Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘war crimes

United Nations team to investigate civilian drone deaths

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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports:

The United Nations plans to set up a special investigation unit examining claims of civilian deaths in individual US covert drone strikes.

UN investigators have been critical of US ‘extrajudicial executions’ since they began in 2002. The new Geneva-based unit will also look at the legality of the programme.

The latest announcement, by UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC, was made in a speech on October 25 at Harvard law school. Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, previously called in August for the US to hand over video of each covert drone attack.

The London-based lawyer became the second senior UN official in recent months to label the tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers with drones ‘a war crime’.  That practice was first exposed by the Bureau for the Sunday Times in February 2012.

‘The Bureau has alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view,’ said Emmerson.

‘Last resort’
Both Heyns and Emmerson have become increasingly vocal in recent months, even as the United States attempts to put its targeted killings scheme on a more formal footing.

‘If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms… then it may in the last resort be necessary for the UN to act. Together with my colleague Christof Heyns, [the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings], I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [UN] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks,’ Emmerson said in his speech.

The unit will also look at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2012 at 9:30 am

Waterboarding is torture

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As Paul Begala pointed out, we actually executed Japanese soldiers following WWII for the crime of waterboarding prisoners. See this post on Crooks & Liars for an interesting interchange, and read Begala’s Huffington Post column. From that column:

On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, "Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times‘ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

"McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."

The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts." Bottom line: Sen. McCain was right in 2007 and National Review Online is wrong today. America did execute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding.

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10 May 2009 at 1:47 pm

More Israeli soldiers speak out about war crimes

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Peter Beaumont in the Guardian:

An investigation by a group of former Israeli soldiers has uncovered new evidence of the military’s conduct during the assault on Gaza two months ago. According to the group Breaking the Silence, the witness statements of the 15 soldiers who have come forward to describe their concerns over Operation Cast Lead appear to corroborate claims of random killings and vandalism carried out during the operation made by a separate group of anonymous servicemen during a seminar at a military college.

Although Breaking the Silence’s report is not due to be published for several months, the testimony it has received already suggests widespread abuses stemming from orders originating with the Israeli military chain of command.

"This is not a military that we recognise," said Mikhael Manekin, one of the former soldiers involved with the group. "This is in a different category to things we have seen before. We have spoken to a lot of different people who served in different places in Gaza, including officers. We are not talking about some units being more aggressive than others, but underlying policy. So much so that we are talking to soldiers who said that they were having to restrain the orders given."

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22 March 2009 at 3:24 pm

Scott Horton on John Yoo

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John C. Yoo is a study in contrasts. He’s a soft-spoken legal scholar viewed by his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley as a model of civility. But he’s also emerged as the public face of Bush-era torture policy, the author of a series of radical legal documents described by Yale Law School’s Jack Balkin as a “theory of presidential dictatorship.”

In law-school classrooms around the country, Yoo’s name is invoked as an example of a lawyer who, stirred by political calculus, acts unethically or at least unwisely. His appearances often draw crowds of angry protestors who shower him with epithets like “war criminal” and tie him personally to the torture and death of prisoners in the war on terror. Now, under advice of counsel, Yoo has stopped booking appearances. There is a distinct chill in the air.

In one of the memoranda the Obama Justice Department released last Monday, Yoo, then deputy assistant in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, argued that President Bush was free to use the U.S. military domestically in counterterrorism operations and needn’t be bothered by the Fourth or First amendments. In an op-ed published last week in the Wall Street Journal, Yoo explained that fears about the Bill of Rights are misplaced—it was all just an exercise in justifying self-defense against a Mumbai-style attack and the references to the First Amendment are gratuitous.

But Yoo offers no clear explanation about the circumstances that led to his writing the memo nor do we know how it was used. The memo could have been written to authorize a sweeping domestic-surveillance operation put in place by military intelligence agencies, which former National Security Agency employees have now explained was actually in place and being tinkered with as Yoo was crafting his memorandum. No doubt Congress will soon give Yoo an opportunity to answer questions about the memo under oath.

