The Crimes of Empire
I. BACKGROUND, 1975-1989
April 30, 1975
South Vietnam falls. The end of a massive US campaign of imperial aggression, including the systematic use of torture, dating back to 1962. At the time, a low point in US international prestige. The last several years of direct US military involvement featured widespread mutiny in the military, troops killing their officers, and intense social conflicts at home between the government and militant peace and civil rights movements. Beginning of the "Vietnam Syndrome," in which US leaders hesitate to unleash mass murder on the world, for fear of such domestic political repercussions.
President Jimmy Carter rhetorically supports human rights,
and calls for energy conservation programs that are "the moral equivalent of war," partly to deal with US reliance on unstable and unjust regimes in the oil-rich Middle East, long recognized by US strategic planners as one of the greatest material prizes in world history, and therefore targeted for US influence, control and dominance. Carter’s energy programs fail.
Iranian revolution against the US-supported Shah. 52 US hostages held at the embassy in Tehran until January 20, 1981. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and massive US CIA support for the Afghan mujahadeen resistance, also involving Pakistani and Saudi intelligence agencies. These same Islamic resistance fighters would later organize the international Islamic terror network symbolized by Al-Qaeda.
President Ronald Reagan includes in his administration many of the same foreign and military policy appointees who would return to the Bush II administration 20 years later. Declares a "war on terrorism." Terrorizes people and popular organizations throughout Latin America, and supports apartheid and terrorism in Africa. Escapes impeachment in the "Iran/Contra Affair," for selling missiles to Iran and using the proceeds to illegally fund contra terrorists in Nicaragua.
Invasion of tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada begins to counter the "Vietnam Syndrome."
Invasion of longstanding US client state Panama continues to counter the "Vietnam Syndrome."
II. NEW HORIZONS OF US EMPIRE, 1990-2000
Iraq under Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait on August 2.
Fall of the Soviet Union. End of the "Cold War." Operations "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm" drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. US President George H.W. Bush publicly calls on Iraqi Shia and Kurds to rise up against Saddam’s Sunni-based tyranny, then abandons them to be massacred when they do. The "Vietnam Syndrome" is largely forgotten, and there has been no significant evidence of an effective political left in the US since that time. Deadly economic "sanctions of mass destruction" are imposed on the Iraqi people, strengthening Saddam’s dictatorial power over their impoverished nation.
Under President Bill Clinton, the US continues sanctions against Iraq, estimated to kill more than 500,000 children and about a million people total. US missiles strike Baghdad in 1996. US and UK develop and implement the doctrine of "humanitarian warfare" against former Yugoslavia in 1999. Corporate globalization policies in the form of "free trade" agreements, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other institutional organs of global corporate power and governance systematically maintain and extend US imperial power. US Corporate globalization policies aim to conquer the entire world through market economics. Project for a New American Century (including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other subsequent architects of the post-9/11 "war on terror") calls for invading Iraq to overthrow Saddam and control Iraqi oil.
III. AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001; THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY, WAR CRIMES, AND TORTURE
September 11, 2001
Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC kill more than 3,000 people and provide a pretext for US aggression. As a direct result of this deadly "blowback" from the CIA’s anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan 20 years before, "everything changed." That is, previously established political checks and balances on the President’s imperial powers were systematically cast aside, to facilitate US military and corporate power projection into the strategic energy producing regions of the Middle East. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and other powerful Bush administration policy makers immediately counsel war against Iraq. Bush reportedly states: "I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass."
September 14, 2001
Congress grants Bush the power "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determined planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11."
September 25, 2001
Justice Department lawyer John Yoo directs a 15 page memo to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, arguing that there are effectively "no limits" on Bush’s powers to respond to the 9/11 attacks, by attacking "pre-emptively" any countries that harbor terrorists, "whether or not they can be linked to the specific terror incidents of Sept. 11." This is significantly broader than the authority granted by Congress on September 14. Bush’s decisions "are for him alone and are unreviewable."
November 2001 A Justice Department memo written for the CIA puts forth an extremely narrow interpretation of the international anti-terror convention, allowing sleep deprivation and other "stress and duress" techniques. Bush announces that any non-US citizens he deems to be "terrorists" can be tried by secret military tribunals, rather than in conventional criminal trials. Ordinary evidence rules would not apply, a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt would not be required, and no appellate relief beyond Bush would be available. He reserved the right to keep the defendants in prison, even if they were acquitted by the tribunal. After the surrender of the Kunduz fortress in Afghanistan, hundreds of Taliban prisoners (as well as American John Walker Lindh) are taken prisoner. Hundreds of these prisoners die by suffocation in container trucks or by outright execution, with American forces working intimately with the Afghan perpetrators of the massacre.
