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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
The Law Catches Up To Private Militaries, Embeds
Since the start of the Iraq war, tens of thousands of heavily-armed military contractors have been roaming the country -- without any law, or any court to control them. That may be about to change, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow P.W. Singer notes in a Defense Tech exclusive. Five words, slipped into a Pentagon budget bill, could make all the difference. With them, "contractors 'get out of jail free' cards may have been torn to shreds," he writes. They're now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the same set of laws that governs soldiers. But here's the catch: embedded reporters are now under those regulations, too.
2006 Year in Review
By Alexia Garamfalvi, Legal Times
No one thinks that Donald Rumsfeld will end his days in a German prison. Or that there is any real chance he will have to face trial in Germany over allegations that he authorized policies leading to the torture of prisoners at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
I heard it in my Italian family, and in my Jewish family growing up in New York. And I've heard it in Los Angeles, or Hollywood as some would say, over the years that I've lived here. "Death comes in threes." "Watch," they'd say. "As soon as one famous person dies, two more will follow." And though I'm not superstitious, I must admit I've seen this "death comes in threes" often enough that it's really quite freaky... even scary.
Just this year (2006), Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein and spiritual leader Coretta Scott King died on the same day, January 30th. The great feminist Betty Friedan died a mere five days later on February 4th.
Also this year (2006), actors Dennis Weaver and Don Knotts died on February 24th, and actor Darren McGavin died the next day on February 25th. Not only did they all die a day apart, but all their first names began with the letter "D." Oooh... doubly scary!
In 2005, singer/actor John Raitt, free-spirit/raconteur Hunter S. Thompson, and actress Sandra Dee all passed away on the very same day, February 20th.
War Profits Trump the Rule of Law By Chris Floyd
t r u t h o u t | UK Correspondent
Friday 22 December 2006
I. The Wings of the Dove
Slush funds, oil sheiks, prostitutes, Swiss banks, kickbacks, blackmail, bagmen, arms deals, war plans, climbdowns, big lies and Dick Cheney - it's a scandal that has it all, corruption and cowardice at the highest levels, a festering canker at the very heart of world politics, where the War on Terror meets the slaughter in Iraq. Yet chances are you've never heard about it - even though it happened just a few days ago. The fog of war profiteering, it seems, is just as thick as the fog of war...
There's a song from the legendary 1960 musical, "Bye, Bye Birdie," titled "Kids," which laments the peculiar behaviors of kids. It famously ponders, "Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way? What's the matter with kids today?"
Those telling words were the lyrical musings of adults. And logically so, for the questionable behaviors of kids are never ending bemusement for adults. Kids are silly. They lack the logic and moral framework from which to make reasoned decisions and act in civil respectable ways. They lack the character building acquired through the process of aging.
By Josh White, Washington Post
Men allegedly had roles in deaths of at least two dozen Iraqi civilians.
Four U.S. Marines were charged with multiple counts of murder today for their alleged roles in the deaths of two dozen civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year, setting up what could be the highest-profile atrocity prosecution so far arising from the Iraq war.
Officials filed no charges against the Marines that could lead to death sentences. The troops are accused of killing women and children in house-to-house shootings that followed the death of a member of their unit. Although the Marines are not charged with premeditated murder, the charges indicate that they intended to kill their targets and should have known that their actions could have led to the deaths of innocent civilians.
By John Nichols, The Nation
Vice President Dick Cheney should get used to testifying under oath.
It is expeacted that he will start talking soon, as part of a self-serving effort to defend a former aide. But once the vice president's done giving that testimony, how hard would it be for him to head over to Capitol Hill and respond to all the questions that members of Congress have been preparing to ask?
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its component U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The lawsuit, which ADC filed under the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA), seeks information that would either validate or dispel the
widespread perception that DHS and ICE have been misusing information
By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
Mr. Vice President, you realize you’re under oath and that if you lie you can be prosecuted for perjury?
Mr. Vice President, isn’t it true that you and the defendant outed Valerie Plame to send a signal to others who might dissent from your Iraq policy that they would pay a terrible price for doing so?
By David Johnston, New York Times
Washington - A Justice Department team responsible for investigating accusations that civilian government employees had abused detainees has decided against prosecution in most of the nearly 20 cases referred in the last two years by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, said lawyers who have been officially briefed on the effort.
The prosecution team, which was established in June 2004 at the United States attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., has not brought a single indictment and has been plagued by problems.
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney will be called to testify on behalf of his former chief of staff in the CIA leak case, defense attorneys said Tuesday, ending months of speculation over what would be historic testimony.
"We're calling the vice president," attorney Ted Wells said in court. Wells represents defendant I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is charged with perjury and obstruction.
By Associated Press
San Diego - A Marine captain has been told he will be criminally charged in connection with the killing of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha, his attorney said Monday.
Capt. Lucas McConnell, 31, was told by his commanding officer that he will be charged with dereliction of duty, said Kevin McDermott, his attorney.
