to be defined “victory,” or in the words of John McCain, to “surrender,” accept defeat and withdraw.

Whether to Achieve Victory in Iraq or “Surrender”

The war is already lost and the GOP would not recognize victory if they saw it. They most certainly cannot define it.

There is NO ‘victory’ to be had when wars are waged upon lies and deceptions. Will ‘lies’ suddenly become true? Not a war but a crime, Iraq, like Viet Nam, was characterized by the lack of battlefields or fronts. It will be forever associated with quagmire and a ‘resistance’ that simply refused to line up and be shot like little tin soldiers. Apparently –nothing was learned in Viet Nam. The endless repetition of failed strategies is typical of both idiocy and insanity.

This ‘war’ was lost before it was begun. Secondly, there is simply no yardstick or standard now or ever by which victory is determined or even recognized. Does victory consist of killing every Iraqi who disagrees with the naked aggression against his country? Does victory consist of brainwashing Iraqis into believing the same pack of lies that were, until recently, believed by brainwashed Americans? Does victory consist of Halliburton getting all the oil it wants, raising the price of oil to every American still dependent upon fossil fuel vehicles? Does victory consist of a ‘peace’ (read: occupation) that an American presence is required for 100, perhaps, as McCain has suggested, 10,000 years? I don’t think so, McCain!

If McCain should think so, then I suggest he get his ass to Iraq now. He has a very, very long education of some 10,000 years ahead of him.

Victory in Iraq? Forget about it! There is not now nor will there ever be victory in Iraq short of a decree by God himself that what Bush did in Iraq was right! As long as anyone lives to denounce the crimes and genocide and murder perpetrated by one George W. Bush, that war is lost to the US and lost forever to history.

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