This allowed our troops to be exposed to what all knew would be PTSS---psychological and bodily damage not seen when military engagements were only a few years long. It exposed our troops to toxic waste dumps and PHARMA forced upon them in the march towards winning at any cost. As well, since Bush/Obama embraced WINNING AT ANY COST---troops were forced to watch or participate in treatment of prisoners of war and innocent civilians in ways not seen in modern US military warfare.
THE CONCEPT OF INSTILLING FEAR----ALLOWED IN THE US MILITARY HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO THE US THESE FEW DECADES.
Whether suspending Geneva Convention or ignoring International laws against ethnic cleansing ----when the military tortures and degrades captured prisoners-----when civilians are treated as insurgents with no rights swept up in massive military police actions and imprisoned for months until they could prove THEIR INNOCENCE----that is what we have been seeing here in the US and especially in our US cities.
Americans wanting to argue that the US Constitution does not include Presumption of Innocence CONVENIENTLY ignore the US Constitution's initial statements of our land tied to COMMON LAWS OF ENGLAND. As usual they want to recognize SOME COMMON LAW AND NOT OTHERS---As we see below this concept has been in our Western jurisprudence for centuries. It is what framed military conduct under policies of International Law and Geneva Convention ----
Presumption of innocence
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Criminal trials and convictions
Rights of the accused
The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies), is the principle that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.
In many states, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is also regarded as an international human right under the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted. Under the Justinian Codes and English common law, the accused is presumed innocent in criminal proceedings, and in civil proceedings (like breach of contract) both sides must issue proof. Under Anglo-American common law, the accused is always presumed innocent in all types of proceedings; proof is always the burden of the accuser. The same principle is recognized by Islamic law.
This is why when the American people keep thinking---THIS IS HAPPENING TO SOMEONE ELSE-----IT COMES TO THEM. Injustice for one always becomes injustice for all. No, this will not only happen to women, people of color, the poor----it is a systemic structure of authoritarianism.
Confessions from U.S. Soldiers in Iraq on the Brutal Treatment of Civilians
Interviews with 50 Iraq war veterans reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by US troops in Iraq against innocent civilians -- brutal acts that often go unreported and almost always go unpunished.
By Chris Hedges, Laila Al-Arian / The Nation
July 12, 2007
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.
Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported -- and almost always go unpunished.
Court cases, such as the ones surrounding the massacre in Haditha and the rape and murder of a 14-year-old in Mahmudiya, and news stories in the Washington Post, Time, the London Independent and elsewhere based on Iraqi accounts have begun to hint at the wide extent of the attacks on civilians. Human rights groups have issued reports, such as Human Rights Watch's Hearts and Minds: Post-war Civilian Deaths in Baghdad Caused by U.S. Forces, packed with detailed incidents that suggest that the killing of Iraqi civilians by occupation forces is more common than has been acknowledged by military authorities.
This report marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.
While some veterans said civilian shootings were routinely investigated by the military, many more said such inquiries were rare. "I mean, you physically could not do an investigation every time a civilian was wounded or killed because it just happens a lot and you'd spend all your time doing that," said Marine Reserve Lieut. Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia. He served from August 2004 to March 2005 in Ramadi with a Marine Corps civil affairs unit supporting a combat team with the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade. (All interviewees are identified by the rank they held during the period of service they recount here; some have since been promoted or demoted.)
Veterans said the culture of this counterinsurgency war, in which most Iraqi civilians were assumed to be hostile, made it difficult for soldiers to sympathize with their victims -- at least until they returned home and had a chance to reflect.
"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004. "You know, so what? â€¦ The soldiers honestly thought we were trying to help the people and they were mad because it was almost like a betrayal. Like here we are trying to help you, here I am, you know, thousands of miles away from home and my family, and I have to be here for a year and work every day on these missions. Well, we're trying to help you and you just turn around and try to kill us."
He said it was only "when they get home, in dealing with veteran issues and meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then."
The Iraq War is a vast and complicated enterprise. In this investigation of alleged military misconduct, The Nation focused on a few key elements of the occupation, asking veterans to explain in detail their experiences operating patrols and supply convoys, setting up checkpoints, conducting raids and arresting suspects. From these collected snapshots a common theme emerged. Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.
Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
"I'll tell you the point where I really turned," said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. "I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg. â€¦ An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn't crying, wasn't anything, it just looked at me like -- I know she couldn't speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg? â€¦ I was just like, This is -- this is it. This is ridiculous."
Much of the resentment toward Iraqis described to The Nation by veterans was confirmed in a report released May 4 by the Pentagon. According to the survey, conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command, just 47 percent of soldiers and 38 percent of marines agreed that civilians should be treated with dignity and respect. Only 55 percent of soldiers and 40 percent of marines said they would report a unit member who had killed or injured "an innocent noncombatant."
These attitudes reflect the limited contact occupation troops said they had with Iraqis. They rarely saw their enemy. They lived bottled up in heavily fortified compounds that often came under mortar attack. They only ventured outside their compounds ready for combat. The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effect of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis.
Veterans described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witnesses.
In June 2003 Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejía's unit was pressed by a furious crowd in Ramadi. Sergeant Mejía, 31, a National Guardsman from Miami, served for six months beginning in April 2003 with the 1-124 Infantry Battalion, Fifty-Third Infantry Brigade. His squad opened fire on an Iraqi youth holding a grenade, riddling his body with bullets. Sergeant Mejía checked his clip afterward and calculated that he had personally fired eleven rounds into the young man.
"The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population that was supporting them," Sergeant Mejía said.
We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs, that some soldiers had so lost their moral compass that they'd mocked or desecrated Iraqi corpses. One photo, among dozens turned over to The Nation during the investigation, shows an American soldier acting as if he is about to eat the spilled brains of a dead Iraqi man with his brown plastic Army-issue spoon.
"Take a picture of me and this motherfucker," a soldier who had been in Sergeant Mejía's squad said as he put his arm around the corpse. Sergeant Mejía recalls that the shroud covering the body fell away, revealing that the young man was wearing only his pants. There was a bullet hole in his chest.
"Damn, they really fucked you up, didn't they?" the soldier laughed.
The scene, Sergeant Mejía said, was witnessed by the dead man's brothers and cousins.
In the sections that follow, snipers, medics, military police, artillerymen, officers and others recount their experiences serving in places as diverse as Mosul in the north, Samarra in the Sunni Triangle, Nasiriya in the south and Baghdad in the center, during 2003, 2004 and 2005. Their stories capture the impact of their units on Iraqi civilians.
A Note on Methodology
The Nation interviewed fifty combat veterans, including forty soldiers, eight marines and two sailors, over a period of seven months beginning in July 2006. To find veterans willing to speak on the record about their experiences in Iraq, we sent queries to organizations dedicated to US troops and their families, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the antiwar groups Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and the prowar group Vets for Freedom. The leaders of IVAW and Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, were especially helpful in putting us in touch with Iraq War veterans. Finally, we found veterans through word of mouth, as many of those we interviewed referred us to their military friends.
To verify their military service, when possible we obtained a copy of each interviewee's DD Form 214, or the Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, and in all cases confirmed their service with the branch of the military in which they were enlisted. Nineteen interviews were conducted in person, while the rest were done over the phone; all were tape-recorded and transcribed; all but five interviewees (most of those currently on active duty) were independently contacted by fact checkers to confirm basic facts about their service in Iraq. Of those interviewed, fourteen served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, twenty from 2004 to 2005 and two from 2005 to 2006. Of the eleven veterans whose tours lasted less than one year, nine served in 2003, while the others served in 2004 and 2005.
