Sunday, August 23, 2015

WAYNE MADSEN : Return To Bush America - Revisiting American War Crimes In Iraq And Afghanistan

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Petraeus, Perle, Franks, Feith, Wolfowitz, Gonzales, Perino et al: all overdue for their date in the dock at the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague  

By Wayne Madsen

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and brother of George W. Bush, has been referring to his brother’s failed "war against evil doers" in recent comments suggesting that he continues to support the wars of folly and choice waged by the Bush-Cheney administration from 2001 to 2009. 

A tale of two Bushes: G.W. set for War Crimes trial
However, when one examines this sordid period of American history, the identities of the real "evil doers" become very apparent. It was Bush, Cheney, and their cabal of neo-conservatives who were the architects of the wars of choice that resulted in countless deaths of Iraqis and Afghans, as well as thousands of American and allied military personnel. It was the Bush-Cheney administration, aided by Jeb Bush’s current foreign policy adviser Paul Wolfowitz, which also left permanent emotional scars on innocent people as a result of its war crimes of kidnapping and torture.

In Iraq, Haditha, Balad and Fallujah joined Oradour, Lidice, Kortelisy, and My Lai among the modern era's worst war crimes. In November 2005 Haditha was the scene of a U.S. massacre of civilians, including women and children. It was followed in March 2006 by a U.S. massacre of civilians in the town of Ishaqi, 10 miles north of Balad.

Bush/Cheney ordered torture at Abu Ghraib

Not all the war crimes carried out by the United States were the result of murder, torture, and kidnapping. Some were psychological warfare crimes. International law provides for the indictment of propagandists who stoke the flames of hate by supporting war crimes and the unlawful actions of governments during wartime. 

Bush/Cheney propagandist, war criminal Sean Hannity

William Joyce (nicknamed "Lord Haw-Haw"), an Irish-American broadcaster for Nazi Germany, was hanged for treason on 3 January 1946. 

Mildred Sisk (nicknamed "Axis Sally"), an American who broadcasted messages to Allied troops on Radio Berlin, was convicted of one count of treason following the war. U.S. citizen Iva Toguri D'Aquino ("Tokyo Rose"), a broadcaster for Japanese radio during World War II, was convicted of treason. She was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in a deal worked out by Ford's Chief of Staff, Dick Cheney. 

Fox News war criminal, Bush/Cheney propagandist
Bill O'Reilly responsible for lying Americans into
Iraq, Afghanistan wars
American television and radio broadcasters like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and other broadcasters who defended American war crimes and were acting on behalf of the Bush administration were no different than their World War II propagandist predecessors for the Axis powers.

A number of U.S. military officers and enlisted personnel discounted the notion that their actions against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan were war crimes. They rallied to the cause of "responding to the 9/11 attack." Yet, the people of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. 

And the people of Afghanistan, cruelly subjugated by the Taliban, had nothing to do with the alliance made between the jihadists who ran Kabul and Kandahar and Al Qaeda.

Bush war whore turned Fox News propagandist Dana Perino will be seated in the dock alongside her master at The Hague War Crimes Tribunal

With respect to U.S. military members who believed they were merely following orders, it is noteworthy to look back at the final coded comments of German Admiral Wilhelm Canaris before his execution for helping a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Canaris, Commander of the German Military Defense Command during World War II, was executed in Flossenbuerg Concentration Camp in April 1945 after an unsuccessful military coup against Adolf Hitler. 

No excuses: Bush war criminal David Petraeus will also be in the dock at the Hague

The DPA German Press Agency reported that, according to Canaris biographer Karl Heinz Abshagen, Canaris tapped a final message on the wall to a Danish inmate in the neighboring cell: "You as an officer will understand, that I was only fulfilling my patriotic duty when I tried to step up against the criminal senselessness of Hitler, leading Germany into disaster."

War criminal Colin Powell lies America into
war during his infamous UN "WMD" speech
International law, especially that stemming from the Nuremberg War Tribunal, recognizes that military members and intelligence agents are not only duty bound to disobey unlawful orders to violate rules of conflict but are required to take action against those who issue such orders. 

In other words, 9/11 was no excuse to carry out war crimes against anyone, Iraqis, Afghans, or those innocent people grabbed from airports and streets around the world.

War crimes involving torture at Guantanamo, Cuba and Abu Ghraib, Iraq gulags were not limited to Americans. 

