The causes of Muslim polarisation

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This page is meant to briefly list the points that are perceived to act as causal agents for the polarisation of the modern Muslim mind. The primary focus of this article is to counter fundamental attribution error.

Nowhere is the fundamental attribution error more prevalent, suggests the forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman, than in our navel-gazing analysis of wannabe terrorists and what does or doesn't motivate them. "You attribute other people's behaviour to internal motivations but your own to circumstances. 'They're attacking us and therefore we have to attack them.'" Yet, ... we rarely do the reverse.[1]

Iraq, the 1990s[edit]

Gulf War[edit]

  • The first Gulf War experienced numerous incidents of atrocities by US and its allies, such as bombing civilians and civilian infrastructure. All this, with a continuous refusal to admit responsibility for such actions, while Western media actively enabled such actions by rationalizing, obscuring or at times even censoring them.[2]
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  • Douglas Kellner argued that American media's use of the term "Iraqi targets" included "innocent civilians--their lives and possessions--and the social and economic as well as the military infrastructure of Iraq"[2] Peter Arnett believed there was unquestionable systematic bombing of civilian targets, having been to areas with over forty bomb craters.[2]
  • On the matter of using precision weaponry, against Pentagon claims to the contrary, there were numerous accounts of American smart weapons missing their targets and hitting civilians. "The people of Baghdad, Arnett said, felt safer when airplanes came over the city [and bombed it] than when the Cruise missiles flew over." On the matter of this lesser despised form of attack, as one member of a British bombing crew said, "We go about and drop our bombs and if they hit civilian targets, that's tough." The interviewer helped the bombardier and said: "That's war".[2]
  • In the war, armaments such as white phosphorus howitzer shells, or the Beehive system intended to produce injuries rather than death were used because, as one munitions expert noted: "Injury raises hell with the enemy's logistics load. With the dead, he doesn't have to do anything. But with a wounded, he has a huge logistics problem, requiring all kinds of transportation and medical care."[2]
  • Usage of depleted Uranium shells. "The main environmental danger comes from the fact that in a ground war the desert may be littered with thousands of them and thus poisoned for generations."[2]
  • "In celebrating the technology of destruction, the media thus transformed the bombing into a positive and celebratory experience rather than one of tragic empathy with human suffering."[2]
  • "The Gulf war ... involved the most massive bombing of a single target country in military history."[2]
  • Time magazine defined "collateral damage" as, "a term meaning dead or wounded civilians who should have picked a safer neighborhood."[2][3]
  • "... racist epithets such as 'cockroaches,' 'sand niggers,' 'camel jockeys,' and other dehumanizing terms were used to describe the Iraqis, while their slaughter was described in hunting terms as 'a turkey shoot,' 'shooting fish in a barrel,' or 'clubbing seals.'"[2]
  • One especially gruesome incident which reflected this, was the US bombing of an Iraqi civilian shelter in Baghdad. This was accompanied by a familiar strategy of denial, obfuscation and then rationalization by the US government which in-turn was faithfully parroted by an obedient media.[2]
  • US officials tried to propagate various excuses and rationalizations; such as the "bunker" was camouflaged, military messages were transmitted from it, the shelter sign was in English (indicating it was not meant for the common Arabic-speaking populace), and that military personnel were seen entering the building. However, journalists' videos of the shelter's roof didn't show any camouflage, no evidence of any communications gear was found, dual language signs were common in Baghdad, and if military personnel were seen entering the "bunker", why weren't the entering civilians detected as well? If the US had such in-depth intelligence, so as to claim the time period the shelter had been converted into a "bunker" (although the officials contradicted themselves on this), was used by the Iraqi military as a command and control centre, had reinforcements to protect the communication equipment from the radiation of a "nuclear attack" and so on and so forth – how were the hundreds of civilians entering and leaving the shelter each day remained unknown? More obfuscations and rationalizations followed, many of them same old trite ones.[2]
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  • "Other images of the area showed houses, a school, a supermarket, and a mosque, with no evidence of military targets. Arnett reported that he and other journalists then went to a local hospital where there were bodies of thirty dead women and children, and ten more in a truck outside. The bodies were charred beyond recognition".[2]
  • ABC reported the story as, "... Of course, the claims [of the killing of hundreds of civilians by US bombs] could not be independently confirmed. Keep in mind that everything that comes out of Iraq now is subject to Iraqi censorship."[n 1] The report was accompanied by "obscured pictures of some twisted concrete and metal with none of the poignant images of civilian deaths shown in the CNN report." The news summary was followed by the anchor mentioning, "President Bush said that talk of civilian casualties is nothing but propaganda cooked up by Saddam Hussein".[2]
  • "The Pentagon 'bridles' at the suggestion that there be an "investigation" because such would imply wrong-doing, though they would perform the usual 'bomb damage assessment.' CBS's Jim Stewart at the Pentagon said that officials were caught by surprise by the report and claimed to have no evidence of the bombing,"[2]
  • "There were images of pools of blood on the floor and bodies and body parts 'of women and children who usually sleep in the shelter at night.' ... A piece of the bomb with writing in English was displayed and the report then cut to depict a collection of bodies at a hospital. An angry doctor said: 'Do you call this justice? Who dares to say that "we don't hit civilians."' Some badly burned children who escaped and whose families had died inside the shelter were shown and interviewed."[2]
  • "Peter Arnett reported live from Baghdad at 10:54 a.m. that 200 bodies had been taken out of the shelter and they were all women and children--he put special emphasis on the word 'shelter' whereas the U.S. military apologists in the media would use the term 'bunker.' The manager of the shelter told Arnett that there were still about 300 more people in the building. ... no men were allowed in the shelter, which was for women and children only. ... the men waiting outside... saw the charred bodies being pulled out. ... an interview in the hospital with a survivor of the bombing, a young boy with severe burns who told how the bombs hit; he and a few others crawled out and he told how his mother and sisters were burned to death; he woke up on fire and turned to his mother who was already a lump of burned flesh; then he crawled out, his clothes burned off, and his body suffering from burns."[2]
  • A journalist "described the target as 'obviously a civilian shelter' that was filled with 'civilians escaping from the nightly bombing.' The report contained the most graphic and horrific images so far of incinerated people, agonized families, dazed crowds, and upset journalists, powerful visual evidence that the shelter was undeniably used by civilians. ... Iraqi civilian defense teams fought through the blazing fire trying to save people; one victim after another was pulled out, a blanket wrapped around their charred remains as the crowd broke into collective grief each time a new victim was brought out of the inferno."[2]
  • One senior US official "flatly admitted that the United States made a mistake in bombing the shelter and was 'without the most current information.'"[2] However, Dick Cheney continued to claim that it was a military bunker in a 1992 Discovery Channel documentary. "Despite the slimness of its 'evidence,' the Pentagon insisted immediately and categorically that the Baghdad shelter was a military command-and-control center and has stuck with the story".[2]
  • "Throughout the Gulf war, the military adopted a policy of quick, immediate, bold, and bald-faced lies to hide their crimes. The United States wanted at all costs to maintain the illusion that their bombing was precise, based an accurate intelligence, and avoided civilian casualties. They were especially concerned to deny that they were hitting civilian targets and thus immediately claimed that Iraqi civilian targets hit were military installations when accused of hitting targets like the infant formula factory or bomb shelter. Previously, the military had attempted to manage bad news by restricting access to it, by presenting it as an isolated incident to be expected in the fog of war, and by allowing it to dribble out in a controlled seepage over a number of days or weeks. But in an age of instant information this policy was not good enough for the war image managers, so they resorted to the policy of the instant and fast lie to deal with 'damage control.'"[2]


  • Madeleine Albright when asked whether she considered the price "worth it" for the death of half a million children, a figure greater than that for Hiroshima, because of the U.S. sanctions on Iraq said: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it."[9][n 3]
  • FAIR[n 4] using Dow Jones data claimed that in the US media, information regarding the Iraq sanctions, like the 500,000 figure, Albright's comments, and Denis Halliday's refutations to allegations of misappropriation of goods (in the case of oil-for-food money) garnered little, and sometimes no, attention, especially when compared to content depicting US policy in a more benevolent light.[14] This, in-spite of the fact that Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine are used in Osama bin Ladin's recruitment videos.[14][15]
  • Chomsky explains how von Sponeck, a former UN official, detailed how the sanctions devastated the Iraqi civil society and helped Saddam as the people had no choice but to huddle under his umbrella of power to survive. Chomsky further argues that this likely saved Saddam "from the fate of other dictators who the U.S. had supported and were overthrown by popular uprisings. ... Saddam wasn't, because the civil society that might have carried that out was devastated."[16]

Iraq, 2003 invasion[edit]

False pretences[edit]

  • The widespread dissemination of the lies regarding Iraqi connections to Osama bin Laden. This was done to prepare the American and British public for war with Iraq.[19]
  • According to the Center for Public Integrity report, President George W. Bush along with seven of his administration's top officials "made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq [emphasis added]." The lies were "part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."[20] James Risen had disclosed in early 2003, the pressure CIA analysts felt to politicize their intelligence.[21] On at least 532 separate occasions, officials "stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both."[20]
  • Numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, concluded beyond dispute that "Iraq did not possess any WMDs or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda".[20]
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  • The Duelfer Report established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq's nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.[20]
  • Other harrowing compilations from the report, Iraq: The War Card, False pretenses:[20]
  • "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." — Cheney (August 2002). In fact, former CIA Director George Tenet later recalled, Cheney's assertions went well beyond his agency's assessments at the time. Another CIA official, referring to the same speech, told journalist Ron Suskind, "Our reaction was, 'Where is he getting this stuff from?'"
  • "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. ... This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year." — Bush (September 2002). A few days later, similar findings were also included in a much-hurried National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction — an analysis that hadn't been done in years, as the intelligence community had deemed it unnecessary and the White House hadn't requested it.
  • In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: "Sure." In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda." What's more, an earlier DIA assessment said that "the nature of the regime's relationship with  Al Qaeda is unclear."
  • "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." — Bush (May 2003). But as journalist Bob Woodward reported in State of Denial, days earlier a team of civilian experts dispatched to examine the two mobile labs found in Iraq had concluded in a field report that the labs were not for biological weapons. The team's final report, completed the following month, concluded that the labs had probably been used to manufacture hydrogen for weather balloons.
  • "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." — Bush (January 2003). Two weeks earlier, an analyst with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research sent an email to colleagues in the intelligence community laying out why he believed the uranium-purchase agreement "probably is a hoax."
  • "What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources", stated Powell to the UNSC in February 2003. As it turned out, however, two of the main human sources to which Powell referred had provided false information. One was an Iraqi con artist, code-named "Curveball," whom American intelligence officials were dubious about and in fact had never even spoken to. The other was Libi, an Al Qaeda detainee, who had reportedly been sent to Egypt by the CIA and tortured and who later recanted the information he had provided. Libi told the CIA in January 2004 that he had "decided he would fabricate any information interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government]."
  • Much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, "independent" validation of Bush administration's false statements regarding Iraq.
  • In the face of ground realities, the Bush administration in 2004 started accepting legitimate criticisms but drew cover in the excuse of faulty intelligence for the horrific decisions. However, a growing number of critics, including former government officials, have publicly accused the administration of ignoring or distorting the available intelligence. In the end these critics say, it was the calculated drumbeat of false information and public pronouncements that ultimately misled the American people and the nation's allies on their way to war.
  • "C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.  ... The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections. The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.  We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.  The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. ... The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.   Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. ... [The Defence Secretary] cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route."[22]
  • John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt argue that according to a senior American official, one of the motivations for the war was to protect Israeli. The official was quoted as saying in a 2002 speech: "So I'll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It's the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it's not a popular sell."[23]

Silencing dissent[edit]

  • "They are absolutely committing sedition, or treason" (Michael Savage, regarding antiwar protesters). "These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass. Isn't it time to make them stand up and be counted for their views?" (Joe Scarborough's response). Fox News Anchor Neil Cavuto stated, "[those] who opposed the liberation of Iraq": "You were sickening then, you are sickening now."[24]
  • Phil Donahue, in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, was castigated for being the source of a rare critical voice in mainstream media against the war. He questioned the government's argument for the necessity of war.[25] His talkshow was canceled after an internal memo argued that he presented a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives"; further warning that the Donahue show could be "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."[26]
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  • MSNBC cited disappointing ratings for the cancellation. However, it was revealed that at the time of cancellation, Donahue happened to be the top-rated show on MSNBC.
  • An email from a network executive, suggested that it would be "unlikely" that Donahue could be used by MSNBC to "reinvent itself" and "cross-pollinate our programming" with the "anticipated larger audience who will tune in during a time of war" by linking pundits to war coverage, "particularly given his public stance on the advisability of the war effort."[28]
  • Huron Daily Tribune's Kurt Hauglie quit after allegedly being told that his anti-war column would not run as it might upset readers.[28] Lewisville (Texas) Leader reporter Brent Flynn, was prohibited from writing a column in which he had expressed anti-war views.[28] Flynn wrote in a note on his personal website:
  • While getting sanctioned for compromising the paper's "objectivity", Flynn still continued to work as the paper's reporter.[28]
  •, featuring original anti-war reporting and commentary, was shut down by its Web hosting company, after it posted images of US POWs and Iraqi civilian victims of the war. The company argued: "As 'NO' TV station in the U.S. is allowing any dead U.S. soldiers or POWs to be displayed and we will not either."[28]
  • Al-Jazeera reporters' press credentials were revoked by the NYSE and were disallowed alternative credentials at the NASDAQ exchange, which argued "In light of Al-Jazeera's recent conduct during the war, in which they have broadcast footage of U.S. POWs in alleged violation of the Geneva Convention, they are not welcome to broadcast from our facility at this time".
  • After initially defending veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett, NBC fired him as a result of an interview to Iraqi TV saying the war planners had "misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces" and there was "a growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war."[28]
  • After suspending Henry Norr for using a sick day to get arrested at an anti-war protest by the San Francisco Chronicle, its spokesperson noted that subsequent to Norr's suspension, the paper had "strengthened its policy to prohibit public political activity related to the war."[28] Soon after Norr was fired, for which the paper subsequently paid a financial settlement due to the termination resulting form his role in anti-war protests.[30]

Foregoing responsibility[edit]

  • After the world had largely accepted the blunder, that was the Iraq invasion, prominent American personalities tried pedalling the fabrication that everyone at the time believed the war was the right decision, attempting to push the "who could've possibly foreseen that this was all bullshit" narrative. These individuals represent an unbelievable ignorance to the "many, many stories that poured cold water on every single claim made by advocates for invasion."[21] Individuals such as Joe Scarborough who in opposition to antiwar protesters termed them "leftist stooges for anti-American causes".[24]
  • Donahue in one of his interviews points out, "... every major metropolitan newspaper in this country supported the invasion of Iraq. Seventy-seven United States senators voted for the war. Hillary voted for the war, John Kerry voted for the war, Chuck Hagel voted for the war, and there were others; only 23 senators voted no. Of the 23, only one was a Republican. ... The [Iraq] war, which was ... a massive blunder, [aside from Ron Paul's statements] never came up during the presidential contest in either '08 or '12."[25]
  • According to the article Iraq: The War Card, False pretenses, Bush administration officials have largely avoided formal scrutiny regarding their personal responsibility for the repeated lies in the run-up to the war. "Congressional oversight has focused almost entirely on the quality of the U.S. government's pre-war intelligence — not the judgment, public statements, or public accountability of its highest officials."[20]
  • In June 2003, to the Gallup poll query, Do you think Congress should -- or should not -- hold hearings into what the government knew about Iraq's capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction at the time the U.S. went to war with Iraq? - 51% of the respondents answered in the affirmative.[33]
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Fallujah, Iraq[edit]

  • In 2003, US forces in Iraq were involved in firing a majority of 300,000+ depleted uranium (DU), a chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metal, rounds at civilian areas and troops. A further 782,414 DU rounds are believed to have been fired during the earlier conflict in 1991, mostly by US forces.[34]
  • It was estimated that the cleanup of 300+ known sites contaminated by DU weapons would cost 30–45 million dollars.[35]:35 Many of the DU rounds were fired in or near populated areas against armoured and even non-armoured targets.[35]:4[n 8]
  • British officers were reportedly appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties by US commanders who, in the 2004 assault, largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone in an attempt to reduce casualties among their own troops.[38]
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  • British military commanders privately considered US tactics, as brutal, counter-productive, "heavy-handed", and urged Blair to send more British troops only on British terms and not those dictated by the US.[39]
  • A study was conducted in 2010 in response to anecdotal reports coming since 2005 of substantial increases in birth defects and cancer in Fallujah, Iraq.[40]
  • The survey showed a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s.[38] Infant mortality in the city was more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan or Egypt and eight times higher than in Kuwait.[40][n 9]
  • One of the survey authors, Chris Busby said: "to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened". While he was unable to identify the armaments used by US forces, he suggested the use of uranium in some form. He said: "My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside."[38]
  • At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia, but in Fallujah Dr. Busby said what is striking is not only the greater prevalence of cancer but the speed with which it was affecting the people.[38]
  • 18% drop in male birth was found which is an indicator of genetic damage.[40][n 11] A similar drop was observed after Hiroshima.[41]
  • According to The Independent, the US had to cut back on its use of firepower in Iraq from 2007 because of the anger it provoked among civilians.[38] In August-September 2012, four new papers regarding health issues in Fallujah had been published,[42][43][44][45] yet according to Ross Caputi's column in The Guardian, this crisis for which the US military may be to blame continued to be ignored in the US.[46] "To this day, though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused."[46]
  • Dr. Chris Busby, called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".[46] He, in a 2011 follow up to his 2010 study, expected to find depleted uranium in the environmental samples. However, what the researchers found was not depleted uranium, but man-made, slightly enriched uranium.[47][n 12] Undepleted and slightly enriched uranium was also found in Afghanistan. "Radiological measurements of Afghan civilians' have high concentrations of uranium in a range ... 400% to 2000% higher than the study controls..."[48]

The Haditha massacre[edit]

2005 Marine Killings in Haditha
  • In late 2005, in the incident which came to be known as the Haditha massacre, US Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians, amongst whom were women, children and the elderly. The victims were shot multiple times, point blank and ranged from a year-old girl[n 13] to a wheelchair-ridden 76-year-old man.[51][52] The first five, a taxi driver and four students, were ordered out of the car and shot dead on the street,[53] while the remaining 19 Iraqis were killed inside their homes.[51][53]
  • The US military initially blamed a bomb detonated by insurgents for killing 15 civilians and eight of the dead were termed as insurgents killed by US troops.[54]:1 Evidence to the contrary was dismissed by a Marine spokesman as, falling for al-Qaida propaganda. "I cannot believe you're buying any of this," he wrote.[55] The military investigation into the incident began two-and-a-half months after the incident.[54]:4 Even after the initiation of the investigation, a US Colonel and spokeswoman blamed the insurgents for the civilian deaths and asserted the fault lied squarely with the insurgents, since they were the ones who "placed noncombatants in the line of fire as the Marines responded to defend themselves."[54]:1
  • More than a year later, eight Marines were charged; a year-and-a-half later, the cases against six were dropped and another acquitted. The last Marine, made a deal with prosecutors, receiving a rank reduction[n 14] but never incarceration.[56][58] He first saw the murder charges against him get dropped and then the charges of assault and manslaughter, too. Six years after the incident, he was finally convicted of a single count of negligent dereliction of duty.
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  • The Marine squad leader, Frank Wuterich, alleged that the men in the taxi attempted to flee, and was charged with lying to the platoon sergeant, saying the Iraqi men fired on the convoy.[49] The US troops also claimed to have taken fire from the houses, which they subsequently assaulted and then killed their residents.[54]:2 When bodies were brought to a local hospital around midnight, the Marines attributed the deaths to shrapnel from the roadside bomb. However, according to the doctor, "... there were no organs slashed by shrapnel, ... The bullet wounds were very apparent. Most of the victims were shot in the chest and the head--from close range."[54]:3 Some of the deceased were killed, reportedly, while "still in their beds wearing pajamas."[53]
  • In the first house that was assaulted, according to a 9-year-old survivor, "I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head. Then they killed my granny." Then the Marines began firing towards the corner where she and her younger brother were hiding. The adults shielded the children from the bullets but died in the process. "The Marines also reported seeing a man and a woman run out of the house; they gave chase and shot and killed the man." The woman managed to escaped with her baby.[54]:2 After recounting her family's massacre, 9-year-old Eman while leaving, grabbed a handful of candy. "It's for my little brother," she said. "I have to take care of my brother. Nobody else is left."[54]:4
  • In the second house, the Marines attacked with a grenade and opened fire, killing eight residents[54]:2 – the owner, his wife attempting to shield her youngest daughter, an 8-year-old son, four daughters, and a year-old[n 13] girl.[51]
  • In the third house, according to a relative, the American troops escorted four brothers into a closet and then killed them. Furthermore, Iraqi soldiers prevented him from entering the house, saying: "There's nothing you can do. Don't come closer, or the Americans will kill you too." The Americans prevented anyone from entering the building until the next morning.[54]:2
  • Soon after the incident, an angry Iraqi delegation met a US army official. "The captain admitted that his men had made a mistake. He said that his men thought there were terrorists near the houses, and he didn't give any other reason."[54]:3 However, for more than a month, the US military continued its blaming of insurgents until investigation by media outlets forced it to re-consider.[59][54]:4 Senior US military officers for several weeks continue to believe the incident unworthy of an investigation until US Lt. General Chiarelli, was asked regarding the incident. The General directed his public affairs office to brief the reporters with the military investigation results, only to find out that no investigation had yet been performed.[60] In the first probe, more than two months after the incident, the deaths were concluded as "collateral damage" rather than malicious intent by the Marines.[54]:4
  • Bush had stated about six months after the incident: "If in fact laws were broken, there will be punishment, ... nobody is more concerned about these allegations than the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is full of honourable people ... If in fact these allegations are true, the Marine Corps will work hard to make sure ... that those who violated the law, if they did, will be punished."[61]
  • One investigation found, among the commanding staff, the motivation to ignore potential war crimes and general reluctance to investigate them. Regarding the killing of innocents in combat, one General stated: "It happened all the time."[62]

"... I did find that individuals above the squad level were complicit, whether intentionally or unintentionally, in attempts to hide criminal conduct. Leaders ... exhibited a determination to ignore indications of serious misconduct, perhaps to avoid conducting an inquiry that could prove adverse to themselves or their Marines. ... The most remarkable aspect of the follow-on action ... was the absence of virtually any kind of inquiry at any level of command into the circumstances surrounding the deaths. ... It also suggests an unwillingness, bordering on denial, ... Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get 'the job done' no matter what it takes. These comments had the potential to desensitize the Marines to concern for the Iraqi populace and portray them all as the enemy even if they are noncombatants. ... The RCT-2 Commander, however, expressed only mild concern over the potential negative ramifications of indiscriminate killing based on his stated view that the Iraqis and insurgents respect strength and power over righteousness."[63]

  • Some called for trying the alleged perpetrators in Iraqi courts.

