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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


‘Injustice writ large’: Report Finds Racist Law Enforcement in England...Again

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

London, UK -- Police and prosecutors scheme to secure convictions of persons who did not participate in any crime. Racial minorities disproportionately bear the brunt of this improper practice.

Prison healthcare in America is a crime: Even with Treatment for Hepatitis C, Abu-Jamal’s Health Not Guaranteed

By Jess Guh

This is the final part of a series on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s fight for appropriate health care for himself and for over 2 million prison inmates across the country. (Click here for Part I, here for Part II, or here for Part IIIa)

Should Criminalizing War Start by Pretending It’s Legal?

cover_18_Abolishing_WarThere’s a terrific new book on abolishing war called Abolishing War: Criminalizing War, Removing War Causes, Removing War as Institution. The authors are Johan Galtung, Erika Degortes, Irene Galtung, Malvin Gattinger, and Naakow Grant-Hayford. Johan Galtung, who was recently on my radio show, is brilliant as always, drawing on vast knowledge and wisdom.

As the book’s subtitle suggests, it proposes three types of approaches to eliminating war: “three approaches to have war join slavery and colonization in the dust-bin of history. No question of picking and choosing, they belong together and the more seamlessly, the better.” I couldn’t agree more, and will be drawing on the ideas in this book in the work we do at World Beyond War.

The book’s longest section is on criminalizing war, and it offers an argument I haven’t seen before. I think there’s great value in the argument, and that it can augment others. Nonetheless, I’m going to quibble with it.

Here is a book that practically quotes the arguments of the Outlawrists of the 1920s without mentioning them. It recommends, as its first recommended course of action right on the inside of the front cover, recreating Japan’s Article 9 for all states. And yet it largely ignores and bizarrely dismisses the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, from which Article 9 derives (and which it practically quotes) and which already applies to most large nations.

The book’s second recommendation is to somehow build on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ “implicit” criminalization of war. Nowhere is it explained how an implicit criminalization of war is more useful than an explicit one. In fact, Irene Galtung rather wistfully imagines how nice it would be to have an explicit one. Nowhere is the problem mentioned that the United Nations, as “implicit” criminalizer of war, legalizes defensive and otherwise UN-authorized wars — two loopholes that have been stretched and abused to effectively allow any Western war whatsoever. This is, of course, in contrast to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which bans all war and requires that nations settle all of their disputes entirely peacefully.

In the one instance where the book refers to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, it claims that, “this opens two huge loop-holes: use of force by non-members, and by and on non-states.” There are a number of errors in this claim. One of them is chronological. There were no laws banning war prior to Kellogg-Briand. In forbidding war between nations, the pact took war away in many cases from many major wagers of war. The pact was open to and remains open to all nations. Any nation that is not a member can simply send a letter to the U.S. State Department and instantly become a member. So, the so-called loophole for non-members is one that has been closing and could close further, but it wasn’t opened by the pact. War was legal for all states against all states prior to 1928.

What about non-states? The states that made the pact considered, and still to this day consider, war by non-states to be illegal. In fact, they consider illegal almost any action, if not the very existence, of most entities that might wage war without being a state. Within states, killing by anyone other than the state, is forbidden by national laws and by customary standards of law — as outlined, in fact, by the strategy pursued in the book by Galtung et alia — on which, more in a second. The bigger shortcoming is the failure to outlaw war by a member state against a non-state, but most such wars are also wars on the populations of states and often against the will of the governments of those states, often — indeed — against yet other states using proxies to wage war for them. A shortcoming, moreover, is not a condemnation of a useful step as counterproductive; it’s just a shortcoming requiring an additional step forward.

Clearly Galtung does not really think that criminalizing war between nations is an unhelpful step. He wants to do it singly, nation by nation, modeled on Japan’s Article 9 (which arguably has the very same shortcomings as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, plus the shortcoming of only applying to a single nation). Of course, Article 9 is under threat, and somewhat similar statements in the Constitutions of Italy and Germany and other nations are even less adhered to. But Galtung is right: bans on war in national constitutions should be strengthened, defended, and complied with. Doing so, however, presents a problem of logic in dismissing the Kellogg-Briand Pact as unhelpful. Never mind the purity of heart of its creators (its creators in fact were masses of people who brought legislators to it kicking and screaming) or the perfection of compliance by its members heretofore. If Japan launches a major war next year, Galtung will still want Article 9 upheld — or he should; I will. The Kellogg-Briand Pact is a law clearly banning all war for most major nations, including the least likely nations to agree to newly creating such a law today. Other nations could sign onto it and urge their fellow members to comply with it. Malaysia, for example, could choose to become a member of the pact and suddenly find itself a leader among its members by advocating for compliance — and for accountability and reparations and reconciliation — exactly as it would have to do with eternal vigilance if it instead used its own version of Article 9, only in this case with the major war makers of the world formally committed in clear language to compliance as well.

