Tag Archives: war crime

Hold Them Each Accountable for Their Actions: Trump, Biden et al

We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.”

Gore Vidal 

Donald Trump committed war crimes, Where is accountability?

 

We have two dominant parties concerned with power and greed, wanting to enrich the billionaires on their team.

 

Trump committed crimes when he bombed Syria and Iraq, he…

continued the illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, across Africa, Syria and other places, arming criminals around the world [such as Saudi Arabia’s crimes in Yemen]

continued the illegal torture of prisoners,

continued the illegal spying on Americans,

continued the illegal killing of civilians and increased the drone assassinations

illegally threatened wars against N. Korea and Venezuela,

illegally threatened nuclear war against N. Korea, and

worked to illegally overthrow governments around the world and distributed weapons across the planet into the hands of criminals and human rights abusers.

 

Joe Biden is beginning to do much the same, but then the self-proclaimed “Zionist” has been a servant of imperialism much of his career.  There are differences, yes, but this is not a popularity contest.

This is rule of law.  This is protecting human rights.   It should be.  However, with each living president, they have each used violence and aggression against other nations. They each armed forces in civil wars [terrorists looking to overthrow leaders that the US was looking to depose.] The politicians and pundits point at the suffering in other nations, then they make it worse.

Let us work toward rule of law, and rise above the team games and tribalism.  Stop the war machine and honor the rights and liberties of all.


Some law links 

~ Charter of the United Nations ~

Chapter VII — Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression

https://legal.un.org/repertory/art51.shtml

 


~ Convention II Article 2 Geneva Conventions ~

https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/vwTreaties1949.xsp

 

Highlighting US government Drone Murder means trial for seven.

Update from Bob Graff (Nov 18, 2020)

Today Phi Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist and I were convicted of trespassing on the Volk field military base in Juneau County, Wisconsin on November 12, 2019.  The court procedure reminded me of the military training of soldiers, to kill reflexively without the use of conscience.

Volk Field is a training base for the RQ-7 shadow drones base.  These are small drones that set up the operation of Killer Drones and the killing by Apache Helicopters in the eight wars that the US is engaged in presently.    A statement we gave at the time when we entered the base is attached.

Five of the seven of us who entered the base, due to serious Covid 19 concerns were not present for the trial at Juneau County Courthouse.   Those not present had sent the judge statements of why they were not there and why they entered the base that day.  The Judge quickly dismissed their concerns and order them convicted of trespassing and they were fined.

The district attorney then presented the case against Phil and me.  He had two defense witnesses, a security chief for the base and a Sheriff’s deputy who had issued the trespassing citations.  He also showed on a large screen a body cam the deputy had taken of our arrest.

When it came to our testimony we were warned by the Judge that he would show some leeway but that he should stick to the issue of trespass as he narrowly defined it.  Both our testimonies were based on religious convictions of conscience.  Phil tried to bring in international law and testimony of others, including Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general of the USA.  Our testimonies were constantly interrupted by the Judge and considered not relevant.  We both got about ½ to ¾ of our testimony (attached below)

During our testimonies and after the Judge kept saying how he agreed with some of our values and convictions but they were not relevant to the trial.  This reminded me of my research on “reflexive killing” the practice of training a soldier to kill on instinct or, command orders without consideration for conscience.  Now I know why a panel of military command officers refused to consider a Catholic West Point’s ethic teacher’s plea to have them state that “reflexive killing was justified.  Despite the terrible toll this type of killing played on the minds of returning veterans they could not admit of the harm this practice played.  They just ignored it as we largely ignore the killing by drones in the eight US wars of today.  When Phil tried to state that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State” he was cut off.  The Judge said over and over again that he understood and sympathized with our views but that they had nothing to do, like reflexive killing with our trial.  Society, politicians and media ask us, like the Judge to separate our conscience from our action of killing on reflex or by drone.  We had just witnessed the court version of reflexive killing, Justice without conscience.  I pray for all drone operators, their victims and all of us who are silent to drone killing.

originally posted at WI Network for Peace and Justice

—————————————————————————————

Donate if you can to the “Support Food not Killer Drones” campaign – in care of the Juneau County Peace Committee.   

Support Food not Killer Drones – Juneau County

—————————————————————————————

 WISCONSIN JUDGE REFUSES TO DELAY NOVEMBER 16 TRIAL DUE TO COVID-19

November 10, 2020

In a letter dated November 2, 2020, Judge Stacey Smith of the Juneau County District Court in Mauston, Wisconsin, denied the motions made by seven antiwar activists to adjourn their trial scheduled for November 16.

The seven, Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, all of Wisconsin and Brian Terrell, of Iowa, had been arrested for trespass on November 12, 2019, in a protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone. 

