Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UPDATED :: Pfc. Steven Green sentenced to life for Iraq War Atrocities

alt=PADUCAH, Ky. — An ex-soldier convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family was spared the death penalty Thursday after jurors couldn't agree on a punishment for the brutal crime.

Steven Dale Green, 24, of Midland, Texas, will instead serve a life sentence in a case that has drawn attention to the emotional and psychological strains on soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In March 2006, after an afternoon of card playing, sex talk and drinking Iraqi whiskey, Pfc. Green and three other soldiers went to the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Green shot and killed the teen's mother, father and sister, then became the third soldier to rape the girl before shooting her in the face.

Federal jurors who convicted Green of rape and murder on May 7 told the judge they couldn't agree on the appropriate sentence after deliberating for more than 10 hours over two days. Their choices were a death sentence or life in prison without parole. Since they could not unanimously agree on either sentence, life in prison had to be the verdict.

"It's the better of two bad choices," said his father, John Green, who sighed as the verdict was read.

Previous Post:

Steven Green pleads not guilty to Iraq War Atrocities

Accursed of rape and slaughter while a US soldier Steven Dale Green goes on trial in civilian court.


PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) Steven Dale Green, 23, of Midland, Texas, has pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault and four counts of murder, stemming from the March 2006 attack in Iraq's so-called "Triangle of Death." He is being tried in federal court in connection with the girl's rape and killing and the deaths of her mother, father and a 6-year-old sister.

Steven D. Green could get the death penalty if convicted in the horrific crime that has strained the U.S. military's already troubled relations with the Iraqi people and sent shockwaves around the world.

Former Pfc. Steven Dale Green, 23, is the first ex-soldier to be charged as a civilian under a 2000 law that allows U.S. authorities to prosecute former

Background - Mahmudiya, March 12th, 2006

“Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor. As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

“Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl’s mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10. Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there. Janabi said he agreed. Then, ‘I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear,’ Janabi said. ‘I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing.’

“Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter. Instead, attackers came to the girl’s house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister. Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate. Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members - two of Abeer’s brothers had been away at school - and attempted to set Abeer’s body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the case. […]”Excerpt from an article by the Washington Post from July 3rd, 2006.

Steven Dale Green grew up in the west Texas oil town of Midland
Col. Todd Ebel told jurors on Monday, the opening day of trial, that he spoke with Steven Dale Green in December 2005 about losing soldiers to enemy attacks. But, Ebel said, beyond frustration, the private first class with the 101st Airborne Division didn't appear unfit to remain in the Army.

"Yes, he was frustrated with Iraqis," Ebel said. "Mostly, he was frustrated with the idea that we can't recognize them. They don't wear uniforms."

Ebel, who oversaw Green's unit, resumed his testimony Tuesday, telling jurors that the soldiers were in a violent area of Iraq. He said his brigade, which included Green, lost 46 soldiers in combat-related deaths during its yearlong deployment.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that Green and three other soldiers attacked the family at their home near Mahmoudiyah, Iraq, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Skaret said Green fatally shot the rest of the family before becoming the third soldier to rape the teenager.

After he shot the girl in the face several times, Green used kerosene to set fire to her body, Skaret said.

"They left behind the carnage of all carnage," Skaret said.

Skaret told jurors that a group of soldiers, including Green, was playing cards and drinking whiskey at a checkpoint. Talk turned to having sex with Iraqi women, when one soldier mentioned the al-Janabi family, who lived nearby, Skaret said.

Skaret said Green used a shotgun to kill the three family members in a room and told the soldiers that the family was dead.

He then raped the girl and shot her, according to Skaret. Later, Green would talk about the killings to superior officers, other soldiers and even civilian friends, Skaret said.

In Green's defense, attorney Patrick Bouldin painted a picture of young soldiers in harsh wartime conditions, lacking leadership and receiving little help from the Army to deal with the loss of their friends.

Bouldin said before the attack, Green had lost five colleagues in combat, including four in a short span.

He said soldiers had lost so many friends and leaders they could no longer perform their duties.