One part of John Yoo seems to enjoy the public controversy and approaches debate with zeal, while another part of him must feel at least a bit of anxiety. Just as his successors at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel left behind two memoranda repudiating Yoo’s work in devastating terms—disclosed by the department last week—the Justice Department’s ethics watchdog is now finalizing its own report.

Sources at the department who have examined this report state that it echoes some of the harshest criticisms that have appeared in the academic literature, but the report’s real bombshell, they say, will be its detailed disclosure of Yoo’s dealings with the White House in connection with the preparation of the memos. It is widely suspected that the Yoo memos were requested as after-the-fact legal cover for draconian policies that were already in place (“CYA memos”). If the Justice Department internal probe concludes this is the case, that could have clear consequences for the current debate surrounding the Bush administration’s accountability for torture

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Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2009 at 11:38 am

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

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Daphne Eviatar fan club member

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I really like Eviatar’s reportage. Here are two recent articles in the Washington Independent that illustrate why:

Obama Justice Department Backs Bush on Bagram

Leahy Would Investigate Democrats, Too

Both are well worth reading.

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22 February 2009 at 11:41 am

Israel destroys school that militants hate

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When President George W. Bush visited the West Bank a year ago, Palestinian militants in Gaza vented their anger by ransacking the American International School here, smashing windows, stealing computers and torching a small fleet of buses.

It was just the latest episode in a decade-long string of bombings, kidnappings and lootings at the elite private school, which isn’t connected to the U.S. government but has an American-style curriculum and coed, English-only classrooms, which have made it a favorite target of Islamic extremists.

On Jan. 3, the school finally was destroyed, but not by Islamist extremists. An Israeli airstrike flattened the two-story building and sprayed shards of steel and stone over the manicured lawns and soccer field. The night watchman was killed. Books, computers, science equipment and art supplies were crushed beneath the wreckage.

Within moments, Gaza’s perhaps most pro-Western institution — a symbol of possibility in a sealed-off, war-torn land — was gone.

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Written by Leisureguy

29 January 2009 at 7:58 am

Posted in Mideast Conflict

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Should people who break serious laws be prosecuted?

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Not, apparently, if they are part of the Bush Administration, which is getting the “special” form of justice: no prosecutions. Spencer Ackerman, in the Washington Independent:

Eli Lake at The Washington Times has the exclusive:

President Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won’t prosecute CIA officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogations.”

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

So much for all that.

I find this miscarriage of justice intensely disappointing. When people break laws, including international treaties ratified by the US, they deserve prosecution. Certainly they can mount a defense: “Someone told me it would be okay” seems to be the main line of argument. So they can defend themselves and explain the reasons, and the jury will sort it out. That’s the system the US once had, and it seemed to work pretty well on the whole, with exceptions. But the new system, in which people can commit crimes without being prosecuted provided they are well-connected, seems to be a move toward a Mafia-like system of justice.

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28 January 2009 at 11:35 am

Israeli troops fired on civilians carrying white flag

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This is extremely ugly and seems clearly to be a war crime as well as a moral offense:

… More than 70 members of his family crowded into one apartment for days. On Jan. 7, Abed Rabbo said, the shelling intensified, and they heard an Israeli solider calling for people to come out of their homes.

Abed Rabbo said he gathered his wife, their three daughters and his mother, Souad. Souad Abed Rabbo said that she tied a white robe around a mop handle and two of her granddaughters waved white headscarves as they walked outside.

When they opened the door, they saw an Israeli tank parked in their garden about 10 yards away.

"We were waiting for them to give us an order," Khaled said last week as he stood in the ruins of his home. "Then one came out of the tank and started to shoot."

Souad Abed Rabbo said she was shot as she pushed her son back inside and her granddaughters fell on the stairs. When the shooting was over, she said, 2-year-old Amal and 7-year-old Souad were dead.

The allegation is one of at least five such white flag incidents that human rights investigators are looking into across the Gaza Strip. It’s part of a growing pattern of alleged abuses that have raised concerns that some Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes during their 22-day military campaign in Gaza.

