Felicity Arbuthnot / Global Research & TIME Magazine – 2006-11-12 09:36:29
Who Are the War Criminals?
Felicity Arbuthnot / Global Research
(November 10, 2006) — Fate certainly deals a strange hand. President Bush Jr., commented on the conviction of President Saddam Hussein, for crimes against humanity, in Waco, Texas, site of the massacre of the Branch Davidian religious group, in April 1993, by the US Army, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Under President Clinton’s watch, they laid siege to the building from February to April, subjecting those inside to continual sleep deprivation by playing deafening music and even continual screams of rabbits being slaughtered. Finally, surrounded by tanks, massive amounts of CS gas were sprayed in, then military pyrotechnic devices. Between seventy four and a hundred burned to death, including twelve between one and four years old. The building was then razed to the ground, allegedly to destroy the evidence.
From the town where this horror was perpetrated by the US military and others on American soil, Bush junior remarked of the Iraq trial outcome — in an area where US massacres have replaced daily bread — that: “Iraqians” (eh?) were now ruled by justice not terror.
He should take an unaccompanied stroll round the streets of Baghdad, pop in unannounced to Abu Ghraib and view the torture chamber discovered under the now ‘democratic’ Ministry of the Interior, just for starters.
However, trying Presidents and their governments for crimes against humanity, should be even handed in ‘democracies’. Here is an inadequate list, for the land of the Gettysburg address, where on 19th November 1863, Abraham Lincoln invoked human equality and saying of those who had died in the battle for ‘liberation’ :”Thus choosing to die resisting, rather than live submitting, they fled only from dishonor…’
As Commander in Chief, President Bush Senior, President Clinton and Bush Junior, are cloaked in dishonor by their political and military’s actions. The proverbial buck stops with them.
Aside from the often forgotten reasons for the Kuwait invasion of 1990, which had, arguably, some validity — Kuwait’s slant drilling under the border, into Iraq’s Rumaila oil fields; destabilization of Iraq’s currency and encroachment of settlements 300 kilometers into Iraqi territory — the then-US Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, specifically asked by Saddam Hussein on US views if all negotiation failed, replied : “We have no view on Arab-Arab conflicts.’“
Saddam invaded, James Baker, then-Secretary of State to George Bush Senior — now declaring the Iraq invasion catastrophic disaster — vowed the US would ‘reduce Iraq to a pre-industrial age.’ The Pentagon admitted that US aircraft dropped the equivalent of seven point five Hiroshimas, intended to destroy the life support system of the country.
In strict contravention of the Geneva Convention, all ‘necessary to sustain life’ was destroyed within the first hours of bombing (January 17th 1991) water, electricity, health infrastructure, communications, schools, food stores, large scale farms, productions units, bridges, roads, all industrial infrastructure. All needed for repair was denied under the US/UK driven embargo.
During 1991, ‘baseline mortality for the under fives, rose from 43.2 per thousand to 128.5 per thousand. A formerly largely well nourished nation was being compared in health and diet, to Mali and other of the world’s poorest countries, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. An estimated one and a half million souls died from ’embargo related causes’, to the 2003 invasion.
Further, not to be forgotten, is that after the 1991 ceasefire agreement was signed, United States aircraft bombed and incinerated thousands fleeing for Baghdad from Kuwait and Iraq’s south, in accordance with that agreement. Their burned vehicles, to this day, piled high, mile after mile along the Basra highway.
One US medical unit aided Iraqis surrendering and hurt, assuring them they would be safe. When they left, handing over to another unit, in good faith, that unit executed them all in cold blood. General Norman Schwartzkopf declared the Basra road slaughter ‘a turkey shoot’, adding : ‘..there was no one left to kill.’
With no UN mandate, the US and UK continued, with no legality, to bomb Iraq throughout the thirteen years of sanctions. When the Iraqi government accused them of bombing schools, mosques, monasteries, markets, repaired facilities, residential streets, the western media, largely, loyally repeated their governments’ line that it was ‘Iraqi propaganda.’
Hospital wards frequently overflowed with the mutilated, blinded, damaged victims of Iraq’s ‘propaganda’. ‘ We met heartaches and bewilderment’, wrote Debra Swinger, of the Bruderhof Community, in 1995, of the effect of the sanctions and the bombings.
