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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


Prof. Boyle may be wrong, but he may be right: With a Government this Vile and This Secretive We Need to Ask Questions

By Dave Lindorff

A few days ago, I published a short story linking to a PRN.fm radio interview PRN.fm radio interview I did with noted international law attorney Francis Boyle, whom I pointed out was a drafter of the US Biological Weapons and Anti-Terrorism Act passed into law in 1981, which supposedly barred the United States from continuing to keep or to develop new germ warfare weapons.

Boyle told me, on last Wednesday’s radio program “This Can’t Be Happening!,” that he believes the Zaire Ebola strain that is wracking Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea   in west Africa, originally came from one of several BSL4-level bio-research labs operated in those countries and funded by a combination of the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the US Defense Department, perhaps because of testing of Ebola being conducted there, or because of some containment breach. 

Pennsylvania’s for lovers...of convictions: The Scandal Hidden Inside a State’s Porn Emails Scandal

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

(Part I of II)
 

Obscured by a current scandal involving pornographic emails currently rocking the top reaches of Pennsylvania’s state government, a scandal that has cast a shadow over embattled Pennsylvania Governor and former state's attorney general Tom Corbett and the state’s judiciary, including a state Supreme Court member, is another explosive scandal.

Drone victims sue German government for facilitating strikes in Yemen

From REPRIEVE:

A Yemeni man, whose nephew and brother-in-law were killed in a 2012 drone strike, has travelled to Germany to sue the government for facilitating drone strikes of the sort in which his relatives died.  
 
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an engineer for the Yemeni environmental protection agency, lost his brother-in-law Salim, a local imam known for preaching against al-Qaeda, and his nephew Waleed, a policeman, in a drone strike in August 2012. Mr bin Ali Jaber has filed litigation asking the German government to stop the use of Ramstein Air Base in assisting the US’ covert drones programme. Mr bin Ali Jaber is also asking that the German government acknowledge that allowing the US to use Ramstein to facilitate drone strikes in Yemen – a country with which the US is not at war - is unlawful. 
 
Ramstein Air Base, in South West Germany, is the crucial connector for all data transfer between the US and Yemeni air space. The data – which enables the pilots in the US to operate the drones in real time – is transferred via fibre optic cable from the US to Germany and the Air Base Ramstein. From there the data is transmitted through a satellite-relay-station to the drone which is started by technicians at the US military base in Djibouti.
 
Faisal is represented in the litigation, which was filed today, by international human rights NGO Reprieve and the European Centre for Constitutional Human Rights (ECCHR).
 
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, said: “Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein, men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today. It is quite simple: without Germany, US drones would not fly. I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stop Ramstein being used to help the US’ illegal and devastating drone war in my country.”
 
Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “The US’ covert drone war has killed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children, in countries with which we are not at war.  Without the help of the British and German governments these deaths would never have been possible. Europe cannot hide behind the US: by allowing the use of bases, personnel or technology, we are complicit in this drone war. If European governments withdrew their support, people like Faisal and his children would have a better chance for a future without this paralyzing threat from the skies.”
 
Andreas Schueller, head of the international crimes and accountability programme at ECCHR, said: “Ramstein is crucial for US drone warfare. Germany has to bring it to an end – if not it is complicit in the death of civilians. The German government must no longer hide behind status-of-forces agreements and admit its responsibility for civilian deaths caused by US drone warfare.”

It won't protect you at all: Default Encryption: Apple and Google's Latest Marketing Ploy

By Alfredo Lopez


A couple of weeks ago, the mere mortals who lead the voracious giants of technology -- Google and Apple -- announced that they were striking a blow for protection against NSA spying by making "encryption" the default on Google cell phone software (which is used on most cell phones) and THEY software used on Apple mobile devices.

This affects equipment like the ubiquitous cell phone, although it is also relevant to some handheld computers and similar portable equipment.

Free Speech Arrested: Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Linn Washington


Police carp about college students’ selection of a prison inmate for their commencement speaker. It must have something to do with Mumia Abu-Jamal…the man that cops across America love to hate.

Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), issued a statement on October 1 that blasted Goddard College for its failure to block the commencement speech scheduled for Sunday (10/5) by Abu-Jamal, an alum of the small liberal arts institution in Vermont.

What laws of war? We do what we want!: Obama Admits US Bombing Attacks in Syria Pay Little Heed to Protecting Civilians

By Dave Lindorff

 

In a perverse way, maybe it's progress that the US is now admitting that it doesn't really care about how many civilians it kills in its efforts to "decapitate" a few suspected terrorist leaders.

Going, going, gone, but let’s not forget him: Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder Leaves Office

By Dave Lindorff


Good riddance!


Eric Holder has announced that he is leaving his post of Attorney General, which he has sullied and degraded for six years.


Goodbye, Eric Holder. Now Can We Prosecute Torture?

Dear Colleagues,

Attached (PDF) is the shadow report of Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture through the US Human Rights Network.

We are gathering organization and  individual signatures of support for the shadow report.  If you are interested in signing on, please contact Deborah Popowski (dpopowski@law.harvard.edu) of the Harvard Human Rights Clinic  before Monday, September 29, 2014.  

Please pass this message on.
Best,
Ben
Benjamin G. Davis
Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions
Ben.davis@utoledo.edu

Were the Nuremberg Tribunals Only Victors' Justice?

By Elliott Adams

On the surface, The Nuremberg Tribunals were a court assembled by the victors which prosecuted the losers.  It is also true Axis war criminals were tried though Allied war criminals were not. But there was a greater concern at the time about stopping wars of aggression than prosecuting individual war criminals, since no one thought the world could survive one more world war.  The intent was not retribution but to find a new way forward.  The Tribunal in its Judgment said “Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced."

Nuremberg was starkly different from the typical case of victor's justice of the time. With Nuremberg the victors turned away from the accepted vindictive punishment of the vanquished. The motivation to punish those who started a war which killed seventy two million, including sixty one million on the victor's side, was immense.  Justice Robert Jackson, US Supreme Court Justice and the main architect of the Nuremberg Tribunals,  said in the opening statement of the Tribunals "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated." Stalin proposed a suitable deterrent would be executing the top 50,000 living German leaders.  Given the wanton killing on the Eastern Front experienced by the Russians, it is easy to understand how he considered this to be appropriate.  Churchill countered that executing the top 5,000 would be enough blood to assure it would not happen again.

The victorious powers instead set a new path, one of criminal trials, the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals. Justice Jackson declared "That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason."

Acknowledged as imperfect, Nuremberg was an effort to establish the rule of law to deal with  sociopathic and despotic leaders and their followers who would start wars of aggression. "This Tribunal, while it is novel and experimental, represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of seventeen more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times - aggressive war." said Jackson. The experiment provided that each defendant be indicted, have the right to a defense before a court, similar to a civilian court. And there seems to have been some level of justice since some were found completely innocent, some were only found guilty of some charges and most were not executed. Whether this was just a victor's court dressed up in fancy trappings of justice or the first faulting steps of a new way forward would depend on what happened in the years after, even what happens now. Some of what is accepted as normal today comes to us from Nuremberg like the terms war crimes, crimes against humanity

Jackson said "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well." They knew they were only writing the first part of the story of Nuremberg and that others would write the ending. We can answer this question about victor's justice by looking just at 1946. Or we can take a broader perspective and answer it in terms of today and of the future, in terms of the long term results from Nuremberg.

Whether it was justice only for the benefit of the victors is our challenge.  Will we let international law be a tool only for the powerful? Or will we use Nuremberg as a tool for "Reason over Power"? If we let the Nuremberg Principles be used only against the enemies of the powerful it will have been victor's justice and we will be "putting the poisoned chalice to our own lips."  If instead we, we the people, work, demand and, succeed in holding our own high criminals and government up to these same laws it will not have been a victor's court.  Justice Jackson's words are an important guide today, "The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils."

