War crimes

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A War crime is an act that constitutes a serious violation of the laws of war that gives rise to individual criminal responsibility, such as intentionally killing civilians or prisoners, torturing, destroying civilian property, taking hostages, performing a perfidy, raping, using child soldiers, pillaging, declaring that no mercy will be given, and seriously violating the principles of distinction and proportionality, such as strategic bombing of civilian populations. [[File:International Criminal Court logo.svg|thumb|It has often been remarked but seldom remembered that war itself is a crime. Yet a war crime is more and other than war. It is an atrocity beyond the usual barbaric bounds of war. ~William Crandell in Winter Soldier Investigation Testimony

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We... now have internationally a lawless world... in which “Might makes right,”... It is what Hitler and his Axis of fascist imperialists had imposed upon the world until the... U.S..., U.K. and U.S.S.R. defeated it, and established the United Nations.
 
It has often been remarked but seldom remembered that war itself is a crime. Yet a war crime is more and other than war. It is an atrocity beyond the usual barbaric bounds of war. It is legal definition growing out of custom and tradition supported by every civilized nation in the world including our own. It is an act beyond the pale of acceptable actions even in war. ~ William Crandell
 
This man was innocent...He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and his father. The first round didn’t kill him, after I had hit him up here in his neck area. And afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes... So I took another shot and took him out... We were all congratulated after we had our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me, as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq. ~Jon Michael Turner (U.S.M.C.)
 
The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right... ~Eric Zuesse
US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff released 5th April 2010 by WikiLeaks
 