Brian Terrell Interviewed by Rodger Routh – Nov 13, 2020

Bonnie Block Interviewed by Jonathan Zarov

Footage of the incident.

Since, the opposition to the atrocities of the Vietnam war crimes, the US government does its best to stop Americans from seeing the bodies of our dead victims.

Representing themselves in separate motions, the activists called Judge Smith’s attention to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that “COVID-19 is still spreading across our Wisconsin communities. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state,” and asked that the trial be postponed “until such a time as travel is considered safe.”

Denying the motions, Judge Smith dismissed the COVID -19 concerns of the defendants, all of whom are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, assuring them that the court’s response is “proactive,” and encourages washing of hands, mask wearing and social distancing.

Judge Smith took special exception to Brian Terrell’s request that he consider the fact that for him to come to court from his home in Iowa “would require two days of interstate travel” and so his “presence in the court on November 16 would put court personnel and my co-defendants, several of whom are at high risk on multiple factors, at increased danger of exposure to COVID-19.” “I don’t understand how it is relevant that Mr. Terrell lives in Iowa or any other state in the union,” wrote Judge Smith, “I treat everyone in a reasonable and fair manner, no matter where they live.” In a letter to Judge Smith, Terrell clarified that his concern is not about being treated unfairly. “For me to travel to Mauston, Wisconsin, from my home in Maloy, Iowa, I would be on trains and busses for over ten hours in close proximity to other passengers, strangers traveling from all points. I would be waiting in stations from up to a few hours to overnight, depending on unreliable connections before getting a bus to Madison,” he wrote.

A further request to have the trial via Zoom was also denied, and the different circumstances of each defendant has made their original intention of a unified trial impossible.

Defendant Bonnie Block, a retired attorney of Madison filed a motion on November 9 to dismiss her case, citing that on that day the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, the most of any day. “It appears clear the current methods of dealing with the virus in the Juneau County Courts (and elsewhere) are not sufficient. Rather appearing in person on 11/16 carries a great deal of risk for everyone.  And since I’m 79 years old, I am at even greater risk both of contracting COVID-19 and of it being fatal. Thus the refusal to postpone the trial until this pandemic is over, gives me an untenable and unconscionable choice to appear at the risk of possible death or to give up my constitutional right to a day in court… Because I have a responsibility to my husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as extended family, friends, and fellow citizens to do my bit to prevent further spread of this deadly virus; I cannot appear in Court on November 16, 2020.  And since the Court denied a postponement, I believe the only just solution is for the Court dismiss this matter.”

Joyce Ellwanger, of Milwaukee, does not intend to appear in court but is concerned that she would be barred from volunteering in Wisconsin prisons if she has outstanding court fees or a warrant. She is asking the judge to accept a written statement in hopes that it will be accepted in lieu of appearing and will pay a fine if found guilty. Brian Terrell has informed the judge “as a courtesy,” that he will not appear (“for me to appear in your court as ordered on November 16 would be an irresponsible act of reckless disregard for the public safety”) or make any motions. Joy First of Madison, Jim Murphy of Highland along with Bob Graf and Phil Runkel of Milwaukee intend to go to trial on November 16, as scheduled.

Citing the crowded court calendar and the fact that the case had already been postponed once, Judge Smith’s letter said, “I understand the times in which we live and you might be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’” He justified his refusal to delay the case any longer because “Justice that is untimely is no justice at all.” The defendants do not disagree that untimely justice is no justice at all, but they wonder when there will be justice for the many victims of drone wars, and that question draws them back to Volk Field.

Far from thinking “what’s the big deal?” the seven take their actions and the consequences with deadly seriousness. Catholic pastor Jim Murphy recognizes protests at other drone sites, “we need to carry our weight in Wisconsin and speak up-we have tried other options letters to three commanders, letters to US Senators with no response.” Bob Graf cites Martin Luther King, Jr, “Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation…” A statement from the group delivered to Volk Field on November 12, 2019, reads “We come because we mourn the children who have died from attacks by U.S. military drones. We remember these children, whose lives have been cut short while also remembering their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who continue to mourn the deaths of these beautiful children” and “We come because the personnel working with and training with the RQ-7 Shadow Drones at Volk Field are an integral part of and are complicit in the whole US drone warfare program.”

Judge Smith’s unreasonable dismissal of the COVID-19 health and safety concerns of the seven defendants along with the court’s blind eye to the crimes perpetrated at sites like Volk Field, are clearly occasions where acting with responsibility and with regard for the wellbeing of others comes into conflict with the law, when it is too narrowly understood.

