Posts Tagged war crimes

Hello… State Dept? Aggressive War is the Supreme War Crime.

When I asked this week “When did it become appropriate to hold a vote about whether or not we should commit the “supreme international crime”?  I received a comment that

The people who have received your message are probably already convinced of the illegality (or at least immorality) of a US attack on Syria, but efforts to persuade those not yet convinced would be aided by being able to refer to some internationally recognized legal document in which wars of aggression are so characterized and the characterization is explained (because all other war crimes flow from wars of aggression).

Not enough people know the disparity between internationally recognized legal principles and the term “international norms” made up by John Kerry to justify a military strike on a country which has not attacked the U.S.  So, let’s break it down.

The phrase “supreme international crime” comes from a quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.  Richard Falk, speaking 60 years later at the World Tribunal on Iraq, gave the history of what the United States had agreed to and enforced as the victor:

The criminal trial of German and Japanese leaders after World War II, the Nuremberg Judgment issued in 1945 was a milestone in this process. The Judgment declared: “To initiate a war of aggression… is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” and although Nuremberg was flawed by being an example of “victors’ justice,” the American prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson, made what has been described as the Nuremberg Promise in his closing statement: “If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

The internationally recognized document that defines war crimes is the Nuremberg Principles. Aggressive war is listed first in the crimes against peace:

“The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i)

Richard Falk brings the sharp difference up to 2013, when he wrote on September 6 against a U.S. military strike on Syria:

There are four important independent reasons for Congress to withhold authorization in this instance:

–a use of force that can neither be justified as self-defense, nor is authorized by the UN, is contrary to the UN Charter, which is an obligatory treaty, as well as being the most serious type of violation of international law in a post-Nuremburg world; the Nuremberg precedent with regard to crimes against peace (as the ‘crime of crimes’) should be respected, especially by the United States, which continues to serve for better and worse, as  the main normative architect of world order;

–the Kosovo precedent of ‘illegal, but legitimate’ is not applicable as a military attack is not likely to achieve either its political goals of ending the civil war and of causing the collapse of the Assad regime, nor its moral goals of stopping the slaughter and displacement of the Syrian people, and the devastation of their cities and country;

–even if the political and moral goals could be achieved, Congress, as well as the president, lacks the authority to authorized foreign policy uses of force that are incompatible with the UN Charter and international law;

–Congress should defer to domestic and world public opinion that clearly is opposed to a proposed military attack in the absence of an exceptional demonstration can be made as to the positive political and moral benefits of such an attack; for reasons mentioned, no such demonstration can be made in this instance; even the European Union has withheld support for a military attack on Syria at the September meeting of the G-20 in St. Petersburg; only France among America’s traditional allies supported Obama’s insistence on reliance on a punitive military strike, supposedly for the sake of enforcing international law, bizarre reasoning because the rationale reduces to the following proposition: in view of the political realities, it is necessary to violate international law so as to be able to enforce it.

US war crimes

American “exceptionalism”: Kim Phuc, seen below with then-Sen. Joe Biden, stands in front of the famous photograph of herself as a child, being burned by napalm.

As we know, what is “legal” is not necessarily moral, and vice versa.  In this case, the U.S. has no international law to rely on, thus resorts, as Kerry does, to the relative term “international norms,” i.e. whatever those running the Untied States prefer at any particular moment to embrace.

Most importantly, in the face of illegitimate — and illegal — unjust, immoral plans by the U.S. government to attack Syria, it is up to us to create political conditions where they cannot.  I agree with Mario Venegas, the human rights leader and survivor of the U.S./CIA sponsored coup against the government of Chile 40 years ago, who said Wednesday, that “we are the force that can stop this war.”

