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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
Never More Proud to Be in a Courtroom
by Kathleen Kirwin
October 28, 2011
“AS THE FATHER OF A YOUNG SON, I WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE ON MARCH 19TH TO BE A VOICE FOR SHAHIDULLAH.” From the closing argument of Defendant Art Laffin in DC Superior Court.
KUALA LUMPUR, 20 October 2011 - On November 19-22, 2011, the trial of George W Bush (former U.S. President) and Anthony L Blair (former British Prime Minister) will be held in Kuala Lumpur. This is the first time that war crimes charges will be heard against the two former heads of state in compliance with proper legal process.
Charges are being brought against the accused by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) following the due process of the law. The Commission, having received complaints from war victims in Iraq in 2009, proceeded to conduct a painstaking and an in-depth investigation for close to two years and in 2011, constituted formal charges on war crimes against Bush, Blair and their associates.
October 21, 2011 - Ottawa: Hundreds of protestors have asked the Canadian authorities to arrest former US President George W Bush for war crimes after he reached a Surrey hotel on Thursday.
Bush and his predecessor Bill Clinton were among the keynote speakers attending the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. Human-rights groups, including Amnesty International were demanding the arrest of Bush.
Gail Davidson of the Lawyers against the War expressed outrage over the federal government for ignoring its responsibility in not arresting Bush.
Canadian Government Has Legal Obligation under UN Convention Against Torture
to Prosecute Alleged Perpetrators of Torture, Rights Groups Say
Prominent Individuals and Organizations Sign on in Support
October 19, 2011, Surrey, BC—Tomorrow, four individuals who allege they were tortured during George W. Bush’s tenure as president of the United States will lodge a private prosecution in Provincial Court in Surrey, British Columbia against the former president, who is due to visit Canada for a paid speaking engagement at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit on October 20. The four men will take this step after repeated calls to the Canadian Attorney General to open a torture investigation of George Bush went unanswered. Human rights groups and prominent individuals will sign on in support of the effort.
The four men, Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz, each endured years of inhumane treatment including beatings, chaining to cell walls, being hung from walls or ceilings while handcuffed, lack of access to toilets, sleep, food and water-deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures, sensory overload and deprivation, and other horrific and illegal treatment while in U.S. custody at military bases in Afghanistan and/or at the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. While three of the plaintiffs have since been released without ever facing charges, Hassan Bin Attash still remains in detention at Guantánamo Bay, though he too has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing.
“I lost my family, my father, my health, my education because of George Bush. Although I was completely innocent, I lost nearly 10 years of my life,” said former Guantánamo detainee and torture survivor Muhammed Khan Tumani. “I suffered greatly while detained at Guantánamo, and continue to suffer. I have restrictions on my travel and cannot travel to see my father who is ill. George Bush must face justice and be held accountable for his actions, which continue to cause me and so many harm.”
On September 29, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) submitted a 69-page page draft indictment to Attorney General Robert Nicholson, along with more than 4,000 pages of supporting material, setting forth the case against Bush for torture. The indictment, incorporated into the criminal information lodged today, contends that by Bush’s own admission he sanctioned and authorized acts that constitute torture under the Canadian criminal code and the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who is assisting the plaintiffs, said, “George Bush’s brazen admission to authorizing torture techniques and unlawful detentions, including enforced disappearances, must not be met with indifference. His years of impunity must come to an end. Even if the United States has failed to meet its obligations to hold torturers accountable, Canada has an opportunity and a legal obligation to position itself on the right side of history and the law.”
Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), who will submit the filing on men’s behalf, added, “Canadian law could not be clearer. If an alleged torturer is present in Canada, the government has the power to prosecute. As a signatory of the Convention Against Torture, Canada has an obligation to initiate an investigation when Mr. Bush sets foot in this country.”
More than 50 human rights organizations from around the world and prominent individuals signed on to support the call for George W. Bush’s prosecution, including former UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Theo van Boven and Manfred Nowak, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the Canadian-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. A number of the human rights organizations which signed on are facing the on-going harms of the “counterterrorism” policies advanced under the Bush administration and then adopted or employed in their own countries.
Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, said: “The main aim of the UN Convention Against Torture was to eradicate safe havens for persons who commit, order, or participate in acts of torture worldwide. States parties to the Convention, including Canada, have a legal obligation to arrest all persons suspected of torture with the aim of bringing them to justice. There is plenty of evidence that President Bush authorized enhanced interrogation methods against suspected terrorists, some of which clearly amount to torture, such as waterboarding.”
