As a result of the actions by the U.S. Government after 9/11, what is the reality in the “war against terrorism” three years later?
Some observers have noticed some interesting facts:
• None of the agencies of the U.S. Government has stated why it believes that its actions since 9/11 will decrease the number of people in the world who now hate the U.S., its institutions, and its people and might therefore commit terrorist attacks on the U.S.
• None of the U.S. Government agencies has made a point of working against terrorism with any of the U.N. bodies under the U.N. Anti-Terrorism Treaties that the U.S. Government has ratified.
• Many U.S. military officers, and Bush as commander-in-chief, have expressed concern that U.S. military staff may have taken, or may take, actions under the stress of battle (as in Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq) that could lead to charges that they committed war crimes or crimes against humanity or crimes against peace forbidden by the Nuremberg Principles, or violated the Geneva Conventions.
(This fear caused Bush to announce U.S. withdrawal from the new International Criminal Court, and to seek bilateral agreements with many nations that they would not seek to arrest or charge U.S. Troops with violations of the Nuremberg Principles or the law of nations.)
• Many concerned people allege that U.S. Government officials repeatedly violated many fundamental principles of law. They have filed many law suits to stop some of these violations.
• Many lawyers have gone to court to defend clients who said they could prove they were wrongfully arrested or accused.
• The government has appealed virtually every decision by a U.S. court finding its actions in the “war on terrorism” to be illegal.
• Many students of history wonder whether they are seeing the beginning of the end of the long evolution of the basic human rights of the people, from ancient Egypt to the United States before 9/11, at the moment when the people of Venezuela are trumpeting their first written bill of rights.
• An unending “war against terrorism” was declared, with no victories in sight and with rumors of new nations to be invaded by U.S. troops.
• Is it not becoming clear that human rights violations in the U.S., and by the U.S. at home and abroad, will not defeat terrorism. They will breed additional men and women and children willing to sacrifice their lives in suicidal attacks on “the U.S.” because the U.S. Government has acted violently toward their families and friends and faiths.
1. Right of Every Human Being Not to be Killed or Disappeared
(continued from column 1, Friday, Sept. 10)
This right is clearly stated in the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, in the United Nations Charter, Article 55c, and in the three human rights treaties ratified by the U.S. by 1994. There are clear limits to killings even in wartime, defined in the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions, and in the customary international humanitarian laws of war.
Deadly U.S. Attack on Afghan Wedding: Kakarak Village
(“Civilian Catastrophe as U.S. Bombs Afghan Wedding,” The Guardian, July 1, 2002; Luke Harding, “No U.S. Apology Over Wedding Bombing,” The Guardian, July 3, 2002)
Afghan Prisoners Die after U.S. Military Interrogation: Dilawar, et al.
(Duncan Campbell, “Afghan Prisoners Beaten to Death at U.S. Military Interrogation Base,” The Guardian, March 7, 2003)
U.S. Troops Charged with Massacre of Afghan Prisoners: Mazar
(Genevieve Roja, “Documenting the Massacre in Mazar,” AlterNet, July 8, 2002; “Film Documents Alleged Massacre of 3,000 Taliban Prisoners in Afghanistan,” Democracy Now!, May 22, 2003; “Physicians for Human Rights Renews Calls for Full Forensic Investigation into Alleged Killing of Taliban Prisoners,” PHR, June 13, 2002; David Rose, “How we survived jail hell,” The Guardian, March 14, 2004)
After Iraq Invasion, U.S. Soldiers Kill Unarmed Iraqi: Mazen Nouradin
(Medea Benjamin, “The Occupations’ Hidden Victims—Innocent Iraqis,” Occupation Watch Center, Aug. 5, 2003)
U.S. Sergeant Reported Killing of Iraqi Prisoner at Abu Ghraib: Ivan Frederick, et al.
(Seymour M. Hersh, Torture at Abu Ghraib, the New Yorker, May 10, 2004)
To be continued…
Berkeley resident Ann Fagan Ginger is a lawyer, teacher, activist and the author of 24 books. She won a civil liberties case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1959. She is the founder and executive director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, a Berkeley-based center for human rights and peace law.
This column is based on the report by Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11, edited by Ann Fagan Ginger (Prometheus Books 2005). Readers can go to http://mcli.org for a complete listing of reports and sources, with web links. (c. 2004 MCLI)›