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Friday, April 24, 2009

TAKE ACTION: Stop the prosecution of people seeking justice



Why are these people being prosecuted while the torturers remain free?


Personal note from Tarak Kauff: This is from my dear friend Laurie Arbeiter, one of the most courageous, committed and generous human beings I know. Laurie has been a beacon of truth, light and resistance to a cruel and inhuman system. She has stood up for truth and justice many times in these past eight years, often at great risk to herself. Now is our time to back her up and to demand justice. Please read this, make the calls suggested below and pass it on to as many people as you can. Peace and solidarity, Tarak


ACTION: Contact the Office of the Attorney General, District of Columbia to demand that the charges be dropped:
● Attorney General, Peter Nickles at 202-724-1301
● Asst. Attorney General, Elizabeth A. Meyers at 202-727-4783
oag@dc.gov


Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001 to demand the appointment of an Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush Administration.

WHY ARE WE BEING PROSECUTED FOR EXERCISING OUR RIGHTS OF ASSEMBLY AND FREE SPEECH DEMONSTRATING AGAINST CRIMES COMMITTED BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WHO STILL CONTINUE TO REMAIN FREE FROM INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION?

Background

THE AUDACITY OF WAR CRIMES

On January 6, 2009, seventy people came to Washington D.C. from all over the United States to participate in the MARCH OF THE DEAD. See Bill Moyers eight-minute video (first few minutes show the March of the Dead).


Our goal was to stage a peaceful protest displaying the ever-increasing death toll from war crimes committed by our government.

Our right to assemble and petition our government for redress of grievances was disrupted when the Capitol Police stopped the reading of the names of the dead from the illegal wars and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Seventeen of us were arrested.

On June 22, 2009, four of us are still facing prosecution for charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly after the government’s refusal to drop the charges.

The question must be asked, especially now, in light of the release of the “Torture Memos” and other mounting evidence of crimes committed by the Bush administration:

WHY ARE WE BEING PROSECUTED FOR EXERCISING OUR RIGHTS OF ASSEMBLY AND FREE SPEECH DEMONSTRATING AGAINST CRIMES COMMITTED BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WHO STILL CONTINUE TO REMAIN FREE FROM INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION?

WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEMAND JUSTICE

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE THAT DEMAND

LOUD AND CLEAR

JOIN US IN ASKING THAT OUR CHARGES BE DROPPED AND THE REAL CRIMINALS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION BE BROUGHT UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF AN INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR AND INVESTIGATED FOR COMMITTING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

Laurie Arbeiter
Robbie Diesu
Michelle Grise
Pete Perry

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TAKE ACTION -- Tell Eric Holder: Investigate Now!

submitted by Maurizio Morselli


"I never thought I would see the day when a Justice Department would claim that only the most extreme infliction of pain and physical abuse constitutes torture, and that acts that are merely cruel, inhumane or degrading are consistent with United States Policy. That the Supreme Court would have to order the president of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Never thought that I would see a president act in direct defiance of federal law by authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance of American Citizens. This disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong, it is destructive on our struggle against terrorism."

-- Eric Holder, at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, November 2008


President Obama had said that he was opening access to our government for the people to participate and make their demands heard. So let each one of us test this principle of our democracy and call and ask others to call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001. Tell him to appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush Administration.


Eric Holder had said in his confirmation hearings "Waterboarding is torture" and "No one is above the law". We must make our voices heard and seek justice for all of those who have lost their lives and for our country to establish the rule of law.




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

America MUST Investigate!

Following release of the torture memos, U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak has once again called on America to investigate the torture program. He said, "The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court." Read “Obama Reprieve For CIA Illegal: U.N. Rapporteur”

The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter

Exceprts:

“The focus on water-boarding misses the main point of the program. Which is that it was a program. Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed ‘interrogation plans’ to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time. The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.”

“At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.”

“In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest -- if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.”

Read Philip Zelikow’s full article.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

OBAMA "LOVE LETTER" TO CIA DISTORTS HISTORICAL RECORD

by Sherwood Ross


One can only wonder what prompted the incredible absurdities written by President Obama in his April 16th love letter to the employees of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). The letter not only absolves CIA torturers from prosecution on the grounds that they were only following orders, (the same defense employed by Nazi hoodlums at the Nuremburg war crimes trials after World War Two,) but his laudatory statements about The Agency fly in the face of the historical record. Obama’s letter surely will go down in history as one of the more disingenuous documents ever to appear under the presidential seal. Worse, it strongly hints the American public has elected another in that long line of imperial presidents stretching back to William McKinley.