Last February, the Center for Constitutional Rights, along with other human rights organizations, attempted to initiate criminal proceedings against Bush during a private speaking engagement in Geneva, but he canceled after news of the planned prosecution came to light. Following the cancellation, CCR and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights released the “Bush Torture Indictment,” which can serve as the basis for country-specific indictments against Bush in any of the 147 countries that have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture or have universal jurisdiction laws for torture.
Prior to the filing of this case, CCR and the CCIJ twice (on Sept. 29, 2011 and Oct. 14, 2011) petitioned Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Robert Nicholson by letter to launch a criminal investigation against Bush during his October 20 visit to Canada, but received no response. George Bush and former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney both recently made trips to Canada, without any legal consequence.
A copy of the filing can be viewed in full here. The Letter of Support is available in English and French.
The Canadian Centre for International Justice works with survivors of genocide, torture and other atrocities to seek redress and bring perpetrators to justice. The CCIJ seeks to ensure that individuals present in Canada who are accused of responsibility for serious human rights violations are held accountable and their victims recognized, supported and compensated. For more information visit www.ccij.ca
The Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to filing the first cases representing men detained at Guantánamo, has filed universal jurisdiction cases seeking accountability for torture by Bush administration officials in Germany, France and submitted expert opinions and other documentation to ongoing cases in Spain in collaboration with ECCHR. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Further details regarding the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Bush Torture Indictment can be viewed at: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/bush-torture-indictment.Visit www.ccrjustice.org. Follow @theCCR.
By Christiane Brown
By Linn Washington, Jr.
No New Penalty Trial Likely: US Supreme Court Confirms 3rd Circuit Ruling Lifting Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Death Penalty
By Dave Lindorff
Here’s a prediction: Seth Williams, the district attorney of Philadelphia, will decide not to seek to reimpose the death penalty on Mumia Abu-Jamal, the world-famous journalist, former Black Panther and condemned prisoner who has spent the last almost 30 years of his life on Pennsylvania’s overcrowded death row.
The choice belongs to Williams, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided, on its second time dealing with the issue, not to overturn the decision of a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had, on orders of the Supreme Court, reheard, reconsidered and reaffirmed its earlier decision upholding the tossing out of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence by a lower federal district court.
VETERANS DENOUNCE OBAMA’S CLAIMED AUTHORITY TO KILL ANYBODY HE WANTS TO, AS LONG AS THEY ARE OVERSEAS
From Veterans for Peace
Oct 04, 2011 - Iraqi law should not govern a lawsuit brought by the mother of a Pittsburgh-area soldier electrocuted in a barracks shower at an Army base in Iraq, a federal judge has ruled.
Lawyers for Houston-based military contractor KBR Inc. had asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the ongoing lawsuit in the January 2008 death of Pittsburgh-area Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. But Fischer agreed with lawyers for the soldier's parents who argued that United States law should hold sway because the base was under American control - and could provide for punitive damages and other advantages to the plaintiffs not recognized by Iraqi law.
By Dave Lindorff
Probably the biggest accomplishment of the Occupy Wall Street movement to date has not been the light these courageous and indomitable young activists have shined on the gangsters of Wall Street, as important as that has been. Rather it has been how they have exposed the police of the nation’s financial capital as the centurions of the ruling class, and not the gauzy “people’s heroes” that they have been posing as since some of their number, along with many more firefighters, nobly gave their lives trying to rescue people in the World Trade Center towers on 9-11.
In 1963 author, philosopher and professor Hannah Arendt published her famous book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. The book was Arendt’s report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat and war criminal largely responsible for implementing Hitler’s “final solution” that resulted in the systematic murder of millions of Jews.
In pointing out that the remarkable thing about Eichmann was that he was completely unremarkable, she drove home the point that the Nazi crimes were not committed by fanatics or sociopaths but by “ordinary people who accepted the premisies of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal”. Eichmann was a mild mannered civil servant with a wife and kids who epitomized the virtues of the German middle class. It was in his dispassionate face at trial that Arendt saw “the banality of evil”.
By: The Canadian Press
Date: Tuesday Sep. 27, 2011 8:45 AM PT
Protesters waved placards, chanted slogans, banged drums and blew whistles outside one of Vancouver's most exclusive clubs where former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney was promoting his new memoir Monday evening.
Peace activists blocked the front and back entrances to the Vancouver Club, calling for Cheney's arrest for war crimes and booing guests as they arrived at the $500-a-ticket dinner.
