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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
By Dave Lindorff
As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Let me count the ways:
War is legal, but pointing out its illegality is not mistaken; it's irrelevant and un-strategic. That's the argument I'm hearing from a number of quarters.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The retired top CIA officer who ordered the destruction of videos showing waterboarding says in a new book that he was tired of waiting for Washington's bureaucracy to make a decision that protected American lives.
Jose Rodriguez, who oversaw the CIA's once-secret interrogation and detention program, also lashes out at President Barack Obama's administration for calling waterboarding torture and criticizing its use.
"I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled 'torturers' by the president of the United States," Rodriguez writes in his book, "Hard Measures."
The book is due out April 30. The Associated Press purchased a copy Tuesday.
(AFP) WASHINGTON — US citizen Jose Padilla, who was jailed for four years as an "enemy combatant" and claims to have been tortured, has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate his civil case against top US officials.
His bid to sue former and present officials -- including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- was rejected by an appeals court in January, which said they enjoyed official immunity.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Padilla's mother Estela Lebron appealed the ruling. Padilla is in a maximum-security prison in Colorado after being convicted in 2007 of aiding a homegrown Al-Qaeda cell.
The ACLU claims in the suit that Padilla, who was imprisoned without charge for nearly four years as an "enemy combatant," was subjected to a range of abuse while being held in a Navy brig in South Carolina.
Occupy The Justice Department Challenges Obama Administration Integrity on Prosecutor Misconduct Issue
By Linn Washington, Jr.
One of the issues driving protesters participating in the April 24, 2012 Occupy The Justice Department demonstration is an issue that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knows well: prosecutorial misconduct.
Holder knows this misconduct issue well because he has criticized it during congressional testimony, in fact as recently as March 2012 when he was commenting on a special prosecutor’s report castigating the wrongdoing of federal prosecutors.
That wrongdoing, Holder acknowledged, unlawfully tainted the corruption investigation and 2008 trial of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in his home state of Alaska.
"Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier -- than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court. You are merely planting cynicism in their souls." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The United States Congress is outraged. Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower. In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you. And not just I. NPR will tell you. This calls for action. There's a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.
Who wouldn't support the rule of law and accountability?
Well, let me think.
Oh, I know. The United States Congress.
Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture. They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture. Bush's torture program tortured numerous people to death. And what has Congress wrought?
No enforcement of subpoenas.
No defunding of operations.
No criminalizing of secrecy.
No protection of whistleblowers.
No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.
In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.
But keep hope alive.
Change is on the way.
Up in the sky!
It's Captain Peace Prize!
Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else -- certainly above the rule of law or accountability.
Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of "State Secrets" beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability. Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time. Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes. Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role. But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power.
The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won't stand for it. Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia. It's a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home. Why not apply it abroad?
Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder. The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones.
The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it.
But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes. Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law. And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action. U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.
Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.
Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.
Canadian Lawyers Brief the Committee Against Torture on Canada's Failure to Prosecute George W. Bush
CANADA: Briefing to CAT on the Failure to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture
From Lawyers against the War
Lawyers against the War (LAW) is a Canada-based committee that advocates for adherence to
international humanitarian law and against impunity for violators. LAW engages in education,
produces legal analyses and has participated in legal actions to hold members of the Bush
administration accountable for torture and other grave crimes.
Introduction: Visits to Canada by George W. Bush
George W. Bush (Bush) was President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief
of the U.S. Armed Forces from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. Evidence indicates that
during his term in office, Bush authorized, directed, supervised, failed to supervise or otherwise
was a party to the widespread and systemic use of torture by the U.S. and is therefore an alleged
As a party to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (Convention)1 Canada has an obligation to take effective measures to prevent and
punish torture. A significant part of that duty obliges Canada to ensure that alleged torturers such
as Bush do not receive safe haven from prosecution for torture in Canada. This report chronicles
Canada’s failure to enforce Canadian law and adhere to Convention duties triggered by visits to
Canada by Bush.
Since his term as president of the U.S. and commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces came
to an end, Bush has entered Canada on a number of occasions including, but not limited to, visits
• Calgary in the province of Alberta on March 28, 2009,
• Toronto in the province of Ontario on May 29, 2009,
• Edmonton in the province of Alberta on October 20, 2009,
• Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan on October 21, 2009,
• Montreal in the province of Quebec on October 22, 2009,
• Surrey in the province of British Columbia on October 20, 2011.
This report is focused on visits by Bush to Calgary Alberta on March 28, 2009 and to Surrey
British Columbia on October 20, 2011. The law and principles cited in this report apply to all
visits to Canada by Bush and others members of the former Bush administration who have been
accused on reasonable grounds of criminal involvement in torture.
