Category Archive 'War Crimes'

03 Nov 2014

ISIS Destroying Shiite Monuments

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Tomb of Sharaf al-Dawla, Uqaylid ruler of Mosul, 1052

Not everybody is as enamored of multiculturalism as the burghers of Birmingham.

Reports from a variety of sources are confirming that the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIS) has dynamited the mausoleum of Sharaf al-Dawla, the earliest of six surviving muquarnas-domed tombs.

The destruction of the Sharaf al-Dawla mausoleum is part of a consistent program of elimination of Shiite and Yezidi cultural monuments.


The destruction of the Shia Shrine of Imam al-Daur shows that the Islamic State appears to continues to be intent on and capable of waging genocidal wars on multiple fronts. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stated that “intentional targeting and systematic destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq is reaching unprecedented levels” and insisted that “cultural cleansing underway in Iraq must stop.”

04 Dec 2011

International Red Cross Contemplates Regulating Gaming

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Watch out, war criminals, Amnesty International was trying this week to get former president George W. Bush arrested by such impeccable democracies as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia for war crimes against terrorists, and soon the International Red Cross may be coming after you for laying down that land mine in Call of Duty.


One of the world’s largest and most respected humanitarian groups in the world is investigating whether the Geneva and Hague conventions should be applied to the fictional recreation of war in video games.

If they agree those standards should be applied, the International Committee of the Red Cross says they may ask developers to adhere to the rules themselves or “encourage” governments to adopt laws to regulate the video game industry.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is mandated under the Geneva Conventions to protect the victims of international and internal armed conflicts. That includes war wounded, prisoners, refugees, civilians, and other non-combatants. The question they debated this week is whether their mandate should be extended to the virtual victims of video game wars.

During this week’s 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland, members of the committee held a side event to discuss the influence video games have on public perception and action.

“While the Movement works vigorously to promote international humanitarian law worldwide, there is also an audience of approximately 600 million gamers who may be virtually violating IHL,” according to the event’s description. “Exactly how video games influence individuals is a hotly debated topic, but for the first time, Movement partners discussed our role and responsibility to take action against violations of IHL in video games. In a side event, participants were asked: ‘What should we do, and what is the most effective method?’

“While National Societies shared their experiences and opinions, there is clearly no simple answer. There is, however, an overall consensus and motivation to take action.”

The International Red Cross made this video to document war crimes against imaginary electronic entities (IEEs).

It makes perfect sense. If Geneva Convention protections can be extended on a completely non-reciprocal basis to terrorists and illegal combatants who routinely violate those conventions and all other laws and customs of war by a simple fiat and decree expressive of an international, entirely non-democratic and unrepresentative, consensus of self-appointed elite holier-than-thous, why shouldn’t entirely fictive and imaginary electronic entities not be entitled to receive the same kinds of rights and immunities from the same sources on the basis of similar reasoning and procedures?

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

07 Jun 2010

“Collateral Murder” Video Leaker Arrested

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SPC Bradley Manning

Back in April, Wikileaks released a video of a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of armed Iraqis in southeastern Baghdad on July 12, 2007.

The video appeared in a shorter and longer version, titled “Collateral Murder,” accompanied by an extremely partisan commentary expressing open opposition to the US military effort in Iraq. An Iraqi employed as a news photographer by Reuters and his driver were killed in the course of the helicopter’s attack.

The perspective taken by the videos editors was that the helicopter’s attack was unwarranted and a war crime, and the video was edited and annotated in a fashion designed to persuade its viewers to accept that interpretation.

In reality, the Apache was operating in close cooperation with US infantry looking for armed insurgents who had engaged American troops in fierce fighting nearby a little while earlier. The group of Iraqis encountered by the helicopter undoubtedly included armed men who, despite being “relaxed” at the time and not at the moment actively engaged in combat with American forces, could very reasonably be supposed to be some of the hostile insurgents being pursued.

The Reuters photographer’s equipment probably was mistaken for a weapon, but combat requires quick decisions based on limited and imperfect information. The level of restraint implicitly expected by the video’s producers is completely unreasonable. If a photographer is carrying equipment easily mistaken for arms and places himself in the immediate vicinity of enemy forces who are really armed, his being fired upon should be no surprise to anyone.