To anyone with a nodding familiarity of the history of The Agency, the greatest balderdash of all is Obama’s statement to employees that “Your work has informed every President dating back to President Truman and it protects our people.” In fact, "misinformed "would be a much better description of the CIA's intelligence product as its well documented egregious errors over the years have misled presidents so often on so many major events there are periods when it seems to have gotten nothing right and everything wrong. Even President Nixon once complained, "What the hell do those clowns do out there in Langley?"


Worse than misreading events, President Truman feared the CIA would degenerate into what he termed an American “Gestapo,” a fear that was quickly realized. Indeed, far from protecting the American people, the CIA’s lawless methods have inflamed much of the civilized world against America.


Don’t take my word for the CIA's many crimes! During the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, the CIA’s own inspector general issued a report excoriating the Agency for its use of terror methods. In his book “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,” New York Times reporter Tim Weiner writes: “The report implicated every living CIA officer who had served as chief of the clandestine service---Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell, Richard Helms, and Desmond FitzGerald---in conspiracies to commit murder.” (This is the Agency Obama says upholds our laws?)


About the same time, then Secretary of State Dean Rusk ordered his intelligence chief Tom Hughes to conduct his own probe of the CIA’s covert operations. Hughes reported back, Weiner writes, “that buying foreign politicians, supporting foreign coups, and running guns to foreign rebels could corrode American values. He proposed that the United States should cut covert action ‘to an irreducible minimum.’”


One wonders why a nation that President Obama celebrates as “a nation of laws” whose administration “will always act in accordance with the law” in the same document declares, “I have fought for the principle that the United States must carry out covert activities…” What kind of principle is that to fight for? Neither Moses descending from Sinai or Jesus on the Mount uttered any words that justified the sort of criminal conduct the CIA in our times conceals under the rubric of “covert action.”


Quite the contrary! Just imagine the hell and misery the Middle East would have been spared if President Eisenhower had not agreed to the CIA’s plan to overthrow the elected government of Iran in 1953! Imagine what the people of Chile would have been spared if President Nixon had not okayed the CIA plot to overthrow the elected president, Salvador Allende, in 1973! Imagine! Imagine! All across Latin America, from Argentina to Guatemala, in a score of nations, hundreds of thousands of innocent people would be alive today if the CIA had not financed, armed and abetted militarists that overthrew elected governments and then inflicted a reign of terror on the citizenry.


After the CIA’s extensive history of crimes from drug-running to subverting free elections to torture to assassination, for President Obama to praise The Agency and indicate he endorses its covert activities should set off alarm bells around the world.


As for Obama’s statement “The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world,” one must ask how much courage it takes for an illegal posse of CIA thugs to kidnap an unarmed civilian off the streets of, say, Milan, Italy, and transport him to another country for torture? How much courage does it take to beat up a man tied in a chair or to slam a man’s head into a wall when his hands are tied behind his back? Forgive me if this smells a whole lot like cowardice, not courage. The unlimited “rendition” spree authorized by the last President Bush was nothing new for the Agency, either. Weiner writes the CIA had been running “secret interrogation centers before---beginning in 1950, in Germany, Japan, and Panama. It had participated in the torture of captured enemy combatants before---beginning in 1967, under the Phoenix program in Vietnam.” Folks, this has been a rogue agency from its inception.


By failing to prosecute the CIA officials’ criminal practices of rendition and torture and declaring his administration “will stand by them,” Obama betrays his sworn obligation to uphold the Constitution of the United States, a document that enshrines human rights and makes the Geneva Convention, among other treaties, the supreme law of the land. The CIA is an agency with a long and ugly history of crimes and atrocities perpetrated on a global scale. The world would be better off if the President abolished it, rather than commended it. To fail to prosecute its current crop of gangsters, much less to shower them with public praise, is an act of gross misfeasance.

#

Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based writer who formerly worked as an executive in the civil rights movement, a reporter for major dailies, including the Chicago Daily News, and as a columnist for wire services. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com


Monday, April 20, 2009

The New York Times calls for impeachment of Bybee and war crimes accountability

The New York Times writes: “Until Americans and their leaders fully understand the rules the Bush administration concocted to justify such abuses — and who set the rules and who approved them — there is no hope of fixing a profoundly broken system of justice and ensuring that that these acts are never repeated.... if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.

“After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.”

Read the NYT editorial, “The Torturers’ Manifesto.”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In the News


“Unless we set the stage with prosecutions now, it’s going to happen again. “ Listen to thirty minute audio interview with Dean Lawrence Velvel on the need for war crimes prosecution

Amy Goodman interviews Scott Horton about torture memos on Democracy Now!

