Tag Archives: national self-defense

UN looking into legality of slaughter of bin Laden

Was this past weekend’s assassination of Osama bin Laden legal?

Unsurprisingly, in the articles that I’ve read online, Americans tend to say that of course it was — he was an “enemy combatant” with whom we were “at war”; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder actually called, quite speciously, bin Laden’s assassination “an act of national self-defense” (and not, say, a revenge killing); and besides, Barack Obama had said when he was campaigning for president that if we got bin Laden in our sights then he would order him killed (as though if you simply warn someone that you will do something illegal, such as rape her or murder him, if you get the opportunity to do so and then do so, then your actual act is not illegal because hey, you’d given him or her a warning!) — while those outside of the U.S. are much less likely to make such a certain pronouncement, expressing problems with the facts that bin Laden was unarmed and that the raid on his compound was conducted without the consent or even the prior notification of the government of the sovereign nation of Pakistan. Bin Laden should have been captured, if at all possible, and put on trial, since everyone, even the likes of bin Laden, has the right to due process, these dissenters have expressed.

One of these dissenters, Kent University international lawyer Nick Grief, called bin Laden’s killing what it apparently was: an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law,” and he noted that even Nazi war criminals were brought to trial at the end of World War II.

Louise Doswald-Beck, former legal chief for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that bin Laden was not an enemy combatant but that “He was basically head of a terrorist criminal network, which means that you’re not really looking at the law of armed conflict but at lethal action against a dangerous criminal.”

Another British lawyer, Michael Mansfield, said, “The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymized with justice, and that revenge will supplant due process. … Whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves, they must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice.” [Emphasis mine.]

And it looks as though the United Nations is investigating the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reports The Associated Press today:

Geneva – The United Nations’ independent investigator on extrajudicial killings* has called on the United States to reveal more details of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway to allow experts to assess the legality of his killing.

South African law professor Christof Heyns said in a statement [today] that Washington “should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards.”

Heyns says “it will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden.”

His statement echoed similar appeals from other UN officials, human rights groups and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

U.S. officials say the raid is legal under U.S. and international law.

Of course “U.S. officials say the raid [was] legal under U.S. and international law.” How often does the perpetrator of a crime admit it?

In any event, it’s not like the U.S. is going to respect any adverse finding by the UN anyway. The UN Security Council would not rubber-stamp George W. Bush’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust Vietraq War, but the Bush regime went ahead and launched it anyway in March 2003. The U.S. respects the UN only when it is convenient for the U.S. to do so, which is one of the many reasons that the U.S. is so hated throughout the world: its blatant hypocrisy and double standards.

I still believe that the assassination of Osama bin Laden was meant, at least in part, for Barack Obama’s political gain. I believe that Obama wanted to show that he’s just as bad a bad-ass as George W. Bush tried to pass himself off as, and also, what’s better to counter the charges that Obama is not really an American and actually is Muslim than to snuff out Osama bin Laden, to take him dead or alive dead?

The so-called “swing voters” are susceptible to such wingnutty charges that Obama isn’t a citizen and that he’s actually a Muslim, and it’s the support of the “swing voters” (he’s screwed his progressive base) that Obama so very badly wants for his re-election.

Weirdly, though, in the White House photo of the gathering in the Situation Room during the operation to assassinate bin Laden that everyone has dissected to death —

In this image released by the White House and ...

— to me, Obama doesn’t look like the leader of all of it. To me, he looks like he’s just kind of shrinking in the corner, a bit bewildered and perhaps overwhelmed by all of it, and hell, just from this photo, Secretary of State Billary Clinton appears to be more in charge than Obama does. Obama appears in the photo to be an onlooker at most.

In any event, Osama bin Laden is dead, which even Al-Qaeda has acknowledged, and it’s not like there will be formal repercussions for the U.S. government for once again very apparently having violated international law.

But it will be interesting to see for how long the U.S. can maintain its position as the global bully. Bin Laden’s actions significantly weakened what he believed to be the “great Satan,” the American empire, costing the United States at least $3 trillion, pundits are saying. (Of course, much if not most of that $3 trillion went to greedy war profiteers, not for the actual benefit of the U.S., and much of it simply disappeared and remains unaccounted for to this day.)

And as China is poised to become the world’s No. 1 economy within the next decade, as the U.S. economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, how long will the U.S. be able to call the shots globally?

It is in the long-term interests of the United States of America — and any other nation’s — to follow the rule of law. It is easier and more convenient, in the short run, to circumvent the law, but to circumvent the law often bites you in the ass later, often (if not usually) costing you more than if you had just done it right the first time.

Because he was not put on trial, but was assassinated, Osama bin Laden is now, to many in the Muslim world, a martyr whose manner of death only proves his assertions about American abuse of power against Arabs and Muslims to be correct. We Americans can, and should, fully expect bin Laden’s death to be avenged. And then we’ll avenge that. This tit-for-tat bullshit bloodshed can go on for years and years and years, which is exactly what the war profiteers and the weasels of the military-industrial complex want.