On both occasions LAW sent letters to the Prime Minister and ministers of Justice, Immigration,
Public Safety, and Foreign Affairs advising them of Canada’s legal duties to take effective
measures to prevent and punish the torture authorized and directed by the Bush administration
and to ensure that Bush not receive safe haven in Canada from prosecution for torture. LAW2
advised of the obligation to bar Bush, as an alleged torturer, from entering Canada pursuant to
the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
LAW advised Canadian officials of the legal obligation to “…arrest the alleged torturer [Bush]
and to carry out proper criminal investigations, as provided for in Article 6, and to submit the
case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, as stipulated in Article 7(1)”3
once the jurisdictional requirements of the Article 5 of the Convention against Torture and other
Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention)4 were satisfied by Bush’s
presence in Canada.
On the occasion of Bush’s visit to Surrey British Columbia, Canada was also advised of the duty
to arrest and prosecute the former president once he entered the country by letter and legal brief
sent jointly by the Canada-based Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the New
York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and by a letter and legal brief from Amnesty
International Canada (Amnesty). CCIJ and CCR sent a 69 page draft indictment backed up by
some 4,000 pages of evidence of the widespread and systemic torture used by the U.S. under the
command of Bush in U.S. controlled prisons around the world.5 Amnesty’s letter calling on
Canada to arrest and prosecute Bush was accompanied by a 27 page legal brief outlining the
evidence of torture, Bush’s complicity, and Canada’s legal duty to arrest and prosecute Bush. 6
Jack Straw Faces Legal Action for Playing Bit Part in U.S. Torture Program, the Architects of Which Have Books to Sell You
A Libyan military commander is taking legal action against Jack Straw, to find out if the ex-foreign secretary signed papers allowing his rendition.
Abdel Hakim Belhadj claims CIA agents took him from Thailand to Gaddafi-led Libya, via UK-controlled Diego Garcia.
His lawyers have served papers on Mr Straw after the Sunday Times reported claims that he allowed this to happen.
UK ministers have denied any complicity in rendition or torture and Mr Straw did not comment further.
He said he could not do so because of the ongoing police investigation into the UK's alleged role in illegal rendition.
Earlier this month, the BBC revealed that the UK government had approved the rendition of Mr Belhadj and his wife - Fatima Bouchar - to Col Muammar Gaddafi's regime, though it was unclear at what level.
On 15 April, the Sunday Times published an article, which quoted sources as alleging Mr Straw had personally authorised Mr Belhadj's rendition to Libya.
On Tuesday, Mr Belhadj's lawyers - Leigh Day & Co - served papers on Mr Straw, referencing the article and seeking his response to allegations that he was complicit in torture and misfeasance in public office.
The civil action is against Mr Straw personally - Mr Belhadj's lawyers believe it is the first time legal action of this kind has been taken against a former foreign secretary.
Mr Belhadj and his wife allege Mr Straw was complicit in the "torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, batteries and assaults" which they say were perpetrated on them by Thai and US agents, as well as the Libyan authorities.
They are seeking damages from Mr Straw for the trauma involved.
Carole Whelan, Military Families Speak Out, Hope, Maine
When I read that former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will deliver the Colby commencement address, I thought it must be somebody’s idea of a joke, that Colby students wouldn’t accept such an insult to them and their venerable school.
Colby’s president, William Adams, says that Blair’s presence will be a potent reminder of his impact on the world. It is a painful reminder indeed, for military families, and one that does not speak well of Colby’s decision makers.
Blair, in the most important decision of his life and against the recommendations of his top advisors, condemned millions of innocent people to the brutality of war. Many people believe that Blair knew at the time that the so-called intelligence about Iraq WMDs was deliberately falsified to justify war plans already in progress. The revelations in the “Downing St. Memo” and Blair’s own statements lead them to this conclusion.
Blair has never manned-up and apologized or even acknowledged this act. All his self-serving, alternative-history-building efforts for the rest of his life will never erase his real legacy: the destruction and suffering he inflicted on so many.
Most people think the Iraq war is “over”. It is never over for those who lost their loved ones or for those who lost their limbs, their mind, their spirit. The consequences of war are a burden that is passed down through succeeding generations. If there is a greater evil than waging a war of choice, I don’t know what that could be. Whether Colby's administrators agree with others' conclusions or not, they should be sensitive to the terrible price military families and Iraqi civilians have paid. They should have been aware of all the pain that would be dredged up by inappropriately choosing a speaker who is most remembered for his disastrous failure.
U.S. Supreme Court Says You Can't Sue Other Nations or Foreign Corporations for Torturing You Either
Torture Suits Against Companies Blocked by Top U.S. CourtBy Greg StohrThe U.S. Supreme Court limited the reach of a law that protects American citizens from torture in other countries, ruling that victims can sue only individuals, not organizations or corporations.