"Let's let the Iraqis put the Americans alleged to have committed these crimes on trial. The United States wants to encourage the fledgling Iraqi institution of democracy, right? That's why we wanted Saddam tried in Iraq, and through the Iraqi judicial system—both to build up its legitimacy and to give Iraqis the sense of ownership that comes with having control over the legal process. Why, then, shouldn't we also turn over our own soldiers who were involved in either the Haditha massacre or any of the other possible massacres for trial under the Iraqi justice system? ... Karen Hughes can try all the gambits she wants at the State Department to put a kind face on America in the Arab world, but it's in moments like this one that the United States has a chance to reverse the impression it has created in the Middle East: that we take 'moral' stands only when it suits our own interests. ... the light sentences meted out for Abu Ghraib—and only to the lowest-ranking offenders—convinced them that American military justice is largely about whitewashing the truth and protecting one's own [emphasis added]."[64]

  • By two years after the incident, murder charges against all the accused had been dropped.[65] Three Marines were reprimanded for not reporting the killings, another was granted immunity for his testimony, in which he acknowledged accounts that Wuterich shot five surrendering Iraqis who had been standing by a white car with their hands interlocked behind their heads.[66][67] Wuterich then told him, "that if anybody asked, they were running away and the Iraqi army shot them".[67] In addition to lying to investigators in order to protect the squad,[68] the Marine also admitted to urinating on the body of one of the deceased.[66][67]
  • One Marine given immunity for testimony, told investigators: "I'm convinced that we did nothing wrong." Reportedly, a "military intelligence Marine who documented the civilian deaths in photographs immediately after the shootings and thought nothing was improper." was also given immunity.[53]
  • Wuterich had ordered his men to "shoot first and ask questions later".[56][65] He defended the order along with his squad's storming of the homes as a necessary act "to keep the rest of [his] Marines alive."[56][58] In one interview, he also stated: "we cleared these houses the way they were supposed to be cleared," and "What I did that day, the decisions that I made, I would make those decisions today".[49]
  • He was originally indicted in 19 of the 24 deaths, saw most charges against him get dropped, ended up making a deal with the prosecutors.[58] As the plea bargain continued, he continued to remain on active duty.[69] While he still could've been incarcerated for a maximum of three months,[56] the Marine walked away with no jail time.[58][n 15] His service ended with a general discharge under honorable conditions, a step below an honorable discharge.[68] He insisted in a prepared statement that he was only doing his duty. "The truth is, I don't believe anyone in my squad behaved in any way that was dishonorable or contrary to the highest ideals that we all live by as marines [emphasis added]."[57]
  • "Legal experts said the case was fraught with errors made by investigators and the prosecution that let it drag on for years. The prosecution was also hampered by squad mates who acknowledged they had lied to investigators initially and later testified in exchange for having their cases dropped, bringing into question their credibility."[58] Military lawyers even argued that condolence payments tainted eyewitness accounts.[69]
  • "This is not new and it's not new for the American courts that already did little about Abu Ghraib and other crimes in Iraq," said one victim's relative.[56][64]
  • Around the time of the first investigation into the massacre, in the Ishaqi incident another group of US troops, reportedly after being involved in a firefight with an al-Qaeda member inside a house, handcuffed 11 Iraqis — including 4 women and 5 children, the youngest being just 6[70]–7[71] months old — gathered them into one room,[n 16] executed them by shooting them in the head, and then bombed the house with missile strikes from helicopters.[72][71]
  • After the trial, The Atlantic published an article entitled: "Why We Should Be Glad the Haditha Massacre Marine Got No Jail Time".[73][n 17]

"But we should instead look at this, even if it is difficult to do so, as the price we pay for a justice system that prioritizes the rights of the accused over a desire to punish criminals. ... a democratic outcome is exactly what we got. ... In a liberal democracy, however, we put a very high burden on the state in taking away the liberty of a citizen accused of a crime. ... And this outcome may well harm America's image in a part of the world where it is already poor. But, ultimately, preserving the fairness and impartiality of the American legal system is more important, and we should be glad that it won out. That's a painful and difficult compromise to make, but the fact that it's difficult and it happened anyway is exactly why we should be glad we live in a liberal democracy. If we were to lower the bar to make it easier to convict those we 'know' are guilty, we would also make it easier to unjustly imprison the innocent [emphasis added]."[73]

The Nisour Square massacre[edit]

Blackwater training banner on location

  • Private military firm Blackwater, went so far as to threaten a US State Department investigator in Iraq, "I can kill you right now where you sit and no one's going to do a thing about it because of where we are at". The investigator took the threat seriously as he had also been warned regarding the investigation into the firm which threatened its lucrative security contracts due to the disclosure of numerous contract violations.[76][77] The investigator believed that Blackwater thought they were "the de facto authority," "above the law" and "ran the place", arguing that the firm's oversight was "subservient" and "superficial at best",[76] creating "an environment full of liability and negligence."[77] Local embassy officials also assisted Blackwater and ordered the investigators to leave the country.[76]
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  • The investigator stated: "I took ... [the] threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract." The embassy officials told the investigators that they had become "unsustainably disruptive to day-to-day operations and created an unnecessarily hostile environment for a number of contract personnel."[77]
  • At the time, the firm had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats. "The Blackwater-State Department relationship gave new meaning to the word 'dysfunctional,'" said an American strategist. It involved "everything from catastrophic failures of supervision to shortchanging broader national security goals at the expense of short-term desires."[77] Moreover in 2008, despite four separate federal grand jury investigations into its operations, Blackwater saw its contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars renewed.[78]
  • The firm's personnel had a reputation for arrogance, recklessness, running cars off the road, shooting wildly in the streets and even killing civilians. One incident involved four drunk guards commandeering a heavily armoured, $180,000 vehicle to drive to a private party, and crashed it into a concrete barrier.[77]
  • Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, a staunch right-wing Christian, came from a Republican party background,[79] and is a major financial contributor to the party.[80][79] At one point he even demanded his employees to swear an oath of allegiance.[77] In addition, he also accused the US government of actively turning against him and persecuting him.[81]
  • Sworn statements from a former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine stated that the firm's founder "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe".[82]
  • According to one statement: "To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades. Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to 'lay Hajiis out on cardboard.' Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as 'ragheads' or 'hajiis.'"[82]
  • Other accusations included: appearing to have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company;[82] smuggling weapons into Iraq;[78][82] using unauthorized weaponry, such as hand grenades and hand grenade launchers, employing illegal ammunition such as one "designed to explode after penetrating within the human body" in order to "inflict maximum damage on Iraqis"; destroying incriminating documents; having deceived US federal agencies; ignoring the advice and pleas of employees "who sought to stop the unnecessary killing of innocent Iraqis"; deploying improperly vetted personnel, re-deploying "unfit men" who were previously sent back for reasons such as "making statements about wanting to deploy to Iraq to 'kill ragheads' or achieve 'kills' or 'body counts,'" as well as "excessive drinking" and "steroid use", ignoring "assessments done by mental health professionals," and firing those unwilling "to endorse deployments of unfit men" mentioning that the firm "did not care because deployments meant more money"; "intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force", "unnecessarily killing scores of innocent Iraqis", killing or seriously wounding civilians and then failing to report the incidents while the firm "did nothing to stop this misconduct"; all incidents of excessive force being initially video recorded, watched in a session and then "erased to prevent anyone other than Blackwater personnel" from knowing about them; money laundering and tax evasion.[82]
  • Weeks after the investigation was halted,[76] and the State Department had been warned regarding the serious problems with the company,[77] on 16 September 2007, Blackwater personnel opened indiscriminate fire on a crowd of Iraqis,[77] killing 17 civilians in Baghdad[76] in what came to be known as the Nisour Square massacre.
  • Regarding the massacre, an Iraqi traffic officer testified: "There was a lady. She was screaming and weeping about her son and asking for help". He showed jurors how she had cradled her dead son's head on her shoulder. "I asked her to open up the door so I could help her. But she was paying attention only to her son." "Other witnesses described a mother who pushed her daughter to safety, only to be killed herself. One man was pounded with bullets while he lay dying, unarmed, in the street. Another was shot while he had his hands up." "I saw people huddled down in their cars, trying to shield their children with their bodies," said a former Blackwater contractor.[80]
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  • Initially even the US State Department supported Blackwater's assertion of firing in self-defence, later concluded false by multiple investigatons.[83]1:33 "The Bush administration refused to allow the contractors to be prosecuted in an Iraqi court, and implored angry and skeptical Iraqis to trust the American criminal justice system."[84][85] From amongst the over 10,000 security contractors in Iraq, "in the four-and-a-half years of war, only one Western security contractor [had ever] been charged with a crime."[83]5:30
  • Additional witness testimonies included statements such as, "[i]n this spot the woman doctor was killed", and that Blackwater helicopters also fired on the civilians, and even fleeing vehicles were shot at. "Even when people got scared and began leaving their cars to run away, [a contractor] kept firing at them." A bus filled with civilians was also fired upon.[83]3:23
  • First the case was thrown out in late 2008 due to the Justice Department mishandling evidence and violating guards' constitutional rights. Two years later, an appeals court reinstated the case.[85] Finally in 2015, almost eight years after the massacre, three Blackwater contractors were sentenced to 30 years in prison (the minimum for machine guns violence), and one received a life sentence who told the judge: "The verdict is wrong. ... You know I am innocent, sir."[80]
  • While the convicted vehemently plead their innocence, that they didn't do "anything wrong", and "will be exonerated, in this life and the next", nearly a hundred of their supporters, many of them wearing Blackwater shirts, remained present at the scene, and described them "through tears, as patriotic, small-town men who deeply loved their families and their country." Even the judge, a former army captain choked up as he described the defendants as "good young men who've never been in trouble, who served their country."[80]
  • During the case, the Justice Department repeatedly mishandled the case, such as missing a filing deadline and inadvertently letting the statute of limitations expire. The contractors had even unsuccessfully attempted to "overturn the convictions entirely, arguing that the Justice Department had no jurisdiction to bring charges for possible crimes committed in Iraq."[84]
  • "The United States has shown that regardless of the nationality of the victims, it values justice for all [emphasis added]," a federal prosecutor had said at the time. "Even when that means that the American who committed the crime must serve time."[80]
  • However, two years later, due to technical legalities a federal appeals court threw out the three lengthy prison sentences to be possibly replaced with shorter sentences, and ordered retrial for the guard sentenced for life.[84]
  • During the next seven years, the firm along with its subsidiaries continued to be awarded contracts worth $1.3 billion by the State Department,[86] along with other contracts from CIA and the US Department of Defense.[87]

Sectarian sectors[edit]

  • Leaked documents revealed how US forces inflamed sectarian divide in the Iraqi population to achieve their strategic objectives. A new Iraqi paramilitary force was set up which got itself embroiled in a network of secret detention centres and torture, accelerating Iraq's descent into civil war and sectarian carnage.[88]
  • "[General] Petraeus and Steele would unleash this local force on the Sunni population as well as the insurgents and their supporters and anyone else who was unlucky enough to get in the way. It was classic counterinsurgency. It was also letting a lethal, sectarian genie out of the bottle. The consequences for Iraqi society would be catastrophic. At the height of the civil war two years later 3,000 bodies a month were turning up on the streets of Iraq — many of them innocent civilians of sectarian war."[88]
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  • "... there are many horrible effects [of the U.S. invasion of Iraq], but one of them was to incite sectarian conflicts, that had not been there before. If you take a look at Baghdad before the invasion, Sunni and Shia lived intermingled—same neighborhoods, they intermarried. Sometimes they say that they didn't even know if their neighbor was a Sunni or a Shia. It was like knowing what Protestant sect your neighbor belongs to. ... it wasn't utopia. There were conflicts. But there was no serious conflict, so much so that Iraqis at the time predicted there would never be a conflict. Well, within a couple of years, it had turned into a violent, brutal conflict. You look at Baghdad today, it's segregated. What's left of the Sunni communities are isolated. The people can't talk to their neighbors." — Noam Chomsky[16]
  • The highly decorated US Colonel Jim Steele, played a central part in the intelligence gathering of the special Iraqi unit, called the Special Police Commandos: "a fearsome paramilitary force that ran a secret network of detention centres across the country – where those suspected of rebelling against the US-led invasion were tortured for information.".[88]
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  • The same Colonel had previously been involved in training the Salvadoran military to fight the FNLM guerrilla insurgency. The conclusion of those efforts was the creation of government units having a "fearsome international reputation for their death squad activities." Steele described the work as "training of the best counterinsurgency force" in the country. The US armed one side of the conflict and "hastened the country's descent into a civil war in which 75,000 people died" and one-sixth of the population became refugees.[88]
  • "I first heard about Colonel James Steele going to Iraq and I said they're going to implement what is known as the Salvadoran Option in Iraq and that's exactly what happened", said a former colleague of Steele's. "And I was devastated because I knew the atrocities that were going to occur in Iraq which we knew had occurred in El Salvador."[88] Furthermore, Steele was also involved in the Iran-Contra affair and was the kind of person to have been admired by the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield. "It's not called 'dirty war' for nothing; so it's no surprise to see individuals who are associated and sort of know the ins-and-outs of that kind of war, reappear at different points in these conflicts," said a US embassy official.[88]
  • A New York Times reporter remembered Steele and General Petraeus to be very close in terms of their ideas, ideology and professional relationship.[88] This, during the time Petraeus publicly spoke out against brutal interrogations.[89]
  • The special Iraqi unit, received a share of an $8.2 billion dollars fund from the US government, the exact amount remained classified. The US also removed restrictions on the inclusion of violent Shia' militias into the group.[88] Among a variety of other abuses, the special units often employed brutal torture methods in order to force detainees to talk.[88]
  • Leaked US military documents showed cryptic references to US soldiers ordered to ignore torture. Numerous horrifying accounts of torture by US forces themselves or units directly funded by the US government, were narrated from reporters, ex-detainees, and former soldiers.[88]
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  • A former general in the Iraqi army who claimed to have tried to stop the torture, alleged that the American officials knew exactly what was going on and were even supplying the lists of people they wanted brought in. "We were having lunch. Col Steele, Col Coffman, and the door opened and Captain Jabr was there torturing a prisoner. He [the victim] was hanging upside down and Steele got up and just closed the door, he didn't say anything – it was just normal for him."[88]
  • Additionally, the Americans also had access to all the 13 to 14 secret prisons in Baghdad used by the Special Police Commandos. "They were secret, never declared. But the American top brass and the Iraqi leadership knew all about these prisons. The things that went on there: drilling, murder, torture. The ugliest sort of torture I've ever seen."[88]
  • "It was like the Nazis … like the Gestapo basically. They [the commandos] would essentially torture anybody that they had good reason to suspect, knew something, or was part of the insurgency … or supporting it, and people knew about that", said one soldier.[88]
  • According to one US army medic, "What was pretty widely known in our battalion, definitely in our platoon, was that they were pretty violent with their interrogations. That they would beat people, shock them with electrical shock, stab them, I don't know what else ... If you sent a guy there he was going to get tortured and perhaps r**** or whatever, humiliated and brutalised by the special commandos in order for them to get whatever information they wanted." Another soldier confirmed, "If somebody gets arrested and we hand them over to MoI they're going to get their b**** hooked, electrocuted or they're going to get beaten or r**** up the a** with a coke bottle or something like that".[88]
  • "We'd be tied to a spit or we'd be hung from the ceiling by our hands and our shoulders would be dislocated," said one former detainee. Another said: "They electrocuted me. They hung me up from the ceiling. They were pulling at my ears with pliers, stamping on my head, asking me about my wife, saying they would bring her here."[88]
  • One reporter stated: "We were in a room in the library interviewing Steele and I look around and I see blood everywhere, ... [Steele] hears the scream from the other guy who's being tortured as we speak, there's the blood stains in the corner of the desk in front of him. ... And while this interview was going on with this Saudi with Jim Steele also in the room, there were these terrible screams, somebody shouting Allah Allah Allah. But it wasn't kind of religious ecstasy or something like that, these were screams of pain and terror."[88]

Respectable partnerships[edit]

  • A mid-2003 order by Paul Bremer, expressly provided immunity to US military, civilian governmental personnel and US contractors from Iraqi legal process and its courts.[64][83]3:24 "It calls out the message that we can invade their country, break their laws, and remain wholly immune from their criminal consequences", wrote one Slate contributor.[64]
  • A British Brigadier, regarding the Iraq war, wrote an article highly critical of US officers conduct and their tactics ensuring alienation of the population. He even quoted a US colonel who said: "If I were treated like this, I'd be a terrorist!" In May 2006, the Iraqi Prime Minister stated that US attacks against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by troops who "do not respect the Iraqi people. They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion."[55]


  • One report found that the Pentagon payed more than half a billion dollars to a British PR firm in order to secretly create fake al-Qaeda propaganda videos.[90][n 18]
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  • The project included the production of fake al-Qaeda propaganda films. The makers were provided with precise instructions: "We need to make this style of video and we've got to use al-Qaeda's footage ... We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner." US marines would take the film written to CDs on their patrols and drop them in the chaos when they raided targets. "If they're raiding a house and they're going to make a mess of it looking for stuff anyway, they'd just drop an odd CD there."[90]
  • Short TV segments voiced in Arabic, made to appear as being produced by regional Arabic news networks, were also produced. These would then be distributed to TV stations across the region, their source sometimes kept secret.[90][91][n 19]
  • The work used to get signed off by the commander of coalition forces in Iraq who later became CIA director, and the White House. The media operation was significant enough to cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average.[90]
  • US law prevented the government from using propaganda on its population and since in a globalised media environment, the Iraqi "PR" campaigns would've been available in the US, therefore "it was prudent legally for the military not to undertake all the…activities".[90]
  • The head of the PR firm said that he was "proud" of the work. "We did a lot to help resolve the situation," he said. "Not enough. We did not stop the mess which emerged, but it was part of the American propaganda machinery."[90]
  • Previously in 2005 it was reported that articles about the Iraq war authored by US troops were planted in Iraqi newspapers "under the guise of independent journalism".[92][n 20] Soldiers assigned to "psychological operations" were found to be more "aggressive in manipulating information for military gain." One pertinent case was death of an Iraqi general killed during interrogations near the Syrian border. "After his death, a news release said the general had cooperated and died of natural causes, and local communities were notified that he had identified key insurgents in the area, when he had not."[92]
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  • The program was considered an essential component of an "information war". "This is a military program to help get factual information about ongoing operations into Iraqi news," said a US official.[92]
  • Some "articles were placed in Iraqi newspapers after people presenting themselves as independent writers paid the publications to publish them." "In the very process of preventing misinformation from another side, they are creating misinformation through a process that disguises the source for information that is going out," a veteran journalist observed. "You can't be creating a model for democracy while subverting one of its core principles, a free independent press."[92]
  • A US senator told the public that his committee would look into the matter because he was "concerned that our credibility abroad is very important."[92]
  • One US official pointed out that the program "could violate Defense Department doctrine on psychological operations that bars intentionally misusing the media." Outside contractors were used "to bring a more creative approach to psychological operations efforts in Iraq."[92]
  • A July 2007 video footage depicting a US air crew killing a group of Iraqi men suspected of carrying weapons. One of the men on the ground, believed to be a Reuters employee Saeed Chmagh, is seen wounded and trying to crawl to safety. One among the air crew is heard wishing for the man to reach for a gun, even though there is none visible nearby, so as to gain the pretext for opening fire: "All you gotta do is pick up a weapon." A few moments after the Apache gunfire has halted, a van draws up next to the wounded man and Iraqis climb out. They are unarmed and start to carry the victim to the vehicle in what would appear to be an attempt to get him to a hospital. One of the helicopters opens fire with armour-piercing shells. "Look at that. Right through the windshield," says one of the crew. Another responds with a laugh. Sitting behind the windscreen were two children who got wounded. The US military claimed that all the killed were insurgents and the helicopters reacted to an active firefight. In the case of at-least this particular group of Iraqis, the WikiLeaks leaked video appeared to decisively refute both claims.[93][94] After the incident, although some Reuters employees were allowed to see the video depicting the deaths of two of their colleagues on an off-the-record basis, the footage was never publicly released and the news agency's Freedom of Information Act requests were denied.[95]
  • "... we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people. ...we have achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq" — Obama, West Point (Dec. 2009)[96]
  • President Trump once told CIA members that the US had made a mistake by withdrawing troops from Iraq without holding on to its oil. "The old expression 'To the victor belong the spoils'" Trump said.[97]
  • "There's ... denunciation of ISIS for destroying antiquities. The U.S. invasion did the same thing." — Noam Chomsky[16]


  • The final resolution of Iranian assets seized by the US after the hostage crisis, happened 35 years after the crisis had been resolved.[98]
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  • "I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign, ... I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote. ... Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it." — Abolhassan Bani-Sadr[99]
  • Bani-Sadr commenting on the movie Argo wrote, "The movie ... gives viewers the impression that the Iranian government supported the occupation of the embassy and that I was a lone voice in opposing it. This could not be further from the truth. ... by falsifying, misrepresenting, and taking critical facts out of context, it delivers a pro-CIA message at the cost of both the Iranian people and Iranian history. ... It also completely misrepresents Iranians by portraying us as irrational people consumed by aggressive emotion, in contrast to the 'Western' Americans, who were, as Edward Said once wrote, constructed as 'rational, peaceful, liberal, logical' ... etc."[99]
  • The downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by American warship USS Vincennes in a commercial air corridor, inside Iranian airspace, over Iran's territorial waters, killing 290 civilians.
  • "I will never apologize for the United States—I don't care what the facts are." was what George H. W. Bush said, as Vice President on a presidential campaign function, reportedly regarding the downing of the passenger aircraft.[100][n 21]
  • Referring to what he termed as the "drone assassination campaign", Chomsky stated: "If Iran, let's say, was carrying out a campaign to assassinate people around the world who it thought might be planning to harm Iran – we would regard it as terrorism. For example, if they were bombing the editorial offices of The New York Times and The Washington Post, which published op-eds by prominent figures saying that we should bomb Iran right now, not wait; so, obviously they want to harm Iran. Suppose Iran was assassinating them and anybody who happened to be standing around, all over, would we regard that as terrorism? I think we would."[101](11:09)
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  • "... the administration has stubbornly refused to talk with Iran ... in part because they don't want to pay the price with their ... domestic political base, the right-wing base, but also because they don't want to legitimate a government that they've been trying to overthrow. If you were Iran, you'd probably believe that you were mostly already at war with the United States anyway, since we've asserted that their government needs regime change, and we've asked Congress to appropriate $75 million to do it, and we are supporting terrorist groups, apparently, who are infiltrating and blowing up things inside ... Iran. And if we're not doing it, let's put it this way: We're probably cognizant of it and encouraging it. So it's not surprising that we're moving to a point of confrontation and crisis with Iran." — Wesley Clark, Democracy Now interview (2007)[102](16:27)
  • In an MSNBC's Morning Joe episode, regarding the matter of Iran's nuclear program Madeleine Albright starts by claiming that the Iranians were "actually in violation" of the Nuclear NPT and accused them of "lying".[103] When Patrick Buchanan's follow-up apparently refutes her argument, that the Iranians were complying with the safeguard agreement, Albright concedes "technically I guess they have"[104] but still keeps to her original conclusion adding Ahmadinejad's "ridiculous" statements, in support of her argument.

Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory[edit]

  • The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum North, Sudan was accused, by the US, of making chemical weapons and having ties with al-Qaeda and the plant was subsequently destroyed in 1998 by a US missile attack. American officials later acknowledged that there was no proof that the plant had been manufacturing or storing nerve gas, as initially suspected by them, or had been linked to Osama bin Laden, who was a resident of Khartoum in the 1980's.[105] Noam Chomsky, argued that the Clinton administration positively knew the missile target was a pharmaceutical factory and that regarding the event, there was no intelligence failure.[106]
  • The factory was, at the time of its destruction, a major provider of medicines for humans and animals.[105] British engineer Thomas Carnaffin is quoted to have said: "I have personal knowledge of the need for medicine in Sudan as I almost died while working out there. The loss of this factory is a tragedy for the rural communities who need these medicines." The factory was responsible for 50–60% of Sudan's pharmaceutical needs, as well as exporting products abroad.[107] Similar news was reported by The Guardian correspondent Patrick Wintour.[108][n 22]
  • US officials at the United Nations had even approved the sale of medicines produced by Shifa in January, 1998.[113][n 23] Patrick Wintour also reported that the plant's destruction had left the country with no supplies of choloroquine, the standard treatment for malaria. Despite this, the British Government – who publicly backed the U.S. attack - refused requests months later "to resupply chloroquine in emergency relief until such time as the Sudanese can rebuild their pharmaceutical production."[108]
  • Before August 20, 1998, the day of the missile strike, no US official had ever publicly identified Sudan as a confirmed chemical weapons proliferant or "country of concern."[114] US rationale for the strike and allegations regarding chemical weapons against Sudan "evolved substantially" in the two months[n 24] after the attack.[114]
  • The US "opposed and sought to block an international investigation of Shifa's production ... [which was in contradiction to] its longstanding and firm support for the efforts of UNSCOM to investigate potential WMD capabilities and installations retained by Iraq.[114] The Sudanese request to the UN was vetoed by the US.[112] Its ambassador to the international organization said, "we don't think an investigation is needed. We don't think anything needs to be put to rest."[117] Group of Arab States of the UN submitted a draft resolution to the UNSC for dispatching a fact finding mission to Sudan.[118] The Sudanese Ambassador to the UN said if the US vetoes the resolution, it would be in effect saying to the world, "we do what we want to do. We don't have to obey international law."[119]
  • A former US ambassador to Sudan was reported to have said, "The evidence was not conclusive and was not enough to justify an act of war". The factory's owner, filed a lawsuit against the US government. Shortly after, he had his US bank accounts quietly unfrozen.[112][n 25]
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  • Identifying himself only by his first name, Ahmed a former employee at Al-Shifa when interviewed in 2005 was running a kiosk in front of the shuttered plant. "When a person attacks you in your home, what do you call him?" Ahmed said angrily. "Is he a friend or an enemy?"[105]
  • One of the victims of the strike, Wol Bol had almost his entire body burned in the blast. Even after three years, his broken legs had left him crippled; his hair and finger-nails had not grown back. Wol and his wife Teresa, 28, were from the Christian Dinka tribe. Wol had remained unconscious for almost three months after the bombing.[112]
  • By 2004, Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen still characterized the Al-Shifa factory as a "WMD-related facility" and had "extraordinary security – including surface-to-air missiles – used to protect it during its construction".[122] The "extraordinary security" claim was denied by Thomas Carnaffin, who worked as a technical manager during the plant's construction from '92 – '96, and told reporters that there was nothing secret or heavily guarded at the plant at all.[123] Other accounts indicated that the facility often received guests, including the president of Niger, the British ambassador to the Sudan, and groups of Sudanese schoolchildren. Foreigners were allowed to enter the facility freely, it had no special security constraints, and prominent road signs directed visitors to the facility.[124]
  • Excerpt from Noam Chomsky's "9-11: Was There an Alternative?"[125]:

Human Rights Watch immediately reported that as an immediate consequence of the bombing, "all UN agencies based in Khartoum have evacuated their American staff, as have many other relief organizations," so that "many relief efforts have been postponed indefinitely, including a crucial one run by the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee [in a government town] where more than fifty southerners are dying daily"; these are regions in "southern Sudan, where the UN estimates that 2.4 million people are at risk of starvation," and the "disruption in assistance" for the "devastated population" may produce a "terrible crisis." What is more, the U.S. bombing "appears to have shattered the slowly evolving move toward compromise between Sudan's warring sides" and terminated promising steps towards a peace agreement to end the civil war that had left 1.5 million dead since 1981, which might have also led to "peace in Uganda and the entire Nile Basin." The attack apparently "shattered ... the expected benefits of a political shift at the heart of Sudan's Islamist government" towards a "pragmatic engagement with the outside world," along with efforts to address Sudan's domestic crises, to end support for terrorism, and to reduce the influence of radical Islamists (Mark Huband, Financial Times, September 8, 1998).

