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US Lawyers: Bush & Rumsfeld, Could be Prosecuted for War Crimes

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    US Lawyers: Bush & Rumsfeld, Could be Prosecuted for War Crimes

    U.S. lawyers warn Bush, Rumsfeld, on war crimes

    Reuters 24 Jan 03 By Grant McCool

    NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - A group of U.S. law professors opposed to a possible war on Iraq warned U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday that he and senior government officials could be prosecuted for war crimes if military tactics violated international humanitarian law.

    "Our primary concern ... is the large number of civilian casualties that may result should U.S. and coalition forces fail to comply with international humanitarian law in using force against Iraq,"
    the group, led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a letter to Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    The group cited the particular need for U.S. and coalition forces to abide by humanitarian law requiring warring parties to distinguish between military and civilian areas, use only the level of force that is militarily necessary and to use weaponry that is proportionate to what is being targeted. The letter, which had more than 100 signatories, said the rules had been broken in other recent wars. It said air strikes on populated cities, carpet bombing and the use of fuel-air explosives were examples of inappropriate military action taken during the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 Kosovo campaign and the 2001 Afghan conflict that led to civilian casualties and might be used again in Iraq.

    The letter to Bush and Rumsfeld coincided with similar notes sent this week to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien by lawyers in those countries. Ironically, Bush on Wednesday advised Iraqi officers and soldiers to disobey any orders to use weapons of mass destruction in the event of a conflict. "If you choose to do so, when Iraq is liberated, you will be treated, tried and persecuted as a war criminal," he said.

    On Sunday, Rumsfeld said he would favor granting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and senior Iraqi leaders immunity from possible war crimes prosecution if it would clear the way for their exile and avoid a war.

    Government officials in Britain and Canada could theoretically be investigated by the new International Criminal Court in The Hague if it was determined that international laws had been broken in war. The United States has refused to cooperate with the court and has withdrawn its signature from the treaty establishing it. The letter to Blair, dated Jan. 22, from Public Interest Lawyers said that if Britain's actions in Iraq were deemed possible war crimes, "we, and others, will take steps to ensure that you, and other leaders of the U.K. government are held accountable."

    The Canadian group, Lawyers Against the War, said in its letter dated Jan. 20, that it was putting Chretien's government on notice that without explicit U.N. Security Council approval for a war on Iraq, "we will pursue all responsible government officials on charges of murder and crimes against humanity in both the Canadian and the international criminal courts." One of the leading signatories to the letter to Bush said although Washington was not a party to the ICC, U.S. officials could still be prosecuted under the Geneva Convention.

    "War crimes under that convention can be prosecuted wherever the perpetrators are found," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He said the situation could be likened to the attempt by a Spanish magistrate to prosecute former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1996 for human rights violations during his rule.

    The question arises will the Bush Adminstration carry out a unilateral attack against Iraq despite assessments made by the UN that up to 500,000 Iraqi civilians could die in the initial stages of war.. will they listen to the voices of reason emanating from France, Russia, China and Germany, will they risk having their leaders prosecuted for war crimes?

    Allies Warn Against Unilateral U.S. Action Washington Post 29 Jan 03 Excerpt

    Russia, France, Germany and the European Union urged caution again today after President Bush moved the United States to the edge of war with Iraq by issuing tough new warnings in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. "As we have said before, we do not see grounds for the use of military force," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

    "The potential for political and diplomatic regulation has not been exhausted and we think that international inspectors should be given the opportunity to continue their work." Bush declared Tuesday in his annual speech that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has missed his "final chance" for peace by showing contempt for U.N. weapons inspections.

    The president stopped short of committing to war. But he provided a long list of allegations of the Iraqi president's efforts to thwart the inspections and left no doubt that he is ready to part ways with allies who want to give inspectors more time."The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others," the president said. "Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people."

