U.S. Storm Troopers & the Criminal Court

2002-08-11

Richard Moore

Bcc: contributors


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Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
From: "Nurev Ind" <•••@••.•••>
To: "Anita Lay" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: The lord giveth. And the lord taketh away. [Military aid and the 
International Court.]
Date: Sat, 10 Aug 2002 12:11:43 -0400

What's the problem?

Why is the USA so much against signing on to the International
Criminal Court?

Aren't we a law abiding, peace loving, apple pie eating nation
of good doers?

Well... No!

We are the biggest empire that ever existed. We have military
forces all over the world in over one hundred military bases from
which to extend power to almost everywhere on the globe.

We overthrow governments at will. Any governments. Dictatorships,
democracies, kingdoms, anthills, beehives, we don't care. If they
stand in the way of corporations making money, they go bye bye.

In the old days the persons who did this on the ground were called
mercenaries. Today they are called " peacekeepers."

" Peacekeeping " looks amazingly similar to what used to be called war.
It's for this reason that the USA is afraid to sign on to the International
World Court. They don't want non-Americans to confuse peacekeeping
with war because EVERY WAR PRODUCES WAR CRIMES.

If these confused foreigners begin to press charges for silly things like
bombing weddings, or Yugoslavia, or aspirin factories in Sudan, how on
earth can we operate a global corporate empire efficiently? Too hard.
We would need to assign each peacekeeper a personal lawyer with body
armor and a video camera. Too hard, and too expensive.

This is no way to run an empire.

Joshua2
for: Nurev Ind
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U.S. Ties Military Aid to Peacekeepers' Immunity
By ELIZABETH BECKER


WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 - The Bush administration, making use of a provision of
the new antiterrorism law, warned foreign diplomats this week that their
nations could lose all American military assistance if they became members
of the International Criminal Court without pledging to protect Americans
serving in their countries from its reach.

The threat to withdraw military aid - including education, training and help
financing the purchase of equipment and weaponry - could be felt by almost
every nation that has relations with the United States, though the law
exempts many of its closest allies. The law gives the president authority to
waive the provision and decide to continue military aid if he determines it
is in the national interest.

This part of the new law, which passed Congress with broad bipartisan
support and was signed last week by President Bush, provides the
administration with its broadest and most coercive tool to keep American
peacekeepers out of the hands of the new court.
---<snip>---

============================================================================
Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
From: "Robert Vogel" <•••@••.•••>
To: "Christopher J Dodd" <•••@••.•••>,
        "Joseph I. Lieberman" <•••@••.•••>
Cc: "Hartford Courant" <•••@••.•••>,
        "new london day" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Your tax dollars at work...Want to spend more in Iraq ?
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 23:50:16 -0400

Forwarded from www.counterpunch.org

  August 6, 2002

  The Return to Afghanistan:  Collateral Damage

by Robert Fisk
The Independent, London

President George Bush's "war on terror" reached the desert village of
Hajibirgit at midnight on 22 May. Haji Birgit Khan, the bearded,
85-year-old Pushtu village leader and head of 12,000 local tribal
families, was lying on a patch of grass outside his home. Faqir
Mohamed was sleeping among his sheep and goats in a patch of sand to
the south when he heard "big planes moving in the sky". Even at night,
it is so hot that many villagers spend the hours of darkness outside
their homes, although Mohamedin and his family were in their
mud-walled house. There were 105 families in Hajibirgit on 22 May, and
all were woken by the thunder of helicopter engines and the thwack of
rotor blades and the screaming voices of the Americans.

Haji Birgit Khan was seen running stiffly from his little lawn towards
the white-walled village mosque, a rectangular cement building with a
single loudspeaker and a few threadbare carpets. Several armed men
were seen running after him. Hakim, one of the animal herders, saw the
men from the helicopters chase the old man into the mosque and heard a
burst of gunfire. "When our people found him, he had been killed with
a bullet, in the head," he says, pointing downwards. There is a single
bullet hole in the concrete floor of the mosque and a dried bloodstain
beside it. "We found bits of his brain on the wall."