"The evidence we’ve gathered in two of the cases so far is exceedingly strong," said Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch working in the Gaza Strip. "All the research so far suggests they shot civilians that were leaving their homes with white flags."…

Read the entire article here. There’s also a video.

Written by Leisureguy

28 January 2009 at 8:23 am

Posted in Mideast Conflict

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A family in Gaza recounts their experience

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Israel is strongly resisting any war-crimes investigation, for obvious reasons: they seem clearly to have committed quite a few. The LA Times recounts this story:

There were 14 of them huddled under the stairs. Israeli shells and airstrikes had long since shattered every window of the Helw family’s three-story home. But underneath the concrete staircase, they said, they felt relatively safe — until the soldiers came early in the morning on Jan. 4.

There was pounding on the courtyard door, they recalled last week, and voices in accented Arabic shouted, “Who’s in there?”

As the troops burst inside, family members said Fuad Helw, 55, jumped up with his arms in the air.

“We all put our hands up and yelled, ‘We’re women and children. We’re not the resistance,’ ” recalled Sherine Helw, Fuad’s daughter-in-law.

The soldiers opened fire on Fuad, said Sherine, and he died in front of his family.

There are no independent accounts of what happened that day, when Israeli tanks rolled into the Zeitoun neighborhood on the outskirts of Gaza City at the beginning of the land offensive. The Israeli army, which staged its offensive after years of rocket attacks against southern Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip, refuses to discuss individual charges in detail.

“As a matter of policy, we do not target civilians,” an army spokesman said on condition that his name not be published. “These situations are very complex and our soldiers do the best they can.”

But interviews across this devastated neighborhood in the aftermath of Israel’s 22-day offensive reveal a stream of accounts of violence, anger, loss and defiance. One of those stories is that of the Helw family, who say the Israeli tank columns charged in from the border fence between 7 and 8 a.m. on Jan. 4…

Continue reading.

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26 January 2009 at 7:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Mideast Conflict

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300 human rights groups say Israel committed war crimes

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An important post at Firedoglake by bmaz. It begins:

As outside observers enter Gaza, we’re learning more about what has happened during the Israeli attack.  What they are seeing is devastating — and is leading to accusations of Israeli war crimes.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for investigations and prosecutions during his tour of Gaza:

Standing in front of the UN compound during a visit to the shattered Palestinian territory, a visibly angry Mr Ban said that he was “heartbroken” by the devastation he witnessed and appalled by the Israeli attack on the UN facility.

“It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack on the United Nations,” Mr Ban said, the warehouse still smouldering behind him.

“There must be a full investigation, a full explanation to make sure it never happens again. There should be accountability through a proper judiciary system.

“I have protested many times. I am today protesting again in the strongest terms. I have asked [for a] full investigation and [to] make those responsible people accountable.”

AFP reports that “300 human rights groups” are “planning to submit a 37 page dossier” to the International Criminal Court on Wednesday…

Continue reading. Israel has much to answer for. Note to commenters: I do not condone the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, but Israel’s response was over the top. If someone wrongly insults you, you’re in the wrong if you shoot them in the leg. Their wrong is small compared to yours.

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21 January 2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life, Mideast Conflict

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US legally obligated to prosecute torturers

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Glenn Greenwald has yet another good column in which he lays out the requirement that certain officials in the Bush administration be prosecuted for their actions:

It seems fairly easy — even for those overtly hostile to the basic rules of logic and law — to see what conclusions are compelled by these clear premises:

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18 January 2009 at 9:19 am

UN human rights chief accuses Israel of war crimes

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The Guardian:

The United Nations’ most senior human rights official said last night that the Israeli military may have committed war crimes in Gaza. The warning came as Israeli troops pressed on with the deadly offensive in defiance of a UN security council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has called for “credible, independent and transparent” investigations into possible violations of humanitarian law, and singled out an incident this week in Zeitoun, south-east of Gaza City, where up to 30 Palestinians in one house were killed by Israeli shelling.

Pillay, a former international criminal court judge from South Africa, told the BBC the incident “appears to have all the elements of war crimes”.

