Monday, October 07, 2013

International Law? What’s That? U.S. Violates Another Nation’s Sovereignty- Again

The American media and government are ballyhooing the kidnapping of a guy they claim “masterminded” the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa, in 1998. The Libyan government wasn’t told. There was no extradition request. A gang of U.S. commandos, FBI agents, and CIA officers swooped down in the middle of Tripoli, Libya, and grabbed a Libyan off the street by the name of Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, now known as Abu Anas al-Liby. (You’ve heard of him, I’m sure. The FBI was dangling a reward of $5 million for turning him in, so you probably had your eye out for him.) [1]

Gee, I wonder if the U.S. would mind if a Libyan commando squad grabbed an American off the streets of Washington, D.C. and spirited him away to a secret torture cell? (For now, apparently a Navy brig on a ship in the Mediterranean.) [This occurred on October 5th, the same day another U.S. mission didn’t go as well. See “Invincible U.S. Navy SEALs Repulsed ByAl-Shabab.”]

Yet another U.S. violation of another nation’s sovereignty- and thus of international law, the body of law the U.S. so thunderously invokes when condemning enemy nations. So what’s new? The U.S. overthrows governments it doesn’t like. It assassinates presidents. (The U.S. state-within-a-state even assassinated the American president in 1963.) It sabotages economies, poisons crops, spreads diseases. [2]

U.S. Secretary of State John “Swiftboat” Kerry brayed “He can run, but he can’t hide,” cribbing a hoary line of boxers’ trash talk.

Can’t hide? How come you couldn’t get him for 15 years? Sure he can hide- just not indefinitely.

Besides, he wasn’t even hiding, but living openly now. Apparently he got complacent and overconfident. Guess he forgot the warning, Don’t Mess With The U.S. They don’t forget. They hunt down AWOL American soldiers DECADES later, as they recently did with one in Spain. (The Spanish told the U.S. to shove off, he’s a Spanish citizen now.) There are other cases, such as in Sweden. The FBI is still trying to find the bones of airline hijacker D.B. Cooper, who parachuted out of the jet with a suitcase full of ransom money in 1971. The government is still picking at the scab of the 3 prisoners who escaped Alcatraz in 1962 in a homemade rubber raft, trying to determine definitively if they made it to shore or drowned. Later it emerged that a raft was found on an island and a car stolen in the vicinity. The U.S. Marshall’s service is going to investigate until the escapees’ 100th birthdays. (How’s that for Javert-like fanaticism?)

The power-mad can’t stand it when someone escapes their clutches.

Of course, the U.S. decided it couldn’t trust the Libyans not to tip off their prey, same as they couldn’t trust the Pakistanis when they sent the SEALs to assassinate bin Laden.

But it’s not as if the U.S. hasn’t seized anyone involved in the embassy bombings. Is slacking the thirst for revenge worth trampling on international law and cordial relations with other nations? (I guess so.)

According to the New York Times, al-Liby’s seizure ends a 15-year manhunt- i.e. one starting in 1998. And they said he was indicted in New York in 2000. (“U.S. Commando Raids Hit Terror Targets in 2 Nations,” Sunday, October 6, 2013, p.1.)

So- what right did they have to hunt him in the two years prior to his indictment? And what were they trying to do in those two years- assassinate him? (The U.S. media keeps referring to U.S. Military seizures of people as “arrests.” Soldiers aren’t police, so they can’t “arrest” anyone. The use of the word “arrest” is to legitimize illegitimate seizures, since the U.S. refuses to call its military prisoners prisoners of war- even though they claim to be in a “war on terrorism.”)

1998 was a year of the Clinton Reign. Clinton initiated the current practice of secret kidnappings and hiding prisoners in torture cells outside the U.S.- aka “rendition.” But illegal kidnapping goes even farther back in U.S. history; for example, “atomic spy” Morton Sobell was kidnapped from Mexico by FBI agents and dragged to the U.S. for show-trial.

The U.S. has issued its usual opaque and vaguely ominous statement that their prey is being held “in a secure location” outside Libya. That is, he’s in their clutches, (probably on a ship in he Mediterranean), and being subjected to Torture Lite (since they plan on staging a show trial in New York for him, they’re going easy on him). And he has no right to remain silent and no right to an attorney, in the weeks (or months) before they finally haul him into a U.S. Courtroom for faux due process.

