PeopleJudgeBush.org – 2005-06-10 23:43:08
Global Condemnatation of a Criminal Regime
US violations of international law have become so outrageous and widespread that even mainstream organizations, including Amnesty International, International Comittee of the Red Cross, and Physicians for Human Rights have issued statements condemning the Bush Administration’s lawlessness.
In addition, representatives of the media worldwide, including CNN, BBC, the Newspaper Guild, and widely respected organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders have spoken out against the military’s attempt to silence coverage of war crimes by political pressure and by directly targeting journalists.
The US — A Rogue State
According to a 308-page report issued last week by Amnesty International, the US is “thumbing its nose at the rule of law,” by engaging in torture, abuse, and illegal detentions.
More than a year ago, grisly pictures of the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib came to light, sparking justifiable outrage, particularly throughout the Arab world. The Pentagon reponded by banning cell phone cameras which had been used to photograph the abuse. They then selected a few low-ranking soldiers to punish for executing policies that we now know originated in the Washington, DC.
Alberto Gonzales who drafted the memo advising the President that he was not bound by international law was subsequently promoted to Attorney General. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved many of the interrrogation techniques used in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram Prison.
A year after the Abu Ghraib photographs exposed the real character and intent of US occupation, the conditions and apparatus remain in place for torture, abuse, and illegal detentions. While the Pentagon is engaging in a public relations campaign to convince the public that these crimes are the actions of a few “bad apples,” tens of thousands of detainees in US prison camps in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, and secret locations elsewhere remain in brutal and inhumane conditions.
Evidence of torture and abuse by US forces continues to mount. According to the May 29 Washington Post, “The latest FBI documents detailing allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay are, like previous FBI documents, highly disturbing. They contain prisoners’ descriptions of beatings, strippings and abuse of the Koran. Detainees variously claim the Muslim holy book has been thrown on the floor, thrown against a wall and, yes, flushed in a toilet. There are also references to these kinds of events having led to an “altercation” between detainees and guards.”
The government was forced to release 1,000 pages of transcripts this week. The testimonies included offer a shocking look into the torture chambers of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 520 men from 40 countries remain held, some for as long as three years.
Psychological Torture Used
A recent report from Physicians for Human Rights examining the use of psychological torture against prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba says that the abuse was a direct result of decisions developed by civilian and military leaders to “take the gloves off” during interrogations and “break” prisoners through the use of techniques such as “sensory deprivation, isolation, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, the use of military working dogs to instill fear, cultural and sexual humiliation, mock executions, and the threat of violence or death toward detainees or their loved ones.”
“Although the evidence is far from complete,” the report says, “what is known warrants the inference that psychological torture was central to the interrogation process and reinforced through conditions of confinement.”
Torture and abuse are not the work of a few “bad apples.” These inhumane and brutal policies flow directly from the highest levels of government.
Amnesty International recognized this and suggested that foreign governments investigate senior US officials involved in torture and abuse and arrest and question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former CIA Director William Tenet, and Vice President Dick Cheney.
The Pentagon’s Response: Target the Press
In response to the growing global outrage at US torture, the Bush Administration is taking steps, not to halt its criminal actions, but to stop media coverage of the abuse.
On May 1, Newsweek magazine revealed that an internal US military investigation had found substantial evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. Newsweek’s story led to outrage against the US in Afghanistan and elsewhere where violent protests led to at least 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Newsweek wasn’t the first media outlet to report on the trashing of the holy Islamic text by US military personal at Guantanamo. Reports in the Independent of London, the Washington Post, the NY Daily News, and the Financial Times have all described desecration of the Koran, including throwing it into the toilet.
However, the White House damage control team was able to successfully pressure Newsweek to retract the story amd issue an apology. The Bush Administration claims Newsweek’s story led to preventable deaths that resulted from the protests. “People lost their lives. People are dead,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said.
“People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do.” This is the same man who lied to the US public, saying he knew exactly where the Iraqi people were hiding weapons of mass destruction. His lies helped lead the US into a war cost the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis and 1600 US soldiers.
Newsweek’s retraction had nothing to do with the veracity of the article. There is ample evidence that the acts described are standard procedure in US prison camps.
The retraction came in repsonse to Pentagon pressure, part of a campaign by the Bush Administration to silence any media coverage that does not follow its script. Newseek‘s only mistake in this matter was caving in and retracting the story.
