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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability


A Hollywood Hack Holiday: Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

By John Grant


CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
 

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogan and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.


New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'I Can't Breathe'

I’m white.
But I can’t breathe.
I’m suffocating.
Maybe I’m dying.
 

I tried to run
But I got caught
Thinking terrible thoughts about my twisted country.
Dangerous and dark thoughts,
Like a German might have thought
When the Nazi’s were beating up Jews.
And the zeitgeist was shouting at me to stop.
Don’t shoot! I shouted,...


Making a joke of the Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia is a Publicity-Seeking Intellectual Midget

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes you really don't need to write much to do an article on something. Writing about the inanity of Justice Antonin Scalia, the ethics-challenged, lard-bottomed, right-wing anchor of the Supreme Court, is one of those times.

The US Must Prosecute Torturers and their Enablers, or Forever Be a Labeled a Rogue Nation

By Dave Lindorff

            In all the media debate about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release, finally, of a heavily redacted report on officially sanctioned torture by the CIA and the US military during the Bush/Cheney administration and the so-called War on Terror, there has been little said about the reality that torture, as clearly defined in the Geneva Convention against Torture which went into effect in 1987, is flat-out illegal in the US as a signatory of that Convention.

I’ve had it!: Eleven Reasons I’m Ashamed to be an American Citizen

By Dave Lindorff

 

I’m going to say it: I am ashamed to be a US citizen. This doesn’t come easily, because having lived abroad and seen some pretty nasty places in my time, I know there are a lot of great things about this country, and a lot of great people who live here, but lately, I’ve reached the conclusion that the US is a sick and twisted country, in which the bad far outweighs the good. 

 

I’ve had it!: Eleven Reasons I’m Ashamed to be an American Citizen

By Dave Lindorff

 

I’m going to say it: I am ashamed to be a US citizen. This doesn’t come easily, because having lived abroad and seen some pretty nasty places in my time, I know there are a lot of great things about this country, and a lot of great people who live here, but lately, I’ve reached the conclusion that the US is a sick and twisted country, in which the bad far outweighs the good. 

 

Silver Linings in Rolling Stone Rape Fiasco

Rolling Stone alleged a gang rape at UVA and now doubts its own report. I have no knowledge of the matter. Maybe the victim was completely honest. Maybe she was largely honest but too drunk, or just too traumatized, to remember which fraternity house she was in. Maybe she made it all up. I have no idea and hope a competent police department, rather than an incompetent magazine, tries to find out if possible.

Predictably enough, the internet is now being flooded with articles pointing out that even if one alleged rape victim is lying, many others are not.

The thing is, I believe a lot of people know that, and more might know it now, rather than fewer.

But it's possible they'll know it with a little more seriousness.

It's all too common to assert, absurdly, outrageously, and immorally that all alleged victims must be believed as a matter of principle. It's all too common to assume they are all lying. Neither position is a principle. Either is a preposterous bit of stupidity.

I think the more the matter is discussed, examined, and considered, the fewer people will hold either idiotic position.

So here are some possible silver linings:

Awareness that people lie about rape.

Awareness that people also tell the truth about rape, and that doing so is in some cases so notoriously difficult that a well-meaning journalist may bend over backwards to help.

Awareness that journalism can make a difference, and that it would make a bigger difference if done better. What if that were applied to military and corporate funding of universities, or the poor manner in which history is taught in our colleges, or the lives of UVA staff who work extra jobs and still need public support?

Awareness that inactive, tv-viewing, partying students can get active about something and make a difference. What if they were to notice climate change or mass incarceration or the fact that college is free in some countries that fight fewer wars?

Awareness that one incident is not a trend, and that treating it as such is unfair to all involved.

Awareness that many rapes are never reported.

Awareness that men have spent many years in prison before being cleared of false rape charges.

Awareness that people claiming rape should be treated with kindness, consideration, understanding, and professional support, not because there is a certain high percentage chance they are telling the truth, but because they are people. Period.

