Iraq To Blackwater: Get The Fuck Out!

CNN is running the story detailing how Iraq is saying, in no uncertain terms and with no ambiguity, that Blackwater Mercenary Death Force Security is not welcome in their country.
Amusingly, we’ve been hearing from the administration, time and time again, that “we are here as guests of the Iraqis” and that if we’re ever told to leave, we will happily do so, etc., etc.
I think the subset of “us” known as “Blackwater” has just been seriously uninvited from the high-paying killing spree country. It’ll be interesting to see if the administration follows through on its repeated promises to do as the Iraqis say when it comes to such things.
Yeah, right, who am I kidding? If we tell Blackwater to get out, who’s going to commit all our atrocities for us?

The Proper Democrat Strategy

I was reading an article about the impending veto showdown on the military appropriations bill, which sets a deadline (non-binding, I might add), for withdrawal from Iraq. Bush claims he’ll veto it when it hits his desk.
I say, let him. But let him do so after telling him: That’s the only appropriations bill we’re going to pass.
Congress speaks as the “voice of the people”, and the people want a withdrawal. If Bush doesn’t want to withdraw, that’s fine, he can ignore the will of the people. He just has to figure out how to fund it without the aid of Congressional spending.
Make him choose between “doing what the people want”, and “keeping the troops safe,” because without any spending, those troops are going to run out of necessary supplies pretty quick. Maybe he can go ask some of our “many many” partners in the “coalition of the willing” to pony up some cash. That would certainly solve his problem. He just can’t take the money from my wallet to pay for his bullshit war any more.

Bush Trigger-Happy, Blair “The Sane One”

CNN reports that there is, allegedly, a memo which contains a transcript of a conversation between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Dubya. In the transcript, Bush details how he would like to bomb Al-Jazeera, and — again, allegedly — Blair talks him down and reputedly convinces him not to.
The White House, of course, disputes this by saying, “We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response.”
The amusing part is that the UK has invoked the Official Secrets Act. The Official Secrets Act basically says, in a nutshell, that you can’t simply publish documents known to have been unlawfully disclosed.
But there’s the catch — the OSA wouldn’t apply to fiction. If it’s fiction, it can’t be “unlawfully disclosed” (ok, well, it could, but it would take a whole lot of creativity on MI-6’s part to write up a fabricated transcript, and then classify it as Top Secret or whatever). If it simply “wasn’t true”, there wouldn’t be a document that says all those things, and thus the OSA doesn’t apply.
Except, by invoking the OSA, the UK government is as much as saying, “Yes, that document does exist, and you’re not allowed to talk about it or you face prosecution,” completely refuting McClellan’s denial. The invocation of the OSA tells us that McClellan is 100%-positively lying about the situation.
The interesting thing to think about though is “Why?” … Blair had to know that squelching the story via the OSA was a legal confirmation of the veracity of the story. Why would he hang Bush out to dry like that? There’s a couple possibilities. First is that he’s a complete gimp and had no idea, but that I simply don’t buy. Another is that perhaps Blair doesn’t come across nearly as well in the actual document as he has in the summary, in which case, it’s in his best interest for the “truth” to not come to light. Maybe the third is that he’s sick of Dubya, knows he comes out fine in the transcript, and wanted to “be seen to be trying to quash the story,” but in fact actually confirming it.
Amusingly, of course, the national media hasn’t picked up on any of that yet. Bets on if they ever will?

Maybe Kofi Annan Read My Blog?

I’ve been talking about it for a while now, about how the United States’ invasion of the sovereign state of Iraq was illegal, etc., etc. The Bushies all shouted “p’shaw!” and such, about how I was a bastard for not wanting to invade, etc., etc.
Looks like Kofi Annan, though, has finally reached the conclusion that it was in fact, a violation of international law. (Original BBC article here).
It’d be extremely spiffy if someone in the UN decided to start trying to punish the US for its illegal activity. If we contravened the UN Charter, we could in theory be kicked out of the UN.

Prisoner Abuse Plea Bargains

I mentioned before that if this was left in the hands of the US Military, this would be a cock-up from one side to the next, and no real “justice” would be done.
CNN is reporting on the first court-martial case to reach a verdict, where Spc. Jeremy Sivits plead guilty to conspiracy to maltreat subordinates, or detainees, dereliction of duty forwillfully failing to protect detainees from abuse, cruelty and maltreatment; and maltreatment of detainees.
So, he’s charged with (and plead guilty to) a veritable raft of Really Bad Things.
But then I see this quote from the article:

The special court-martial against Sivits, the military equivalent of a misdemeanor civilian court…

What!? Beating the crap out of prisoners and humiliating them is a fucking misdemeanor?!?! If violating International Law doesn’t actually get you a felony-level charge, what the hell exactly do you have to do to get one of those in the military?
Oh, yeah, I forgot, you can get one of those for being gay in the military. :-)
Seriously, though, does anyone who sees this (and, oh yeah, please don’t forget that Sivits is plea-bargaining himself into a better position) think that the military is really the best place for this trial to be taking place?
The Hague, I tell you. With people who aren’t interested in plea-bargains just to make the case go away.

An Eye For An Eye

I’m still trying to sort something out, so maybe someone can help me.
The ICRC has indicated in its own independent study that on at least one occasion, United States occupation forces have tortured to the point of death (the ICRC examined the corpse) Iraqi citizens who are (by definition) innocent, since they’ve not been convicted of anything.
But the Iraqis – using a method of execution that we consider to be extremely humane, so much so that it’s how we slaughter the cattle we eat for food – are psychopaths, and “evil incarnate”, etc., etc., etc.
Peter David summed it up, essentially, as being that the Iraqi resistance has been watching The Untouchables lately, in that they’ve decided to start doing things The Chicago Way

“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That’s the Chicago Way, and that’s how you get Capone.”

Peter, Brian, Rob, John, and myriad others, though, are calling for us to escalate it even further. There seems to be a serious groundswell of people saying “fuck this, let’s nuke them!”
So is the general consensus, “Hey, wait! Only we are allowed to torture people to the point where they die, dammit! Screw this, where’s my LGM-118A Peacekeeper missiles?!”
Because I really and truly don’t understand how anyone can honestly think this guy’s death wasn’t 100% completely retaliatory for (and completely equal in stature to) the occupation force’s actions.

Abuse of Prisoners

There’s been a lot of back and forth all over the net about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Allied forces. I figured it’s time I chimed in with my $0.02 worth.
There should be trials, not by Army Courts Martial, but by an International War Crimes Tribunal. The soldiers involved should be held accountable to the world at large for their violations of the Geneva Convention. They should be subject to punishments up to and including the death penalty, just as other war criminals have been held accountable in the past (think Nuremberg).
But that will never happen. Why? Because the United States refuses to sign the treaty that makes its soldiers liable under the war crimes tribunal. In other words, we as a country believe we have the right to demand that Milosevic is held accountable for what he does to innocent people, but that we ourselves should be held above the rule of law.
The only way to get an American soldier before the tribunal would be for some United Nations unit to “capture and detain” them to “bring them to justice” — to treat them like you would a citizen of any other country who needed to be brought before international justice.
So, I say it plainly: I would have no problem if I read a news article that went something like “Russian troops, operating under a UN mandate, captured list of US soldiers, to bring them before a trial at the international war crimes tribunal, for their alleged actions with regard to Iraqi prisoners.”
We cannot try to hold other countries to international law, and try to be above that law ourselves. It is the height of hypocrisy.