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Monday, May 23, 2005

War crimes: Where were the circuit breakers?

What happened to the checks and balances? Alot didn't work. The Constitution got ignored. We need to understand why and make sure this doesn't happen again.


What mechanisms have to be in place to ensure laws are not waged based on falsehoods; or that wars are actually the last resort; and that there are meaningful consequences in place to timely impose discipline.

The American system of checks and balances failed. It remains to be understood what mechanisms are required.

  • Is more power needed in the States to have a say in matters affecting their constituents and how the constitution is enforced?

  • What check will prevent a majority from lounging a war of aggression?

  • What will be done to ensure that the Congress does not pass legislation that waters down the constitution?

  • What will ensure that the advocates for the Constitution have a voice, are heard, and have a heavy vote in the decision?

  • How will the Executives power be whittled away, more aggressively overseen?

  • What will be done to ensure the Congress has the requisite talented staff on hand to challenge the Executive so that the Executive remains in his place, not wandering around the globe making mischief?

    We already fought this battle once in 1776. Why do individual citizens have to fight this battle each day? The Constitution is clear.

    This didn't happen in a vacuum. People chose to go with this, and ignored the Constitution.


    The Americans continue to fail to introduce the needed circuit breakers to hold their leadership accountable. Nations now feel the US is a rogue nation. Foreign forces continue to organize to strike at the United States; they grow emboldened knowing US war crimes and violations now permit lawful retribution. The US has few friends, its military is weak and overextened. There is a likely civil war.

    This cycle could end if Americans were to hold their leaders accountable. It seems likely the Americans would rather hope a civil war is not likely and the problem goes away on its own. Americans are soon going to have to make a choice: Follow their leader or follow the rule of law. The two are not the same.

    The current events need to be looked at under the light of "whatever is needed to protect the White House from both war crimes liability and impeachment."

    It's curious how much effort goes into avoiding consequences.

    Following WWII, the US imposed the Geneva Conventions on the Nazis.

    Today, it seems as though every effort is made to avoid a similar application.

    Let's supposed [for the sake of argument] that the White House has "no idea" of what is going on, and that it really is in the dark about things.

  • Why is the White House taking credit for anything that goes right?

    Conversely, if the White House's "understanding" and "span of control" is so tenuous on everything, does the White House really matter?

    Either the White House is significant in the world scheme and is instrumental in executing this policy; or it is not.

    Either the White House through the Gonzalez memo was actively aware of, and orchestrating the torture, or the White House was so perversely negligent in its oversight that it is of no consequence.

    Yet, the White House wants it both ways: That the White House is to be taken seriously because of its power, while at the same time never held responsible for anything.

    Let's suppose that, despite the legacy of WWII and the Nuremberg Trials, that the United States really is incapable of translating these lessons learned into effective policy.

    The Congressional Committees need to look at whether the policies the White House currently has in place are the requisite performance standards that would avoid another fiasco we saw in the German Republic: Namely, mobilizing a nation to unlawfully invade other countries, commit crimes, then wage further acts of aggression, torture and abuse to hide the evidence.

    I see no distinction between the Nazis and the Bush Administration. Both are committed to national policies, regardless their lawfulness or consequences to humanity.

    Yet, one would think that despite the horrific lessons of WWII, that the United States would have injected a number of circuit breakers:

  • To ensure reporting

  • To impose consequences

  • To break the cycle

    Indeed, we find in the Gonzalez memo telling language that they were concerned with the possible war crimes implications of authorizing torture.

    Congress needs to come to an understanding why, despite these lessons of WWII, is the United States apparently incapable of ensuring there are circuit breakers.

    Where are the OPM guidelines that require reporting of war crimes

    Where are the merit promotions standards that link "failure to report war crimes information" with adverse promotions

    Where are the statutes that would make presenting false evidence to Congress a crime when it is done so to launch an illegal war

    Under the current legislative immunity theories, legislators cannot be held liable for their legislative actions; namely, they cannot be held liable for passing legislation.

