Tag Archive: Bush

Dec 22 2014

War Crimes Charges Filed in Germany Against Bush Gang

In the wake of the release of the Senate’s Summary Report on the CIA torture program, a German human rights organization, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), has filed criminal charges in Germany against the architects of the program and the Bush administration.

17 December 2014 – The ECCHR has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system – politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.” [..]

ECCHR calls on Federal Prosecutor Harald Range to open investigations into the actions of Tenet, Rumsfeld and other perpetrators and to set up a monitoring process as soon as possible. This would allow the German authorities to act immediately in the event that one of the suspects enters European soil and not have to wait until such point before beginning the complex investigations and legal deliberations. [..]

While criminal complaints against those most responsible for the crimes have been discontinued by the authorities, investigatory proceedings are ongoing in Spain and France in the case of individuals who were detained in Guantánamo. ECCHR is representing German resident Murat Kurnaz in the Spanish proceedings. There is no indication that legal action will be taken by US authorities in relation to torture in Guantánamo and in Iraq. For this reason, recourse will be had to all available legal mechanisms in Europe in order to establish legal liability and to lend support to calls within the US for independent investigations into those responsible at the highest level.

Other criminal complaints have been filed in Spain, Switzerland and France. So far, the only person involved with the CIA torture program who has been charged with a crime is the man who exposed the war crimes, whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Juan González spoke with Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and longtime defense attorney Martin Garbus about the charges.

Even the New York Times Editorial Board agreed and, in a scathing editorial, accused President Barack Obama of failing his duty to prosecute the tortures and their bosses.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed. [..]

These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture. [..]

No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation. [..]

The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

Actually, it’s not hard at all. Perhaps the president, after six years, has finely found the courage to do some of the things he promised when first elected, releasing the the innocent men tortured and held illegally at Guantanamo and normalizing diplomatic and some economic relations with Cuba, will find the courage to order his Attorney General to bring them up on charges and put this national disgrace to really behind us.

Aug 24 2014

There’s a new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman, prepare to bomb some more brown people!

'Destroy_this_mad_brute'_WWI_propaganda_poster_(US_version)There’s a new bogeyman in the middle east. It is a terrible monster of great proportions, a barbaric, sectarian, unrepentant butchery machine. Its name is ISIS and like the previous bogeymen (Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Gaddaffi, Osama bin Laden, Assad and Putin) it is like (or worse than) Hitler. You would think by now government propagandists would get worried that trotting out the Hitler meme so frequently would cause “Hitler fatigue.” Nonetheless, now that the terrible threat has been identified by a news media eager for action and ratings, there is a growing push for America to jump in and start killing brown people again.

So where did this new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman come from? Well, sorry to say it appears that some of our policy geniuses in the US government created it:

The reality of US policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the US has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

… with a good bit of help from some of our frenemies allies:

[I]n the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime. …

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others. …

“The U.S. Treasury is aware of this activity and has expressed concern about this flow of private financing. But Western diplomats’ and officials’ general response has been a collective shrug,” [a Brookings] report states.

… But in fact, these policy geniuses have been running the asylum installed in government for years and have been allowed to create havoc unsupervised. For these geniuses, the creation of a vacuum of power in the oil-rich middle-east is an accomplishment not a failure:

The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy. …

The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.

In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of being lied to by the US government about the true nature of our wars and policies while being expected to support them based on their lies and deceptions. Their actions of bombing liberally (for “humanitarian” reasons) are clearly not fixing the problems. US covert actions and wars of choice against other nations and peoples only seem to be exacerbating the problems (often long running sectarian and ethnic strife) by larding up the local adversaries with weaponry, which grows the numbers of people who wish America harm exponentially.

Can we (the people), in good conscience support any military action by the US until the government comes clean about the history and chronology of events and fully explains our goals in the process?  If the US is bombing to protect “American interests,” which are virtually synonymous with the interests of large corporations which have no loyalty to anything but profit, then military intervention is morally insupportable.