December 28, 2001
Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion argues that US courts lack jurisdiction to review the treatment of foreign prisoners at Guantanamo.
Rumsfeld approves the use of aggressive interrogation methods, including dogs, to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo.
January 9, 2002 OLC’s John Yoo co-authors a 42 page memo concluding that neither the Geneva Conventions nor any of the laws of war apply to the war in Afghanistan.
First plane load of prisoners lands at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo.
January 25, 2002
Gonzalez advises Bush that the Geneva Convention does not apply to detainees in the "war on terrorism" at Guantanamo. Gonzalez describes provisions of the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete." In fact, the Geneva Convention provides comprehensive protection for all persons in all armed conflicts, and no one has the lawful power to suspend its provisions. Gonzalez says he is concerned that without this conclusion US officials could be subject to prosecution for war crimes.
February 7, 2002
Over State Dept. objections, Bush issues a Memorandum adopting the essence of Gonzalez’ legal position that detainees at Guantanamo are not Prisoners of War entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions. This is an attempt to shield US officials from responsibility for torture. Soon thereafter Bush signs a secret order granting new powers to the CIA to set up a series of secret detention facilities outside the US, and to interrogate detainees there harshly. The administration increases the "rendering" of suspects in a secret CIA jet to other governments to be tortured.
August 1, 2002
A Justice Department Memo ("The Torture Memo") requested by Gonzalez narrowly defines "torture" under US law and the Geneva Convention, as limited to practices causing physical pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Specific practices like "water boarding" are discussed and approved. The memo opined that laws prohibiting torture "do not apply to the President’s detention and interrogation of enemy combatants," because he is Commander-in-Chief of the US military. The author, Jay Bybee, has subsequently been appointed to a lifetime position as a federal appellate judge.
The Bush administration adopts its National Security Strategy, announcing the doctrine of "pre-emptive war" wherever and whenever they choose. Cofer Black, head of CIA Countertorrorist Center, testifies at a joint hearing of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee: "This is a highly classified area, but I have to say that all you need to know: There was a before 9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves came off."
November 14, 2002
Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, one of the Bush government’s leading neocons, addresses the Federalist Society, a right wing legal organization that promotes judicial candidates for the Bush administration. Bolton denounces the International Criminal Court, and says that an alternative to international war crimes prosecutions "is for the parties themselves to try their own alleged war criminals. Indeed, there are substantial arguments that the fullest cathartic impact of the prosecutorial approach to war crimes occurs when the responsible population itself comes to grips with its past and administers appropriate justice."
Rumsfeld approves initial list of 16 interrogation methods for Guantanamo, in addition to the 17 traditionally approved methods in the Army Field Manual. The new techniques clearly violate the Geneva Convention and US anti-torture laws.
March 6, 2003
Defense Department "Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism" (the "Pentagon Torture Manual") requested by Rumsfeld, adopts the Yoo/Gonzalez legal analyses of torture. "In order to respect the President’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign, [the statutory prohibition against torture] must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander-in-Chief authority. Congress lacks authority under Article I to set the terms and conditions under which the President may exercise his authority as Commander-in-Chief to control the conduct of operations during a war. [NOTE: In fact, Art. I, Sec. 8 of the US Constitution expressly states that "The Congress shall have Power to declare War and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water"]
March 20, 2003
US military forces invade Iraq without authorization by the United Nations Security Council, in violation of international law.
Rumsfeld issues a final policy approving 24 special interrogation techniques, some of which need his permission to be used.
A group of military lawyers disclose the administration’s legal approval of torture and abuse to the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the City Bar Association in New York. They repeat their request that the Bar Association take action in October 2003.
June 26, 2003
Amnesty International raises concerns about allegations of inhuman treatment in US detention camps in Iraq in a letter to Ambassador Paul Bremer
July 23, 2003
Amnesty International releases report, "Iraq: memorandum on concerns relating to law and order," warning of allegations of torture and abuse in US prisons, including Abu Ghraib: "Regrettably, testimonies from recently released detainees held at Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib Prison do not suggest that conditions of detention have improved" since AI’s June 26 letter to Bremer There are "a number of reports of cases of detainees who have died in custody, mostly as a result of shooting by members of the Coalition forces." A Saudi national "alleged that he was subjected to beatings and electric shocks."