  • Up-to at-least October, 2005, Sudan had not received any apology or offer of restitution from the US.[105] Ironically, in California a clinic by the same name was opened back in 2000, where Muslim doctors work to treat uninsured patients.[127]

Guantánamo Bay Prison[edit]

  • On separate occasions the US Congress effectively blocked attempts to move the prison detainees. This happened in 2009, when 80 of the 171 detainees were found to be releasable to another country; and in 2009, 2011 and 2012 when the United States Congress "prevented taxpayer money from paying for detainees to have trials in the U.S., as well as using an Illinois prison to hold detainees who can't be tried."[128][129]

Promises are meant to be...[edit]

  • Even a Congress controlled by Democrats put hurdles in the way of the prison's closure.[129] Obama despite his oral promises, repeatedly through his actions, proved that closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison cost a political price he was unwilling to pay.[131][132] He did not follow through his threatened vetoes, and did not use the powers granted to him in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 to move the resolution of the prison issue forward.[133][131]
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  • In 2009, while the Congress was secure in Democrat control,[131] the first restriction (to prohibit transfer, release, or incarcerate detainees to the mainland) passed the Senate by a vote of 90 to 6 (the progressive Bernie Sanders also voted for the restriction).[129] According to The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), such a one-sided vote can only be achieved "through collusion between the political parties".
  • According to CCR, the Democrats initially supported trying the detainees in mainland America, but after two weeks of silence from the White House while the Democrats awaited support, they "turned tail and ran from this issue".[131] Evidence for this time indicated that Guantánamo was an issue not worth spending political capital on.[132]
  • Obama "never made good on several threatened vetoes (in 2011, 2013, and 2014) of increasingly-harsh transfer bans as they made their way through Congress. ... [Once] after initially vetoing a large defense appropriations bill that contained the renewed transfer restrictions, the president signed a version with an unchanged transfer bar after Congress made spending cuts he sought."[131]
  • In 2009, the Obama administration was considering resettling Guantánamo captives from China's Uighur Muslim minority, whom the Bush administration had readied for release. (They were to be hosted by Uyghur-Americans in Virginia.) But then, in the face of congressional objections, the White House lost its nerve. The United States instead scattered the Uyghurs to Bermuda, Switzerland, and even the Pacific island nation of Palau; five more Uyghurs still remained at Guantánamo.[130][n 26]
  • "I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay" — Obama, West Point (Dec. 2009)[96]
  • The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 gave the Obama Administration "both the legal authority and the practical ability to transfer detainees from Guantánamo back to their home countries",[133] but he didn't follow through his promise.[131] The CCR notes a few other methods by which Obama could've moved the legal process forward and criticises his repeated plans of "closing Guantánamo" by moving the detainees to the mainland as a strategy for the continuation of their "perpetual legal limbo".[131]

Judicial injustice[edit]

  • In 2012, US courts were found rejecting prisoners' habeus corpus petitions too. The authors of one study put it this way, "the practice of careful judicial fact-finding was replaced by judicial deference to the government's allegations ... Now the government wins every petition."[134]
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  • According to a study, aside from holding prisoners without charge, the US was also responsible for rejecting their habeas corpus petitions too.[134] With reference to an article by Clive Stafford Smith:
    • "The federal district courts ... granted 56 percent of the habeas petitions filed by detainees after the Supreme Court permitted the petitions in 2008."[134]
      • The authors argue that, in habeas corpus petitions which only checked the legality of a person's detention, rulings in favour of the prisoner, 56% of the time, essentially showed the judges' belief that "even after several years spent trying to sort the terrorist wheat from the bystander chaff, and after winnowing out hundreds of the more obviously innocent, the probability that military intelligence had identified an enemy correctly was still less than a coin-toss." "The question in a habeas proceeding is whether a prisoner has done anything that might—under a minimal burden of proof, with what is essentially a presumption of guilt supported by secret evidence—indicate an association with those who the government tars as terrorists."[134]
    • "... But since July 2010, the courts have rejected all but one [of the habeas corpus petitions]."[134] The case Al-Adahi v. Obama, according to the authors, proved to be a turning point after which "the practice of careful judicial fact-finding was replaced by judicial deference to the government's allegations ... Now the government wins every petition." The authors argue that these facts show that the D.C. Circuit "has made up its mind that henceforth nobody in Guantánamo Bay should be considered innocent."[134]
      • The authors believe that the Al-Adahi case judgment was "intended to intimidate the lower court judges into curtailing their liberal nonsense." Smith attested to this belief as he saw a federal judge observe "that he had been sent a message by his appellate brethren."[134]
    • More than 99 percent of the 779 Guantánamo detainees had not been convicted of a criminal offense. In 2012, 87 of 169 prisoners who were cleared for release remained incarcerated, some of whom had been cleared seven years ago.[134]

Imprisoned rights[edit]

  • Force feeding of the prisoners, during at-least three separate occasions in 2005, 2009 and 2013. After an Army guard were to take a captive from his cell and shackle him into a restraint chair, the forced feeding was generally carried out by specialized medical assistant enlisted sailors. Doctors and nurses supervised while the captive had "a tube snaked up his nose and into his stomach before pumping can of Ensure into the shackled prisoner."[135]
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  • The World Medical Association's Declaration of Tokyo, states on the matter: "Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially."[135] "We will not allow a detainee to starve themselves to death and we will continue to treat each person humanely," was stated by a prison official.[135]

White phosphorous use[edit]

  • In its early statements the Israeli military repeatedly denied using white phosphorus munitions, saying: "We categorically deny the use of white phosphorus", and: "The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus." After repeated denials, the military eventually admitted its use[136][137] and stopped using the shells, however, saying that a "media buzz" led to its decision to do so.[138]
  • Human Rights Watch said shells exploded over populated civilian areas, including a crowded Palestinian refugee camp,[139] the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City,[136][140] killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital. Spent shells were also found at a UN school.[140]
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  • According to Israeli news sources, Gaza "militants" also fired a phosphorous shell for the first time in January, 2009. The shell exploded in an open area.[139] An HRW researcher was unable to find evidence for the allegation. Local authorities said they were unaware of the attack, the police spokesman who said the shell had landed in a field near Sderot, when pressed for details told HRW that "all I have is what's in the press release." According to the HRW: "Even if intended as an obscurant rather than as a weapon, the IDF's repeated firing of air-burst white phosphorus shells from 155mm artillery into densely populated areas was indiscriminate and indicates the commission of war crimes."[140]
  • Amnesty International said a fact-finding team found "indisputable evidence of the widespread use of white phosphorus" in crowded residential areas of Gaza City and elsewhere in the territory. One of the places worst-affected by white phosphorus was the UNRWA compound.[141]
  • Israeli government claimed that two high-ranking Israeli officials were disciplined in response to the Goldstone report which was later denied by the IDF.[143]
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  • "Israel's willingness to investigate its use of white phosphorus is welcome, but history suggests that the likelihood of an objective examination is slim. Previous IDF investigations have failed to look objectively at alleged laws of war violations by Israeli soldiers and commanders. In the case of Operation Cast Lead, military investigators have already suggested that soldiers and commanders did no wrong, even before the investigations are complete."[140] By September 2009, two cases had resulted in convictions, (one for theft of a credit card, resulting in a sentence of seven months' imprisonment, and another for using a Palestinian child as a human shield, which resulted in a suspended sentence of three months).[144]


Gaza in Context[145]
  • 400 Arab towns and villages were depopulated during the 1948 Palestinian exodus. Some places were entirely destroyed and left uninhabitable;[147] others were left with a few hundred residents and were repopulated by Jewish immigrants, then renamed.[148][n 28]
  • In February 2011, the US voted against a UNSC draft resolution that would have condemned Israeli settlements as illegal. This in-spite of the fact that the other 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the draft along-with having 120 co-sponsors. The Israeli Prime Minister's office stated, "Israel deeply appreciates the decision by President Obama to veto the Security Council Resolution".[150]
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Despite the veto, the US claimed that this shouldn't be taken as endorsement for the settlements. US ambassador to the UN said, "We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," HRW issued a statement saying the US veto undermined international law and suggested hypocrisy from the Obama administration. "President Obama wants to tell the Arab world in his speeches that he opposes settlements, but he won't let the Security Council tell Israel to stop them in a legally binding way," said HRW's Middle East director. Additionally, the British Ambassador speaking on behalf of Britain, France and Germany, condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank. "They are illegal under international law," he said.

  • The US veto before this one in the UNSC was, back in November 2006, on a resolution calling for an end to Israeli military operations and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.[151]
  • Donald Neff in a report published in May/June 2005, enumerated 39 times when the US used its veto power to "shield Israel from Security Council draft resolutions that condemned, deplored, denounced, demanded, affirmed, endorsed, called on and urged Israel to obey the world body." These 39 resolutions are ones in which the US was the only country that voted against the resolution while all other members either voted in favour or abstained. Over the entirety of these resolutions, there were a total of votes in favour (482), abstentions (57) and US vetoes (39). Sixteen of these resolutions were ones for which, excluding the US, all 14 members voted in favour of the resolution with no abstentions.[152][n 29]
  • In 2007 Israel was singled out as a top espionage threat against the U.S. government. The NSA identified Israel as a security threat in several areas, including "the threat of development of weapons of mass destruction" and "delivery methods (particularly ballistic and nuclear-capable cruise missiles)." The NSA also flagged Israel's "WMD and missile proliferation activities" and "cruise missiles" as threats. Israel also got listed as a leading perpetrator of "espionage/intelligence collection operations and manipulation/influence operations…against U.S. government, military, science & technology and Intelligence Community" organs. Documents indicted Israel as "the third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S.," behind only China and Russia.[153]
  • In 2014, Glenn Greenwald wrote about how in the last decade, "the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC."[154]
  • Numerous pieces of evidence support the allegation of Western media being demonstrably partial and "Disgustingly Biased" regarding the Israel-Palestine issue.[163]
  • Many incidents involving "unlawful Israeli airstrikes kill[ing] civilians",[164] "Israeli soldiers shoot[ing] and kill[ing] fleeing civilians"[165] reported by organizations such as the HRW.
  • Among the most notables, the killing of four Palestinian boys playing at the beach on 16 July, 2014.[166] Israel exonerated itself over the killings providing justifications which were contradicted by international journalists who were present at the time and location.[167] The IDF investigation into the beach killings found the attack "accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements."[168]
  • NBC news correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who personally witnessed the killings, posted details on his social media accounts,[169][170] including the victims' names and ages[171], photographs he took of their anguished parents[170], and a video of one of their mothers as she learned about the death of her young son.[172] He interviewed one of the wounded boys at the hospital shortly before being operated upon. He then appeared on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, where he recounted what he saw.[173][174][n 30]
  • CNN correspondent Diana Magnay tweeted in 2014 about Israelis on the hill above Sderot cheering as bombs landed on Gaza.[176]
  • According to RT, about a year after this incident, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in response to US and Israeli pressure, removed Israel from the list of serious violators of children's rights.[177] This, even though the 2014 offensive killed about 500 children.
  • The Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, in May 2015 published testimonies of dozens of soldiers[178][179] who served in the 2014 strike on Gaza which appeared to belie Israeli government claims of doing all it can to protect civilians.[180]
  • Another recorded statement was: "A week or two after we entered the Gaza Strip and we were all firing a lot when there wasn't any need for it – just for the sake of firing – a member of our company was killed. The company commander came over to us and told us that one guy was killed due to such-and-such, and he said: 'Guys, get ready, get in your tanks, and we'll fire a barrage in memory of our comrade' … My tank went up to the post – a place from which I can see targets – can see buildings – [and] fired at them, and the platoon commander says: 'OK guys, we'll now fire in memory of our comrade' and we said OK."[180]
  • "When we talk about beheadings, they know that in the U.S.-backed Israeli attack on Gaza, at the points where the attack was most fierce, like the Shejaiya neighborhood, people weren't just beheaded. Their bodies were torn to shreds. People came later trying to put the pieces of the bodies together to find out who they were, ... These things happen, too." — Noam Chomsky[16]
  • In July 2014, France banned pro-Palestine demonstrations, implementing harsh penalties and jail time for violators. False claims for attacks on synagogues by pro-Palestine supporters were made.[181][n 31] Armed vigilantes from the group Jewish Defence League (JDL) baited demonstrators into fights. One especially interesting video showed JDL members baiting, scuffling and moving towards the pro-Palestine protesters, but the police did not intervene. However, when the protesters started to rush forward against the JDL the riot-police came into action and moved against the protesters while the JDL members ran right through the police lines and went behind the charging police. According to the Daily Mail article, no arrests were made "among the JDL, despite them fighting and smashing up property in full view of the police", while "six pro-Palestine protesters were arrested for a variety of public order offences, but none had been anywhere near Paris synagogues, which remained undamaged."[181]
  • The West's Security Council resolutions against the Syrian government during the country's Civil War, according to analysts, were a way to embarrass Russia and China as they were certain to veto the resolutions because of their alliance with the mid-eastern government. The question was why were they not responding back by initiating a new draft resolution against Israel's bombardment of Palestinian civilians. Regarding this matter Ian Williams, a longstanding U.N. correspondent and senior analyst at wikipedia:Foreign Policy in FocusForeign Policy in Focus, said the UNSC is determined to prove that governments do not have principles, only interests. Since the end of the Cold War, the Palestinians have had no sponsors or patrons. (...) Since they see few tangible diplomatic, economic or political benefits from backing the Palestinians, let alone Hamas, they allow atrocities to go unchecked in Gaza while raising their hands in horror about lesser, and less calculated, crimes elsewhere.[183]
  • "... the Palestinian Authority ... is an entity that must be pressured, even at the risk of it collapsing and disappearing. We cannot turn the other cheek to a diplomatic offensive from Ramallah and a military [one] from Gaza. It's true that these are two rival factions, but the diplomatic offensive is no less dangerous in my eyes than the offensive in Gaza." – Israeli Finance Minister (Nov. 2012)[184]
  • In an unreleased part of a 2006 interview to the Jewish Press, Hillary Clinton talked about rigging the Palestinian elections. "I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake," said then-Senator Clinton. "And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win." The interviewer recalled being surprised that "anyone could support the idea—offered by a national political leader, no less—that the U.S. should be in the business of fixing foreign elections."[185] Explaining why this part remained unpublished, the original interviewer answered: "The Jewish Press had this mindset that they would not want to say anything offensive about anybody ... because they might need them down the road. My bosses didn't think it was newsworthy at the time. I was convinced that it was and I held onto it all these years."[186]
  • In January 2017, the non-expulsion of the Israeli embassy official with diplomatic immunity, caught on video involved in conspiring to "take down" Sir Alan Duncan, a British MP who had previously been critical of Israel.[187][n 32] This "tolerance" in the wake of US ejecting 35 suspected Russian officials, imposing further sanctions and penalizing Russian intelligence institutions[190] and closing of two suspected Russian estates.[191] The US was responding to Russian attempts at influencing US democracy; an allegation for which, evidence was criticized as being weak.[192][n 33]

Settling settlements[edit]

  • In Nov. 2012, Israeli Finance Minister said the government doubled funding for settlements in the national budget. "... We did it with a low profile, in agreement with the mayors ..." so that "elements in Israel and abroad" would not attempt to stop them," he said. On the same day, the Minister received an award from the settlement movement for his contributions and talked about his funding for cultural centers in settlements, "despite enormous pressure from the universities against" one of them.[184]

Two-States too many[edit]

  • On July 11th 2014, Netanyahu told a press conference, "... there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,"[195] a remark viewed as a rejection of a two-state solution.[196] The Times of Israel reporter David Horovitz regarding the press statements wrote: "He made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank. ... This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. ... He wasn't saying that he doesn't support a two-state solution. He was saying that it's impossible. This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance."[195]
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  • The following uses excerpts from Peter Beinart's article "Is Netanyahu fighting just Hamas or the two-state solution as well?"[197]
    • Before this statement Netanyahu was on record supporting the Palestinian state. For five years, American Jewish leaders continued to insist that he sincerely desired one.
    • Netanyahu repeatedly compares a Palestinian state to the Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland in his book, A Durable Peace which was reissued in 2000. The book's introduction on Amazon reads, "... [The book] argues that peace with the Palestinians will leave Israel vulnerable to Iraq and Iran."[198]
    • In 2009, even after becoming Prime Minister, Netanyahu publicly opposed a Palestinian state. And even when he publicly embraced the concept his father told Israel television it was a ruse: "He doesn't support [a Palestinian state]. He would support it under terms they [the Palestinians] would never accept."
    • He made no effort to get his Likud Party to endorse Palestinian statehood abd didn't prevent it from running a parliamentary slate in 2013 dominated by avowed two state opponents.
    • Netanyahu can openly show his loyalties because he can do so without risking a confrontation with the Obama administration which has given up trying to mediate a two state deal. "For all those on the American Jewish right who claimed that Netanyahu would grow more willing to compromise once America ceased its diplomatic meddling and simply offered its unconditional support, the results are now in. Without American meddling, Netanyahu feels free to broadcast his rejection of the two-state solution to the world."
    • "For the American Jewish mainstream, the real purpose of claiming to support Palestinian statehood is two-fold. First, it maintains the fiction that Israel's almost half-century long control of the West Bank and Gaza is temporary, which allows American Jewish leaders to praise Israeli democracy without grappling with the fact that Israel controls millions of people who cannot vote for the state that dominates their lives. Second, it serves as a cudgel to wield against Palestinians. After all, were American Jewish groups to admit that neither they, nor Netanyahu, really support the two state solution, they would find it harder to brand Palestinian activists as anti-Semitic because they oppose the two-state solution too."
    • Peter Beinart writes that he could support the war, if the objective was the "right of Israelis to live free of terror." Because of this he found it easier to justify Ehud Olmert's Gaza War in 2008 as at the time Israel's Prime Minister genuinely wanted to end its unjust, undemocratic dominion over millions of Palestinians. In Sept. 2014, however, the new Prime Minister wants to make that control permanent, meaning "Israel's missiles are instruments not only of self-defense, but also of conquest."

Peace efforts (2013-2014)[edit]

  • The Palestinian officials agreed to give up the right to return for Palestinian refugees, to give up 80 percent of the land occupied at the time by Israeli settlers, accepted a demilitarized state for themselves, agreed to have security sensitive areas remaining in Israeli hands for five years and then transferred to the US. In return the Palestinians demanded three things, (1) outlining borders would be the first discussed topic and agreed upon within three months; (2) setting a time-frame for evacuation of Israelis from sovereign Palestinian territories; (3) to have East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The Israelis rejected all of them.[199][n 34]
  • The Israelis accepted to discuss borders on the basis of the 1967 lines, but flatly refused to present a map or even debate the topic. While rejecting the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, the Israelis accepted to consider individual requests based on "criteria that Israel would set at its discretion and sovereign decision."[200]
  • While the talks progressed the Israelis announced 14,000 housing units on land that was supposed to become the Palestinian state. The Israeli government also did not accept Abbas' demand for a three-month freeze on settlement construction.[199]
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  • American diplomats' and Israeli officials' versions differ fundamentally on why the negotiations failed and who bore the primary blame. The criticism against the Israeli government by the Americans is presented in terms of "wounds inflicted by a friend who could still be trusted: Israel is very dear to them, but the wounds are deep."[199]
  • The following are the understandings derived from interviewing Israeli officials,[200]
    • In mid-November, "a wave of massive construction in the settlements following the second release of Palestinian prisoners led to the resignation of the Palestinian negotiating team and the suspension of direct talks."
    • Netanyahu eventually agreed to conduct negotiations on the basis of the 1967 lines and a territorial exchange, however. "he flatly refused to present a map or even to discuss the subject theoretically." An Israeli official noted that throughout the nine month deliberations Netanyahu did not give the slightest hint about the scale of the territorial concessions he would be willing to make.
    • Most of Netanyahu's security points were accepted. The Palestinian state will be demilitarized and Israeli army presence will be established along the Jordan River.[n 35]
    • The Americans adopted in general terms the Israeli position that there will be no right of return of refugees to Israel. However, the Americans wanted to "give the Palestinians an honorable way out on this issue, to enable them to swallow such a meaningful concession."
      • Two approaches were discernible in the Israeli negotiating team. Some of those involved put forward a rigid stance of principle that rejected any compromise. Others argued that in order to obtain Palestinian agreement, Israel must protect the core of its interests – meaning to remove the issue of the right of return from the agenda – but to show flexibility on other refugee-related issues.
      • Washington, in addition to allowing the refugees to return to the Palestinian state, also wanted to allow them to choose to return to Israel "based on criteria that Israel would set at its discretion and sovereign decision." Netanyahu forcefully objected to the proposals. However, the proposal was later accepted and Israel proposed to set up a procedure by which Israel would "examine the requests on an individual or humanitarian basis and decide whether to accept them or not, according to its own sovereign judgment."
    • On the issue of Jerusalem, the Americans adopted the Palestinian stance that Jerusalem would be the capital of both states. Netanyahu refused to have the document mention in any way that there would be a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.[n 36]
    • According to Israeli officials, the question of the fate of the settlements was not dealt with in detail in the framework document. It left an opening for Israelis to remain in the Palestinian state, but the issue was not focused upon.
    • A senior Israeli official noted that Netanyahu measured almost every step he wanted to take in terms of its effect on the coalition and on the basis of his political support from the right wing. Even at times when Netanyahu was ready to make concessions, he "declined to say so clearly and expressed himself in the opposite way."
    • According to Israeli officials, this along with the American diplomats' extensive talks and negotiations with the Israelis as compared to seldom ones with the Palestinians severely affected the Palestinian trust.
  • The following are on the basis of American officials' statements given to Israeli journalists,[199]
    • The Americans proposed a border outline in the West Bank giving Israel sovereignty over ~80 percent of the settlers who were living there. The remaining 20 percent were meant to evacuate. The Israeli government made no response, and avoided proposing its own border outline.
  • One American diplomat states: "20 years after the Oslo Accords, new game rules and facts on the ground were created that are deeply entrenched. This reality is very difficult for the Palestinians and very convenient for Israel."
  • "Yes, we were surprised [on discovering that the Israelis don't really care what happens in the negotiations]. It surprised us all along the way. When ... your defense minister, said that the only thing Kerry wants is to win a Nobel Prize, the insult was great. We were doing this for you and for the Palestinians. Of course, there were also American interests at play. ... A lot of people told us - 'don't stop. Keep going.' We told them: 'It's in your hands. Take responsibility for your own fate.' But, stuck in their own ways, they preferred we do their job for them. Public apathy was one of our biggest problems. ... One of the Palestinians who participated in the talks told an Israeli participant: 'You don't see us. We're transparent, we're hollow.' He had a point. After the second intifada ended and the separation barrier was built, the Palestinians turned into ghosts in the eyes of the Israelis - they couldn't see them anymore."
  • "But while we were focusing on efforts to soften the Israeli side, announcements of new housing tenders in settlements limited Abbas' ability to show flexibility. He lost his trust in the talks. The worst part was when Netanyahu said Abbas had agreed to a deal of prisoners for settlement construction. It wasn't in line with the truth."
  •  "Abbas went into these talks a skeptic. Actually, they were all skeptics, but his doubts focused on Netanyahu. The Oslo Accords were Netanyahu's creation. Abbas watched how Oslo opened the door to 400,000 Israelis to settle beyond the Green Line. He wasn't willing to bear it anymore."
  • "And there were other things. Israel presented its security needs in the West Bank: it demanded complete control over the territories. This told the Palestinians that nothing was going to change on the security front. Israel was not willing to agree to time frames - its control of the West Bank would continue forever."
  • "Abbas reached the conclusion that there was nothing for him in such an agreement. He's 79 years old. He has reached the last chapter of his life. He's tired. He was willing to give the process one final chance, but found, according to him, that he has no partner on the Israeli side. His legacy won't include a peace agreement with Israel."
  •  "The claim on your side that Abbas was avoiding making decisions is not true. He wasn't running away, he was just stuck."
  • Abbas claimed he made many concessions, but the Israelis "didn't know how to appreciate it". On being asked, by Israeli journalists, what those concessions were, the Americans replied, "He agreed to a demilitarized state; he agreed to the border outline so 80 percent of settlers would continue living in Israeli territory; he agreed for Israel to keep security sensitive areas (mostly in the Jordan Valley - NB) for five years, and then the United States would take over. He accepted the fact that in the Israeli perception, the Palestinians would never be trustworthy. He also agreed that the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty, and agreed that the return of Palestinians to Israel would depend on Israeli willingness. 'Israel won't be flooded with refugees,' he promised."
  • "He told us: 'Tell me if there's another Arab leader that would have agreed to what I agreed to. I won't make any more concessions until Israel agrees to the three following terms: 
  1. Outlining the borders would be the first topic under discussion. It would be agreed upon within three months.
  2. A timeframe would be set for the evacuation of Israelis from sovereign Palestinian territories...
  3. Israel will agree to have East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
  • "The Israelis would not agree to any of the three demands."
  • "[Tzipi] fought with all of her might to promote the agreement. Molcho (Netanyahu's lawyer and relative, assigned to the talks) was a big problem for her. He undermined her repeatedly. Every time she tried to move forward, he stopped her."
  • When Housing and Construction Ministry's announcement of building tenders for more than 700 housing units in Jerusalem came, Abbas lost interest. He turned to the reconciliation talks with Hamas and to the question of who would inherit his mantle. The Americans understood from their Israeli counterparts that the tenders announcement was an intentional act of sabotage, one of many, by Housing Minister Uri Ariel, an extremist who opposes any agreement with the Palestinians. Ariel denied it. He claimed he didn't even know about the tenders.
  • Even after all this, the American diplomats still supported the Israelis: "The boycott and the Palestinian application to international organizations are medium-range problems. America will help [Israel], but there's no guarantee its support will be enough."


