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Sunday, January 31, 2010

HISTORIAN ZINN SAID “LARGEST LIE” WAS U.S. “WAR ON TERRORISM”


by Sherwood Ross

The “largest lie,” wrote historian Howard Zinn who died yesterday at age 87, is that “everything the United States does is to be pardoned because we are engaged in a ‘war on terrorism.’”

“This ignores the fact that war is itself terrorism, that the barging into people’s homes and taking away family members and subjecting them to torture, that is terrorism, that invading and bombing other countries does not give us more security but less security.”

In an article published previously in the Long Term View magazine of the Massachusetts School of Law, Zinn said that in the Fallujah area of Iraq, Knight Ridder reporters found there was no Ba’athist or Sunni conspiracy against the U.S., “only people ready to fight because their relatives had been hurt or killed, or they themselves had been humiliated by home searches and road stops.”

Zinn, popularly known as the people’s historian, pointed out that the U.S. may have liberated Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein but afterwards it became Iraq’s occupier. He noted this is the same fate that befell Cuba after the U.S. liberated it from Spain in 1898.  In both nations, the U.S. established military bases and U.S. corporations moved in to profit from the upheaval.

 
Zinn recalled the words of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld before the NATO ministers in Brussels in June, 2002, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” of weapons of mass destruction. “That explains why this government, not knowing exactly where to find the criminals of September 11, will just go ahead and invade and bomb Afghanistan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and still not know where the criminals are,” Zinn wrote.

“This explains why the government, not really knowing what weapons Saddam Hussein is hiding, will invade and bomb Iraq, to the horror of most of the world, killing thousands of civilians and soldiers and terrorizing the population,” he continued.

The historian pointed out that even if the U.S. experienced few battle casualties in its invasion of Iraq, casualties would mount afterwards in the occupying army from sickness and trauma, which took a high toll both in Viet Nam and after the Gulf War. In the 10 years after the Gulf War, 8,000 veterans died and 200,000 veterans filed complaints about illnesses incurred “from the weapons our government used in the war.”

Zinn predicted accurately that once the American public realized President Bush had lied to them about Iraq they would turn against the government. “When it loses its legitimacy in the eyes of its people, its days are numbered,” he said of the Bush administration.
Writing of his personal feelings, Zinn said, “I wake up in the morning, read the newspaper, and feel that we are an occupied country that some alien group has taken over… I wake up thinking this country is in the grip of a President (George W. Bush) who was not elected, who has surrounded himself with thugs in suits who care nothing about human life abroad or here, who care nothing about freedom abroad or here, who care nothing about what happens to the earth, the water, the air. And I wonder what kind of world our children and grandchildren will inherit.”


Zinn called on his readers “to engage in whatever nonviolent actions appeal to us. There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at critical points to create a power that governments cannot suppress. We find ourselves today at one of those critical points.”

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-profit law school purposefully dedicated to the education of students from minority, immigrant, and low-income households who would otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a legal education. Zinn’s article in the Long Term View first appeared in The Progressive magazine.
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Sherwood Ross formerly worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. Currently, he is a media consultant to Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Sherwoodross10@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward

[Iraq war inquiry chair Sir John] Chilcot and the courts won't do it, so it is up to us to show that we won't let an illegal act of mass murder go unpunished


by George Monbiot guardian.co.uk


....nothing focuses attention on these issues more than an attempted citizen's arrest....There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No ­civilised country can allow mass ­murderers to move on...

[To this end, Monbiot has launched a website – www.arrestblair.org – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of the former prime minister.

Excerpts:

The only question that counts is the one that the Chilcot inquiry won't address: was the war with Iraq illegal? If the answer is yes, everything changes. The war is no longer a political matter, but a criminal one, and those who commissioned it should be committed for trial for what the Nuremberg tribunal called "the supreme international crime": the crime of aggression.
---
Two weeks ago a Dutch inquiry, led by a former supreme court judge, found that the invasion had "no sound mandate in international law". Last month Lord Steyn, a former law lord, said that "in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal". In November Lord Bingham, the former lord chief justice, stated that, without the blessing of the UN, the Iraq war was "a serious violation of international law and the rule of law".
---
Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder: those who died were unlawfully killed by the people who commissioned it. Crimes of aggression (also known as crimes against peace) are defined by the Nuremberg principles as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties". They have been recognised in international law since 1945.


Read the whole article.
   

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST BUSH, CHENEY, RUMSFELD, TENET, RICE AND GONZALES; INTERNATIONAL ARREST WARRANTS REQUESTED


In order to demonstrate your support for this Complaint you can contact the I.C.C. Prosecutor by letter, fax, or email as indicated below.
Champaign, U.S.A./The Hague, Netherlands (19 Jan 2010). -- Professor Francis A. Boyle of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, U.S.A. has filed a Complaint with the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) in The Hague against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales (the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition” perpetrated upon about 100 human beings.  This term is really their euphemism for the enforced disappearance of persons and their consequent torture.  This criminal policy and practice by the Accused constitute Crimes against Humanity in violation of the Rome Statute establishing the I.C.C.
The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute.  Nevertheless the Accused have ordered and been responsible for the commission of I.C.C. statutory crimes within the respective territories of many I.C.C. member states, including several in Europe.  Consequently, the I.C.C. has jurisdiction to prosecute the Accused for their I.C.C. statutory crimes under Rome Statute article 12(2)(a) that affords the I.C.C. jurisdiction to prosecute for I.C.C. statutory crimes committed in I.C.C. member states.
The Complaint requests (1) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor open an investigation of the Accused on his own accord under Rome Statute article 15(1); and (2) that the I.C.C. Prosecutor also formally “submit to the [I.C.C.] Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” of the Accused under Rome Statute article 15(3).
For similar reasons, the Highest Level Officials of the Obama administration risk the filing of a follow-up Complaint with the I.C.C. if they do not immediately terminate the Accused’s criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition,” which the Obama administration has continued to implement.
The Complaint concludes with a request that the I.C.C. Prosecutor obtain International Arrest Warrants for the Accused from the I.C.C. in accordance with Rome Statute articles 58(1)(a), 58(1)(b)(i), 58(1)(b)(ii), and 58(1)(b)(iii).
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law

