Thursday, July 21, 2011

War Criminals May Not Be High On Your Agenda; They Are At The Top Of My List.

War Criminals May Not Be High On Your Agenda; They Are At The Top Of My List.

The first time an American Governmental Official Is Tried For Even One War Crime will mark the day American Exceptionalism And Its “Above The Law” Approach To The World Will End!

The brutality with which the US government exercises its “war on terror” is condemned both by the court of international public opinion and by the principles of international law governing human rights. The wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture of detainees are clearly defined as war crimes by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture and other treaties to which the United States is a signatory. Under the cover of "national security," other countries in the region have been drawn into the on-going wars.

The Principles of International Law, recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, provide no defense for war crimes. Similarly, the Convention Against Torture, which defines torture as a war crime, provides that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Therefore, the prohibition on war crimes is absolute, not relative, meaning that there is no justification for war crimes despite the particular circumstances in respective countries. U.S. Justice Robert Jackson proclaimed at Nuremberg: “No grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy. The same applies to other war crimes as well. The war crimes of one’s opponents are no justification for one’s own."

War Criminals Watch was founded to ensure that prosecutions of high officials of the Bush administration and subsequent administrations who are guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors" take place. Key officials must be held accountable and prosecuted for the crimes they stand accused, in world public opinion, of having committed. Editorialists may demand action. Even some politicians may call for it. But only an energized and politically active public can make those prosecutions happen. War criminals must be publicly shamed and prevented from occupying powerful or influential positions within our society. As in other cases where authorities have gone beyond US and international law as well as the laws of decency, only a public accounting will restore lawful conduct.

And only the public can demand that these criminal policies stop now! We have an obligation not only to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity after they occur but, in our millions, to stop the shameful policies which allow them to continue.

Former Bush officials now have new roles in society: professor, lawyer, corporate manager, etc., etc. Some have moved on into the Obama administration where current officials pursue many of the same policies. It is our responsibility to call them out and to demand that these criminal activities cease and that legal proceedings take place and in a timely fashion.

It was thought by many that President Obama would put a stop to the madness, to the wars, to the Bush administration’s nightmarish approach to national security. But the wars continue, including new attacks on additional populations and countries.

  • The war in Afghanistan has expanded with tens of thousands of additional troops as well as an equivalent number of private military contractors. The military strategy is under the direction of Gen. David Petraeus, an expert in "counterinsurgency."

  • Drone strikes in Pakistan have continued and increased in numbers and intensity killing quickly growing numbers of Pakistani civilians, including women and children.

  • Several of those who have been accused of Bush-era war crimes continued into the Obama administration -- for example, McChrystalGatesPetraeus andFredman, all of whom have been concerned with military and domestic"national security" issues.

  • Withdrawal from Iraq has faded into the future. When and if the troops do go, private military contractors, in increasing numbers, take their places and remain.

  • Billions have been spent on recruiting efforts to increase US military forces.

  • Obama has insisted on “moving forward” by avoiding the recognition of crimes committed by the Bush government, allowing the worst offenders of the Bush years to avoid prosecution. He has both granted amnesty to the CIA agents involved in torture and offered legal defense if anyone else were to prosecute them.

  • In February 2010 the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) issued its report on whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee should be held accountable for their actions associated with their role providing legal cover for torture, indefinite incarceration without trial, rendition, massive spying and other practices. DOJ found that they engaged in "intentional professional misconduct” by ignoring legal precedent and providing poor legal advice. But it did not hold them accountable for the crimes committed under the cover of their “legal” memos. Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, downgraded the report’s conclusions to “poor judgment.” As a result, two slaps on the wrist are all that have emerged from an investigation into one of the darkest periods of modern US history.

  • Prisoners continue to be rendered to "black sites" in Afghanistan and possibly to other countries.

  • Prisoners are still enduring prolonged isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation and force-feeding. These techniques cause extreme mental anguish and permanent physical damage and are not permitted under international law. Make no mistake, the US still engages in torture. We know that solitary confinement is also taking place on US soil, as in these two cases with which we are most familiar.

  • 1. Syed Fahad Hashmi, a Muslim American student, was held for two and a half years in downtown Manhattan under Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) and subsequently in Colorado under the same conditions for at least another five months. 