    But is this appropriate? Are there times when, despite this "immunity," the legislators need to rise to a higher standard, and when they fail to meet that standard, they should be held liable for misconduct, criminal activity, or taking action that would support unlawful national objectives?

    Clearly, the disadvantage of holding a legislator accountable for unlawful war is that it would tend to dissuade open and public discussion and debate of the Congress.

    But Congress despite its position on the proverbial hill is not within a moat, rather it remains under the eye of the Constitution.

    The Constitution does something very simple: It requires that things be done in a reasonable manner, and that the acts of Congress tend to support an improvement in things.

    What is most telling about the Congress is that it spends alot of time discussing issues, but where are the consequences for misleading or false information before Congress?

    Indeed, there are perjury standards applicable to those who testify before Congress.

    So where are the testimonies of those who said there were WMD and links to AlQueda? Why are they not being held liable for lying to Congress?

    Or are we suggesting that, despite the vast mobilization for war, that nobody can point to anything that holds anyone accountable?

    The information must have come from somewhere.

    Indeed, we now know from the MI6 memo that the war was already decided before the testimony and the speeches and the inspections; thus, this raises the question about the extent to which Administration officials appearing before Congress made statements wholly disconnected from facts.

    Bluntly, the MI6 memo now raises the prospect that Administration officials could be held liable for perjury before Congress.

    But there are other mechanisms for circuit breakers. Supposedly there are reporting requirements on DoD personnel to report war crimes. There is physical evidence that detainees in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo were physically assaulted, tortured, and killed.

  • Where were the doctors?

  • Why were supervisory personnel not inquiring into the state of the prisoners?

  • Why were the statutory requirements to conduct combat operations not consistent with the rules of law

  • Why were detainees harmed

  • How could all this go on, yet "nobody knows"?

    Rumsfeld and Gonzalez both signed off on memos, read them; yet later investigations said that personnel had these memos, and moved from Guantanamo, to Afghanistan, then to Abu Ghraib.

    Not surprisingly, a retired Brigadier General said there was no problem.

    Strange, all this can get called into question given the MI6 memo. For the MI6 memo does a number of things:

  • It shows that there are a number of personnel who regularly exchange information between the United States and the UK;

  • That personnel discussed the evidence prior to going to war;

  • Despite these concerns, the Administration still pressed the case for war;

  • The United States and UK did invade despite the MI6 memo.

    All of these conversations have been recorded, documented. Evidence related to war crimes is no longer "classified" but discoverable for purposes of discover, interrogatories, and prosecution.

    There are specific statutes that prohibit information from being classified in order to hide them from criminal investigations.

    I find it curious despite the many lessons of WWII, that a system could come this far, not have the circuit breakers in place, and despite the apparent ruse "that nothing can be done" there's no active discussion about figuring out:

  • What statutes, rules, guidance, policies need to be reformed, strengthened, or harmonized to ensure that existing standards are consistent with the lessons of WWII;

  • Conversely, what roadblocks to investigation, evidence gathering, and prosecution need to be removed to ensure that personnel are held accountable for their conduct.

    The decision to go to war didn't appear in a vacuum, nor is it the fruit of nature. The decision was based on some inputs, and those inputs have been proved to be fiction.

    Recall that prior to the Nazi invasion, there was the Polish Squad. This became the pretext to start WWII.

    Small problem. It was a fiction.

    It would be reasonable to presume that the "lesson" of WWII is that fictional pretext would be investigated and that inappropriate war-responses would be toned down, not allowed to flourish.

    There is a curious parallel going on between the UK and US: Notice the interesting comparison in how the media, government, "evidence" for war, and war decisions.

    In both cases, the media correctly reported misconduct. The BBC stated that the information was sexed up; the Hutton Inquiry cast doubt on this; then the MI6 memo confirmed the BBC report and raised questions about the Hutton Inquiry's findings. Also, in the UK the legal counsel were concerned about the war crimes implications of the decision to go to war.

