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|Topic: Rumsfeld has committed War Crimes|
Joined: 27 July 2006
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| Topic: Rumsfeld has committed War Crimes
Posted: 11 November 2006 at 4:30pm
'Without any question, Rumsfeld has committed War Crimes'
11.9.2006 -- In this Democracy Now! interview, the Center For Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner says of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:
So this guy has committed -- without any question, this guy has committed war crimes, violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Because the recently passed Military Commissions Act (aka: The Torture Act) included immunity for all administration officials from war crimes prosecution, the CCR is initiating a case in German courts next week, "under their law, which is universal jurisdiction, which basically says a torturer is essentially an enemy of all humankind and can be brought to justice wherever they’re found."
Though he's not optimistic that any international body will take the case, Former State Dept. and CIA analyst Melvin Goodman says: Well, I think the record is quite clear. War crimes have been committed. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld combined to sponsor the memos by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and others to sanction torture. CIA officials have committed war crimes. DOD officials have committed war crimes. If you look at the three decisions of the Supreme Court -- Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush -- clearly laws have been broken, serious laws have been broken.
War Crimes Suit Prepared against Rumsfeld
The president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, is heading to Germany today to file a new case charging outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes for authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay.
Would Rumsfeld stepping down leave him open to prosecution? In 2004, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a criminal complaint in Germany on behalf of several Iraqi citizens who alleged that a group of U.S. officials committed war crimes in Iraq. Rumsfeld was among the officials named in the complaint. The Iraqis claimed they were victims of electric shock, severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation and sexual abuse.
Germany's laws on torture and war crimes permits the prosecution of suspected war criminals wherever they may be found.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner joins us in our studio here in New York. Former CIA analyst Mel Goodman and journalist Bob Parry are still in Washington. Michael, why are you headed to Germany in the next few days?
MICHAEL RATNER: Thank you for having me on this issue, Amy. One of the shocking things really so far about the coverage of Rumsfeld’s resignation, there's not a word in any of it about torture. And here, Rumsfeld is one of the architects of the torture program of the United States. I mean, we have those sheets of paper that went to Guantanamo that talk about using dogs and stripping people and hooding people. We have one of our clients, al-Qahtani, who was in Guantanamo. Rumsfeld essentially supervised that entire interrogation, one of the worst interrogations that happened at Guantanamo. He actually authorized a rendition, a fake rendition of al-Qahtani, where flew him -- put a -- blindfolded him, sedated him, put him on an airplane and flew him back to Guantanamo, so he thought he would be in some torture country. So here you have Rumsfeld, one of the architects, not a word about it.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that he personally supervised it?
MICHAEL RATNER: There’s actually documents out there, that there’s part of the log that comes out. The log was published of his interrogation. And then there’s a report called the “Schmidt Report,” which was an internal investigation, in which there are statements in there about Rumsfeld being directly involved in the interrogation of al-Qahtani. So this guy has committed -- without any question, this guy has committed war crimes, violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Now, what do we do now? Well, we went to Germany before. Germany dismissed the earlier case on Rumsfeld, partly for political reasons, obviously. Rumsfeld said, “I’m not going back to Germany as long as this case is pending in Germany.” He had to go to the Munich Security Conference. They dismissed the case two days before. What they said when they dismissed it, what they said was, we think the United States is still looking into going up the chain of command, essentially, and looking into what the conduct of our officials are.
In fact, now, two years later, look where we are. One, he has resigned, so any kind of immunity he might have as a vice president [sic] from prosecution is out the window. Secondly, of course, as, you know, a little gift package to these guys, you know, our congress with the President has now given immunity to US officials for war crimes. They basically said you can’t be prosecuted for war crimes. That’s in the Military Commission Act. Now, that immunity, like the immunities in Argentina and Chile during the Dirty Wars, does not apply overseas.
