Archive for the ‘War Crimes’ category


May 31, 2010

(Update below)

When a ship is boarded in international waters, as happened here, it is called piracy.

And this might be called provocation.

These actions are not in any way in Israel’s best interest.  During the last half of the last century, Israel’s big-brother protector was the dominant world power.  Now, that former pre-eminent world power is one of several world powers, seeing as the U.S. squandered several trillions fighting useless wars in south central Asia.

Regardless of the number of nukes Israel has in her arsenal, there is no guarantee that the U.S./Israel/Europe will be on the winning side in World War 3.

Update: From GlennGreenwald’s 3rd update of today’s post:

One of the ships attacked by Israeli belonged to a Turkish aid organization, and it’s been reported that among the dead are at least two Turks.  Turkey today “warned that further supply vessels will be sent to Gaza, escorted by the Turkish Navy.” Among other things, Turkey is a NATO member with increasing tensions with Israel.  Amidst worldwide protests aimed at Israel and possible internal unrest if (as has been reported) Israeli Arab leaders were among the wounded or dead, it’s possible this incident could produce some serious unforeseen consequences for the Israelis.

Great News from Marc Ambinder! Evidence Obtained Via Torture May Be Usable After All!

August 6, 2009

Wow, Marc Ambinder is really hitting ‘em today. First, he tells Josh Marshall that it’s “not terribly germane” to distinguish between Republicans screaming at speakers inside meetings, disrupting them, issuing death threats, etc.; and Democrats protesting Social Security “reform” outside of meeting places.


“Quietly but Forcefully,” John Yoo Defends His War Crimes

July 28, 2009

First, read Carrie Johnson’s sympathetic portrayal of John Yoo’s new crusade to tell anyone who will listen why it’s “absurd” to suggest that he did anything wrong or unconstitutional by writing those memos authorizing torture, arbitrary detention with no legal rights, and absolute, limitless presidential power:


Broken Campaign Promises

July 10, 2009

First, from Kathy at Comments From Left Field, this

AIDS activists are furious and showed it by taking over the Capitol rotunda this morning. John Aravosis has the background

Second, from Time

When Barack Obama sought the presidency, he pledged to reverse the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military. Yet on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a gay Ohio soldier’s challenge to the law — with the legal backing of none other than the Obama Administration.

There have been approximately 300 service members discharged because of their sexual orientation since President Obama took office.

Third, ‘transparency

When President Obama – in one of his first official acts – committed his new administration to an “unprecedented” level of transparency, EFF applauded the change in policy. Likewise, when Attorney General Holder, at the President’s direction, issued new guidelines liberalizing agency implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we welcomed it as a “particularly promising development.” But we also noted that it remained to be seen whether reality would match the rhetoric as the new policy was applied, particularly in the context of pending lawsuits – several of which EFF is pursuing – that challenge Bush-era decisions to withhold requested information.

Unfortunately, the early indicators are not encouraging. Last week, the Justice Department told a federal judge (PDF) in Washington that the FBI – despite the new Holder FOIA guidelines – will not be altering its previous decision to withhold a substantial amount of information concerning its massive Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), which the Bureau describes as “the FBI’s single largest repository of operational and intelligence information.” The database contains hundreds of millions of records and has been characterized as an “uber-Google.”

Fourth, doing a ‘google’ search of “obama broken promises” this was the top response.  There are six broken promises.  Take a look.

Fifth, torture

Torture by US officials has long been illegal, but the president’s executive order entitled “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations” seems to clarify, to some extent, what activities are proscribed. Disappointingly, though, this order contains loopholes big enough to drive a FEMA camp train through them.

Putting together the above list is an exercise in disappointment.  After eight years of watching President Bush say one thing and do the opposite, I believed in Barack Obama.  Six months into his term as president, I am saddened by the actions of the President.  I am trying, with no success, to see the difference between Bush and Obama in how their policies affect the average citizen of the Republic.

Lost and Lonely Without the Baby Killers

June 8, 2009

Their meaning in life is gone now:

At the New York Times, Monica Davey gives us a glimpse into the whacky world of the Fetus People. Apparently the murder of Dr. George Tiller has confounded the vocational jerks who have besieged his clinic for years . Now they literally don’t know what to do with themselves.