They’ll say he “waived” his “rights,” of course. Why wouldn’t a hardened terrorist, a fanatical enemy of the U.S., voluntarily waive his rights and willingly tell his enemy interrogators everything they want to know? Perfectly plausible! And stop that chatter about “human rights!” This is no human being, this is a “terrorist.” Same as anti-war activists, environmentalists, and the Occupy Movement are! Just ask the FBI! And Thanks to Barack Hussein Obama, Carl Levin, and the U.S. Congress, they are subject to indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay or any other military dungeon in the global U.S. gulag at the whim of the president of the U.S. under U.S. Law. But that’s OK! Because it’s legal! Just like Nazi persecution of Jews was legal- under duly enacted Nazi law.

The point is, don’t ever confuse legal with legitimate, moral, or just.

Hey, if a guy commits a crime in Kenya, and Tanzania, shouldn’t he be tried in Kenya and Tanzania? Oh never mind, when one country rules the world, that country’s law applies everywhere. [3]

The boilerplate U.S. statement after the kidnapping also said, rather defensively and apparently to preempt objections, that it was “legal.” I suppose that’s because, as Nixon said, “when the President does it, it’s legal.” Which in turn is merely following the legal precedent set earlier by the Third Reich, the Fuhrerprinziple, which stated that the word of Adolf Hitler was law, according to German legal experts. That’s the same kind of legal expertise that serves power as demonstrated during the regime of Bush the Younger by John Yoo, James Bybee, and Alberto Gonzales.

A few words are in order here about those embassy bombings. About two hundred African passersby were killed, and around a thousand wounded, some maimed for life. Eight American government personnel were killed. That’s a huge amount of “collateral damage” for a mainly symbolic attack. It demonstrates the contempt for human life that al-Qaeda has, and the ruthlessness and monomaniacalness with which it pursues its goals. And of course its ultimate ends- to impose a hyper-repressive, hyper misogynist and male supremacist social order on unwilling people, and to rule in totalitarian fashion- is evil, anti-human. So I don’t have sympathy for the al-Qaeda members and their ilk per se. What is alarming is the superpower U.S. systematically destroying human rights. Because those rights are indivisible. Either everyone has them, or no one has them. All that is left is privileges for the shrinking number of the favored few. The privilege of not being tortured, of having a lawyer, of having a genuine trial, of not being convicted based on secret “evidence,” and so forth. Privileges can be taken away at the whim of those in power. And as we see, anyone the repressive U.S. government and its numerous reactionary secret police agencies and military don’t like can be branded “terrorist” (the replacement for the older demonizing words “communist,” and before 1917, “anarchist.”)

[1] Funny thing about FBI “rewards” for mega-terrorists, those luridly-presented comic-book-type super-villains. No one ever turns any of them in to collect the rewards. The U.S. was teasing people with a $20 million reward for Obama bin Laden, with no takers, and there are other multi-million dollar “rewards” that no one seems interested in claiming.

Just as well for potential claimants. The U.S. wouldn’t bother protecting whoever turned in the terrorists, so they’d likely be killed sooner or later. And here’s a dirty secret about FBI rewards- they don’t really pay them, certainly not in full.

2] All done to Cuba, among other nations. I recall reading the boasts of a professor who invented an oil for the CIA that instead of lubricating, destroyed motors, wearing them out ten times faster than normal, which was infiltrated into Cuba and used for sabotage.

3] But it doesn’t work the other way. Other nations can’t try people for crimes committed in the U.S., or snatch people off U.S. territory and drag them back to their own dungeons. And people outside the U.S. victimized by corporations can’t sue in U.S. courts, generally. Ditto most victims of U.S.-backed torture regimes. The U.S. has what is know as a Double Standard Heads We Win Tails You Lose legal code. Glenn Greenwald just wrote a book that naively stumbled across this fact, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Greenwald’s focus is on the blatant class bias of the U.S. legal system, not the political persecution of dissidents and various enemies. The facts he lays out are important enough that you should familiarize yourself with them.

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