Going back to the original question - Were the Nuremberg Tribunals only victor's justice? - that depends on us - that depends on you. Will we prosecute our own high war criminals?  Will we respect and use the obligations of Nuremberg to oppose our government's crimes against humanity and crimes against peace?

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Elliott Adams was a solider, a politician, a businessman; now he works for peace.  His interest in international law grew out of his experience in war, in places of conflict like Gaza, and being on trial for peace activism.

Lawless Law Enforcers: In America the 'Terrorists' All Too Often Are the Police

By Linn Washington

 

Two acts of ugly terrorism occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.

One act was widely abhorred. The other act ignored.

Many across America know about the 9/15/63 Birmingham murders of four little girls slain in the bombing of a black Baptist church 18-days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring “I Have A Dream” speech.

"I Don't Think About It" - Supreme Court Justice Explains Survival Strategy

By Susan Harman

On Sept. 10 the UC Berkeley Law School (aka Boalt Hall) held its first major speaking event of the school year. This was Sujit Choudhry, the new Dean's, first event. The guest was Rosalie Abella, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and a mentor of Choudhry's.

They each told charming stories about the other. Then the judge gave a very literate and entertaining speech on discrimination.

At one point, as she was listing human rights violators around the world, Cynthia Papermaster said loudly, "and John Yoo walks the halls of this law school."

I asked the second question. I first thanked her and the Dean for her presentation.

Then I thanked the two of them for their respective roles in winning a little justice for Omar Khadr, who has spent his adolescence in Guantanamo (see Sharon Adams' summary here: http://www.firejohnyoo.net).

Then I asked how they deal with the cognitive dissonance that must come from believing what they do about justice, and presenting in an institution that harbors convicted war criminal John Yoo.

The Honorable Supreme Court Justice replied, "I don't think about it."

Making the news fit the politics: NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report

By Dave Lindorff


The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.

A whiff of SCOTUS skunk: The Odor Seeping Out of Our Criminal Justice System

By John Grant


I just thank God I’m out of this place.
              - Henry Lee McCollum

First there was Ferguson, Missouri and the gunning down of an unarmed black youth and the ad-nauseum follow-up emphasizing over-and-over the shooting officer’s fear. Now it’s the release of two half brothers in North Carolina clearly railroaded into convictions and death sentences by a notoriously remorseless, good-'ol-boy district attorney.

U.S. argues Nuremberg "irrelevant" to immunity of Bush officials

According to D. Inder Comar, attorney in the case,
 
"In the latest round of court papers in Saleh v. Bush, Case No. 3:13-cv-1124 JST (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013), the United States has argued that the holdings from the Nuremberg Tribunal have 'neither estoppel nor preclusive effect' and are 'irrelevant' to the question of whether US officials are immune from suit based on allegations of aggression.

"The United States continues to maintain that former Bush Administration officials are subject to dismissal based on a domestic law, the Westfall Act, that shields government officials from civil lawsuits for activities undertaken during the scope of an official’s employment.

"Saleh argues that defendants Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz acted outside the scope of their authority in planning and waging the Iraq War, which she contents was done in violation of US and international law. Specifically, she contends that the defendants committed aggression against Iraq, which was outlawed by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, over 60 years ago.

"The Court has also reset the hearing date from September 11, 2014, to November 13, 2014 in the Northern District of California."

See this brief from the United States government (PDF).

A Modest Suggestion: How To Dissipate the Protest in Ferguson

By John Grant


There was a moment during MSNBC's live coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night through 2AM Tuesday morning when Chris Hayes and one of his guests conceded the police (now augmented by National Guard troops said to be guarding a police command center) begrudgingly deserved a good grade because -- unlike riots in Newark and Los Angeles -- no one had been killed. This was after cops had "barked" at Hayes and threatened him with macing if he and his camera crew dared again venture "in front of" the police.

Community or Warzone: Warrior Cops Lose a Round in Missouri

By John Grant

 

On Monday, I decided to spend my evenings flipping back-and-forth between Fox News and MSNBC as the two cable channels dealt with the dueling stories of the United States tiptoeing into a third war in Iraq and the sudden appearance of what appeared to be a police state in a little town outside St Louis. From Monday to Friday, the Ferguson, Missouri story has gone from that of a bizarre and dangerous war zone to one of a relief-filled carnival in the streets.