I take it there are people who actually moved to Wichita just so they could picket Dr. Tiller’s clinic. I suppose some of them have spouses who work to earn a living, but one does wonder if they’re being paid.


Some of them don’t believe Dr. Tiller’s clinic is really going to close; or, at least, there are no immediate plans to re-open it.

Despite the family announcement about the clinic’s uncertain future, some here seem convinced that it will secretly reopen on Monday. On Sunday, Mr. Gietzen said some of his more than 600 trained volunteers already were organized in shifts for a new week, in case visiting doctors were flown in.

Picketing that clinic was their purpose in life. In some ways, they may miss it more than anyone else. …

Noting that Scott Roeder has warned more attacks are coming, D-Day wonders if this isn’t a “One Percent Doctrine” situation:

The conservative philosophy of a “one percent doctrine” means that if there’s a one percent chance Roeder is telling the truth, then we must use every tool at our disposal to stop attacks. So intellectually honest conservatives like Dick Cheney will presumably endorse harsh interrogation tactics and indefinite detention for the anti-abortion right.

Waiting for that press release to come by my desk any time now.

Of course, Roeder will not be tortured, and should not be tortured — that principle is absolute. But it’s interesting to examine why the same logic that Dick Cheney used to justify torture in the case of foreign detainees isn’t being used in Roeder’s case:

And it is equally evident that this guy won’t be tortured — and rightfully so — because even though lives are at risk, it seems plain as day that torture is wrong when it is an American in custody, even when the American is charged with murder and making explicit threats, whereas some of the foreigners we tortured turned out to have been guilty of nothing except being rounded up by bounty hunters.

Steve Hynd makes yet another apt connection.

Nothing Can Be That Sacred . . .

June 2, 2009

that it can’t be prosecuted.

no evidence can be that well hid,

that it can’t be uncovered.

I am, of course, referring to the McClatchy story about why the Obama administration did an about face on the decision to release “detainee abuse photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In the days leading up to a May 28 deadline to release the photos in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, U.S. officials, led by Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Maliki that the administration was preparing to release photos of suspected detainee abuse taken from 2003 to 2006.

When U.S. officials told Maliki, “he went pale in the face,” said a U.S. military official, who along with others requested anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

The official said Maliki warned that releasing the photos would lead to more violence that could delay the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from cities by June 30 and that Iraqis wouldn’t make a distinction between old and new photos. The public outrage and increase in violence could lead Iraqis to demand a referendum on the security agreement and refuse to permit U.S. forces to stay until the end of 2011.

Maliki said, “Baghdad will burn” if the photos are released, said a second U.S. military official.

A U.S. official who’s knowledgeable about the photographs told McClatchy that at least two of them depict nudity; one is of a woman suggestively holding a broomstick; one shows a detainee with bruises but offered no explanation how he got them; and another is of hooded detainees with weapons pointed at their heads.

Some of the photos were of detainees being held in prisons, while others were taken at the time a detainee was captured.

“It was not so much the photos themselves, but that the perception that they would be Abu Ghraib-type photos,” added the senior defense official, who said U.S. officials were worried “about the potential street consequences” of making the photos public.

Iraq is scheduled to hold a referendum by July 30 on the accord, which calls for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011. If the accord were rejected, the U.S. would have to withdraw from Iraq within a year of the vote or by the summer of 2010.

IMO we have been in Iraq  about six and a quarter years longer than we should have been.  So it is long past time to get out.

Any why can’t we prosecute some of the perpetrators in the photos?  Is it because the feelings among the preps is so rampant through out the military that we’d have courts-martial forever?

It is high time we began cleaning house.

Cheney and Obama: No Duel, No Contest

May 21, 2009

Chris Cillizza on the media’s “Cheney Vs. Obama” national security boxing match narrative:

The dueling speeches by President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney are being cast as a showdown over national security but the tit for tat is a mismatch from the start.


Here are the last four personal favorability ratings for Obama: 56 percent, 68 percent 60 percent and 58 percent.

Here are the last four personal favorability ratings for Cheney: 37 percent, 18 percent, 19 percent and 30 percent.

What these numbers show clearly is that the American public is far more favorably inclined to listen to what the president has to say than they are to hear Cheney out.

Message matters in politics but only if the messenger is credible. In the context of a campaign, a negative attack only works when the person making the attack is trusted and believable.

