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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
Officials move to rule out charges against military
BY R. JEFFREY SMITH, Washington Post
WASHINGTON — An obscure law approved a decade ago by a Republican-controlled Congress has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.
Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.
By Robert Verkaik, The Independent UK
The families of four British soldiers killed in Iraq have won an important round in their legal battle to force the Government to hold an independent inquiry into the decision to go to war.
Three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the families should be entitled to argue their case at a new hearing later this year.
Lawyers for the families, whose relatives died in Iraq between 2003 and 2005, called the ruling "a stunning victory." "The Government now have to produce evidence to a full hearing in the Court of Appeal," said Phil Shiner, the families' solicitor. "That evidence needs to establish once and for all whether the decision to invade was lawful."
By Dave Lindorff, www.thiscantbehappening.net
Could George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and maybe Alberto Gonzales all end up sucking poison gas?
That, apparently, is a concern now being taken seriously by Attorney General Gonzales, who is quietly working with senior White House officials and friendly members of Congress to do what murderous dictators in Chile, Argentina and other bloodthirsty regimes have done as their future in office began to look uncertain: pass laws exempting them from prosecution for murder.
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press
A powerful Republican committee chairman who has led the fight against President Bush's signing statements said Monday he would have a bill ready by the end of the week allowing Congress to sue him in federal court.
"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.
By John Conyers, Jr.
I wanted to update you on the lawsuit I have filed against George W. Bush and members of his administration, referred to in legal parlance as Conyers v. Bush.
You are likely familiar with a number of steps I have taken to challenge the legality and constitutional grounds of the Administration's actions. From the lead up to Iraq, to the Downing Street Minutes, to the outing of a CIA agent, to warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, I have called loudly for the Bush White House to explain itself.
Recently Passed Law Cutting Medicare, Student Loan Spending Is Invalid, Public Citizen Tells Federal Court
By Public Citizen, www.citizen.org
Version of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 Passed by Senate and Signed by President Was Different From House Version
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A law President Bush signed on Feb. 8 is invalid because he signed a version of the bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate but not the U.S. House of Representatives, Public Citizen told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a lawsuit filed today. The law, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, decreases student loan and Medicare spending, extends welfare cuts and cuts federal funding of state child-support enforcement programs.
By Joe Strupp, Editor and Publisher
NEW YORK Attorney Erwin Chemerinsky, a co-counsel for Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson, said the couple's lawsuit against three top Bush administration officials who leaked her CIA identity in 2003 does not include reporters who received and reported the information because they were not "the appropriate targets."
"My sense is that there wasn't a desire to get into freedom of the press issues here," Chemerinsky told E&P today, one day after the lawsuit was filed. "The appropriate targets of the lawsuit are those who abused their power in government."
By Jeremy Cooke, BBC News, Washington
It is an extraordinary development: the vice-president of the United States and a dozen other administration officials accused, in court, of deliberately leaking the identity of a classified CIA operative.
In their lawsuit Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, accuse Dick Cheney and others of endangering the lives of themselves and their children by revealing her status.
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | www.truthout.org
Syndicated columnist Bob Novak and officials speaking on behalf of White House political adviser Karl Rove have attempted to convince the American people that there wasn't a White House campaign to smear and discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson three years ago for speaking out publicly against the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.
Statements from Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson on their Lawsuit against Rove, Cheney and Libby
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
Valerie Plame Wilson - Press Statement, 14 July 2006
I am proud to have served my country by working at the Central Intelligence Agency. I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs. That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American. Joe and I have filed this action with heavy hearts but with a renewed sense of purpose. I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit, but I feel strongly and justice demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in a court of law.
By Aaron Glantz, www.OneWorld.net
Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the country's human rights minister said on Monday, as the military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis.
According to the Pentagon, the indicted soldiers drank alcohol, abandoned their checkpoint, changed clothes to avoid detection and headed to a house, about 200 yards from a U.S. military checkpoint in Mahmoudiya, a poor slum on the outskirts of Baghdad. When they got there, the soldiers allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl and then killed the victim and her family to cover it up.