"Context," Bouldin said. "You've got to understand the context."

Civilian Court

Green is being tried in a civilian court because he was discharged from the Army before being charged. His trial is being held in Paducah because of the western Kentucky city's proximity to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, where Green was based with the 101st Airborne.


Other soldiers involved in the attack were prosecuted in military court, including two who pleaded guilty and acknowledged taking part in the rape. Prosecutors said a third who was convicted had gone to the family's home knowing what was planned. A fourth who stayed behind at the checkpoint pleaded guilty to being an accessory, they said.


Green's discharge papers show he received an honorable discharge in May 2006 after being diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Bouldin said Green was prescribed a mood-stabilizing drug, but the Army never followed up on his mental state before the attack.

"He told the psychologist, 'I'm so upset. I'm having trouble here. I want to kill all these guys (Iraqis) because I can't tell them apart,'" Bouldin said.

Steven Green - The Accused


“’I came over here because I wanted to kill people.’ - Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. […] ‘The truth is, it wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, ‘All right, whatever.’ He shrugged. ‘I shot a guy who wouldn’t stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing,’ he went on. ‘Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like ‘All right, let’s go get some pizza.’

“[... T]he private was Steven D. Green. The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked. […]”Excerpt from an Washington Post article, July 30th, 2006.

Troops ‘Took Turns’ to Rape Iraqi

BBC News August 7, 2006

A US military hearing has examined testimony of how three soldiers took it in turns to try to rape an Iraqi girl aged 14 in Mahmudiya in March.

The girl and three family members were allegedly killed by four US soldiers.

Graphic details of the attack at the family's home came in a sworn statement by one of the accused, James P Barker.

Along with Sergeant Paul Cortez, Private Jesse Spielman, and Private Bryan Howard, Specialist Barker is charged with rape and murder.

The four are alleged to have helped a former private - Steven Green, who has since left the army - plan, carry out and cover up the attack. Mr Green has pleaded not guilty in a federal court and will be tried separately in the US.

A fifth soldier is alleged to have lied to cover up for his colleagues.

‘Whisky and golf’

Investigator Benjamin Bierce interviewed Mr Barker, 23, on 30 June and took down his statement, he told the hearing at a US military base in Baghdad.

On the day of the attack the soldiers had been drinking Iraqi whisky mixed with an energy drink and practicing golf strokes at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, Mr Barker's statement said.

One of the soldiers, Steven Green, said he "wanted to go to a house and kill some Iraqis," it alleged.

The four eventually went to a house about 200 metres (yards) away and put the parents and their five-year old daughter in the bedroom, but kept the older girl in the living room.

According to Mr Barker's statement, he and Mr Cortez took it in turns to rape or attempt to rape her.

Steven Green Iraq Murder

Mr Barker heard shots from the bedroom, and Steven Green emerged with an AK-47 in his hand saying "They're all dead. I just killed them."

According to the testimony, Mr Green then also raped the girl and shot her dead.

Her body was doused in kerosene and set alight.

The first day of the hearing on Sunday saw an Iraqi army medic describe how he found the bodies of the four Iraqis.

He told prosecutors he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Jane Peel says the Mahmudiya attack is one of the worst in a series of alleged atrocities committed by US troops in Iraq.

When news of it emerged last month it caused outrage and led to calls for changes in the agreement that exempts American soldiers from prosecution in the Iraqi courts.


The few details known of the 21-year-old's life are as unremarkable as the tired expression he wore in news photos showing him being led into a court this week wearing baggy shorts, flip-flops and a Johnny Cash T-shirt.

Steven Dale Green grew up in the west Texas oil town of Midland, which claims both President Bush and his wife, Laura, as natives. His parents divorced when he was 4, and his mother remarried four years later.

Midland school officials said Green attended classes from 1990 to 2002 but only made it through 10th grade, suggesting he might have been held back at least once. They would not specify.


His upbringing was not without complications. Green's mother pleaded no contest in 2000 to a drunken driving charge and was jailed for six months.