 

The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars 

For more information contact:

Joy First  (608) 239-4327

Brian Terrell  (773) 853-1886  

 

“What difference does it make to the dead,

the orphans and the homeless,

whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism

or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

― Mahatma Gandhi 

More on Drone Warfare – National Bird

Drone documentary

War Criminals: Obama, Trump, every President (since WWII), A few reasons why…

Compiled by Brad Geyer

 

Wars of aggression are illegal under international law. Treaties ratified by the United States are no different than US law according to the Constitution. Preemptive war is illegal including Iraq, now Libya and a number of other places we are fighting around the world.

 

It is illegal to wage an aggressive war, aid rebels in a civil war, threaten another nation with aggressive war, and to use propaganda for war.

 

It is illegal to attack a hospital, destroy civilian food and drinking water supplies, destroy undefended targets, bomb neutral countries, and indiscriminately attack civilians.

 

It is illegal to use napalm, white phosphorus and depleted uranium as weapons. It is illegal to use chemical and biological weapons. It is illegal to fail to accept the surrender of combatants, it is illegal to pillage, to fail to attend to the wounded, to have extrajudicial executions. It is illegal to fail to discipline or prosecute subordinates who commit war crimes. It is illegal to fund war mercenaries.

There are more, but I think you get the idea…

There are simple truths. Some, which we are taught to ignore.  The people in power teach us to dehumanize other peoples, in order to make the killing easier or more efficient.

Simple truth: People have human rights.  Nations have sovereignty.

Aggressive warfare is a violation of law.  A nation must be under attack to use self defense, and still needs to work with the UN Security Council.

 

Why would people of other nations have any less rights and responsibilities or protections than we enjoy?  We would be better off in a world where there was liberty and justice for everyone, not just protections for those on the side of red, white and blue.

 

Charter of the United Nations, Chapter VII — Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression

 

Convention II Article 2 Geneva Conventions  

“In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance. Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. ”

Wikipedia:  “In international law, the term convention does not have its common meaning as an assembly of people. Rather, it is used in diplomacy to mean an international agreement, or treaty.

With two Geneva Conventions revised and adopted, and the second and fourth added, in 1949 the whole set is referred to as the “Geneva Conventions of 1949” or simply the “Geneva Conventions”. Usually only the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are referred to as First, Second, Third or Fourth Geneva Convention. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservationsby 196 countries.[1]

 

Example specific to Syria that apply beyond those borders also.

“…The supply of arms to the Syrian opposition would amount to a breach of the customary principle of non-intervention and the principle of non-use of force under Art. 2 para. 4 of the UN Charter.”

The supply of arms to opposition groups in Syria and international law 

 

Is it legal to supply arms to Syrian rebels?

“International law prohibits states from intervening in the affairs of other states. Commenting upon and discussing situations in other states is not caught by this prohibition, but actions of a coercive nature are. The use of force is arguably the most obvious form of such coercion, whether manifested by direct intervention through the use of a state’s own military forces or indirectly through the provision of arms and training to opposition forces.

The only two established exceptions to the prohibition of the use of force in international law are actions taken in self-defence and those taken under the authorisation of the UN Security Council…”

 


Then there is the use of torture and assassinations. Illegal torture continues in secret and openly by our troops. The Joint Chiefs of Staff has a list compiled under the direction of now President Obama of Americans who shall be assassinated. One person they have admitted to being selected for assassination is Anwar al-Awlaki.

 

Congress has the power to declare war not the President.

 

About 90% of those killed when we wage war are now unarmed civilians regardless of the claims made by our leaders about our “precision” weaponry and great technology. They are also bringing this war mentality home, and the criminals will need to because eventually Americans will stand up to the tyrants.

 

The Posse Comitatus Act (and Title 10 of the United States Code) prohibits members of the US military from exercising law enforcement powers on non-federal property within the United States. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act allowed the use the Armed Forces in major public emergencies after hurricane Katrina, but was repealed in 2008 reverting to Posse Comitatus Act and The Insurrection Act of 1807. (The Insurrection Act of 1807, in the opinion of a number of Constitutional scholars is unconstitutional and would be found so if they ever bothered to test it in court.)

 

America’s Economic Blockades and International Law

“Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with devastating consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping…”

 

So much for accountability.  August 2013
Obama Gives Bush “Absolute Immunity” For Everything

 

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War

 

US Has Killed More Than 20 Million In 37 Nations Since WWII 

 

U.S. War Crimes and The Need To Recognize The Psychology Of Evil

Also Carl Herman:
“Recognized facts of US wars:
No nation’s government attacked the US on 9/11. The US acknowledges the Afghanistan government had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued two Resolutions after 9/11 (1368 and 1373) for international cooperation for factual discovery, arrests, and prosecutions of the 9/11 criminals.

The Afghan government said they would arrest any suspect upon presentation of evidence of criminal involvement. The US rejected these Resolutions, and violated the letter and intent of the UN Charter by armed attack and invasion of Afghanistan.

