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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


Too busy getting rich to commit war crimes?: Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?

By Dave Lindorff

 

       Donald Trump’s cabinet choices are suggesting a governing philosophy along the lines of a corrupt municipal police force relying on gangsters to help it keep street crime held in check.

Our Chance to Hold War Makers Accountable

As the International Criminal Court loses any remaining credibility as a truly international and neutral body, it has finally claimed to be considering investigating certain war crimes of the world's greatest wager of war.

If the ICC hears from people all over the world, including from the United States, that we want U.S. war makers held accountable the same as any others, the ICC just might save itself and the idea of international justice along with it.


To: Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court

We encourage you to also prosecute war crimes by non-Africans including by U.S. war criminals. SIGN HERE.

Why is this important?

The ICC is degrading rather than enhancing the idea of international justice by giving a free pass to Western war makers. The United States has itself given a free pass to its war makers, kidnappers, torturers, and assassins. The U.S. president-elect and his advisors openly plan to violate laws against war, torture, and the targeting of civilians. The people of the United States and the world need the ICC to fulfill its mission and step in where domestic justice has failed.

Background:
> Preliminary ICC report on consideration of investigating U.S. crimes in Afghanistan and at secret sites in other countries.
> New York Times report.
> Congressman Ted Lieu on U.S. and Saudi war crimes in Yemen.
> John LaForge article.

ADD YOUR NAME.

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Torture Charges against the US Considered by International Criminal Court

By John LaForge

US armed forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says in a recent report, raising the possibility that US citizens could be indicted.

“Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014,” according to the Nov. 14 ICC report issued by Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office in The Hague.

The report says that CIA operatives may have subjected at least 27 detainees at its secret prisons in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania -- to “torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity” including rape, between December 2002 and March 2008. Individuals captured by US forces in Afghanistan were transferred to the secret CIA prisons, sometimes referred to as “black sites” where prisoners were chained to ceilings, “chained to walls and forgotten [one for 17 days] froze to death on concrete floors, and were waterboarded until they lost consciousness” according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the torture program.

On Dec. 9, 2005, the State Department’s deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States would continue to deny the Red Cross access to prisoners it was holding secretly around the world, claiming they were terrorists who were not guaranteed any rights under the Geneva Conventions. The Red Cross complained that its central purpose is to protect the human rights of prisoners, all of whom deserve protection under international humanitarian law -- binding treaty laws that include the absolute, unambiguous prohibition against torture.

More than 120 countries are members of the ICC, but the US is not. Although the US refused to join the 2002 Rome Statute that created the ICC and established its authority, US military personnel and CIA agents could still face prosecution because their crimes were allegedly committed within Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania -- all members of the ICC.

The ICC’s jurisdiction can be invoked when allegations of war crimes are not investigated and prosecuted by the home governments of the accused. The Guardian reported that the “ICC is a court of last resort that takes on cases only when other countries are unable or unwilling to prosecute.” Writing in Foreign Policy magazine last October, David Bosco noted, “The prosecutor’s office has repeatedly called attention to alleged abuses of detainees by US personnel between 2003 and 2005 that it believes have not been adequately addressed by the United States.”

“Committed with particular cruelty”

Bensouda’s report says about alleged US war crimes, they “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals. Rather, they appear to have been committed as part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees. The information available suggests that victims were deliberately subjected to physical and psychological violence, and that crimes were allegedly committed with particular cruelty and in a manner that debased the basic human dignity of the victims,” the ICC report says.

Reuters noted that the Senate committee released 500 pages of excerpts from its report and found that torture was committed. Official photographs of the abuse are evidently so incriminating that the military, as recently as February 9th this year, refused to release 1,800 pictures that the public has never seen.

The George W. Bush administration, which authorized and implemented torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and the offshore penal colony at Guantanamo Bay, was fiercely opposed to the ICC, but Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland and Romania are all members, which gives the court jurisdiction over crimes committed within those territories. This could lead to prosecution of US citizens.

Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have boasted in public about waterboarding which was sanctioned, “legalized,” and practiced widely under their command authority. Asked during a televised interview about what he called this “enhanced interrogation technique,” Mr. Cheney said, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

During a Republican primary debate Donald Trump said, “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” a statement he repeated many times. Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of both the CIA the NSA, reacted in a televised interview: “If he [Trump] were to order that, once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act. You are required to not follow an unlawful order. That would be in violation of all the international laws of armed conflict.” President-elect Trump also repeatedly called for targeted assassinations of family members of suspected terrorists. Both actions are prohibited by US military service manuals and by international treaty law, crimes ultimately prosecuted by the ICC.

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John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.

The choice this year is easy: Why No Leftist, Progressive or Liberal Should Vote for Hillary Clinton

By Dave Lindorff

 

            With one week to go in this year’s presidential election -- an astonishing and depressing contest in which the two least-liked and least-trusted candidates in history are the two choices put up by our two main political parties -- it’s time to look at why left and liberal people should not vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Lost drug war: Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

A vivid example of value from decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana occurred at the Philadelphia airport recently, a few days after the release of a report from two prominent organizations that called for the national decriminalization of personal use/possession of marijuana and other illicit drugs.