After dropping out, Green moved about 80 miles north to Denver City, the former oil town along the New Mexico state line that is listed as his official hometown. He got his high school equivalency degree in 2003.

According to a report in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Green was arrested for misdemeanor possession of alcohol on Jan. 31, 2005. Days later, just a few months shy of his 20th birthday, he enlisted in the Army.

He was deployed to Iraq from September 2005 to April 2006 as an infantry soldier in B Company, 1st Battalion of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

It was there that he was sent to patrol the so-called "Triangle of Death," an area southwest of Baghdad known for its frequent roadside bombings. Military officials say more than 40 percent of the nearly 1,000 soldiers in the region have been treated for mental or emotional anxiety. Green was apparently one of them.

He was given a discharge on May 16 for what military officials in Iraq told The Associated Press was an "anti-social personality disorder." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

A psychiatric condition, anti-social personality disorder is defined as chronic behavior that manipulates, exploits, or violates the rights of others. Someone with the disorder may break the law repeatedly, lie, get in fights and show a lack of remorse.

Military officials said the accusations of Green's involvment in the rape and killings came to light more than a month later during a session to counsel soldiers about the June 16 abductions of two fellow soldiers who were killed, and reportedly mutilated, by insurgents.

See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/us/14private.html

Prison for soldier who fled to Canada to avoid Iraq

Soldiers walk away from war
Canada not safe haven for soldiers fleeing War
1 year in prison for soldier who deserted Army

U.S. Iraq war resister Cliff Cornell was sentenced today to 12 months and received a bad conduct discharge for his refusal to participate in the war in Iraq. Cliff came to Canada in January 2005 because he knew he could not take part in the illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

On June 3, 2008, the House of Commons in Canada passed a motion calling for the government to:

“...immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members (partners and dependents), who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada.”

That motion further recommended that the government should:

“...immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals.”


Cliff was forced out of Canada in January 2009 by the government of Stephen Harper. In spite of a motion passed by the House of Commons calling on the government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney refused to intervene in Cliff's case and forced him to return to the U.S. where he faced certain court martial and puninishment for his refusal to deploy to Iraq.

Spc. Cliff Cornell spent four years in Canada before the Canadian government denied him asylum as a war objector. Cornell came back to the U.S. and turned himself in to authorities in February to avoid being deported.

The 28-year-old soldier from Mountain Home, Ark., sobbed in a Fort Stewart courtroom Tuesday as he told the judge he was sorry. He said he fled to Canada in January 2005, a month before his 3rd Infantry Division unit was scheduled to deploy to Iraq, because he feared for his own life and couldn't stomach the thought of killing.

"It was wrong for me to leave my unit and go to Canada," Cornell said. "I was very anxious about whether I might be asked to do things that might violate my conscience. I felt trapped. I didn't know what to do."

The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, also ordered Cornell's rank be reduced to private and for him to receive a bad conduct discharge.

Cornell is the third U.S. service member to be tried by the military for fleeing to Canada.

Though Cornell's prison time falls between the sentences of the other two deserters, his attorney, James Branum, said it was too harsh.

He said Cornell suffered an abusive childhood that left him socially impaired and therefore unable to resolve his qualms about serving in a war zone with his commanders.

"While he is certainly sane to stand trial, I would say he has some degree of impairment," Branum said. "He doesn't have the social or emotional skills of other people."

Branum said Cornell would be housed temporarily one of the nearby county jails until he's assigned to a military prison. He said he planned to appeal the sentence to Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, Fort Stewart's commander, who could reduce the sentence.

Prosecutors had asked for a 15-month prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge for Cornell, arguing his decision to flee put other members of Cornell's unit in jeopardy.

"They had to fill his space with a soldier who was not trained up and had to learn on the job," said Capt. Edward Piasta, an Army prosecutor. "And he didn't come back until Canada refused his refugee status and he was threatened with immediate deportation."

Cornell had trained as a driver and gunner in the 1st Battalion, 39th Artillery Regiment, which deployed to Iraq in 2005 to provide security details for senior officers.

