The Problem with Human Rights/Humanitarian Law Taking Precedence over the Nuremberg Principle: Torture is Wrong but So Is the Supreme War Crime

A number of human rights issues converge on Friday January 11, 2013. In Washington DC and many other cities around the country, including the Twin Cities, people will don orange “Gitmo” jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the 11th year anniversary-travesty of Guantanamo as well as the (bizarrely coincidental) national release of the  despicable, CIA-inspired “zero conscience” film that falsely conveys the message that torture “works” and is somehow heroic.

This photo was taken a few days ago in Washington DC of a protest by Amnesty International and Witness Against Torture activists outside the opening of the Zero Dark Thirty film at the Newseum.

The third, far less known issue involves the resignation (effective on January 11) of Suzanne Nossel, Director of Amnesty International-USA.  Her resignation after only one year as American Director would be unimportant except for how it exposes more fundamental problems involving the way human rights principles during peace time and humanitarian rules governing warfare can function to undercut the more well established jus ad bellum prohibitions, under international law, of launching wars of choice.  Nossel’s statement itself gave little clue of the more fundamental problematic issues underlying her resignation (except for the fact that she only mentioned her appreciation for working to uphold “human rights” in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria ­but left out the human rights violations that the US-NATO-Israel is responsible for).
Continue reading “The Problem with Human Rights/Humanitarian Law Taking Precedence over the Nuremberg Principle: Torture is Wrong but So Is the Supreme War Crime”

Update: Gag Lifted in Druze Spying Case

Richard Silverstein sent this update last night to Antiwar.com regarding Sunday’s article Shin Bet Arrests Israeli Druze at Syrian Border, Slaps Gag on Media Reporting:

Yesterday, the Shin Bet lifted the gag order prohibiting reporting on the case of the 38 year-old Druze doctor, Eyad Jamil al-Jawhari. He’d been arrested on June 28th as he attempted to enter the occupied Golan heights at the Kuneitra border crossing. His entire family had been waiting for him, as he hadn’t visited them in the past three years (he’d spent a total of ten years in Syria pursuing medical studies and a career in family medicine).
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Dear Department of Justice: Please Investigate Your Old Boss for Material Support of Terrorism!

Dear Department of Justice and Department of Treasury Officials:

We might have just helped you bag another material supporter of terrorism this week! And you’ll never believe who the culprit is! We were even able to tape record some of his own damning admissions! (That’s the reason for my calls last week to your duty attorneys and media offices.)
Continue reading “Dear Department of Justice: Please Investigate Your Old Boss for Material Support of Terrorism!”

Group Calls for Annulment of the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics & National Security (PENS) Report

From Boiling Frogs:

Leading scholars and human rights groups from a range of fields — including psychology, medicine, law, military, and intelligence — have joined together in spearheading a broad-based effort to annul and delegitimize the American Psychological Association’s deeply flawed 2005 Report of the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (the PENS Report). In a joint declaration the coalition states:

Despite evidence that psychologists were involved in abusive interrogations, the PENS Task Force concluded that psychologists play a critical role in keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical and effective.” With this stance, the APA, the largest association of psychologists worldwide, became the sole major professional healthcare organization to support practices contrary to the international human rights standards that ought to be the benchmark against which professional codes of ethics are judged- the “do no Harm” standard.

Further, the coalition points out the inherent bias in the Presidential Task Force membership, where six of the nine voting members were on the payroll of the U.S. military and/or intelligence agencies, and five having served in chains of command accused of prisoner abuses. The group cites other significant conflicts of interest by the Task Force’s unacknowledged participants, such as the spouse of a Guantánamo intelligence psychologist and several high-level lobbyists for the Department of Defense, and direct funding for psychologists by the CIA.

The Coalition has launched a petition calling for the annulment of the APA’s PENS Report as part of their joint effort to remove psychologists from torture and abusive interrogations.

Krauthammer: WikiLeaks show the U.S Military’s “Restraint”

This has got to be the quote of the day — maybe the week, maybe the month. After agreeing all around on FOX News’ Special Report tonight that there was “nothing there, there” in the 400k documents dumped by WikiLeaks on Friday (a massive release of classified reports that martyr-hero-analyst Juan Williams deemed “unnecessary and mischievous”), neoconservative war hawk Charles Krauthammer said, “the overall the impression I got was how restrained the United States was.”

Charles Krauthammer

Yeah, I’m sure to Mr. Krauthammer, the killing of  681 civilians, including 50 families and 30 children — non-insurgents all — in their cars, at manned checkpoints, over a five-year period is pretty restrained (only 120 actual insurgents were killed at checkpoints in that same period, by the way). It’s pretty hard, however, to read the emerging individual stories of what actually happened and think “restraint” had anything to do with it.

But I guess the Americans were showing tremendous restraint when they turned over all those Iraqi prisoners to Iraqi military torture chambers that make the latest “Saw” installment look PG-13. They could have questioned their “orders” to ignore the abuse because international laws and the laws of humanity certainly prohibit torture — but our soldiers showed restraint (which is pretty impressive considering how many “Christians” there are filling the evangelical church services on any given forward operating base these days). They also showed great restraint in not questioning their Iraqi brothers doing the torturing — many of whom were part of the deadly U.S trained Wolf Brigade, so you could say there was some familiarity there. But the Americans followed orders and looked the other way. Restraint.

Sarcasm aside, just what might be “unrestrained” in Mr. Krauthammer’s world? — I am afraid to find out.

Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted

Breaking: Twenty-Four Anti-Torture Activists Acquitted in Trial for Protest at the US Capitol Calling for Guantanamo’s Closure and the Investigation of Deaths at the Prison.

From WitnessTorture.org:

On Monday, June 14, twenty-four activists with Witness Against Torture were acquitted in Washington, D.C. Superior Court of charges of “unlawful entry with disorderly conduct.” The charges stemmed from demonstrations at the US Capitol on January 21,2010 – the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.

“With his decision, the judge validated the effort of the demonstrators to condemn the ongoing crime of indefinite detention at Guantanamo,” says Bill Quigley, legal adviser to the defendants and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“Our acquittal is a victory for free speech and for the right of Americans to stand up for those falsely imprisoned and abused at Guantanamo,” says Ellen Graves, one of the defendants. “We tried to shine a light on the unconstitutional policies of the Bush and now the Obama administrations. That light shone brightly today.”

“We will use our freedom to continue to work for the day when Guantanamo is closed and those who designed and carried out torture policies are held to account,” says defendant Paul Thorson.

On January 21, activists dressed as Guantanamo prisoners were arrested on the steps of the Capitol holding banners reading “Broken Promises,Broken Laws, Broken Lives.” Inside the Capitol Rotunda, at the location where deceased presidents lie in state, fourteen activists were arrested performing a memorial service for three men who died at Guantanamo in 2006. Initially reported as suicides, the deaths may have been – as recent evidence suggests – the result of the men being tortured to death (see [the other] Scott Horton, “Murders at Guantanamo, March, 2010, Harper’s).

WitnessTorture.org