We got 8 years of change, but not much hope: President Barack Obama’s Crappy Legacy

By Dave Lindorff

 

Barack Obama came into the White House on a wave of passionate new voters, many of them black or young and white, becoming the nation's first black president and promising a new era of "hope and change."

UK Supreme Court Rules UK Government Engaged in Terrorism

By Chris Coverdale

An event occurred recently which may herald the end of Britain’s involvement in war. In a remarkable legal judgement the Supreme Court acknowledged that Parliament’s definition of terrorism appears to extend to the military activities of the UK Government[1].

“ action outside the United Kingdom which involves the use of firearms or explosives, resulting in danger to life … is terrorism… the definition would … appear to extend to military or quasi-military activity aimed at bringing down a foreign government, even where that activity is approved … by the UK Government.”

US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing

By Dave Lindorff

 

If the danger of the anti-Putin, anti-Russian disinformation propaganda campaign out of the Pentagon and promoted by the US corporate media weren't so serious, the effort itself might be laughable. I did laugh,

Wells Fargo’s Stumpf leads the way: We Should All Start ‘Taking Responsibility’ for Our Transgressions

By Dave Lindorff

 

Hey Americans! Let's all start taking responsibility for what we do wrong. Let's all start being accountable for our actions or our lack of action.

John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation's biggest "too-big-to-fail" banks, is showing us the way in to this bright new stand-up world.

Suing Saudi: Congress Is Right, Stephen Kinzer Is Wrong

Now there you have two things that I never expected to write. How often is Congress right about anything or Stephen Kinzer wrong? Congress wants 9/11 victims' families to be able to sue Saudi Arabia for its role in those crimes. Kinzer does not.

It's not that he doesn't care about victims' families. It's not that he's worried about disturbing relations with the Saudi monarchy (which could perhaps stop selling the United States the fossilized poison it uses to ruin the earth's climate, or stop buying U.S. weapons and working with the U.S. military to blow up little children in Yemen, or perhaps increase or decrease its support for ISIS depending on which of those options the U.S. makes up its mind to oppose). No, Kinzer's concern is that if you let one set of criminals be held accountable for their crimes, other criminals might be held accountable for their crimes as well.

Kinzer's is an argument designed to win over Congress (which doesn't really answer to rational argumentation) or the President (who already agrees with it). But it's not an argument that should win over you or me.

"Americans have a right to be furious with some foreign governments," writes Kinzer. "People in other countries have an equal right to be furious with the United States. We best address that fury not with lawsuits, but by changing the way we approach the world."

If laws are to "address fury" I'd like to abolish every last one of them, domestic and international, as an embarrassment to our species. In reality, the best laws are powerful tools with which to "change the way we approach the world." Obamesque "looking forward" -- that is, granting immunity to all powerful law breakers and wishing they wouldn't continue their law breaking -- does not work. Neither, of course, does bombing families in Libya or Syria based on the flimsy allegation that someone powerful managed to break a law that happened to be the one law not to ignore that day.

Kinzer's concern that suing Saudi Arabia could result in law suits against the United States is misguided nationalism. Why does suing Saudi Arabia not bother him? Why does suing the United States bother him? If Saudi Arabia kills large numbers of people, every nonviolent tool at our disposal ought to be used to put an end to that, to deter its repetition, to seek restitution, and to work for reconciliation. And the exact same applies to the U.S. government.

This was the pretense at Nuremberg, that victor's justice would someday become universal justice, that the people of the United States would want their own government held to the rule of law. This is why 37 thousand U.S. citizens thanked Spain for trying to prosecute U.S. officials for war crimes a few years ago, when the U.S. government had made clear that it would never do so itself. Instead it brought pressure to bear on Spain that shut down the prosecution.

Of course, a country that doesn't want to be sued (by its own people as well as foreigners) could abide by the rule of law or enforce its treaty obligations itself, as legally required to do anyway. Of what real use is a law that a blatant violator cannot be brought to court over? The UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact make seven current U.S. wars illegal, plus numerous drone killings if you claim they constitute "war." They're illegal as murder is you claim they do not constitute "war." Kidnapping, torture, spying, sabotaging -- these things are crimes. Those instances of these crimes that are in the past should indeed be brought to court in the present, unless the United States sees its way clear to apologizing and making restitution to the satisfaction of the victims.

But here's the real problem. If disputes could be taken to court, instead of to war, potential terrorists would become potential litigants, and Pentagon propaganda for the next war would become a lawsuit instead. Did the latest "Hitler" really truly use the wrong kind of weapon? Don't bomb the residents of his capital. Take him to court instead. Take him to arbitration. Take him to a truth and reconciliation commission. Because if you don't, if you bomb some cities instead, you should have to expect that victims families will be taking you to court.

If U.S. officials find that they must constantly be looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren't going to be taken to court, they will simply be joining the rest of us who are -- horror of horrors! -- obliged to comply with every existing law every day of the year.