So, now you have Germany sitting there with -- there’s no longer an argument the US can possibly prosecute him, because within the US, he’s out. So you have Germany sitting there with a former Secretary of Defense and basically in an immunity situation in the United States. So the chances in Germany have been raised tremendously, I think, and the stakes for Rumsfeld, not only in Germany, but anywhere that guy travels, he is going to be like the Henry Kissinger of the next period.
JUAN GONZALEZ: But then, what would you have to do? You would have to re-file the case before -- is it before an international court in Germany or in German courts?
MICHAEL RATNER: We’re actually going on Tuesday. We’re re-filing it in German courts under their law, which is universal jurisdiction, which basically says a torturer is essentially an enemy of all humankind and can be brought to justice wherever they’re found. So we are going to Germany to try and get them to begin an investigation of Rumsfeld for really a left-out part of this picture, which is the United States has essentially been on the page of torture now for five years.
AMY GOODMAN: Mel Goodman, as you listen to this, have you ever seen this, an American official concerned about going abroad -- you mentioned, Michael, Henry Kissinger -- but because they could be prosecuted? And how possible do you think this is, as a former State Department and CIA analyst?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the record is quite clear. War crimes have been committed. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld combined to sponsor the memos by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and others to sanction torture. CIA officials have committed war crimes. DOD officials have committed war crimes. If you look at the three decisions of the Supreme Court -- Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush -- clearly laws have been broken, serious laws have been broken. And now the Congress is trying to rewrite the laws to launder these charges against these people.
But the ultimate question is, will any international body take on these charges, take on these cases, and really operate against high-level American officials? And I guess I have my doubts that this will be done. But I think what Michael Ratner is doing is important to at least establish the record of this pattern of torture and abuse, secret prisons, renditions and extraordinary renditions. I think it’s unconscionable what America has done in the name of the so-called war against terrorism over the last several years. And, of course, the war against terrorism is now the mantra of this administration, and Bob Gates incorporated it a few times in his very brief remarks yesterday, upon receiving this nomination. So this is a very important issue. I’m not optimistic that a court will take it on, but I think it’s very important to get the record out there for all to see what has been done in the name of the United States. This has been unconscionable behavior.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner, the White House recently proposed changing the War Crimes Act of 1996, that would narrow the scope of punishable offenses. The new list would exclude humiliating or degrading treatment of prisoners. Military law experts believe the Bush administration is effectively rewriting parts of the Geneva Convention, but this is US law. Why do they even have to bother, if they’re granting immunity to officials in the new War Commissions Act of 2006?
MICHAEL RATNER: I’m not sure I understood. They clearly did. They already -- the Military Commission Act --
AMY GOODMAN: They already did it, but they’re also trying to change the 1996 War Crimes Act.
MICHAEL RATNER: They did do that.
AMY GOODMAN: By the new Commissions Act.
MICHAEL RATNER: The new Commissions Act actually modifies -- we have a statute that makes violations of the Geneva Conventions war crimes. Because for five years they had been violating that statute in the belief that Geneva Conventions didn’t apply to the war on terror, and as Mel said, now that the Supreme Court says the Geneva Conventions do apply, these guys are sitting there and they’re not sleeping well. They’re not sleeping well, going back, because they’ve been torturing people or violating Geneva for five years. And going foward, as the President said in that September 6 press conference, we want to continue using CIA sites and doing this to people. So they have been forced to modify the War Crimes Act. That doesn’t affect what happens in Germany, other than the fact that it now says to the Germans, “Look at, you guys, first they violated Geneva, and now they're immunizing themselves.”
JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask Mel Goodman, given this situation, one of the things that is clear is that the military, many of even the highest-ranking military officers were in virtual rebellion against Secretary Rumsfeld, and it’s no accident that the major newspapers, the Military Times and Navy Times, just a few days before the election called for his resignation. Now, you have Bob Gates coming in and, as you say, he will try to clamp down on dissidents within the military. But given the situation in Iraq right now and this whole issue of the military being drawn more and more into war crimes through torture, do you expect that there’s going to be success in the civilian leadership led by Gates regaining control over dissent within the military?
MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I don’t think Gates will have a big role in this. I think the important role has been played by the military lawyers. I think the real heroes in this has been the Judge Advocates Corps, the military officers who serve as lawyers in the military, who have gotten essentially reinstatement of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a military that is obedient to the Geneva Conventions. So there’s been great progress by the Pentagon here.
I think what Gates will perform for the Pentagon is just representing the relief that all of these officers feel, that they no longer have to face the arrogance and the ignorance of Donald Rumsfeld on a day-by-day basis. So I think Gates will be in there to smooth things down at the Pentagon, in the same way that George Herbert Walker Bush came to the CIA in the 1970s at a very controversial and tendentious point in the CIA’s history, just to calm everything down for awhile, to stop the leaks, to stop the accusations, and essentially to be more loyal to the Bush administration.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask a quick question to Michael Ratner, as we wrap up. We have a new congress, Democrat congress, Democrat senate. Is there any discussion of accountability? Conyers talked about it before, when he was in the minority. Nancy Pelosi just announced impeachment is off the table. What do you want the Democrats to do?
MICHAEL RATNER: Well, the first thing I would want the Democrats to do, the absolute first thing, is restore the writ of habeas corpus to non-citizens both here in the United States and around the world. I would have them -- 48 of them voted to have it restored -- or not restored, but not taken out before. I would like to see them make an effort to do that. What are the chances of this? I think they're very low. I would love to see Conyers open a full investigation into the Iraq war. I would love to see the Intelligence Committee open a full investigation into torture.
AMY GOODMAN: We’ll have to leave it there. Michael Ratner, Melvin Goodman, Robert Parry, I want to thank you all very much for being with us.
Joined: 27 July 2006
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 13 November 2006 at 7:46am|
The War Crimes Case Against Donald Rumsfeld
Although Bush has immunized Rumsfeld and others from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, they could be tried in any country under the well-established principle of universal jurisdiction.
11.13.2006-- As the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and were on the verge of taking over the Senate, George W. Bush announced that Donald Rumsfeld was out and Robert Gates was in as Secretary of Defense. When Bush is being run out of town, he knows how to get out in the front of the crowd and make it look like he's leading the parade. The Rumsfeld-Gates swap is a classic example.
The election was a referendum on the war. The dramatic results prove that the overwhelming majority of people in this country don't like the disaster Bush has created in Iraq. So rather than let the airwaves fill up with beaming Democrats and talk of the horrors of Iraq, Bush changed the subject and fired Rumsfeld. Now, when the Democrats begin to investigate what went wrong, Rumsfeld will no longer be the controversial public face of the war.
Rumsfeld had come under fire from many quarters, not the least of which was a gaggle of military officers who had been clamoring for his resignation. Bush said he decided to oust Rumsfeld before Tuesday's voting but lied to reporters so it wouldn't affect the election. Putting aside the incredulity of that claim, Bush likely waited to see if there would be a changing of the legislative guard before giving Rumsfeld his walking papers. If the GOP had retained control of Congress, Bush would probably have retained Rumsfeld. But in hindsight, Bush has to wish he had ejected Rumsfeld before the election to demonstrate a new direction in the Iraq war to angry voters.
Rumsfeld's sin was not in failing to develop a winning strategy for Iraq. There is no winning in Iraq, because we never belonged there in the first place. The war in Iraq is a war of aggression. It violates the United Nations Charter which only permits one country to invade another in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council.
Donald Rumsfeld was one of the primary architects of the Iraq war. On September 15, 2001, in a meeting at Camp David, Rumsfeld suggested an attack on Iraq because he was deeply worried about the availability of "good targets in Afghanistan." Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reported that Rumsfeld articulated his hope to "dissuade" other nations from "asymmetrical challenges" to U.S. power. Rumsfeld's support for a preemptive attack on Iraq "matched with plans for how the world's second largest oil reserve might be divided among the world's contractors made for an irresistible combination," Ron Suskind wrote after interviewing O'Neill.