“Collateral Murder” is a deeply dishonest piece of anti-US propaganda, and as such it was, of course, enthusiastically covered by HuffPo, Dan Froomkin, Rachel Maddow, and the rest of the leftwing commentariat.

The source of the leak which made the Apache’s video available for use against the United States was a 22 year old Army Intelligence analyst who has just been arrested. Wired has the story:

SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

US Intelligence for a change moved rapidly on this one. The leak that made all the news was in early April.

It does seem odd that someone of such extreme leftwing views would not only be serving in the volunteer Army, but would have been assigned to work in Intelligence and given a Top Secret clearance. What does it take, one wonders, to be disqualified from high level clearances?

25 Apr 2009

Begala is Wrong

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Paul Begala, at Huffington Post, thinks he’s very clever in quoting the not-clever-at-all John McCain who is also completely wrong.

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.” …

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.”

Actually, murders, massacres, and death marches head the International Military Tribunal for the Far East’s list of war crimes, and the use of water simply happens to the first item addressed in a subsequent heading titled “Torture and Other Inhumane Treatment.” Since burning, flogging, strappado, and pulling out finger and toe nails are mentioned after the “water cure,” it is far from obvious that the authors of the Tribunal’s list of war crimes were intending to rank it as more inhumane than the others.

Politifact’s anonymous authorities (drawn from presumably the staffs of the St. Petersburg Times and the Congressional Quarterly which created Politifact as a joint venture) are betraying their own liberal journalist prejudices and manipulating the available data to suit their own preferences.

They, and Paul Begala and John McCain, are most particularly and obviously in error in equating the Japanese “water cure” torture with US water-boarding.

In the “water cure,” according to the Tribunal’s war crimes description, [t]he victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process.

The Tribunal does not mention it, but historically the “water cure” torture technique was often performed with sufficient brutality that internal organs would be ruptured with fatal results, or merely performed excessively to the point where the victim’s body’s electrolyte balance was fatally compromised, producing death by “water intoxication.”

In the “water-cure,” the victim’s mouth is forced open, and enormous quantities of water are poured down his throat. If he fails to swallow any of the rapidly-poured water, it goes into his lungs and he really does experience drowning.

In the US-government-authorized water-boarding of three mass murderers, a cloth or cellophane barrier was placed over the criminal’s face and water poured on it for intervals of 10 to 40 seconds. Water was specifically prevented from entering the subject’s respiratory system.

Elaborate and carefully calculated protocols had been laid down, in precisely the opposite manner of the Japanese case, 1) confining the use of such comparatively harsh interrogation techniques to a tiny number of extremely guilty terrorists likely to possess extremely vital information on major threats to the lives of many thousands of innocent American civilians, and 2) assuring that no real lasting physical or mental harm was ever actually inflicted on the three major terrorist prisoners.

Those are extremely significant differences, Mr. Begala.

Beyond that, Begala, Politifact, and even Senator McCain overlook another very important consideration: the laws and customs of war.

We punished the defeated Japanese after WWII, and US troops commonly punished Japanese encountered in the field by offering no quarter, for Japanese disregard of the civilized European world’s military customs of avoiding the practice of perfidy (i.e. not falsely surrendering and then opening fire, not wearing the wrong uniform, and so on) and according prisoners of war honorable status and treating them humanely.

We do not owe Al Qaeda terrorists prisoner of war status. We do not, in fact, owe them, by the conventional laws and customs of war, anything beyond summary execution following drumhead courts martial at the pleasure of the officer in immediate authority. United States military forces, in fact, would by traditional standards not only possess every right to extract forcibly by any measures necessary any and all information necessary to preserve innocent life, they would have a grave obligation to do so.

It is the Al Qaeda terrorists who, like the Japanese in WWII, reject the civilized world’s customs of limiting behavior in war. And, as we punished the Japanese during and after WWII for failing to adopt our customs, we ought to be punishing Al Qaeda terrorists the same way for the same reasons. That is how the laws and customs of war are enforced.

Terrorist prisoners, in their capacity as hostis humani generis, by the conventional laws and customs of war for thousands of years, are entitled to nothing whatsoever in the form of rights, judicial proceeding, or sympathy. They deserve absolutely nothing other than execution by some harsh method particularly expressive of contumely like hanging.

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