  • In October 2001, after the beginning of the American assault on Afghanistan, according to officials 7-8 million people were on the verge of starvation.[201][202] However, Chomsky argued, there had been "no reaction to the stopping of food delivery trucks through Pakistan since the bombings ... started". "This is a silent genocide," he continued, "but what is more disturbing is that even in a society of elite, which we are part of, this is considered normal."[201] UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson also called to allow food aid into the country and prevent a "Rwanda-style" humanitarian disaster.[203][n 37]
  • A 2009 survey results "suggested Nato's campaign to demonise the Taliban was no more effective than the Soviet effort to demonise the mujahedin." Compared to the NATO-allied government of 2009, a significant proportion of Afghans supported the Taliban. According to one survey reporting "on Helmandis' attitudes to justice systems. More than half the male respondents called the Taliban 'completely trustworthy and fair'." Additionally, the harsh criticisms of the Taliban being uniquely oppressive and comparatively substantially worse administrators were believed to be inaccurate, and the unjust human rights conditions were blamed more on some of the people's medieval mentality than on presence of the Taliban. "Above all, Afghans liked the security provided by the Taliban in contrast to the chaos between 1992 and 1996".[205]
  • "A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. ... we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect ... we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world -- one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated..." — Obama, West Point (Dec. 2009)[96]

Worse than hate[edit]

  • Helplessness to obtain justice by the families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan.[n 38] "The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses".[207] Furthermore, US troops are immune from prosecution in the Afghan court system.[208]
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  • The civilian deaths fit "a familiar pattern — once shamed into acknowledging civilian casualties, the U.S. military or NATO would often announce that an investigation would be carried out, but would never release its results."[208]
  • "None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths [including pregnant women and at least 50 children] – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored." — Amnesty International (2014 report)[207]
  • Many witnesses were never even asked to give testimonies. Among the scores of witnesses, victims and family members, Amnesty International interviewed for its 2014 report, only two acknowledged of having been interviewed by US investigators. In many cases, US/NATO "spokespeople would announce that an investigation was being carried out, but would not release any further information about the progress of the investigation or its findings – leaving victims and family members in the dark." Additionally, in the few cases which do reach prosecution stage, "it is extremely rare that Afghans themselves are invited to testify in these cases."[207]
  • Formal criminal investigations into civilian killings are extremely rare. Amnesty International was aware of only six cases from 2009-2014 in which US military personnel had faced trials.[207]
  • The flawed US military justice system makes prosecution of crimes almost impossible. It being essentially a form of self-policing, "to a large extent, relies on soldiers' own accounts of their actions in assessing the legality of a given operation. ... it expects soldiers and commanders to report potential human rights violations themselves. The conflict of interest is clear. ... there are serious concerns about the lack of independence of US military courts."[207]
  • The Amnesty International 2014 report "also documents the lack of transparency on investigations and prosecutions of unlawful killings of civilians in Afghanistan. The US military withholds overall data on accountability for civilian casualties, and rarely provides information on individual cases. The US government's freedom of information system, meant to ensure transparency when government bodies fail to provide information, does not function effectively when civilian casualties are at issue."[207]
  • Cases studied by Amnesty International concerned Special Operations Forces raid on houses, enforced disappearances, torture, and killings - "involve abundant and compelling evidence of war crimes." However, still the perpetrators did not get criminally prosecuted for them.[207]
  • A former detainee held by US Special Forces, spoke of the daily torture sessions he endured. "Four people beat me with cables. They tied my legs together and beat the soles of my feet with a wooden stick. They punched me in the face and kicked me. They hit my head on the floor." Also  mentioning that he was dunked in a barrel of water and given electrical shocks. Four of the eight prisoners held with him were killed while he was in custody, including one ... whose killing he personally witnessed.[207]
  • One 2012 incident saw seven women killed and seven more injured by bombs dropped on them from US planes after they had stopped for a drink by a spring.[208] ISAF said its troops had called in an air strike against about 45 insurgents "after positively identifying hostile intent" and that "a large number of the insurgents" were killed.[206] Soon an investigation was promised, but the families never saw it. In 2014, Amnesty International learned that no one among the families had been approached by US investigators.[208]
  • In July 2002, a US investigation on a US airstrike which killed  dozens of guests at an Afghan wedding party, concluded the strike to be justified.[n 39] The strike left 34-48 killed, mostly women and children, and 50-117 injured.[209]
  • In February 2010, US forces were found attempting to cover up the killing of three Afghan women by digging the bullets out of their corpses.[93]
  • On 3 October, 2015 US air force struck a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital. During the days that followed, US officials kept on shifting their explanations of the event. "It started with a tragic incident, to collateral damage, and now what we hear it was a U.S. strike but on request, under the responsibility of the Afghan government," NBC News was told.[210] The organization's international president Joanne Liu said, "Our patients burned in their beds; MSF doctors, nurses, and other staff were killed as they worked. Our colleagues had to operate on each other."[211][n 40] did an article on this incident and argued the high degree of partiality and double standards shown by US media in reporting the incident.[213]
  • Non-American coalition soldiers also became embroiled in allegations of war crimes.[n 41]
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  • Instances involving Australian armed forces[n 42] such as the killing of an unarmed teenager by special forces during dark hours even though they were not fired upon and insurgents were apparently absent from the area. They, furthermore, did not report the killing. The killing of an unarmed sleeping father and his son in their bed by SAS troopers, cleared after claiming the victim was armed, however on being confronted, the soldiers admitted their guilt, asked forgiveness, and stated that when they realised they had killed the wrong person and the boy, they put some cash with the corpse and left.[214]
  • Additionally, Australian special forces soldiers are also known to have discussed planting weapons on the corpses to write off the killings as "legitimate battlefield kill[s]".[214]
  • Authors of the book Hit and Run allege that a New Zealand special forces team was involved in a 2010 operation which saw the deaths or wounding of 21 people, majority being of women and children, while no insurgents were killed. Even though "the New Zealand Defence Force was aware almost immediately that no insurgents were amongst the dead," at-least until March 2017, it continued to insist that only Taliban fighters were killed in the raid. Allegedly, politicians and senior military personnel also colluded to keep the matter from surfacing.[215]

Respectable partnerships[edit]

  • Transfer of the Bagram Air Base prison in Afghanistan from US forces to the Afghan government in 2012 hit some snags due to disagreements between the two countries. Disagreements such as "whether the Afghans would continue to hold [30 original prisoners] without trial, as the United States had demanded and as stipulated under the detention deal." In the partial handover ceremony, no one from the American Embassy or the US State Department were in attendance, while from the Afghans seven generals, two cabinet ministers and other dignitaries attended the event.[216]
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  • Another disagreement was how quickly, around 600 recently captured prisoners would be turned over to Afghan custody. Additionally, one Afghan general said: "From now, no foreigners will have any prison in any place in Afghanistan," even though the US continued to hold 50 non-Afghan prisoners at the base.[216]

Lost opportunities?[edit]

  • The explicit declared objective of the US war on Afghanistan was to force the Taliban to handover the individuals being accused, by the Americans, of carrying out the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.[217][218] The Taliban requested for evidence of Osama bin Laden's involvements in the attacks, but the Bush administration refused to provide any.[203][217] According to Chomsky, eight months following 9/11, after the most "intensive international investigation in history", the FBI still only suspected bin Laden for carrying out the attacks.[219] By June 2006, there still wasn't enough evidence. According to an FBI spokesman, "the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."[220] However, this detail did not prevent American officials from repeatedly claiming, with absolute certainty to the rest of the world, the culpability of bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and further having evidence to prove it.[203][221]
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  • In Sept. 2001, Bush claimed he had evidence that bin Laden was behind the attacks, and promised to provide it.[221] However, the evidence did not surface. In Oct. 2001 Noam Chomsky pointed out that no convincing evidence regarding bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attack had been made public. Later it was found that evidence implicating bin Laden didn't exist. Chomsky argued that the American government didn't ask for extradition for the simple reason they did not have evidence.[219] "You need evidence for accusing anybody, even Osama bin Laden, and that's what Taliban has [sic] been asking for before they can hand him over." – Chomsky[201]
  • In Oct. 2001, Bush said the Afghan bombing will not stop until the Taliban "turn [bin Laden] over, turn his cohorts over, turn any hostages they hold over." He added, "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty".[203] "If they want us to stop our military operations, they've just got to meet my conditions. When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations."[204]
  • By June 2006, the FBI had no "hard evidence" connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,[220] in-spite of the alleged bin Laden confession video released in Dec. 2001. Relevant to the video, the American Secretary of Defense said: "There was no doubt of Bin Laden's responsibility for the September 11 attacks before the tape was discovered."[222] Bush considered the confession tape as "a devastating declaration" of Bin Laden's guilt.[223] According to Ed Haas, no document was released demonstrating the authenticity of the tape or that it even went through an authentication process. Freedom of Information Act requests to the FBI, and Department of Defense did not turn up any relevant documents while the CIA rejected the request.[224][n 43]
  • Around ten days after the attack, the Taliban renewed their offer for Bin Laden extradition to a neutral Islamic country for trial, given evidence of his crimes was provided.[227] In mid-October 2001, the group again made a similar offer[n 44] adding the American bombing campaign be stopped.[203]
  • Soon after, in return for a halt to the bombings, the Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden for trial in a country other than the US without asking to see evidence first. However, the Bush administration rejected this offer too. The offer was made by the Afghan Foreign Minister, in a visit planned several days in advance, in which he met officials from the CIA and Pakistan's ISI.[228]
  • Regarding his opinions on whether the Taliban's offer to hand over bin Laden to a third country was a ruse, Chomsky replied, "Certainly American government doesn't think it's a ruse if they are refusing it!"[201]
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  • In one attempt to stop the war, on Oct. 2, 2001, in a meeting with a senior CIA agent, a senior Taliban official made the offer, "I can track Osama down and kill him if you like ... But I can't use my own troops. That would be too public; my role would be known. For that, I have to find outside operatives. This will take time." However, the American official thought this would be seen as a delaying tactic by his government. In the meeting the Taliban official explained "Neither Omar nor the rest of the shura like the Arabs [and] they want to cooperate with America, they do, but public threats from the United States have aroused the people and boxed the leadership in politically." The CIA official also strongly encouraged the Taliban official present to seize power. On Oct. 6, the Taliban agreed to some of the conditions made by the CIA official in a personal capacity but argued that they couldn't be followed through right away, as they needed to pacify their population first. The CIA official replied, "There is no time for this, [Mullah] Omar will not carry out the demands; Afghanistan will be destroyed. It's up to you to seize power, as we discussed." The Taliban official agreed to contact again the next day, however, the call didn't come and by night the planned American campaign had begun.[229]
  • Before 9/11, there existed several bin Laden trial proposals. First in 1998, however, according to a Saudi intelligence official, the US reprisal cruise missile attacks for al-Qaeda's US embassy bombings scrapped the potential deal.[230] Later, the Taliban also proposed on a procedure under the supervision of OIC arguing it to be a "neutral international organisation"[231] which was rejected by the US.[232] In 1999, responding to a Security Council resolution, the Taliban proposed to hold bin Laden's trial, either in Afghanistan or another Muslim country.[233] To bring bin Laden to trial "before a group of Ulema [religious scholars] in Afghanistan."[231] "One Taliban proposal suggested bin Laden be turned over to a panel of three Islamic jurists, one each chosen by Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia" and the US. When the US "rejected that proposal, the Taliban countered that it would settle for only one Islamic jurist on such a panel."[233][n 45]
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  • In Oct. 1999, a Security Council resolution demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden to "appropriate authorities" but left open the possibility he could be tried somewhere besides a US court. The Taliban responded by proposing to hold bin Laden's trial, either in Afghanistan or another Muslim country. Regarding the proposal to prosecute bin Laden by three Islamic jurists, one each chosen by Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the US,[233] a Taliban official later explained, "But the US showed no interest in it. They kept demanding we hand him over, but we had no relations with the US, no agreement of any sort. They did not recognise our government."[231]
  • According to a US official, "Another idea was that [bin Laden] would be brought to trial before a group of Ulema [religious scholars] in Afghanistan. ... No one in the US government took these [offers] seriously because they did not trust the Taliban and their ability to conduct a proper trial."[231]
  • "Officials never found a way to ease the Taliban's fear of embarrassment if it turned over a fellow Muslim to an 'infidel' Western power." "We were not serious about the whole thing, not only this administration but the previous one ... There were missed opportunities." an expert said in Oct. 2001. "We never heard what they were trying to say, Ours was, 'Give up bin Laden.' They were saying, 'Do something to help us give him up.' ... I have no doubts they wanted to get rid of him. He was a pain in the neck," but this "never clicked" with U.S. officials. – Milt Bearden (Former CIA station chief)[233]
  • US officials on the other hand assert that the Taliban never truly intended to give up bin Laden. They accuse the Taliban of being insincere and for using negotiations and calls for evidence as delaying tactics.[233]
  • According to the BBC, Muttawakil (Taleban foreign minister) known to be deeply unhappy with foreign militants in Afghanistan warned the US and UN about a major potential attack by al-Qaeda weeks before 9/11, but neither organisation heeded the warning. The minister worried the attacks would prompt a reprisal war against Afghanistan. The Americans were told to launch a military campaign against al-Qaeda but was told that this was politically impossible. A US official didn't deny that such warnings were issued, but explained the reason for dismissal as: "We were hearing a lot of that kind of stuff".[234]
  • According to US Embassy documents from June 2001, obtained by Intelwire, "the Taliban do not see Americans as their enemies and that there are no threats to Americans coming from the Taliban. Nonetheless, said [Abdul Salam] Zaeef (Taliban ambassador to Pakistan), 'We will do our best to follow up and stop' any threat. ... On UBL, Zaeef emphasized that the Taliban's relationship with UBL and others is based not on enmity against the United States, but on 'culture.' ... Zaeef also commented that it would be better if the US were directly involved in the distribution of US [Narcotics-related] aid, rather than going through a third party."[235] Zaeef later remained imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for almost four years.[236]
  • US officials, on the other hand, argue that it had become clear to them that the Taliban requests for more evidence were a delaying tactic,[233] and no one took those offers seriously as "they did not trust the Taliban and their ability to conduct a proper trial."[231][n 46] Additionally, they had been previously aided, in their skirmishes against the Northern Alliance, by al-Qaeda.[232]

Who had already surrendered...[edit]

  • Anand Gopal argues that the US government turned down repeated attempts by the Taliban to surrender. Soon after their overthrow, the Taliban had stopped fighting, and melted back into civilian life,[238] but as Ryan Grim noted: "Only full annihilation was enough for the Bush administration. They wanted more terrorists in body bags." The men left standing after the Taliban "became warlords, built massive fortunes, and shipped their wealth abroad." As years passed, "the old Taliban started picking up guns again. When they were driven from power, the population was happy to see them go. The U.S. managed to make them popular again." Grim mentions how US liberals complained the government had ignored Afghanistan while, in reality, the parts devoid of foreign troop presence were the only parts without an insurgency. Grim ends his article as: the US is "now losing a war to an enemy that already surrendered. That's not easy to do."[239]
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  • A comment[240] on Grim's article pointed out one particular extraordinary incident quoted by Anand Gopal. In a single thirty minutes US Green berets assault on pro-US Afghans in Khas Uruzgan, the US "managed to eradicate both of Khas Uruzgan's potential governments, the core of any future anti-Taliban leadership—stalwarts who had outlasted the Russian invasion, the civil war, and the Taliban years but would not survive their own allies."[241]
    • At one point of the assault, a US soldier claimed acting in self-defence when he killed some pro-US Afghans, while the residents of the area "point[ed] out that the bodies were found in their beds, handcuffed, and there were no signs of struggle." Next the American soldiers assaulted the pro-US Afghan governor's compound. The Afghan police chief "recognized the invaders' shouts as English and realized immediately that these must be Americans. 'Don't worry,' he said to one of his men, 'they are our friends.' As the soldiers rushed in, he threw up his hands and shouted in Farsi, 'We're friends! Friends, friends, friends!' But he was seized and hurled to the floor, and boots kicked him hard. He heard his ribs crack." A sixteen-year old "was later found with a bullet in his head. The survivors of both attacks were rounded up and loaded onto helicopters." As they left, the Americans destroyed the compounds with rockets leaving behind a calling card, "emblazoned with the symbol of an American flag," having written on it, "Have a nice day. From Damage, Inc."[241]
    • "The toll from the two attacks: twenty-one pro-American leaders and their employees dead, twenty-six taken prisoner, and a few who could not be accounted for. Not one member of the Taliban or al-Qaeda was among the victims. ... People in Khas Uruzgan felt what Americans might if, in a single night, masked gunmen had wiped out the entire city council, mayor's office, and police department of a small suburban town: shock, grief and rage." Weeks later the US finally apologised, releasing the captives, among them the sixty-year old police chief who "could not stand for weeks, and his skin bore the welts of torture."[241]
    • Three "top Taliban officials who had been trying to surrender saw that they would be marked men regardless of their intentions and left for Pakistan, where in coming years they would play a prominent role in the anti-American insurgency." These included Mullah Omar's personal secretary and adviser, and former Finance and Health ministers.[241]
    • A year after the raid even though the US admitted to have killed only pro-American civilians – of the soldiers involved in the assault, seven received a Bronze Star for valour, and the leader of the assault a Silver Star.[241]
  • The Taliban had first offered to surrender in Dec. 2001, and handover their last stronghold, Kandahar in exchange for amnesty for their fighters and safety guarantees for their leader. The US had opposed the potential agreement.[242]
Relevant history to the Afghan invasion
  • Three weeks into the war, "a British officer announced that the US and Britain would continue bombing, until the people of Afghanistan overthrew the Taliban... That was later turned into the official justification for the war." – Chomsky[217] Some American officials did not even believe that the Taliban had control over bin Laden.[243]
  • "Al Qaeda's base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban ... Under the banner of ... international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan [emphasis added]." — Obama, West Point (Dec. 2009)[96]

The replacements

  • Rabbani was the Afghan leader removed by the Taliban, who went on to co-found the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which in-turn would become the primary local US ally in the country after 9/11. Ironically, to use Afghanistan as a safe haven, bin Laden along with many Arab fighters,[205] was flown back to Afghanistan from Sudan in a chartered plane hired by the same Rabbani's government.[205][231] "When they [Taliban] occupied the eastern city of Jalalabad in 1996, Bin Laden was [already] there" a Saudi official explained. They were not keen to have him in the first place.[230] Additionally, Rabbani's government had in its time, also been accused of massive human rights violations.[244]
  • Before the Taliban, this was a time of massive infighting among competing warlords. Several of such brutal warlords, accused of gruesome human rights violations, were re-installed to promote democracy and stability in the country.[245][n 47]

Pre-9/11 Afghanistan invasion plans

The following makes use of extensive research carried out in "Newly Disclosed Documents Shed More Light on Early Taliban Offers, Pakistan Role", Foreign Policy Journal.[247]

  • Senior US officials were reported to have told in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The objectives were to kill or capture Bin Laden and the Taliban leader, to remove the Taliban from power and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in their place. Military operations would launch from American bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place. 17,000 Russian troops were also believed to participate in the attack. A Pakistani diplomat said that after 9/11, it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately.[248][n 48]
  • According to Jane's Information Group, in March 2001, India joined Russia and the US in their active efforts against the Taliban. The Taliban's main opposition, the Northern Alliance, was being supported by India with high-altitude warfare equipment, defence advisers, including air force helicopter technicians, and military medical personnel. The Americans helped by providing information and logistic support.[251]

Post 9/11 events

  • Two days after the attack, the Pakistani president was told "bluntly" that "there was no inclination in Washington to engage in a dialog with the Taliban." The US "believed strongly that the Taliban are harboring the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks", and it was "fairly sure" that bin Laden and his al-Qaida were guilty.[252]
  • Later, US officials in a meeting with senior Pakistani officials "laid out specific requests ... for logistical, technical and other support in the fight against terrorism." This included, providing "the US with blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary military and intelligence operations; ... as needed territorial access to U.S. and allied military intelligence, and other personnel to conduct all necessary operations ... including use of Pakistan's naval ports, airbases and strategic locations on borders; [providing]] the U.S. immediately with intelligence". Additionally, Pakistan was also required to break-off diplomatic relations with the Taliban "should the evidence strongly implicate Usama Bin-Ladin and the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbor him and this network".[253]
  • Pakistani officials conveyed Americans' demands to the Taliban leadership[254][255][256] who would convene a grand council to discuss the terms. The Afghans were told to meet, among other conditions, hand-over of bin Laden to the International Court of Justice, or extradite him and to "open terrorist training sites for inspection by neutral international observers from the West," including the US. The Pakistani official "framed the decision to Mullah Omar [the Taliban leader] and the other Afghans as essentially choosing between one man and his safe haven versus the well-being of 25 million citizens of Afghanistan."[254]
  • The Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden "demanding proof of his involvement in the terror attacks on the US". The Taliban insisted that bin Laden could not have been involved in the attacks.[257] They warned of possible military action against any country that offers assistance to the US. Tens of thousands of Afghans, fearing US strikes, streamed out of cities - including up to half the population of Kandahar - headed towards the borders.[255] America was "preparing to scrap laws prohibiting political assassinations to loosen the shackles that have constrained the CIA's freedom to operate against America's enemies."[256] "They said there is no time for talks. They have already decided they will attack Afghanistan," said a Taliban official, "The former Soviet Union told us the same thing, and they were more arrogant than the Americans. If the United States attacks, there will be a time when they will have to talk too."[227]
  • Bin Laden repeatedly denied the attacks, saying "I categorically state I have not done this",[255][256] and that the Taliban do "not allow such acts to be carried out from Afghanistan's territory."[258]
  • A Taliban official argued, deporting bin Laden without proof would amount to an "insult to Islam." American officials said evidence of bin Laden's involvement in previous terrorist attacks was all the required proof.[257]
  • According to a Sept. 24 document, a US ambassador tells the Pakistanis that "our willingness to continue discussions ended after September 11. The time for negotiations was past." A senior Pakistani official implores the Americans "not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations. ... Reasoning with them to get rid of terrorism will be better than the use of brute force. If the strategic objective is Al Quaida and UBL, it is better for the Afghans to do it. We could avoid the fallout." American officials noted that Pakistan feared the "elimination of the Taliban will leave a dangerous political vacuum." The Pakistanis further warned that displacement of the Taliban from power would revert Afghanistan to warlordism and "a strike will produce thousands of frustrated young Muslim men. It will be an incubator of anger that will explode two or three years from now."[259] Those discerning concerns, which were to cause massive death and destruction primarily to Afghanistan and Pakistan, were dismissed by the US.[247]
  • Around this time, Secretary of State Colin Powell states, "I am absolutely convinced that the al Qaeda network ... was responsible for this attack." When asked whether the government would "release publicly a white paper which links [bin Laden] and his organization to this attack", Powell replied, "We are hard at work bringing all the information together, intelligence information, law enforcement information. And I think in the near future we will be able to put out a paper, a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to this attack."[260] However, the white paper was never provided.[247] The next day Powell argued that most of the information related to the matter is classified, but continued to state "there's no question that the chairman of this holding company of terrorism [i.e. bin Laden], is the one who is responsible."[261] However, Seymour Hersh's sources informed him that the primary reason to not issue the promised white paper was actually lack of solid information.[262]
  • The British government did present a dossier allegedly proving bin Laden's guilt. However, the government "acknowledged that the 21-page dossier did not amount to a prosecutable case against bin Laden in a court of law", and "much of the specific evidence was held back to protect intelligence sources." Additionally, "although there was no specific evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks, it claimed that only his network had the motivation and capability to carry them out."[263] A BBC article enumerated the weaknesses associated with the provided evidence, "no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks. At best the evidence is circumstantial. ... The evidence is not being judged in a court of law. It only needs to persuade governments around the world to back the US-led war on terrorism and to a lesser extent to carry public opinion. ... When asserting that Bin Laden is behind the attacks, US and UK officials lean heavily on what they believe to be Bin Laden's record and his connection to other terrorist attacks. They are in effect arguing that the attacks are part of a clearly discernable [sic] pattern linked to previous attacks".[264]
  • All this indicating that "the threshold of evidence required for waging a war ... [is] much lower than that to issue an indictment in a court of law."[247]
  • By October's end, a Taliban official said "We do not want to fight; we will negotiate, but talk to us like a sovereign country. We are not a province of the United States to be issued orders to. We have asked for proof of Usama's involvement, but they have refused." An American official replied by claiming falsely, "all one has to do is watch television to find Usama bin Laden claiming responsibility for the September 11th bombings."[265][n 49]
  • "The Americans said that even if he [bin Laden] leaves, they will search any place in Afghanistan that they wanted with their military forces. ... Their decision to go to war was definite." – Taliban official[231]
  • "Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people. Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. ... Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed." – Bin Laden (Sept. 2001)[266]
  • "The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself ... those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. ... Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taliban and then this incident happened." – Bin Laden[266]
  • Bin Laden's claims regarding US policymakers needing an external enemy to pursue their policy goals were supported by arguments forwarded by the policymakers themselves. "... the process of transformation [of the American military setup], ... is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor" – The Project for a New American Century[267]:51. "There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the U.S. military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation. ... While there is growing support in Congress for transformation, the 'critical mass' needed to effect it has not yet been achieved." In conclusion, "in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States—a latter-day 'Pearl Harbor' of sorts—surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process." — Andrew Krepinevich (1999)[268]

Taliban uniquely oppressive?

