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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


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.

Like Madoff telling a bum to get a job: After Running from his Anti-War Past, Kerry Tells Snowden ‘Man Up’ and Face Trial in US

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry, hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBC’s Brian Williams last week that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should “man up” and return to the US to “stand in our system of justice and make his case.”

Police Investigating Use of Scottish Airports by CIA “Rendition” Torture Flights

by Reprieve

 

Legal charity Reprieve has called on the Scottish Government to ensure that police investigating the use of Scottish airports by CIA ‘torture flights’ have access to a major US Senate report on the spy agency’s secret ‘rendition’ programme.

 

Last year, Scotland’s chief legal officer asked Police Scotland to investigate the use of Scottish airports by CIA aircraft involved in the agency’s programme of ‘renditions’ – in which suspects are kidnapped and flown to third countries in order to be tortured.

 

No justice at the US DOJ: AG Holder’s Big News about Prosecuting Chinese Spying and a Crooked Swiss Bank are a Joke

By Dave Lindorff 


The Justice Department is really pumping out the pointless prosecutions these days. 


Breaking News: Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan Sentenced to 3 Months in Jail, 5 Years Probation

By Dave Lindorff


Occupy activist Cecily McMillan, convicted on May 5 of second-degree felony assault of a New York cop whom she and witnesses claimed had grabbed her breast from behind, bruising it, stood her ground before her sentence was rendered, refusing the judge’s insistence that she should “take responsibility for her conduct.”


The deepening police state USA: More on Washington's coordinated Occupy Crackdown, and the Dark Side of the Boston Bombing (Par

By Dave Lindorff


Part II of Dave Lindorff's interview by Kathy Swift on Santa Barbara's RadioOccupy. Lindorff continues talking about his investigation into the FBI's and Homeland Security Department's hidden campaign to crush the Occupy Movement, based upon the thousands of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act campaign of discovery by the Partnership for Civil Justice. Lindorff also talks about his investigation into the men from Craft International, the Dallas-based mercenary firm who's personnel appear to have been hired (by someone -- likely the DHS) to be at the Boston Marathon a year ago.

The latest on ThisCantBeHappening! radio: Interview with Jailed Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan's Attorney Martin Stolar

By Dave Lindorff


In this edition of Progressive Radio Network's "ThisCantBeHappening" radio program, host Dave Lindorff, focuses on the case of Occupy Movement activist Cecily McMillan, currently jailed at Riker’s Island without bail while awaiting sentencing on a conviction of felony assault of a police officer.

New questions in FBI Boston bombing witness killing: Agent Who Killed Tsarnaev Pal During Grilling had Brutal, Corrupt History

By Dave Lindorff


Almost a year after an FBI agent shot and killed, under suspicious circumstances, a crucial witness in the Boston Marathon bombing case during a botched midnight interrogation in an Orlando apartment, serious questions are being raised about the FBI agent who fired seven short into Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev last May 22.