Because war is, in a major way, already illegal, calls to criminalize it ring in my ear a bit hollow, a bit like the rhetoric of the U.S. Congress proposing over and over again, year after year, to re-criminalize torture, rather than prosecuting torturers under long-standing laws. But the approach to criminalizing war proposed by Irene Galtung certainly has some merit. It doesn’t exactly claim that war is now legal, but it does claim that in written law it is legal, and this strikes me as dangerous.

The argument that Irene Galtung makes is not unrelated to the argument I have long made about drone murders, namely that murder is illegal under national law and customary international law. And it is nearly identical to the argument that Marjorie Cohn and other lawyers make for the illegality of torture under customary international law — only applied to war rather than torture.

Irene Galtung’s idea is that customary international law is higher than written international law or written national law. The problem, as she readily admits, is that — being unwritten — it is highly controversial. Still, what’s needed is an act of interpretation not entirely unlike the interpretation of a written law. Galtung claims that all national constitutions provide a right to life, and that the right to use deadly force in self-defense exists only when such use is necessary for self-defense. War is deadly force, simply on a larger scale, and it is never necessary, as there are always alternatives. Therefore, logically, even if you’d be hard-pressed to get many well-paid lawyers or human rights organizations or governments or judges to admit it, war is a crime.

This argument (which I have, of course, only sketched very roughly) is smart, logical, and educationally useful. I plan to repeat it often. But what appeals to “customary law” come down to are attempts to radically change legal custom on the authority of current legal custom (reinterpreted). That this couldn’t be helped by also pointing to existing laws like the Kellogg-Briand Pact is difficult for me to imagine. In fact, later in the book the authors cite the UN’s Declaration of the Right of the Peoples to Peace. That we have a right to peace means that we have a right to the absence of war. The Declaration states that it:

“Emphasizes that ensuring the exercise of the right of peoples to peace demands that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The weakness is in those last few words, as the Charter contradicts itself and permits war. The Kellogg-Briand Pact lacks that particular weakness. I would love someday to hear a clear statement from Johan Galtung on what weaknesses he thinks its carries that justify its dismissal from public awareness and use.

Ruling soon on Mumia non-treatment policy challenge: PA Admits Secret ‘Protocol’ Denies Hep-C Treatment to All But Dying Inmates

By Dave Lindorff

 

Following three days of contentious testimony in a courtroom in Scranton, PA late last month, a federal district judge is considering a legal petition by Pennsylvania's most well-known prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal for a finding that the state's long-running refusal to treat his active case of Hepatitis-C, a potentially fatal disease, violates his Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Court could rule not treating inmates with Hep C violates 8th Amendment: Dr. Jess Guh on Hep-C Epidemic in Nation’s Prisons

Judge could rule not treating prisoner Hep C violates 8th Amendment:

Dr. Jess Guh on Hep-C Epidimec in Nation’s Prison and PA’s Refusal to Treat Mumia Abu-Jamal

A Progressive Radio Network podcast

Dave Lindorff and his guest on PRN.fm's “This Can't Be Happening!" program, Dr. Jess Guh, talk about Mumia Abu-Jamal’s court battle in federal court in Scranton to force the state’s prison system to provide him with treatment for his active and potentially fatal case of Hepatitis-C.

Dr. Guh, a primary car physician from Seattle who has been investigating the shoddy standard of health care in the nation’s prisons, and who has reviewed some 100 pages of Mumia’s medical record, says that what Pennsylvania and many other states are doing to prisoners in their control by denying Hep-C treatment is nothing short of malpractice and neglegence on a massive scale.

To hear this podcast, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/2972

Abu-Jamal case shows widespread neglect of inmate health: Mumia Faces Possible Second Death Sentence

By Jess Guh

This is the third in a three-part series on Mumia Abu-Jamal's fight to force the Pennsylvania prison system to treat his active Hep-C infection, and that of thousands of other infected state inmates, and on the raging Hepatitis-C epidemic in the nation's prisons. (Click here for Part I or here for Part II)

Seattle, WA – Physicians are held to professional expectations dictating that the failure to provide standard healthcare is malpractice. There is no difference between failing to provide a service and performing a liable medical mistake.

Judge rejects state’s arguments to reject case: Abu-Jamal Gets Federal Court Hearing Seeking Order to Treat His Hepatitis-C Inf

By Dave Lindorff

 

The second in a three-part series on Mumia Abu-Jamal's fight to force the Pennsylvania prison system to treat his active Hep-C infection, and that of thousands of other infected state inmates, and on the raging Hepatitis C epidemic in the nation's prisons

 

Mumia Abu-Jamal Battles for His Life...Again

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

The big courthouse news in Pennsylvania this week does not involve yet another sordid revelation in the sleazy racist-pornographic email scandal now soiling top justice system officials in the Keystone State that include a state supreme court justice and ranking prosecutors.