If the U.S. government had prosecuted Bush administration officials for their war crimes during the “war on terror,” the ICC would not now take jurisdiction. But after Barack Obama  said, “Generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards,” his administration refused to prosecute those implicated in the torture and willful killings of detainees during the Bush administration. ~ Marjorie Cohn
  • On December 20, concluding a five-year preliminary examination of the “situation in Palestine,” Bensouda said she has “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed” in those regions by both the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas and other “Palestinian armed groups." At the time, she said that she herself believes the court indeed has jurisdiction to investigate possible war crimes in the regions, but, due to the controversial nature of the case, asked for a definitive ruling on the matter from a pre-trial chamber. Member states and independent experts were invited to weigh on the matter as well. “Such a wide variety of perspectives will afford considerable legitimacy to the Court’s ultimate decision,” Bensouda wrote. In the document she published Thursday, Bensouda reiterated that her position is not about the question of Palestinian statehood per se, but rather about whether the “State of Palestine,” which is a member of the ICC, can convey criminal jurisdiction to the court. In her view, Palestine indeed fulfills all required criteria to do that.
  • A legitimate, registered, multi award-winning media organisation and its editor have legally published the truth about the biggest superpower in the world and embarrassed them and exposed them for wrongdoing - war crimes, corruption and fraud...The whole exercise has been set up to smear and silence the truth... Those countries with their snouts in the trough with America have fallen into line. Ecuador, whose snout isn't in the trough, has not fallen into line.
  • The United States and its allies are experts at covering their crimes and finding scapegoats to take the blame for them. They are doing it now with their disinformation campaigns against Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Syria. The show trials at the UN’s Yugoslav tribunal, the ICTY, were all about covering-up NATO’s war crimes and spinning lies to blame everything on the Serbs who resisted NATO’s aggression. They use their influence at the International Criminal Court for the same purposes. And now a document has come to light, leaked from the UN’s Rwanda war crimes tribunal, the ICTR, that contains a report on the war crimes of the US supported Rwanda Patriotic Front that invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990, conducted four years of terrorist operations against the Rwanda people and government, then in 1994 launched their final offensive and slaughtered their way to power. To discuss this document, marked “Top Secret” I have to burden the reader with a brief history of events from the evidence available in order to give it some context.
  • The Chilcot inquiry’s conclusion that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and undermined the United Nations requires the prosecution of Tony Blair, the high court has heard. In his opening argument calling for a war crimes trial in Britain, Michael Mansfield QC (Queen's Counsel) said that the offence of waging an aggressive war has effectively been assimilated into English law.... Mansfield summarised the report’s findings as: “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the UK, intelligence reporting about [Iraqi] weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that the war was unnecessary and that the UK undermined the authority of the UN security council....Nothing could be more emphatic than these findings,” he said. “It was an unlawful war.” Sabah al-Mukhtar, of the Arab Lawyers Network, said... “The magistrates court dismissed it on the grounds that Tony Blair had immunity and that the crime of aggression was not part of English law. Many think they were not correct on that.”
  • Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite... if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery... you won’t see the following list of WikiLeaks’ accomplishments anywhere on your corporate airwaves... Chelsea Manning’s most famous leak is arguably also WikiLeaks’ most famous leak, so it’ll top this list: 1) That would be the notorious Collateral Murder video, showing U.S. air crew gunning down unarmed Iraqi civilians with an enthusiasm that couldn’t be matched by an eight year-old winning a five-foot-tall stuffed animal at the county fair. They murdered between 12 and 18 innocent people, two of them Reuters journalists. Zero people have been arrested for the collateral murders. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing them. 2) WikiLeaks brought us the Guantanamo Bay “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures”—showing that many of the prisoners held on the U.S. military detention facility were completely innocent, and that some were hidden from Red Cross officials... Because when you’re torturing innocent people, you kinda want to do that in peace and quiet, away from prying eyes... None of the soldiers torturing innocent people at Gitmo have been arrested for it. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing it.
  • War crimes are only committed by defeated powers. (But as the Nazis learned in 1945, unemployed war criminals can usually find work with the new hegemonic power.)
    • Kevin Carson, "The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand: Capitalism As a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege" (2011)
  • What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that under international law, no country can ever pass a law that allows torture. There can be no immunity from criminal liability for violation of a “jus cogens” prohibition. The United States has always prohibited torture — in our Constitution, laws, executive orders, judicial decisions and treaties. When we ratify a treaty, it becomes part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. “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 for torture,” the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the US ratified, states unequivocally. Torture is considered a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, also ratified by the United States. Geneva classifies grave breaches as war crimes. The US War Crimes Act and 18 USC, sections 818 and 3231, punish torture, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and inhuman, humiliating or degrading treatment. And the Torture Statute criminalizes the commission, attempt, or conspiracy to commit torture outside the United States.
  • The Trump administration is seeking extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States for trial on charges carrying 175 years in prison... The treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. prohibits extradition for a “political offense.” Assange was indicted for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a classic political offense. Moreover, Assange’s extradition would violate the legal prohibition against sending a person to a country where he is in danger of being tortured.
  • After the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found a reasonable basis to believe that U.S. military and CIA leaders committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Team Trump threatened to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from the U.S. and warned it would impose economic sanctions on the Court if it launched an investigation... Bensouda (the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor since June 2012) found the alleged crimes by the CIA and U.S. military “were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” but were “part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees.” ... The Pretrial Chamber agreed with Bensouda that there were reasonable grounds to believe that, pursuant to a U.S. policy, members of the CIA had committed war crimes. They included torture and cruel treatment, and outrages upon personal dignity, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence against those held in detention facilities in the territory of States Parties to the Rome Statute, including Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania.