In Canada, Cornell worked at a grocery store on Gabriola Island in British Columbia. Branum said Cornell hopes to return there after he's released from prison.

A dishonorable discharge would have made that more difficult for Cornell, Branum said. The bad conduct discharge would be viewed more like a misdemeanor conviction, rather than a felony, on his record, the attorney said.

Military law defines desertion as leaving the military with no intent to return or to avoid hazardous duty. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

However, Fort Stewart commanders agreed to push for a lighter sentence in exchange for Cornell's guilty plea.

war resisters
The War Resisters Support Campaign, based in Toronto, has worked with about 50 U.S. service members seeking refugee status or political asylum in Canada. The group estimates more than 200 have fled to Canada, most of them hiding out illegally.

During the Vietnam War, thousands of Americans took refuge in Canada, most of them to avoid the military draft. Many were given permanent residence status that led to Canadian citizenship, but the majority went home after President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty in the late 1970s.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A song about Waterboarding by Jonathan Mann (video)

Jonathan Mann is writing a song a day often based on current events. In this case he uses the actual words from the waterboarding memo. It's actually has a beat and you could dance to it.

Bush Torture Memos Recut In Song (VIDEO)

Jonathan Mann, the guy who brought you the "Paul Krugman" song is back putting the Bush torture memos to music. This is the 109th video in Mann's "one song a day" project. He uses hot-button topics in the news to inspire him on his surely wearying journey, and this time he took disturbing language detailing the waterboarding technique used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times to create a song.

Last week the Department of Justice released the memos from the Office of Legal Counsel that discussed the CIA's use of torture under Bush. This decision by President Obama has been lauded by some, but several members of the last administration and their supporters have been less enthusiastic about the choice.

Click here to read the memos. Scroll down for the transcript of Mann's song.


The detainee is lying on a gurney
That's inclined at an angle: 10 to 15 degrees
A cloth is placed over the detainee's face
Cold water is poured on the cloth

The wet cloth creates
A barrier through which
It is difficult or in some cases not possible
For the detainee to breathe

If the detainee
Makes an effort to defeat the technique
By twisting his head to the side and breathing
Out the corner of his mouth
The interrogator may cup his hands around
The detainees nose and mouth
In which case it would not be possible for him to breathe!

As we explained
In the Section 2340A Memorandum,
"Pain and suffering"
(As used in Section 2340)
Is best understood as a single concept,
Not distinct concepts
Of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"...

The waterboard,
Which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever,
Does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering".
Even if one were to parse the statute more finely
To treat "suffering" as a distinct concept,
The waterboard could not be said to inflict severe suffering.

The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode,
Lacking the connotation of a protracted
Period of time generally given to suffering.

United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding

by Paul Begala
CNN political commentator
Posted April 24, 2009 | 06:21 PM (EST)

In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It's kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: "Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves."

Mr. Fleischer, ordinarily the most voluble of men, was tongue-tied. The silence, rare in cable debates, spoke volumes for the vacuity of his position.

Now Mark Hemingway of the National Review Online has asserted that I was wrong. I bookmark NRO and read it frequently. It's smart and breezy -- but on this one it got its facts wrong.

Mr. Hemingway assumed I was citing the case of Yukio Asano, who was convicted of waterboarding and other offenses and sentenced to 15 years hard labor -- not death by hanging. Mr. Hemingway made the assumption that I was referring to the Asano case because in 2006 Sen. Edward Kennedy had referred to it. (Sen. Kennedy accurately described the sentence as hard labor and not execution, by the way.)

But I was not referring to Asano, nor was my source Sen. Kennedy. Instead I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, "Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times' truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain's statement and found it to be true. Here's the money quote from Politifact:

"McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboarding,' according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning." Politifact went on to report, "A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps."

The folks at Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts." Bottom line: Sen. McCain was right in 2007 and National Review Online is wrong today. America did execute Japanese war criminals for waterboarding.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

UN Accuses Obama of Breaking International Law

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak has accused US President Barack Obama of violating international law for not bringing CIA torture agents to court.

