Archive for the ‘David Swanson’ Category

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Justice Department Leaks Memo “Legalizing” Murdering Americans

By David Swanson

Global Research, February 05, 2013

War is a Crime

Here is the memo.  With a few tweaks and a more creative title — like “Murder With Your Hands Clean” — this memo could sell a lot of copies.

And why not?  Either there’s a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those “good” leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner — perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.

The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow “outside the area of active hostilities” even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:

“1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;”

The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official.  Who is such an official?  Who decides whether he or she is informed?  What if two of them disagree?  What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then?  One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree.   “Imminent” is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all.  “The United States” clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.

“2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;”

And if a high-level official claims it’s infeasible, who can challenge that?

“3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.”

When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.

When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don’t think anyone has made such a claim to this day.  And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?

The sociopaths who wrote this memo have “legalized” the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.

 David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook

 

by David Swanson

A new movie has just been released based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.” Bugliosi, of course, prosecuted Charles Manson and authored best sellers about Manson’s guilt, O.J. Simpson’s guilt, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt. Whether we all agree with all of those conclusions, it is worth noting that each book was reviewed and considered by the biggest U.S. newspapers and television networks. When Bugliosi wrote a book about George W. Bush’s guilt, something we’re almost all united on, the corporate media shut it out. Will the same fate greet this movie?

I hope not. In the book, and in this new movie, Bugliosi makes a devastating, well documented case that President George W. Bush is guilty of the murder of U.S. soldiers as a result of the lies he told to justify the invasion of Iraq, and can be prosecuted by any state attorney general in the country, or by any county prosecutor from a jurisdiction where a U.S. soldier lived prior to being killed in Iraq.

In the movie, we watch Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz remark that if presidents had to live in fear of their actions being scrutinized for criminality that would have a huge impact on their behavior. Dershowitz means this as somehow a negative thing. Bugliosi points out that that is exactly the point: we ought to deter criminal behavior in presidents.

Bugliosi’s argument for prosecution is simple. Bush wanted a war with Iraq. He had to show that a preemptive invasion of Iraq was justified. To do this Iraq had to be an imminent threat to the United States. There were two major problems. Bush couldn’t prove any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. More importantly, Bush’s own 2002 classified intelligence estimate found that Saddam was not an imminent threat to the United States. Bush simply reversed the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, and sent men and women off to fight a fraudulent and unnecessary war, knowing full well that some of them would come home in boxes.

The facts are not in dispute. Bush chose to send US troops into Iraq. He did not do so in self-defense or as a last resort or under an international mandate, but rather went out of his way to concoct false motives for war and to rush its launching. By sending troops into war, Bush was knowingly and needlessly but certainly condemning some of them to death. The Iraqis who killed those soldiers in predictable and legally justifiable defense of their country fall into the legal category of “third-party innocent agent.” This does not mean they are innocent, but rather that their actions do nothing to lessen the guilt of George W. Bush as murderer of those soldiers. Bugliosi calls this the “vicarious liability rule of conspiracy.”

Bugliosi explains:

“In other words, if Bush personally killed an American soldier, he would be guilty of murder. Under the law, he cannot immunize himself from his criminal responsibility by causing a third party to do the killing. He’s still responsible. George Bush cannot sit safely in his Oval Office in Washington, D.C., while young American soldiers fighting his war are being blown to pieces by roadside bombs in Iraq, and wash his hands of all culpability. It’s not quite that easy. He could only do this if he did not take this nation into war under false pretenses. If he did, which the evidence overwhelmingly shows, he is criminally responsible for the thousands of American deaths in Iraq.”

In addition, Bugliosi argues, Bush could be found guilty of murder under the rule of “aiding and abetting,” because he instigated the killing of American soldiers by ordering the invasion of Iraq.

Did Bush have “malice aforethought”? Yes, according to Bugliosi. We convict people of murder for driving 100 mph through a school zone and hitting a child, or for blowing up a building while unaware that someone is inside. These are cases where the murderer does not know he is committing murder but where he is reckless enough to take an unreasonable risk of doing so. In Bush’s case, he absolutely knew that invading Iraq would involve U.S. casualties, and yet he ordered the invasion, thereby acting with the intent that American soldiers be killed.

Bugliosi strengthens this argument by pointing out that we often convict people of murder for accidental killings that occur in the act of committing other felonies:

“A robber, for instance, was convicted of first degree murder under the felony-murder rule where, as he was leaving the store in which he had robbed the owner, he told the owner not to say a word or he’d be harmed, and fired into the ceiling to scare the owner. The shot, after two or three ricochets, pierced the head of the owner, killing him. In fact, the felony-murder rule applies even where the defendant is not the killer! There have been cases where the proprietor of the store fired at a robber, missed him and hit and killed a customer. And the robber was convicted of first degree murder of the customer.”