By Barbara Ferguson, Arab News — http://www.arabnews.com
WASHINGTON, 14 July 2006 — Dima Tahboub, the widow of Tareq Ayyoub, has announced she is suing the White House and the Pentagon for $30,000,000 over her husband’s death. Ayyoub, a 35-year-old Palestinian who lived in Jordan, had traveled to Baghdad to report the war for Al-Jazeera five days before he was killed when US bombing shattered their bureau in Baghdad. His widow told reporters from her home in Jordan, that she was unable to comment on the lawsuit.
By ALAN FREEMAN, http://www.theglobeandmail.com
WASHINGTON -- Former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband have launched a lawsuit against U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, his former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby and top White House aide Karl Rove, alleging that they conspired to ruin the couple's respective careers.
Ms. Plame's identity as a Central Intelligence Agency covert agent was disclosed three years ago in a column by Washington journalist Robert Novak after leaks from top administration officials to Mr. Novak and several other journalists.
* Italian Probe of CIA Abduction Broadens to Domestic Spying Scandal and
"Black Propaganda" Misinformation Campaign by Italy Intel *
Two Italian intelligence officers have been arrested on charges they helped
CIA agents abduct a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan three years ago.
Italian investigators are now widening their probe into whether Italian
intelligence agents were engaged in illegal domestic spying and a "black
By Jan Frel, AlterNet.org
A Nuremberg chief prosecutor says there is a case for trying Bush for the "supreme crime against humanity, an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."
The extent to which American exceptionalism is embedded in the national psyche is awesome to behold.
While the United States is a country like any other, its citizens no more special than any others on the planet, Americans still react with surprise at the suggestion that their country could be held responsible for something as heinous as a war crime.
By Michael Schwartz
See below for a New York Times article detailing the recent spate of articles about U.S. atrocities in Iraq. There are three significant things about this article and the attention given recently to civilian deaths in the news:
First, the corporate media are starting to cover certain types of civilian deaths—the ones that involve “execution style killings,” personal vendettas and other misconduct among the perpetrators. I am not certain where the new gumption on the part of the media has come from; perhaps it represents a shift of media loyalty toward the dissenting part of the military (as Seymour Hersh reported with regard to the projected attack on Iraq). If this is the case, it would be a familiar (but nevertheless momentous) move by the mainstream media to provide coherent criticism of the war as a consequence of divisions within the ruling elite. Whatever the source of this new critical stance, it is certainly welcome.
When War Criminals Retire
By STEPHEN GREEN, www.counterpunch.org
George Bush just celebrated his 60th birthday, and in his rare free moments, it would be natural for him to begin to consider how--and where--he'll spend his time after leaving office. He seems to enjoy the ranch in Texas, and will of course be involved in setting up his presidential library, and work on behalf of his favorite charities.
By Jonathan Finer and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post
Baghdad - Following a recent string of alleged atrocities by U.S. troops against Iraqi civilians, leaders from across Iraq's political spectrum called Wednesday for a review of the U.S.-drafted law that prevents prosecution of coalition forces in Iraqi courts.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters during a visit to Kuwait that "the immunity given to members of coalition forces encouraged them to commit such crimes in cold blood," adding, "That makes it necessary to review it."
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | www.truthout.org
Notebooks belonging to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller indicate she may have been told about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson by another White House official before her first meeting in late June 2003 with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who was indicted last year related to his role in the Plame-Wilson leak, an attorney representing Libby claims.
By Associated Press
Rome - Prosecutors said Wednesday they had arrested two Italian intelligence officers and were seeking four more Americans as part of an investigation into the alleged CIA kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003.
The arrest of the two SISMI intelligence officials was the first official acknowledgment that Italian agents were involved in a case that the government has complained was a violation of its sovereignty.