The accusation came as Israel kept up its two-week-old air and ground offensive in Gaza and dismissed as “unworkable” the UN security council resolution which had called for “an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire”.

Protests against the offensive were held across the world yesterday just as diplomacy to halt the conflict appeared to falter.

With the Palestinian casualty toll rising to around 800 dead, including 265 children, and more than 3,000 injured, fresh evidence emerged yesterday of the killings in Zeitoun. It was “one of the gravest incidents” since Israel’s offensive began two weeks ago, the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs said yesterday.

“There is an international obligation on the part of soldiers in their position to protect civilians, not to kill civilians indiscriminately in the first place, and when they do, to make sure that they help the wounded,” Pillay told Reuters. “In this particular case these children were helpless and the soldiers were close by,” she added…

Continue reading.

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11 January 2009 at 11:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Mideast Conflict

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Bush admits his own guilt for war crimes

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In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:

BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.

Watch it:

Bush staunchly defended the program, saying it saved American lives — despite interrogators’ claims to the contrary. He waved away the debate over torture by saying dismissively, “Look, I understand why people can get carried away on this issue.”

Last year, Bush admitted that he was “aware” that his national security team met to discuss KSM’s interrogation, and that he approved of the meeting. His admission today suggests Bush had a far more direct role in developing the specific torture program, which included waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions (all of which have long been considered torture).

What’s more, a former Pentagon intelligence analyst told Vanity Fair that “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence“; another former CIA official, who read all the reports from KSM’s interrogation, said, “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.”

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2009 at 10:39 am

The NY Times on the war crimes

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The editorial today (emphasis added by me):

Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

That order set the stage for the infamous redefinition of torture at the Justice Department, and then Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization of “aggressive” interrogation methods. Some of those methods were torture by any rational definition and many of them violate laws and treaties against abusive and degrading treatment.

These top officials ignored warnings from lawyers in every branch of the armed forces that they were breaking the law, subjecting uniformed soldiers to possible criminal charges and authorizing abuses that were not only considered by experts to be ineffective, but were actually counterproductive.

One page of the report lists the repeated objections that President Bush and his aides so blithely and arrogantly ignored: The Air Force had “serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques”; the chief legal adviser to the military’s criminal investigative task force said they were of dubious value and may subject soldiers to prosecution; one of the Army’s top lawyers said some techniques that stopped well short of the horrifying practice of waterboarding “may violate the torture statute.” The Marines said they “arguably violate federal law.” The Navy pleaded for a real review.

The legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time started that review but told the Senate committee that her boss, Gen. Richard Myers, ordered her to stop on the instructions of Mr. Rumsfeld’s legal counsel, Mr. Haynes.

The report indicates that Mr. Haynes was an early proponent of the idea of using the agency that trains soldiers to withstand torture to devise plans for the interrogation of prisoners held by the American military. These trainers — who are not interrogators but experts only on how physical and mental pain is inflicted and may be endured — were sent to work with interrogators in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo and in Iraq.

On Dec. 2, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized …

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18 December 2008 at 11:35 am

War crimes and what to do

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It is very odd not to persecute war crimes because they were done in the past–-all crimes that we persecute were done in the past. But maybe people are waking up to the fact that the crimes were crimes and were horrible and should be persecuted. Glenn Greenwald addresses the issue:

For obvious reasons, the most blindly loyal Bush followers of the last eight years are desperate to claim that nobody cares any longer about what happened during the Bush administration, that everyone other than the most fringe, vindictive Bush-haters is eager to put it all behind us, forget about it all and, instead, look to the harmonious, sunny future.  That’s natural.  Those who cheer on shameful and despicable acts always want to encourage everyone to forget what they did, and those who commit crimes naturally seek to dismiss demands for investigations and punishment as nothing more than distractions and vendettas pushed by those who want to wallow in the past.