  • A year after the Taliban seized power, according to UN staff, foreign aid workers and Afghans in Kabul, "the Taliban had softened their ban on girls' education and were turning a blind eye to the expansion of informal 'home schools' in which thousands of girls were being taught in private flats. The medical faculty was about to re-open for women to teach midwives, nurses, and doctors since women patients could not be treated by men. The ban on women working outside the home was also lifted for war widows and other needy women. Afghans recalled the first curbs on liberty were imposed by the mujahideen before the Taliban. ... Above all, Afghans liked the security provided by the Taliban in contrast to the chaos between 1992 and 1996..."[205]
  • "Afghanistan has a long history of [women's rights violations] going back before the Taliban period and continuing until today. ... On the wider issue of gender rights, the Taliban are rightly accused of relegating Afghan women to second-class citizenship. But to single the Taliban out as uniquely oppressive is not accurate."[205] According to an August 2001 diplomatic document, a senior Pakistani diplomat while considering many Taliban policies against women "personally distasteful", reasoned that their impact should not be exaggerated in predominantly rural Afghanistan. They reflected a medieval mentality prevalent in some societies in that part of the world.[269]
  • In August 2001, to a question a Pakistani official replied, "...Pakistan has always dealt with the ruling power in Kabul, such as the first communist regime or the Rabbani government, which had at one point in bilateral pique burned down the Pakistani embassy. ... If Masood [the Northern Alliance leader] won, Pakistan would deal with him, too."[269] Pressed further on why Pakistan continued "to give the Taliban international diplomatic support and to press the USG [United States Government] to engage with the Taliban?" the Pakistanis "reiterated that the Taliban are the effective rulers of at least 90 percent of Afghanistan, that they enjoy significant popular support because they ended the banditry and anarchy that once bedeviled the country, and that the instant success of the opium poppy production ban underscored … the reality and effectiveness of Taliban authority."[269]
  • According to a 2009 survey, "Most ordinary people associate the [national] government with practices and behaviours they dislike: the inability to provide security, dependence on foreign military, eradication of a basic livelihood crop (poppy), and as having a history of partisanship (the perceived preferential treatment of Northerners)." The Taliban took money through taxes on farm crops and road tolls but did not demand bribes.[205]
  • A 2009 survey commissioned by Britain's Department for International Development in three key provinces asked what led people to join the Taliban. "Out of 192 who responded, only 10 supported the government. The rest saw it as corrupt and partisan. Most supported the Taliban, at least what they called the 'good Taliban', defined as those who showed religious piety, attacked foreign forces but not Afghans and delivered justice quickly and fairly. They did not like Pakistani Taliban and Taliban linked to narcotics. Afghans did not like al-Qaida, but did not equate the Taliban with this Arab-led movement."[205]


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  • Another paper by Ryan T. Williams, details that even if the initial Afghanistan invasions could be justified, continued American presence after the 9/11 attacks happens to be demonstrably illegal.[276]

International support[edit]

  • Various polls after the 9/11 attacks reported that majority of the world's populations opposed Afghanistan military strikes.[277][278][279][280]
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  • The most extensive poll of 37 countries in late September 2001, reported that aside form the US, Israel and India, majority populations in every country preferred extradition and trial of suspects to a US attack.[278][279]
  • "Clear and sizeable majorities were recorded in the UK (75%) and across Western Europe from 67% in France to 87% in Switzerland. Between 64% (Czech Republic) and 83% (Lithuania) of Eastern Europeans concurred as did varying majorities in Korea, Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe. An even more emphatic answer obtained in Latin America where between 80% (Panama) and 94% (Mexico) favoured extradition." Majorities in the US and Israel (both 56%) also did not favour attacks on civilians.[278]
  • The opposition grew after the start of the bombing campaign, "only the Mirror ... reported, by early November 65 per cent in Germany and 69 per cent in Spain wanted the US attacks to end".[278]
  • The opposing evidence, however, did not stop  Blair and Bush, respectively, to claim that "world opinion" and the "collective will of the world" supported the attack on Afghanistan.[279]
  • According to David Miller, polling companies appeared to be acting partially. Polling questions consistently failed to ask questions regarding alternatives to military attacks. When such are asked, war support showed a significant decrease. In the UK, all except one pre-bombing poll reported majorities against bombings if they were to cause civilian casualties. Even that single exception reported that a majority (82%) agreed that the US should take military action "only against the terrorist organisations responsible ... even if it takes months to clearly identify them." However, after the bombing campaign started "polling companies stopped asking about concern for civilians." "[B]oth UK and US polling companies have been guilty of misrepresenting their own data almost without exception overemphasising support for the war."[278]
  • Additionally, most news outlets failed to report fairly on the polls, having been "systematically misreported in the media", ignoring results which contradicted the official US and UK narrative.[277][279]
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  • "... the headlines on public support have masked a strong current of opinion against military action that would target anyone but the 'terrorists' or in practice harm civilians. A Gallup poll ... found that 82% of the British public said military action 'should only be taken after the identity of the perpetrators was clearly established, even if this process took several months to accomplish.' Even in the United States, the poll revealed that a significant majority (62%) of Americans felt the same."[279]
  • "Where questions about aid or alternatives to bombing are asked the results have been consistent: Clear and sometimes massive majorities against the bombing."[278]
  • In a rarely reported poll, "69% of Scots favoured sanctions, diplomacy or bringing Bin Laden to trial. Only 17% favoured his execution and ... 5% supported bombing (21 October)." Scottish opinion although generally considered to the left of UK, doesn't diverge more than a few points on average. British national press also failed to consistently report on all relevant polls.[278]
  • "Between the start of the bombing and the fall of Kabul, ... [with one exception] not a single polling company asked the British public any questions about alternatives to war."[278]
  • The polling company MORI, claimed their polling to have 'extinguished any lingering doubt' that support was 'fading'. This assertion ignored the "poll data which would give an alternative view and the fact that the polling questions have been inadequate." Furthermore, the MORI claim that press reports on their polls has to be first get approved by them, suggested that "MORI are content for the press to distort the level of opposition by concentrating on the 'overwhelming' support for the war and relegating opposition to the war to the end of reports."
  • "Both television and the press in the US and UK have continued to insist that massive majorities support the bombing."[278]
  • One paper showed 5% supported bombing while 69% favoured conflict resolution. "Nevertheless the closest they got to this in their headline was that Scots were 'split' on bombing".[278]
  • "TV news reporters have routinely covered demonstrations in Britain and the US as if they represent only a small minority of opinion." BBC reporters while reporting on the London demonstrations stated: "Despite the strength of feelings here today those opposed to military action are still very much in the minority".[278]
  • In a Oct 12 Travis UK poll, even though "the government and the media had been of the opinion that enough had been done", even though alternative voices were being marginalised, a surprising 37% of the respondents believed that enough had not been done regarding diplomatic solutions. When confronted by the lack of coverage of UK protests against the war, the readers' editor of the Guardian revealed that it was the papers 'general policy' not to cover marches which therefore, conveniently left "the field open for those with the resources to stage 'proper' news events."[278]
  • In US media, alternative opinions were even more difficult to find. Debate on the use of cluster bombs and the 'daisy cutter' bombs (a weapon of mass destruction) were almost non existent on the US television news. CNN continued to report under the heading 'America Strikes back'. "The New York Times reported on 25 September that 92% of respondents agreed that the US should take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks'. But the text of the report belied the 'support for war' headline indicating that fully 78% felt that the US should wait until it was certain who is responsible', before responding. ... One little reported poll for Newsweek in early October showed that '58 percent of respondents said the U.S. government's support for Israel may have been the cause' of the attacks, thus indicating that America may have struck first rather that [sic] simply striking back as CNN would have it."[278]
  • The UK media and to a larger extent their US counterparts, "have been distorting what is happening in Afghanistan especially on civilian casualties and alternatives to war."[278]
  • In some instances, "questions asked can collude with official propaganda." For example, one poll had a majority supporting "'surgical air strikes' against countries knowingly harbouring terrorist organisations," while at the same time a majority opposed "massive air strikes". Some see this as problematic arguing 'surgical air strikes' is an "oxymoron". It was used to humanize the Gulf War, to use "smart" technology to protect civilians, however, only 7% of the ordinance used was "smart," and "40% of the smart weapons missed their targets, targets which themselves often contained civilians". Respondents showed much less support "when asked their own preferences about what should happen (rather than approval questions about what is happening)," even in the US.[279]
  • In one poll, a majority (53%) did not blame Islam but rather Islamic terrorism (90%) for the "current crisis." A majority also blamed Israel (a little or a lot, 53%) and the United States (62%). 70% agreed (a little or a lot) that "in the past, the United States has been far too arrogant and selfish in the way it has treated the world's poorest countries." None of those responses managed to make it into the press at the time.[279]

Enhanced techniques[edit]

  • In a poll after 9/11, 45 percent of Americans approved of torturing known terrorists if they knew details about future terrorist attacks in the United States.[202]
  • After World War II in the war crimes trials, a number of Japanese soldiers were prosecuted for crimes committed against American POWs.[281] The crimes they were convicted of, included water boarding and other methods detailed in the Bush administration's torture memos.[282][283] Their punishments comprised of hanging, lengthy prison sentences or time in labour camps.[281]
  • Vox enumerated some of the "absolutely outrageous abuses detailed in the CIA torture report".[284] "More than 100 detainees died in U.S. care, most of them under military custody".[285]
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  • One study of 11 detainees revealed experiences of abuse such as isolation, sleep deprivation, hooding, electric shocks, beating and, being forced to drink urine. All of the 11 were  eventually released without charges.[286]
  • Other torture forms included being routinely beaten and broken bones. Regular[287] scalpel cuts to genitals, and "hot stinging liquid was then poured into [those] open wounds".[288][289] Held in continuous darkness, fed sparsely, subjected to loud noise, such as recorded screams of women and children, all day.[289]
  • The year following the death of a stripped detainee due to hypothermia, "the CIA issued guidelines covering the use of cold in interrogations, with detailed instructions for the 'safe temperature range when a detainee is wet or unclothed.'"[290]
  • The Bush administration drafted secret legal memos, which would later come to be known as the torture memos, in order to give itself the formal legal authority to use "enhanced interrogation techniques". Additionally, high-level officials which included Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, the CIA Director and John Ashcroft (Attorney General) used to meet in the White House to discuss and approve the use of torture techniques on suspects. According to sources, at each discussion, all present used to approve the requested aggressive techniques.[291]
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  • "The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic."[291]
  • Bush and his top aides continued to consistently defend the program. "It was authorized. It was legal, according to the Attorney General of the United States", claimed the CIA director.[291]
  • "Lawyers in the Justice Department had written a classified memo, which was extensively reviewed, that gave formal legal authority to government interrogators to use the 'enhanced' questioning tactics on suspected terrorist prisoners." The memo was referred to as the "Golden Shield" for CIA agents, who were worried they would be held liable if the harsh interrogations were to become public.[291]
  • Then-Attorney General, while agreeing with the general policy of using torture and repeatedly advising it to be legal, did not want the White House discussions to take place arguing that senior officials not involve themselves in the grim details of the interrogations. "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly", he asked aloud after one such meeting.[291] Additionally, officials also had made the effort to insulate Bush from such meetings.[292]
  • One memo "defined torture as covering 'only extreme acts' causing pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure." A second, "justified using harsh tactics on detainees held overseas so long as military interrogators did not specifically intend to torture their captives."[292]
  • Bush advisers approved techniques, which pushed the limits of not only international law but even the Justice Department's own "Golden Shield" memo.[291]
  • Later, after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal came to light, even though the legal memo was withdrawn, on at-least one occasion of a torture request, despite concerns that the US image was being tarnished, Rice did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."[291]
  • A January 2002 internal memo, while "dismissing Geneva protections as 'quaint'," mentioned "Bush's formal decision declaring Geneva protections [as ascribed in Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War (GPW) inapplicable to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees".[293] The "positive" of such a decision, an American official argued, was to not have to determine POW status on case-by-case basis, "avoid foreclosing options for the future", substantially reduce "threat of domestic criminal prosecution [of US government officers] under the War Crimes Act" – which includes punishments such as the death penalty – meant to prohibit "war crimes" like "any grave breach of GPW or any violation ... such as 'outrages against personal dignity' and 'inhuman treatment'", to allow for the "changing needs and circumstances that could arise in the course of the war on terrorism", and circumvent "prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges" based on the War Crimes Act.[294]
  • Over the years, Pentagon officials were also found to have pushed for harsher interrogation methods over the objections of top military lawyers. A human rights activist revealed the existence of a direct correlation between Pentagon decisions and the detainee abuse his group uncovered.[286]
  • Bush administration officials were also known to be involved in colluding with the CIA in order to create misleading documents showing the effectiveness and necessity of the torture program.[283]
  • Bush administration continued to deny involvement in torture.[286] "The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values," said Bush in 2006. "And I think on the left wing of the Democratic Party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured", said Cheney.[295] In 2006, after it was ruled that the original military commission system for Guantánamo Bay violated the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, Congress rewrote the rules and passed the Military Commissions Act,[295] severely limiting the range of The War Crimes Act[283] and creating a new structure for trials by commissions. The act banned torture but permitted "coercive" testimony."[295]

No one above the Law, except for...[edit]

The administration of George W. Bush[edit]

  • Before becoming President, then-Senator Obama in 2008, was against impeachment of Bush, an avenue he thought should be reserved for only "exceptional circumstances", but said that he would ask his Attorney General to "immediately review the information that's already there" and determine if the case justifies investigation, while being careful to not make the investigation appear as "a partisan witch hunt". Obama claimed that in the event of willful criminality, "nobody [is] above the law."[296]
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  • The question of whether Obama would prosecute Bush administration officials for authorizing torture and other potential crimes, rarely came up in the 2008 presidential race.[296]
  • "I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. ... I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law..." — Obama[296]
  • The refusal to even consider impeachment hearings by Democrat leaders – such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – into detailed criminal allegations against Bush, was a point of much frustration for Democrats.[297]
  • After getting elected into office, the tone drastically changed. The Obama administration decided early on against devoting the administration's own resources to expose the torture program,[298] against opening cases and prosecuting anyone who followed orders, or officials who wrote and approved the harsh policies in the first place, and closed off most legal avenues that may have been used to hold officials accountable. Additionally, his new CIA director aggressively argued against any new investigations of the agency.[299]
  • Even before the election, there were signs predicting bipartisan consensus for immunity for the Bush administration. Signs such as one close[297] informal Obama adviser rejecting any prosecution, contending that the prosecution of officials could lead to a "cycle" of criminalizing public service, and that Democrats should avoid retributive acts or even the "slight appearance" of them.[300]
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  • While, Obama did prohibit torture soon after becoming president, in that very same month, although claiming he did not "believe that anybody is above the law," he preferred "to look forward as opposed to looking backwards" and that he did not want CIA agents to "suddenly feel like they've got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering." Even when other senators called for a "truth commission" to look into torture and related matters, even offering immunity for testimonies, Obama never supported the idea.[89] According to one poll, 50% of Americans (including 69% Democrats and 53% independents) favoured investigations while 47 percent opposed them.[302]
  • On publicly releasing the torture memos, Obama said: "This is a time for reflection, not retribution. ... nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."[303] Regarding this attitude, Greenwald noted: "So does that mean that the Obama administration won't prosecute any criminals for crimes they committed 'in the past' -- or is it only high-level political criminals who will receive this 'focused-on-the-future' amnesty?"[304]
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  • "Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals... But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after [consultation] ... I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release." — Obama (Statement on Release of OLC Memos)[303]
    • "Exceptional circumstances" such as they have already been disclosed by the media and publicly acknowledged by the Bush administration.[303] Additionally, the memos disclosure was required due to a court order.[299][282]
  • "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.
... the exceptional circumstances surrounding these memos should not be viewed as an erosion of the strong legal basis for maintaining the classified nature of secret activities.
... This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence.
... we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.  ... The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again [emphasis added]." — Obama (Statement on Release of OLC Memos)[303]
  • Regarding "resist the forces that divide us...", Greenwald notes "how, in Obama's new formulation, those who believed that Bush officials should be held criminally accountable for their torture crimes – should be subjected to the rule of law on equal terms with ordinary citizens – were now scorned as 'the forces that divide us'."[305]
  • In the beginning of Obama's term, when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, Obama did not allow even a congressional inquiry into the torture program.[306]
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  • In April 2009, when at one point Obama had mistakenly appeared to have been open to an investigation, the demands for a full enquiry grew inside the Democratic party. Therefore, Obama's firmer opposition to the inquiry had to be communicated to Congressional leaders. While many Democrat leaders toed the White House line, many of the more liberal Democrats, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pressed on for an independent investigation into the issue. Her only question being the level of immunity to grant the potential witnesses.[306]
  • At the time, Republican leaders tried to push for the public release of more documents related to the use of torture, hoping to prove that it had been effective in obtaining valuable intelligence, as Cheney had previously claimed.[306]
  • Obama's nominee for Attorney General Eric Holder, unequivocally declared waterboarding as torture. "If you look at the history of the use of that technique," Holder said, "we prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. ... Waterboarding is torture."[307] Previously, a top Bush administration official, Susan Crawford had also said that a detainee's "treatment met the legal definition of torture."[295][n 51] Additionally, the US general who investigated the abuse at Abu Gharib prison also accused the Bush administration of "war crimes" and for authorizing "a systematic regime of torture". "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account", wrote the General.[286]
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  • Holder, the first African-American to be nominated for the position of US Attorney General, further claimed that aside from being illegal, Bush's position did not give him the right to circumvent the law. "No one is above the law," Holder had said.[307] "We owe the American people a reckoning," Holder had stated[308] in mid-2008.[305]
  • "It did shock me," Susan Crawford said regarding a tortured detainee at Guantánamo Bay. "I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it."[295]
  • "After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes ... The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account." — General Taguba[286]
  • "We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.", said another distinguished American military leader.[309] A Bush administration top adviser's 2006 memo also described the interrogation techniques as "felony war crime[s]". The memo was alleged to have been considered inappropriate for discussion and its copies "collected and destroyed."[310]
  • However, after becoming the Attorney General Eric Holder, on repeated occasions, assured the intelligence community that those who relied on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department, that their conduct was lawful,[311][312] and that the government will provide monetary and legal support to any employee embroiled in any domestic or foreign tribunal.[311]
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  • "The Attorney General has informed the Central Intelligence Agency that the government would provide legal representation to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee's behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself. To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations."[311]
  • At the time in April 2009, the possibility of prosecuting officials who had gone further than the specific approved techniques was "deliberately left open."[299] Such instances of crossing the line, even by "legal" torture standards, repeatedly occurred.[284] Holder, on numerous occasions, had publicly disclosed that he was horrified by what he read relevant to the torture inflicted on the detainees.[305] In August 2009, when Holder announced his appointment of a prosecutor to investigate the agency's interrogations, although provoking criticism from Republicans, it appeared that some such officials would get prosecuted.[285] However, after a two-year review which involved 101 detainees, the prosecution decided to focus on just two cases involving detainee deaths. Further investigation of the "remaining matters" was "not warranted", Holder said.[312]
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  • Holder had to shake off warnings from Obama to avoid becoming entangled in past controversies. The administration was eager to keep "going forward" and "a hefty litigation looking backward is not what we believe is in the country's best interest" [emphasis added], said the White House press secretary. "As attorney general, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law. In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take", Holder had argued at the time.[285]
  • "Mr. Durham and his team reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees. That review included both information and matters that had never previously been examined by the Department. Mr. Durham has advised me of the results of his investigation, and I have accepted his recommendation to conduct a full criminal investigation regarding the death in custody of two individuals. ... I concluded based on information available to me then, and continue to believe now, that the Department needed to thoroughly examine the detainee treatment issue. I am confident that Mr. Durham's thorough review has satisfied that need." — Eric Holder[312]
  • Next year, however, Holder dropped even those last two cases, closing the three-year investigation,[313] "eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought" as a result of detainee torture by the CIA.[89]
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  • "Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. ... Mr. Durham and his team of agents and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to conduct extraordinarily thorough and complete preliminary reviews and investigations. I am grateful to his team and to him for their commitment to ensuring that the preliminary review and the subsequent investigations fully examined a broad universe of allegations from multiple sources. I continue to believe that our Nation will be better for it. I also appreciate and respect the work of and sacrifices made by the men and women in our intelligence community on behalf of this country. They perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. ... I am confident that Mr. Durham's thorough reviews and determination that the filing of criminal charges would not be appropriate have satisfied [the] need [for a thorough examination of the detainee treatment issue] [emphasis added]"[313]
  • The last two cases included one individual who died after being stripped half-naked,[290] shackled to a concrete wall[89][305] in near-freezing temperatures at a secret CIA prison – a case which had been the subject of multiple previous investigations[290] – and another beaten, stripped, shackled to the wall detainee who died at the Abu Ghraib prison, where his corpse was packed in ice, plastic wrapped, and photographed with a smiling US Army seargent standing over the body and giving the thumbs-up.[89][305]
  • "It is hugely disappointing that with ample evidence of torture, and documented cases of some people actually being tortured to death, that the Justice Department has not been able to mount a successful prosecution and hold people responsible for these crimes," said a human rights activist. "The American people need to know what was done in their name."[89]
  • A human rights group's own investigation into the detainee deaths showed evidence for bungled inquiries by military and intelligence officials in charge of Iraqi and Afghan prisons. The group "said, Mr. Holder, whose statement referred to consideration of 'statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions,' should have been more explicit in explaining exactly why charges could not be brought."[89]
  • Then-CIA director, Petraeus - who had allegedly previously been cognizant of the torture of Sunni suspects in Iraq[88] - thanked CIA officers "who played a role in supporting the Justice Department's inquiries" and added: "As intelligence officers, our inclination, of course, is to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than backwards at those of the past."[89]
  • "I am pleased that the attorney general's re-examination of these cases has come to a close and that he recognizes that filing criminal charges in these cases is inappropriate. These intelligence officers can now continue to focus on the hard work at hand, protecting our national security." — Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee[89]
  • This lack of even charges being brought-up in a country which continued to imprison its population at rates greater than any other, having incarceration rates higher than any other. In addition, during the time when no official got prosecuted for torture, a former CIA agent who publicly spoke about waterboarding awaited trial on criminal charges for disclosing to journalists the identity of CIA officers who had participated in the interrogations.[89]
  • Before in Nov. 2010, the Justice Department had already announced that no charges would be filed for the destruction of CIA torture videotapes,[89] ostensibly on Durham's recommendation.[314]
  • Years later in 2014, evidence was put forward suggesting that the all-important four-year long Durham investigation initiated by Holder and concluded two years previously, did not even bother to interview the detainees who had allegedly been tortured by the CIA. At the time, Durham and the US Defense Department had declined to comment on the matter.[315]
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  • The 2014 UN committee hearing was the committee's first look at US conduct on torture since 2006.[315]
  • 10 former CIA detainees alleged that the investigators conducting the torture inquiry never even spoke to them. An attorney representing one of the detainees had even specifically suggested to Durham that he speak with his client: "If Durham tried, it's news to me. That doesn't mean he didn't ask, but I doubt it."[315]
  • The torture, one detainee alleged to have endured, included being kept standing, naked, and chained to the ceiling for days on end.[315]
  • The US assistant secretary of state had the following to say at the hearing: "... The United States takes very seriously our obligations under the Convention Against Torture and our dialogue with this Committee.
... The United States was founded on the principle of respect for the dignity of the individual, and no crime offends human dignity more than torture. The prohibition of torture and cruel treatment is part of our Constitution, and it binds our federal government and all 50 of our states. We believe that torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptions. The legal and moral argument against torture would be dispositive under any circumstances. It would not matter to that argument if torture were effective; our experience also taught that it is not. It not only devastates its victims, but harms people and countries that employ it. In many places, it is primarily used to coerce false confessions or simply to inflict suffering for its own sake. Much of the time, as George Orwell once wrote, 'the object of torture is torture.'
For all these reasons, the United States actively works to combat torture around the world. Where we see it, we condemn it. We urge other governments to cease its use. We make efforts to sanction those responsible.
... the test for any nation committed to this Convention and to the rule of law is not whether it ever makes mistakes, but whether and how it corrects them. When this issue arose in the United States during the last decade, our democratic institutions worked as designed. ... As a result, U.S. national security agencies now arguably have more explicit safeguards against torture and cruelty than those of any other country on earth. They can and should be a model for others [emphasis added]."[316]
  • Pointing towards Durham's investigation, the Obama administration argued to have fulfilled the US' obligation under the treaty to investigate torture,[314] even though Obama and his administration had warned Holder against initiating the very same investigation in the first place.[285]
  • The Obama administration deliberately ignored binding US and international law requiring the prosecution of those who authorized torture. The US had, decades ago, made the prosecution of any American - who committed or authorized torture, or extradited an individual to a country where they were likely to be tortured - legally binding on itself.[293][317]
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  • "Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
... Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
... The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in [above three points] is found, shall ... if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
... Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made." — UN Convention Against Torture[317]
  • According to the Federal Torture Act, whoever "outside the United States" commits or attempts to commit torture can be imprisoned for up-to 20 years "and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life."[318][283]
  • Greenwald notes how the Convention Against Torture, which the US helped draft,[283] decisively refutes all the excuses people have come up with, in an attempt to defend the Bush administrations's detainee torture and its lack of accountability by the Obama administration, i.e. "we were dealing with real threats; there were 'exceptional circumstances' that justified it; we enacted laws legalizing the torture; our leaders meant well; we need to move on".[293]
  • Furthermore, Greenwald points to International Law postulates recognised in the Charter and Judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal which also in no uncertain terms criminalizes the actions of the US government and CIA agents alleged to be patriots, just following orders. "It's the classic Nuremberg defense -- though now (at least for ourselves) we expressly embrace it rather than emphatically reject it [emphasis added]," noted Greenwald.[304]
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  • "One of the chief reasons the defendants say there was no conspiracy is the argument that conspiracy was impossible with a dictator. The argument runs that they all had to obey Hitler's orders, which had the force of law in the German State, and hence obedience cannot be made the basis of a criminal charge. In this way it is explained that while there have been wholesale killings, there have been no murderers.  This argument is an effort to evade Article 8 of the Charter, which provides that the order of the government or of a superior shall not free a defendant from responsibility but can only be considered in mitigation. " — Robert Jackson (US Attorney General and Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Closing Address)[319]
  • "That's all part-and-parcel of the broader trend whereby we now believe that the U.S. President is empowered to do anything and order anything -- from declaring someone an 'enemy combatant' to proclaiming torture techniques to be legal -- and that the mere fact that he does so makes it legal. It's the classic Nuremberg defense -- though now (at least for ourselves) we expressly embrace it rather than emphatically reject it." — Glenn Greenwald[304]
  • "... if you examine virtually any of the various arguments made by our political and media elites as to why investigations and prosecutions of Bush officials should not be pursued, you'll find an explicit repudiation of at least one -- and probably more than one -- of the ... core international law principles that were universally adopted in the wake of Nuremberg. There's probably something healthy about that. A nation is defined not just by its actions but also by the principles it affirms and rejects. And the only way to argue that Bush officials shouldn't be held accountable for the crimes they ordered and authorized is to make clear that one does not actually subscribe to these core principles of Western justice. There's value in having our political establishment be forced to declare that so openly." — Glenn Greenwald[304]
  • "It's just as simple as that. Once Eric Holder stated unequivocally that waterboarding is torture, and once a top Bush official used the word 'torture' to describe what the U.S. did at Guantánamo using authorized techniques other than waterboarding, the 'discretion' to investigate and prosecute disappeared-- at least for people who believe in the most basic precepts of the rule of law and equality under it, Western principles of justice established at Nuremberg, and the notion that the U.S. is bound by the treaties it signs. There simply is no way to argue against investigations and prosecutions... " — Glenn Greenwald (Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture)[293]
  • Greenwald and Chomsky also point out that the Iraq war was a war of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunal termed as the "kingpin" crime.[320][321](4:50)[322](7:34) "To initiate a war of aggression ... is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."[323]
  • "Democratic Congressional leaders are doing now what they did throughout the Bush presidency: namely, pretending to oppose what was done while doing everything possible to protect and enable it and shield the wrongdoers from scrutiny (in large part because some of the wrongdoing was by their own party)." — Glenn Greenwald[324]
  • At-least up-to the end of 2014, a CIA contractor, David Passaro, remained the only individual convicted and who spent jail time for crimes related to post-9/11 torture,[283][325][n 52] while the CIA's Kabul station chief under whom the first detainee death occurred was promoted at-least three times after the incident.[290][n 53]
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  • Passaro was convicted for killing an afghan, Abdul Wali, who had turned himself in to the Americans.[n 54] He had told the guards that "his rules were different," and his "only rule was not to cause permanent injury."[326] He ordered soldiers to deprive the victim of sleep, limit his access to food and water. "Beyond the smacks to the shins, elbows and wrists, ... Passaro kicked Wali in the groin hard enough to lift him off the ground and jabbed Wali in the abdomen with a flashlight."[327] Wali's face was slammed against the wall, kicked, then subjected to an hour of "iron chair". After consecutive nights of beatings, "Wali begged the soldiers to shoot him in the head and was left moaning a phrase that meant, 'I'm dying.'"[327] Even after showing signs of delirium and stomach pain, his "interrogator" continued to beat him. After collapsing, Passaro still continued to kick him, "and within two hours, he died." Wali's body was returned to his family, but US officials never performed an autopsy. "Apparently, at one point CID closed their investigation for lack of evidence, but reopened it in May 2004, as the Abu Ghraib story was breaking."[326]
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  • The Bush administration was let off on a number of misdemeanours, such as torture, illegal wiretapping (which can justify an imprisonment sentence for up-to five years for each offence)[329], - actions claimed to be patriotic acts for defending national security - reserving non-political positions for "right-thinking Americans", undermining minority voting rights protections, hiring at the Justice Department based on political affiliations and loyalty to the President, handing out billions of dollars to, ultimately failing, politically connected companies without any competitive bidding, restricting careers of officials who tried to enforce accountability on such companies, major scandals in important government agencies, misleading the world for the Iraq war etc. And all this, without a hint of shame or remorse.[328]
  • "If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we'll guarantee that they will happen again. Meanwhile, about Mr. Obama: while it's probably in his short-term political interests to forgive and forget, next week he's going to swear to 'preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.' That's not a conditional oath to be honored only when it's convenient. ... Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that's not a decision he has the right to make." — Paul Krugman (Forgive and Forget?)[328]

