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US General: Bush Administration committed war crimes, must be held accountable

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MG TagubaYou may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004.  The Pentagon was not pleased;  Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.”  Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface.  His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling.  Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.

I reprint it in full (from Truthout), below.  The full Physicians for Human Rights report can be read at their website.
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Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives

By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

Bush, Rumsfeld, CheneyIn order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.


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Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Are they less than dogs?

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Why is it that good kids get prison for pot, but wicked presidents go free after ordering torture?

Why is it that “just following orders” was no excuse at Nuremberg, but the Obama justice department finds it adequate for military abusers in the USA?

clipped from takeaction.amnestyusa.org

Take Action On This Issue

Prosecute torturers

The recent release of memos has made all the more clear what we had previously heard about the last administration’s torture policies. Forced nudity. Slamming detainees into walls. Forced sleep deprivation for days of shackled prisoners, standing in diapers in excruciating pain and filth. Although Attorney General Holder, on April 16, suggested that the Obama administration would not prosecute intelligence agents who carried out interrogations following legal advice, both those who authored the policy and those who executed it must be held accountable. Press your representatives to help establish or support a non-partisan independent commission and urge them to help expose and prosecute those responsible for abuses. Background Information

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As the Michael Vick case demonstrates, we don’t allow most Americans to practice this level of cruelty against dogs. What reason is there for excusing it against fellow human beings?

Is it because they are Muslims that torturing them has no penalty?  Is it because they are not white?  Is it because they are not US citizens?  Is a Muslim life worth less than a Christian or a Jewish or an atheist life? Is a Pakistani or a Uighur less than a dog under American law?

Is it because we don’t really expect presidents to respect the Constitution they swear to defend?  But what good is constitutional government if the privileged are not equally restrained by it?

This ruin of innocent lives will never be addressed unless Americans demand it.  It can be demanded by following the “take action” link, where there is a simple way to email Senators and Representatives.

No life can be trashed at will by lawless government.  Write.  Write until the least influential have equal justice with privileged politicians.

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UN Investigator: Israel commits “massive violations of international law”

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Richard Falk, U. N. Special Investigator for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, spells it out (h/t PeoplesGeography):

clipped from www.russiatoday.com
The Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Convention, both in regard to the obligations of an occupying power and in the requirements of the laws of war.
'Israeli air strikes represent massive violations of international law'Those violations include:Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants. […]

Targeting civilians – the air strikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world […]

Disproportionate military response – the air strikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians […]

Earlier Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims. […]

Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give Israel any right … to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes … in its response […] The one Israeli killed today … is the first in over a year. […]

The Israeli air strikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they have caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries which have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza, which itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe

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Since 2000, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed by Hamas’ primitive rockets – and only one in the last 12 months. By contrast, 3,000 Palestinians have died, and 300 of them perished in the last few days.

Israel’s enabler is the USA, which provides American gunships, missiles, and bombs. Israel kills with impunity because the US vetoes near-unanimous UN rebukes.

Dispensationalism’s blind faith that Israel’s barbarous government is the Israel of prophecy demands re-evaluation. For the pogroms this outfit carries out make it more resemble the Third Reich than the children of Abraham.

And the USA—with the backing of the Christian conservative set—once again has blood on its hands.


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Gitmo trials rigged; JAG officers want out

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Former chief prosecutor says fair trials “not possible”

[Update, 2/27/08: “The Department of Defense announced today that General Counsel of the Department of Defense William J. Haynes II is returning to private life next month.”]

The Nation writes that the Bush appointee in charge of the entire military tribunal process—to whom its judges, prosecutors, and defenders report—has sent word that “not guilty” is not an option. Follow the link for more details; here’s a summary:

Col. Morris DavisAccording to Col. Morris Davis (right), former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions, the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees in an attempt to foreclose the possibility of acquittal.

Colonel Davis … [told] the Washington Post that he had been pressured by politically appointed senior defense officials to pursue cases deemed “sexy” and of “high-interest” … in the run-up to the 2008 elections. Davis, once a staunch defender of the commissions process, elaborated … “I concluded that full, fair and open trials were not possible under the current system … I felt that the system had become deeply politicized and that I could no longer do my job effectively.”

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes–the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 20, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Israeli and Palestinian former fighters start peace group together

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Here is the most heroic story you’ll read all day. I excerpt just a couple of comments from ever-excellent DemocracyNow! Do click thru to the whole story here.

Combatants for Peace

At tremendous price, a former Israeli Army pilot and a former Fatah fighter long imprisoned by Israel stand for peace and against revenge.

AMY GOODMAN: In the midst of this deepening crisis, I spoke to an Israeli and Palestinian peace activist: Yonatan Shapira and Bassam Aramin. They are from a group called Combatants for Peace that’s made up of former fighters from both Israel and Palestine. Bassam Aramin spent seven years in an Israeli prison, was an armed member of Fatah, the Palestinian political faction once led by Yasser Arafat. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir died one year ago after being shot by Israeli soldiers while she was on her way home from school. Yonatan Shapira is a captain in the Israeli Air Force and Black Hawk pilot squadron—well, he was. In 2003, he authored the “Pilots’ Letter,” refusing to participate in attacks against Palestinians. . . .

YONATAN SHAPIRA: [W]e decided that it’s important to refuse, but just refusing to be part of something illegal and immoral and just refusing to be part of war crimes is not enough. You have to try to fix the wrongdoing that you were part of. And then, with many other people who refused to military service and to be part of the occupation in the Israeli side and Palestinian ex-fighters in the Palestinian side, people who were many years in Israeli prisons, we formed this group, which we called “Combatants for Peace.” . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 22, 2008 at 5:39 pm