August 18-26, 2003
Nearly two dozen prisoners at Guantanamo Bay "Gitmo" try to hang or strangle themselves, including ten simultaneous attempts in a single day, to protest conditions there. They were among 350 "self-harm" incidents recorded in 2003, including 120 "hanging gestures" at the prison, according to a Gitmo spokesman. "The 2003 protests came after Maj. Gen Geoffrey Miller took command with a mandate to get more information from the prisoners"
August -September 2003
In the face of intensifying resistance to US military occupation of Iraq, including bombings of the Jordanian embassy, UN headquarters, and police headquarters in Baghdad, General Miller, Guantanamo Prison Commander, visits Iraq to "Gitmoize" detention operations in US prisons there. Miller is acting under orders from fundamentalist US General Boykin and Rumsfeld’s deputy Stephen Cambone. He recommends that military police be used by military intelligence and CIA interrogators to "set the conditions" for interrogation of Iraqi detainees. That is, he recommends that US personnel torture Iraqis. His recommendations are accepted and implemented. Furthermore, Rumsfeld and Cambone expand the scope of their top-secret "special access plan" ("Copper Green") and apply it to detained prisoners at Abu Ghraib, treating male prisoners there roughly and exposing them to sexual humiliation.
Delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visit Abu Ghraib prison, and witness "the practice of keeping persons deprived of their liberty [NOTE: without any charges, trial, or right to counsel or any other contact with the outside world] completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness" for days. A military intelligence officer tells the ICRC that this practice was "part of the process." The ICRC reports that this "went beyond exceptional cases" and was "in some cases tantamount to torture." ICRC complains directly to top US authorities. National Lawyers Guild Convention resolves that Bush and other officials responsible for the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and other international instruments and treaties, and without a formal declaration of war as required by the US Constitution, should be impeached.
An internal report by the Army’s chief law enforcement officer criticizes the practice of involving Military Police officers in the process of "softening up prisoners for interrogation."
An FBI e-mail describes methods used by Defense Department interrogators, posing as FBI agents, as "torture techniques." The FBI document says no "intelligence of a threat neutralization nature" was garnered by this torture.
January 13, 2004
Military policeman Joseph Darby reports the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the Army Criminal Investigations Division, and turns over a CD full of photographs. Within three days, a report made its way to Rumsfeld, who informed Bush. They begin developing the cover story "that some kids got out of control."
Secret internal report of General Antonio Taguba regarding abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq states that General Miller of Guantanamo urged military commanders in Baghdad to put military intelligence in charge of the prison, and recommended that "detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation." Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib. There was a policy of holding "ghost detainees" in secret, hiding their presence from the Red Cross.
March 19, 2004
A Justice Department memo, reportedly written at the request of Gonzalez, authorizes the CIA to transfer detainees from Iraq to other countries for interrogation, in violation of international law. The memo apparently sanctioned a CIA policy of "rendering" detainees to countries with known records of grave human rights violations, including torture.
March 31, 2004
The Peacerights organization in the UK issues a detailed report calling on the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to investigate members f the UK government, a signatory to the Treaty of Rome ICC Statute, for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Iraq in 2003, as part of a "Joint Criminal Enterprise" with the USA.
Committee on International Human Rights of the City Bar Association of New York, prompted by senior military lawyer whistle blowers, issues a report on interrogation of detainees. The Committee criticizes exclusion of military lawyers from supervising interrogations.
April 20-28, 2004
US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Guantanamo (Rasul) and US (Hamdi and Padilla) "enemy combatants" cases. CBS "60 Minutes II" broadcasts the first infamous photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. One of the pictures depicts a hooded figure standing on a box attached to wires in a stress position known in the intelligence community as the "Vietnam" technique.
The Wall Street Journal publicly discloses the contents of the ICRC’s October 2003 report on torture.
May 5, 2004
A US Army summary of deaths and mistreatment of prisoners in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan shows a widespread pattern of abuse, involving more military units than previously known, and at least 37 deaths in US custody.
May 7, 2004
Amnesty International sends an open letter to Bush, saying that abuses committed by US agents in Abu Ghraib prison were war crimes, and calling on the administration to fully investigate these abuses and ensure there is no impunity for anyone found responsible, regardless of position or rank.