Surprisingly, though, demands that Bush officials be held accountable for their war crimes are becoming more common in mainstream political discourse, not less so.  The mountain of conclusive evidence that has recently emerged directly linking top Bush officials to the worst abuses — combined with Dick Cheney’s brazen, defiant acknowledgment of his role in these crimes (which perfectly tracked Bush’s equally defiant 2005 acknowledgment of his illegal eavesdropping programs and his brazen vow to continue them) — is forcing even the reluctant among us to embrace the necessity of such accountability.

It’s almost as though everyone’s nose is now being rubbed in all of this:  now that the culpability of our highest government officials is no longer hidden, but is increasingly all out in the open, who can still defend the notion that they should remain immune from consequences for their patent lawbreaking?  As Law Professor Jonathan Turley said several weeks ago on The Rachel Maddow Show: “It’s the indictment of all of us if we walk away from a clear war crime.”  And this week, Turley pointed out to Keith Olbermann that “ultimately it will depend on citizens, and whether they will remain silent in the face of a crime that has been committed in plain view. . . . It is equally immoral to stand silent in the face of a war crime and do nothing.”

That recognition, finally, seems to be spreading — beyond the handful of blogs, civil liberties organizations and activists who have long been trumpeting the need for this accountability.  The New York Times Editorial Page today has a lengthy, scathing decree demanding prosecutions:  “It would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened . . . . A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.”  Today, Politico — of all places — is hosting a forum which asks:  “Should the DOJ consider prosecuting Bush administration officials for detainee abuse as the NYT and others have urged?”  Even Chris Matthews and Chris Hitchens yesterday entertained (albeit incoherently and apologetically) the proposition that top Bush officials committed war crimes.

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18 December 2008 at 11:32 am

Bush’s crimes and the media

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Glenn Greenwald today:

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday — which documents that “former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” and “that Rumsfeld’s actions were ‘a direct cause of detainee abuse‘ at Guantanamo and ‘influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'” — raises an obvious and glaring question:  how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?   The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:

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15 December 2008 at 10:09 am

Identifying those responsible for war crimes

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The Bush team made much of the notion of “accountability,” and I’m glad to see some accountability start to happen. This is encouraging:

Top officials — including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — were responsible for the use of “abusive” interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, in Afghanistan and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a bipartisan Senate report concluded Thursday.

The long-awaited Senate Armed Services Committee report bluntly refuted the Bush administration’s repeated claims that the abuses, which helped fuel the Iraq insurgency and damaged America’s reputation around the world, were the work of a few low-level “bad apples.”

“Senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees,” said the report’s 19-page unclassified executive summary. “Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.”

“Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low-ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the panel’s chairman, who released the executive summary with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee’s top Republican.

The report “details the inexcusable link between abusive interrogation techniques used by our enemies in violation of the Geneva Convention and interrogation policy for detainees in U.S. custody. These policies are wrong and must never be repeated,” said McCain, a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

The 250-page classified report, which is undergoing a Pentagon declassification review, was the most …

Continue reading.

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12 December 2008 at 9:33 am

Planning torture

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Some war-crimes indictments should come along for many in the Bush White House. Here are more revelations about how Bush’s aides, with his knowledge, planned to torture prisoners.

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26 September 2008 at 12:53 pm

David Letterman interviews Jane Mayer

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Mayer wrote The Dark Side, recently published.

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25 July 2008 at 1:21 pm

Findings about US torture of suspects

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Glenn Greenwald has a good column today, which begins:

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer, one of the country’s handful of truly excellent investigative journalists over the last seven years, has written a new book — The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals — which reveals several extraordinary (though unsurprising) facts regarding America’s torture regime. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which received an advanced copy, Mayer’s book reports the following:

  • “Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes.”
  • “A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were ‘enemy combatants’ subject to indefinite incarceration.”
  • “[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases . . .’There will be no review,’ the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. ‘The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.'”
  • “[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp’s detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions — up to half — were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda.”
  • [T]he International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were ‘categorically’ torture, which is illegal under both American and international law“.
  • “[T]he Red Cross document ‘warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.'”

This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want — including breaking our laws — and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country — live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We’ve collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws — that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We’ve thus become a country which lives under the proverbial “rule of men” — that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed — and Mayer’s revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2008 at 10:21 am

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