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We salute Wikileaks and its sources for their courageous act ... We call on all lawyers, judges and juridical institutions to display equal courage

Wikileaks Iraq War Logs: Legal Action is Unavoidable

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate distribution
Date: 30 October 2010

WIKILEAKS IRAQ WAR LOGS:
LEGAL ACTION IS UNAVOIDABLE

To all victims of the US-UK invasion of Iraq and their families,

To all Iraqis,

To all Parties of the Genocide Convention, the Four Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture,

To all progressive lawyers, legal associations and institutions, parliamentarians, international civil servants, and everyone who supports legal action to ensure redress for Iraqi victims of US-UK crimes:

Just over a year ago, we submitted a legal case before the Audencia Nacional in Madrid under laws of universal jurisdiction against four US presidents and four UK prime ministers — George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown — on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. This case was based on our analysis of hundreds of documents available in the public domain, along with firsthand witness testimony that informed our effort and our designation of US-UK actions as genocide.[1]

The essence of our case was that the accumulated pattern of harm, stretching over 19 years, revealed a clear and specific “intent to destroy”, in whole or in part, the state and nation of Iraq. The essence of our case was that the accumulated pattern of harm, stretching over 19 years, revealed a clear and specific “intent to destroy”, in whole or in part, the state and nation of IraqWe catalogued the purposive dismantling of the Iraqi state and the imposition, incitement and engineering of sectarian conflict. We also described the systematic destruction of Iraq’s civil infrastructure, added to the massive use of depleted uranium, which from 1990 onwards led to millions of excess deaths. We outlined the use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force, the use of internationally prohibited weapons such as white phosphorus, and the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare. And we identified the use of death squads and armed militias associated with political forces promoted by and protected by Washington, the terror that led to the forced mass displacement of five million Iraqis, and the institutionalised regime of mass and arbitrary detention and torture, along with blackmail, kidnapping, rape and unfair trials, that characterised Iraq under US occupation.

The Wikileaks disclosure

The near 400,000 classified documents that Wikileaks recently published substantiate the claims we made in our case and constitute official US evidence of elements of the case we presented: the existence in Iraq of a regime of systematic torture; rape used as a weapon of warfare and terror; incidence of arbitrary, summary and extrajudicial executions; the routine use by US armed forces of indiscriminate and disproportionate force; the alarming collapse of the division between military and civilian targets, with two thirds of the victims registered in the leaked documents being acknowledged as civilians. We will add these documents to our archive of evidence.

But these documents alone must be situated. While adding to the picture of the real war conducted, they do not contain it.

1. Inevitably, the leaked documents tell the story of the Iraq war from the perspective of — and within the confines of — the US military and its record-keeping practice. One cannot expect this practice to be anything but influenced by US Army culture and the operational goal of winning the war.

2. The leaked documents do not cover the actions of the CIA and other non-US Army agencies in the Iraq war, or similar agencies of foreign powers.

3. The leaked documents do not cover the role or actions of US security contractors, or mercenaries, in the Iraq war, which were granted legal immunity by the US occupation.

4. The leaked documents do not cover the role or actions of sectarian militias and death squads linked to foreign states and political forces in the US-sponsored and vetted political process, and that conducted campaigns of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity targeting Arab Sunnis, Turkmen, Christians, Yezidis, Sabeans, and Shabak as such, and even innocent Shia, in addition to the systematic assassination of middle class professionals.

5. The leaked documents provide raw data on day-to-day operations but do not contain information on the strategic planning or aims of the war.

6. The leaked documents only cover self-reported incidents, while the body count overall only encompasses the dead the US Army recovered.

7. The leaked documents do not collate the overwhelming bulk of the killing in Iraq, which involved militias incorporated into the new Iraqi Security Forces led by Iraq’s puppet governments — among which that of Nouri Al-Maliki — and for which the US, as the occupying power, is legally responsible.