May 10, 2004
Bush publicly reiterates his complete support of Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of public release of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Seymour Hersh publishes his first New Yorker piece on the torture at Abu Ghraib.
May 11, 2004
The Washington Post reports that the policy of denying due process, kidnapping and transporting foreigners to foreign governments to be tortured, "has been developed by military or CIA lawyers, vetted by Justice Department’s office of legal counsel and, depending on the particular issue, approved by White House general counsel’s office or the president himself."
May 15, 2004
Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker on the Pentagon’s top-secret "Copper Green Special Access Plan,", which "encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq." "The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’" A confidential Pentagon consultant involved with such programs says: "The issue is that, since 9/11, we’ve changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means. You don’t keep prisoners naked in their cell and then let them get bitten by dogs. This is sick." The New Zealand Herald reports that "Almost 10,000 prisoner’s from President George W. Bush’s so-called war on terror are being held around the world in secretive American-run jails and interrogation centres similar to the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison."
May 16, 2004
The British Observer reports that "Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp [If the allegations are proven] they will provide final proof that brutality against detainees has become an insitutionalised feature of America’s war on terror"
May 19, 2004
US military spokesmen in Kabul, Afghanistan said they would keep their network of "around 20" secret detention facilities in that country shut to the outside world, after reported deaths there. European Philosophy Professor John Gray writes: "[T]he United States is facing an historic defeat in Iraq a blow to American power more damaging than it suffered in Vietnam, and far larger in its global implications. The inescapable implication of currently available evidence is that the use of torture by US forces was not an aberration, but a practice sanctioned at the highest levels. Abuse on the scale suggested by the Red Cross report cannot be accounted for by any mere lapse in discipline or the trailer-park mentality of some American recruits. It was inherent in the American approach to war."
May 20, 2004
US officials admit that unspecified "harsher" interrogation techniques on some detainees at Guantanamo went beyond accepted military practice, and were "non-doctrinal." "The military lawyers believed some of those techniques went too far, other officials said." The fourteen Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee write to Attorney General John Ashcroft "to request that you appoint a special counsel to investigate whether high ranking officials within the Bush Administration violated the War Crimes Act by approving the use of torture techniques banned by international law."
May 21, 2004
US Govt. seeks to renew immunity from war crimes prosecutions previously granted in 2002 to American peacekeepers, with a new resolution before the UN Security Council, but in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal there is growing international opposition to such an extension.
May 24, 2004
Bush gives a speech in which he describes the incidents at Abu Ghraib as acts "by a few American troops who disregarded our country and disregarded our values."
An FBI "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up. An FBI agent reported witnessing "numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees," including "strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings."
June 8, 2004
Ashcroft tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that the international ban against torturing prisoners of war does not necessarily apply to suspects detained in the war on terror. He denies Congress access to memos by Bush administration lawyers who reportedly "concluded the president can legally order interrogators to abuse or even kill terrorist suspects in the interests of national security."
June 9, 2004
A New York Times editorial states: "Each new revelation makes it more clear that the inhumanity at Abu Ghraib grew out of a morally dubious culture of legal expediency and a disregard for normal behavior fostered at the top of this administration."
June 10, 2004
A New York Times op-ed states: "Under the doctrine of command responsibility, officials can be held resoponsible for war crimes committed by their subordinates even if they did not order them so long as they had control over the perpetrators, had reason to know about the crimes, and did not stop them or punish the criminals. Moreover, the abuses seem to have been more than isolated actions. Instead, they now appear to be part of an explicit policy of coercive interrogations conducted around the globe and supported by Justice Department and White House lawyers, who argued in 2002 and 2003 that the Geneva Conventions and other domestic and international bans on torture did not apply in these cases."
June 11, 2004
Knight-Ridder newspapers announces that the US Army is now investigating deaths of 127 prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from 37 in early May. "In a press conference Thursday [June 10], President Bush said his instructions were that ‘anything we did would conform to US law and would be consistent with international treaty obligations.’ But the administration memos that have become public argued that US laws do not flatly prohibit torture."
June 28, 2004
US Supreme Court issues decisions in the "enemy combatant" cases (Hamdi, Padilla, and Rasul): "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President" The Court rejects OLC’s 12/28/01 opinion exempting such cases from US courts’ jurisdiction, after around 600 men and boys were held for more than two years without charges or trial..