For more detail, I recommend International Law Professor Dr. Francis Boyle’s “End the crime that is the war on Afghanistan.” The US government acknowledges Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued a standing cease fire that no single nation could violate by resuming armed attacks. The UN Security Council also resolved for weapons inspections that were nearly complete when the US violated the cease fire, weapons inspections, and letter and intent of the UN Charter with armed attack.”

The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us – John Pilger

 

 

Lanterns for Peace 2020

Join us from your home for this family friendly event to commemorate the lives lost in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings 75 years ago and make sure that such nuclear attacks never again take place. We remember the past, so that we can envision and work for a peaceful, just and nuclear-free future. Due to COVID-19, there will be no public gathering for Lanterns for Peace but we will still be holding a lantern launch streamed online.

Lanterns for Peace 2020 Youtube Video

Lanterns for Peace: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Wisconsin

 

 

The use of nuclear weapons is a war crime.  The use of nuclear weapons violates multiple parts of the Laws of Armed Conflict.


Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum—America’s shrine to the technological leading edge of the military industrial complex—hear a familiar narrative from the tour guides in front of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic weapon on the civilians of Hiroshima 70 years ago today.

The bomb was dropped, they say, to save the lives of thousands of Americans who would otherwise have been killed in an invasion of the Home Islands. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely destroyed and the lives of between 135,000 and 300,000 mostly Japanese women, children, and old people were sacrificed—most young men were away at war—as the result of a terrible but morally just calculus aimed at bringing an intractable war to a close.

This story may assuage the conscience of the air museum visitor, but it is largely myth, fashioned to buttress our memories of the “good” war. By and large, the top generals and admirals who managed World War II knew better. Consider the small and little-noticed plaque hanging in the National Museum of the US Navy that accompanies the replica of “Little Boy,” the weapon used against the people of Hiroshima: In its one paragraph, it makes clear that Truman’s “political advisors” overruled the military in determining the way in which the end of the war in Japan would be approached. Furthermore, contrary to the popular myths around the atomic bomb’s nearly magical power to end the war, the Navy Museum’s explication of the history clearly indicates that “the vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.”
Indeed, it would have been surprising if they had: Despite the terrible concentrated power of atomic weapons, the firebombing of Tokyo earlier in 1945 and the destruction of numerous Japanese cities by conventional bombing had killed far more people. The Navy Museum acknowledges what many historians have long known: It was only with the entry of the Soviet Union’s Red Army into the war two days after the bombing of Hiroshima that the Japanese moved to finally surrender. Japan was used to losing cities to American bombing; what their military leaders feared more was the destruction of the country’s military by an all-out Red Army assault.

The top American military leaders who fought World War II, much to the surprise of many who are not aware of the record, were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and—for many—that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral. Most were also conservatives, not liberals. Adm. William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… in being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

The commanding general of the US Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave a strong indication of his views in a public statement only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked. Asked on August 17 by a New York Times reporter whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender, Arnold said that “the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that “the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan…” Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that “the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, for his part, stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…” He later publicly declared “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
The record is quite clear: From the perspective of an overwhelming number of key contemporary leaders in the US military, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not a matter of military necessity. American intelligence had broken the Japanese codes, knew the Japanese government was trying to negotiate surrender through Moscow, and had long advised that the expected early August Russian declaration of war, along with assurances that Japan’s Emperor would be allowed to stay as a powerless figurehead, would bring surrender long before the first step in a November US invasion, three months later, could begin.

Historians still do not have a definitive answer to why the bomb was used. Given that US intelligence advised the war would likely end if Japan were given assurances regarding the Emperor—and given that the US military knew it would have to keep the Emperor to help control occupied Japan in any event—something else clearly seems to have been important. We do know that some of President Truman’s closest advisers viewed the bomb as a diplomatic and not simply a military weapon. Secretary of State James Byrnes, for instance, believed that the use of atomic weapons would help the United States more strongly dominate the postwar era. According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard, who met with him on May 28, 1945, “[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia’s postwar behavior…[and thought] that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia.

”History is rarely simple, and confronting it head-on, with critical honesty, is often quite painful. Myths, no matter how oversimplified or blatantly false, are too often far more likely to be embraced than inconvenient and unsettling truths.

Even now, for instance, we see how difficult it is for the average US citizen to come to terms with the brutal record of slavery and white supremacy that underlies so much of our national story. Remaking our popular understanding of the “good” war’s climactic act is likely to be just as hard. But if the Confederate battle flag can come down in South Carolina, we can perhaps one day begin to ask ourselves more challenging questions about the nature of America’s global power, and what is true and what is false about why we really dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.”