The justices unanimously threw out a suit filed against the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization by the relatives of Azzam Rahim, an American allegedly tortured and murdered in the West Bank during the 1990s.
"ElBaradei is so morally outraged by the blatant pulverization of a sovereign Middle East country by a Western superpower and its allies that he also advises the Iraqis to demand war reparations..."
Kaveh Afrasiabi of Asia Times reviews Mohammed ElBaradei's passionate last-ditch plea for global sanity, which includes new revelations about the U.S.'s failure to provide the IAEA with confirming evidence that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ND14Ak04.html
By Dave Lindorff
I've often wondered why so many innocent people who are shot by police end up dead.
Granted that police officers spend a fair amount of time training with their service revolvers, and are thus likely to be better shots with a pistol than your average gun-owner. But even so, in so many cases where some unarmed person is shot by police, the result is death, and it makes you wonder how cops, often in the dark and on the run, manage with their notoriously hard-to-aim pistols to hit a vital organ with such depressing regularity.
By Dave Lindorff
Back in the early 1980s, I had the extraordinary good fortune to get to meet one of my literary heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, up close and personal. We shared a police wagon, sitting next to each other for a ride to the station to be booked for blocking the door to the South African consulate in a demonstration against that country’s then policy of white rule and apartheid.
I can’t say I got to know the author very well, but he was quite friendly and interesting to talk to, and after our arrest and booking was over, and we were released, I shared a cab as far as his house.
By John Grant
Founded and preserved by acts of aggression, characterized by a continuing tradition of self-righteous violence against suspected subversion and by a vigorous sense of personal freedom, usually involving the widespread possession of firearms, the United States has evidenced a unique tolerance for homicide.
-David Brion Davis
Homicide in American Fiction 1798-1860
The Trayvon Martin story is not going to go away. It was a narrative event waiting to happen, and the story only gets richer with meaning as time goes on. There are the obvious racial aspects, but the most important elements are about police power versus citizen power -- and who can get away with shooting whom?
FINALLY Someone's Prosecuted (and not in absentia) for U.S. Torture -- And It's Poland That Comes Through
Poland Charges Ex-Spy Chief over Involvement in Bush Torture Program
From ALL GOV .COM
Obama Justice Dept. Refuses to Help Polish Torture Probe (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
AP Gets Expert to Say Bales Likely Not Able to Be Tried for 17 Murders Because He Committed 17 Murders
What does this say about OBAMA's mental health?
By Linn Washington, Jr.
In March 1799 authorities in North Carolina found no fault in a teen fatally shooting a black man after confronting that man about his being on a public road.
Dear Department of Justice and Department of Treasury Officials:
We might have just helped you bag another material supporter of terrorism this week! And you'll never believe who the culprit is! We were even able to tape record some of his own damning admissions! (That's the reason for my calls last week to your duty attorneys and media offices.)
Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day & Co have announced that they will be issuing formal legal proceedings this week against the UK Foreign Secretary on behalf of Noor Khan, whose father was killed last year in a drone strike on a Jirga – or council of elders – in North West Pakistan.
Noor Khan (27), lives in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. His father, Malik Daud Khan, was a member of the local Jirga, a peaceful council of tribal elders whose functions included the settling of commercial disputes.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Richard Cebull, the chief federal district court judge in Montana, went into damage control mode recently after newspaper reporters in his state discovered a racist and sexist email Cebull had sent to six close friends insinuating that President Obama’s mother had had sex with a dog.
It's hard to imagine the United States complying with this perfectly appropriate demand or producing any actually persuasive justification for refusing to.
By Dave Lindorff
The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.
The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran -- Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.
The Witch-Burners are Alive and Sick in Kansas: Stand Up for Dr. Kristin Neuhaus against the Kansas Theocracy's Anti-Abortion Ji
By Dave Lindorff
A few hundred years ago in colonial Massachusetts, the theocratic fascist men who ran that society had a way of dealing with free-thinking women in their midst: they burned them at the stake or drummed up hordes of frightened and unthinking neighbors to stone them to death.
Most of us today imagine that if we had lived in those dark times, we would have stood up against such an outrage. Now is the time to find out.
The Manning prosecution is a tragic miscarriage of justice. US officials are highly embarrassed by what Manning exposed and are shooting the messenger. As Glen Greenwald, the terrific Salon writer, has observed, President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers for espionage than all other presidents combined.
Drop All Charges Against Bradley Manning! from Veterans for Peace
“Where is the justice?” asks Gerry Condon, a Board member of Veterans For Peace. “The Army is shirking its duty to punish soldiers who have committed rape and murder. Yet they are trying to destroy the life of Bradley Manning, who has not harmed a hair on a person's head.”