The White House campaign to block coverage of its crimes doesn’t stop at just putting public pressure on media outlets. Reports of the killing, torture, and harassment of journalists by “coalition” forces in Iraq have been well documented by organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders, and the International Federation of Journalists.
US Accused of Targeting Journalists
One of the most powerful executives in the news business, CNN’s Eason Jordan, was forced out after he spoke at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in January, reportedly saying that the US military had targeted a dozen journalists who had been killed in Iraq.
One of the BBC’s top news anchors, Nik Gowing, said recently that he was “speak[ing] for a large number of news organizations, many of whom are not really talking publicly about this at the moment,” when he made this statement about the dangers facing reporters in Iraq: “The trouble is that a lot of the military — particularly the American…military — do not want us there. And they make it very uncomfortable for us to work. And I think that this… is leading to security forces in some instances feeling it is legitimate to target us with deadly force and with impunity.”
At a May 13 meeting in St. Louis, Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley said: “Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there’s not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the US military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq.”
These attacks include air raids on Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad and Kabul, tank assaults on hotels where journalists were known to be housed, and the assassination of a Reuters cameraman filming outside of Abu Ghraib prison.
That the US military has targeted news media is beyond dispute – and such actions are war crimes. The Geneva Conventions’ Protocol I, Article 79, says, “Journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflicts shall be considered civilians…. They shall be protected as such under the Conventions and this Protocol, provided they take no action adversely affecting their status as civilians.”
Help Build a Movement to Hold the War Criminals Accountable
George W. Bush and his Administration have committed numerous War Crimes. They lied in order to lead the US into a war of aggression. They have killed more than 100,000 Iraqi people. They have engaged in torture, abuse, and assassination. They have committed crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, and they must be held accountable.
These lawless killers have already demonstrated their absolute contempt for any legal restraint, whether domestic or international. The only force that can stop their drive to globalize Abu Ghraib is the power of the people.
We must build a mass grass roots movement to end the Bush drive for empire and to demand justice.
PeopleJudgeBush.org was launched in the summer of 2004 as part of the organizing for a week of protests against the Republican National Convention in New York City.
Organizers sponsored the August 26 War Crimes Tribunal, where an international panel of witnesses and experts presented conclusive evidence of the crimes committed by the Bush Administration. Findings from the Tribunal, including documentation and testimony are available online.
The Tribunal was more than a series of presentations, however. It was conceived as a Tribunal to Build Resistance, recognizing that the people have a right and an obligation to resist. The Tribunal’s Journal doubled as a Field Guide to the Republican National Convention Week of Resistance, including a calendar of protests.
The extensive media and organizational coverage of the US abuse and torture is not happening in a vacuum. They are forced to acknowledge it because activists, bloggers, independent journalists by the thousands have already spread this information globally — it is now common knowledge.. In order to maintain a shred of credibility, even the corporate media is forced to report on these crimes.
But it is not enough to acknowledge that the Bush Administration is a criminal regime. We must also defend the right and obligation to resist. The people of Iraq have the right to defend themselves and resist illegal US invasion and colonial occupation. Members of the military have the right to refuse to obey orders to fight in an illegal war. And the people have the right and the obligation to organize and take to the streets to demand that George W. Bush be held accountable.
Now that the crimes have been exposed, we are compelled to respond. People Judge Bush will be participating in an important unity meeting on
June 11 at the New School University in New York City (Saturday, June 11, 11 am – 5 pm, the Lang Center at New School University, 55 W. 13th St. in Manhattan, between 5th & 6th Aves).
This meeting will bring together activists and organizations from across the country who recognize that the brutality of this criminal regime demands a unified response.
Global opposition to this criminal regime has created a crisis for the Bush Administration. Because activists have exposed the truth about the war, recruiting is down by more than 30% and is at its lowest point in decades. Grassroots activism is having an impact, and now is the time to turn up the heat.
We need your help to continue organizing this summer. We are producing new educational materials, organizing tools, and activists resources. We are organizing meetings in schools, places of worship, and community centers across the country.
We are also planning a major national meeting at the end of the summer to bring together veterans, military families, youth, and activists from across the country to discuss practical steps and tactics to challenge the criminal regime in Washington.
Here’s How You Can Get Involved:
• Sign the On-Line Petition —Vote Bush Guilty of War Crimes.
• You can also hep by purchasing People Judge Bush t-shirts and other merchandise at http://www.cafepress.com/peoplejudgebush
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