Obama open to torture memos probe, prosecution

WASHINGTON (AP) — Widening an explosive debate on torture, President Barack Obama on Tuesday opened the possibility of prosecution for Bush-era lawyers who authorized brutal interrogation of terror suspects and suggested Congress might order a full investigation.

Less than a week after declaring it was time for the nation to move on rather than "laying blame for the past," Obama found himself describing what might be done next to investigate what he called the loss of "our moral bearings."

His comments all but ensured that the vexing issue of detainee interrogation during the Bush administration will live on well into the new president's term. Obama, who severely criticized the harsh techniques during the campaign, is feeling pressure from his party's liberal wing to come down hard on the subject. At the same time, Republicans including former Vice President Dick Cheney are insisting the methods helped protect the nation and are assailing Obama for revealing Justice Department memos detailing them.

Answering a reporter's question Tuesday, Obama said it would be up to his attorney general to determine whether "those who formulated those legal decisions" behind the interrogation methods should be prosecuted. The methods, described in Bush-era memos Obama released last Thursday, included such grim and demeaning tactics as slamming detainees against walls and subjecting them to simulated drowning.

He said anew that CIA operatives who did the interrogating should not be charged with crimes because they thought they were following the law.

The three men facing the most scrutiny are former Justice Department officials Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury. Bybee is currently a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yoo is a professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

It might be argued that the officials were simply doing their jobs, providing legal advice for the Bush administration. However, John Strait, a law professor at Seattle University said, "I think there are a slew of potential charges."

Those could include conspiracy to commit felonies, including torture
, he suggested.

Bybee also could face impeachment in Congress if lawmakers were so inclined.

A federal investigation into the memos is being conducted by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which usually limits itself to examining the ethical behavior of employees but whose work in rare cases leads to criminal investigations.

The chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees said Tuesday they want to move ahead with previously proposed, independent commissions to examine George W. Bush's national security policies.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who has referred to his proposed panel as a "Truth Commission," said, "I agree with President Obama: An examination into these Bush-Cheney era national security policies must be nonpartisan. ... Unfortunately, Republicans have shown no interest in a nonpartisan review."

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has proposed separate hearings by his committee in addition to an independent commission.

Over the past weekend, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said in a television interview the administration did not support prosecutions for "those who devised policy." White House aides say he was referring to CIA superiors who ordered the interrogations, not the Justice Department officials who wrote the legal memos allowing them.

Yet it was unclear exactly whom Obama meant in opening the door to potential prosecutions of those who "formulated the legal decisions." Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked if the president meant the lawyers who declared the interrogation methods legal, or the policymakers who ordered, them or both.

"I don't know the answer to that," Gibbs said during a briefing in which he was peppered with questions about the president's words. Later, he added: "The parsing of some of this is better done through a filter of the rule of law and done at the Justice Department and not done here at the White House."

National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, Obama's top intelligence advisers, told personnel in an April 16 letter that the interrogations had resulted in "high-value information" as well as a "deeper understanding" of al-Qaida.

However, with the public release of his letter, Blair issued a statement Tuesday night saying that while the information gained was valuable in some instances, there was no way to know if that information could have been obtained in other ways.

"The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us, and they are not essential to our national security," Blair said.

A number of Republicans, including former Vice President Cheney and former top intelligence officials, say Obama has undermined national security with his release of the memos on the matter. On the other side, some Democratic lawmakers, human rights groups and liberal advocates want to see punishment for those involved in sanctioning brutal interrogations — the kind they say amount to torture and have damaged U.S. standing around the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4,274 members of the U.S. Military had died in the Iraq war since it began

Boston Globe reports

As of Sunday, April 19, 2009, at least 4,274 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The figure includes eight military civilians killed in action. At least 3,433 military personnel died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is three fewer than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 179 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia and Georgia, three each; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand and Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and South Korea, one death each.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Asking a Federal Court to declare the Iraq war unconstitutional

Iraq War

NEWARK, N.J. — Attorneys representing a veteran and two mothers of soldiers are asking a federal court to declare the Iraq war unconstitutional.