"We're just absolutely clueless as to what kind of dereliction of duty he could have committed," he said, adding that his client was not present during the killings.
By SEAN D. HAMILL, New York Times
The federal government turned their lives upside down, but an Iranian immigrant couple, Aliakbar and Shahla Afshari, say they always believed in the system.
The Afsharis’ faith was rewarded earlier this month when the federal government admitted it made a mistake more than two-and-a-half years ago, when they were fired from their jobs with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, W.Va. The reason given for their dismissals was that they had failed a secret background check, 18 years after moving to the United States.
By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
Washington - In the first legal decision on a federal law that denies access to U.S. courts to detainees in the war on terrorism, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that foreign prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could not sue for freedom.
But, in a split decision, U.S. District Judge James Robertson also ruled that the law's denial of that right to the more than 12 million legal immigrants living in the United States was unconstitutional.
By Catherine Komp, New Standard
Dec. 14 – A Canadian survivor of "extraordinary rendition" is appealing a federal court's decision to dismiss his lawsuit against the US government.
Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, charged the US government with violations of due process and the Torture Victim Protection Act after US officials detained him in 2002 and ordered his removal to Syria where he says he was imprisoned and tortured at the hands of Syrian officials. More than 12 months passed before Arar was finally released.
By Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press
Washington - A federal judge upheld the Bush administration's new terrorism law Wednesday, agreeing that Guantanamo Bay detainees do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson is the first to address the new Military Commissions Act and is a legal victory for the Bush administration at a time when it has been fending off criticism of the law from Democrats and libertarians.
By Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press
Washington - A federal judge on Friday appeared reluctant to give Donald H. Rumsfeld immunity from torture allegations, yet said it would be unprecedented to let the departing defense secretary face a civil trial.
"What you're asking for has never been done before," U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan told lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.
By Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor
The Justice Department has asked the judge to throw out the ACLU-supported case against the former defense secretary.
As Donald Rumsfeld prepares to leave his job as secretary of Defense, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is seeking to hold him responsible for what it says was widespread torture carried out at his direction. [Editor's Note: The original version was changed because the American Civil Liberties Union says its civil suit is not intended to prove a war crime.]
By Paul von Zielbauer, New York Times
Washington - At least five marines are expected to be charged, possibly as early as Wednesday, with the killing of 24 Iraqis, many of them unarmed women and children, in the village of Haditha in November 2005, according to a Marine official and a lawyer involved in the case.
The charges are expected to range from negligent homicide to murder, said a senior Pentagon official familiar with the military's nearly nine-month investigation into the episode. Several marines from the Third Platoon of Company K, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, are accused of killing the villagers after a roadside explosion killed one of their comrades.
[Note: For those in the Santa Barbara area in California, Elizabeth de la Vega will be speaking on December 10th at a rally, one of many events being organized around the country for Human Rights (and Impeachment) Day. She'll be on stage with Ann Wright, Dennis Loo, and David Swanson (who also writes for Tomdispatch.com) among others. For more on this event and others that day visit Swanson's AfterDowningStreet.org website.]
From the ACLU
“I have come to America seeking three things. An acknowledgement that the United States government is responsible for kidnapping, abusing and detaining me; an explanation as to why I was singled out for this treatment; and an apology because I am an innocent man who has never been charged with any crime.” -- Khaled El-Masri, a victim of extraordinary rendition.
The case of our client Khaled El-Masri is one we should all be watching carefully. Yesterday, he stood up in a courtroom to challenge the Bush administration's use of "extraordinary rendition," abduction, detention and interrogation in secret overseas prisons.
German Citizen Wants Apology for US Role in His Abduction, Torture
by Catherine Komp, The New Standard
Richmond, Va.; Nov. 29 – A federal appeals court heard arguments here Tuesday from civil rights advocates trying to reinstate a landmark lawsuit against the CIA over alleged human rights abuses.
Federal attorneys argued vigorously to keep the case from going to trial.
By LINDA DEUTSCH, Associated Press
A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutional and vague.
Some parts of the Sept. 24, 2001 order tagging 27 groups and individuals as "specially designated global terrorists" were too vague and could impinge on First Amendment rights of free association, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said.
Think of it as a Tomdispatch.com milestone. This is now the first website to "indict" the President, the Vice President, and their colleagues for defrauding us into war in Iraq. I put that "indict" in quotes because what follows, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes clear in her new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., is "not an actual indictment." It can't be, of course; but consider it the second best thing.
Keep in mind, I've run Tomdispatch.com for only a few years, but I've been a book editor in mainstream publishing for over 30 years. Sometime last spring, I was on the phone with former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega talking about books she might someday write, when she suddenly said to me, "You know what I'd like to do?" When I asked what, she replied, "What I've done all my life."
Revolution Interview with Attorney Michael Ratner on the Case vs Rumsfeld
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