On 1st January 1996, Ramsey Clark, twice US Attorney General, wrote to all Members of the UN Security Council : “There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millennium, that exceeds all others in magnitude, cruelty and portent. It is the US-forced sanctions against the 20 million people of Iraq.’ A detailed, shaming depiction of Iraqis plight, concludes: ‘ You must vote against these genocidal sanctions. Your nations should not share responsibility for the deaths of more than ten thousand Iraqis who will die before the Security Council Review in March, if sanctions are not lifted in January.’“ *
The shameful world body, avowed to protect ‘succeeding generations’, voted to maintain sanctions. The previous year, the head of the Red Cross told Clark that in one week, there had been six thousand infant deaths from diaharrea and vomiting due to contaminated water.
Rehydration and anti-biotics costing just cents a dose, would have saved most. They were blocked under US-UK pressure. ‘ The enjoyment of the highest standard of health is .. the fundamental right of every human being ..’ states the constitution of the (UN) World Health Organization.
From wars on babies to wars on the devastated: the inevitable, illegal invasion of Iraq. John Hopkins School of Public Health’s meticulous Professor Les Roberts, estimates a possible further 655.000 excess deaths in Iraq — or more — due to rape, torture, destruction on a barely believable scale; hospitals which now seem well stocked under the embargo’s horrors, ‘Falluja’s’ across ancient Mesopotamia in the name of the US and UK, for which no one is held responsible, killing Iraqis: ‘ ..choosing to die resisting .. (fleeing) only from dishonor.’ Or just for being Iraqi.
Over two million Iraqi deaths later, in the sixteen year war on Iraq, democracy might really catch on in the Middle East, were three other Presidents tried for crimes against humanity. Oh, and the verdict on Saddam Hussein was also delivered on Britain’s bonfire night, commemorating exactly four hundred years since Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament.
A day later, Simon Carr, insightful parliamentary sketch writer for the Independent, summed up Tony Blair throwing the toys out of the pram, when questioned about the verdict on Saddam Hussein: ‘I thought, ruined. ‘
Felicity Arbuthnot is a Global Research Contributing Editor. Her carefully documented reports have not only provided evidence of the war crimes committed by occupying forces, they reveal the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the plight of an entire nation and its people.
* The Children are Dying, Ramsey Clark, Pub: World View Forum.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. www.globalresearch.ca
© Copyright Felicity Arbuthnot., GlobalResearch.ca, 2006
Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
Adam Zagorin / Time Magazine
WASHINTON (November 10, 2006) — Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany’s top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior US civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the US has identified as the so-called “20th hijacker” and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings.
As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a “special interrogation plan,” personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the US says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all US military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: “It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”
A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.
Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.
Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides “universal jurisdiction” allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld’s spokesman at the time,
Lawrence DiRita, called the case a “a big, big problem.” US officials made clear the case could adversely impact US-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case.
The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that US authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.
In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld’s resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials.
Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor’s reasoning for rejecting the previous case — that US authorities were dealing with the issue — has been proven wrong.
“The utter and complete failure of US authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer,” says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a US-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the US of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001.
As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor’s previous inaction no longer hold up.
Whatever the legal merits of the case, it is the latest example of efforts in Western Europe by critics of US tactics in the war on terror to call those involved to account in court. In Germany, investigations are under way in parliament concerning cooperation between the CIA and German intelligence on rendition — the kidnapping of suspected terrorists and their removal to third countries for interrogation. Other legal inquiries involving rendition are under way in both Italy and Spain.
US officials have long feared that legal proceedings against “war criminals” could be used to settle political scores. In 1998, for example, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet — whose military coup was supported by the Nixon administration — was arrested in the U.K. and held for 16 months in an extradition battle led by a Spanish magistrate seeking to charge him with war crimes. He was ultimately released and returned to Chile. More recently, a Belgian court tried to bring charges against then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged crimes against Palestinians.
For its part, the Bush Administration has rejected adherence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on grounds that it could be used to unjustly prosecute US officials. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal established to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.
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