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In Court with Bradley Manning: It’s All About War Crimes

We learned while in a strange, airless, windowless trailer-like military court at the infamous Ft. Meade, during the trial of Bradley Manning on Thursday, June 28, that the U.S. military has blocked access, worldwide, for anyone in the military to the website of The Guardian, apparently in reaction to the leaks by Edward Snowden on vast surveillance of whole populations by the National Security Administration.  Ironically, or not, Ft. Meade is the home of the NSA.

Marching for Bradley at NYC Pride June 30, 2013

Marching for Bradley at NYC Pride June 30, 2013

The criminals, according to the U.S. government, are the leakers such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden and journalists such as Glenn Greenwald who publish the information about U.S. war crimes which we, the public, are supposed to support, or, at least ignore.  The “enemy” is us, the public, explicitly, in the case of Bradley, who is charged with “aiding the enemy.”

This is all backwards, to risk understatement. The crime of aggressive war is the supreme war crime. To have waged such a war, destroying a country’s infrastructure, society, displacing millions, displacing and killing uncounted numbers — and all on the basis of lies, as was the U.S. war on Iraq — is the criminal offense we should be trying the leaders of the Bush regime for.

Instead, Bradley Manning, a private who joined to pay for college, sent to a Forward Operating Base outside Baghdad, is facing charges for which the U.S. government wants him in prison for life, and which could potentially lead to the death penalty. Preliminary hearings went on for many months, during which, last February, Bradley made a declaration taking responsibility for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks.  The prosecution will finish its case against him this week, charging, most seriously, that he “aided the enemy.”

History is being made in this courtroom, but as is often the case in the proceedings of empire, on the surface, the proceedings are banal. The judge takes pains to point out Bradley’s rights as accused, all the better to not be reversed in an appeal. The large team of prosecutors comes and goes with stacks of files, as if this is business as usual, and as if “justice” will be served. Each morning the lead prosecutor informs the judge of how many members of the media and the public are present. There is a lot of talk about the rights of the public, while the public is searched, told not to talk, and treated as the “enemy” we are.

Bradley is charged with leaking “Cablegate” files, and specifically 117 of them, as allowed by the judge last week.  Kevin Gosztola notes that these aren’t the cables that made news when released.  He speculates on why these documents, which concerned countries all over the world including Iraq and Afghanistan, were charged:

Peter Van Buren, a former Foreign Service Officer for the State Department who helped lead two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq from 2009-2010, told Firedoglake that none of the cables from the US Embassy in Baghdad that Manning is charged with disclosing to WikiLeaks jump out at him as “anything special or concrete.” He suggested that many of them were reports done by State Department employees as if they were journalists.

The fact that none of the cables appear to be any that received widespread attention in the media when WikiLeaks published them is, to Van Buren, a possible symptom of the State Department’s “schizophrenia about WikiLeaks.” They have wanted to claim the release of cables was an “incredible crime against the US government” while at the same time wanting to “reassure” leaders of countries around the world that the “really important stuff was protected” and not compromised.

The prosecution attempted to get the judge to allow them to submit tweets from WikiLeaks as evidence that Bradley was working with WikiLeaks, providing what they asked for.  We learned that the prosecutors hadn’t subpoenaed Twitter for those records, and had someone find them on Google, perhaps because they know they don’t have to work very hard here to get a “guilty” verdict from the military judge.  The judge did deny one 2009 WikiLeaks tweet into evidence, but allowed others.

Collateral Murder

Everyone needs to see the video Bradley Manning is accused of releasing: Collateral Murder. Request a DVD copy. Distribute this flier.

A small defense victory Thursday came when the judge seemed to indicate she’ll allow them to submit evidence arguing that the Collateral Murder video of the July 2007 Apache helicopter attack killing 12 Iraqi civilians was no longer “classified” by 2010 when Manning sent it to Wikileaks.  It’s worth noting that this footage was sought by Reuters, (who employed two of the men killed in the attack) for three years, unsuccessfully.