“...I am well aware that our own country has committed many crimes, some on a scale approaching those of Germany and Japan.... It’s a long and terrible list, and for the most part, in our schools, in our politics, in our histories, we don’t talk about, and even justify and deny our own atrocities. Now we have a president who is perhaps doing something worse. Admitting that the last administration of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney ordered up a program of illegal and inhuman torture of captives... and offering up documentary evidence of the chain of command that set the country on this criminal course, President Obama now says that to move beyond this ‘dark and painful chapter in our history,’ he will not seek or permit any prosecution of those who committed torture of captives.” Read “No Amnesty for Torturers” by Dave Lindorff

International Committee of the Red Cross Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody

“I do not see how, given the strong case brought in Nuremberg on these grounds that ‘mere orders or permissions are not exculpatory,’ that President Obama can justify relieving the CIA of its crimes. It will be seen by many world-wide an act of political cowardice!” Read “Torture and Tortured Reasoning” by James Brett

“Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo...” Read “The Bush Six to Be Indicted” by Scott Horton

“Spain not only has the right under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture to prosecute foreign officials for torturing its citizens, but it -- like the U.S. -- has the affirmative obligation to do so.” Read “Differing Views of the ‘Rule of Law’ in Spain and the U.S.” by Glenn Greenwald

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Views in the news...

Jane Myer writes: “[Philippe] Sands’s book, Torture Team, offers a scathing critique of officials in the Bush Administration, accusing them of complicity in acts of torture....Sands said that he had ‘no personal vendetta’ against the Bush Administration, but he does see a link between his family history and his chosen profession. His mother and her parents were Viennese Jews who barely survived the Holocaust; his mother spent the first seven years of her life in hiding, away from her family. ‘It inculcated a burning sense of being aggrieved at wrongdoing, and at the failure of people to take responsibility for their actions,’ Sands said.... It is hard to predict what will happen next, but, if arrest warrants are issued, the Obama Administration may be forced either to extradite the former officials or to start its own investigation.” Read "The Bush Six."


Marjorie Cohn writes: “Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn't take place on Spanish soil? The answer is yes. It's called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Universal jurisdiction is a well-established theory that countries, including the United States, have used for many years to investigate and prosecute foreign nationals for crimes that shock the conscience of the global community. It provides a critical legal tool to hold accountable those who commit crimes against the law of nations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Read Why Spain Can Actually Prosecute Bush and Co. for Their Crimes.


Ted Rall writes: “Fortunately for those who care about U.S. law, there are Spanish prosecutors willing to do their job. Baltasar Garzón, the crusading prosecutor who went after General Augusto Pinochet in the '90s, will likely subpoena the Dirty Half Dozen within the next few weeks. ‘It would have been impossible to structure a legal framework that supported what happened [in Guantánamo] without Gonzales and his pals,’ argues the criminal complaint filed in Madrid. When the six miscreants ignore their court dates (as they surely will), Spain will issue international arrest warrants enforceable in the 25 countries that are party to European extradition treaties. All hail King Juan Carlos I!” Read “Barack Obama, Torture Enabler.”


Eugene Robinson writes: "It's no longer possible to mince words, or pretend we didn't know. The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration's so-called 'enhanced' interrogation methods, used on 'high-value' terrorism suspects, plainly constituted torture. The time for euphemisms is over, and the time for accountability has arrived.... I have believed all along that we urgently need to conduct a thorough investigation into the Bush administration's moral and legal transgressions. Now I am convinced that some kind of 'truth commission' process isn't enough. Torture -- even the torture of evil men -- is a crime. It deserves not just to be known, but to be punished." Read "Crimes That Deserve Punishment."


Bill Hare writes: “Recently there has been talk from certain UN sources that if after that body's own investigation concludes that U.S. leadership engaged in such aggressive preventive war along with unjustifiable torture tactics and the hunting down of victims without recourse to the law, then arrests could be made on U.S. soil. On this rationale such arrests could be made without the U.S. government being involved in any way, obviating any necessity of action on the part of congressional bodies or U.S. courts. Should George W. Bush be so approached in a specific effort to arrest him under international law, it has been noted that he is accompanied by armed U.S. Secret Service agents to protect him. To use a term from a sport President Barack Obama loves to play and watch, basketball, ‘The ball would be in his court’- and the crucial and ultimately decisive question of whether he would be willing under those circumstances to order Bush's Secret Service detail to ‘stand down’- in the interest of international law. Read “Should the World Bring Bush and Cheney to Trial?”