Awareness that people accused of rape should be treated with kindness, consideration, understanding, and professional support, not because they could be innocent, but because they are people. Period.

Awareness that labeling people or institutions innocent or guilty, in combination with anger and vengeance, leads to blinding prejudices that make a mockery of the right to a trial and the wisdom meant to be instilled by a well-rounded education.

Awareness of all of the following:

Rape victims are victims of traumatic violence.

Someone making a false accusation may be a victim of an earlier, unreported assault, or of a traumatic or humiliating non-criminal experience, but is in any case troubled and in need of understanding.

Victims of false accusation can find the damage traumatic and lasting.

Someone accurately accused of rape is clearly a very troubled person in need of help he will not get from "correctional officers" or "inmates."

Collectively, UVA needs restorative justice, truth and reconciliation, open discussion of rapes real, fictional, and disputed.

Individually, victims and assailants need restorative justice. Those guilty need to be brought to understand and regret their victims' pain and suffering, and to work to make it up to them to the extent possible. Victims need to be brought to understand that they are not to blame, that their community supports them, and that those responsible are sorry for what they've done. None of that comes out of an ancient British system of adversarial justice, an unprecedented epidemic of U.S. mass incarceration, or journalism that doesn't bother to get more than one side of a story.

Three Rotten Cases and Counting: Is the Police Reform Movement Getting Legs?

By John Grant


How and why certain events in politics and culture coalesce into a critical mass is always an interesting thing to ponder. Sometimes it can happen when all hope has been lost.

Lawless Law Enforcer: Robert P. McColloch Personifies Misconduct by Prosecutors

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

When discredited Missouri prosecutor Robert P. McColloch recently defended his calculated manipulation of a grand jury which led jurors to free the policeman who fatally shot Michael Brown last summer, McColloch declared piously that eyewitness accounts must “always match physical evidence.”

McColloch, however, did not apply that ‘always match’ standard in the case of Antonio Beaver, a St. Louis man wrongfully convicted by in 1997 of a violent carjacking case tried by McColloch.

In combat, the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson would have been called a war crime

By Dave Lindorff

 

What’s wrong Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s killing of the unarmed 18-year-old black teenager, Michael Brown, and with a Grand Jury decision not to indict him for that outrageous slaying, is what is wrong with American law enforcement and American “justice” in general. 

 

Both actions were permeated not only with racism, which clearly played a huge rule in both the verdict rendered by a Grand Jury composed of nine whites and only three blacks, and in this tragic police killing by a white cop of a black child, but also by a mentality on the part of police -- and apparently by at least a majority of the citizen jurors on a panel evaluating Wilson’s actions -- that cops are authorities who must be obeyed without question, on pain of death.

 

It’s not about justice, it’s winning convictions: Prosecutors Falsely Push Prison Term for Innocent Teen

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Nasheeba Adams was both ecstatic and sad as she stood outside of Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center courthouse recently hugging her son Tomayo McDuffy.

Special Armistice Day Edition: Interview of IVAW Vet and Folksinger Emily Yates About Her Independence Park Assault Conviction

By Dave Lindorff


Emily Yates, a US Army veteran of two tours in Iraq and an activist with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was at a demonstration last year on Philadelphia's Independence Mall protesting against a looming US plan to begin a massive bombing assault on Syria. While standing in the shade of a couple of trees (it was a sweltering summer day), she was confronted by some burly National Park Police officers, who told her to leave.

Pot Pretenses: Nixon's Lies Require Ending His War on Weed

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Repeated lies and law-breaking forced the 1974 resignation of then U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, leading to Nixon’s subsequent, and continued inclusion on the list of the "Worst Presidents" in American history.

Hot tub poll shows Republicans don’t like their politicians: Election Night Wasn’t a GOP Victory, It was a Democratic Rout

By Dave Lindorff


The sclerotic Democratic Party was trounced yet again yesterday, as Republicans outdid projections and appear to have taken at least seven Senate seats away from the Democrats, giving them control of the both houses of Congress. 


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.