The most interesting testimony Friday was from Col. David Miller, who had commanded Manning’s brigade in Iraq in 2010, which was assigned to “Operation New Dawn,” the U.S. cynical attempt to “teach” Iraqis to provide their own security, as he explained.  Miller told how he thought Manning, who had once briefed him at Ft. Drum before deployment was smart, but that the whole unit “took a hit” and that he was “stunned” when he learned of the charges against Manning. “The last thing I anticipated was an internal security breach from one of our own.”

Nathan Fuller, writing for the Bradley Manning Support Network, wrote:

On cross-examination, Col. Miller testified that there were no restrictions on surfing the SIPRNet, the military’s Secret-level internet, where he perused the State Department’s Net-Centric Diplomacy Database. He also said that soldiers were allowed to download files to their computers and to digital media, such as CDs, and there were no restrictions on the ‘manner’ in which a soldier could download. This refutes the claim that by using the download-automating Wget program, Manning exceeded his authorized computer access.

NOW: Take-home message:

The prosecution will rest July 1 or 2. After the holiday weekend, on Monday July 8, the defense will begin. Let this be a day where the prosecutor has to tell the judge that the media trailer is full; the public seats are all taken, and the overflow trailer is also full.  If you can’t get to Ft. Meade, join in the conversation online; send donations; talk to everyone you know about this case, and why telling the truth should not be a crime.

And, order a copy of Collateral Murder to show, to project outside, to share.  What is so dangerous about this footage that Bradley should spend life in prison for releasing it?  It shows war crimes, done in our name.

Finally, consider Julian Assange’s comments on the trial:

This is not justice; never could this be justice… The verdict was ordained long ago. Its function is not to determine questions such as guilt or innocence, or truth or falsehood. It is a public relations exercise, designed to provide the government with an alibi for posterity. It is a show of wasteful vengeance; a theatrical warning to people of conscience.

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Talking about Guantanamo and Bradley Manning in front of the White House

Interview by April Watters, in front of the White House June 26.

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Talking about Bradley Manning – Whistleblower and Hero

I’ll be speaking at the rally for Bradley this Saturday June 1, two days before his trial begins. Join me at Ft. Meade, or find a solidarity rally near you.

On Wide Lens

Host Jolie Diane interviews Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait and Jeff Patterson of Courage to Resist about the actions and detention of Bradley Manning.

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The “American” War Isn’t Over for the Iraqi People

Iraqi school destroyedYes, I know it wasn’t all of the  countries of the Americas which made war on Iraq.  It was the United States of America, as Barack Obama is so fond of saying, dragging along with it the coalition of the bribed and coerced.  Just as it was for the Vietnamese people an American war, while we called it the Vietnam War, this one is known in Iraq as the American War.  We have to accept that.

It was the U.S. government that heaped crippling economic sanctions, and lots of missile strikes, on Iraq, through the 90′s, leading to the deaths of an estimated 500,000 children.  Using the 9/11 attack as an opportunity, George W. Bush, “Dick” Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest of the regime concocted their “yellow-cake uranium” and “secular Saddam Hussein befriending al Qaeda” stories, with the aim of rolling through Iraq toward Iran, strengthening U.S. control of the strategic Middle East.

The 2003 war, says Larry Everest, author of Oil Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda

was not waged to eliminate “terrorism,” destroy weapons of mass destruction, or liberate the Iraqi people.  Instead, it was an unjust war of aggression, conquest and greater empire.

We know this, but sometimes we forget that this war destroyed the infrastructure, cultural history and morale of an advanced, literate society with a long history, in the name of removing a despotic ruler the U.S. at one time supported heavily.

The American war on Iraq was our war to stop — had people living in this country responded as we should have, with sustained protest, making the prosecution of the war, and the legitimacy of the Bush regime itself, a fundamental question for tens of millions. Indeed, the mass protests denied Bush the coalition he wanted, and weakened the U.S. efforts globally so much that the war went very badly for the U.S. But at what a price for the people of Iraq!