Regime change in Chicago!: Cover-Up of a Police Murder Requires Resignation of Chicago Mayor Emanuel

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold yet belated move when he fired his embattled police superintendent in the wake of a national uproar surrounding the release of a chilling video that captured the police killing of a teen--a ward of the city of Chicago.

On reading Mumia in gaol: Torture and Other Abuses Make Turkey as American as Apple Pie

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

On the topic of torture the nation of Turkey could teach some gruesome techniques to ISIS, the terrorist movement executing a savage reign across Syria and beyond (reportedly with Turkish government support).

A half century of US hospital bombings: Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar

By Dave Lindorff

 

“US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital.”

       -- US Commander of NATO Forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell

 

The proof is in the proofs: US Spy Sats See Everything, Except when the Government Says They Didn’t

By Dave Lindorff

 

            There is something fishy going on in the way the US is talking about civilian plane crashes that are in some way linked, or said to be linked to Russia.

 

How a High Dollar Speech Sends a former Israeli Prime Minister to US Federal Court on Claims of War Crimes

By Ann Wright

Serving legal documents on high visibility persons who have been involved in international criminal acts is very difficult.  However, the temptation of large honoraria for speeches in the United States tripped up a former Israeli Prime Minister who has been accused of war crimes  for his involvement in the murders of ten passengers (nine were killed immediately and a seriously wounded passenger died after being in a coma for several years) on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. 

In a telephone press conference on October 21, the international legal team that filed the lawsuit against former Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak described how “legal process service” or official notification of a legal claim filed against him was done.  The legal team knew Barak would be in Southern California giving three talks as a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series of Southern California and hired a commercial “certified process server” to deliver the court documents to Barak. 

According to attorney Dan Stormer of the Los Angeles law firm Hadsell Stormer Renick LLP,on the evening of October 20 when Barak was scheduled to give a lecture in Thousand Oaks, California, the process server handed the documents to one of Barak’s security team who, in the view of witnesses, handed the documents to Barak, thereby completing the official notification of Barak that a civil case against him had been filed in U.S. Federal Court.

On Friday, October 15, 2015, attorneys for U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, a 19 year old U.S. citizen who was shot 5 times by Israeli commandos, had filed a civil lawsuit  in the Federal District court of California, Central Division, against Barak for his role as Defense Minister in the 2010 Israeli Defense Forces raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla ship Mavi Marmara that resulted in the executions of nine unarmed civilian passengers and wounding of over 50 passengers, one of whom died after being in a coma for several years.  The lawsuit was filed using Alien Tort Claims, Torture Prevention and Anti-Terrorists legislation.

The legal documents filed in Federal District Court state: “Defendant Barak is responsible and liablefor the common plan, design, and scheme unlawfully to attack the six vessels of theGaza Freedom Flotilla and the civilian passengers on board which constituted acts of international terrorism and resulted in extrajudicial killings, torture, and cruel inhumane or other degrading treatment, in violation of customary international law.

Defendant Barak’s position as Israeli’s Minister of Defense provided him with the ability and capacity to plan, direct, control and oversee the operation against the Flotilla and the IDF soldiers who conducted the attack. Therefore Defendant Barak possessed command responsibility over the IDF forces, and knew or should have known that the unlawful attack on the Flotilla would result in torts and international law violations against Plaintiffs. Defendant Barak failed to stop the violations before and during the attack, and failed to punish those responsible for committing the violations after the attack, thereby ratifying their conduct.”

Attorney Stormer said that Barak must respond to the lawsuit within 30 days after which the discovery phase of the lawsuit will begin.  Stormer said that if the suit is successful, damages and compensation to the parents of Furkan Dogan,  could amount to “tens of millions of dollars.”  Stormer said that other families of those executed by the Israeli commandos may join the lawsuit.

British lawyer Rodney Dixon said that having Barak served the legal process in California was a “watershed” moment.  Dixon said that the Nuremburg, Tokyo, Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone war crimes trials demonstrate that political leaders who order the targeting and killing of unarmed civilians can be held accountable.

In September 2009, lawyers representing 16 Palestinians living in Britain asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Barak who was speaking in Britain for his role in the deaths of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the Israeli 29 day attack on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.  However, the court ruled that Barak enjoyed diplomatic immunity from prosecution as he was in office at the time. 