  • A war crimes complaint has been filed against President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner in the International Criminal Court (ICC).... The complaint, filed by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas on June 30 on behalf of four Palestinians who live in the West Bank, states “there is credible evidence” that Trump, Netanyahu and Kushner “are complicit in acts that may amount to war crimes relating to the transfer of populations into occupied territory and the annexation of the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine.” ...Schabas’ complaint comes on the heels of unusual moves last month from the Trump administration, which declared a “national emergency” in June in an effort to shield U.S. and Israeli officials from ICC accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity...On April 5, 2019, the U.S. government revoked Bensouda’s visa to travel to the United States. A week later, on April 12, 2019, the Pretrial Chamber apparently succumbed to U.S. pressure and declined to authorize Bensouda’s investigation. Although agreeing with Bensouda that there were reasonable grounds to believe that CIA members had committed war crimes, the Pretrial Chamber denied her request for an investigation... But in a landmark decision, on March 5, 2020, the Appeals Chamber overruled the Pretrial Chamber’s determination and authorized Bensouda to initiate an investigation...
  • It has often been remarked but seldom remembered that war itself is a crime. Yet a war crime is more and other than war. It is an atrocity beyond the usual barbaric bounds of war. It is legal definition growing out of custom and tradition supported by every civilized nation in the world including our own. It is an act beyond the pale of acceptable actions even in war. Deliberate killing or torturing of prisoners of war is a war crime. Deliberate destruction without military purpose of civilian communities is a war crime. The use of certain arms and armaments and of gas is a war crime. The forcible relocation of population for any purpose is a war crime. All of these crimes have been committed by the U.S. Government over the past ten years in Indochina. An estimated one million South Vietnamese civilians have been killed because of these war crimes. A good portion of the reported 700,000 National Liberation Front and North Vietnamese soldiers killed have died as a result of these war crimes and no one knows how many North Vietnamese civilians, Cambodian civilians, and Laotian civilians have died as a result of these war crimes.
  • Daniel Ellsberg explained that Manning’s disclosures revealed such incriminating information as “turning over Iraqi prisoners for torture, widespread use of assassination teams, and blatant war crimes” which...made U.S officials “liable for criminal prosecution in International Criminal Court (ICC).”...Ellsberg added that “further investigation would reveal even more such incriminating information” and viewed Manning’s lengthy prison sentence as “retaliation for providing evidence that could be used against U.S officials.” Ellsberg firmly stated that he considered Manning “a political prisoner” and said that both Manning and Edward Snowden deserved political asylum as both of them were acting to inform the American public and not out of malice...
  • Imagine if you will a ship from a nation not at war with anyone sailing in international waters on a quiet June day being suddenly attacked by unidentified warplanes and torpedo boats, their markings covered up to conceal their country of origin. The vessel under attack had little with which to defend itself, but its crew heroically made sure that a large national flag was hoisted to demonstrate that it was not a belligerent in anyone’s conflict. The attackers noted the nationality of the vessel, but persisted in their aggression in a clear attempt to sink the ship and kill all its crew. The officers on the ship radioed that they were under attack and asked for help, but even though friendly fighter aircraft were within striking distance and were automatically dispatched, they were then mysteriously recalled... Life rafts lowered into the water as the vessel seemed to be sinking were machine gunned by the attacking aircraft and torpedo boats to make escape or evacuation of the wounded impossible but the captain and survivors worked heroically, and successfully, to keep the ship afloat. When the vessel finally made it back to port, the officers and crew were sworn to silence by their own government and a cover-up was initiated that has persisted to this day. Many of the ship’s survivors have died since that day 53 years ago, and the attempts of the remainder to see justice before they are also gone have been ignored.
  • Israel’s apologists, a virtual fixture at all levels in the U.S. government as well as in academia and the media, have long been making the argument that the attack on the Liberty was some kind of “friendly fire” accident. But the relatively recent discovery that a Navy spy plane intercepted and recorded Israeli both helicopter and fighter pilots mentioning the American flag displayed by the ship during the attack suggests otherwise. Other recordings made of the Israeli communications revealed that some of the pilots did not want to attack. One pilot said, “This is an American ship. I can see the flag. Do you still want us to attack?” Israeli ground control responded, “Yes, follow orders. Hit it!” before admonishing the pilots to “finish the job.”
  • The tale of the Liberty demonstrates that even fifty-three years ago the United States government was betraying its own people out of deference to Jewish power and to the state of Israel. If anything, as horrific as the killing of 34 personnel on board of the Liberty was, the situation has gotten even worse as Washington sends billions of dollars to the Jewish state annually while also giving its kleptocratic government a green light to commit war crimes and other aggressions that will ultimately draw in the United States, and could plausibly bring about our ruination. It is unpleasant to say the least to watch an unrestrained and unprincipled client state do terrible damage to a much larger patron enabled by the machinations of a dual-loyalty fifth column, but that is what we are seeing.
  • Manning made a statement at the start of the court-martial, wherein he took responsibility for the leaks, but, importantly, expressed his motivation. He commented specifically on the Apache attack helicopter video that recorded the slaughter of a dozen civilians in Baghdad on 12 July 2007. Two of those killed worked for the Reuters news agency, cameraman Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, a father of four. We can listen to Manning in his own words, thanks to an unauthorized audio recording of his statement, anonymously leaked. "The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seeming delightful blood-lust the aerial weapons team happened to have. They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote-unquote 'dead bastards,' and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. ... For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass....I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained [in the leaks], it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."
  • Manning's leak gave Reuters, and the world, a graphic view of the horror of modern war, of the violent death of two media workers in the line of duty... Manning took incredibly courageous actions to release data, to pierce the fog of war, to make public the machinations of modern American war-making. Edward Snowden has exposed the sophistication and extraordinary reach of the US surveillance state, cracking down on those who would dare to release information. And Julian Assange sits within the four walls of his embassy redoubt, persecuted for the crime of publishing. Yet those who planned the wars, those who committed war crimes, those who conduct illegal spying, for now, walk free.