Michael Otterman’s book Erasing Iraq: The Human Cost of Carnage, written with Robert Hill and Paul Wilson, is one of the few to look at what the U.S. did to Iraq. Otterman was interviewed in the Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs:

A study published in October 2006 by the prestigious medical journal Lancet provides the most reliable estimate to date. Their methodology, Otterman explained, “was the same the U.S. government uses to count the dead in conflict areas, including Kosovo.” The study’s findings were that approximately 655,000 excess Iraqi deaths had occurred, including both militants and civilians.

But much violence has occurred since then, Otterman noted, and by extrapolating the data through to the present, a rough estimate of one million deaths can be made.

Injured Iraqi children“When you combine this figure with the more than five million displaced since 2003,” he said, “you begin to get a sense of the deep, permanent level of destruction the United States has unleashed.”

Describing the level of trauma as “truly incalculable,” Otterman asked: “How do you quantify this human toll? The answer: Simply by reading and accessing the narratives of Iraqis that have lived through this very real sociocide. In Erasing Iraq, we quote dozens of refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Sweden, plus a slew of Iraqi bloggers who lived through the carnage in real time. These narratives exist in sharp contrast to the bland, misleading, or propagandistic accounts of war featured heavily in the mainstream news outlets. Only by engaging directly with Iraqi narratives can outsiders get a true sense of the human costs of war in Iraq.

See The Fallujah Project, which writes:

The U.S. occupation has had horrible effects on the Iraqi population, but Fallujah has suffered more than any other Iraqi city. Fallujah is to the Occupation of Iraq, what My Lai was to the Vietnam War, and what Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to World War II.

In the video below, which World Can’t Wait posted to YouTube in 2006, and which has been viewed more than 700,000 times since then, a scene much like that captured in the notorious Collateral Murder is seen from the gunsights of a US F-16, as a crowd of people in Fallujah is gunned down:

As we mark 10 years since the “shock and awe” beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a massive assemblage of war crimes carried out in our name, let’s fully look at what was done.

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Say It Louder than Ever: FREE Bradley Manning!

Bradley Manning

Drawing by Clark Stokeley (@WikiLeaksTruck)

I was sitting in a Brooklyn court room last week, listening to police testify for prosecution of freedom fighters who protest NYPD stop-and-frisk.  (Later that day charges were dropped by the judge).  At the same moment, Bradley Manning was giving a first public statement on releasing documents on U.S. war crimes, including what came to be called the “Collateral Murder” video, the U.S. diplomatic cables, material on indefinite detention in Guantanamo, and Afghan War Diaries and Iraq War Log.

Manning accepted responsibility for some of the charges the US government has made, opening himself to two years prison on each of ten counts.  What is most disturbing is the government’s intention to try him on June 1 for the remaining, more serious charges, and to ask for life in prison.

Monitoring my phone on breaks in the trial, we heard via Twitter that Bradley had tried the Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico, before uploading the data to Wikileaks, with the  urgent intent of getting the public in the U.S. to engage in a debate about war policy, based on knowing what their government is doing.  Alexa O’Brien provided a transcript of the statement Bradley Manning made in military court last week, well worth reading through.

On Collateral Murder, he said of the U.S. military on the ground  and in the Apache helicopter in 2007:

Preparations to rally at Ft. Meade, Maryland, site of the trial are being made now. The Bradley Manning Support Committee reports on international support actions February 23, 2013.

They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Leah Bolger, past president of Veterans for Peace told Revolution Newspaper about the video Collateral Murder:

What the video depicted was the truth of war. There were completely inhuman things—laughing about killing people, laughing about rolling over dead bodies with tanks. It was just abominable and reprehensible and sickening. When you watch it, it just makes you gasp to hear the language. But this is not an aberration. This is the truth of war. And that’s what we need to convey to people. What Bradley Manning did was a huge service to the world, to let people know the ugly, awful truth of war.