The ranks of the veterans we interviewed ranged from private to captain, though only a handful were officers. The veterans served throughout Iraq, but mostly in the country's most volatile areas, such as Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosul, Falluja and Samarra.
During the course of the interview process, five veterans turned over photographs from Iraq, some of them graphic, to corroborate their claims.
"So we get started on this day, this one in particular," recalled Spc. Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, who said he raided between twenty and thirty Iraqi homes during an eleven-month tour in Kirkuk and Hawija that ended in October 2005, serving with the Third Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade. "It starts with the psy-ops vehicles out there, you know, with the big speakers playing a message in Arabic or Farsi or Kurdish or whatever they happen to be, saying, basically, saying, Put your weapons, if you have them, next to the front door in your house. Please come outside, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we had Apaches flying over for security, if they're needed, and it's also a good show of force. And we're running around, and they -- we'd done a few houses by this point, and I was with my platoon leader, my squad leader and maybe a couple other people.
"And we were approaching this one house," he said. "In this farming area, they're, like, built up into little courtyards. So they have, like, the main house, common area. They have, like, a kitchen and then they have a storage shed-type deal. And we're approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, 'cause it's doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it. And he didn't -- motherfucker -- he shot it and it went in the jaw and exited out. So I see this dog -- I'm a huge animal lover; I love animals -- and this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he's running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, What the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I'm at a loss for words. And so, I yell at him. I'm, like, What the fuck are you doing? And so the dog's yelping. It's crying out without a jaw. And I'm looking at the family, and they're just, you know, dead scared. And so I told them, I was like, Fucking shoot it, you know? At least kill it, because that can't be fixed. â€¦
"And -- I actually get tears from just saying this right now, but -- and I had tears then, too -- and I'm looking at the kids and they are so scared. So I got the interpreter over with me and, you know, I get my wallet out and I gave them twenty bucks, because that's what I had. And, you know, I had him give it to them and told them that I'm so sorry that asshole did that.
"Was a report ever filed about it?" he asked. "Was anything ever done? Any punishment ever dished out? No, absolutely not."
Specialist Chrystal said such incidents were "very common."
According to interviews with twenty-four veterans who participated in such raids, they are a relentless reality for Iraqis under occupation. The American forces, stymied by poor intelligence, invade neighborhoods where insurgents operate, bursting into homes in the hope of surprising fighters or finding weapons. But such catches, they said, are rare. Far more common were stories in which soldiers assaulted a home, destroyed property in their futile search and left terrorized civilians struggling to repair the damage and begin the long torment of trying to find family members who were hauled away as suspects.
Raids normally took place between midnight and 5 am, according to Sgt. John Bruhns, 29, of Philadelphia, who estimates that he took part in raids of nearly 1,000 Iraqi homes. He served in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib, a city infamous for its prison, located twenty miles west of the capital, with the Third Brigade, First Armor Division, First Battalion, for one year beginning in April 2003. His descriptions of raid procedures closely echoed those of eight other veterans who served in locations as diverse as Kirkuk, Samarra, Baghdad, Mosul and Tikrit.
"You want to catch them off guard," Sergeant Bruhns explained. "You want to catch them in their sleep." About ten troops were involved in each raid, he said, with five stationed outside and the rest searching the home.
Once they were in front of the home, troops, some wearing Kevlar helmets and flak vests with grenade launchers mounted on their weapons, kicked the door in, according to Sergeant Bruhns, who dispassionately described the procedure:
"You run in. And if there's lights, you turn them on -- if the lights are working. If not, you've got flashlights. â€¦ You leave one rifle team outside while one rifle team goes inside. Each rifle team leader has a headset on with an earpiece and a microphone where he can communicate with the other rifle team leader that's outside.
"You go up the stairs. You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall. You have junior-level troops, PFCs [privates first class], specialists will run into the other rooms and grab the family, and you'll group them all together. Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds and you make sure there's no weapons or anything that they can use to attack us.
"You get the interpreter and you get the man of the home, and you have him at gunpoint, and you'll ask the interpreter to ask him: 'Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda, anything at all -- anything -- anything in here that would lead us to believe that you are somehow involved in insurgent activity or anti-coalition forces activity?'
"Normally they'll say no, because that's normally the truth," Sergeant Bruhns said. "So what you'll do is you'll take his sofa cushions and you'll dump them. If he has a couch, you'll turn the couch upside down. You'll go into the fridge, if he has a fridge, and you'll throw everything on the floor, and you'll take his drawers and you'll dump them. â€¦ You'll open up his closet and you'll throw all the clothes on the floor and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it.
"And if you find something, then you'll detain him. If not, you'll say, 'Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening.' So you've just humiliated this man in front of his entire family and terrorized his entire family and you've destroyed his home. And then you go right next door and you do the same thing in a hundred homes."
Each raid, or "cordon and search" operation, as they are sometimes called, involved five to twenty homes, he said. Following a spate of attacks on soldiers in a particular area, commanders would normally order infantrymen on raids to look for weapons caches, ammunition or materials for making IEDs. Each Iraqi family was allowed to keep one AK-47 at home, but according to Bruhns, those found with extra weapons were arrested and detained and the operation classified a "success," even if it was clear that no one in the home was an insurgent.
Before a raid, according to descriptions by several veterans, soldiers typically "quarantined" the area by barring anyone from coming in or leaving. In pre-raid briefings, Sergeant Bruhns said, military commanders often told their troops the neighborhood they were ordered to raid was "a hostile area with a high level of insurgency" and that it had been taken over by former Baathists or Al Qaeda terrorists.
"So you have all these troops, and they're all wound up," said Sergeant Bruhns. "And a lot of these troops think once they kick down the door there's going to be people on the inside waiting for them with weapons to start shooting at them."
Sgt. Dustin Flatt, 33, of Denver, estimates he raided "thousands" of homes in Tikrit, Samarra and Mosul. He served with the Eighteenth Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division, for one year beginning in February 2004. "We scared the living Jesus out of them every time we went through every house," he said.
Spc. Ali Aoun, 23, a National Guardsman from New York City, said he conducted perimeter security in nearly 100 raids while serving in Sadr City with the Eighty-Ninth Military Police Brigade for eleven months starting in April 2004. When soldiers raided a home, he said, they first cordoned it off with Humvees. Soldiers guarded the entrance to make sure no one escaped. If an entire town was being raided, in large-scale operations, it too was cordoned off, said Spc. Garett Reppenhagen, 32, of Manitou Springs, Colorado, a cavalry scout and sniper with the 263rd Armor Battalion, First Infantry Division, who was deployed to Baquba for a year in February 2004.
Staff Sgt. Timothy John Westphal, 31, of Denver, recalled one summer night in 2004, the temperature an oppressive 110 degrees, when he and forty-four other US soldiers raided a sprawling farm on the outskirts of Tikrit. Sergeant Westphal, who served there for a yearlong tour with the Eighteenth Infantry Brigade, First Infantry Division, beginning in February 2004, said he was told some men on the farm were insurgents. As a mechanized infantry squad leader, Sergeant Westphal led the mission to secure the main house, while fifteen men swept the property. Sergeant Westphal and his men hopped the wall surrounding the house, fully expecting to come face to face with armed insurgents.