In many US communities, cops are the ‘terrorists’: Police Need to Be Demilitarized and Remade as ‘Peace Officers’

By Dave Lindorff


The apparent murder by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, of Mike Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black youth who was shot a number of times while he was allegedly on his knees with his hands up in the air, pleading “Don’t shoot, I’m not armed,” is exposing everything that is wrong with policing in the US today.


A Meditation on Peacemaking: Americans Need to Break the Cycle of War

By John Grant


All we are saying is give peace a chance
             -John Lennon


Is your data and privacy really safe?: Of Russian Hackers and Google Cops

By  Alfredo Lopez



The recent news that Russian hackers have the usernames and passwords for over a billion users as well as a half billion email accounts wraps up a week of Internet craziness.

Killing Lt. Goldin...and 150 innocents: The IDF’s ‘Hannibal Protocol’ and Two Criminally Insane Governments

By Dave Lindorff


The sickness of present-day Israel, on display over the past horrible month of the one-sided slaughter of over 2000 Palestinians (including over 400 children) in the fenced-in ghetto of Gaza, has finally reached its nadir with the ugly case of the deliberate Israeli Defense Force murder of captured IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.


Democracy...going, going gone: Leaving Brennan as CIA Director Means the Triumph of Secret Government

By Dave Lindorff


Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says that John Brennan, the director of the CIA who has finally admitted that he lied when he angrily and repeatedly insisted that the agency did not spy on staff members of the Senate committee charged with oversight US intelligence agencies, “has a lot of work to do,” before she can forgive him for lying to and spying on her committee.


Barbecuing the Palestinians: Once it was Nazis Leveling the Warsaw Ghetto, Now it’s Israel’s IDF Leveling Gaza

By Dave Lindorff


About six years ago, as part of his Bar Mitzvah, my son Jed did a project on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, producing his own graphic novel about the undergound fighters who used courage, creativity and the city’s sewer system to, in some small way, offer resistance to the murderous program of the Nazis to exterminate Poland’s Jews. 


‘Strident’ reporting at the Times: Already Abused by Cop, DA and Court, Occupy Protester Now Trashed by NY’s Leading Paper

By Dave Lindorff


When a journalist in a news article refers to a woman as “strident,” you know what you’re reading is a hit piece, not a dispassionate report, and that’s what the New York Times offered up to readers in today’s piece about a court appearance yesterday by Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan.

Unbroken and out to expose US prison system: Exclusive Interview with Police Abuse Victim and Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan

By Dave Lindorff


In an exclusive intervew on the Progressive Radio Network’s “This Can’t Be Happening!” program, Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan, just released after two months of a three-month sentence to the Women’s Prison on Riker’s Island, talks about her conviction on a trumped-up charge of felony assault of a New York Police Officer. 


Honduran child refugees and the US border: Bleedback of a US Imperial Wound

By John Grant

 

In Spanish, the word hondura means “depth; profundity.” The related word hondomeans “deep, low; bottom.” Hondon means “dell, glen, deep hole.” An example given in my dictionary is meterse en honduras, “to go beyond one’s depth.”

Hint of things to come in the US?: Profiles in Courage and Repression in Egypt and Pakistan

By Alfredo Lopez


As bad as things get for our movement in this country, we are not yet feeling the full throttle of repression and, if one needs a reminder of that and perhaps a profile of what's in store for us if we don't organize now, the situation facing Internet activists in the Middle East provides it.

War Stories: Bad Wars and the Voice of Disillusion

By John Grant

 

      When lo! An angel called him out of heaven,

      Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, . . .

Labeling Latino Kids as Gangsters: DA says Speaking Spanish in Public and Wearing Sportswear Signify Gangsterism

By Kathy Swift

 

Santa Barbara, CA -- What can we learn from the medieval church about biometric identification? Quite a lot it turns out, at least according to Santa Barbara city officials.