They are doing so not for compensation but "in order to focus their case upon seeking the more important relief for the entire nation - an adjudication that the Constitution has been violated and that the People and, indeed, our Nation as a whole,have all been damaged as a result. It will be sufficient remedy for these plaintiffs if this Court rules directly upon the plain language and the original intention of the Constitution and thereby fulfills the Court’s primary responsibility, first articulated by Chief Justice Marshall, “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, supra, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) at 177."

They said in court Tuesday that former President George W. Bush overstepped his constitutional authority to invade Iraq in 2003 without Congress officially declaring war.

It is a constitutional duty not to launch a war against a foreign sovereign state in the absence of a formal Congressional Declaration of War, a breach of that duty insofar as Iraq was invaded without such a Declaration of War, and injuries proximately caused by that breach that are of
types that are cognizable and redressable by the court.

They say that wasn't the intent of the country's "founding fathers" who wrote the constitution more than 200 years ago.

It is a constitutional duty not to launch a war against a foreign sovereign state in the absence of a formal Congressional Declaration of War, a breach of that duty insofar as Iraq was invaded without such a Declaration of War, and injuries proximately caused by that breach that are of
types that are cognizable and redressable by the court.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, while serving as Ambassador to France, wrote James Madison praising the Convention for creating “an effectual check to the Dog of War by transferring the power of letting it loose from Executive to Legislative body, from those who are to spend to those who are to pay.”


Alexander Hamilton had warned that: “Men love power”. Experience with the failed Articles of Confederation taught the Framers that “men loved power,” as Alexander Hamilton told the Convention on June 18. Thus, they adopted Montesquieu’s analysis that power must be checked by other power. The framers knew personal ambition animated people to become political figures and to exercise power of their positions. Fear that presidential ambition would shape national policy permeated the Constitutional Convention.35 Alexander Hamilton was especially concerned about presidential power. An intensely ambitious man himself, he understood how ambitious leaders created wars.

The government argued that courts do not have authority to rule on a political matter.


WASHINGTON - April 21 - WHAT: The constitutionality of the occupation of Iraq will be the subject of a Federal hearing.

WHEN: 11:00 AM Eastern, Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

WHERE: Newark, New Jersey Federal District Court, 50 Walnut Street, Newark, NJ, Room #4105

WHO: Rutgers Professor Frank Askin, Director of the law school's Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, and Bennet Zurofsky, Newark attorney who is general Counsel of New Jersey Peace Action, will appear on behalf of the plaintiffs to challenge the legality of the invasion of Iraq without a Congressional Declaration of War. The plaintiffs are New Jersey Peace Action, an affiliate of the nation's largest non-profit peace organization, Peace Action; an Iraq war veteran; and two New Jersey mothers, members of Military Families Speak Out, whose sons were deployed in Iraq.

BACKGROUND: "The current war in Iraq began in a highly questionable way when the Congress ceded its authority to declare war to the president. The U.S. is now dropping bombs from unmanned drones onto Pakistan, killing civilians, without war ever against Pakistan ever being declared by Congress. It is time for the courts to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of this practice so we can avoid making such foreign policy mistakes in the future and so the people can hold their congressional representatives accountable for past mistakes," said Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of NJ Peace Action. She also notes that Obama's Department of Justice have simply adopted the Bush Department of Justice motion instead of withdrawing or at least modifying its positions. The April 21 hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares is in response to the government's motion to dismiss the Complaint.

The brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit can be found at http://law.newark.rutgers.edu/files/u/PltfsBriefInOppToDefsMotionToDismiss.pdf

The complaint was drafted by Rutgers' law students under Professor Askin's supervision, after a yearlong study of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the adoption of the Constitution's Article I, Section 8, lodging the power to declare war in the Congress, rather than the President.

The suit does not ask the Court to take any direct action against ongoing activities in Iraq. It claims that the President is not authorized under the Constitution to launch a preemptive war against a sovereign nation and seeks a Declaration that can be used as a guide to the legality of such actions in the future.

Founded in 1957, Peace Action, the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.

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