"We had our flashlights and â€¦I told my guys, 'On the count of three, just hit them with your lights and let's see what we've got here. Wake 'em up!'"
Sergeant Westphal's flashlight was mounted on his M-4 carbine rifle, a smaller version of the M-16, so in pointing his light at the clump of sleepers on the floor he was also pointing his weapon at them. Sergeant Westphal first turned his light on a man who appeared to be in his mid-60s.
"The man screamed this gut-wrenching, blood-curdling, just horrified scream," Sergeant Westphal recalled. "I've never heard anything like that. I mean, the guy was absolutely terrified. I can imagine what he was thinking, having lived under Saddam."
The farm's inhabitants were not insurgents but a family sleeping outside for relief from the stifling heat, and the man Sergeant Westphal had frightened awake was the patriarch.
"Sure enough, as we started to peel back the layers of all these people sleeping, I mean, it was him, maybe two guys â€¦either his sons or nephews or whatever, and the rest were all women and children," Sergeant Westphal said. "We didn't find anything.
"I can tell you hundreds of stories about things like that and they would all pretty much be like the one I just told you. Just a different family, a different time, a different circumstance."
For Sergeant Westphal, that night was a turning point. "I just remember thinking to myself, I just brought terror to someone else under the American flag, and that's just not what I joined the Army to do," he said.
Oakland is global Googleville-----as Baltimore is global Hopkinsville. Both have advanced this concept of US city as International Economic Zone and they have these few decades allowed this same suspension of human rights/civil rights reign in communities, jails, and prisons. In Iraq the military was using insurgent sweeps to clear communities of what they called the enemy and they did not care that not everyone in communities were the enemy----they used fear in communities of retaliation to family members---to losing your homes, property without any proof people were actually tied to any known enemy. Global military corporations have been known these few decades operating under no International or national law to allow those hired to operate as criminals often---almost as if we were back to the rape and pillage by occupying troops conducted by third world militias. The US is a nation of laws----a nation of citizens with rights----and our military has been bound by this ethos until CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA and pragmatic nilism----
Global military employees are known to be involved in global sex and drug trafficing---in looting civilians' homes and planting evidence to make them guilty in war zones and guess what?
THAT IS HOW OUR US CITY POLICE DEPARTMENTS HAVE ACTED AS WELL THESE FEW DECADES.
Our US prisons have been deemed third world in the level of violence experienced by inmates not only from other inmates but by staff. US citizens these few decades are seeing themselves POLITICAL PRISONERS as they are being arrested and guilty of no crime more and more and more. All of this instills fear---loss of rights as citizens means ANYTHING CAN BE DONE IN THE QUEST OF PROFITS.
It does not take a rocket scientist to understand when the leadership openly allows these conditions--and they do as they say election after election they are going to fix this-----the people who have moral, ethical, rule of law ethos do not join and those without become the norm.
Oakland police chief steps down after 2 days on the job
Associated Press 6 hours ago
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland lost its third police chief in eight days Friday as it struggles with allegations that a number of officers had sex with a teenage prostitute and exchanged racist text messages.
Mayor Libby Schaaf said acting Police Chief Paul Figueroa was on the job for two days before stepping down but said his decision was not connected to the two scandals.
However, she denounced the department's "toxic, macho culture" and vowed to root out "the bad apples."
"As the mayor of Oakland, I'm here to run a police department, not a frat house," Schaaf told a news conference Friday evening.
Schaaf said she will not immediately appoint an acting or interim chief. Instead, the command staff will report to City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, who will be responsible for personnel and disciplinary decisions.
"This is the appropriate time to install civilian oversight in this police department," Schaaf told a news conference Friday evening. "I want to assure the citizens of Oakland that we are hell bent on rooting out this disgusting culture."
The police department was already engulfed by the sex scandal when Schaaf revealed Friday a separate investigation into racist text messages that she said were "wholly inappropriate and not acceptable from anyone who wears the badge of the Oakland Police Department."
Schaaf said the number of officers involved is not as widespread as those involved in the sex scandal, but cautioned that the investigation was ongoing. One of the officers under investigation in the text scandal has been placed on leave, she said.
Some of the officers being investigated were "engaging in hate speech," and others were "tolerating it" by receiving offensive messages and not reporting them, Schaaf said.
She said Figueroa has taken a leave of absence and asked to return to the force as a captain, not as an assistant chief.
Schaaf appointed Figueroa on Wednesday after abruptly removing the interim police chief, Ben Fairow, after learning unspecified information that led her to lose confidence in his ability to lead the beleaguered department. She had appointed Fairow after Chief Sean Whent suddenly resigned June 9.
Two officers with the troubled Oakland department have resigned amid the sex scandal, and three others remain on paid leave.
The scandal involving at least 14 Oakland police officers is another blow to a department already under federal oversight over past failures to adequately hold officers accountable for misdeeds that included planting evidence and robbing residents in predominantly black west Oakland.
I shared an article by a different justice group identifying the US and drones as targeting hospitals and innocent civilians in this asymmetric warfare that suspends human rights and civilian rights. The US will say it was an accident----it never happened---but because it has happened too much---now people fighting in other places in the world are now bombing hospitals and clinics. WELL, IF YOU HAVE ELIMINATED HIPPOCRATIC OATH AS CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA HAVE IN AFFORDABLE CARE ACT----you may as well eliminate human welfare in combat.
Why Doctors Without Borders Is Skipping The World Humanitarian Summit
May 20, 20162:18 PM ET
Issues on the table at the World Humanitarian Summit range from conflict zones to refugees. Above, a herder moves his goats at the Dadaab refugee camp, created nearly 25 years ago. The Kenyan government now threatens to shut it down.
Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star via Getty Images
The World Humanitarian Summit begins this Monday in Istanbul. But one prominent group won't be in attendance. Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, withdrew from its role in the summit in early May, after 18 months of active involvement in preparations. The group's main reason for pulling out was that governments around the world won't be bound to any initiatives put forth.
'Doctors Without Borders said that "all indications" pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing and called for an independent investigation'.
Doctors Without Borders: 19 dead in Afghan clinic airstrike
A U.S. air attack on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2015, killed 42 patients and hospital staff.
Tribune wire reportsContact Reporter
Confusion reigned in the wake of the deadly bombing Saturday of a hospital compound in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more.
It remains unclear exactly who bombed the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders and the international medical charity has demanded an investigation into the incident.
Doctors Without Borders said that "all indications" pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing and called for an independent investigation. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said an inquiry was underway into whether the carnage at the clinic was caused by an airstrike from an American fighter jet, while Afghan officials said helicopter gunships had returned fire from Taliban fighters hiding in the compound.
Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been battling the Taliban street-by-street in Kunduz since Thursday to dislodge insurgents who seized the strategic city three days earlier in their biggest foray into a major urban area since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001. The insurgents have had the city encircled for months, and overran it in a surprise assault that embarrassed the U.S.-backed Afghan government and called into question the competence of the U.S.-funded Afghan armed forces.
Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, said a U.S. airstrike on Kunduz at 2:15 a.m. "may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility" and that the incident was under investigation. He said it was the 12th U.S. airstrike "in the Kunduz vicinity" since Tuesday.
Doctors Without Borders, also known by the French acronym MSF, said its trauma center "was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged." At the time, the hospital had 105 patients and their caretakers, and more than 80 international and Afghan staff, it said.
The U.S. military admits it may have bombed a hospital run by medical aid group Doctors Without Borders in the Afghan city of Kunduz in an airstrike. Jillian Kitchener reports.