Former United Nations peacekeepers reported that some of the contract Arabic speaking interrogators and torturers used by the U.S. military in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were war crimes suspects who worked as interrogators for Israeli occupation forces in South Lebanon.

In 1991, after Lebanese prisoners and hostages were released from the Israeli-run prison at El Khiam, UN medical personnel noticed the prisoners had been exposed to significant torture. 

War criminals Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney dare not travel outside the U.S. now for fear of being arrested

During the medical examinations, the released prisoners revealed the names of a number of the prison leaders and interrogators to UN authorities. The interrogators and prison leaders were mostly South Lebanese, both Christian and Muslim, all working for the Israeli Defense Force.

In 2000, when Israel evacuated from South Lebanon, the interrogation personnel were transported to Israel. With valid Israeli passports, some of the interrogators emigrated to countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia. Some had been sentenced to death in absentia by Lebanese judicial authorities for their war crimes in Lebanon. A full report on the El Khiam matter was forwarded to the Norwegian government in 1991, and in 2002, to the War Crime Section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Many Lebanese interrogators came under investigation by the RCMP for war crimes taking place from 2002, the outset of America’s "Global War on Terrorism" and invasion of Afghanistan, to 2004, the year after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There were credible reports that these Lebanese personnel with Israeli and U.S. passports were hired by the Pentagon and its contractors for interrogation tasks in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

To their credit, some U.S. troops were not silent in the face of American war crimes. 

At the Winter Soldier conference held in Maryland in March 2008, there was sobering testimony about U.S. Marines taking "pot shots" at Iraqi passing and idle vehicles in August 2004 near the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Al Qa'im. One former Marine presented a disgusting tale of abuse committed by his Marine unit. 

He said that in one case, his unit mortared a tire shop in Al Qa'im by mistake and without compensation to its owner. The former Marine also said that Iraqi prisoners who were wrongly detained were later set free in the middle of the desert after being kicked and punched by Marines. The Marine also revealed that corpses of Iraqis were similarly abused. He said bodies, including decapitated corpses, were run over by Marine vehicles. 

In one case, an Iraqi killed in a field was left to rot. Another Marine took a photograph of the rotting corpse and used it as a screen saver on his lap top computer. Marines also shot a mayor of a town near Haditha. The Marines’ commander congratulated his troops and said a photograph taken of the dead mayor was "how good Marines should shoot." A former Army Ranger recounted how white phosphorus (WP), a substance normally used for targeting purposes, was used on civilians. WP, also known as "Willie Peter" on civilians in Fallujah leaving the victims of the attacks as horribly burned and disfigured corpses. 

Such descriptions of war criminality could have come right out of the pages of Nuremberg war crimes testimony by prosecutors. It is also a fact that such war crimes gave impetus to the rise among Sunni Iraqis of the Islamic State in western Iraq.

Jeb Bush and his neo-con advisers and funders would have the world forget the American atrocities and war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. 

No one should ever forget the war crimes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and the notion of Jeb Bush becoming president should be as abhorrent an idea to Americans as the idea of a brother of Adolf Hitler wanting to be the Chancellor of West Germany after World War II would have been anathema to the German people.

Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen
Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist, Madsen has over twenty years experience in security issues. 

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. Madsen has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club, Madsen is based and reports from Washington, D.C.

We Are the Government : Tactics For Taking Down The Police State

All Americans need do is remember we outnumber criminals cops by the millions, they stand no chance against a united resistance and - they are our employees who can be taken to court for their abuses and prosecuted  

By John Whitehead

“The people have the power, all we have to do is awaken that power in the people. The people are unaware. They’re not educated to realize that they have power. The system is so geared that everyone believes the government will fix everything. We are the government.”—John Lennon

Saddled with a corporate media that marches in lockstep with the government, elected officials who dance to the tune of their corporate benefactors, and a court system that serves to maintain order rather than mete out justice, Americans often feel as if they have no voice, no authority and no recourse when it comes to holding government officials accountable and combatting rampant corruption and injustice.

boy in order to "subdue" him
We’re impotent in the face of SWAT teams that break down doors and leave toddlers scarred for life. 

We’re helpless to prevent police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead for no other reason than the police officer involved felt “threatened.” 