Legal team attorney Haydee Dijkstal, who is a lawyer in The Hague, the Netherlands, said during the press conference that “there is no protection for officials who have left office” and the lawsuit against Barak could not be thrown out by the U.S. court on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Several members of the George W. Bush administration do not travel to certain countries in Europe due to lawsuits filed against them in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland for their roles the war on terror and torture.

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She was a passenger on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and on the 2011 and 2015 flotillas.

Police murders waiting to happen: Time to Rein In the Casual Overuse of Undercover Cops in America

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The police slaying of musician Corey Jones in South Florida highlights one of the most reprehensible aspects of law enforcement in America -- the ubiquitous undercover cop.

 

Flipped out: Last Mexican of Venice

The latest from ThisCantBeHappening!:


Flipped out:

Last Mexican of Venice

 By Rip Rense 

 

Trans-Atlantic abuses and protests: Police Brutality Unites Demonstrations in Paris and D.C.

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Protests against rampant police brutality occurred recently in the respective capitals of France and the United States – two nations that proclaim strict fidelity to the rule of law yet two professed democracy-loving nations where officials routinely condone rampant lawlessness by law enforcers.

Kunduz hospital attack was no mistake: US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital

By Dave Lindorff

 

Evidence continues to mount that the US committed a monstrous war crime in attacking and destroying a fully operational hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on the night of Oct. 3, killing at least 22 people including at least 12 members of the volunteer medical staff of Medicine Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the French based international aid organization that operated the hospital.

‘We’re sorry’: America’s Latest War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Hospital in Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff

  

            Really? The best that Nobel Peace Laureate President Obama can do after the US bombs and destroys a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 people, including 12 volunteer doctors from Doctors Without Borders, is to say, “We’re sorry”?

 

Apartheid law enforcement in the US: Standing While Black in New York Can Get You Attacked by NYPD Thugs

By Dave Lindorff

If tennis great James Blake had done the obvious thing and resisted being tackled by an apparent thug on a New York sidewalk who didn’t identify himself as a cop before attacking him, he would probably be dead today like Eric Garner, or at least seriously injured or tased.

Accommodating abuse: Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Over 1,500 miles separate Harris County, Texas and Harrison Township, New Jersey yet public officials in those two jurisdictions seemingly share a disdain for persons who protest against police abuse.

 

Worst president ever?: History Should and Probably Will Judge President Obama Harshly

By Dave Lindorff


President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history. 


We need peace officers, not pinkertons: What’s Wrong with Police in America

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Americans got a glimpse of what policing is like in a more humane and civilized society last year when four young Swedish cops, on vacation in New York City and riding on a subway, found themselves faced with a bloody fight in the aisle by two angry black men.

Talk Nation Radio: Inder Comar on Prosecuting Bush for War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-inder-comar-on-prosecuting-bush-for-war

D. Inder Comar is legal director at Comar Law, a boutique law firm in San Francisco. We discuss the case of Saleh v. Bush in which he is lead counsel, currently in the 9th Circuit, seeking to hold George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and others responsible under the laws of Nuremberg for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. See: http://witnessiraq.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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The most draconian information-gathering law yet: The Senate Wants to Make Internet Providers Spies

By Alfredo Lopez


How much noise does the other shoe make when it drops? If the shoe is a law that would complete the development of a police surveillance state in the United States, it's almost silent.

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'A moment of silence for Cecil'

Let’s have a moment’s

Silence for Cecil (Ses’-al),

But not yet.

During that silence

Let us think about why

It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War

By Dave Lindorff

 

I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

We’re #1...in the heroin business!: US Lost in Afghanistan, But Did Make Afghanistan World’s Top Heroin Exporter

By Jack Balkwill


...The US government pretends to care about eradicating opium production in Afghanistan, while production soars to record levels.  Can this be an accident? 

The largest marketplace for illegal drugs continues to be the United States, despite a decades-long so-called "war on drugs."  Can this be an accident? 

A pariah in his home state: Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has any chance of gaining traction in his bid to become the 2016 Republican candidate for president he has to maintain support in suburban communities like East Greenwich Township, a small, predominately white, upper middle income area located about fifty miles south of Trenton, NJ’s capital city.

Speaking Events

2016

 

March 24, Boone, NC.

 

March 25, Asheville, NC
Battery Park Apartments, 1 Battle Square, rooftop room, noon - 2 p.m.
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War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
Tour begins here:

April 11, Washington, DC, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets.
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April 12, Baltimore, MD, 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma's.
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April 14, Bellingham, WA, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.
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April 15, Seattle, WA
Town Hall Seattle
1119 Eighth Ave (8th and Seneca) 
Seattle, WA 98101
7:30pm
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April 16 Portland, OR

 

April 24, Oneonta, NY at Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta.
5:30 discussion with students.
7:00 talk and Q&A with everyone.
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May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
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May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
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May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event

 


June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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Other Events Here.

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