8. The leaked documents do not cover the orchestrated plunder of national and individual property, individual appropriation of state property, arbitrary dismissal and refusal of work, and the mass non-payment of salaries and withdrawal of social rights. Nor do the documents shed light on the collapse of Iraq’s economy, and the consequent mass impoverishment and displacement of Iraqis.

9. The leaked documents do not cover non-violent excess deaths in Iraq, whether the result of the collapse of Iraq’s public health system, the contamination of Iraq’s environment, including by radioactive munitions, and the spread of disease amid the overall collapse of all public services, including provision of electricity, a functioning sewage system, and clean water.

10. The leaked documents do not shed any light on the trauma induced by the US-led war on individual Iraqis and the Iraqi nation as a whole.

Demand for legal action

At present, there is a full-scale damage limitation effort ongoing, headed by the US Pentagon and involving: attempts to focus attention away from the detail of the leaked documents and onto the founder of Wikileaks and his person; to focus attention on the failure to act against torture when it involved Iraqi police and paramilitary forces, ignoring US practices of torture or the culture of violence the US occupation has promoted overall (including by specifically training and arming death squads and militias); and to divert attention to the role of Iran while failing to contextualise the cooperative relation between the United States and Iran in the destruction of Iraq.

Despite US manoeuvres, the United States administration and the government of Iraq stand equally accused. Neither can be trusted to investigate the facts contained in the classified documents Wikileaks has brought into the public domain. the United States administration and the government of Iraq stand equally accused. Neither can be trusted to investigate the facts contained in the classified documents Wikileaks has brought into the public domainOnly action that invokes the universal jurisdiction of the conventions the US and Iraqi governments have violated in Iraq can be satisfactory and objective. And only by stepping back and reviewing the whole period, from 1990 through until now, can one adequately situate the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs and understand their importance.

Wikileaks has done a tremendous service to truth in times of war, and has placed before us raw evidence that is compelling, undeniable, and that tells — in part — the story of the Iraq war in a way until now untold. We salute Wikileaks and its sources for the courageous act of releasing the classified Iraq War Logs. We call on all lawyers, judges and juridical institutions to display equal courage, and in coalition to work towards the swift prosecution of US and UK war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. We believe that only by coordinated action can those responsible for grave crimes and rights violations in Iraq be held accountable.

We therefore call for the formation of an international coalition of lawyers, legal specialists and antiwar and anti-occupation progressive forces to realise this obligation.

We are ready to cooperate with and join any effort that aims to ensure redress and reparations for Iraqi victims of US and UK crimes.

There is no excuse now for failing to take legal action everywhere it is feasible, both at the national level — where the universal jurisdiction of international conventions permits — and beyond. But legal action must be informed by an analysis of the nature of the war as a whole, and by the testimony not only of the US Army, but also Arab and international solidarity groups and associations, and foremost the Iraqi people — the victims of the US-led war of aggression on Iraq.

Ad Hoc Committee for Justice for Iraq

Contacts:

We are not taking signatures for this call to action; rather we ask those with requisite skills to commit to building a new coalition to pursue legal action, which we also commit to join. Please inform us of your efforts, in the hope that together we can build towards effective legal action:

[email protected]

Dr Ian Douglas, coordinator of the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
Hana Al Bayaty, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal and the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq
Abdul Ilah Albayaty, political analyst and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
Serene Assir, member of the Advisory Committee of the BRussells Tribunal
Dirk Adriaensens, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Endnote
[1] http://usgenocide.org/press/press-release-2-case-introduction/

USgenocide - The International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq was founded in November 2007 with the aim of holding the United States, its proxies and allies to account in a court of universal jurisdiction for responsibility of genocide in Iraq. In October 2009, we filed a legal case in Spain against four US presidents and four UK prime ministers on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq. The case was closed by year's end as the Spanish Senate voted to curtail recourse to universal jurisdiction for victims of international crimes. We continue to pursue and call for legal redress for the Iraqi people.