The medical group did not say whether insurgents were present inside the compound as the Afghan Ministry of Defense claimed, and it was not immediately clear whether the staffers were killed by the Taliban or Afghan or U.S. forces. Doctors Without Borders said another 30 people were still missing after the incident.
The dead included 12 staffers and seven patients from the intensive care unit, among them three children, it said. A total of 37 people were injured, including 19 staff members, and 18 patients and caretakers. Five of the injured staff members were in critical condition.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani expressed his sorrow and said he and the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, had "agreed to launch a joint and thorough investigation."
President Barack Obama said that he expected a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the bombing, and that he would wait for those results before making a judgment. He said the U.S. would continue working with Afghanistan's government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.
The Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, burns early on Oct. 3, 2015.
(Doctors Without Borders)U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "strongly" condemned the airstrikes in Kunduz and said hospitals and medical personnel are "explicitly protected" under international humanitarian law, his spokesman's office said in a statement.
Associated Press video of the compound showed burning buildings with firearms — automatic rifles and at least one Russian-made machine gun — on the windowsills pointed outward.
Doctors Without Borders did not comment on the identities of the 30 missing people, but said all of its international staffers were alive and accounted for. It said it regularly updated its GPS coordinates with all parties to the conflict.
It said that from 2:08 a.m. to 3:15 a.m. Saturday, the hospital was hit by bombs at 15-minute intervals. It quoted Kunduz-based doctor Heman Nagarathnam as saying that planes repeatedly circled overhead during that time.
"There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again," Nagarathnam said, according to the MSF statement. "When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames."
"Those people that could, had moved quickly to the building's two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds," Nagarathnam said.
Airstrikes have been a point of contention between Afghan authorities and the U.S. military throughout the 14 years since the Taliban's regime was ousted in a U.S. invasion in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Kunduz has seen its share of mistaken bombings, notably in September 2009, when German forces called in a U.S. airstrike that killed more than 90 civilians.
The confusion over the airstrike overshadowed reports of human rights abuses and widespread looting committed by the Taliban before they began their retreat, leaving behind a city without water or electricity, and rapidly dwindling food and medicine supplies as roads into Kunduz were mined by the insurgents to thwart the government assault.
The Ministry of Defense said "terrorists" armed with light and heavy weapons had entered the hospital compound and used "the buildings and the people inside as a shield" while firing on security forces. Brig. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, the ministry's deputy spokesman, told the AP that helicopter gunships fired on the militants, causing damage to the buildings.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said 10 to 15 "terrorists" had been hiding in the hospital at the time of the strike. "All of the terrorists were killed, but we also lost doctors," he said. He said 80 staff members at the hospital, including 15 foreigners, had been taken to safety. He did not say what sort of strike had damaged the compound.
But Doctors Without Borders said "all indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international coalition forces."
The attack was a "grave violation of international humanitarian law," it added. The MSF statement made no mention of whether Taliban fighters were present in the hospital.
The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, called the incident "tragic, inexcusable and possibly ever criminal."
He said in a statement that "if established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime."
Fighting raged throughout the day, and at around 2 p.m., the Taliban seized the medical compound, according to Sarwar Hussaini, the spokesman for the provincial police chief. "Fighting is continuing between Afghan security forces and the Taliban," he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier issued a statement saying there were no Taliban fighters in the hospital at the time of the bombing. He also accused Afghanistan's intelligence service of deliberately directing airstrikes on the hospital. He said the Taliban would take revenge on the Americans and their Afghan "hirelings."
Doctors Without Borders, which operates in conflict zones across the globe, said it had treated 394 people wounded in fighting since the Taliban attacked the city.
If you know US cities are deemed International Economic Zones under Trans Pacific Trade Pact with global corporate campuses and global factories that all comes with global security corporations and global fire, police, and rescue. Indeed, these are the same global fire and rescue tied to global military structures and they operate under these same ethos. So, if human rights are now gone-----does a medic in a war zone aid an injured enemy? Do they feel the need to stop and report torture----there is no Hippocatic Oath in international fire and rescue. I spoke of how the Affordable Care Act is moving towards allowing emergency services refuse help according to ability to pay and we all know that leads to an end of simply dialing 911 to get an ambulance. Soon we will see only people able to pay for that ambulance getting one-----and then we will see ambulances operating under maximizing profits able to chose which calls they make.
It all ties into this ethos of military ethos brought to our US cities as International Economic Zones operating in the US as they do overseas. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore already uses a private fire and rescue service as they become one big global corporate campus.
As much as Wall Street global pols will PRETEND to outsource all this to local small businesses -----they already have global corporations tied to these US cities bringing the same global ethos
Fire sale: Secret Government bid to privatise fire and rescue
00:00, 8 Feb 2013
Updated 00:15, 8 Feb 2013
By Jason Beattie
A minister has called for new laws that “would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider”
Privatization push: Can fire departments survive?
There's a big move to privatize not just EMS service delivery but fire departments as well
May 16, 2011
Editor's note: "There's an idea that being excellent at firefighting and excellent at EMS, as an individual or a department, are incompatible," says our Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel. "I know that's not true, but I also know from experience that it's not easy and takes a lot of time and effort." Read more of his thoughts on the article below in "Fire-based EMS: The issues we face."
By Jamie Thompson
FireRescue1 Senior Editor
The referee has already blown the whistle — but did you even know the game had begun?
The fire service of today may look drastically different within the next 10 years unless mindsets are changed, a session at Fire-Rescue Med in Las Vegas was told Friday.
And one of the first things that needs to be done is implementing a culture change to embrace the EMS mission at some departments, according to Mike Metro, Deputy Fire Chief at Los Angeles County Fire Department.
"Municipalities are considering doing things they never would have done previously; there's city after city looking at privatizing operations." Chief Metro told the session.
"There's a big move to privatize not just EMS service delivery that the fire service has traditionally owned, they are looking to privatize fire departments, too."
Chief Metro said the whistle has already blown and the game is under way.
"Not only did we not show up, we didn't know the competition had started," he said. "Trust me, that's the case."
During the presentation, Chief Metro outlined how the fire service is being seriously challenged on its right to provide EMS service in its own jurisdictions.
"Municipalities are dying," he said, "City officials are being forced to look at debilitating cuts. City officials are being forced look out of the box for solutions."
What began as a trickle from external organizations looking to take over EMS delivery could be turning into a flood. And this could well be only the beginning, Chief Metro said.
Toward the end of last month, the San Carlos, Calif., City Council voted to pursue a hybrid fire department with Redwood City as its preferred option for delivering a fire service after the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department officially breaks up in October.
However, in a separate 3 to 2 vote, council members also decided to resume talks with Wackenhut Services Inc., a private Fla.-based company, if negotiations with Redwood City fail, The San Jose Mercury News reported.
Wackenhut's proposal to provide a fire service was projected to save San Carlos between $1.9 million and $6.6 million annually, as outlined in the following video:
"When they come knocking on your door and say, 'We can do it better than you,' don't wait until that knock for you to be able to prove what kind of job you can do," Chief Metro told the session. "That's where we're failing, left, right and center.
"The bottom line is we must compete. This is something new for the fire service — we have never had to compete before."
When it comes to the delivery of emergency medical services, many fire departments are still failing to embrace the EMS mission, the session was told.
Chief Metro highlighted how "outdated cultures die hard," referencing an old report in USA Today called "Six Minutes to Live or Die" that focused on EMS in the nation's biggest cities.