We shrug dismissively over the plight of fellow citizens who have their heads cracked, their bodies broken and their rights violated for failing to jump to attention when a police officer issues an order. 

And we fail to care about the thousands of individuals who have been punished with extreme sentences for nonviolent offenses and are forced to spend their lives as modern-day slaves in bondage to private prisons and the profit-driven corporations they serve.

Make no mistake about it: virtually anything and everything is a crime nowadays (feeding the birds, growing vegetables in your front yard, etc.) to such an extent that if a prosecutor, police officer and judge were so inclined, you could be locked up for any inane reason.

This is tyranny dressed up in the official garb of the police state. It is the self-righteous, heavy-handed arm of the law being used as a decoy to divert your attention to the so-called criminals in your midst (the fisherman who threw back small fish into the ocean, the mother who let her child walk to the playground alone, the pastor holding Bible studies in his backyard) so that you don’t focus on the criminal behavior being perpetrated by the government (bribery, cronyism, electoral fraud, slush funds, graft, pork, theft, and on and on).

In the face of such abject injustice, outright corruption and overt inequality, it’s hard to feel empowered to believe the average citizen can make a difference. It’s hard to persuade anyone to stand against tyranny when all you can promise them as a reward is persecution, prosecution and a one-way trip to the morgue. And when the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion—the government always wins—it can seem pointless, even foolhardy, to dare to challenge the system. As such, it’s far easier to buy into the political process, even though elections amount to nothing of consequence.

Coward UC Davis California pig pepper sprays peaceful protesters

There are also those who subscribe to the notion that an armed revolution is the only thing that will save America. These armed resistors are making themselves easy targets and will be the first to be taken down by militarized police who are trained to kill and armed to the teeth with every kind of weapon imaginable, from grenade launchers and sniper rifles to armored vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters.

So how do you not only push back against the police state’s bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty but also launch a counterrevolution aimed at reclaiming control over the government using nonviolent means?

You start by changing the rules and engaging in some (nonviolent) guerilla tactics.

Employ militant nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, which Martin Luther King Jr. used to great effect through the use of sit-ins, boycotts and marches.

Take part in grassroots activism, which takes a trickle-up approach to governmental reform by implementing change at the local level (in other words, think nationally, but act locally).

And then, while you’re at it, nullify everything the government does that is illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

NYPD coward cops cop a feel during Occupy protests

Various cities and states have been using this historic doctrine with mixed results on issues as wide ranging as gun control and healthcare to “claim freedom from federal laws they find onerous or wrongheaded.”

Where nullification can be particularly powerful, however, is in the hands of the juror.

As law professor Ilya Somin explains, jury nullification is the practice by which a jury refuses to convict someone accused of a crime if they believe the “law in question is unjust or the punishment is excessive.”

According to former federal prosecutor Paul Butler, the doctrine of jury nullification is “premised on the idea that ordinary citizens, not government officials, should have the final say as to whether a person should be punished.”

Imagine that: a world where the citizenry—not the government or its corporate controllers—actually calls the shots and determines what is just.

In a world of “rampant overcriminalization,” where the average citizen unknowingly breaks three laws a day, jury nullification acts as “a check on runaway authoritarian criminalization and the increasing network of confusing laws that are passed with neither the approval nor oftentimes even the knowledge of the citizenry.”

Indeed, Butler believes so strongly in the power of nullification to balance the scales between the power of the prosecutor and the power of the people that he advises:

If you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

In other words, it’s “we the people” who can and should be determining what laws are just, what activities are criminal and who can be jailed for what crimes.

Not only should the punishment fit the crime, but the laws of the land should also reflect the concerns of the citizenry as opposed to the profit-driven priorities of Corporate America.

Unfortunately, for thousands of Americans who are serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes as a result of harsh mandatory sentencing laws passed by “tough on crime” politicians, the punishment rarely fits the crime.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, with every ill inflicted upon us by the American police state, from overcriminalization and surveillance to militarized police and private prisons, it’s money that drives the police state. And there is a lot of money to be made from criminalizing nonviolent activities and jailing Americans for nonviolent offences.

This is where the power of jury nullification is so critical: to reject inane laws and extreme sentences and counteract the edicts of a profit-driven governmental elite that sees nothing wrong with jailing someone for a lifetime for a relatively insignificant crime.

Of course, the powers-that-be don’t want the citizenry to know that it has any power at all.