July 30, 2004
An FBI agent reports that a detainee at Guantanamo was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music and strobe lights.
August 2, 2004
An FBI agent reports interrogations at Guantanamo in which detainees were shackled hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor for 18 to 24 hours at a time, and most had urinated or defecated on themselves. One detainee was reportedly left in an unventilated room at a temperature "probably well over a hundred degrees." He was "almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him," apparently having pulled out his own hair through the night.
December 20, 2004
An FBI document dated May 2004, from "On Scene Commander Baghdad," released under court order to the ACLU under a Freedom of Information Act request, states that Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq, including sleep deprivation, stress positions, dogs, hooding, and sensory deprivation. The Bush administration denies the existence of such an Executive Order.
December 30, 2004
US Justice Department releases a rewritten legal memo, disavowing it previous legal opinions regarding torture. "This memorandum supersedes the August 2002 Memorandum [i.e., "The Torture Memo"] in its entirety."
January 2, 2005
Washington Post reports that Bush administration is planning to imprison suspected terrorists indefinitely and without charges or trial.
January 6, 2005
Alberto Gonzalez testifies at hearings of Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination as US Attorney General, provoking a flood of outraged commentary. For example: "Through a process of redefinition largely overseen by Mr. Gonzalez himself, a practice that was once a clear and abhorrent violation of the law has become in effect the law of the land. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Americans began torturing prisoners, and they have never really stopped. Mr. Gonzalez is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzalez, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States’ fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand. One does not teach democracy, or freedom, through torture. By using torture, we Americans transform ourselves into the very caricature our enemies have sought to make of us."
January 8, 2005
Newsweek reports that the Pentagon is discussing "the Salvador option" in Iraq: employing death squads for assassination and kidnapping campaigns that echo the "Phoenix" state terrorism program in Vietnam, and Central American death squad crimes in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras throughout the 1980s.
The New York Times reports that in December 2004 the White House persuaded Congress to drop a new law that would have restricted "extreme interrogation measures." "Among the procedures approved by the document was waterboarding, in which a subject is made to believe he might be drowned. At times, their discussion included an assessment of whether specific measures, on a detainee by detainee basis, would cause such pain as to be considered torture."
January 25, 2005
The Baltimore Sun reports that the US Army investigated dozens of cases of detainee abuse in Iraq over the last two years, "but case after case was closed with US troops facing no charges or only minimal punishment The documents, internal reports from more than 50 criminal investigations, challenge the government’s claims last year that photographed abuses at Abu Ghraib were the isolated pranks of a few low-ranking soldiers." The Washington Post reports that Iraqis are still being routinely tortured under the occupation, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
February 6, 2005
The Minneapolis Star Tribune raises the question of command responsibility for war crimes in Iraq: "independent human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and two of America’s most respected investigative reporters, Mark Danner and Seymour Hersh, have all concluded, in detailed investigations, that torture of prisoners was authorized at the highest levels of command. [quoting Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch] ‘No soldier higher than the rank of sergeant has been charged with a crime. No civilian leader at the Pentagon or the CIA is even being investigated. But the privates and the sergeants are not the ones who cast aside the Geneva Conventions, or who authorized illegal interrogation methods. Unless the higher-level officials who approved or tolerated crimes against detainees are also brought to justice, all the protestations of ‘disgust’ at the Abu Ghraib photos by President George W. Bush and others will be meaningless.’"
February 18, 2005
The Chicago Tribune reports that an Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning US soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA torture in a position known as "Palestinian hanging," suspended by his wrists with his hands cuffed behind his back. A guard told an interviewer "the prisoner’s arms were stretched behind him in a way [the guard] never had seen before," so he was surprised the man’s arms "didn’t pop out of their sockets." As guards released the man’s shackles, "blood gushed from his mouth ‘as if a faucet had been turned on.’" Perpetrators "received non-judicial punishment."
March 17, 2005
CIA Director Porter Goss testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee that "I am not able to tell you that" interrogation techniques employed by the CIA in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks were always in compliance with the law. The CIA issued two statements "to clarify his remarks but no official would agree to be named" Goss claimed that "waterboarding" is "an area of what I will call professional interrogation techniques."
March 19, 2005
On the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Veterans For Peace, Inc. sends a letter and statement of violations to the members of the US Congress, calling for the removal of Bush and Cheney from office, because of a war of aggression on Iraq and war crimes and crimes against humanity in the execution of the war.