Request a Copy of Collateral Murder on DVD

Let us know you would like a copy of the Collateral Murder video on DVD (click here to see how to show the DVD out on the street). We are distributing these along with the Afghan War Diary documents released by Wikileaks.

I have no doubt the government will continue to pile on Bradley Manning with all the force they have.  That an Army private, so articulate, so clearly out for the benefit of humanity, as opposed to personal gain, could begin a mass public reaction that brought down reactionary governments in the Middle East, and expose the U.S. for its illegitimate use of military force the world over, is dangerous to them.  Much more dangerous, than say, CIA torture of thousands or the destruction of whole countries.

Virtually no one is being prosecuted for those crimes; yet, Bradley Manning faces life in prison for exposing them.

Glenn Greenwald, on Democracy Now, captured a lot of what the US is doing to this person of great moral conscience:

This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overkill. The government has never been able to identify any substantial harm that has come from any of the leaks that Bradley Manning is accused of and now admits to being responsible for. Certainly nobody has died as a result of these leaks, even though the government originally said that WikiLeaks and the leaker has blood on their hands. Journalists investigated and found that there was no evidence for that. So, just the very idea that he should spend decades in prison, let alone be faced with life on parole, given what it is that he actually did and the consequences of it, is really remarkable.

But even more specifically, the theory that the government is proceeding on is one that’s really quite radical and menacing. That is, that although he never communicated with, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” which the government has said is al-Qaeda, although there’s no evidence that he intended in any way to benefit al-Qaeda—he could have sold this information, made a great deal of money, had he wanted to. All the evidence indicates that he did it for exactly the reason that he said, with the intent that he said, which was to spark reform and to bring attention to these abuse…

In the chat logs that were published over a year ago with the government informant who turned him in, he said very much the same thing while he thought he was speaking in complete confidence, to somebody who had promised him confidentiality, about what led him on this path, that he had become disillusioned first about the Iraq war when he discovered that people they were detaining weren’t really insurgents but were simply opponents of the Maliki government, and he brought it to his superiors, and they ignored him. He then looked at documents that showed extreme amounts of criminality and deceit and violence, that he could no longer in good conscience participate in concealing. It was really an act of conscience, pure conscience and heroism, that he did, knowing he was sacrificing his liberty.

The government has insulated its conduct from what are supposed to be the legitimate means of accountability and transparency—judicial proceedings, media coverage, FOIA requests—and has really erected this impenetrable wall of secrecy, using what are supposed to be the institutions designed to prevent that. That is what makes whistleblowing all the more imperative. It really is the only remaining avenue that we have to learn about what the government is doing

Speaking for thousands of us who have protested Manning’s trial, from signing petitions to civil disobedience, I think we can say with even more determination now, after hearing him,  “FREE Bradley Manning!”

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Two U.S. Military Men in Afghanistan

PetraeusOne man is as the center of a story you can’t avoid in the media, since last Friday. General David Petraeus, architect of the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, pulled in to “save” Afghanistan, then bumped over to the CIA last year, was forced to resign because the FBI, we are told, found out about an affair he was having with a fawning biographer.

The other story is one you could barely find until days ago, despite the subject being a soldier who allegedly killed 16, including nine Afghan children, on March 11 last year near Kandahar. Robert Bales, an Army Staff Sargent, is said by the Army to have gone on a rampage in two villages, and is facing a court martial involving the death penalty.

Robert BalesThose in charge of U.S. national security are reeling, though you can hardly find a word of criticism for General Petraeus, save his admitted “indiscretion.” He’s said to be a national hero, and somehow even more of one, since he “sacrificed” his career and resigned.

This is completely outrageous. Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone led to the firing of General McChrystal in Afghanistan has also been following Petraeus for years. He writes that in Afghanistan:

The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over. Everyone is paying for their sins. (And before we should shed too many tears for the plight of King David and his men, remember, they’ll be taken care of with speaking fees and corporate board memberships, rewarded as instant millionaires by the same defense establishment they served so well.)