Six years of Naught[edit]

  • The investigation into CIA torture program, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, was prompted by a cover-up, involving the destruction of videotapes of brutal interrogations. The committee also contradicted years of CIA assurances of "enhanced techniques" being crucial and concluded "that the torture was an ineffective means of gathering intelligence on al-Qaida", and further that the CIA lied to its superiors.[325]
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  • The investigation committee accused the CIA of spying on it.[325][330] After months of furious and public denials, the CIA admitted to the allegations: "Some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between [the committee] and the CIA...".[325] Obama defended the agency[331] and the Justice Department declined to pursue allegations regarding the agency's misconduct. "The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation," said a spokesperson.[332]
  • The Obama administration and the CIA attempted for months to limit the disclosures in the report.[298] One of Obama's senior aides had even attempted to get the committee to obscure the discovery of domestic abuse and sexual assault accusations levelled against some CIA interrogators operating the agency's black sites.[330] Then-CIA director also recounted one meeting with Obama's Chief of Staff using strong abusive language against him for pledging to cooperate with the senate inquiry.[298]
  • Due to national security concerns, Committee Senators were even prepared to suppress the report, but changed their minds after the intelligence chief "provided the committee with a 'farce' of an analysis predicting that its publication would lead to chaos and violence around the world."[330]
  • The 6,700 pages long report was the result of a six-year long investigation which involved 6.3 million pages of internal CIA documents,[330] depicting CIA's torture far more brutal and far less effective than the agency had disclosed[331] and additionally lied to two presidents, Congress and the US public.[330] Additionally, the report concluded unequivocally that torture produced no valuable counter-terrorism intelligence.
  • Even though Obama publicly insisted on the torture report's quick and thorough declassification, "he appointed the CIA itself as the lead agency to determine what aspects of a report directly implicating CIA activities the public can see."[325][298]
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  • The Obama administration also fought a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, to disclose the torture report in its entirety.[314][331] Furthermore, various investigations into CIA's torture remained mired in bureaucratic and technical legal wranglings.[314]
  • "People who played a significant role in this program, who are in the report, continue to play significant roles in sensitive programs at the agency," said an FBI analyst.[330]
  • At the end of his presidency, Obama made the decision to keep the Senate torture report classified for at-least the next 12 years.[n 55] This, even though then-President-elect Trump had "repeatedly expressed a desire to make the CIA engage in torture once again."[331] He would require the CIA to perform "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding" on terrorism suspects, Trump had declared during the campaign.[330]
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  • The chief investigator of the torture inquiry criticised the decision, saying: "They have ignored requests from senators and others to declassify the full report. Worse, while the full 6,700-page classified report was delivered to the CIA, [office of the director of national intelligence], state, FBI, DOJ and DOD; we're told individuals with the appropriate security clearances at these agencies have not been able to read the report and learn from the mistakes documented. It's dumbfounding. The administration's lack of support – and inaction – continues to be incredibly disappointing."[331] He also accused Obama of colluding with the CIA in order to silence criticism of the agency.[330]
  • CIA officials deeply involved in the torture program continued to remain and obtain promotions at the agency, while Republicans were up-to 2017, attempting to practically destroy the report. The Republican senator at the front of this endeavour termed the report nothing more than a "footnote in history."[334]

Privilege for the privileged[edit]

  • The state secrets privilege allows the government to simply "tell a judge that a matter in a lawsuit, or the very subject of a lawsuit, is so sensitive that national security trumps justice",[335] resulting in rulings with no one even having verified the assertion.[336] The allowance which began as only a limitation on what evidence can be disclosed, turned into a quick argument to get entire cases dismissed, becoming "a broad grant of immunity, a way for the executive branch to shield itself from judicial scrutiny."[337] The Obama administration continued the Bush policy, and used the privilege to quash cases related to illegal wiretapping and detainee torture.[335]
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  • Obama continued to make excuses defending his administration's privilege use, arguing the immediate nature of cases for his new administration didn't allow the time to use a different strategy "we're in for a week, and suddenly we've got a court filing that's coming up" – even though he said this on the occasion of his 100th day in office. Obama called the privilege a "blunt instrument" and expressed the need for "additional tools" to allow a judge to privately review classified information – overlooking, as Kevin Poulsen pointed out, the Classified Information Procedures Act which allows exactly that without any need to seek dismissal of an entire case.[338]
  • The state secrets privilege defense "has been increasingly and successfully invoked by federal lawyers seeking to shield the government from court scrutiny. Generally, lawsuits in which national-security information may be divulged are tossed by judges at the government's request."[339]
  • In a way, moving even further than its predecessor, the Obama administration argued that under the Patriot Act the government can never be held accountable "for warrantless wiretapping unless it's found to have released intercepted communications to outsiders."[338]
  • Despite claiming to the contrary that the "state secrets privilege" will be used only when there's a possibility of "significant harm" to the country, and wouldn't be used to hide embarrassing or illegal government programs,[340] the Obama administration like its predecessor, continued to invoke the privilege on cases left over from the previous administration as well as newer ones.[339]
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  • Just hours after announcing to use the privilege only in extraordinary circumstances, the Obama administration used it to protect Bush's warrantless surveillance program, forcing the judge to disregard damning documents (mistakenly released by the government) proving the surveillance. Previously as senator, Obama had also voted for legalizing Bush's surveillance program, thereby retroactively granting immunity[297] to American "telecommunication companies from lawsuits charging them with being complicit with the Bush administration's warrantless, wiretapping program."[341]
  • The ACLU criticized the new "state secrets privilege" guidelines. "On paper, this is a step forward. In court however, the Obama administration continues to defend a broader view of state secrets put forward by the Bush administration and to demand that federal courts throw out lawsuits filed by victims of torture and illegal surveillance," — ACLU attorney[341]
  • Using this secrecy privilege, the Obama administration protected the Bush government and its accomplices from even domestic civil lawsuits brought by torture victims.[305] One such case was a lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary for its involvement in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" and torture program.[339] According to one former employee, the firm's managing director was quoted to have said: "We do all the extraordinary renditions flights ... the torture flights. ... let's face it, some of those flights end up this way." For employees uncomfortable with the arrangement, he continued, "that's just the way it is, we're doing them". He explained the rendition flights services paid very well, the government didn't worry about the expenses involved.[342]
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  • In Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., the lawsuit against the Boeing subsidiary, the Obama administration, following in the footsteps of its predecessor,[337][339] attempted to have the case dismissed from the start,[339] even before the request for evidence, whether classified or not, was made by the plaintiffs.[343] "It was literally just Bush redux — exactly the same legal arguments that we saw the Bush administration present to the court", said a New York University faculty member. "It seems that the Bush administration's antiterror architecture is gaining new legitimacy", said one advocate of Bush-era policies regarding the trend.[344]
    • After taking over from their predecessors, when the new Obama administration sought to continue Bush's state secrets policy on the case, it caused some bewilderment among the court judges, forcing them to ask multiple times whether anything significant has occurred forcing the change of heart, the judges referring to the recent election promises. The ACLU executive director gave an angry response to the new (or the same old) development, "This is not change," he said. "This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama's Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again."[288]
    • Initially, a three-judge panel[289] of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the government's "state secrets privilege" use and reversed the case's dismissal by a district court. "According to the government's theory, the Judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and limits of the law," wrote one judge. "The subject matter of this action …  is not a state secret, and the case should not have been dismissed at the outset."[343]
    • A year later, however, the Obama administration appealed the decision to an 11-judge panel which upheld the dismissal citing the government's use of the secrets privilege. "... as judges we strive to honor all of these principles [of liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security], ... [but] we are bound to follow the Supreme Court's admonition that 'even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that [state] secrets are at stake,' ... after much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude this is such a case", concluded the majority and gave the explanation that whether the firm was involved in extraordinary rendition or not, "there is precious little Jeppesen could say about its relevant conduct and knowledge without revealing information about how the United States government does or does not conduct covert operations".[339] The court effectively ruled that former CIA detainees could not sue over their alleged torture as such lawsuits had the potential of exposing secret information, even if the lawsuit were to rely only on public information.[289]
    • However, the minority complained the case having been dismissed even "before Jeppesen has even filed an answer to plaintiffs' complaint", and added the plaintiffs were not even given a chance to make their case without using classified information. "Here, the 'very subject matter' of this lawsuit is Jeppesen's involvement in an overseas detention program. Plaintiffs are neither parties to a secret agreement with the government, nor are they attempting, as the result of this lawsuit, to solicit information from the government on a 'state secret' matter," the minority wrote. "Rather, they are attempting to remedy 'widespread violations of individual constitutional rights' occurring in a program whose existence has been made public."[339]
    • One majority decision judge urged the US government to pay reparations to victims of CIA 's "misjudgments or mistakes" that violated their human rights, similar to what was done for people of Japanese descent forced into US internment camps during World War II. The dissenting judges criticized this and noted that those reparations took five decades. "Permitting the executive to police its own errors and determine the remedy dispensed", wrote one judge, "would not only deprive the judiciary of its role, but also deprive plaintiffs of a fair assessment of their claims by a neutral arbiter".[289] In 2011, the US Supreme Court declined to review the lower court decision.[345]
    • Back in 2007, using the privilege, the Bush government had got a similar lawsuit against the CIA dismissed, brought by a Muslim man, mistakenly abducted and tortured only because his name was similar to that of a militant. The US Supreme Court refused to even hear the appeal and upheld the dismissal without comment, thereby refusing to elaborate on the secrets privilege for the first time in more than 50 years. The judges even refused to make use of the US Solicitor General's offer to show "under appropriate security measures," the classified documents used by the government in lower courts to support its claim of the secrets privilege use, apparently, considering such to be unnecessary.[337]
  • ACLU's lawyer commented on the case's dismissal: "This is a sad day not only for the torture victims whose attempt to seek justice has been extinguished, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation's reputation in the world. To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in court. If today's decision is allowed to stand, the United States will have closed its courtroom doors to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers."[346] During the same period, Bush's CIA director appreciated invocation of the secrecy privilege, as he himself was named as a defendant in some of the cases.[347]

International complicity and coercion[edit]

  • Governments of Lithuania, Poland and Romania hosted secret CIA prisons.[348][n 56] The British government, on the other hand, was involved in illegal "extraordinary rendition" and torture.[287][349] The next British government also actively tried to suppress documents related to the Blair government's complicity, a number of them completely blacked out leaving only the date. One January 2002 released document mentioned the government's "preferred options", stating: "Transfer of United Kingdom nationals held to a United States base in Guantánamo is the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objectives, to ensure they are securely held."[349]
  • The British government quickly became involved in the abduction and torture of suspects with few qualms given regarding the illegality of such actions.[349] In one case Tony Blair's office deliberately intervened and forced the Foreign Office to violate its Vienna Convention legal obligation[350] to provide consular assistance to a British national and therefore prevent his return to the UK. Such was the case, even though at the time, as one group of detainees counsel argued, the risk of getting tortured by the US was abundantly clear. The suspect was released without charge following his imprisonment in Guantánamo for two years and nine months.[351] However, this "was not the only time the prime minister's office intervened to thwart attempts by Foreign Office officials to obtain a degree of protection for British citizens".[349]
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  • "Instructions from London were unequivocal. We should not accept responsibility for or take custody ... This was subsequently reinforced by the message from No 10 that under no circumstances should Mubanga be allowed to return to the UK. *** And it became clear that if we requested consular access [REDACTED] thereby de facto acknowledging him as a UK national, he would have been handed over to us."[350]
  • At one interdepartmental meeting, it was "agreed that UK should be in no hurry to take back the detainees though FCO was quiet on the point." "While there were problems of 'public presentation' in the face of the much-criticized military commissions, spinning these problems was deemed by the Blair Government to be 'preferable to those associated with the detainees being released in the UK."[350]
  • "According to Mubanga, after the British finished with him — apparently having tried and failed to recruit him as a spy — the US agent who had been dealing with him told him, 'I'm sorry to have to tell you this, as I think you're a decent guy, but in ten or 15 minutes we're going to the airport and they're taking you to Guantánamo Bay.'"[352]
  • One Jan. 2002 government memo stated: "Public opinion has on the whole shown little concern about the welfare of the British detainees, or the legal terms of their detention. But the issue is clearly of sensitivity to Muslim opinion in the UK and abroad." Even though consular officials had not seen the detainees, the Foreign Office should be "seen as applying our normal standards of consular assistance as far as possible ... our holding line, that we are first seeking to establish identity details, is wearing thin", as extensive identity details in one case had already appeared in the press.[349]
  • Then-foreign secretary wrote: "A specialist team is currently in Afghanistan seeking to interview any detainees with a UK connection to obtain information on their terrorist activities and connections. We therefore hope that all those detainees they wish to interview will remain in Afghanistan and will not be among the first groups to be transferred to Guantánamo. A week's delay should suffice. UK nationals should be transferred as soon as possible thereafter."[349]
  • MI5 interrogators happened to be clearly aware of the mistreatment of British nationals. One handwritten note stated, apparently regarding the state of a detainee: "Interview conditions: cold beaten up." "The note appears to end with a list of options which includes 'collusive deportation extradition'."[349]
  • In one April 2002 meeting, the Foreign Office "had wanted to [provide consular service to British detainees] (and wanted to be seen to be doing it) but had been overruled by No 10".[349]
  • Missing from the documents released up-to July 2010 was "a copy of the secret policy that governed MI5 and MI6 officers interrogating detainees held overseas between mid-2004 and [July 2010], when it was revised on the orders of the coalition government." The MI6's manual dealing with detainee operations included an odd question, "Is it clear that detention, rather than killing, is the object of the operation?"[349]
  • Ministers from Blair's government "repeatedly insisted that the secret interrogation policy of recent years should never be made public." David Miliband even argued "to a Commons select committee that doing so would  'give succour' to the nation's enemies."[349]
  • Following the incident, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government "for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information."[344]
  • First, Bush government officials pressured judicial proceedings of Italy and Germany[348] and then Obama administration's protection of its predecessor did not stop at US borders. Democrats under Obama in collusion with Republicans attempted, and were apparently successful, to squash potential international prosecutions, such as those in Spain[353] of high-ranking officials involved with the torture program.[305]
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  • In early 2007, during the Bush presidency, an American diplomat explained to Condoleezza Rice how he emphasized to Rolf Nikel (the deputy national security advisor for Germany) that "issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship." He also "reminded Nikel of the repercussions to US-Italian bilateral relations in the wake of a similar move by Italian authorities last year" and "pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the US."[348]
  • In early 2009, a criminal complaint was filed against six high-ranking Bush administration lawyers (the "Bush Six"), in Spain under the nation's "universal jurisdiction" law.[354]
    • A WikiLeaks leaked cable showed US government and Republican party officials to have met with multiple Spanish officials, such as the Spanish chief prosecutor, the foreign minister's chief of staff and then the foreign minister himself, and a Justice Ministry official. The message to be conveyed, "that this was a very serious matter for the USG" and underscore "that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship" between the two countries.[353]
    • The Spanish replied with its chief prosecutor arguing against the case's legality and Spain's jurisdiction over it,[353] the foreign minister assuring that the government "would use all appropriate legal tools in the matter," and advised the attorney general that the official government position was critical of the case. The day after meeting with some US officials, the attorney general publicly denounced the case, "that prosecutors will 'undoubtedly' not support [the] criminal complaint," adding that he would "not support the criminal complaint because it is 'fraudulent,' and has been filed as a political statement to attack past [US government] policies."[348] The Madrid American embassy claimed some credit mentioning the attorney general's "public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case."[353] As the case continued, some years later whether related or not, the Spanish Parliament's new legislation amended its "universal jurisdiction" law. In July 2015, Spain's National Court dismisses the case for lack of jurisdiction.[354]
  • Criminal cases against US military and CIA agents have been brought in several European countries such as Switzerland, Spain and France. 13 CIA agents - for the rendition of a German citizen whose name happened to be similar to that of a wanted al-Qaeda militant - have been criminally indicted for years in Germany, and a further 22 along with a US Colonel[348] convicted in absentia in Italy, but the Italian government refused to seek their extradition. Therefore, the court cases remain symbolic, for as long as US officials do not travel to countries which issued arrest warrants for them, they remain safe from prosecution.[355]
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  • Regarding the German citizen, according to the 2007 Senate torture report even though the CIA accepted the agency, "lacked sufficient basis to render and detain al-Masri", but chose to not charge the involved agents "arguing that 'the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes' rather than erring on the side of 'under-connecting' the dots."[355] In 2007, German authorities had officially requested the US to help arrest those 13 CIA agents.[356]
  • Governments which are close US allies have also "tried to block cases from being heard on the grounds of political sensitivities." Regarding a case of litigation against MI6, for a joint MI6-CIA operation, one attorney noted that, "The British government has always said those cases cannot go to trial because 'it will damage our relations with the U.S.'"[355]
  • The Obama administration, once more following its predecessor's lead, even went to the extent of threatening its closest ally, the British government, in order to suppress information involving torture of its citizens by US officials.[n 57] After a British High Court ruled that Binyam Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to evidence from the British government and after the initiation of a formal police inquiry into allegations that British agencies collaborated in the torture, the US government threatened to no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain in case the British court disclosed information related to the torture. "[I]t is almost certain that the United Kingdom's ability to identify and arrest suspected terrorists and to disrupt terrorist plots would be severely hampered", US officials wrote. Describing the situation, Greenwald wrote: "Just think how despicable that threat is: 'if your court describes the torture to which one of your residents was subjected while in U.S. custody, we will withhold information from you that could enable you to break up terrorist plots aimed at your citizens.'"[357]
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  • US State Department wrote to the British Foreign Office that the information disclosure could "harm existing intelligence information-sharing arrangements" between the two nations, while a subsequent email asserted that the disclosure could do "serious and lasting damage to the US-UK intelligence sharing relationship and thus the national security of the UK." However, even though two High Court judges had also said as much, David Miliband still tried to downplay the incident and alleged that the US had not threatened to "break off" security cooperation. He said, "the disclosure of the intelligence documents ... against the wishes of the US authorities would indeed cause real and significant damage to the national security and international relations of this country".[358]
  • Mohamed's lawyer appealed the British High Court to re-consider its previous ruling to not make the torture details public, according to Greenwald, this was to know definitively whether Obama was really issuing those threats or not. "... covering up evidence of torture is a criminal offense for which you can go to prison here in Britain, ... It became clear to us ... [that] Obama had never made that decision and that the British government had somewhat misrepresented his position ... I thought [it] was only fair and appropriate was for President Obama to make a decision himself: Do you, President Obama, I voted for you and I think he's a good man, do you really, really tell your officials to cover up evidence of torture committed by US personnel?"[357]
  • However, the Obama administration's letters submitted to the British court included statements such as the following, "it is almost certain that the United Kingdom's ability to identify and arrest suspected terrorists and to disrupt terrorist plots would be severely hampered." If the British government is unable to protect the provided information, "even if that inability is caused by your judicial system, we will necessarily have to review with the greatest care the sensitivity of information we can provide in future".[357]
  • "... by attempting to keep evidence of Mr. Mohamed's 'abuse' secret, the U.S. official who communicated the threats to the British Foreign Office was in breach of British law," said Mohamed's lawyer. "The U.S. is committing a criminal offense in Britain by seeking to conceal this information. What the Obama administration did is not just ill-advised, it is illegal".[357]
  • Furthermore, Article 9 of the Torture convention also enforces upon all States Parties to provide the "greatest measure of assistance" with torture cases, "including the supply of all evidence at their disposal necessary for the proceedings."[317]
  • "Moreover, in the light of the long history of the common law and democracy which we share with the United States, it was, in our view difficult to conceive that a democratically elected and accountable government could possibly have any rational objection to placing into the public domain such a summary of what its own officials reported as to how a detainee was treated by them and which made no disclosure of sensitive intelligence matters. Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials or officials of another State where the evidence was relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be [emphasis added]." — British High Court on reversing its disclosure decision after US threats[357]


  • In the July 2016 protests, Facebook was accused of censoring dozens of posts and user accounts either supporting the Kashmiri "freedom movement" or simply reporting on the incident.[359][360][361][n 58] One Facebook user was reported to have exclaimed: "Why is it that only Muslims get blocked? Facebook is being one-sided by supporting the atrocities committed by the Indian army. Other people can say whatever they want, but if Muslims say something, we get blocked. It is not neutral."[360]
  • In April 2017, a video clip started spreading on social media showing a Kashmiri man, Farooq Ahmad Dar, tied to the front bumper of a military jeep being used as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds. According to the victim, he was also beaten up before getting tied-up and paraded around at least nine villages. A piece of paper, with his name on it, was tied to his chest. "Look at the fate of the stone-pelter," a soldier announced over a loudspeaker. Dar happened to be one, amongst the low voter turnout of 7 percent. "I voted, and this is what I got in return," he said. "Do you think it will help India in Kashmir? No. It will give Kashmiris another reason to hate India."[363] "I don't think anyone, who has seen what i have gone through, will vote".[364][n 59]
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  • "When [the other villagers] saw me, they were afraid and angry," Dar said. "I saw people breaking into tears on seeing my state."[363]
  • The incident left the Kashmiri man terrified, and said that "shouts of the Army man calling upon the youth [to] 'apnay banday ko pathar maro, (throw stones at your own man)', haunt him." Talking about the incident, Dar said, "An Army officer then made a video of it on his mobile saying your father will see it at home". After the jeep incident, the victim remained tied to a chair in the Army camp.[364]
  • Dar was accused of being the ring leader of stone-pelters, but a later investigation confirmed that he was a voter.[366] "I even showed ink mark of the voting but they [the military personnel] didn't listen."[364]
  • Back in 1994, according to the family, the victim's brother-in-law was allegedly killed by the Army. "He had gone out of the house in the morning and the Army fired at him. We kept his body for two days in our house and hoped that the police will take it for the postmortem but the police didn't come", said Dar's mother.
  • "I thought I will be dead. My hands were tied behind, engine of the jeep was hot, and if started slight movement of the body, the Army man would throw a stone from behind. It was Sunday and I thought I will meet fate of my brother-in-law", Dar explained.[364]
  • The Kashmiri Chief Minister was assured by "the head of the Indian Army ... that military officials would take action against those who tied [the man] to the jeep".[363] However, later the government and military defended the action[365] and the very next month in May, the main accused of the incident was awarded the Chief of Army Staff's Commendation (COAS) card for "sustained efforts in CI (counter insurgency) operations" by the Indian Army head.[366][365] "Happy to hear of possible bravery award for 'human shield' officer ... hope it's true, the officer deserves it".[365]


  • NATO bombing of a Pakistani post which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.[367]

Droned by drones[edit]