While more than 10 years old, it still holds some relevancy a decade on, he said. "Many firefighters said they were unhappy because they had signed on to fight fires, not tend to sick people," according to the report, which went on to claim the time it took to get out of the fire station on a cardiac arrest call was 42 seconds longer than it took for a fire call.
"As long as no one is trapped in the building, what happens to that building? It becomes either a parking lot or is rebuilt," Chief Metro said. "But if you kill someone, that's bad.
"Outdated cultures die hard. There's a lot more we have to do in order to embrace what has been given to us."
The fire service must continue to improve if it's going to maintain "our organizational greatness," Chief Metro said.
When it comes to the EMS mission, departments should ask themselves if they:
- Do not tolerate it
- Only tolerate it
- Fully accept it
- Embrace it
Chief Metro said Hollywood, the media and even the fire service itself have painted a picture of how the fire service actually is — and that image may be wrong.
It's vital to develop recruiting programs that reflect what people in the fire service really do nowadays.
Ways to achieve this, the session was told, include:
- Changing the narratives of job flyers to reflect the day-to-day duties of today's firefighter
- Posting the proper ratio of EMS pictures to fire pictures at community events
- Giving specific directions to those handling community relations and recruitment to highlight the EMS mission
- Examining the testing processes
"Within 10 years, if we are not paying attention, then I'm afraid America's fire service is going to look much different," Chief Metro said.
"I'm afraid that in five to 10 years, you will be looking back and saying, 'I wish I had done something differently.' It's that critical right now."
Our US city police having operational guidelines allowing them to shoot to kill a US citizen that simply appears to be a threat is military.
These global military corporations are seen all around the world as simply mercenary corporations----they make up over 70% of our US military at the same time they are hiring themselves out to dictators and militias willing to pay the price. This is to where our young men and women are about to join this global labor pool of professional global military systems. They will be sent to International Economic Zones around the world and US cities will be just another set of economic zones to secure.
As American protesters are finding themselves arrested WITH NO CHARGE and released ---this is being done to make people fearful of protesting. As black citizens in US cities are openly killed with no justice or jailed and convicted having to plead to charges for which they are not guilty---all of this is tied to far-right 1% Libertarian authoritarianism. When they call this BIG GOVERNMENT---they don't mean public agencies---they mean all levels of US government being controlled by GLOBAL CORPORATIONS. CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA may try to sell all this as SOCIALISM/MARXISM----but because all government is now controlled by global corporations ----it is 1% Wall Street far-right Libertarian Marxism......extreme wealth and power anyway you can get it.
The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC)
Beyond the WikiLeaks Files
By Jose L. Gomez del Prado
Global Research, April 09, 2016
UN Working Group on Mercenaries and Global Research 7 November 2010
This article was first published by Global Research on November 08, 2010.
Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the XIXth and XXth centuries, reappeared in the 1960’s during the decolonization period operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.
These non-state entities of the XXIst century operate in extremely blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations recruiting former militaries as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.
However, these individuals cannot be considered as civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.
PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.
Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally, with the mandate: “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights (…) and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”.
During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies. In our reports we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America (20 July to 3 August 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; on the Mission to Afghanistan (4-9 April 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.2, and the general report of the Working Group containing the Draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council, Document A/HRC/15/25.
In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicate the negative impact of the activities of “private contractors”, “private soldiers” or “guns for hire”, whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals employed by private military and security companies as civilians but in general heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of these companies, which the Working Group has examined one can find:
summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention; of trafficking of persons; serious health damages caused by their activities; as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their basic rights, and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability.
On 16 September 2007 in Baghdad, employees of the US-based firm Blackwater were involved in a shooting incident in Nisoor Square in which 17 civilians were killed and more than 20 other persons were wounded including women and children. Local eyewitness accounts indicate the use of arms from vehicles and rocket fire from a helicopter belonging to this company.
There are also concerns over the activities and approach of PMSC personnel, their convoys of armored vehicles and their conduct in traffic, in particular their use of lethal force. This particular incident was not the first of its kind, neither the first involving Blackwater.
According to a congressional report on the behaviour of Xe/Blackwater in Iraq, Xe/Blackwater guards were found to have been involved in nearly 200 escalation-of-force incidents that involved the firing of shots since 2005. Despite the terms of the contracts which provided that the company could engage only in defensive use of force, the company reported that in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents, its forces fired the first shots.
In Najaf in April 2004 and on several other occasions, employees of this company took part in direct hostilities, as well as in May 2007, where another incident involving the same company reportedly occurred involving guards belonging to the company and forces belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior allegedly exchanged gunfire in a sector of Baghdad.
Also in central Baghdad the shooting of employees of the PMSC, Unity Resources Group (URG), protecting a convoy, left two Armenian women, Genevia Antranick and Mary Awanis dead on 9 October 2007 when their car came too close to a protected convoy. The family of Genevia Antranick was offered no compensation and has begun court proceedings against URG in the United States.
This company was also involved in the shooting of 72-year-old Australian Kays Juma. Professor Juma was shot in March 2006 as he approached an intersection being blockaded for a convoy URG was protecting. Professor Juma, a 25-year resident of Baghdad who drove through the city every day, allegedly sped up his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not heed warnings to stop, including hand signals, flares, warning shots into the body of his car and floodlights. The incident occurred at 10am.
Two United States-based corporations, CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. CACI and L-3 Services, contracted by the Government of the United States, were responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq.
Seventy two Iraqi citizens who were formerly detained at military prisons in Iraq, have sued L-3 Services, Inc. (“L-3”), a military private contractor which provided civilian translators for United States military forces in Iraq and Adel Nakhla, a former employee of L-3 who served as one of its translators there under the Alien Tort Statute. They allege having been tortured and physically and mentally abused during their detention and that they should be held liable in damages for their actions. The plaintiffs assert 20 causes of action, among which: torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A number of reports indicate that private security guards have played central roles in some of the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) such as the arbitrary detention and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the involvement in CIA rendition flights as well as joint covert operations. Employees of PMSC would have been involved in the taking of detainees, from “pick up points” (such as Tuzla, Islamabad or Skopje) transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman or Guantanamo) as well as in the construction, equipping and staffing of CIA’s “black sites”.
Within this context, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. (a subsidiary company of Boeing) on behalf of five persons who were kidnapped by the CIA disappearing in overseas prisons kept by USA secret services. Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support. The five persons were tortured during their arbitrary detention.
The 2009 annual report of DynCorp International refers to four lawsuits concerning the spraying of narcotic plant crops along the Colombian border adjacent to Ecuador on behalf of 3 Ecuadorian Providences and 3266 plaintiffs.
From 1991, the United States Department of State contracted the private company DynCorp to supply services for this air-spraying program against narcotics in the Andean region. In accordance with the subscribed contract of 30 January 1998, DynCorp provides the essential logistics to the anti-drug Office of activities of Colombia, in conformity with three main objectives: eradication of cultivations of illicit drugs, training of the army and of personnel of the country, and dismantling of illicit drug laboratories and illicit drug-trafficking networks.
An NGO report indicated the consequences of the spraying carried out within the Plan Colombia had on persons living in the frontier region. One third of the 47 women in the study exposed to the spraying showed cells with some genetic damage. The study established the relationship of the air fumigations of the Plan Colombia with damages in the genetic material. The study demonstrates that when the population is subjected to fumigations “the risk of cellular damage can increase and that, once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations are increased that prompt among other possibilities the rise in abortions in the area.