Law Building

504 East Pennsylvania Avenue

Champaign, Illinois  61820

Phone:  217-333-7954

Fax:  217-244-1478

The Honorable Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Office of the Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague
The Netherlands

Fax No.: 31-70-515-8555

Email:  OTP.InformationDesk@icc-cpi.int

January 19, 2010

Dear Sir:

            Please accept my personal compliments.   I have the honor hereby to file with you and the International Criminal Court this Complaint against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice , and Alberto Gonzales  (hereinafter referred to as the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition.” READ MORE

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Executing Children in Afghanistan: Have Americans gone numb or are we just ignorant of war crimes?


We believe that an informed citizenry will act for life and not for death. –Albert Einstein


I'd like to believe that Americans would act for life, but so far we haven't responded appropriately to a decade of war crimes including wars of aggression, torture, targeting civilians, assassinations, and now, the execution of children. I'm always hoping that the latest incident of atrocity will push us over the edge and we will rise up. But we do have to be informed before we can act. Certainly the corporate mainstream media has been guilty of gross negligence. The poor coverage and misinformation of this latest heinous act is but another example.


Here is how the New York Times “informed” us of the slaughter of school children:

“The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or Taliban insurgents…”

But better information was available to the NYT; the [London] Times Online provided some detail about the “nine men”:

“[The leader of the investigation of the incident said,] ‘I spoke to the local headmaster. It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.’ …the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the [American] troops arrived. ‘Seven students were in one room,’ said Rahman Jan Ehsas. ‘A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building. First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them…’”

See also
Dave Lindorff’s Are US Forces Executing Kids in Afghanistan? Americans Don't Even Know to Ask

David Swanson’s Shooting Handcuffed Children  and Yes, Shooting Handcuffed Children


Carl Herman's Afghan Govt. Demands Arrest of US "Death Squad" Who handcuffed, executed 8 children. US refuses

So what is it, America? Indifference or ignorance? Can we prove the genius right and begin to act for life?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Assassination by Drone: Is the Senate Armed Services Committee Chair a War Criminal in the making?


Add assassination to torture as another crime that our government sponsors and the American public passively accepts. Violations of international law and executive orders have become business as usual for the empire. 


President Ford’s 1976 Executive Order 11905 states, in part: "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." See article U.S. policy on assassinations



Excerpt from Drone Attacks Signal CIA’s Willingness to Assassinate Terrorists: “Killing people during war is different from the U.S. government targeting specific persons, outside a battle zone, for killing,” said Vicki Divoll, a former lawyer for both the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “And even in the so-called war on terror, most lawyers who study this issue believe that targeted killing of a named terrorist falls within the ban in a presidential executive order that has been around since the Ford administration.”


Excerpt from Senate chairman says US should consider drone attacks against al-Qaida in Yemen: A Senate committee chairman said Wednesday that the United States should consider whether air strikes, armed drones and clandestine operations are necessary in Yemen to defeat an emboldened al-Qaida force there. … "We ought to consider a broad range of options in Yemen because the broad-ranging threat of al-Qaida," [Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl] Levin told reporters after a three-day trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan.


The article Senator Carl Levin wants clandestine action, drones in Yemen quotes him: “I think that these are proven threats to the United States, and if we identify them, it's appropriate for us to act against them. Most options ought to be on the table. It's everything from physical actions that could be accomplished in terms of use of drones or air attacks, it could be clandestine actions.”


Excerpt from ACLU Requests Information On Predator Drone Program: In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed today, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct "targeted killings" overseas. In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.

Discussion question: Would Yemen be a new undeclared war in violation of international law or merely an expansion of the existing undeclared war in violation of international law?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Iraq war was illegal, Dutch panel rules



Inquiry says conflict had no sound mandate in international law as it emerges UK denied key letter to seven-judge tribunal



Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent  guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 12 January 2010: The war in Iraq had "no basis in international law", a Dutch inquiry found today, in the first ever independent legal assessment of the decision to invade. READ MORE


France to set up judicial unit to investigate genocide, war crimes



by Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service PARIS -- The French government announced Wednesday that it will set up a special judicial unit to investigate and bring charges against people accused of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity in France or abroad. READ MORE

Friday, January 1, 2010

Just in case you don't know who the enemy is..


“I separated from the Army in 2005, by which time I had begun to make sense of my experiences in Iraq, and understood that the occupation I was a part of was a crime against humanity. I understood that illegal conquering of Iraq was for profit, carried out by a system that serves a tiny class of superrich whose endless drive for wealth is at the expense of working people in the United States and abroad." --Mike Prysner

Take 4 minutes and 39 seconds to see a great speech by Iraq veteran Mike Prysner, who helped found March Forward! to fight the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and urge
members of the military to refuse deployment there. A brave and eloquent
soul.

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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.


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There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.