And just as the United States was somewhat recovering from its reputation as the global asshole that the treasonous members of the unelected Bush regime earned it, Barack Obama, by mimicking George “W. for Wanted Dead or Alive” Bush, has taken us backasswards again.

Can we at least take away that Nobel Peace Prize that he so prematurely was awarded while the UN investigates the legality of his unilateral order to assassinate bin Laden?

P.S. Reuters reports a little more thoroughly today of the United Nations’ looking into the legality of bin Laden’s assassination. Reuters reports today:

Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights while countering terrorism … and Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said that in certain exceptional cases, deadly force may be used in “operations against terrorists.”

“However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially-decided punishment,” the independent experts said in a joint statement.

“In respect of the recent use of deadly force against Osama bin Laden, the United States of America should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards,” they said. “It will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture bin Laden.”

Scheinin, a Finnish law professor who teaches in Florence, and Heyns, a South African human rights law professor, report to the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 members include the United States. …

Navi Pillay, the top UN human rights official, also called this week for light to be shed on the killing, stressing that all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law.

“We’ve raised a question mark about what happened precisely, more details are needed at this point,” her spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva [today].

*Those Obama apologists and American jingoists who take exception to the word “assassination” (as though only, say, an American president could be assassinated) at least cannot argue that bin Laden’s killing was indeed, at the least, an extrajudicial execution.

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War on Libya just another of Obama’s broken promises

Obama Clinton Bush two.jpg

AFP photo

Three peas in a pod.

I have yet to write on Barack Obama’s War on Libya. This is because admittedly, I haven’t kept up with what Moammar has been up to these past many years and because I more or less wanted to see how things were going to pan out before making a comment.

But more and more, Barack Obama’s War on Libya seems like a Clintonesque “wag the dog” scenario, in which military action is meant to make Obama look like a bad-ass and/or give him some other political benefit at least as much as it’s meant to do any actual good.

And remember George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing,” a pathetic attempt to give the appearance that his Vietraq War had widespread global support, instead of the support pretty much only of Britain? Obama’s “coalition” against Moammar Ghadafi is almost as pathetic.

And war is always a great distraction, as the treasonous, unelected Bush regime knew fully well, although somehow when a Democratic president wages a war these days, the war doesn’t get very high ratings.

I don’t assert that Ghadafi is a great guy, but I have to agree with pundits’ assertion that Obama violated the U.S. Constitution when he took the U.S. to war (even an apparently minor war) without the approval of Congress. A president may take the nation to war without the approval of Congress only in cases of actual national self-defense. Obama said so himself in a presidential campaign questionnaire put before him by the Boston Globe in 2007 (this via Glenn Greenwald):

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

“As commander in chief, the president does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.

“History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”

As Libya poses about as much of a threat to the United States as Iraq did before the Bush regime launched its illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War in March 2003, we can only conclude that Barack Obama has reneged on yet another campaign promise.

(Ironically, Obama’s answer to the abovementioned questionnaire’s last item included this gem: “[Every] president takes an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ The American people need to know where we stand on these issues before they entrust us with this responsibility – particularly at a time when our laws, our traditions and our Constitution have been repeatedly challenged by this [the Bush] administration.”)

Of course, this is the very same Barack Obama who also in 2007 promised, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

Of course, Obama didn’t even send Vice President Joe Biden or another proxy to Battleground Wisconsin, but instead he left what is left of the labor movement (after Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush spent almost three decades dismantling it) on its own. Just like Bill Clinton would have done.

Barack Obama promised “hope” and “change,” at least implicitly promised that he was the next Howard Dean, the anti-Clinton (indeed, he was running against a Clinton in the drawn-out Democratic presidential primary season), but he is, for all intents and purposes, just another fucking Bill Clinton (at best), never missing an opportunity to sell out his base, which includes those of us who are against war except in clear-cut cases of national self-defense (and in limited instances otherwise — and only then with the consent of Congress) and who support the labor movement.

Barack Obama is dead to me, frankly. To me he is a sellout, just another fucking liar in Washington. However, unless he faces a strong challenger for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination, just like it was with Bill Clinton, we most likely will be stuck with Obama — about whom, thus far, the only remarkable thing that history can record is that he was the first black president* — for another four more years.

Because Obama pretended to be another Howard Dean and thus inherited Dean’s base of support — without which Obama never would have made it to the White House — it seems to me that Howard Dean is the best candidate to try to knock Obama off of the presidential ballot in 2012. It seems to me that Dean’s former supporters — and they are legion — would prefer the real Dean to the cheap Dean knock-off that is Barack Obama.

At this point, however, I’ll support even a long shot, such as U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, over Barack Obama, who isn’t getting another fucking penny from me, and certainly never again will he get my vote.

*And by itself, this just isn’t nearly fucking enough.

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