David Petraeus ran two illegitimate, unjust occupations, the whole Central Command, and now the CIA. Adultery is surely the least of his crimes.

Bales, who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably was driven nuts, as his lawyers assert. His crime is a horror, as we saw from testimony linked into Fort Lewis over the last few days from victims in Afghanistan.  The AP reports:

The stories recounted by the villagers have been harrowing. They described torched bodies, a son finding his wounded father, and boys cowering behind a curtain while others screamed, “We are children! We are children!”

The actions of both of these men represent the real face of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and they need to be thoroughly investigated, with the aim of keeping criminals like this away from people they could kill.

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War Criminals to Meet in Chicago, But Somehow Protest Will be the Danger?

Update May 8: “On Tuesday, city officials notified National Nurses United that they were ordering nurses to accept new, less visible, locations for the protest, under threat of cancelling a long approved permit for the public event – even though the G-8 leaders will now be 700 miles away from Chicago on that date in the backwoods of Camp David, Md.”  At a press conference Wednesday, “NNU will outline a legal challenge to the city’s demand and discuss other plans responding to the city’s move” (from a press release from National Nurses United regarding the suppression of their planned May 18 protest in Chicago against the NATO Summit).

The NATO International Security Force, which we all know is actually led by the U.S. military, killed a woman and her 5 children in an airstrike in southwestern Afghanistan Sunday, and then yesterday expressed “regret” for what they call their “mistake.”

Military tribunals, the crowning achievement of a US system of indefinite detention and torture aided by and including NATO member countries, and which defense attorneys assert are rigged by the U.S. to assure the execution of 5 men in Guantánamo, have begun, in the process of continuing the unending U.S. war on terror.

U.S. drone strikes, halted briefly because of protest from the government of Pakistan (presumably a sovereign country) began again last week, killing 4 people in a school.  Of course these victims were called insurgents; everyone killed by U.S. drones is a militant, by definition.  NATO is now a major purchaser of U.S. drones, and has a vast role in aiding the covert U.S. strikes.

The most heavily armed empire in world history occupies and has destroyed whole countries, has a system of indefinite detention and torture in place, and is expanding secret military operations across the region.

But according to this empire, the biggest danger to peace is some hundreds or thousands of people protesting the Chicago meeting of the NATO military alliance next week?  According to the purveyors of war crimes, the people decrying the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are the ones to fear and lock up, while the war-makers and torturers are given even more power to war critics into criminals?

Public opinion is being prepared for this criminalization. The Chicago press has featured reports on plans to evacuate Chicago because of “unrest;” on the deployment of National Guard troops to quell protests; on plans to reopen a closed prison in Joliet to house arrested protesters; on heavily armed federal teams sweeping through the central city; on closing down the public transport system in the city; and more.

Despite the measures which Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s former White House enforcer, wanted in place against protest, a well-publicized battle was successful in getting a permit for the march on Sunday May 20 at Grant Park.  With the removal of a long-held permit to march on Friday May 18 by National Nurses United, the City is trying to force protest further away from city center, supposedly because rocker Tom Morello will be performing at their rally.

No matter how they parse the words of the First Amendment, what the federal authorities (who are the ones running the show in Chicago) are doing is criminalizing protest in advance.  As they did at the Republican Convention in St. Paul in 2008; at the G-20 in Pittsburgh in 2009; in response to the Occupy movement, they are putting measures in place that will sweep up people who are assembling and speaking based on the content of our protest message.  The message to the general public is that protest should be feared, not a system that perpetrates war crimes and mass denial of civil liberties.

We state clearly and publicly, in advance: It’s right to protest the crimes being carried out in our name, in public space, near the NATO meeting.  We protesters are not the endangering the people; the danger to humanity is a system which uses police-state measures to back up war crimes. The following measures are in place, or have been proposed:

Occupy Bridge Arrests

Last fall, hundreds of Occupy protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge

* Sending arrested protesters to an old prison in Joliet. 