This example is particularly important given that Plan Colombia has served as the model for the arrangements that the United States would apply later to Iraq and Afghanistan. Plan Colombia provides immunity to the employees of the PMSC contracted (DynCorp) the same as Order 14 of the Coalition Provisional Authority did in Iraq.
The 2004 attempted coup d’état, which was perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between the phenomenon of mercenaries and PMSCs as a means of violating the sovereignty of States. In this particular case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that had become famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone. The team of mercenaries also included security guards who were still employed by PMSCs as was the case of two employees of the company Meteoric Tactical Systems providing security to diplomats of Western Embassies in Baghdad-among which to the Ambassador of Switzerland. It also included a security guard who had previously worked for the PMSC “Steele Foundation” and had given protection to President Aristide of Haiti and conducted him to the plane who took him to exile.
Trafficking in persons
In 2005, 105 Chileans were providing/or undergoing military training in the former army base of Lepaterique in Honduras. The instruction consisted in anti‐guerrilla tactics such as possible ambushes and deactivation of explosives and mortars how to avoid them. The Chileans had entered Honduras as tourists and were illegally in Honduras. They used high‐caliber weapons such as M‐16 rifles or light machine guns. They had been contracted by a subsidiary of Triple Canopy.
They were part of a group, which included also 189 Hondurans recruited and trained in Honduras. Triple Canopy had been awarded a contract by the United States Department of State. The strong contingent left the country by air from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in several groups with a stopover in Iceland. Then reached the Middle East and were smuggled into Iraq.
The majority of the Chileans and Hondurans were engaged as security guards at fixed facilities in Iraq. They had been contracted by Your Solutions Honduras SRL, a local agent of Your Solutions Incorporated, registered in Illinois, United States of America, which in turn had been subcontracted by Triple Canopy, based in Chicago, United States of America. Some of the Chileans are presently working in Baghdad providing security to the Embassy of Australia under a contract by Unity Resources Group (URG).
Human rights violations committed by PMSC to their employees
PMSC often put the contracted private guards in situations of danger and vulnerability, such as the ‘private contractors’ of Blackwater, killed in Fallujah in 2004 allegedly due to the lack of the necessary safety means that Blackwater was supposed to provide in order to carry out the mission.
It should not be forgotten that this incident changed dramatically the course of the war and the occupation by the United States in Iraq. It may be considered as the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and a successful recapture operation in the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 America troops were killed, and 560 wounded.
The U.S. military first denied that it has use white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial, and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. Reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes, and a massacre by U.S. personnel, including indiscriminate violence against civilians and children.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah – cite_note-17
This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, “Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre”. In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study, which shows that the rates of cancer, infant mortality and leukemia exceed those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The over 300 000 classified military documents made public by Wikileaks show that the “Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq”, as has been widely reported by the international media recently.
The United States has relied and continues to rely heavily on private military and security contractors in conducting its military operations. The United States used private security contractors to conduct narcotics intervention operations in Colombia in the 1990s and recently signed a supplemental agreement that authorizes it to deploy troops and contractors in seven Colombian military bases. During the conflict in the Balkans, the United States used a private security contractor to train Croat troops to conduct operations against Serbian troops. Nowadays, it is in the context of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular that the State is massively contracting out security functions to private firms.
In 2009, the Department of Defense employed 218,000 private contractors (all types) while there were 195,000 uniformed personnel. According to the figures, about 8 per cent of these contractors are armed security contractors, i.e. about 20,000 armed guards. If one includes other theatres of operations, the figure rises to 242,657, with 54,387 United States citizens, 94,260 third country nationals and 94,010 host-country nationals.
The State Department relies on about 2,000 private security contractors to provide United States personnel and facilities with personal protective and guard services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Pakistan, and aviation services in Iraq. The contracts for protective services were awarded in 2005 to three PMSCs, namely, Triple Canopy, DynCorp International and the U.S. Training Center, part of the Xe (then Blackwater) group of companies. These three companies still hold the State Department protective services contracts today.
Lack of transparency
The information accessible to the public on the scope and type of contracts between the Government of the United States and PMSCs is scarce and opaque. The lack of transparency is particularly significant when companies subcontract to others. Often, the contracts with PMSCs are not disclosed to the public despite extensive freedom of information rules in the United States, either because they contain confidential commercial information or on the argument that non-disclosure is in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. The situation is particularly opaque when United States intelligence agencies contract PMSCs.
Lack of accountability
Despite the fact of their involvement in grave human rights violations, not a single PMSC or employee of these companies has been sanctioned.
In the course of litigation, several recurring legal arguments have been used in the defense of PMSCs and their personnel, including the Government contractor defense, the political question doctrine and derivative immunity arguments. PMSCs are using the Government contractor defense to argue that they were operating under the exclusive control of the Government of the United States when the alleged acts were committed and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions.
It looks as if when the acts are committed by agents of the government they are considered human rights violations but when these same acts are perpetrated by PMSC it is “business as usual”.
The human rights violation perpetrated by private military and security companies are indications of the threat posed to the foundations of democracy itself by the privatization of inherently public functions such as the monopoly of the legitimate use of force. In this connection I cannot help but to refer to the final speech of President Eisenhower.
In 1961, President Eisenhower warned the American public opinion against the growing danger of a military industrial complex stating: “(…) we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.
Fifty years later, on 8 September 2001, Donald Rumsfeld in his speech in the Department of Defence warned the militaries of the Pentagon against “an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America (…) Let’s make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is (…) a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s. (…) The adversary. (…) It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. (…)That’s why we’re here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth. We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it. Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”
Rumsfeld should have said the shift from the Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the private sector. Indeed, that shift had been accelerated by the Bush Administration: the number of persons employed by contract which had been outsourced (privatized) by the Pentagon was already four times more than at the Department of Defense.
It is not anymore a military industrial complex but as Noam Chomsky has indicated “it’s just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext”.
The articles of the Washington Post “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control”, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (19 July 2010) show the extent that “The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work”.
The investigation’s findings include that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States; and that an estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. A number of private military and security companies are among the security and intelligence agencies mentioned in the report of the Washington Post.
The Working Group received information from several sources that up to 70 per cent of the budget of United States intelligence is spent on contractors. These contracts are classified and very little information is available to the public on the nature of the activities carried out by these contractors.
The privatization of war has created a structural dynamic, which responds to a commercial logic of the industry.
A short look at the careers of the current managers of BAE Systems, as well as on their address-books, confirms we are not any longer dealing with a normal corporation, but with a cartel uniting high tech weaponry (BAE Systems, United Defence Industries, Lockheed Martin), with speculative financiers (Lazard Frères, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank), together with raw material cartels (British Petroleum, Shell Oil) with on the ground, private military and security companies.
The majority of the private military and security companies has been created or are managed by former militaries or ex-policemen for whom it is big business. Just to give an example MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporation) was created by four former generals of the United States Army when they were due for retirement. The same is true for Blackwater and its affiliate companies or subsidiaries, which employ former directors of the C.I.A.. Social Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the Rotating Door Syndrome.
The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.
I THOUGHT THE ENTIRE WORLD UNDERSTOOD THE IRAQI WAR WAS UNNECESSARY AND AN ILLEGAL ACT OF WAR. WAS THE IRAQI WAR BIGGER THAN WW 2?