  • If you water-torture someone at a secure military compound and no one is around to see it, is it a war crime? Tricky, right? Well, what if someone does see it? And what if you admit to it -- and to a criminal investigator, no less? And what if you add that you also used electrical torture, too? Is that, in fact, a war crime? More cut and dried, right? And what if criminal investigators identified 28 other members of your military unit as having beaten prisoners, tortured them with electric shocks, and water-boarded them? And what if 15 of them actually admitted to those acts? Is that, I ask you, a war crime?
    Years ago, when I investigated the particular set of crimes mentioned above that were carried out by U.S. military intelligence personnel in Vietnam, I found that only three of the soldiers involved were even punished. And by punished, I mean that the three received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time. One of the admitted torturers I spoke with was still unrepentant. He explained to me that, were he placed in the same situation again, he would do exactly the same things. And why wouldn’t he? You don’t find Americans in the dock at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Three-quarters of a century and many wars and weapon systems later, enforceable international law still remains humanity’s best hope for adjudicating past war crimes and preventing future ones -- but only if great nations like the United States do not declare themselves exceptions to the rule of law.
    In addition to the verdicts rendered, the Nuremberg tribunal produced other enduring results, including the 1950 Nuremberg Principles, commissioned and adopted by the new United Nations. Those principles established that actions violating international law were punishable crimes, whether they violated any specific country’s domestic laws or not. Even heads of state or other high government officials were not considered immune from prosecution for such war crimes or crimes against humanity. And no one could be exonerated for them on the sole grounds of following the orders of a superior.
  • Israeli forces’ repeated use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip since March 30, 2018, against Palestinian demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to life may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli forces have killed more than 100 protesters in Gaza and wounded thousands with live ammunition... The killings... highlight the need for the International Criminal Court to open a formal investigation into the situation in Palestine. Third countries should impose targeted sanctions against officials responsible for ongoing serious human rights violations
  • The International Criminal Court (ICC's) mandate to investigate war crimes has thus been hampered by the unwillingness of the world’s sole superpower to commit to the organization.... Recent statements...suggest that the United States is now preparing to go to war against the ICC itself, motivated largely by an effort to silence investigations into alleged American war crimes committed in Afghanistan, as well as alleged crimes committed by Israel during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip....The unwillingness or inability of U.S. courts to seriously investigate war crimes carried out by American citizens is part of why the ICC mandate in Afghanistan has been viewed as an important effort to bring a minimum level of accountability over the conflict.
  • I nominated Julian Assange on the 8th January 2019 for the Nobel Peace Prize. I issued a press release hoping to bring attention to his nomination, which seemed to have been widely ignored, by Western media. By Julian’s courageous actions and others like him, we could see full well the atrocities of war. The release of the files brought to our doors the atrocities our governments carried out through media. It is my strong belief that this is the true essence of an activist and it is my great shame I live in an era where people like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and anyone willing to open our eyes to the atrocities of war, is likely to be hunted like an animal by governments, punished and silenced.
    Therefore, I believe that the British government should oppose the extradition of Assange as it sets a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers and other sources of truth the US may wish to pressure in the future. This man is paying a high price to end war and for peace and nonviolence and we should all remember that.”
  • What it actually reveals is a far darker, more shameful truth. The truth of a Saudi-led coalition armed by Britain and the United States, which from the very start of the conflict in 2015 has sought to use starvation as a weapon of war. Most obviously, their on-off blockades of any ports and airports controlled by the Houthi rebels have drastically cut supplies of food to a Yemini population that relies on imports to eat. But far more insidiously, and in the absence of imports, the Saudi air force has systematically and deliberately destroyed the domestic means of producing and distributing food inside Yemen. Their bombs have constantly targeted agricultural land, dairy farms, food processing factories, and the markets where food is sold.
  • On April 18, 2006, I had my first confirmed killed. This man was innocent. I don’t know his name. I called him “the fat man.” He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and his father. The first round didn’t kill him, after I had hit him up here in his neck area. And afterwards he started screaming and looked right into my eyes. So I looked at my friend, who I was on post with, and I said, “Well, I can’t let that happen.” So I took another shot and took him out. He was then carried away by the rest of his family. It took seven people to carry his body away.We were all congratulated after we had our first kills, and that happened to have been mine. My company commander personally congratulated me, as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death will get a four-day pass when we return from Iraq.
  • The United States had become a willing co-combatant in a war without any direction or clear end state...there have been a litany of war crimes... in which Saudi planes, using American munitions, bombed a school bus killing dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren. Second, the U.S. government has responded to these crimes with silences that might seem chastened, but in truth must be classified as defiant, given the bureaucratic maneuvering undertaken to obscure the United States’ unthinking complicity both to outsiders and to itself.
  • The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right,” and in which there is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely gangster “law,” ruling on an international level. It is what Hitler and his Axis of fascist imperialists had imposed upon the world until the Allies — U.S. under FDR, UK under Churchill, and U.S.S.R. under Stalin — defeated it, and established the United Nations. Furthermore,
  • America’s leaders deceived the American public into perpetrating this invasion and occupation, of a foreign country (Iraq) that had never threatened the United States; and, so, this invasion and subsequent military occupation constitutes the very epitome of “aggressive war” — unwarranted and illegal international aggression. (Hitler, similarly to George W. Bush, would never have been able to obtain the support of his people to invade if he had not lied, or “deceived,” them, into invading and militarily occupying foreign countries that had never threatened Germany, such as Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. This — Hitler’s lie-based aggressions — was the core of what the Nazis were hung for, and yet America now does it.)

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