    Bush said Secretary of State Colin Powell will present U.S. evidence on Iraq's weapons violations to the U.N. Security Council next week. Yakovenko said Moscow is ready to listen to any fresh U.S. evidence. "Of course, we are ready to listen carefully to and to analyze the additional information which the U.S. secretary of state plans to present to the U.N. Security Council," he said. However, he reiterated that while Moscow agrees on the need to resist terrorism, it doesn't see eye-to-eye with Washington on the source of threats.

    France, one of the strongest EU voices against rushing into a war, particularly without U.N. backing, said it would join Washington in presenting information on Iraq at the Security Council meeting, expected on February 5. "We'll put it all together and examine the situation," said Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

    Germany, which is committed to trying to coordinate its position with France and has angered Washington with its anti-war stand, reiterated that it wanted a peaceful solution. "If further relevant information is made available to the (U.N.) inspectors, as has been announced, then that should be welcomed because it can only promote their work," said German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

    In Brussels today, European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana hailed the U.S. offer to share intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction with the United Nations but said the world body's role remained key. "The center of gravity should be the United Nations," he said.The 15-nation European Union has been divided on its view of Bush's hard line toward Iraq and many EU states have been alarmed by the prospect of a unilateral U.S. decision to attack.

    Many traditional U.S. allies around the Middle East, such as Turkey and Egypt, have opposed a military campaign to disarm oil-rich Iraq, and there was no indication that Bush's speech had changed those views "Egypt believes there is no need to rush to war without giving inspectors more time," a government source said."I don't think we will change our position without concrete evidence for the United Nations that Iraq did something wrong."


      Well thats a novel way for a group of lawyers to get their names in the papers,they must be hard up for work or something.


        This is no novel way. This is what lawyers do all the time. We have one like this in Pakistan too. I forgot his name. You can trust him to sue Govt of Pakistan on any issue under the sun. Plus there is a sue-moto thingie our Supreme Court can do too. No lawyers needed. Its actually quite interesting.
        "Let your friends underestimate your virtues. Let your enemies overestimate your faults." - Godfather.


          Some lawyers want publicity. These lawyers are some of them.

          Next thing you hear :

          Hammad Khan: Bush and Rumsfeld invest in Wonderbra


            maybe thats why US has not ratified the International Court of Justice..

            protect the people and presidents who had run previous criminal campaigns in Vietnam and Panama.


              A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq

              Ramsey Clark served as U.S. Attorney General in the administration of Lyndon Johnson. He is the convener of the Commission of Inquiry and a human rights lawyer of world-wide respect. This report was given in New York, May 11, 1991.


                Originally posted by blackzero:
                maybe thats why US has not ratified the International Court of Justice..

                protect the people and presidents who had run previous criminal campaigns in Vietnam and Panama.
                And protect them aftre criminal campaigns in the future i.e. Iraq.


                  'US officials involved in committing certain international crimes may nonetheless be held responsible under principles of Universal Jurisdiction and the War Crimes Act," the lawyers said'

                  Lawyers warn of warcrimes prosecutions Sydney Morning Herald 25 Jan 03

                  New York: A group of more than 100 legal experts warned President George W Bush in a letter published today that senior officials could face prosecution if US soldiers committed warcrimes in Iraq.The experts said violations of international humanitarian law by US and allied forces "were extensively documented" during the 1991 Gulf War and military campaigns in Kosovo in 1999 and in Afghanistan in late 2001.

                  "Given these past violations, there is a reasonable basis for assuming that in any future military action against Iraq, these requirements will once again be breached," they wrote. The letter, signed by more than 100 law professors and non-governmental organisations, was also sent to US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Canadian counterpart, Jean Chretien. Previous violations included "indiscriminate methods of attack," the use of cluster bombs and fuel-air explosives, and attacks on electricity supplies and dams, it said.

                  One of the signatories, Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York, said: "I hope this unjustified war never happens, but if President Bush proceeds to war, we fear it will be a war that unlawfully targets the Iraqi people as was the case in 1991."The letters "are putting the US, UK and Canadian governments on notice that such illegal tactics cannot and must not be used again," Ratner said.

