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Articles 
Historical Briefs - ‌By: Bruce G. Richardson
Saturday, 10.13.2012, 10:57pm (GMT+1)


 

A Question of War Crimes:

Human rights lawyers in the United Kingdom and Pakistan are seeking arrest warrants for a former CIA Legal Director for approving drone strikes that killed hundreds of non-combatants. John Rizzo, who served as the Acting General Consul for the CIA, has admitted approving of drone strikes inside Pakistan beginning 2004.

“It’s basically a hit list” Rizzo said. “The Predator is a weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.”  Last year 42 drone strikes into Pakistan were approved.

Under President Obama, strikes have quadrupled. “There has clearly been a crime here”, Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer who is leading the arrest effort recently told al-Jazeera.

Arghandab River Valley Atrocity:

During October of 2010, an American-led assault deploying 25 tons of bombs totally annihilated Tarok Kolache, a rural village in Kandahar’s Arghandab River Valley. Initial accounts claim a high percentage of innocent villagers lost their lives and property in the assault. These inexcusable and excessive tactics are not an anomaly in this brutal and bloody conflict, but represent a common tactic by U.S.-led ISAF forces which results in the total decimation of villages with little or no concern for civilian casualties. The attack in Arghandab has re-ignited a firestorm of criticism among human rights activists, world leaders, international jurists and ordinary citizens alike concerned and outraged with what manifests as a total disregard for international law.  (See: Afghan Post, Spencer Ackerman:  January 27, 2011).

In 2010, a United Nations report said that women and children made up a greater proportion of those killed and injured than in 2009, with child casualties increasing 55% from the same period in 2009. The reporting was marked by increased military activity and a continued deterioration in security which heightened children’s vulnerability to conflict-related violations. During the two-year period, 1795 children were injured or killed due to conflict related violence, but that figure is presumed underreported due to difficulty in gaining access to conflicted areas. (See: The Washington Post, February 14, 2011).

Historical Precedent or Template:

No matter how one attempts to avoid making comparisons between 1939 and 2011, The American assault on Afghanistan constitutes “War  Aggression”, precisely the type of conflict that the framework of accountability provided by Nuremberg was created to prevent in the years following cessation of hostilities in World War II.

Meanwhile, the United States was waging a largely secret war against suspected “terrorists” employing torture, secret prisons, and drug-financed militia known as the Northern Alliance.  The American people and most of the world bought into the lies and half-truths. So, the question remains, was there any different legal, moral, or ethical justification for the U.S. Government’s prosecution of war when it went to war on a lie in 2001, than the blitzkrieg by Hitler’s legions when attacking Poland in 1939, falsely claiming that Poland had initiated war when first attacking Germany?  Was torture at the hands of the Gestapo any different than torture by a civilian contractor working for the CIA? Was the carpet bombing of Afghanistan inducing innumerable civilian deaths somehow less a crime than the Nazi bombing of European cities during WWII?

The Unindicted:

Many Americans and a majority of citizens around the world consider leading figures in the George W. Bush and Obama Administration’s, aided and abetted by “Right-Wing” Republican Members of Congress, to be unindicted war criminals. In an endless loop of Kafkaesque rationale, the aforementioned initiated a conflict that has consumed 137,000 lives according to Brown Universities Watson Institute. Today, the carnage continues unabated. (See: Documents on the Laws of War; Second Edition, by Adam Roberts and Richard Guelff, Oxford University Press).  

The sordid history encompassing American war criminals demonstrates that most, if not all, elude justice as war criminals as enumerated and ratified under a plethora of international standards, treaties, statutes, resolutions and conventions …and under which jurisdiction the United States as a signatory is legally bound.

About one year ago, author, law professor, and Certified Queen’s Counsel Philip Sands, renowned British jurist announced that six top officials of the Bush Administration would likely face arrest and indictment on international charges of torture and waging war of aggression in Afghanistan. Of concern, and to the detriment of enforcement, world-body organizations such as NATO and the United Nations have deliberated more as vassals for the militaristic policies of the U.S. than as war crimes investigators.

With historical precedent and justice as inspiration and guide, the Spanish Court has sought the prosecution of several, former members of the George W. Bush Administration, to include Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,  John Yoo, Justice Department lawyer, and David Addington, Chief of Staff and principal legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. In legal circles, the former Bush officials would heretofore be known as the “Bush Six”. The case against these officials has been assigned to Judge Baltasar Garzon, Spanish Prosecutor. That the Spanish Court is so engaged is enshrined in legal precedent.  Many will recall that it was the Spanish Court that indicted former Chilean dictator, Augustus Pinochet. (See: The Laws of Armed Conflict: A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions and other Documents, Dietrich, Schindler and Toman, Geneva, 1988).

In addition to the Spanish Court, other seeking justice and a halt to the ongoing carnage are: Amnesty International U.S.A., Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Fellowship Council for National Interest, Democrats Committee, Fellowship for Reconciliation, United for Peace and Justice, Velvet Revolution on Reconciliation, United for Peace and Justice  and Veteran Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

It is time for the international community to follow the lead of the Spanish Court and bring a halt to what can only be cast as excessive and gratuitous violence by the U.S and other Members of the so-called ISAF contingent.

Furthermore, with a law professor serving as Commander in Chief of the armed forces and as President of the United States, one must assume that torture and war of aggression are anathema to him as Chief Executive, as well as to American ideals, world standing, national law and convention.  Therefore, the world community calls upon the Chief Executive to order an immediate cessation of military activities against Afghanistan, a country and a people that do not pose and have not posed… a threat to the security of the United States.

Bruce G. Richardson

  

 

 


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