“Without contractors: (1) the military engagement would have had to be smaller–a strategically problematic alternative; (2) the United States would have had to deploy its finite number of active personnel for even longer tours of duty -a politically dicey and short-sighted option; (3) the United States would have had to consider a civilian draft or boost retention and recruitment by raising military pay significantly–two politically untenable options; or (4) the need for greater commitments from other nations would have arisen and with it, the United States would have had to make more concessions to build and sustain a truly multinational effort. Thus, the tangible differences in the type of war waged, the effect on military personnel, and the need for coalition partners are greatly magnified when the government has the option to supplement its troops with contractors”.
The military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE impact of Private Security Contracting on U.S. Goals in Afghanistan
The proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the counterinsurgency strategy. In May 2010 the U.S. Central Command’s Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate reported that there were more than 26,000 private security contractor personnel operating in Afghanistan. Many of those private security personnel are associated with armed groups that operate outside government control.
Afghan warlords and strongmen operating as force providers to private security contractors have acted against U.S. and Afghan government interests. Warlords and strongmen associated with U.S.-funded security contractors have been linked to anti Coalition activities, murder, bribery, and kidnapping. The Committee’s examination of the U.S. funded security contract with ArmorGroup at Shindand Airbase in Afghanistan revealed that ArmorGroup relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men to act as security, guards at the Airbase.
Open-ended intergovernmental working group established by the HR Council
Because of their impact in the enjoyment of human rights the Working Group on mercenaries in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly has recommended a legally binding instrument regulating and monitoring their activities at the national and international level.
The motion to create an open ended intergovernmental working group has been the object of lengthy negotiations, in the Human Rights Council, led by South Africa in order to accommodate the concerns of the Western Group, but primarily those of the United States and the United Kingdom and of a lot a pressure exerted in the capitals of African countries supporting the draft resolution. The text of the resolution was weakened in order to pass the resolution by consensus. But even so the position of the Western States has been a “fin de non recevoir”.
The resolution was adopted by a majority of 32 in favour, 12 against and 3 abstentions. Among the supporters of this initiative are four out of the five members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) in addition to the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.
The adoption of this resolution opens an interesting process in the UN Human Rights Council where civil society can participate in the elaboration of an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies. The new open ended intergovernmental working group will be the forum for all stakeholders to receive inputs, not only the draft text of a possible convention and the elements elaborated by the UN Working Group on mercenaries but also of other initiatives such as the proposal submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Montreux Document and the international code of conduct being elaborated under the Swiss Initiative.
However, the negative vote of the delegations of the Western Group indicates that the interests of the new staggering security industry – its annual market revenue is estimated to be over USD one hundred billion – have been quite well defended as was the case in a number of other occasions. It also shows that Western governments will be absent from the start in a full in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the activities of PMSC.
We urge all States to support the process initiated by the Council by designating their representatives to the new open-ended intergovernmental working group, which will hold its first session in 2011, and to continue a process of discussions regarding a legally binding instrument.
The participation of the UK and USA main exporters of these activities (it is estimated at 70% the industry of security in these two countries) as well as other Western countries where the new industry is expanding is of particular importance.
The Working Group also urges the United States Government to implement the recommendations we made, in particular, to:
support the Congress Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act, which clearly defines the functions which are inherently governmental and that cannot be outsourced to the private sector;
rescind immunity to contractors carrying out activities in other countries under bilateral agreements;
carry out prompt and effective investigation of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute alleged perpetrators;
ensure that the oversight of private military and security contractors is not outsourced to PMSCs;
establish a specific system of federal licensing of PMSCs for their activities abroad;
set up a vetting procedure for awarding contracts to PMSCs;
ensure that United States criminal jurisdiction applies to private military and security companies contracted by the Government to carry out activities abroad; and
respond to pending communications from the Working Group.
The United Nations Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, initiated a review in November 2010 in Geneva, focussing on the human rights record of the United States. The above article is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on 3 November 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.
If the American people are feeling they are living in an overseas occupied militarized zone----well---they are. Far-right 1% Wall Street Libertarian Marxism is authoritarian and all government controlled by global corporations that will operate in the US as they do overseas-----BYE BYE RIGHTS AS CITIZENS----CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA SAY THEIR HUMAN RIGHT AND NATURAL RIGHT TO ACCUMULATE AND MAXIMIZE WEALTH AND POWER TRUMP OUR US CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND CENTURIES OF WESTERN COMMON LAW.
We can reverse this easy peasy----GET RID OF WALL STREET GLOBAL POLS. If the American people do not put all these issues together ----rather than simply shouting to stop police brutality-----if they allow Wall Street Baltimore Development and its 'labor and justice' organization leaders tell them to vote for the same establishment candidates every election----WE CANNOT TAKE OUR RIGHTS BACK AS CITIZENS. It is not one policy--it is the entire political platform of Wall Street global pols.
Whether far-right CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA Wall Street global pols are creating fear with suspended US Constitutional law in the black community with police brutality and people jailed for no crime----or whether citizens losing retirements, homes, and health care------or whether being restricted from having a job or access a public school ----these are all the same suspension of US Constitutional rights all with the intentions of building fear in the American people.
Why 'hands up, don't shoot' resonates regardless of evidence
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Updated 9:43 AM ET, Sun January 11, 2015
- "Hands up, don't shoot" has become a symbol of police mistreatment of minorities
- Witnesses have said Michael Brown's hands were up when he was shot
- Physical evidence inconsistent with him having his hands raised when he was shot in the arm
Those following the case hoped it would explain a key question in Brown's death: Were his arms raised in surrender when Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot him, as some witnesses said?Or would the evidence corroborate Wilson's version of events: that Brown charged him with his left hand balled in a fist and his right in the waistband of his shorts, even as the officer ordered him to stop?
The answer could explain whether Wilson had reason to fear for his life when he shot the unarmed 18-year-old, or whether he used excessive force.
Before a grand jury convened in the case, protesters and activists seized upon the idea of a young black man raising his arms in surrender, transforming it into a protest symbol that persists today. After a grand jury declined to indict Wilson, in rallies and demonstrations the phrase came to symbolize something larger than what transpired in the Michael Brown case.
"Hands up, don't shoot" has become shorthand for police mistreatment of minorities, one that's spreading beyond traditional protest scenes. It has evolved into a national movement with demands centered on changing what some see as systemic problems in law enforcement that lead to mistreatment of minorities.
Protesters, pro athletes, Broadway performers and congressional staffers have used the gesture in public in a show of solidarity. Last month, when nine police officers walked into a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn, an employee raised his hands in an apparent protest of the police, the restaurant said; the officers left.
"It's a universal symbol of surrender.
It's also a very simple gesture, and that's part of what makes something resonate," said Jane Rhodes, head of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
A review of thousands of pages of grand jury documents, however, does not definitively support the conclusion that Brown had his hands raised above his head when he sustained the "controversial" gunshot wound in the arm. In fact, the physical evidence does not provide a clear picture of what happened. It is open to interpretation, leaving a wide range of possibilities.
What the witnesses said
Some facts in this case are undisputed.
The grand jury saw police photos of the street where Michael Brown was shot on August 9.
Around 11:30 a.m. on August 9, Wilson encountered Brown and Dorian Johnson as they walked down the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, near St. Louis. Brown soon lay dead, face-down in the street after Wilson shot him multiple times. His left arm was under his body, and his right arm was slightly out to the side.