                  Britain and Canada are both parties to the statute of the new International Criminal Court, set up on July 1 last year to try cases of genocide, warcrimes and crimes against humanity. "While the US did not ratify the treaty establishing the court, US officials involved in committing certain international crimes may nonetheless be held responsible under principles of Universal Jurisdiction and the War Crimes Act," the lawyers said.

                  They said the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal had plans to convene a hearing in London to examine evidence of violations of international humanitarian law with a view to referring such evidence to the prosecutor of the ICC. "We wholly support this initiative," they added. The lawyers said their primary concern was "the large number of civilian casualties that may result should US and coalition forces fail to comply with international humanitarian law in using force against Iraq."

                  They quoted an estimate by the World Health Organisation that: "As many as 500,000 civilians could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries." The lawyers said they did not accept "that all 'peaceful means' to resolve the dispute have been exhausted as required under Article 33 of the UN Charter."

                  "Indeed, we consider that any future use of force without a new UN Security Council resolution would constitute a crime against peace, or aggressive war in violation of the UN Charter," they wrote. The letter was signed by professors from law schools all over the United States and one law professor from Japan.


                    A lawsuit has been filed in Belgium against Bush Senior and key members of his Administration linking them to the killing of over 400 civilians when a Baghdad civilian bunker was bombed.

                    Iraqis sue Bush Senior over first Gulf War News Interactive, Australia 19 Mar 03

                    SEVEN Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said.

                    The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick Moriau. Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War, while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

                    The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location. The families who brought the action are either victims or relatives of victims of a US bombing of a civilian shelter in Baghdad that killed 403 people in February 1991, Moriau said.


                      Originally posted by blackzero:
                      maybe thats why US has not ratified the International Court of Justice..
                      The US strives at all times to show that all their military actions abroad are justified. They think that the international law does not apply to them. After all if you are right all the time why should you be dragged into a court of law?
                      "A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, 'Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children"


                        "This war violates every legal principle governing the resort to force. It clearly has little to do with disarmament, democracy, human rights, or even Saddam Hussein, and everything to do with oil and power."

                        Rights Group: Iraq War is 'Unequivocally Illegal' Republicons 19 Mar 03

                        The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) issued a report Tuesday that asserted that the Bush administration’s planned war on Iraq is “unequivocally illegal under the UN Charter and international law generally.” The group, a New York based advocate for economic justice and international law, rejected the auspices under which the US, UK, Spain and Australia have claimed legitimacy.

                        Over the past days US Secretary of State Colin Powell and others have issued major statements insisting that international law justifies their decision to attack Iraq. The CESR report cites a range of authoritative legal sources to counter this assertion. According to Professor Thomas Franck, a leading authority on the use of force, the use of old resolutions to support military action today "makes a complete mockery of the entire system" of international law.

                        "It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. and U.K. to base war on Resolution 1441 when they are fully aware that France, Russia and China approved that resolution on explicit written condition that it could not be used by individual states to justify military action," said CESR Executive Director Roger Normand. "This war violates every legal principle governing the resort to force. It clearly has little to do with disarmament, democracy, human rights, or even Saddam Hussein, and everything to do with oil and power."

                        The report warns that the adverse consequences of war will fall disproportionately on Iraqi civilians. "A pre-emptive military strike against Iraq is a cruel culmination of 13 years of punishment of people for something they have not done," said Hans von Sponeck, CESR's Europe representative and former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

                        The report warns that a war conducted in this context would compromise global security initiatives that have taken root since the end of World War II. "This is an attack on the very institutions of international law and the United Nations," said Philip Alston, Professor of Law and Director of Human Rights and Global Justice and New York University. "It opens the door for every country to take the law into its own hands and launch preemptive military strikes without any universally binding restraints."

                        CESR is part in a international effort by legal experts to hold governments publicly accountable and seek legal prosecution for any war crimes committed in Iraq. "The law is meant to protect all people and apply to all countries," said Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a human rights litigation center. "We are working with CESR and likeminded groups in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere to ensure that our leaders know in advance that they will be held individually accountable for any and all war crimes they commit."