Dick Overfield writes: “If we don’t prosecute these criminals, we embrace the pathology of deceit while we support criminal behavior on the part of elected officials, and we legitimize the looting of our country and every other country on earth. Moreover, we condone these endlessly destructive wars of empire which enrich America’s parasitic corporate aristocracy and we willingly participate in the destruction of our own country and any other country standing in the way of corporate American greed asserting itself through military force. If we don’t deal with this there is nothing stopping an American president from repeating these crimes.... Somehow, Americans must find the courage and the will to prosecute the crimes of the Bush Administration and we must do it now.” Read “Military Imperialism and War Crimes.”




Friday, April 3, 2009

In Case You Missed It

In July 2008, Richard W. Behan, in “The Story Behind George Bush’s Lies,” documented how Bush and Co. conspired to mislead us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Excerpts:

“The incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were premeditated, hegemonic wars of conquest and territorial occupation, to gain the geostrategic control of Middle Eastern energy resources. Bald acts of unprovoked military aggression, they are direct violations of the charter of the United Nations. The wars are therefore international crimes, but they were not undertaken until the horror of September 11, 2001 provided a spectacular smokescreen. A fraudulent label--the “war on terror”—was concocted to disguise the premeditated violence, and it was quickly unleashed.”


“Plainly there is a huge disconnect between the incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But the Bush Administration knowingly and dishonestly joined them into the fraudulent conflation known as the “war on terror.”

”This is not a “war on terror.” Afghanistan and Iraq today are occupied countries, administered by puppet governments and dotted with permanent military bases securing the energy assets. Not a by-product of the Bush Administration’s warmaking, this was its purpose.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chavez: Indict Bush, Israeli Leaders


Democracy Now! reports that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is calling for the indictment of President Bush and Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes. Addressing the Arab League summit in Doha, Chavez criticized the International Criminal Court indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in light of US-Israeli actions.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “This genocide that was governed by the United States for eight years after Bush ordered the bombing of Iraq, where thousands and thousands of children were killed and entire families, innocent men and women. Why don’t they go after Bush—he truly committed genocide—or the Israeli government, which also commits genocide?”

Guidelines for submissions to WCT

The ideal article for the quarterly print version of The War Crimes Times: 600 to 1200 crisply-written words on a topic relevant to our mission.

We also welcome high resolution photos, cartoons, poetry, and letters to the editor.

Third party material will be considered only with the express permission of the copyright holder.

The WCT editorial team will consider all submissions. If your submission is selected for publication, we will notify you. If your submission is rejected, please do not be discouraged. Many criteria — such as timeliness, style, freshness, relevance to the WCT mission or the particular issue's theme, and content of recent issues — are used to determine WCT content.

Submissions are due no later than the 1st of the month that the paper is printed: March, June, September, and December. EARLY SUBMISSIONS HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF BEING CONSIDERED.

Send, in electronic format (preferred), to editor@WarCrimesTimes.org or to Editor, WCT/VFP, PO Box 10664, Greensboro, NC 27404. (Note: due to size constraints, all submissions may not be used in the print edition, but all will be considered for posting on this blog.)



War Crimes Times Statement of Purpose (revised 06/2011)


The War Crimes Times provides compelling, ongoing information on war and the war crimes that invariably accompany war, the many costs of war, the effects of our war culture on our national character and international reputation, and the need to hold accountable those who initiate and conduct illegal wars. Additionally and importantly, we also report on the efforts of the many people who sacrifice their time, money, and comfort to work for peace.


When national leaders initiate hostilities they create the conditions—the extreme use of force coupled with limited accountability—for the war crimes which invariably follow. War crimes are therefore an inherent part of war. The suffering caused and the enmity aroused by war crimes must be regarded as costs of war. Since these and other costs far exceed any benefits of war, we seek to end war as a tool of international policy.


Towards this goal, we believe that holding war criminals accountable will send a strong message to all current and future heads of state to very carefully weigh all the consequences of the decision to go to war. While we recognize that United States has long relied on unlawful military force to further its foreign policy goals, we are particularly concerned with the blatant and egregious violations of international law committed by the United States beginning with the Administration of George W. Bush and now continued and expanded under President Obama.


We endorse any efforts, including impeachment, which would bring war criminals of any administration to justice. The War Crimes Times has resolved to see that Bush, Cheney, Obama, and other government officials and military officers who have committed war crimes are prosecuted—no matter how long it takes.


There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.