They would prefer that we remain clueless about the government’s many illicit activities, ignorant about our constitutional rights, and powerless to bring about any real change. Indeed, so determined are they to keep us in the dark about the powers vested in “we the people” that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1895 that jurors had no right during trials to be told about nullification.

Moreover, anyone daring to educate a jury about nullification runs the risk of prosecution. Just recently, for example, 56-year-old Mark Iannicelli was charged with seven counts of jury tampering for handing out jury nullification fliers outside a Denver courtroom. Now Iannicelli is not being accused of advocating for or against any case in progress, nor is he charged with targeting any particular members of the jury. Nevertheless, Iannicelli could be sentenced to one to three years in prison because he dared to educate the jurors about an option that no judge or prosecutor ever mentions in court: the right to acquit someone who may be guilty if they also believe that the law is unjust.

Such intimidation tactics proved less successful when used against Julian Heicklen, who was accused of jury tampering for handing out nullifications pamphlets in Manhattan. A federal district court judge found Heicklen not only innocent of the charge of jury tampering, but went so far as to warn that the law—18 U.S.C. § 1504—raises significant First Amendment concerns (“the First Amendment squarely protects speech concerning judicial proceedings and public debate regarding the functioning of the judicial system, so long as that speech does not interfere with the fair and impartial administration of justice”).

Jury nullification has played a significant role in our nation’s history. It was championed early on by John Hancock and John Adams and relied on at various points since then to push back against laws deemed egregious, unjust or simply out of step with the times. Most recently, jury nullification has become a popular tactic to thwart laws that mandate harsh punishments for those convicted of possessing even minimal amounts of marijuana.

For instance, in one case I worked on years ago, a jury refused to convict a 54-year-old man who had been charged with possession of marijuana. Prosecutors claimed that a SWAT team, doing an area-wide land and air sweep, had spotted two marijuana plants growing in the hollow of a dead tree on the man’s 39-acre property. Had the man been found guilty, he would have been sentenced to jail and his 90-year-old mother, blind, deaf and dependent on him for care, would have had to be institutionalized.

In delivering his closing arguments, the prosecutor warned the jury that disagreement with the laws against pot possession and disapproval of police tactics are not valid reasons to nullify a case. Of course, those are exactly the reasons why more Americans should opt for nullification.

In an age in which government officials accused of wrongdoing—police officers, elected officials, etc.—are treated with general leniency, while the average citizen is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, jury nullification is a powerful reminder that, as the Constitution tells us, “we the people” are the government.

For too long we’ve allowed our so-called “representatives” to call the shots. Now it’s time to restore the citizenry to their rightful place in the republic: as the masters, not the servants.

Jury nullification is one way of doing so.

The reality with which we must contend is that justice in America is reserved for those who can afford to buy their way out of jail.

For the rest of us who are dependent on the “fairness” of the system, there exists a multitude of ways in which justice can and does go wrong every day. Police misconduct. Prosecutorial misconduct. Judicial bias. Inadequate defense. Prosecutors who care more about winning a case than seeking justice. Judges who care more about what is legal than what is just. Jurors who know nothing of the law and are left to deliberate in the dark about life-and-death decisions. And an overwhelming body of laws, statutes and ordinances that render the average American a criminal, no matter how law-abiding they might think themselves.

As I’ve said before, when you go into a courtroom, you’re going up against three adversaries who more often than not are operating off the same playbook: the police, the prosecutor and the judge.

If you’re to have any hope of remaining free—and I use that word loosely—your best bet remains in your fellow citizens.

They may not know what the Constitution says (studies have shown Americans to be abysmally ignorant about their rights), they may not know what the laws are (there are so many on the books that the average American breaks three laws a day without knowing it), and they may not even believe in your innocence, but if you’re lucky, they will have a conscience that speaks louder than the legalistic tones of the prosecutors and the judges and reminds them that justice and fairness go hand in hand.

That’s ultimately what jury nullification is all about: restoring a sense of fairness to our system of justice. It’s the best protection for “we the people” against the oppression and tyranny of the government, and God knows, we can use all the protection we can get.

Most of all, jury nullification is a powerful way to remind the government—all of those bureaucrats who have appointed themselves judge, jury and jailer over all that we are, have and do—that we’re the ones who set the rules.

If they don’t like it, they can get another job.

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