Across the village, sharp explosions were detonating in the courtyards
and doorways of the little homes. "The Americans were throwing stun
grenades at us and smoke grenades," Mohamedin recalls. "They were
throwing dozens of them at us and they were shouting and screaming all
the time. We didn't understand their language, but there were Afghan
gunmen with them, too, Afghans with blackened faces. Several began to
tie up our women--our own women--and the Americans were lifting their
burqas, their covering, to look at their faces. That's when the little
girl was seen running away." Abdul Satar says that she was three years
old, that she ran shrieking in fear from her home, that her name was
Zarguna, the daughter of a man called Abdul-Shakour--many Afghans have
only one name--and that someone saw her topple into the village's 60ft
well on the other side of the mosque. During the night, she was to
drown there, alone, her back apparently broken by the fall. Other
village children would find her body in the morning. The Americans
paid no attention. From the description of their clothes given by the
villagers, they appeared to include Special Forces and also units of
Afghan Special Forces, the brutish and ill-disciplined units run from
Kabul's former Khad secret police headquarters. There were also 150
soldiers from the US 101st Airborne, whose home base is at Fort
Campbell in Kentucky. But Fort Campbell is a long way from Hajibirgit,
which is 50 miles into the desert from the south-western city of
Kandahar. And the Americans were obsessed with one idea: that the
village contained leaders from the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's
al-Qa'ida movement.

A former member of a Special Forces unit from one of America's
coalition partners supplied his own explanation for the American
behaviour when I met him a few days later. "When we go into a village
and see a farmer with a beard, we see an Afghan farmer with a beard,"
he said. "When the Americans go into a village and see a farmer with a
beard, they see Osama bin Laden."

All the women and children were ordered to gather at one end of
Hajibirgit. "They were pushing us and shoving us out of our homes,"
Mohamedin says. "Some of the Afghan gunmen were shouting abuse at us.
All the while, they were throwing grenades at our homes." The few
villagers who managed to run away collected the stun grenades next day
with the help of children. There are dozens of them, small cylindrical
green pots with names and codes stamped on the side. One says "7 BANG
Delay: 1.5 secs NIC-01/06-07", another "1 BANG, 170 dB Delay: 1.5s."
Another cylinder is marked: "DELAY Verzagerung ca. 1,5s." These were
the grenades that terrified Zarguna and ultimately caused her death. A
regular part of US Special Forces equipment, they are manufactured in
Germany by the Hamburg firm of Nico-Pyrotechnik--hence the "NIC" on
several of the cylinders. "dB" stands for decibels.

Several date stamps show that the grenades were made as recently as
last March. The German company refers to them officially as "40mm by
46mm sound and flash (stun) cartridges". But the Americans were also
firing bullets. Several peppered a wrecked car in which another
villager, a taxi driver called Abdullah, had been sleeping. He was
badly wounded. So was Haji Birgit Khan's son.

A US military spokesman would claim later that US soldiers had "come
under fire" in the village and had killed one man and wounded two
"suspected Taliban or al-Qa'ida members". The implication--that
85-year-old Haji Birgit Khan was the gunman--is clearly preposterous.

The two wounded were presumably Khan's son and Abdullah, the taxi
driver. The US claim that they were Taliban or al-Qa'ida members was a
palpable lie--since both of them were subsequently released. "Some of
the Afghans whom the Americans brought with them were shouting 'Shut
up!' to the children who were crying," Faqir Mohamed remembers.

"They made us lie down and put cuffs on our wrists, sort of plastic
cuffs. The more we pulled on them, the tighter they got and the more
they hurt. Then they blindfolded us. Then they started pushing us
towards the planes, punching us as we tried to walk."

In all, the Americans herded 55 of the village men, blindfolded and
with their hands tied, on to their helicopters. Mohamedin was among
them. So was Abdul-Shakour, still unaware that his daughter was dying
in the well. The 56th Afghan prisoner to be loaded on to a helicopter
was already dead: the Americans had decided to take the body of
85-year-old Haji Birgit Khan with them.

When the helicopters landed at Kandahar airport-- headquarters to the
101st Airborne--the villagers were, by their own accounts, herded
together into a container. Their legs were tied and then their
handcuffs and the manacle of one leg of each prisoner were separately
attached to stakes driven into the floor of the container. Thick sacks
were put over their heads. Abdul Satar was among the first to be taken
from this hot little prison. "Two Americans walked in and tore my
clothes off," he said. "If the clothes would not tear, they cut them
off with scissors. They took me out naked to have my beard shaved and
to have my photograph taken. Why did they shave off my beard? I had my
beard all my life."

Mohamedin was led naked from his own beard-shaving into an
interrogation tent, where his blindfold was removed. "There was an
Afghan translator, a Pushtun man with a Kandahar accent in the room,
along with American soldiers, both men and women soldiers," he says.
"I was standing there naked in front of them with my hands tied. Some
of them were standing, some were sitting at desks. They asked me:
'What do you do?' I told them: 'I am a shepherd--why don't you ask
your soldiers what I was doing?' They said: 'Tell us yourself.' Then
they asked: 'What kind of weapons have you used?' I told them I hadn't
used any weapon.