  • American drone strikes, during one 5-month long period, killed unintended targets almost 90% of the time.[368]
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  • "Nevertheless, the U.S. government considers many of these casualties to be enemy combatants, according to the the source, despite the strikes more often than not ending in the deaths of women, children and other civilians who become collateral damage of targeted attacks and are subsequently written off as adversaries killed during war, regardless of status."[369]
  • "These eye-opening disclosures make a mockery of U.S. government claims that its lethal force operations are based on reliable intelligence and limited to lawful targets. In fact, the government often claims successes that are really tragic losses," argued an ACLU official.[369]
  • From a 2014 article published in The Guardian: "For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm. ... Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people". In Pakistan, 24 men specifically targeted in multiple strikes resulted in the deaths of 874 people, including 142 children. Only 6 out of the 24 were killed as the intended victims of drone attacks. Similarly in Yemen, 17 were targeted, 273 killed including at-least seven children; by then, at-least four of the targets were still alive.[370][n 60]
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  • Reprieve's data raised "questions about the accuracy of US intelligence guiding strikes that US officials describe using words like 'clinical' and 'precise.'" A Reprieve official commented: "Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they're 'precise'. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every 'bad guy' the US goes after,"[370]
  • Reprieve believed to have found one confirmed case of mistaken identity. "Someone with the same name as a terror suspect on the Obama administration's 'kill list' was killed on the third attempt by US drones. His brother was captured, interrogated and encouraged to 'tell the Americans what they want[ed] to hear': that they had in fact killed the right person."[370]
  • "Every independent investigation of the strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit. Gradually, it has become clear that when operators in Nevada fire missiles into remote tribal territories on the other side of the world, they often do not know who they are killing, but are making an imperfect best guess."[372]
  • "If even [Obama's] government doesn't know who is filling the body bags every time a strike goes wrong, his claims that this is a precise programme look like nonsense..." — Reprieve official (2014).[370] "... most individuals killed are not on a kill list, and the government does not know their names." — Micah Zenko[372]
  • A 14-year old Yemeni boy killed in a drone strike, happened to have had given an interview shorty before his death. His parents and family had previously been murdered in drone strikes and he had watched them burn to death. "We get upset about beheadings. They get upset about seeing their father burn to death in a drone strike." Chomsky said. The boy "said they live in a situation of constant terror, not knowing when the person 10 feet away from you is suddenly going to be blown away."[16]
  • According to a 2012 The New York Times article, Obama, for ascertaining the number of civilian casualties in US military strikes, employed the method of "count[ing] all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants (...) unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent" [emphasis added].[373][n 61]
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  • "... three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number [of civilian deaths] could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it 'guilt by association' that has led to 'deceptive' estimates of civilian casualties. 'It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,' the official said. 'They count the corpses and they're not really sure who they are.'"[373]
  • Leaked documents in 2015 showed US military designating people it killed in targeted strikes as EKIA — "enemy killed in action" — even if they were unintended targets. The process, the whistle-blower argued, "is insane. But we've made ourselves comfortable with that. The intelligence community, JSOC, the CIA, and everybody that helps support and prop up these programs, they're comfortable with that idea." He also "described official U.S. government statements minimizing the number of civilian casualties inflicted by drone strikes as 'exaggerating at best, if not outright lies.'"[368]
  • "The only people that we fire a drone at [sic] are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time. We don't just fire a drone at somebody and think they're a terrorist" — John Kerry, BBC Forum (2013)[374]
  • 'Double-tap' strikes, in which American drones after striking at a target, wait and then fire, a second time, upon rescuers of their victims or even people gathered for the victims' funeral prayers.[367]
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  • The 'double-tap' revelations were made just days after Obama claimed the drone campaign in Pakistan to be a "targeted, focused effort" that "has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties." Obama rejected what he called "this perception we're just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly ... This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans".[367]
  • A top US official argued, "because we are engaged in an armed conflict with al- Qaeda, the United States takes the legal position that, in accordance with international law, we have the authority to take action against al-Qaeda and its associated forces ... The United States does not view our authority to use military force against al-Qaeda as being restricted solely to 'hot' battlefields like Afghanistan."[367]
  • One of these follow-up strikes killed people who "were trying to pull out the bodies, to help clear the rubble, and take people to hospital."[367]
  • One Harvard legal scholar argued: "Not to mince words here, if it is not in a situation of armed conflict, unless it falls into the very narrow area of imminent threat then it is an extra-judicial execution ... We don't even need to get to the nuance of who's who, and are people there for rescue or not. Because each death is illegal. Each death is a murder in that case."[367]
  • A funeral planned as part of a 'double-tap' strike was attended by up-to 5,000 people, but the large mass involved did not deter the strike. Up-to 83 people were killed, as many as 45 civilians, among them reportedly ten children and four tribal leaders.[367]
  • One lawyer argued that such strikes "are like attacking the Red Cross on the battlefield. It's not legitimate to attack anyone who is not a combatant."[367]
  • The day after releasing Raymond Davis, a "drone strike killed up to 42 people gathered at a meeting in North Waziristan". The attack was believed to be a CIA retaliation by some. A tribal meeting had been called to resolve a dispute between two tribes regarding Chromite mines in the area. "We in the Pakistan military knew about the meeting", a Pakistani general said, "we'd got the request ten days earlier. ... It was held in broad daylight, people were sitting out in Nomada bus depot when the missile strikes came. Maybe there were one or two Taliban at that Jirga – they have their people attending – but does that justify a drone strike which kills 42 mostly innocent people?"[367]
  • "Such unmanned war is a politician's dream, avoiding the inconvenience of sending someone's son or daughter, mother or father, into harm's way. The fact that the operations are carried out by the CIA rather than the US military enables the administration to evade questions. The Agency press office responds to media inquiries on the subject with no comment and refusal to give names of those killed or who are on the target list."[367]
  • A former drone operator engaged in a heated social media debate wrote, "... This isn't a video game. How many of you have killed a group of people, watched as their bodies are picked up, watched the funeral, then killed them too?"[375]
  • Drone strikes occur under a blanket of official secrecy,[370] often run by the CIA which is not required to answer queries.[367] Even though the Obama administration has repeatedly promised greater openness about the drone program, during his presidency it has become more difficult "for journalists to obtain information from the government on the results of particular strikes." And his Justice Department "has fought in court for years to keep secret the legal opinions justifying strikes."[372]
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  • John Kerry called the US program as "one of the strictest, most accountable and fairest" drone programmes.[376]
  • "There's never been any answer from the executive branch on the killing of the 16-year-old son of somebody who was an admitted terrorist. The son never was. The statement that came out, that was leaked, is particularly concerning—the statement that the condition of an operational leader presents an imminent threat of attack to the U.S. does not require the U.S. to have clear evidence that a specific act will take place in the immediate future. One of my staff said, 'Only a team of lawyers could define "imminent" to mean the exact opposite.' I agree completely." — Rand Paul[377]
  • There also have been some terrorists who claimed to have plotted attacks because of American drone strikes.[372][379]
  • Some argue that the drone program amounts to war crimes.[380]
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  • Morris Davis argues that the US prosecuted a Muslim "for not being a lawful combatant. Exactly the same applies to the civilian CIA". Khadr was explained to, that the law says a "killing is unlawful when done without legal justification or excuse" and that "the phrase 'in violation of the law of war' means a person … acting as a combatant [who] did not meet the requirements for being a lawful combatant." Khadr, therefore, had to serve his sentence for war crimes. On the other hand, US officials while discussing drone strikes, argued how combatant immunity legally allows deliberate killing by a member of the armed forces acting in compliance with the law of war. However, the CIA being a civilian agency "with civilian employees and civilian contractors ... is not immune from liability by the law of war principles", Davis argues. "The deliberate killing of another person is generally murder unless it is excused by some valid legal justification, like the law of war's combatant immunity."[381]
  • Bush's CIA director revealed in a 2012 lecture that while continuing a multitude of his predecessor's terrorism-related policies, Obama differed by instead of capturing and torturing so-called "enemy combatants" or terrorism suspects, he killed them. "We have made it so politically dangerous and so legally difficult that we don't capture anyone anymore," the former Director said. "We take another option, we kill them. Now. I don't morally oppose that."[347] In 2013, the lawyer who wrote the White House lethal drone strikes policy also accused the Obama administration of overusing those drone strikes due to a preference to kill rather than capture.[382][322](10:38) "This government has decided that instead of detaining members of al-Qaida [at Guantánamo] they are going to kill them," he told a conference.[382]
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  • The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed its preference for capturing suspected terrorists over killing them.[383][384]
  • When US citizen Al Farekh was captured and then transferred to the US in 2015, for providing material support to al-Qaeda – even after having been spotted several times by drones, and both the Pentagon and CIA wanting him to be put on Obama's kill list – represented "one of the rare occasions when U.S. counterterrorism practice aligned with stated U.S. policy objectives."[383]
  • John Brennan, then-White House counter-terrorism adviser, stated in 2011: "... some have suggested that we do not have a detention policy; that we prefer to kill suspected terrorists, rather than capture them. This is absurd,  ... As a former career intelligence professional, I have a profound appreciation for the value of intelligence. Intelligence disrupts terrorist plots and thwarts attacks. Intelligence saves lives.  And one of our greatest sources of intelligence about al-Qa'ida, its plans, and its intentions has been the members of its network who have been taken into custody by the United States and our partners overseas. So I want to be very clear—whenever it is possible to capture a suspected terrorist, it is the unqualified preference of the Administration to take custody of that individual so we can obtain information that is vital to the safety and security of the American people. ... it is the clear and unambiguous policy of this Administration."[385]
  • Micah Zenko argues, "[f]or a policy that is supposedly the 'unqualified preference' and is 'clear and unambiguous,' there is little evidence that it is actually guiding counterterrorism operations."  From Sept. 2001 to April 2015, the US had conducted 215 drone strikes with 1,271 killed while reportedly less than a dozen capture operations had been authorized during the same period.[383] While previously, in the 14 months after 9/11, according to American officials 3,000 al-Qaida associates had been captured in over 100 countries, and then transferred to CIA "black sites".[383]
  • According to Mark Mazzetti, a 2004[383][386] report on detainee abuse in CIA secret prisons, "kicked out the foundation upon which the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program had rested. It was perhaps the single most important reason for the C.I.A.'s shift from capturing to killing terrorism suspects."[378]

Of a Lesser God[edit]

  • On April 2015, the killing of two Western civilians in one of Obama's drone strikes led to an "unprecedented pressure" on the drone program and additionally forced the Obama administration to reveal an "unprecedented amount of information about what would typically be a highly classified operation". "I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to their families", Obama said. He had decided to make the existence of the operation public because the victims' families "deserve to know the truth" and said "the United States is a democracy, committed to openness, in good times and in bad". Obama spoke with the Italian victim's wife, and the Italian prime minister. "As a husband and a father I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the [victims'] families are enduring today," he said. "I realise that there are no words that can ever equal their loss. There is nothing that I can ever say or do to ease their heartache."[387] This incident was the closest Obama had ever come to "directly and candidly addressing civilian casualties in the CIA's drone war in Pakistan in public."[388]
  • This unprecedented "acceptance of responsibility" by the American administration and Obama, remained absent for the numerous prior confirmed cases of Pakistani civilian deaths which included many women and children.[389]
  • Such a state of affairs led many Muslims to conclude the unequal nature of Muslim lives, even their children's, as compared to western adults, in the eyes of most (if not all) westerners. A Pakistani attorney representing the drone victims' families argued that Obama's apology sent a message to the victims, "that you do not matter, you are children of a lesser God, and I'm only going to mourn if a Westerner is killed."[388]
  • Rafiq ur-Rehman, whose mother was killed and children seriously injured by a 2012 drone strike in Pakistan, told the Guardian: "If America kills any westerner, one of their own, white people, they apologize and compensate. But if it's Pakistanis like us, they don't care. In my opinion, America treats us worse than animals."[390]
  • When Rehman's family went to meet with US lawmakers on October 20, 2013, a total of five members of Congress showed up.[388]
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  • When Americans get killed in US drone strikes, "the Obama administration has found it necessary to break with its usual practice and eventually acknowledge the deaths, at least in private discussions with reporters."[372]
  • "Despite the bad reviews overseas, drone strikes remain persistently popular with the American public, with about two-thirds expressing approval in polls. And despite the protests of a few liberal Democrats or libertarian Republicans, they have enjoyed unusual bipartisan support in Congress, where they are viewed as reducing the threat of terrorist attack and keeping American operators out of harm's way."[372]


  • A January 2017 Yemeni Yakla raid by the US left nine children under the age of 13 dead, the youngest being three months old. A further eight women were also killed, "including one who was heavily pregnant. Seven more women and children were injured."[391] US officials commented that the raid was "very, very well thought out and executed"[392], called it "a successful operation by all standards", "It achieved the purpose it was going to get - save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred".[393]
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  • After the firefight began, helicopter gunships began their bombing and "shot at everything".[391]
  • "It is true they were targeting al Qaeda but why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people?" said a survivor, who lost nine members of his extended family, which included five children. "If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet [emphasis added]."[391] "They killed men, children and women and destroyed houses," said another survivor, who lost her brother, nephew and three of her nephew's children. "... The men came from America, got off the planes and the planes bombed us."[391]
  • An 11-year-old was the first casualty. According to his father: "When my son Ahmed saw them, he couldn't tell that they were soldiers because it was dark ... He asked them 'Who are you?' but the men shot him. He was the first killed. No one thought that marines would descend on our homes to kill us, kill our children and kill our women."[393][391] A mother was fatally shot by special operators while trying to flee with her two-year-old son. "We pulled him out from his mother's lap. He was covered in her blood," said an 11-year-old whose 17-year-old brother had also just been killed.[391]
  • Eight-year-old Nawar Anwar Al-Awlaqi who was injured in her neck by gunship fire also died, and was said to have bled to death over two hours.[391] Her brother had previously been killed in a drone strike, even though no one claimed him to be a terrorist,[394][377] though US media still ran with the "Militants Killed" headlines.[394]
  • "The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families," was one of now-President Trump's old statements. "When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families."[391]

Media affairs[edit]

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  • In November 2001, Al Jazeera's Kabul office was destroyed by two "smart" bombs,[395] even though location of the building was claimed to have been known to everyone including the Americans.[396] Apparently, this happened the same night the Northern Alliance had taken over Kabul.[397] During the 2003 Iraq invasion in April, Al Jazeera's along with another Arab news network's Baghdad offices were hit, killing one of its reporters. US officials said the station "was not and never had been a target".[398] Later it was revealed in 2006, that two weeks before the strike, the then-British Home Secretary had actually urged Tony Blair to bomb Al Jazeera's Baghdad television transmitter terming the network as an enemy "propaganda mechanism".[399]
  • An unpublished leaked memo from 2004 was alleged to have showed Bush wanting to bomb Al Jazeera's offices in Doha and other places, requiring Blair to talk him out of it. Accounts differed on whether the threat was "humorous" or "deadly serious".[395] The sources of the leaks were charged under the Official Secrets Act 1989, prosecuted in a closed-doors trial,[400][401] and then jailed for 3 and 6 months with a £5,000 fine.[401] To keep the trial confidential, prosecutors had even delayed the trial by a few months until a new Foreign Secretary was sworn-in to sign a required certificate, with the ruling judge providing somewhat unsatisfactory rationalizations on the matter.[402] Associating any connection in the media between the trial and Al Jazeera was banned in the UK, however a later appeal allowed repeating previously published allegations.[400] The allegation was denied by the US and British governments,[403] and some argued that the more damaging information would have been related to the US assault on Fallujah, such as the use of white Phosphorous in it,[400][403] and MI6 operations.[401] Andreas Whittam Smith argued that the Official Secrets Act 1989 does not even deal with safeguarding against disclosures of the kind of information which is useful to an enemy, and is apparently being used to protect the government from its critics.[404] One of the leakers was reported to have claimed that the memo contents were "abhorrent", "illegal"[39] and suggested Bush was a "madman" and he felt it should be disclosed to parliament.[401] One British official hinted at embarrassment being the real issue, claiming the disclosure would have a "serious negative impact" on UK-US diplomatic relations, "the ultimate consequence", being "a substantial risk of harm to national security."[39] "My assessment is that this risk is of such magnitude to outweigh the interest of open public justice", the official explained.[402] The prosecution also admitted the leak did not contain any "actual damage".[39]
  • Some Western commentators have also had their remarks published calling for Al Jazeera to be "taken down" "one way or another" terming it as "enemy media".[405]
  • According to one 2017 research, terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims received, on average, 449% more coverage than other attacks.[406][407]
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  • According to The Independent reporting on the paper, "the average attack with a Muslim perpetrator is covered in 90.8 articles. Attacks with a Muslim, foreign-born perpetrator are covered in 192.8 articles on average. Other attacks received an average of 18.1 articles."[408]
  • "... whether intentional or not, U.S. media outlets disproportionately emphasize the smaller number of terrorist attacks by Muslims — leading Americans to have an exaggerated sense of that threat."[407]
  • Glenn Greenwald argues that almost every time a US drone strike kills Muslims, the American media publish headlines claiming the dead to be "militants", "even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed. ... simply cit[ing] always-unnamed 'officials'"[394]
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  • While discussing Obama's definition of "militant" being "any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them" and the US media uncritically accepting the official narrative regarding "militants" killed in drone strikes, Greenwald wrote, "What kind of self-respecting media outlet would be party to this practice? Here's the New York Times documenting that this is what the term 'militant' means when used by government officials. Any media outlet that continues using it while knowing this is explicitly choosing to be an instrument for state propaganda -- not that that's anything new, but this makes this clearer than it's ever been [emphasis added]."[394]
  • Incidents of the BBC allegedly falsifying information to support US agenda. Cases like broadcasting a video of an Indian gathering and wrongly claiming it to be a live broadcast of the Libyan people celebrating NATO backed intervention in Tripoli;[409] or the fabricated video of the aftermath of an attack in Syria supporting the US governments claims that chemical weapons had been used.[410]
  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism displayed how a professionally put map, purporting to show the spread of "refugee and migrant crime" throughout Germany, was systematically designed to mislead, exaggerating the figures through "skewed use of statistics."[411]
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  • "Attributing crimes to migrants or refugees on the basis of nothing more than a witness statement that the perpetrator was 'dark-skinned' or 'southern'."[411]
  • "The map's creators like to portray their approach as scientific, mimicking the language of academics and think tanks."[411]
  • During one "7-day analysis of published police reports", by stripping away "all crimes in which the perpetrators' background" was unknown, the map was able to show that 84% of crimes were committed by migrants. The true percentage according to the map's own data came out to be 13%.[411]
  • Almost two-thirds of the map's reported offenders fell into the categories of "dark-skinned", "southern-looking", "foreigner" or "refugee", from which analysis on a sample showed that the overwhelming majority of the cases for the "dark-skinned", "southern-looking", "foreigner" categories, showed no evidence in the sources positively identifying them as a migrant or refugee.[411]
  • Even the cases explicitly mentioning "refugee" were misleading. Such cases involved fights or other incidents in overcrowded asylum centres, like suicide attempts and a fire alarm going off due to someone smoking. In at-least one case, the refugee was actually the victim of an attack.[411]
  • Experts criticised the map for taking eye-witness accounts as the basis for the included cases, instead of on the people actually charged for the crime. Additionally, the map was also criticised for lacking context for the included events. "Without that context, the data is useless at best," said one criminologist.[411]
  • On October 11, 2017, a non-Muslim planted an improvised ANFO bomb in a North Carolina airport leading to closing of the airport's Terminal Drive, part of a terminal, concourse and the street leading to the airport. The bomb was packed with nails and a shotgun cartridge, and scheduled to blow when a fresh round of travellers was to arrive at the airport. The would-be bomber openly admitted that he was "preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil".[412] As the incident went largely uncovered, US media was criticised for its hypocritical reaction to the incident as compared to when a Muslim is even allaeged to have been involved in a terrorism incident.[413][n 62]
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Regarding the incident,


Our Terrorism vs. Their Terrorism[417]
  • "More than any other power, we have the resources to contribute to freedom, human rights and social and economic development; just as we have the power to destroy and oppress, which is just what the United States government will continue to do if its citizens choose the easy path of obedience and apathy." – Noam Chomsky, Debate on US foreign policy, Ohio State University (1988)[419]
  • "And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source -- the moral source of America's authority. ... For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources... [emphasis added]" — Obama, West Point (Dec. 2009)[96]
  • In the 2016 Turkey coup attempt, Western media was found to present itself as non-objective outlets, and in some cases their leaning in favour of the coup plotters became evident. According to some opinions, instead of promoting the incredible response of the Turkish people for the safeguard of their democratic values, at-least some Western media outlets gave more importance to news (or opinions) showing the Turkish government in a bad light. The New York Times tweeted one such opinion with the words: "The Erdogan supporters are sheep, and they will follow whatever he says."[420] A July 2016 analysis on a Fox News opinion page declaring that "Turkey's last hope dies"[421] is opined to be a good representation of disappointment on the part of some Western actors for failure of the coup.[422]
  • In 2013 US media was overwhelmingly involved in accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons (Sarin gas) for the purpose of murdering and "gassing his own people". This was followed by vehement pressure on the Obama administration to use military force against the Syrian government. Later on, Seymour Hersh published evidence disproving the Syrian government's links with the chemical attack.[423][n 63] Even though in a 2017 article listing Bashar al-Assad's atrocities, the New York Times ommitted the 2013 attack, it never directly disowned its earlier accusations, thus allowing the perception to be sustained that Assad was responsible for the 2013 attack. Robert Parry wrote regarding the matter: "Indeed, the 2013 sarin case has become a perfect example of how the major U.S. media often jumps to conclusions and then refuses to back down regardless of the ensuing evidence."[424]
  • Regarding the alleged Syrian gas attacks, Chomsky argues that some notable scholars had refuted the official narrative regarding who was to blame for the attacks. The New York Times, reported on some of these so called conspiracy theories, however, the article, apparently deliberately, picked completely unknown and non-credible people. This made it easy to refute those alternate theories thereby giving the impression that all alternate theories had been refuted. The paper "systematically avoided every credible source", Chomsky said.[425]
  • Regarding Trump's missile attacks on a Syrian airfield, Chomsky argued that since it didn't cause any real damage, it appeared to be just a show for the domestic audience.[426]
  • The Bush administration and then after taking office, Obama, pushed to deny suspects arrested outside of war zones access to US courts,[427] preventing them from challenging the basis for their imprisonment without a trial.[289] This allowed the Obama administration to "hold terrorism suspects overseas for indefinite periods without judicial oversight."[428]
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  • Obama's nominee for solicitor general, "said that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law — indefinite detention without a trial — even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than in a physical battle zone."[344] Obama also continued the CIA's "extraordinary rendition program" seeking diplomatic assurances of good treatment, the same safeguard, as Chralie Savage argues, as used by the Bush administration.[344]
  • In April 2009, a district court ruled that the recently granted right to habeas corpus given to Guantánamo Bay detainees by the Supreme Court, should also be provided to three detainees of Bagram prison in Afghanistan, abducted far from war-zones and held without charge for six years,[427] because the two cases were "virtually identical"[429] – thereby rejecting "a claim of unfettered executive power advanced by both the Bush and Obama administrations". "The administration had sought to preserve Bagram as a haven where it could detain terrorism suspects beyond the reach of American courts, telling ... that it agreed with the Bush administration's view that courts had no jurisdiction over detainees there."[427]
    • "It is one thing to detain those captured on the surrounding battlefield at a place like Bagram, which respondents correctly maintain is in a theater of war," the judge wrote. "It is quite another thing to apprehend people in foreign countries — far from any Afghan battlefield — and then bring them to a theater of war, where the Constitution arguably may not reach."[427] Among the 800 held at Bagram by May 2010, only around a dozen fit the relevant identity of being non-Afghans captured beyond Afghan borders.[428]
    • One lawyer representing the detainees, Tina Foster, hoped the ruling would effect change in Bush-era detention policies beyond the closing of Guantánamo but "to any place where the United States seeks to hold individuals in a legal black hole."[427]
  • Soon after, the Obama administration appealed the ruling in order to keep the authority to imprison suspects without judicial oversight. "Though he has made many promises regarding the need for our country to rejoin the world community of nations, by filing this appeal, President Obama has taken on the defense of one of the Bush administration's unlawful policies founded on nothing more than the idea that might makes right [emphasis added]," said Foster.[430]
  • Almost a year later, a higher court overturned the ruling, arguing the existence of Bagram on the sovereign territory of another government and "pragmatic obstacles" of giving hearings to detainees "in an active theater of war", as reasons which made this situation different from the previous Supreme Court decision for Guantánamo Bay detainees, which had been employed as a precedent by the lower court. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham praised the Obama administration's decision for appealing the lower court's ruling using terms such as "enemy combatant detained in a combat zone" and "enemy prisoners detained overseas in an active war zone" to describe the plaintiffs,[428] even though that was clearly uncertain.[431]:3-4, 19-21[n 64] The recommendation by the Special Forces Association also appeared to ignore the issue of the apprehension site being outside of combat zones, stating that the ruling "has restored a considerable degree of sanity to what threatened to be a crazy legal regime that would have deprived the [US] ... to capture and detain ... in theaters of war — high-value combatants".[428]
  • Foster commented that the ruling allowed Obama and future presidents to "kidnap people from other parts of the world and lock them away for the rest of their lives" without ever having to prove their accusations in court. "The thing that is most disappointing for those of us who have been in the fight for this long is all of the people who used to be opposed to the idea of unlimited executive power during the Bush administration but now seem to have embraced it during this administration [emphasis added]," she said. "We have to remember that Obama is not the last president of the United States"[428]
  • A 2013 poll of over 66,000 respondents from 65 countries[432] showed that the US was considered to be the "greatest threat to peace in the world today".[433][434][n 65] According to Chomsky, this poll wasn't even reported in the United States.[101](10:55)
  • A campaign statement by Donald Trump suggested he viewed civilian casualties as inevitable, or even necessary. "The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families, ... When they say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families."[391]

The insecure righteous[edit]

