Archive | War Crimes

Report: Bush ignored numerous warnings before invasion

Chilcot Inquiry Rally (6.7.16) (163)

The dirty hippies were right again. I’m sure none of us are surprised, exactly, but it’s still shocking to see it all laid out:

Last week, the independent British committee established to delve into the blunders that led to that country joining the Iraq misadventure released a report astonishing for its breadth and sobriety. It is no easy read—with 2.6 million words in 12 volumes, it explores every detail of the processes and decisions that cost the lives of 179 British servicemen and women. And since the goal of the inquiry was to determine what went wrong across the board, it provides information no Republican politician would allow anyone on Capitol Hill to dig up.

The report’s shocking conclusion is obvious: The White House, the Pentagon and, to a lesser extent, the State Department had no idea what they were doing.

Incompetence permeates the tale, with Bush officials arrogantly waving aside warnings and pleas for better planning. The march toward war took on an unstoppable political momentum as evidence piled up that this invasion would be a colossal catastrophe. Preconceptions—such as blithe dismissals of a humanitarian and governmental role in the invasion for the United Nations, as well as a disregard for day-after-war preparations in favor of gut feelings and slogans—undermined the chance for success. Records show the British considered themselves indispensable to the effort, if only to counter the Bush administration’s reckless planning, which officials in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government derided as fantastical.

If you have the stomach for it, go read the rest.

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The irradiated nightmare we left behind

This post originally appeared in The Washington Spectator. When the United States revealed in January that it is testing a more nimble, more precise version of its B61 atom bomb, some were immediately alarmed. General James Cartwright, a former strategist for President Obama, warned that “going smaller” could make nuclear weapons “more thinkable” and “more usable.”… Continue Reading →

Some good news

Syria refugee crisis

Thank God! I am happy to hear this:

MUNICH — The United States, Russia and other powers have reached agreement on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war that allows for immediate humanitarian access to besieged areas, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced here early Friday morning.

The end of hostilities, which Kerry avoided calling a cease-fire, is scheduled to go into effect “in one week’s time,” Kerry said. Humanitarian access to towns and cities in Syria where food and medical supplies have been blocked, sometimes for months, is to begin immediately.

“It was unanimous,” Kerry said. “Everybody today agreed on the urgency of humanitarian access. What we have here are words on paper. What we need to see in the next few days are actions on the ground.”

Agreement came after day-long consultations that lasted until early Friday here. Hours earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov huddled with his counterpart from Iran, Russia’s ally in backing the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry sat down with allies backing the Syrian opposition, before all parties gathered for a joint meeting at which the deal was struck.

Lavrov called cessation of hostilities the “first step” toward a full cease-fire.

The effort has been considered a last chance to stop the carnage in Syria that has left hundreds of thousands dead and sent millions fleeing from the country. What was already a desperate situation in Syria has greatly worsened over the past few weeks, as massive Russian bombardment in and around the city of Aleppo has scattered opposition fighters and driven tens of thousands of civilians toward the barricaded Turkish border.

Oops, we did it again

We don’t know whose airstrikes these are, but I’m sure it was one of the “good guys”:

Airstrikes hit a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-supported hospital in Dara’a Governorate in southern Syria, killing three people and wounding at least six, including a nurse, says MSF.

The strike on Tafas field hospital, some 12 kilometers [7.5 miles] from the Jordanian border, took place on the night of February 5, 2016. It damaged part of the hospital building itself and incapacitated its heavily used ambulance service. In fear for their lives, more than 20,000 people from the town of Tafas fled to the surrounding countryside.

The hospital is the latest medical facility to be hit in an escalating series of airstrikes in southern Syria over the past two months.

“I was on my way to the hospital to help admit people who had been injured by the airstrikes,” says one staff member. “But as soon as I reached the hospital, I myself got injured. It all happened very quickly. I saw what looked like an explosion and then a flash of light, and then I lost consciousness for five minutes. My colleagues saw me lying on the ground, bleeding, and rushed me inside. I was injured in both my arm and leg by shrapnel.”

This latest incident further weakens Syria’s already exhausted health care system, and prevents more people from accessing desperately needed medical care.

We have done such terrible things

And this is a reminder:

WASHINGTON — Three Guantánamo detainees were slated to leave the American prison in Cuba this week after about 14 years in captivity. But early Wednesday morning, only two were willing to board the plane.

The third — Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir of Yemen — balked at the last minute, even though he has a history of hunger striking to protest his indefinite detention without trial. In recent days, Mr. Bwazir was “frightened” to leave the prison and go to a country where he has no family, his lawyer, John Chandler, said. The country has not been identified.

Mr. Chandler also said his client — who was born around 1980 and brought to Guantánamo in 2002 — was depressed. He compared his client to a character in the prison movie “The Shawshank Redemption” who has spent so much of his life behind bars that he cannot handle life on the outside after finally being paroled.

“Can you imagine being there for 14 years and going to a plane where you could finally leave, and saying ‘No, take me back to my cell?’ ” Mr. Chandler said. “This is one of the saddest days of my life.”

‘Prosecute them’

Dick Cheney speaks at Reagan centennial

In an editorial under a picture of Dick Cheney, the New York Times editorial board called Monday for a full investigation into, and prosecution of those who tortured in our name. I, for one, am shocked:

Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like “rectal feeding,” scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of “suspected hypothermia.”

These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.

So it is no wonder that today’s blinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. As the report reveals, these claims fail for a simple reason: C.I.A. officials admitted at the time that what they intended to do was illegal.

In July 2002, C.I.A. lawyers told the Justice Department that the agency needed to use “more aggressive methods” of interrogation that would “otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute.” They asked the department to promise not to prosecute those who used these methods. When the department refused, they shopped around for the answer they wanted. They got it from the ideologically driven lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, who wrote memos fabricating a legal foundation for the methods. Government officials now rely on the memos as proof that they sought and received legal clearance for their actions. But the report changes the game: We now know that this reliance was not made in good faith.

No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation.

There’s more. Go read it.

NPR: U.S. Army dismissed soldiers with mental health problems for ‘misconduct’

Afghan National Army (ANA) Commandos with the 207th Kandak are on a routine patrol on April 12 2009 in Gulistan district Farah province.(CJSOTF-A photo by Spc. Joseph A. Wilson.)

Afghan National Army (ANA) Commandos with the 207th Kandak are on a routine patrol on April 12 2009 in Gulistan district Farah province.(CJSOTF-A photo by Spc. Joseph A. Wilson.)

More than 22,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from brain injuries and mental health problems have been dismissed from the U.S. Army for “misconduct,” an investigation by National Public Radio revealed. Many of the soldiers have not been able to receive crucial retirement and health-care benefits that soldiers with an honorable discharge… Continue Reading →

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