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Thread: WAR CRIMES

  1. #1
    pcteaser Guest

    WAR CRIMES

    'WAR CRIMES'

    51 House members call on Gonzales to appoint special counsel on alleged U.S. 'war crimes'


    05/13/0 "Raw Story" - -Congressman John Conyers will be issuing a letter cosigned by roughly 50 House members calling for a special prosecutor to investigate claims that the U.S. has violated the War Crimes Act at secret detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, RAW STORY has learned.

    The following letter will be issued shortly.

    May 12, 2005

    The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales
    Attorney General of the United States
    U.S. Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20530

    Dear Mr. Attorney General:

    We are writing to request that you appoint a special counsel to investigate whether high-ranking officials within the Bush Administration violated the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441, or the Anti-Torture Act, 18 U.S.C. 2340 by allowing the use of torture techniques banned by domestic and international law at recognized and secret detention sites in Iraq, Afghanistan Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

    One year and 10 investigations after we first learned about the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib, there has yet to be a comprehensive, neutral and objective investigation with prosecutorial authority of who is ultimately responsible for the abuses there and elsewhere. While more than 130 low-ranking officers and enlisted soldiers have been disciplined or face courts-martial for the abuses that occurred, there have been no criminal charges against high-ranking officials. Yet the pattern of abuse across several countries did not result from the acts of individual soldiers who broke the rules. It resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials to bend, ignore, or cast rules aside. If the United States is to wipe away the stain of Abu Ghraib, it needs to investigate those at the top who ordered or condoned torture. As a result, it is in our interest to finally show the world that we are taking these matters seriously and resolving them free of political taint.

    Some of us previously asked Attorney General Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate these abuses on May 20, 2004. Unfortunately, we received no answer to our request. The need for a special counsel is now more important than ever as the Administration and military have repeatedly exonerated high-ranking officials, or declined to even investigate their actions, even as other official investigations linked the policy decisions by these officials to the crimes that occurred at Abu Ghraib. The Administration's haphazard and disjointed approach to these investigations appears to have insulated those in command and prevented a full account of the actions and abuses from being determined.

    As you know, under Department of Justice regulations, the Attorney General must appoint a special counsel when (1) a "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted," (2) the investigation "by a United States Attorney Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department," and (3) "it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter."1 In the present case, all three requirements have been met.

    First, federal criminal laws are clearly implicated. The Anti-Torture Act criminalizes acts of torture - including attempts to commit torture and conspiracy to commit an act of torture - occurring outside the United States' territorial jurisdiction regardless of the citizenship of the perpetrator or victim.2 The Geneva Conventions generally prohibit "violence to life and persons," "outrages upon personal dignity," and "humiliating and degrading treatment."3 Violations of the Geneva Conventions also constitute a violation of U.S. federal criminal law under the War Crimes Act.4 The Administration has acknowledged on several occasions that the United States is bound by the Geneva Conventions with respect to Iraqi5 and Taliban prisoners,6 and that a violation of the Conventions would invite prosecution under the War Crimes Act.7 Numerous investigations have uncovered such violations. The Taguba report found instances of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" of prisoners.8 The Army's Inspector General's report found 94 incidents of detainee abuse at detention sites in Afghanistan and Iraq.9 And, the Schlesinger report confirmed five instances in which detainees died as a result of abuse by U.S. personnel during interrogations.10 The repudiation of the August 2002 memorandum you wrote as White House Counsel in December of 2004 suggests even the Administration realizes its policies contributed to actions which violated federal criminal law.11

    Therefore, given the Administration's concession that the Geneva Conventions apply to Iraqi and Taliban prisoners, given its concession in the Gonzalez memo that a violation of the Conventions would also constitute a violation of federal criminal law, and given the flagrant violations of the Conventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay which have been confirmed by official investigations, it is clear that a prima facie violation of federal criminal law exists. It is also evident that high-ranking Administration officials, including the Defense Secretary, as well as high-ranking military officials, may have authorized these actions and are potentially subject to criminal prosecution as well.

    Second, there is an obvious conflict of interest. A special counsel is necessary not only because high-ranking Administration officials, including Cabinet members, are implicated, but also because you personally, and the Department of Justice generally, may have participated in this conspiracy to violate the War Crimes Act. It has been confirmed that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, and you yourself as White House Counsel, encouraged the president to withhold Geneva Convention protections from Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay detainees. If the conflict of interest provisions in your regulations mean anything, it is that when the Attorney General may have contributed to the abuses that were committed, the Department of Justice has no business conducting the investigation and should instead turn to a special counsel.

    Finally, there can be no doubt that the public interest will be served by a broad and independent investigation into both the allegations of abuse at U.S. detention sites as well as the role of high-ranking officials in authorizing and allowing these abuses. To date, a number of investigations into allegations of abuse at United States detention sites have been conducted, including ten official investigations. These investigations concluded that the leadership failure of officers such as Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the senior commander in Iraq, contributed to the prisoner abuse.


    For example, the Army Inspector General and former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger found in separate reports that the policies issued by Lt. Gen. Sanchez and his subsequent actions once the abuses at Abu Ghraib were known contributed to the perpetration of these abuses. The Schlesinger investigation also found that other top military officials were responsible, concluding, "There is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels."12 Similarly, the Kern-Fay-Jones report concluded that the actions of Sanchez and his most senior deputies, such as Maj. Gen. ^^^^^^ Wojdakowski, "did indirectly contribute" to some abuses.13 However, these inquiries were not empowered to impose punishments on those it found culpable, and they were not empowered to examine the role of high-ranking officials, including members of the Administration, in the perpetuation of these abuses.14 And, in spite of these findings, many of the reports refused to hold these high-ranking officials culpable. In fact, we recently learned the Army absolved four top officers, including Lt. Gen. Sanchez, of wrongdoing. To date, only one high-ranking military officer has been punished as a result of these inquiries, and many view her punishment as a mere slap on the wrist. As a result, it is not yet clear to the world that the United States is taking these abuses seriously.