The gunshots drew the attention of dozens of residents of Canfield Green Apartments, a complex of mostly low-rise brick apartment buildings set off from Canfield Drive by grass lawns and sidewalks. They watched parts of the incident from living rooms, bedrooms and balconies. Motorists and construction workers at street level also stopped to observe.
After the gunshots ceased, crowds gathered on the sidewalk, discussing what happened. Within hours, some accounts spread through social media and became national headlines.
Tiffany Mitchell, who was picking up a co-worker at Canfield Green that morning, offered one of the earliest firsthand accounts claiming Brown had his hands up.
New video shows moments after shooting 04:18
The grand jury watched some of these interviews. They also heard from dozens of witnesses who claimed to see parts of the shooting, though the credibility of some fell apart on the stand.
Some witnesses said Wilson exited his police SUV and drew his gun on Brown as he tried to flee. They gave divergent accounts as to when Wilson began shooting and the location of Brown's hands after he turned to face Wilson.
For example, a family of three adults, who watched the encounter from a second-floor porch facing Canfield Drive, had different recollections.
The first of the three witnesses to appear before the grand jury said that as Brown turned to face Wilson, he raised his hands up to his shoulders, palms facing the officer.
"They were shoulder high, they weren't above his head, but he did have them up," the witness testified.
Brown took a few steps forward and Wilson shot him, the witness said. He kept shooting as Brown staggered forward and fell to the ground.
The second witness said Brown had "his hands up to his sides," palms facing forward, as he stepped toward Wilson.
The third witness demonstrated the position of Brown's arms to the grand jury, agreeing with prosecutor's description: "fingers pointed toward the ground," palms facing forward, "arms slightly bent at the elbows, but to his side."
"He didn't have his hands up fist ball or anything of that nature," the witness said.
As for words exchanged between Brown and Wilson, one witness who initially told law enforcement that Brown said "don't shoot" later recanted. Two construction workers who said they watched the shooting from roughly 50 to 60 yards away testified that Brown raised his hands high above his head and shouted "OK, OK," as if to surrender. A cell phone video from the scene capturing their immediate reaction to Brown's shooting went viral, bolstering accounts that he had his hands up at some point during the shooting.
Witnesses: Michael Brown's hands were up 03:10
Some witnesses supported parts of Wilson's account. A construction worker said with certainty that Brown "never put his hands up" and that Brown "ran towards the officer full charge," even after being shot.
Another witness sitting in the second row of a stopped car on Canfield Drive also said Brown "charged" at Wilson, despite being told to stop "at least three times." Brown put his hands in the air, "balled up in fists" like he's "running with his hands close to his chest," before Wilson fired four rounds, the witness said.
In cases with inconsistent testimony, video is arguably the best evidence if it can be pieced together to cover all or most of the event, said Beth Karas, a former Manhattan prosecutor.
The jury saw clips of witness testimony, but no known video of Brown's shooting exists.
"Physical evidence that is consistent with the eyewitness's description of the event bolsters the credibility of the witness," Karas said. "But if the witness's account differs from the forensics, then science trumps the witness."
What the physical evidence said
The "controversial" gunshot to the forearm was one of three to Brown's right arm, according to autopsy reports and forensic testimony. It raised questions about where Brown's arms were during the encounter.
That shot entered the hairy side of Brown's forearm through his ulna bone -- the bone that lines up with the pinky finger -- and exited through the other side, forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told the grand jury.
Baden's findings were consistent with those from postmortem exams by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office and the U.S. Department of Defense, which participated at the request of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's office.
Baden offered two theories as to where Brown was standing when the bullet struck.
"This supports being shot from behind. It didn't hit his back, but from behind," Baden said.
Or, because arms rotate on various axes, the injury also could have occurred if Brown's hands were raised in front of him, palms facing his body, he said.
"I'm saying at the time of the shooting the gun was pointed at the back of his arm, that's all," Baden said. "Where his arm was depends on what other information you have."
The other medical examiners said there is no way to determine the position of Brown's body when he suffered the forearm injury.
"Our arms can do all sorts of things in three-dimensional space," testified the military pathologist. "It's difficult, but I think there is a lot of different scenarios that can explain that trajectory."
To figure out where Brown's arms were requires looking at the evidence in its totality, from ballistics to crime scene photos, defense lawyer and CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara said.
This .40 caliber bullet casing was found near the police vehicle Wilson was driving.
As for the position of his hands when he was shot, the theory most consistent with crime scene and forensic evidence suggests that Brown's hands were in front of him when he was shot in the arm, but probably no higher than his shoulders, O'Mara said.
That does not mean he never raised his hands -- just that bullets did not strike his arms when they were raised, he said.
"What would conclusively give us hands up would be if he had a bullet wound in his palm, but he doesn't," he said. "It seems that his hands were raised in front of him but not over his head."
Why 'hands up' still resonates
To people who have embraced the "hands up" gesture, though, the varying accounts don't seem to matter much. Within hours of the shooting, "hands up" became a rallying cry, a social media meme and a T-shirt slogan.
Did Michael Brown wrestle with the officer? 02:59
It has become a powerful protest symbol. And symbols can be persuasive. History is full of them.
The American Revolution had "no taxation without representation" and a famous engraving of the Boston Massacre. Civil rights marchers sang "We Shall Overcome." And two black U.S. athletes provided an iconic moment by raising their fists on the winner's podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
"Hands up" took off because it's a reality for many people of color, activist and organizer DeRay Mckesson said. People don't need a national advocacy group or a charismatic leader to explain it to them. People relate to it on a personal level.
"When we say 'hands up,' it's about reminding police we are unarmed and reminding them of a pattern of police brutality," he said.
The image has transcended the specifics of Ferguson to make a longstanding grievance a national issue. It started a conversation about racial politics and allegations of police misconduct that continued with police-related deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Tamir Rice in Ohio.
Symbols and slogans also buoyed protests related to those deaths. Demonstrators invoked the phrases, "I can't breathe" and "black lives matter," the latter of which has steered the national conversation from Ferguson to broader concerns about police brutality and racial bias in the justice system, Mckesson said.
Those slogans and symbols work because they are easy to understand, said Rhodes, the University of Illinois history professor. If a symbol lends itself to multiple interpretations, it won't unite people around a common goal or theme, she said.
"You want a universal symbol, or as universal as possible," she said.
People tend to make the strongest symbols, especially if they are sympathetic or could be considered a victim, said sociologist James M. Jasper, author of "The Art of Moral Protest."
"You want a person you can identify with, a normal person you don't think of as deviant or superhuman either," said Jasper, a professor at the Graduate Center of the City College of New York.
"If they're too strong and autonomous, they can take care of themselves, then they don't need you to help them."
"Hands up" has a narrow meaning compared with the universality of "black lives matter," Jasper said. But it's more effective as a protest symbol because it gives people two things to do: chant and gesture.
"You want to engage people in a march, and chanting is a good way to do it," he said. "But if you give them a gesture to make, that's even more energizing and absorbing."
Protesters in New York invoke a lot of slogans and chants to motivate crowds, said Binijuktya Sen, who helps organize marches there. "Hands up, don't shoot" is among the most common because it's easy to do.
It speaks to a number of concerns related to police brutality -- mainly the disparity between how blacks and whites are treated in the eyes of the law, he said.
"The reason the gesture is so powerful is because it does not signify aggression," he said. "It speaks to the concern that people, even when they submit themselves to police, they're still subjected to violence."