Sen. Bob Graham: The CIA Lied To Me, Too

May 14, 2009

Sen. Bob Graham today told The Huffington Post that the CIA incorrectly told him that he had been briefed on dates when there were no briefings and that he was not told about the use of waterboarding, as the CIA claims he was:

In testimony that could bolster Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the CIA misled her during briefings on detainee interrogations, former Senator Bob Graham insisted on Thursday that he too was kept in the dark about the use of waterboarding, and called the agency’s records on these briefings “suspect.”

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman said that approximately a month ago, the CIA provided him with false information about how many times and when he was briefed on enhanced interrogations.

“When this issue started to resurface I called the appropriate people in the agency and said I would like to know the dates from your records that briefings were held,” Graham recalled. “And they contacted me and gave me four dates — two in April ’02 and two in September ’02. Now, one of the things I do, and for which I have taken some flack, is keep a spiral notebook of what I do throughout the day. And so I went through my records and through a combination of my daily schedule, which I keep, and my notebooks, I confirmed and the CIA agreed that my notes were accurate; that three of those four dates there had been no briefing. There was only one day that I had been briefed, which was September the 27th of 2002.”

As for the one briefing he did attend, the Florida Democrat said that he had “no recollection that issues such as waterboarding were discussed.” He was not, per the sensitive nature of the matters discussed, allowed to take notes at the time. But he did highlight what he considered to be pretty strong proof that the controversial technique was not discussed.

And if that’s true, then the CIA broke the law:

Democrats on the House intelligence committee said Thursday that CIA officers broke the law in 2002 if they told Nancy Pelosi then that they had not yet engaged in waterboarding.

“If they make a false report, absolutely it’s illegal,” said Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “If they fail to make a report when they’re obligated to that is also illegal — a violation of the National Security Act.”

Said CIA Spokesman George Little: “It is not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.”

Schiff said that the “question of recourse [against the CIA] has come up actually a number of times — not just in this context.” But he said it’s “very difficult because for one thing you can’t publicly disclose the information and to actually bring perjury charges or bring an action under the National Security Act without making it public is probably not possible.”

The act provides little in the way of recourse, but the committee is seriously looking at revising the law so that there are ramifications for failing to brief Congress on critical intelligence matters, aides said.

Philadelphia Inquirer Hires Expert on War Crimes To Do a Monthly Column

May 12, 2009

Will Bunch blasts the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s decision to give a monthly column to the man who, next to Dick Cheney, has done more than anyone else in the Bush administration to perpetrate and enable war crimes:

By late last year, the world already knew a great deal about John Yoo, the Philadelphia native and conservative legal scholar whose tenure in the Bush administration as a top Justice Department lawyer lies at the root of the period of greatest peril to the U.S. Constitution in modern memory. It was widely known in 2008, for example, that Yoo had argued for presidential powers far beyond anything either real or implied in the Constitution — that the commander-in-chief could trample the powers of Congress or a free press in an endless undeclared war, or that the 4th Amendment barring unreasonable search and seizure didn’t apply in fighting what Yoo called domestic terrorism.

Most famously, Yoo was known as the author of the infamous “torture memos” that in 2002 and 2003 gave the Bush and Cheney the legal cover to violate the human rights of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, based on the now mostly ridiculed claim that international and U.S. laws against such torture practices did not apply. Working closely with Dick Cheney, Cheney’s staff and others, Yoo set into motion the brutal actions that left a deep, indelible stain on the American soul.

Yet none of that was enough to prevent my colleagues upstairs at the Philadelphia Inquirer — with none of the fanfare that might normally accompany such a move — to sign a contract with Yoo in late 2008 to give him a regular monthly column. The Inquirer thus handed Yoo a loud megaphone on what was once a hallowed piece of real estate in American journalism — to write on the very subjects that have now led Justice Department investigators to reportedly recommend disbarment proceedings against Yoo and has led international prosecutors as well as millions of politically engaged Americans to consider the Episcopal Academy graduate worthy of charging with war crimes.

Steve Benen has read Yoo’s first bylined column, and apparently his writing ability is about on par with his legal reasoning skills. The comments are a hoot, though. Only three favorable to Yoo out of more than 50 comments when I was there. The rest are all along the lines of “Why is the Inquirer providing a platform for this war criminal?”


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