5 Comments


  1. David
    Oct 30, 2010

    This is excellent work, as usual. May I point out it omits the important material from the Brussels Tribunal newsletter #6 about the sell-off of the entire country to imperialist capital, by means of the Bremer diktat. US imperialism has made Iraq into a giant Auschwitz, worse in some respects than what Nazis did in the original. That should in some way figure in the indictment as well. Perhaps Bremer also needs to be named.

    After WW II many Germans were asked how they could have countenanced the frightful crimes of the Nazis. Most said they knew nothing of the crimes at the time they were committed. No one believed them.

    Today I look at what most Americans know of the war in Iraq. Based on that, I believe the Germans.

    Keep up the good work.


    • Ian Douglas
      Oct 31, 2010

      Bremer’s orders are a lynchpin of the case, providing proof of intent to dismantle the Iraqi state; the fact that they were implemented is the actus rea. In a wider case, there would be many named. At the time we filed our case, we chose to go only with heads of state and government, in part because we wanted to emphasise the criminality inherent to US and UK foreign policy with regards to Iraq. The individuals named each had the most critical role to play, supported of course by all kinds of others. Thanks for your comment.


  2. Zarina Bhatia
    Oct 31, 2010

    What I found was inadequately revealed was the fact why Iraqis resort to cruelty, abuse of their own people in the Wikileak’s recent documents. The root cause was Invasion of Iraq by USA and its ally UK in the first place. This created stooges in Iraq who were possibly bribed or promoted as allies of the Invaders!


  3. Leo
    Dec 16, 2010

    Your work to bring a measure of justice to the US Genocide in Iraq is priceless. It should also include Obama as a cohort since the brutal occupation continued under him as well, officially until he started withdrawing troops last summer; not to mention the legal cover he has provided for Bush and other genocides since he assumed office-pressuring countries such as Spain to desist from prosecuting US leaders. I’m from Argentina and I always revert to the genocide under the last dictatorship in the 1970s. It took time from the first trial in 1985 but most genocides are in jail today. Even when I see the ICC and Moreno Ocampo-one of the prosecutors of the generals in Argentina- ignoring the genocide in Iraq, I don’t lose hope for justice.


    • Ian Douglas
      Dec 16, 2010

      Thank you for your kind comment.
      We did name Barack Obama in our case. He was one of the four US presidents named. We took a lot of criticism for that at the time, from among our closest colleagues. Not least because within days of us filing our case (in which he was named) he was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Some believed that he deserved more time to establish himself; others believed it was a tactical mistake to name him. We were neither deceived by Obama nor concerned with playing tactics. Our goal was to establish and represent, as accurately as possible, conscious of the million-plus fallen, the truth about US genocide in Iraq.
      We were proven correct about Obama. But then for us it was sheer naivety to understand that US policy in the region or in Iraq could be driven this way or that by this or that person. The reasons the US is so deeply embedded in the region transcend the presidency, and even individual government agencies. It is a matter of the survival of the United States in its present form; the US depends on suppressing Arab development, and achieving by force the free flow of oil. And as we know, the US has the most powerful armed forces in the world, and the largest industrial support base for those forces. Weapons need to be used, for new ones to be commissioned and developed. So the 2003 Iraq war, after 13 years of debilitating sanctions, was also a sure bet. Either way, the US would profit.
      Regarding the deeper link of the US economy to Arab world oil development, Obama was never going to interfere with that. It is simply bigger than his capacity to interfere with. Without the level of oil importation the US takes from the region, the entire US consumer economy would collapse. Oil is not only cars. It is used in near enough every consumer commodity made.
      Happily, more and more people in the left, who celebrated Obama, are waking up the reality of the disillusionment he has brought. And regardless of his fine words, Obama will never convince the Arabs, including Iraqis, that US interests are synonymous with their interests.

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