By Josh White, Washington Post
Coverup is alleged; four others implicated.
A former U.S. Army soldier was charged yesterday with the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and the slayings of three of her family members in their home south of Baghdad in March, federal prosecutors said.
Several soldiers allegedly planned the attack over drinks after noticing the woman near the traffic checkpoint they manned in Mahmudiyah, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The soldiers allegedly worked out an elaborate plan to carry out the crime and then cover it up, wearing dark clothes to the home, using an AK-47 assault rifle from the house to kill the family, and allowing authorities to believe that the attack was carried out by insurgents, investigators said.
Max Fuller calls for independent criminal inquiries into Iraq's extrajudicial executions
In November 2005, the lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi, who has been representing Saddam Hussein and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim in court, stated, in relation to the recent murder of his colleague Adel Muhammad al-Zubeidi: "If there were a serious investigation into the previous murder of Janabi (a defence lawyer murdered just a month beforehand) and the perpetrators had been arrested, we would not see today's crime.
Slain Iraqi girl feared soldiers
MOM TOLD NEIGHBOR AMERICANS HAD MADE UNWELCOME ADVANCES
By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post
Posted on Mon, Jul. 03, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided to a neighbor.
The pretty girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers working at a checkpoint that she had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Al-Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.
Gitmo win likely cost Navy lawyer his career
'Fearless' defense of detainee a stinging loss for Bush
By PAUL SHUKOVSKY P-I REPORTER, Seattle P I.com
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift -- the Navy lawyer who beat the president of the United States in a pivotal Supreme Court battle over trying alleged terrorists -- figures he'll probably have to find a new job.
Of course, it's always risky to compare your boss to King George III.
By Dave Lindorff, http://www.thiscantbehappening.net
Largely missed in all the coverage of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case was the establishment by the court majority that all Bush administration claims to the contrary, the Geneva Convention rules regarding captured prisoners apply to the captives taken not only in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in the so-called War on Terror.
By Rosa Brooks, Los Angeles Times
Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld could expose officials to prosecution.
The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt the Bush administration a stinging rebuke, declaring in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld that military commissions for trying terrorist suspects violate both U.S. military law and the Geneva Convention.
But the real blockbuster in the Hamdan decision is the court's holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda - a holding that makes high-ranking Bush administration officials potentially subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act.
Senator considers suit over Bush law challenge
By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Arlen Specter, said yesterday that he is ``seriously considering" filing legislation to give Congress legal standing to sue President Bush over his use of signing statements to reserve the right to bypass laws.
Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, made his comments after a Judiciary Committee hearing on signing statements, which are official documents that Bush has used to challenge the constitutionality of more than 750 laws when signing legislation .
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday he might have to testify in the CIA leak trial of his former chief of staff.
Cheney made the comment in a CNN interview, following last month's suggestion by prosecutors that the vice president would be a logical witness in the case of I. Lewis Libby, who is accused of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI.
Libby is "one of the finest men I've ever known," Cheney said, then declined further comment. "I may be called as a witness."
By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sometimes it feels like there's no justice. That's a sentiment likely to be shared by many Americans in the wake of last week's announcement that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has decided not to charge top White House aide Karl Rove in his investigation of the Valerie Palme leak case.
The feelings of frustrated justice are not just partisan sour grapes, although some of that certainly exists among Democrats who were prematurely convinced of Rove's legal complicity. The truth is that disappointment might be felt by any fair-minded person who remembers what exactly was at the heart of this case and who was involved.
From Tom Baldwin in Washington, http://www.timesonline.co.uk
EIGHT American servicemen were charged last night with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and theft over the death of a disabled Iraqi.
The unarmed civilian, a 54-year-old veteran of the war against Iran, was allegedly pulled from his home in the village of Hamdania and shot without provocation on April 26. Prosecutors allege that the troops planted an AK47 rifle and a shovel next to his body to make it look as if he had been rigging a roadside bomb.