  • 2. Bradley Manning, accused of providing material to WikiLeaks, has been sitting completely alone in his cell for 23 out of 24 hours every day since late May 2001. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted: he’s banned from exercising, under constant surveillance and denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including a pillow or sheets for his bed. He is forced to strip naked for inspections and, for the one hour per day when he is freed from isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.

  • Guantanamo still has not been closed. It should be noted that 89 of the remaining 172 prisoners were cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, a group of 60 officials and lawyers, from government departments and the intelligence agencies, who reviewed all the Guantánamo cases in 2009, but are going nowhere because they are Yemenis.

  • Prisoners in secret detention centers or "black sites" around the world are not allowed to gain access to courts, lawyers or even to know the charges or evidence against them.

  • And, a war of aggression against the sovereign state of Libya was unleashed on March 19, 2011 through manipulation, hypocrisy and lies about the situation, hiding behind “humanitarian” goals to secure large high-quality oil reserves.

Are these the changes we wanted to see? No. Is it really okay if Bush policies are carried out by Obama? No. Have the wars ended? No, they are being expanded. The Obama administration has condoned the Bush war crimes by not prosecuting Bush officials and by carrying many of them over into his administration. This makes Obama officials complicit with Bush war crimes.

People Of Conscience Must Insist On Accountability For The Actions Of U.S. Officials, No Matter Who Is President. It Is Our Obligation.

Independent UN Expert On Torture Calls For Unrestricted Access To US Detainees

12 July 2011 –

The United Nations independent expert on torture today voiced concern over restrictions imposed by the United States on access to detainees, stating that it is vital for him to have unmonitored access to Bradley Manning, the US soldier detained for allegedly leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks website.

“I am assured by the US Government that Mr. Manning’s prison regime and confinement is markedly better than it was when he was in Quantico,” said Juan Méndez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture.

“However, in addition to obtaining first hand information on my own about his new conditions of confinement, I need to ascertain whether the conditions he was subjected to for several months in Quantico amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“For that, it is imperative that I talk to Mr. Manning under conditions where I can be assured that he is being absolutely candid,” Mr. Méndez said in a press statement.

At the request of Mr. Méndez and after several meetings, the US Department of Defense allowed him to visit Mr. Manning, but warned him that the conversation would be monitored.

He said such a condition violated long-standing rules that the UN applies for prison visits and for interviews with inmates everywhere in the world. On humanitarian grounds and under protest, Mr. Méndez, through Mr. Manning’s counsel, offered to visit him under these restrictive conditions, an offer the detainee declined.

Mr. Méndez has, since the beginning of this year, been in negotiations with the US Government over unrestricted access to Mr. Manning, but he was last month informed that the Government was not in a position to accede to the request for a private and unmonitored meeting.

“The question of my unfettered access to a detainee goes beyond my request to meet with Mr. Manning – it touches on whether I will be able to conduct private and unmonitored interviews with detainees if I were to conduct a country visit to the United States,” said Mr. Méndez.

Maintaining the principle of unfettered access to detainees is an important part of his responsibility as the UN expert on torture, he said. It also determines whether UN experts can conduct credible enquiries into allegations of torture and ill-treatment when they visit places of detention and detainees.

In 2004, the US Government allowed Mr. Méndez’s predecessor, Manfred Nowak, and three other mandate-holders, access to the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, but the then US administration imposed conditions that the UN mandate-holders could not accept.

Early in his tenure, which began in November 2010, Mr. Méndez formally asked the US Government for permission to visit Guantanamo Bay, a petition that has been renewed on several occasions since then. No response has been forthcoming.

“The United States, as a world leader, is a strong supporter of the international human rights system. Therefore, its actions must seek to set the pace in good practices that enhance the role of human rights mechanisms, ensuring and maintaining unfettered access to detainees during enquiries,” he added.

The US Government moved Mr. Manning in April from Quantico confinement facility to a facility in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He continues to be held in pre-trial detention pending a court martial.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Published on Thursday, July 21, 2011 by Agence France-Presse

'Anonymous' Fires Back at Hacker Hunters

by Glenn Chapman

Notorious hacker group Anonymous on posted a defiant message to police Thursday and boasted of plundering sensitive data from NATO computers.

People wearing masks often used by a group that calls itself "Anonymous" protest during Spain's film Goya Awards ceremony in Madrid, Feb. 13, 2011. (Javier Soriano/AFP)"We are not scared anymore," read an online message that purported to be a response by Anonymous and splinter group Lulz Security.

"Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to us as you cannot arrest an idea... there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- you can possibly do to make us stop."

As if to underscore the point, a message posted at a Twitter account by "AnonymousIRC" claimed to have looted about a gigabyte of NATO data that even the rebel hacker group deemed too sensitive to release.

"Yes, we haz (sic) more of your delicious data," the Twitter post read. "You call it war; we laugh at your battleships."

US authorities arrested 16 people for cyber crimes on Tuesday, including 14 over an online attack on the PayPal website claimed by Anonymous.

The US indictment against the 14 hackers alleges the denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal were "retribution" because the site terminated a donation account for the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks.

Anonymous hackers called the PayPal attacks "Operation Avenge Assange," in reference to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the indictment said, adding that the US raids were coordinated with police in Britain and the Netherlands.

The PayPal attack suspects were arrested during raids in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and the US capital Washington.

The cyber attackers used aliases such as "Toxic," "Reaper," "Anthrophobic" and "No."

Separately, two suspects were arrested under similar indictments in Florida and New Jersey, while British police arrested one suspect and Dutch police four.

In all, FBI agents made 35 raids across the United States as part of a probe into "coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations," the FBI said, adding that to date more than 75 searches have been carried out.

Anonymous said its targets are governments that manipulate people with lies and fear, and corporations that lobby and ally themselves with such governments for profits.

"These governments and corporations are our enemy," the message at read.

"And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies."

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday tweeted that his Facebook page had been hacked by Anonymous, which took a swipe at the country's independence celebrations.

Anonymous left short phrases that are one of its calling cards, and a link to a video entitled "False Independence" on his personal page as Colombia marks the 201st year of its independence from Spain.

Anonymous also sabotaged Turkish sites last month to protest against Internet censorship.

"The Anonymous bitchslap rings through your ears like hacktivism movements of the 90s," said the online message rebutting FBI comments condemning the group's attacks.

"We're back and we're not going anywhere," it continued. "Expect us."

Anonymous rose to infamy last year with cyber attacks in support of WikiLeaks.

The group was linked to attacks on Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, which blocked donations to the controversial anti-secrecy WikiLeaks after it published a quarter million US diplomatic cables stolen in a cyber attack.

Early this year, Anonymous took credit for breaking into the website of HBGary Federal, stealing tens of thousands of email messages and temporarily routing traffic in retaliation for the technology security company's work in helping hunt the group.

Anonymous Boasts That It’s Hacked into NATO Security


LONDON—A group of computer hackers claims to have breached NATO security and accessed hordes of restricted material.

The group called Anonymous says it would be "irresponsible" to publish most of the material it stole from NATO but that it is sitting on about 1 gigabyte of data.

Anonymous posted a PDF file Thursday on its Twitter page showing what appeared to be a document headed "NATO Restricted."

Anonymous is a loosely organized group of hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks. It has claimed responsibility for attacks against corporate and government websites worldwide.

The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit-card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Online ‘Hacktivist’ gathering Anonymous claims it has breached the security of intergovernmental military alliance NATO. In a tweet from the @AnonymousIRC account, it announced:

Yes, #NATO was breached. And we have lots of restricted material. With some simple injection. In the next days, wait for interesting data 

A subsequent tweet claims that the group is “sitting on about one Gigabyte of data from NATO now, most of which we cannot publish as it would be irresponsible. But Oh NATO…”

By way of evidence of the hack, the group has released two PDF documents, appearing to have Restricted security status. Hosted at, one document appears to date from 2007 and relates to ‘CIS Support for a New Joint HQ ISAF Joint CIS Control Centre’. The other link tweeted by Anonymous is currently returning a database error when followed, although a screenshot posted by Blottr indicates that it relates to ‘Outsourcing Balkans CIS Support’.

This supposed attack on a major international body follows a number of security breaches and Denial of Service attacks by Anonymous and closely-linked group LulzSec on targets such as the US Senate, the CIA and an FBI contractor. While Anonymous tends to follow a generally liberal, pro-freedom of expression agenda, and many of LulzSec’s targets were seemingly chosen to highlight poor security at the organisations concerned, it’s unclear why NATO has been specifically targeted in this case.

We have contacted NATO for their side of the story and will update as more information becomes available.

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