                        CESR is an international human rights organization accredited to the United Nations and supported by the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation.

                        Press releases were used in this account


                          Iraqi victims seek war crimes trials for Bush and Powell Ananova 18 Mar 03

                          Seven Iraqi victims of the 1991 Gulf War have lodged an official war crimes complaint against former US President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The move, under a Belgian law allowing universal reach in war crimes, has been criticised by Powell - who questioned whether it would restrict his rights to attend meetings at Nato headquarters in Brussels. Jean-Marie Dermagne, a lawyer for the seven, said the timing of the complaint was closely linked to the current Iraq crisis, and was aimed at highlighting the threat to innocent lives from a fresh conflict. The complaint is also targeted against current US Vice President Dick Cheney, and retired commander of the US troops in Iraq, General Norman Schwartzkopf.

                          It centres on the bombing of the al-Amiriya shelter in Baghdad, on February 13 1991, which killed 403 people, including 52 children and 261 women. US officials believed the shelter was a command centre. Mr Dermagne said: "Our action goes beyond the symbolic. It is as much political as it is legal." Belgian courts will now have to decide whether the complaint is admissible. Powell said: "It affects the ability of people to travel in Belgium without being subject to this kind of threat. For a place that is an international centre they should be a little bit concerned about this." Belgian foreign ministry spokesman Didier Seeuws insisted Powell was still welcome in Belgium, adding: "In his position, he enjoys immunity. He need not worry."

                          Under a 1993 law, Belgian courts can hear war crimes cases no matter who allegedly committed them or where. The law was strengthened in 1999 when Belgian courts also were allowed to hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity. So far the only people convicted under the laws are four Rwandans found guilty of involvement in the 1994 genocide in the central African nation.


                            S'pore NGO Classifies Casualties In Iraq As War Crimes Malaysian National News Agency

                            SINGAPORE, March 21 (Bernama) -- Think Centre, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) here says the military strike against Iraq, which is outside the auspices of the United Nations (UN), is illegal and casualties would be classified as war crimes.

                            "But US President George W. Bush chooses to ignore world opinion and launch an illegal, immoral and unjust war against Iraq," said its president, Sinapan Samydorai in a statement Friday. Although the Bush Administration wanted the world to believe that the only victim of this war would be Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, war meant the death of thousands on innocent Iraqi people in the unjust and unnecessary war, he said. ...


                              "The Bush Administration is obviously well aware that this war has no basis in legality. The legal justifications being cynically offered by the Administration are so transparently fraudulent, and rejected by most of the world"

                              Will Bush, Rumsfeld Be Tried for War Crimes? Executive Intelligence Review 28 Mar 03

                              by Edward Spannaus

                              What the United States did, on the evening of March 19, in launching a imperial, "preventive" war on Iraq, is unquestionably in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and other agreements by which the United States of America, as a signatory, is bound. Indeed, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan repeatedly stated in the days leading up to the U.S. attack, that a unilateral attack by the United States on Iraq would be a violation of the UN Charter.

                              Were the unlawful actions of the United States to stand as a precedent, the United Nations, which America was instrumental in initiating and founding at the end of the Second World War as a means for preventing war, would lie in shambles, and relations among nations would be reduced to a Hobbesian "war of each against all" in which raw power, not morality or legality, would be the only currency. With the UN unable to protect smaller nations from the U.S. superpower, countries are less likely to bring disputes to the UN Security Council; and, drawing the obvious lesson in the contrasting U.S. treatment of Iraq and North Korea, they will see the acquisition of nuclear weapons as to only means of deterring the United States and getting respect.

                              The Bush Administration is obviously well aware that this war has no basis in legality. The legal justifications being cynically offered by the Administration are so transparently fraudulent, and rejected by most of the world, that its spokesmen can only be hoping that most citizens will not get behind the headlines and the sound-bites; above all, that they will not act as real citizens, taking personal responsibility for the fate and future of the nation.