A win and a loss, at least for now: Federal Judge finds 8th Amendment Violation in Pennslvania’s Refusal to Treat Mumia's Hep-C

By Dave Lindorff

 

Depending on how you look at it, lawyers for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia journalist and political prisoner serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison after a controversial 1982 conviction for killing a white Philadelphia police officer, won a huge victory, lost big or maybe won and will win again soon.

No context is pretext: Critics’ Ignoring of Documented Record of Frisco Police Abuse Proves Kaepernick Right

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

A month before the police union in San Francisco sent a blistering letter to NFL officials recently demanding that the professional football league apologize for the “ill-advised” criticisms of police by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that union was the target of scathing criticism for supporting police misconduct.

Unethical antics: Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Even in politics, where alarming perversions too often parade as acceptable standards, it is pretty astounding for a politician to assert that inadvertent error is the reason for his failure to report receipt of gifts and other free items valued at $160,050 over a five-year period.

Not just toilet lids Pentagon Money Pit: Unaccountable Army Spending of $6.5 Trillion and No DOD Audit for the Past Two Decades

By Dave Lindorff

 

What if the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services were to report that $6.5 billion in spending by that federal agency was unaccounted for and untraceable? You can imagine the headlines, right? What if it was $65 billion? The headlines would be as big as for the first moon landing or for troops landing on Omaha Beach in World War II.

The ultimate attribution error fuels war: The Post-Dallas Kumbaya Window Begins to Close

By John Grant

 

Someone's crying, Lord, kumbaya

- From the Gullah song meaning, Lord, come by here and help us

 

To Prosecute Blair for War You Do Not Need the ICC

To prosecute Tony Blair or George W. Bush or others responsible for the criminal attack on Iraq, or other top officials for other recent wars, does not require the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is commonplace to insist that the ICC cannot handle the supreme crime of aggression, although it might at some point in the future. The United States is also believed to be immune from prosecution as a non-ICC member.

But this focus on the ICC is a sign of weakness in a global movement for justice that has other tools readily available. When the losers of World War II were prosecuted, there was no ICC. The ICC's existence does not impede anything that was done in Nuremberg or Tokyo, where the crime of making war was prosecuted by the victors of World War II under the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Nor does the existence of the UN Charter throw up any obstacles. The invasion of Iraq (and every other recent Western war) was just as illegal under the UN Charter as under Kellogg-Briand.

Nor does one have to go back to Nuremberg for a precedent. The special tribunals set up for Yugoslavia and Rwanda prosecuted the waging of war under the name of "genocide." The notion that the West cannot commit genocide (anymore) is pure prejudice. The scale and type of killing unleashed on Iraqis by the 2003 coalition perfectly fits the definition of genocide as routinely applied to non-Westerners.

The special tribunal on Rwanda is also a model for addressing the lies and propaganda that are such a focus of the Chilcot Report. As at Nuremberg, the propagandists were prosecuted in Rwanda. While Fox News executives should certainly be prosecuted for sexual harassment where merited, in a fair world in which the rule of law were applied equally, they would face additional charges as well. War propaganda is as illegal under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as war was under Kellogg-Briand.

What we are lacking is not the legal ability to prosecute, but the will power and the democratic control of institutions. In war or genocide, as with torture and other atrocities constituting "the evil of the whole," we are dealing with crimes that can be prosecuted in any court under universal jurisdiction. The possibility that U.S. or UK courts are going to handle this matter themselves has long since been ruled out, freeing the courts of any other nation to act.

Now, I'm not against prosecuting Blair before Bush. And I'm not against prosecuting Blair for minor components of his crime before the entirety. But if we wanted to end war, we would pursue those lesser measures with an openly expressed understanding of what is actually possible if only we had the will.

When France, Russia, China, Germany, Chile, and so many others stood against the crime of attacking Iraq, they acknowledged the responsibility they have shunned ever since of seeking prosecution. Do they fear the precedent? Do they prefer that war not be prosecutable because of their own wars? Imagine how shortsighted that would be, and how ignorant of the damage they do to the world by allowing the truly monstrous warmakers to walk free.

On forgetting and forgiving: Killing and Our Current American Crisis

By John Grant

 

Kill one person, it’s called murder.

Kill 100,000, it’s called foreign policy.

        - A popular bumper sticker

As Police Killings of Minorities Mount, Attacks on Police Like the One in Dallas, While Awful, Are Also Sadly Predictable

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The tragedy that is America has deepened with the news that several people on Thursday organized a military-style sniper attack targeting police in Dallas during a protest march and rally against police brutality and killings of black people in that city.

 

Supreme Hypocrisy in Pennsylvania: US High Court Opens Door to New Appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal of His 1982 Conviction

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

One unintended consequence of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a death penalty case that rebuked actions of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and prosecutors in Philadelphia for conflict of interest was to open a new avenue for activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal to appeal his own 1982 murder conviction in a trial that was tainted by the same exact type of conflict of interest.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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