Bugliosi missed an opportunity here to further strengthen his case by noting that in the act of ordering the invasion of Iraq, Bush was committing a number of felonies. When Bush submitted his March 18, 2003, letter and report to the United States Congress providing reasons for attacking Iraq, he violated the federal anti-conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. – 371, which makes it a felony “to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose…”; and The False Statements Accountability Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. – 1001, which makes it a felony to issue knowingly and willfully false statements to the United States Congress. Bush also committed a felony by misappropriating funds to secretly begin the invasion prior to this date.

Bugliosi notes that there is no statute of limitations for murder. Bush could be prosecuted by any future federal prosecutor who had the nerve to do so and could do so while keeping his or her job. But Bugliosi writes that a state attorney general or any district attorney in any city or county could bring a murder charge against Bush for any soldiers from that state or county who lost their lives in Iraq. And not just Bush, but Cheney, Rice, et alia. Bugliosi provides some truly talented proposals for questioning Bush in court and adds:

“I would be more than happy, if requested, to consult with any prosecutor who decides to prosecute Bush in preparation of additional cross-examination questions for him to face on the witness stand. I believe the cross-examination would be such that they’d have to carry the arrogant son of privilege off the stand on a stretcher.”

I know the same offer to assist stands from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega, author of “United States versus George W. Bush et al.,” who also appears in the film.

Bugliosi believes he’s found the one true way to bring Bush to justice. I think numerous avenues lie open, and that what is lacking is the will. But the statutes of limitations are running out on many crimes, narrowing the field for prosecution. Only those torture cases that resulted in death, for example, can now be prosecuted without running up against the statutes of limitations.

The root of warfare, I believe, is the valuing of U.S. lives over the lives of others. So it is unfortunate that Bugliosi’s approach encourages that, even if unintentionally. Bugliosi does not see any legal case to try Bush for the murders of Iraqis, but he also openly admits that he cares more about the deaths of Americans. Bugliosi repeatedly cites the figure 100,000, or “over 100,000″ as the number of Iraqi deaths, but never indicates where he came up with that number or how he ignores the fact that every serious study has placed the count above a million. Even if Bugliosi sees no way to prosecute Bush for the murder of Iraqis, he does not seem to have considered the possibility that U.S. troops are guilty of those murders. The U.S. troops in this story (and, sadly, it is thus far just a story, not a prosecution) play exclusively the role of victim. The legal and moral reality assigns them multiple roles.

I don’t think it hurts Bugliosi’s legal case, but I doubt that most Congress members believed Bush’s lies about Iraq. At the very least, they were as reckless as he was. And I think there is a fundamental problem with Bugliosi’s belief that there was something unique about Bush lying us into a war in Iraq. It has been firmly established that the U.S. invaded Mexico, that there was no evidence to tie Spain to the sinking of the Maine, that the troops and weapons on the Lusitania were public knowledge, that FDR told numerous lies about Japan and Germany, that the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened, that the Taliban was willing to hand bin Laden over to a third nation to be tried, etc. The belief that Iraq was a first led me to correct the record with a book called War Is A Lie.

Because I know war lies are not unusual, I may value deterrence more highly. I also do not thirst, as Bugliosi does, for anger and vengeance against “evil monsters.” But Bugliosi, too, argues for deterrence as a central motivation, so it’s interesting to see what the lack of deterrence has already wrought. President Obama continued Bush’s wars, including the one in Iraq. President Obama has an open policy of murder including weekly Tuesday reviews of the names of victims. The evidence is abundant. Bugliosi promises in the movie that he would treat a Democrat exactly the same way he treats Bush. I sure hope so.

Here’s a radio interview I did with Bugliosi.

Here’s a preview of the movie:

http://youtu.be/68_3rjp0Rkw

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

 

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

by David Swainson

If you’ve watched the Olympics on NBC you’ve probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality.

The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn’t try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in “war competition” on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.

“Stars Earn Stripes” is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event. But the sport it’s exhibiting is war.

On “Stars Earn Stripes,” celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including “long-range weapons fire.” Only there won’t be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly. NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs. Other nations’ media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events. Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda. While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can’t seem to get enough of our tax dollars. In the spirit of transferring veterans’ care to the realm of private charity, “Stars Earn Stripes” will give prize money each week to “military-based charities” in order to “send a message.”

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy — rather, as financial profit. (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war. And consider for a moment who that retired general is. During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.

StarsEarnStripes.org is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months. We’ve provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at StarsEarnStripes.org.

http://davidswanson.org

David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization rootsaction.org.