                              The White House Legal Brief
                              At the March 13 White House press briefing, for example, spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked about the legality of the war, and responded by reading a prepared legal opinion, apparently coming from the State Department Legal Adviser. Fleischer first read: "The United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorized use of all necessary means to uphold United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area. That was the basis for the use of force against Iraq during the Gulf War." (In fact, Resolution 678 authorized the use of force only for the purpose of expelling the Iraqi military from Kuwait, fully accomplished in 1991.)

                              "Thereafter," Fleisher continued, "the United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 declared a cease-fire, but imposed several conditions, including extensive WMD-related conditions. Those conditions provided the conditions essential to the restoration of peace and security in the area. A material breach of those conditions removes the basis for the cease-fire and provides the legal grounds for the use of force." (But, what Fleischer failed to say, was that the implementation of Resolution 687's disarmament provisions is left solely to the Security Council, which was "to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area.")

                              The UN Charter
                              This is, in fact, consistent with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945. Article 2 of the Charter made it clear that a major purpose of the creation of the United Nations was that member-states were to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state," except under certainly narrowly defined circumstances.

                              At all times, member-states are to seek a solution to their disputes through the UN Security Council (Security Council Art. 33), and it is left to the Security Council to make the determination with respect to a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression, and to determine what measures are to be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security (Art. 39). It is only the Security Council that can decide upon the use of force: "Plans for the application of force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee..." (Art. 46).

                              The Security Council may designate all or some member-states to use force to carry out its decisions, but only the Security Council is empowered to make such a determination: "The action required to carry out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the Members of the United Nations or by some of them, as the Security Council may determine..." (Art. 48).

                              The exception to this, is if a member-state is attacked by another state: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security" (Art. 51). This is generally understood to include the case in which an attack were imminent, so imminent that the member-state did not have time to take the matter to the Security Council. But that is obviously not the case with respect to the United States and Iraq; no one, even the most rabid chicken-hawk, seriously argues that Iraq is an imminent threat to the security of the United States.

                              Indeed, with the exception of Israel, those countries which are actually within striking range of Saddam Hussein oppose the U.S. attack, and the idea that the weakened and destroyed nation of Iraq poses a threat to U.S. national security, is nonsensical—and is seen as such by the overwhelming majority of the world's nations.

                              Resolution 1441 and the Security Council
                              But, what about Resolution 1441, unanimously adopted last November, which is constantly cited by President Bush and members of his Cabinet as giving to the United States the authority to attack Iraq? Did not Resolution 1441 threaten Iraq with "serious consequences" if Iraq remained in "material breach" of its obligations to disarm? The answer is that yes, it did; but again, the determination of both matters was explicitly left to the Security Council to "consider," not to one or two of its members.

                              It is patently clear that the Security Council does not believe that a material breach has occurred which justifies the immediate use of force. After promising to seek a vote in the Security Council, in which all members would have to "stand up and show where they stand," Bush was forced to abandon the quest for a vote, when it became clear that a majority of Council members were opposed to the U.S.-British-Spanish resolution. And the official summary of the statements by the 15 member-countries in the debate on March 19, shows that no other countries, beside the United States, Britain and Spain, supported the use of force against Iraq—not even Bulgaria, which had been counted as the fourth vote in favor of the U.S.-U.K. resolution.

                              There were always five countries known to oppose the United States, and there were six deemed "undecided." All of those six ultimately opposed ending the inspections and resorting to force at this time. Thus, when the United States attacked Iraq, it was not simply "by-passing" the Security Council; it was flagrantly violating the Security Council's intention and will.

                              Nuremberg Tribunal Precedent
                              The Administration's desperation to provide a legalistic justification for the war, is undoubtedly related to the fact that many statesmen and commentators have challenged it on this point—but it may also have to do with the fact that a number of commentaries and articles have appeared warning that President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld could eventually find themselves charged with war crimes before the newly inaugurated International Criminal Court (ICC). .....