Cheney is in town to promote his new book "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir."
At one point, protesters got into a brief scuffle with police when nearly 20 people sat down on a sidewalk, blocking the rear driveway leading into the Vancouver Club.
The crackdown on the Wall Street protesters this weekend seems to have backfired. The campsite-cum-experiment in radical democracy is still there, holding general assemblies just shouting distance from Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street bull. It even appears to be growing.
From the New York Times:
Last week, a girl in the Bronx pulled out a can of pepper spray and used it in a fight with two other girls in her high school, an event that resulted in her arrest, her mother’s arrest and a report on WNBC.
The mother got locked up because she bought the stuff and gave it to her daughter, and the law in New York is strict about who can carry it — no teenagers, no felons — and how it is used. There was a long legislative fight over whether people should be allowed to carry it, and in 1996, New York became the last state to make it legal, over the objections of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who felt the rules were lax.
The law requires the following label to appear on the cans:
“The use of this substance or device for any purpose other than self-defense is a criminal offense under the law.”
Pepper spray is regulated with other dangerous weapons. For anyone interested in the effect it has on people hit with it, there are plenty of videos available online. You can hear agonizing screams, especially when it hits the mucous membranes and soft tissue like the eyes.
By LA Times
Another member of the Army "kill team" accused of killing unarmed Afghan civilians for sport pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday for the murder of a 15-year-old villager in southern Afghanistan.
"You aimed a fully loaded squad automatic weapon at a child that stood 15 feet away," Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, who presided over the case at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, said at the conclusion of Pfc. Andrew Holmes' tearful courtroom confession.
"The remorse and regret I feel is the most overwhelming emotion that I have ever endured," Holmes, 21, said of the 2010 incident, according to the Seattle Times.
Five members of the former 5th Stryker Brigade have faced murder charges in connection with what military prosecutors say were staged attacks on Afghan villagers. In the attacks, prosecutors say, U.S. soldiers fired volleys of guns and grenades at innocent people and then planted weapons to make it look as though the victims had shot first.
September 16, 2011 - The 9/11 industry harvested its biggest riches on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the yet-to-be fully documented coordinated attacks on the United States of America which produced the era of awe and shock, bull-dozed all international norms, and initiated two great wars of the twenty-first century.
Report to UN Human Rights Council by five independent UN rights experts contradicts findings of Palmer Report that Israel used 'unreasonable force' in 2010 raid on Gaza flotilla, but that naval-blockade of Gaza legal.
Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law, a panel of human rights experts reporting to a UN body said on Tuesday, disputing a conclusion reached by a separate UN probe into Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.
President-Elect Obama’s advisers feared in 2008 that authorities would “revolt” and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisers.
Alberto Gonzalez spoke at the Auraria Campus yesterday and was met with serious protest. As Attorney General, Gonzalez signed off on torture and murder, in violation of U.S. and international law. Some 100 people were victims of homicide, according to the Pentagon on their death certificates, in secret American custody (murdered while tortured). Gonzalez is the outlaw “Attorney General” of an outlaw regime. Many of the political scientists at the University of Colorado at Denver wrote an open letter, circulated as a leaflet at the door of the event, which commendably names the legal and moral issues involved (see below). Some 200 people showed up; 5 stood up in black hoods, emulating the prisoners at Abu Ghraib (one of Gonzalez’s “achievements as a public servant”) and were eventually escorted out by the campus police. It is good to see that the campus police and administrators take serious crimes seriously…
We are given figures in the multi multi billions spent on the wars of choice and the so called 'homeland security', but there are huge amounts, in the multi billions, not known or labeled top secret and blacked out in government reports on the rapid growth of intelligence within government and the added private contractors and the costs of that growth. As pointed out in the 'PBS Frontline' report, below, what has it accomplish over all these years, especially as to the main mission after 9/11 and finally getting bin Laden, found through intelligence of a small group and carried out by a small group of 'special forces'.
Sigmund Freud once mentioned the defense offered by a man who was accused by his neighbor of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition. In the first place, he had returned the kettle undamaged; in the second place it already had holes in it when he borrowed it; and in the third place, he had never borrowed it at all.
That man's name?
On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC on Thursday, the former Vice President claimed that the intelligence used to invade Iraq had been sound and accurate; the faulty intelligence was all Bill Clinton's fault; the invasion didn't do any damage but rather it was the Iraqis who damaged Iraq; and any invasion causes horrific things to happen, that just comes with the territory.