    At the same time, in the United States, the US was also going through the same types of things. But unlike the UK where there was public scrutiny into the misconduct, the White House continues with the misconduct.

    Namely, unlike the UK which drew a line in the sand and said, "this is enough," the US now continues to go after the media when the media discusses the problems in the government. Newsweek simply reported what it had; the facts show that even the ICRC confirmed the desecration.

    If the United States was under the UK system, then the Newsweek article would have been shown for what it is: correct, and the US government attempting to dissuade the media from looking into war crimes.

    There's also something curious going on. Consider the Tony Blair calls that we go back to the days of pre-Westphalia. Rather than admit the war was justified on the basis of non-sense, both the UK and US are leaning toward rewriting the rules.

    Yet, what of other nations? From their perspective, although they are signatories to the UN charter, they have no ability to veto unlawful US-UK action.

    Applying Blair's "lets rethink Westphalia"-mantra, are those nations who are unhappy with the status quo equally entitled to ask, "Should we not rethink the UN" and take action against the US and UK in cases where they violate the laws of war, but refuse to assent to treaties?

    The UK and US want it both ways; so why can't other nations have it both ways as well?

    In cases where the UK and US put themselves above the law, why can't other nations ask the same questions and rewrite the rules to suit their own agendas?

    The laws of war permit other nations to violate the laws of war when the first nation shows it is unwilling to assent to those norms.

    Today, both the US and UK have launched illegal wars. The memos from MI6, Gonzalez, and Number 10 all show that many knew the law had no foundation; and that many were concerned about the war crimes implications.

    On both counts, the law was ignored.

    in turn, the US and UK have now opened themselves up to lawful retribution on the battlefield; nor may either refer back to the UN as the founding principle to oppose retribution.

    Rather, because the UK and US have both ignored the Geneva Conventions and the UN charter, no other nation on the battlefield is similarly bound by those clauses which the US has violated.

    In theory, the US as the "leader of law and order" should have discussed these issues prior to testifying before congress; invading Iraq; or approving memos that authorized torture.

    Indeed, each of the memos confirm that there were active discussions about the issues; and at all times, the decision was to continue with the abuse, ignore the ICRC, and take no action, deny the problem before the US supreme court, then blame the media for stating what is now self evident:

  • The information was sexed up

  • The intelligence community knew there was no justification for war

  • Many were involved with the decision to go to war prior to the evidence and US inspections being completed

  • despite all this, the leaders would have us believe that 'nobody was responsible'.

    What is actually going on is: despite the lessons of WWII, the US and UK now what it both ways: To do what they like [as Hitler did] and not be held accountable [like Hitler]; then rely on statutes and regulations that they ignore as their foundation for taking action; then ignoring these statutes to justify their actions; then holding others to standards that they do not follow; and then when called to account for these violations state that the rules no longer apply.

    Again, the White House and UK continue to believe that the world will assent to this non-sense.

    In fact, the rules exist, they do apply, and nations can be held to account.

    If the US and UK refuse to adjust their ways, then other nations can take actions that violate the same laws of war in order to bring the US and UK into compliance.

    The US and UK already know this.

    Thus, the US and UK actions should be seen for what they are: Simply efforts to distract attention from their own misconduct, and drive a wedge between those who dare challenge the leadership and those who can actually do something about it.

    Again, the enemy in this case are those who violate the laws of war.

    But the misconception is that "because the WH and UK are engaged in a coverup" nothing can be done

    Actually, this is not a problem. For the entire events subsequent to the events are part of the criminal conspiracy.

    In other words, don't look at the current events as "more of the same and we can't do anything," but more demonstrations of the larger criminal enterprise which can be introduced as evidence into the scope of the enterprise.