"One of them asked: 'Did you use a weapon during the Russian
[occupation] period, the civil war period or the Taliban period?' I
told them that for a lot of the time I was a refugee." From the
villagers' testimony, it is impossible to identify which American
units were engaged in the interrogations. Some US soldiers were
wearing berets with yellow or brown badges, others were in civilian
clothes but apparently wearing bush hats. The Afghan interpreter was
dressed in his traditional salwah khameez. Hakim underwent a slightly
longer period of questioning; like Mohamedin, he says he was naked
before his interrogators.

"They wanted my age and my job. I said I was 60, that I was a farmer.
They asked: 'Are there any Arabs or Talibans or Iranians or foreigners
in your village?' I said 'No.' They asked: 'How many rooms are there
in your house, and do you have a satellite phone?' I told them: 'I
don't have a phone. I don't even have electricity.' They asked: 'Were
the Taliban good or bad?' I replied that the Taliban never came to our
village so I had no information about them. Then they asked: 'What
about Americans? What kind of people are Americans?' I replied: 'We
heard that they liberated us with [President Hamid] Karzai and helped
us--but we don't know our crime that we should be treated like this.'
What was I supposed to say?"

A few hours later, the villagers of Hajibirgit were issued with
bright-yellow clothes and taken to a series of wire cages laid out
over the sand of the airbase--a miniature version of Guantanamo
Bay--where they were given bread, biscuits, rice, beans and bottled
water. The younger boys were kept in separate cages from the older
men. There was no more questioning, but they were held in the cages
for another five days. All the while, the Americans were trying to
discover the identity of the 85-year-old man. They did not ask their
prisoners--who could have identified him at once--although the US
interrogators may not have wished them to know that he was dead. In
the end, the Americans gave a photograph of the face of the corpse to
the International Red Cross. The organisation was immediately told by
Kandahar officials that the elderly man was perhaps the most important
tribal leader west of the city.

"When we were eventually taken out of the cages, there were five
American advisers waiting to talk to us," Mohamedin says. "They used
an interpreter and told us they wanted us to accept their apologies
for being mistreated. They said they were sorry. What could we say? We
were prisoners. One of the advisers said: 'We will help you.' What
does that mean?" A fleet of US helicopters flew the 55 men to the
Kandahar football stadium--once the scene of Taliban executions--where
all were freed, still dressed in prison clothes and each with a
plastic ID bracelet round the wrist bearing a number. "Ident-A-Band
Bracelet made by Hollister" was written on each one. Only then did the
men learn that old Haji Birgit Khan had been killed during the raid a
week earlier. And only then did Abdul-Shakour learn that his daughter
Zarguna was dead.

The Pentagon initially said that it found it "difficult to believe"
that the village women had their hands tied. But given identical
descriptions of the treatment of Afghan women after the US bombing of
the Uruzgan wedding party, which followed the Hajibirgit raid, it
seems that the Americans--or their Afghan allies--did just that. A US
military spokesman claimed that American forces had found "items of
intelligence value", weapons and a large amount of cash in the
village. What the "items" were was never clarified. The guns were
almost certainly for personal protection against robbers. The cash
remains a sore point for the villagers. Abdul Satar said that he had
10,000 Pakistani rupees taken from him--about $200 (lbs130). Hakim
says he lost his savings of 150,000 rupees--$3,000 (lbs1,900). "When
they freed us, the Americans gave us 2,000 rupees each," Mohamedin
says. "That's just $40 [lbs25]. We'd like the rest of our money."

But there was a far greater tragedy to confront the men when they
reached Hajibirgit. In their absence--without guns to defend the
homes, and with the village elder dead and many of the menfolk
prisoners of the Americans--thieves had descended on Hajibirgit. A
group of men from Helmand province, whose leader is Abdul Rahman
Khan--once a brutal and rapacious "mujahid" fighter against the
Russians, and now a Karzai government police commander--raided the
village once the Americans had taken away so many of the men.
Ninety-five of the 105 families had fled into the hills, leaving their
mud homes to be pillaged.

The disturbing, frightful questions that creep into the mind of anyone
driving across the desert to Hajibirgit today are obvious. Who told
the US to raid the village? Who told them that the Taliban leadership
and the al-Qa'ida leadership were there? Was it, perhaps, Abdul Rahman
Khan, the cruel police chief whose men were so quick to pillage the
mud-walled homes once the raid was over? For today, Hajibirgit is a
virtual ghost town, its village leader dead, most of its houses
abandoned. The US raid was worthless. There are scarcely 40 villagers
left. They all gathered at the stone grave of Zarguna some days later,
to pay their respects to the memory of the little girl. "We are poor
people--what can we do?" Mohamedin asked me. I had no reply. President
Bush's "war on terror", his struggle of "good against evil" descended
on the innocent village of Hajibirgit.

And now Hajibirgit is dead.



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***FAIR USE NOTICE:  This material is distributed without
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the included information for research and educational purposes,
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