    The public interest demands we determine who is ultimately responsible for these abuses. While Private Lynndie England and other low-ranking officers have pled guilty, those who ordered and authorized their actions appear to have been protected by the military and this Administration. Because so many high level officials, including you, have been implicated in these events, the only way to ensure impartiality is through the appointment of a Special Counsel. Indeed, our nation's integrity is at stake. We must reassure the world that we will fairly and independently pursue legal violations wherever they occur.

    We await your response on this important matter. At no point during this Administration has a Special Counsel been appointed.15 Please contact us through Perry Apelbaum or Ted Kalo of the Judiciary Staff at 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 if you have any questions about this request.

    Sincerely,

    1. Rep. Tammy Baldwin
    2. Rep. Sanford Bishop
    3. Rep. Earl Blumenauer
    4. Rep. Corrine Brown
    5. Rep. Julia Carson
    6. Rep. John Conyers
    7. Rep. Elijah Cummings
    8. Rep. A. Davis
    9. Rep. S. Davis
    10. Rep. Diana DeGette
    11. Rep. Anna Eshoo
    12. Rep. Barney Frank
    13. Rep. Raul Grijalva
    14. Rep. Luis Guitierrez
    15. Rep. Maurice Hinchey
    16. Rep. Michael Honda
    17. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
    18. Rep. Ron Kind
    19. Rep. Dennis Kucinich
    20. Rep. Barbara Lee
    21. Rep. Zoe Lofgren
    22. Rep. Carolyn Maloney
    23. Rep. Betty McCollum
    24. Rep. Jim McDermott
    25. Rep. James McGovern
    26. Rep. Gregory Meeks
    27. Rep. James Moran
    28. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
    29. Rep. James Oberstar
    30. Rep. John Olver
    31. Rep. Frank Pallone
    32. Rep. Donald Payne
    33. Rep. Tom Price
    34. Rep. Martin Sabo
    35. Rep. Linda Sanchez
    36. Rep. Bernard Sanders
    37. Rep. Janice Schakowsky
    38. Rep. Bobby Scott
    39. Rep. Jose Serrano
    40. Rep. Louise Slaughter
    41. Rep. Hilda Solis
    42. Rep. Fortney Stark
    43. Rep. Ellen Tauscher
    44. Rep. Mark Udall
    45. Rep. Chris VanHollen
    46. Rep. Maxine Waters
    47. Rep. Diane Watson
    48. Rep. Melvin Watt
    49. Rep. Robert Wexler
    50. Rep. Lynn Woolsey
    51. Rep. David Wu

  2. #2
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    "A special counsel is necessary not only because high-ranking Administration officials, including Cabinet members, are implicated, but also because you personally, and the Department of Justice generally, may have participated in this conspiracy to violate the War Crimes Act."

    Sounds to me like this guy has a "Conspiracy Theory" that he wants investigated that's supported by substantial evidence. Huh... Freakin' Wacko...
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #3
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    US Lawmakers Make New Demand for Independent Probe of Prisoner Abuse

    http://www.politinfo.com/articles/ar...5_14_1514.html

    May 14, 2005 Washington
    Fifty Democratic members of the House of Representatives are calling for an independent U.S. government investigation into the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib. This comes as the Bush administration and top defense officials respond to recent media reports about alleged mistreatment of prisoners by members of the U.S military.

    In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the 50 House Democrats demand that a special counsel be appointed to investigate allegations of prisoner abuse.

    Referring to investigations already undertaken by the Army Inspector General, and a separate commission, they say none connected the dots to ascertain how such acts in their words, became a widespread policy throughout American detention facilities around the world.

    The focus of the letter is on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.

    Congressman John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, says recent reports about the alleged desecration of a Koran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay make the request for the independent investigation even more important.

    Reports of the alleged actions at Guantanamo Bay, published first in Newsweek magazine and widely circulated by other media, sparked demonstrations by Muslims in Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan.

    U.S defense officials say they have found no evidence to confirm that any such incident took place at the Guantanamo facility.

    Among senior members of the Bush administration reacting to the reports, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pledged that action would be taken against those responsible if the allegations are proven true, adding any disrespect to the Koran would never be tolerated.

    Last year, some House Democrats called on then Attorney General John Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate physical abuse and sexual intimidation of prisoners.

    But the latest call by House Democrats comes amid criticisms by many lawmakers that punishments for members of the military overseeing interrogations at Abu Ghraib have not been more severe.

    About 130 lower-ranking and enlisted soldiers have faced punishment in connection with abuse allegations, with seven convictions so far.

    The United States said in a report to the United Nations there have been 30 courts-martial, 46 non-judicial punishments, 15 reprimands and administrative actions, separations or other steps against various members of the military.

    The former U.S. military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib, Army Colonel Thomas Pappas, received a reprimand and was removed from his command. The former top U.S. commander in Iraq, Colonel Ricardo Sanchez, and three other senior officers were exonerated earlier this month.

    The former Abu Ghraib commander Army Reserve General Janis Karpinski was demoted and reprimanded, but has accused the Army of using her as a scapegoat.

    In an interview with ABC Television's Nightline program this past week, she said she believes higher U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew or should have known what was going on at Abu Ghraib.

    In their letter Friday to the U.S. Attorney General, House Democrats say higher-level military and U.S. government officials have been insulated saying a special counsel is required to investigate involvement by higher-ranking Administration officials.

    In approving $ 82 billion recently for military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress included a little-noticed provision barring the use of any U.S. funds to subject individuals in U.S. custody to torture.

    This article uses material from VOA.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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