    Watergate wasn't simply the break in. It was the post-break-in coverup. that's what's going on right now with the US and UK: Each day that passes, more people are either sucked into the post-crime-cover-up, or they are threatened.

    Either way, it is good that this is happening: Because it forms a larger body of admissible evidence from which to pick.

    Don't lose hope. The White House and UK are running out of time, friends, and excuses. But know that as they are cornered, they will lash out, blame, and find scapegoats.

    Treat the White House and UK like you would any other criminal in the criminal justice systems: Fully of stories and excuses, but absolutely no defense for the original wrongs.

    Which brings us back to the original question: Who could all this continue for so long without something breaking the circuit?

    The answer: The existing statutes are not enforced; and the world community is afraid of holding the US and UK to account for violations of their laws.

    Also, the US and UK have sufficient perceived power that their unlawful wars and war crimes face no serious consequences.

    yet, look at where things are. The US and UK are both overextened, their ground combat forces fully deployed in Iraq, and they have insufficient combat strength to wage war on their own population and still defend their countries.

    At the same time, in the wake of the Koran desecration we hear some call for another 9-11. And at the same time, despite being destroyed in Uzbekestan, rebel forces are waiting for a prime opportunity to strike.

    At the same time, some have recognized that South Asia remains a place that could easily offer surprises for the United States.

    It seems clear from this perspective that the US is about to face the combed outrage of many nations, not simply at the US, but with a military counter strike.

    And the US will be in no position to stop it. Is the US going to demand that those it abuses come to the same UN which the US has ignored?

    A this juncture, the international community is now questioning the viability of remaining under the Umbrella of the UN. Not because the UN needs reform, but the most powerful nation is ignoring the UN, so why continue following rules which the major players do not follow?

    Also, it is now self-evident that the US cannot attract sufficient talent to continue with research and development. Other nations are likely to create more favorable conditions for this talent and compete aggressively in the economic markets.

    Will the United States create the necessary systems to ensure that war crimes do not occur?

    The US has had plenty of chances to get this right. It's been 60 years since the end of WWII. Apparently, alot hasn't sunk in.

    Other nations are no longer willing to blindly obey their tormentors, especially when the tormenter calls this 'democracy" and "freedom."

    Others would gladly die on the battlefield and remain truly free to stand up to tyrants, than to live as a slave.

    Such thinking should not be characterized as "barbaric" but simply more of what inspired the American Revolution.

    Congratulations America, you won the Cold War, and have done everything to send the message that you are not better than the Nazis.

    A grand coalition is forming. It may choose to work within the existing frameworks. Or it could simply violate the same laws of war which both the US and UK have done.

    Either way, under the existing laws which both the US and UK have endorsed, would be perfectly legal.

    In other words, the US cannot claim that another 9-11 deserves world sympathy. Thus, it is likely the next scapegoats for this impending leadership crisis will be the American population, infused with knowledge that their leaders failed.

    It is likely that the US will spiral into a civil war: Those who want to impose martial law fighting those who dare state what is self-evident.

    Then the US will have a three front war: Combat troops tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan; foreign nations actively violating the same laws of war which the US has ignored overseas; and an internal situation.

    The US doesn't have many friends left. It is likely the US will inflict alot of damage on its own population before it will submit to a foreign power.

    The signs of defection are clear. US Attorneys are jumping ship; military recruitment is down; the military has to use deception to attract manpower; and military personnel are leaving in droves even going AWOL.

    It is likely that inexperienced personnel will be indoctrinated on some sort of perverse set of rules "justifying" taking action against their fellow citizens. The "lack of training" will be the "defense" to justify "doing nothing" about the likely war crimes and violations of the posse comitatus.

    In the end, the US will either change its ways from within, or the external pressure during this civil war will end up splitting the US into various factions.

    The constitution will survive. It just remains a question of how long it takes for the leadership to be brought back under its umbrella, as opposed to the current momentum of doing everything to create umbrellas to the constitution's check on governmental abuses and power.

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