The idea was then ditched, as the place is falling apart (To Joliet jail for NATO offenders?  Sun-Times, Apr 28, 2012).

* The National Guard is deployed to Chicago for NATO Summit:

“Another contingent of guard troops will conduct a large-scale domestic response drill outside Cook County during the summit weekend, ready to provide support in the event of any problems in Chicago, said Maj. Troy Scott, deputy director of domestic operations for the Illinois National Guard.”

Video of military helicopters flying over the Loop.

* Milwaukee Red Cross to Prep for Chicago Evacuation During NATO Summit:

“CBS News has obtained a copy of a Red Cross e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area. It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”

According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone. “Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said (accompanied by picture of demonstrators amidst flames, who knows where…).

* Vague Speculation about “Unrest” Concerns about NATO Summit Violence Leave Chicago Guessing CBS News reported on April 29:

“There also are reports that a heavily armed security team will start making a very public appearance around federal buildings in the Loop this week. Officials with the Chicago NATO host committee were completely in the dark. They had no reports of any such plans. A source told CBS 2 that security forces in full battle gear would not be seen this week.”

* Chicago airspace to be closed down:

“The FAA says private planes may be shot down if they fly within ten nautical miles of downtown Chicago during the summit. The only planes allowed will be commercial passenger and cargo carriers, and police and military aircraft.”

* Surgical strikes against anyone in protests who “crosses the line” beyond First Amendment activity… as defined by the Secret Service?

“Police will embrace “First Amendment activity,” she told the building managers, and will surgically deal with those who cross the line into vandalism. She was asked how many demonstrators could arrive in Chicago who aren’t now part of a permitted group.

“If I had that crystal ball, I’d be solid,” she said.

Many building managers said that overall they were relatively satisfied with the level of information they are getting and are willing to trust the police and federal authorities to keep things under control.

“I understand they haven’t got everything figured out yet,” said Wes Stoginski, assistant engineer at a building on 13th Street near the Illinois Central rail line. But Stoginski also said he knows where the variables are.

“You can’t legislate against lunatics,” he said.”

(This is the only somewhat oblique reference I could find to the CPD extraction technique of arresting the people they see as leaders, which they did at the mass March 20, 2003 arrests. The civil suit by NLG based on those arrests was just settled for $6.2 million to demonstrators. In the pre-trial discovery, that technique was documented.)

* Federal Patrols Set for Loop:

“In a memo titled Operation Red Zone, the protective service said the increased security will be extended throughout the South Loop area often referred to as the federal complex. It includes the Kluczynski Federal Building, the U.S. Dirksen Courthouse and the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Several buildings just east on State Street are also in the so-called red zone.

“The memo notes there have been no specific or credible threats at federal facilities ‘related to terrorism by international terrorist organizations’ but that the area around the complex will be ‘directly and indirectly’ affected by protests in the days before and after the summit.”

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One Million + Dead & Displaced in Iraq for This?

I can’t tell you anymore than this: The Bush regime’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on lies, was illegitimate, unjust, and immoral from the start.  Barack Obama’s announcement yesterday that the “war is over” is wrong on so many levels.  For those on the ground, the millions in Iraq, and the one million US military sent there, it won’t end.

The wealthiest country and military in the world leaves behind billions of dollars worth of trashed equipment, and civil and physical society in shambles.

A young soldier, Bradley Manning, formerly stationed in Iraq, will begin a court martial Friday at Ft. Meade, because the U.S. military claims he released classified information about the war to Wikileaks.

But today, the New York Times reports that 400 pages of classified documents on the interrogation of U.S. Marines about the notorious massacre of civilians in Haditha, in 2006 were

discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

Aftermath of U.S. Marine killing of civilians, Haditha, Iraq, 2006

Shaun Mullen, a columnist for The Moderate Voice comments

That the true story of the 2005 massacre of 20 Iraqi civilians, including an elderly man in a wheelchair and women and children, has finally come out because an Iraqi was using transcripts of secret interviews with the Marines involved to cook dinner is a fitting coda to a nearly nine-year war that officially ended today.