Years of dubious decisions and foolish policy based upon destroying a series of bogeymen (all of whom are “worse than Hitler”) and their armies for “humanitarian” reasons or to “spread democracy” (which presumably propagates in a wide range of calibers) have left the US government fighting against its own expensive weapons surrendered in haste by armies that the US has hastily stood up without adequate political and social support. In short, our ill-advised policies continue to come back and bite us in the posterior.

It is time for an accounting, not another bombing campaign.

Apr 09 2012

Legally Obligated to Prosecute

President Barack Obama took this oath on January 20, 2009 as prescribed by the US Constitution, Article II, Section 1:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

That includes a legal obligation to enforce the laws of this country and prosecuting the criminals who break those laws, even if that criminal is another President.

Rachel Maddow tiptoed around a bit when she that Bush-era torture was “probably a war crime,” while discussing the recently released memo by Philip Zelikow, a former Bush counselor. I suspect she did so as to not find herself on the unemployment line.

Rachel Maddow relays the news that the original Philip Zelikow memo advising the Bush administration that waterboarding is torture and such, illegal, has been found despite Bush administration efforts to destroy every copy. Will new proof that the Bush administration did not act in good faith when it tortured detainees push the Obama administration to prosecute? Will the Republican Party, once principled against torture, outflank Obama and call for prosecutions?

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It was probably a war crime, not to put a fine point on it. And that is something we are legally obligated to prosecute in this country. This opens the whole question of legal liability for torture that was administered by the previous administration. The Democratic Party will be split by this, because the White House politically doesn’t want to deal with this, even if it’s wrong and even if they know it’s wrong. And the Republican Party still has to figure out who it is. Is the Republican Party still the party of John McCain, which now has the opportunity to outflank the president on a matter of principle here? Where the Whit house knows what the right thing to do is, but they don’t want do it. Or is the Republican Party still the party of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney who think torture is OK?

Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog  doesn’t think this is going away. He also wonders why the Obama administration didn’t pursue it and links to an article written by Andrew Kreig, executive director of Justice Integrity Project, on September 13, 2011:

President-Elect Obama’s advisers feared in 2008 that authorities would “revolt” and that Republicans would block his policy agenda if he prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a law school dean who served as one of Obama’s top transition advisers.

University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley, Jr., the sixth highest-ranking member of the 2008 post-election transition team preparing Obama’s administration, revealed the team’s thinking in moderating a forum on 9/11 held by his law school (also known as Boalt Hall)[..]

When a citizen, Susan Harmon, who opposed torture, questioned Dean Ederly on the inclusion of Professor John C. Yoo, former Bush Justice Department attorney who authored a memo justifying torture, to Boalt Hall’s faculty, this is what happened:

Harman’s account of her actions at the Boalt Hall forum, which focused on such goals as human rights and the rule of law:

I said I was overwhelmed by the surreality of Yoo being on the law faculty . . . when he was single-handedly responsible for the three worst policies of the Bush Administration. They all burbled about academic freedom and the McCarthy era, and said it isn’t their job to prosecute him.

Duh.

Dean Chris Edley volunteered that he’d been party to very high level discussions during Obama’s transition about prosecuting the criminals. He said they decided against it. I asked why. Two reasons: 1) it was thought that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and 2) it was thought the Repugnants would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation they tried to move (which, of course, they’ve done anyhow).

Harman says that she approached Edley privately after the forum closed and said she appreciated that Obama might have been in danger but felt that he “bent over backwards” to protect lawbreakers within the Bush administration. She recalled, “He shrugged and said they will never be prosecuted, and that sometimes politics trumps rule of law.”

The last I checked waterboarding was still considered torture and torture was still a crime. Obama could well become a target for impeachment proceedings should the Democrats lose control of the Senate and more seats in the House. So long as the Obama administration refuses to prosecute former Bush administration officials, as well as, Bush and Cheney, they themselves are complicit in war crimes as per established laws and treaties of this country and the oaths that they took to uphold those laws and the Constitution.