Rumsfeld defensively sought to decouple oil access from regime change in Iraq when he appeared on CBS News on November 15, 2002. In a Macbeth moment, Rumsfeld proclaimed the United States' beef with Iraq has "nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil." The Secretary doth protest too much.
Prosecuting a war of aggression isn't Rumsfeld's only crime. He also participated in the highest levels of decision-making that allowed the extrajudicial execution of several people. Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which constitutes a war crime. In his book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh described the "unacknowledged" special-access program (SAP) established by a top-secret order Bush signed in late 2001 or early 2002. It authorized the Defense Department to set up a clandestine team of Special Forces operatives to defy international law and snatch, or assassinate, anyone considered a "high-value" Al Qaeda operative, anywhere in the world. Rumsfeld expanded SAP into Iraq in August 2003.
But Rumsfeld's crimes don't end there. He sanctioned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and thus constitute war crimes. Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. According to Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld sanctioned the use of physical coercion and sexual humiliation to extract information from prisoners. Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding, where the interrogator induces the sensation of imminent death by drowning. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture.
Rumsfeld was intimately involved with the interrogation of a Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantánamo in late 2002. General Geoffrey Miller, who later transferred many of his harsh interrogation techniques to Abu Ghaib, supervised the interrogation and gave Rumsfeld weekly updates on his progress. During a six-week period, al-Qahtani was stripped naked, forced to wear women's underwear on his head, denied bathroom access, threatened with dogs, forced to perform tricks while tethered to a dog leash, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Al-Qahtani was kept in solitary confinement for 160 days. For 48 days out of 54, he was interrogated for 18 to 20 hours a day.
Even though Rumsfeld didn't personally carry out the torture and mistreatment of prisoners, he authorized it. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, a commander can be liable for war crimes committed by his inferiors if he knew or should have known they would be committed and did nothing to stop of prevent them. The U.S. War Crimes Act provides for prosecution of a person who commits war crimes and prescribes life imprisonment, or even the death penalty if the victim dies.
Although intending to signal a new direction in Iraq with his nomination of Gates to replace Rumsfeld, Bush has no intention of leaving Iraq. He is building huge permanent U.S. military bases there. Gates at the helm of the Defense Department, Bush said, "can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach." Bush hopes he can bring congressional Democrats on board by convincing them he will simply fight a smarter war.
But this war can never get smarter. Nearly 3,000 American soldiers and more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died and tens of thousands have been wounded. Our national debt has skyrocketed with the billions Bush has pumped into the war. Now that there is a new day in Congress, there must be a new push to end the war. That means a demand that Congress cut off its funds.
And the war criminals must be brought to justice -- beginning with Donald Rumsfeld. On November 14, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and other organizations will ask the German federal prosecutor to initiate a criminal investigation into the war crimes of Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials. Although Bush has immunized his team from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, they could be tried in any country under the well-established principle of universal jurisdiction.
Donald Rumsfeld may be out of sight, but he will not be out of mind. The chickens have come home to roost. Marjorie Cohn, AlterNet
Joined: 29 March 2006
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|Posted: 13 November 2006 at 11:13am|
I found the following at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfield#Education_2
Alleged overseas torture
The suit charges Rumsfeld with violations of the U.S. Constitution and international law prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory damages on behalf of the eight men allegedly tortured and abused by U.S. military forces after being captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Additionally, the New York-based law firm, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announced Wednesday November 8th 2006 that it plans to file a war crimes lawsuit against Donald Rumsfield in Germany. CCR had filed a similar complaint to Germany in 2004, but Germany then dismissed the charges. Michael Ratner of CCR claims that Rumsfeld is one of the architects of the U.S. torture program. Also that he personally supervised the torture of Mohamed al-Kahtani, and that is documented in the Schmidt report, an internal investigation.
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