Says Leon Panetta, current Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration about the war on Iraq

“the cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”

Say what? from 7 of the 8 Iraq veterans CNN interviewed who were deployed to Iraq during the war.  Their one sentence pull-outs mirror everything I’ve heard over 8 years:

“I don’t think that the gravity of what we were doing ever really hit me.” Emily Trageser, Army

“We removed one corruption and replaced Saddam with officials who were just as murderous and evil.”  Nicholas Panzera, Army

“I lost everything.  My wife, my place to live, my friends, and the future I had once seen.”  Marc Loiselle, Army

“I have never felt more proud in my life to be a part of something.” Tyler, Army, who is currently in Iraq shutting down bases.

“Although we did depose a dictator, we ruined the country in the process.”  Eric Sofge, Army

“The principle excuse to invade Iraq to discover WMD was a non-starter from the get-go.”  Jeffrey Tracey, biological weapons inspector

“None of us could see a reason why we were still there.  And it just kept going on and on.” Jim Lewandowski, South Dakota National Guard

“I don’t know any soldiers that really have a positive view on any of it.”  Spencer Alexander, Army

It’s not over, people.  The U.S. is ready to send troops back to Iraq, and will keep thousands on the border of Kuwait.  The ceremony is only for public consumption.

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Iraq: The World Still Waiting for US Withdrawal

Despite the Obama administration’s announcement Friday that U.S. combat troops are finally leaving Iraq — giving rise to the popular perception that “Iraq war is over”–  I ask those who are celebrating to consider: where is the joy coming from?

It’s been ten years now since Donald Rumsfeld’s brain went “9/11 = attack Iraq,” apparently minutes after the WTC was hit by airliners.  From that moment, when the world’s largest military machine began planning it, through today, after over a million Iraqi deaths, this war and occupation has never been legitimate, just or moral!

Tens of millions of us who care about humanity protested to prevent the Bush regime from getting the coalition it sought to attack Iraq; much of the world was convinced the U.S. was not invading to “save” Iraqis but to advance its own imperial agenda.  Our actions did contribute to this loss of legitimacy as the United States military ran into deep geopolitical difficulties in the region (remember, Bush and Cheney planned to sweep through Iraq as a gateway to dominating the rest of the region, including Iran, a strategy that has, shall we say, not gone well.)

The Nobel Peace President, who promised an end to war on Iraq, isn’t exactly blazing a peace trail.  The Bush Regime set this time frame of “withdrawal” in 2011.

In fact the Obama administration, through the State Department, pursued very hard the plan to keep U.S. fighting forces in Iraq beyond this year.  It was the Maliki government, which in general has been very compliant to its U.S. funders, who balked at allowing U.S. military to stay because the terms demanded by Obama included immunity from local prosecution for the troops.

Think of that: The widest sustained, imperialist government sponsored, mass war crime, destroying a whole country, displacing 4.5 million from their homes, the turning of a secular society into a bloody sectarian battlefield, was to be justified and continued only on the basis of immunity from the victimized country!

Glenn Greenwald specifically attributes the Iraqi government stand to the revelation  of a cable

released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama administration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.

War crimes in 2003; war crimes never prosecuted at the hands of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and one can go on into the dozens, as War Criminals Watch does.

I am not celebrating!

More to come on the continued U.S. State Department presence of fighters; the black operations, and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. contractors staying in Iraq.

May 1, 2003 Bush announces "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq

Remember, George. W. Bush, the master of creating his own reality,  announced that it was over on May 1, 2003, in his famous “Mission Accomplished” speech, wearing his pseudo-airman’s costume:

“Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before.”

Any commander in chief of an illegitimate occupation should be very careful what he announces.

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