War Crimes

[Content Note: War, torture, violence.]

Two interesting and terrible stories out this week detailing the Bush administration's rush to war and its use of torture in prosecuting the "war on terror."

Jonathan Own at the Independent: Man Whose WMD Lies Led to 100,000 Deaths Confesses All.
"Curveball", the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction [starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds], smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi's lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: "My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression."

The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as "facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence" by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him "we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie", he simply replies: "Yes."
Spencer Ackerman at Wired: CIA Committed 'War Crimes,' Bush Official Says.
A top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the Bush administration that its use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" interrogation techniques like waterboarding were "a felony war crime."

What's more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were "prohibited" under U.S. law — "even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them."

Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a "felony," Zelikow tells Danger Room. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, "Yes."
The current administration's unwillingness to hold the previous administration accountable for its gross human rights abuses, and profound betrayal of the citizens of this nation, because it might look like "partisan rancor," is deeply regrettable. To put it politely.

For years to come, stories like this will slip into and out of the news with little notice. And the architects of one of the darkest periods in US history will go unpunished, but at least Lynndie England got hers.

[H/T to Spudsy for the Independent piece.]

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