March 25, 2005
In spite of recommendations by investigators that they be charged, US Army commanders decide not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
April 23, 2005
Human Rights Watch issues a report calling for a special prosecutor to investigate US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA Director George Tenet regarding abuse of prisoners.
April 25, 2005
The Independent (UK) reports that the top UN human rights investigator in Afghanistan was fired "under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons often before being shipped to Guantanamo Bay."
April 28, 2005
The US Army Inspector General, on the one year anniversary of the Abu Ghraib scandal, announces that no senior US military officer will be held accountable; only Brigadier General Janis Karpinski is relieved of her command and reprimanded. The transparent and utterly shameful whitewash provokes an eloquent denunciation by commentator Joe Conason: "In this disgraceful story, accountability diminishes with every ascending link in the chain of command. Miller and Sanchez at least were criticized in official reports, but Rumsfeld, former CIA director George Tenet and Gonzales haven’t endured even that degree of discomfort. They haven’t even been investigated. Instead, all three have been rewarded and lavishly praised by the president. Tenet got the Medal of Freedom. Gonzales got a promotion from White House counsel to attorney general. And Rumsfeld, despite widespread bipartisan demands for his resignation, got to keep his job. The failure of our "system" in this scandal has not been confined to the White House or the Pentagon, awful as their failures are. Although traditional news organizations such as CBS News, the New Yorker magazine and a few newspapers deserve tremendous credit for their reporting on Abu Ghraib and its sequels, most of the American media has conspicuously hesitated to emphasize this story or to confront the responsible officials. It was remarkable to read the transcript of Rumsfeld’s press briefing this week, which reveals the extent of journalistic timidity on this topic. No doubt emboldened by this weakness, Rumsfeld recently placed unprecedented restrictions on the First Amendment freedoms of reporters covering the court-martial of a sergeant at Fort Bragg. On the anniversary of the Abu Ghraib scandal, the only appropriately outraged editorial in any major publication appeared in the Washington Post, a paper whose editorial support for the Iraq war hasn’t diminished its desire to see national honor restored. And then there is Congress, which might once have been expected to enforce accountability on rogue officialdom. Not any more. The House of Representatives is entirely useless under its current leadership, except to echo the excuses of the executive branch and perform whatever favors its corporate sponsors have bought."
TOM STEPHENS is a lawyer in Detroit. He can be reached at: lebensbaum4@earthlink.
A BRIEF NOTE ON SOURCES:
I have a very large number of news, investigative and official government reports on file.
I have tried to provide a specific, credible source for each of the events identified in Part III, since 9/11/01. Some of the more notable documents I have used are listed below:
- National Lawyers Guild Practitioner, Vol. 60, No. 4 Fall 2003, special issue
focusing on Unilateral Power vs. International Law, in the context of the Iraq war.
-Articles by Prof. Marjorie Cohn, Prof. Jules Lobel and Michael Ratner, Prof. John Quigley, Prof. Karima Bennoune, Edward J. Flynn, and Staughton Lynd
- National Lawyers Guild Practitioner, Vol. 61, No. 2 Spring 2004, "Atrocity by
Frenzy or by Policy? Tracing the Blame up the Chain of Command in the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal," by Michael S. Bryant
- "Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on
Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy, and Operational Considerations," March 6, 2003, posted on the web site of the Center for Constitutional Rights
- National Lawyers Guild Resolution Calling for the Impeachment of George
W. Bush and Cabinet Officials Responsible for Suppression of Constitutional Rights and Violation of International Law, Which is Part of the Supreme Law of the Land, NLG Convention, Minneapolis, MN, October 2003
- "Report of the Inquiry into the Alleged Commission of War Crimes by
Coalition Forces in the Iraq War During 2003," Peacerights March 31, 2003
– "Chaos in Washington," TomDispatch, 5/17/04, by Tom Englehardt
- "Torture at Abu Ghraib," The New Yorker, 5/10/04, by Seymour Hersh
- "The Gray Zone," The New Yorker, 5/15/04, by Seymour Hersh
- "Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Psychodynamics of Occupation, and the
Responsibility of Us All," ZNet, 5/1/04, by Stephen Soldz
- "The Roots of Torture," Newsweek, May 18, 2004, by John Barry, Michael
Hirsch, and Michael Issikoff