  • In 2001, the US refused to ratify the ICC statute, allegedly afraid its own leaders may become defendants in war crimes prosecutions.[202] Bush cited fears of unjust American prosecutions for political reasons. By late 2016, the US had still not joined the global court.[435]
    • International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors in 2017 began seeking approval to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan[436] – almost a year after stating they would decide "imminently" on the matter. "The ICC is a court of last resort that takes on cases only when other countries are unable or unwilling to prosecute." In 2016, the US claimed the investigation was not "warranted or appropriate". "The United States is deeply committed to complying with the law of war, and we have a robust national system of investigation and accountability that more than meets international standards [emphasis added]", said a US spokeswoman.[435][n 66]
  • Previously, the US enacted the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002 (also known as the Netherlands[322](10:14) or "Hague Invasion Act"[437]) which authorised the US President to use "all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any [U.S. or allied person] who is being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court."[438] The Act also "provides for the withdrawal of U.S. military assistance from countries ratifying the ICC treaty, and restricts U.S. participation in United Nations peacekeeping unless the United States obtains immunity from prosecution. At the same time, these provisions can be waived by the president on 'national interest' grounds."[437][n 67]
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  • "The law is part of a multi-pronged U.S. effort against the International Criminal Court. On May 6, in an unprecedented move, the Bush administration announced it was 'renouncing' U.S. signature on the treaty. In June, the administration vetoed continuation of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Bosnia in an effort to obtain permanent immunity for U.N. peacekeepers. In July, U.S. officials launched a campaign around the world to obtain bilateral agreements that would grant immunity for Americans from the court's authority."[437]
  • By mid-July, "after two weeks of contentious negotiations, the Security Council succumbed to US pressure and unanimously approved a weakened version of the proposal, granting nationals of non-State parties exemption, from the jurisdiction of the Court for one year when engaged in UN authorized or sanctioned operations." According to one official, the Act "like the Security Council resolution proposed by the US, includes language, such as authorization of an invasion of the Netherlands, that is illegal in terms of international law, US Atlantic Alliance and NATO treaties."[439]
  • HRW believed the ICC could become the most significant human rights institution created in the last 50 years.[437] Before Bush renounced the US signature for legitimising the ICC in 2002,[437] Clinton had directed the US to sign the Rome Statute in late 2000. However, on the same day he stated that due to the unremedied deficiencies of the Rome Statute "I will not, and do not recommend that my successor submit the Treaty to the Senate for advice and consent until our fundamental concerns are satisfied".[438] Furthermore, while the Obama administration did voice its support for the court on cases involving Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it shielded its own soldiers from international law.[57]
  • According to Dutch Wikipedia, the Dutch government presented a mild reaction towards this legislation which purportedly allows the US President to violate its national sovereignty.[440]
  • In Sep. 2018, in the event of charges being brought up against citizens of the US, Israel and other US allies, the US began to threaten arrest, financial sanctions, travel bans and criminal charges against judges and other officials of the court. Moreover, "[w]e will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans", said one US official.[441]
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  • The US termed the court "unaccountable", "outright dangerous" to the US and its allies and called any inquiry of US service members "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation". "If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly, ... The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court, ... We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We certainly will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own."[441]

How could anyone hate us?[edit]

  • A 2004 report by the Defense Science Board Task Force handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, to review and assess the Bush administration's anti-terrorism efforts, principally the wars being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, tried to answer the question "Why do they hate us?", they being Muslim populations. The report argued American direct intervention in the Muslim world" — through our "one sided support in favor of Israel"; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, "the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan" as some of the causes. The report also said that: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies."  And nothing fuels the Islamic radicals' case against the U.S. more than ongoing American occupation of Muslim countries.[442][443]
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  • A point of interest was that the Bush White House even after the release of the report requested Rumsfeld, one of the main authors of the foreign policy debacle described by the Task Force, to stay on for Bush's second term.[443] Furthermore, the report was suppressed during the US election campaign period.[444]
  • Michael Getler pointed out that the report came amidst continuous talk from President Bush regarding "the terrorist enemy" that "[t]hey hate us. And they hate freedom. And they hate people who embrace freedom."[445] Most major US newspapers including The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe, failed to publish a single article on the report while others, such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times mentioned the story only briefly.[446]
  • Bin Laden in his 1998 decree enumerated three grievances with the US, which were: the US, constantly intervening in Muslim countries; being cause of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, particularly Muslim women and children – such as the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to Clinton-era sanctions on the country; and the blind support for Israel enabling its aggression against its neighbours. However, after the 9/11 attacks, on September 20, answering the question: "Why do they hate us?", Bush repeated the same excuse of terrorists hating the Americans for their "democratically-elected government", self-appointed leaders, "freedoms, ... freedom of religion, ... freedom of speech, ... freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."[447]
  • According to Chomsky, an answer similar to the one in the Defense Science Board report was concluded regarding a similar matter by the National Security Council back in 1958. "They pointed out that there's a perception in the Arab world that the United States supports" brutal and oppressive status quo regimes "and does so in order to secure its own interests in obtaining oil," and then continued by saying that, "it's hard to counter this perception because it's correct. They said it's natural for the United States to link itself up with the status quo regimes and try to sustain them and to pursue its interest in obtaining oil. So the end result is that there's a campaign of hatred against us among the people who we're basically robbing and on whom we're imposing harsh, brutal, repressive and corrupt regimes, and it's pretty difficult to counter that campaign."[448]
  • Chomsky explains that Muslims "see America responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis, for the suffering of Palestinians and for the policies which prevent economic development in these countries". However, the view given to the public is entirely different: "We are hated because we are the champions of capitalism, individualism and democracy, notions that should become natural everywhere".[201] "The only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it," he said.[201]
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  • Regarding the military attacks by the U.S. on Nicaragua, Chomsky said, "Nicaragua took the case to several courts, but the U.S. simply dismissed all the verdicts. This is a good evidence that the world is ruled by force." He argued that most existing definitions of terrorism are unacceptable for the U.S. as many of its policies fall into that category.[201]
  • On being challenged that he was blaming America for what is happening in Afghanistan, Chomsky answered, "I am blaming you and me, because we are the people who can do something about it, not an entity called America."[201]

Celebrating war criminals[edit]

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  • As Bush entered the hall for the award dinner and ceremony, he received, "Some of the loudest cheers ... ever heard in the Mess Hall."[449]
  • "The Thayer Award recognizes a U.S. citizen whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: Duty, Honor, Country."[449]
  • Only three former US presidents have been awarded the Thayer Award, including Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush along with Henry Kissinger.[449]
  • "President George W. Bush's name on the Thayer Award plaque greatly enhances the prestige of this institution."[449] "In the aftermath of those horrific attacks, our president, George W. Bush, would rally us as a nation and lead us as we confronted a new kind of evil threat, one that attacked us not for our land or wealth, but because of our ideals and because of our freedom".[449]
  • West Point's honor code, instructs that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."[453]
  • "At West Point, it's still possible to believe that we are fighting in the interests of the Afghan people when, for 16 years, a coalition of the most powerful armies on Earth .... — supposedly with the support of most Afghans — hasn't been able to get rid of a few thousand ragtag Taliban fighters. Why is it that, at the academy, the contradictoriness of such claims never leads to an inconvenient but possibly more reasonable explanation: that we've failed because enough of them oppose us, that we're part of the problem, not the solution?" Students at the military institute are "typically taught that, a few bad apples aside, throughout its history the United States has always been 'the good guy,' never the perpetrator."[453]
  • "this ... Thayer Award cheats the far more numerous victims of those wars, Iraqi and Afghan civilians, of their status as human beings. To give this award to Bush is to say that their lives didn't matter, that they got what they deserved. Or as soldiers I came across liked to say, often with high-wattage smiles, 'We freed the s*** out of them.'"[453]
  • "One can only argue that Bush's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were less of a crime if Iraqi and Afghan noncombatants are counted as fractional human beings — if, that is, there is one set of rules for America and another, heavily enforced by the U.S. military, for the rest of the world."[453]
  • "Bush leveraged the future prosperity of America into trillions of dollars of debt, an intergenerational heist meant to give him the appearance of being 'tough on terror.'"[453]
  • "Hundreds of thousands more United States and allied service members have been wounded in combat or have died indirectly as a result of injuries sustained in the war zones. ... Thousands of private contractors have also died in the wars while providing logistical and security support to US troops. The US government does not thoroughly report contractor deaths, their families are often not compensated for their deaths and injuries, and contractor health care is generally substandard. Foreign workers for US contracting firms often do not have their deaths recorded or compensated. ... Over 970,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veteran disability claims have been registered with the VA."[450]
  • "Many times more Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis have died as a result of battered infrastructure and poor health conditions arising from the wars than directly from its violence. For example, war refugees often lose access to a stable food supply or to their jobs, resulting in increased malnutrition and vulnerability to disease."[451]
  • "Many displaced persons, usually poorer migrants who lack the finances necessary to travel abroad, have had to relocate within their countries. For example, in Baghdad, internally displaced persons (IDPs) often squat in bombed-out buildings with no water, electricity, sewage, or garbage disposal."[454]
  • The awarding of Barack Obama with the Noble Peace Prize.
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  • The Nobel Institute also hosted the quite infamous pro-war hawk, alleged war criminal, and another Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger at its first ever Peace Forum. Officials defended the invitation and criticised the critics. "I hope and believe that in the decades ahead, the United States will continue to fulfill its history and tradition of building world peace," Kissinger had said. A careful traveller, while visiting Paris he was once summoned before a judge, however, he immediately checked out of his hotel and left the country.[455]
  • The normalization of Dick Cheney to the extent of him, without any repercussions, advocating for torture years after leaving office.[321]
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  • "[Cheney] has managed to escape not only legal sanction for advocating and overseeing the implementation of the war crime, that is torture, but that he also has appeared to manage to escape social sanction as well. Everyone is now going to treat him as just another memoirist for the books to sell and he'll have his book party and give his interviews and cashes checks, ... What would someone in power have to do, to put themselves outside the bounds of polite society. When powerful people are not held to account, when they have no worry about their reputations, it creates a moral hazard." — Chris Hedges[321]

The Sledgehammer effect[edit]

  • After the 2003 Iraq invasion, the size of several terrorist groups grew and numerous new organizations were introduced. 33 new organizations became active just in 2014. According to US State Department data, in 2002, only 725 people were killed worldwide due to terrorism, however, by 2010, the figure had risen to 13,186, 17,891 in 2013 which increased a further 83% to 32,727 in the next year. This amounts to an increase of more than 4,500% from the 2002 figures.[456]

Suicide attacks[edit]

  • The University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security & Threats (CPOST), is a comprehensive database of all suicide attacks from 1974 to 2016.[457]
  • According to its data, in all of the 28 years before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan experienced a total of 5 suicide attacks – Afghanistan (2), Pakistan (3) – resulting in 47 deaths.[457]
  • After the Iraq invasion, just the single year of 2003 surpassed the entire previous 28 years record with 40 attacks – Afghanistan (2), Iraq (35),[n 68] Pakistan (3) – and 301 deaths. This amounts to an increase in per-year fatalities of ~18,000%[n 69] The fatalities increased a further ~6 times the next year.[457]
  • From 2003–2016, the figures had mushroomed to 3,887 total attacks with 35,658 fatalities and 83,872 wounded. This amounts to an increase in per-year fatalities of ~150,000%[n 70] compared to the 1974–2002 period.[457]
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  • During a similar 1987–2001 period, a separate non-Muslim conflict saw a total of 1,189 fatalities from 78 suicide attacks.[457]

Warmongering over several Muslim nations[edit]

  • After 9/11, Project for the New American Century, "released a letter to the president saying that we should target terrorism wherever it exists, even if it means conducting military operations against Iraq, Syria, Iran."[260]
  • According to Wesley Clark, after 9/11 on the 20th of September he was told by a general who once used to be his subordinate: "We've made the decision we're going to war with Iraq." On asking why, the general replied, "I don't know. I guess they don't know what else to do." On being asked whether some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda have been found, he denied and replied: "There's nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq. I guess it's like we don't know what to do about terrorists, but we've got a good military, and we can take down governments. I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail." A few weeks later, when the US bombing campaign over Afghanistan was underway, Clark again met with the general and asked: "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" The general replied "Oh, it's worse than that." He picked up a memo from the Secretary of Defense's office, and said, "This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran [emphasis added]."[102](12:00)

Intolerable Deterrence[edit]

  • The lesson taught by Western powers to world nations after their use of direct military strength to overthrow Gaddafi was, to "never ever give up chemical weapons or a nuclear weapons program", no matter what the costs.[458] Regarding North Korea's nukes, Trump's intelligence chief said in 2017 that the Koreans have understood that having nukes ascertains significant deterrence capability. "The lessons that we learned out of Libya giving up its nukes and Ukraine giving up its nukes is unfortunately if you had nukes, never give them up. If you don't have them, get them..."[459]
  • Jonathan Schwarz points to numerous documents by American Foreign Policy elite, as evidence to prove that, "it was the explicit policy of the U.S. to get countries to disarm so that we would be able to attack them." He continues: "we don't oppose countries like Iraq, Libya and Iran having WMD because we're scared they're going to attack us with them. Instead, we oppose them having WMD because that would allow them to deter us from attacking them."[458]
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  • The statements pointed out by Jonathan Schwarz include:[458]
  • "Several of these [small enemy nations] are intensely hostile to the United States and are arming to deter us from bringing our conventional or nuclear power to bear in a regional crisis. ... [U]niversally available [WMD] technologies can be used to create 'asymmetric' responses ... to our conventional military power that cannot defeat our forces, but can deny access to critical areas in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia ... [these] can limit our ability to apply military power." — Donald Rumsfeld (early 2001)[460]
  • "... I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. ... [However,] if the danger is a biological weapon handed to Hamas, then what's the American alternative then? Especially if those weapons have developed to the point where they now can deter us from attacking them, because they really can retaliate against us, by then." — Philip Zelikow[23]
  • "... the United States also must counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter U.S. military action by threatening U.S. allies and the American homeland itself. Of all the new and current missions for U.S. armed forces, this must have priority. ... When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces. ... In the post-Cold War era, America and its allies, rather than the Soviet Union, have become the primary objects of deterrence and it is states like Iraq, Iran and North Korea who most wish to develop deterrent capabilities." — The Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America's Defenses[267]:6, 51, 54
  • "... Iran with nuclear weapons capability would be strategically untenable. Iran would not need to employ a nuclear arsenal to threaten U.S. interests. Simply obtaining the ability to quickly assemble a nuclear weapon would effectively give Iran a nuclear deterrent..."[461]
  • "The surest deterrent to American action is a functioning nuclear arsenal. ... To be sure, the prospect of a nuclear Iran is a nightmare. But it is less a nightmare because of the high likelihood that Tehran would employ its weapons or pass them on to terrorist groups--although that is not beyond the realm of possibility--and more because of the constraining effect it threatens to impose upon U.S. strategy for the greater Middle East. The danger is that Iran will 'extend' its deterrence, either directly or de facto, to a variety of states and other actors throughout the region. This would be an ironic echo of the extended deterrence thought to apply to U.S. allies during the Cold War." — Thomas Donnelly[462]
  • Regarding the Western military action against Gaddafi in 2011, the North Koreans called the Libyan treaty as "an invasion tactic to disarm the country," According to one professor, the Libyan situation was "at least the third instance in two decades that would seem to offer proof that they did something right while others failed and ultimately paid the price. ... in the eyes of the North Korean leadership [Iraq, the Soviet Union, and Libya] took the economic bait, foolishly disarmed themselves, and once they were defenseless, were mercilessly punished by the West."[463]
  • Similar to Gaddafi, Saddam was also overthrown almost a decade after his dismissal of WMDs. When Gaddafi gave up his in December 2003, the US had applauded the move and said that Libya would be "amply rewarded."[464]
  • Bush had stated at the time: "... leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations. With today's announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations ... its good faith will be returned. Libya can regain a secure and respected place among the nations ... As Libya becomes a more peaceful nation, it can be a source of stability in Africa and the Middle East. ... America will be ready to help its people to build a more free and prosperous country."[465]
  • "We want to have lessons learned from this because we want Libya to be a model for other countries. ... I cannot imagine any scenario in which that decision [to continue the Nuclear program] would hurt Iran's security rather than help it. The same stands for North Korea. I do not think that South Korea has any intention, nor does Japan, and nor does the United States, of launching an attack against North Korea. I cannot see any [North Korean] national security needs that are enhanced by the North Korean nuclear program", said Bush's Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance.[466]

Terrorists, but Our terrorists[edit]

  • Chomsky believes the phenomenon of "terrorism" being defined as "what they do to us, excluding what we do to them", has been deeply ingrained in the American state religion for quite some time.
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  • Regarding the apparent acceptance among US intellectuals, of the idea that terrorist harbouring states are the same as terrorist states, and should be bombed, invaded and subjected to regime change, Chomsky points out some terrorist harbouring by the US itself.[468]
  • Terrorists such as CIA linked Orlando Bosch, described by US authorities themselves, as head of "an anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organization"[469] and an "unrepentant terrorist",[470] accused of taking part in Operation Condor and several terrorist attacks,[470] including the bombing of a civilian airliner – which killed all 73 people on board including some from the Cuban fencing team and North Koreans[471] – and even some bombings on US soil.[472] Bosch was protected and provided a safe haven in the US by George H. W. Bush.[470][471][473]
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  • The violence was rationalised by statements such as "fully justified because CORU was at war with the Fidel Castro regime", "a legitimate act of war".[469] At one point while denying involvement in the flight bombing Bosch said he supported it and called terrorism a necessary evil,[471] "You have to fight violence with violence. At times you cannot avoid hurting innocent people."[469][471] At a different time he added: "There were no innocents on that plane", on another occasion while confessing to sending explosives to Cuba, he said: "You can't destroy a tyranny by praying to saints in a church."[471] "We will invade the Cuban embassies and will murder the Cuban diplomats and will hijack the Cuban planes until Castro releases some of the political prisoners and begins to deal with us", Bosch had threatened two years before the plane bombing. At another time he admitted to be behind much of the anti-Castro terrorism in the US and even offering a reward for Castro's assassination.[472] The Justice Department authorised Bosch's release by stating he had renounced violence.[471]
  • "... the evidence leads me inescapably to the conclusion that Bosch would instigate, plan, and participate in terrorist actions in the United States if and when it served his purpose. I therefore conclude that he is a threat to the national security...the security of this nation is affected by its ability to urge credibly other nations to refuse aid and shelter to terrorists, whose target we too often become. We could not shelter Dr. Bosch and maintain our credibility in this respect" — Acting Associate Attorney General Joe D. Whitley[470]
  • The Cuban authorities frustrated with "criminal" negligence on the part of their counterparts in the US regarding rebel/terrorist incursions from the US into Cuba, gave up complaining through diplomatic channels and focused on public denunciations. Several of such incursions involved strafings of coastal hotels by anti-Cuban commandos and yet US authorities never charged the perpetrators. Some senior US officials who gave dire warnings to the Cuban government over its intelligence operations, evaded questions regarding subjects such as bombings of Havana tourist destinations, and exile commando raids against Cuba.[471]
  • "Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken," Bush had stated in his United Nations speech from 2001. "The allies of terror are equally guilty and equally accountable."[471] Chomsky points out that American intellectuals arguing for bombing nations harbouring terrorists, are by extension calling for bombing Washington too, but such individuals remain free while those among the Guantánamo detainees remain imprisoned for far less.[468]
  • Chomsky further states: "There is, of course, not the slightest doubt that the US harbors terrorists, even under the narrowest interpretation of that term: e.g., by the judgment of the Justice Department and the FBI, which accused Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch of dozens of terrorist acts and urged that he be deported as a threat to US security. He was pardoned by Bush I,[n 71] and lives[n 72] happily in Florida, where he has now been joined by his associate Luis Posada, thanks to Bush II's lack of concern about harboring terrorists. There are plenty of others, even putting aside those who have offices in Washington. Like John Negroponte, surely one of the leading terrorists of the late 20th century, not very controversially, so naturally appointed to the position of counter-terrorism Czar by Bush II, with no particular notice." Despite such numerous hypocrisies, such an understanding remains incomprehensible among American intellectuals. "That reveals a very impressive level of subordination to authority and indoctrination, well beyond what one would expect in totalitarian states. ... the remarkable successes of indoctrination under freedom, and the moral depravity and corruption of the dominant intellectual culture."[468]
  • A well-known American liberal columnist,[322](16:30) and a strong Obama supporter, basically justified the killing of 4-year-old Muslim girls if it limits the possibility of the deaths of American children.[476]
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  • On one MSNBC program, the host commented regarding US drone strikes: "This is offensive to me, though. Because you do it with a joystick in California - and it seems so antiseptic - it seems so clean - and yet you have 4-year-old girls being blown to bits because we have a policy that now says: 'you know what? Instead of trying to go in and take the risk and get the terrorists ... we're just going to blow up everyone around them.'" Time Magazine's Joe Klein, responded with: "... the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old get killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."[476]
  • Glenn Greenwald wrote a detailed and inclusive opinion article on the matter, titled: Joe Klein's sociopathic defense of drone killings of children. In the article, he argues how identical and indistinguishable is Joe Klein's arguments to those of terrorists. In addition, Greenwald writes: "To the extent one wanted to distinguish them, one could say that the violence and aggression brought by the US to the Muslim world vastly exceeds - vastly - the violence and aggression brought by the Muslim world to the US. That's just a fact."[476]

Worse than Hate[edit]

  • Noam Chomsky criticises the moral superiority and righteousness ascribed-to by some intellectual Americans, regarding collateral damage due to the actions of their own government over groups who intentionally set out to harm civilians.[468]
  • "Evidently, a crucial case is omitted, which is far more depraved than massacring civilians intentionally. Namely, knowing that you are massacring them but not doing so intentionally because you don't regard them as worthy of concern. That is, you don't even care enough about them to intend to kill them. Thus when I walk down the street, if I stop to think about it I know I'll probably kill lots of ants, but I don't intend to kill them, because in my mind they do not even rise to the level where it matters. There are many such examples. To take one of the very minor ones, when Clinton bombed the al-Shifa pharmaceutical facility in Sudan, he and the other perpetrators surely knew that the bombing would kill civilians (tens of thousands, apparently). But Clinton and associates did not intend to kill them, because by the standards of Western liberal humanitarian racism, they are no more significant than ants. Same in the case of tens of millions of others. ... It should be unnecessary to comment on how Western humanists would react if Iranian-backed terrorists destroyed half the pharmaceutical supplies in Israel, or the US, or any other place inhabited by human beings." — Noam Chomsky[468]


  1. Arnett reported the correspondents were informed that their report was not subject to any censorship "nor would there be any Iraqi authorities with him as he gave the report. He was free to report exactly what he saw."[2]
  2. According to different studies, the 500,000 figure varies from 170,000[5] – 567,000[6]. Whatever the actual figure may be, it does not take away from the fact that the percentage error has to be 99.4008% for it to be lesser than the figure of 2,996 casualties[7] for the September 11 attacks. More recent research by Michael Spagat in 2010 also questions the half a million figure[8], but it still leaves us with the reality that for about 15 years (9 of which after the 9/11 attacks) this did not create a similar effect as 9/11 did.
  3. Albright later regretted her answer and claimed that the question was a "trap" and she had mistakenly said something that she "simply did not mean".[10] An outcome not difficult to dismiss as a saving face tactic by the critics. On another occasion Albright said: "We had sanctions on Iraq then, and I was instructed to keep saying terrible things about Saddam Hussein."[11] This would seem to indicate that the American government did believe the alleged righteousness of their goals wasn't convincing enough.
  4. FAIR gets criticized as leaning towards[12] and having affinity[13] for the left instead of being completely impartial in contrast to what their name and claims would suggest.
  5. This charge was flatly denied by Richard Butler (the UNSCOM director from 1997 to 1999).[17]
  6. Other notable statements from this press release: "You have set up a very effective example of the way we need to go on to fight and to defeat terrorism." — Uribe. "... they [al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein] work in concert. The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. (...) I am absolutely determined to make sure that 10 years from now we don't look back and say, what happened, why did America go soft, why did we ignore true threats that face our people?" — Bush.[31]
  7. As Julin Brookes at Mother Jones pointed out, this was in part technically true. Nobody said "Saddam ordered the attack".[32]
  8. "States that use DU defend its use on the basis of it being specifically for engaging armoured vehicles; evidence from Iraq suggests that it has been used against a far wider range of targets, and in populated areas. This is highly problematic because of the indiscriminate nature of DU dust."[35]:4 The health effects are disputed by the US and UK governments, who joined with France and Israel to vote against a resolution calling for "a precautionary approach"[36] to the use of DU weapons at the United Nations general assembly in December; 155 countries voted in favour of the resolution.[37] By 2013, although long-term studies on civilian populations had not been conducted, a "large number of in vivo and in vitro studies have proven the carcinogenicity of DU".[35]:11
  9. The survey regarding infant mortality, shows a marked increase of 136 per 1,000 births after 2009 as compared to 80 per 1,000 births for the entire duration of the study.[40]
  10. Relative Risk based on the Egypt and Jordan cancer rates were apparently used to find these cancer increases. From January, 2005 to February, 2010, for cancer (all malignancies) RR was equal to 4.22, for childhood cancer 0–14 (RR = 12.6), all leukaemias in the age groups 0–34 (RR = 38.5), lymphomas 0–34 (RR = 9.24) female breast cancer 0–44 (RR = 9.7) and brain tumours all ages (RR = 7.4).[40]
  11. "The ratio of boys to 1,000 girls in the 0–4, 5–9, 10–14 and 15–19 age cohorts in the Fallujah sample was 860, 1,182, 1,108 and 1,010 respectively suggesting genetic damage to the 0–4 group (p < 0.01)."[40]
  12. "Results showed statistically significant presence of enriched Uranium with a mean of 129 with SD5.9 (for this determination, the natural Uranium 95% CI was 132.1 < Ratio < 144.1)." The research paper concluded, "... none of the elements found in excess are reported to cause congenital diseases and cancer except Uranium, these findings suggest the enriched Uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases. Questions are thus raised about the characteristics and composition of weapons now being deployed in modern battlefields".[47] However, there has been criticisms of Dr Busby's work, also and critics have used such to dismiss the entire issue.[46]
  13. a b Some sources report the age as two years.[49][50]
  14. There is some confusion regarding whether a pay cut was included[56] or not.[57]
  15. There is some confusion on whether the rank reduction was a replacement for the 90 days confinement or both could've still been implemented, but only one was.[69][56]
  16. The bodies were found buried in one room, however, accounts differ on whether the civilians were gathered in one room before[70] or after[71] they were shot.
  17. The author's proposed title was, however, "Haditha Massacre Sentence Outrageous But Correct".[74][75]
  18. US officials claimed that this was done to track the spread of al-Qaeda propaganda material and portray the organization in a negative light.[90]
  19. These segments and other commercials were meant to show Iraqi insurgents, such as al-Qaeda, in a negative light,[90] however, they still maintain their definition as propaganda pieces.
  20. US officials claimed that "all information used for marketing these stories is completely factual", the project was to improve public opinion about the US and counter misinformation by their adversaries.[92]
  21. Note that there were also separate uses of the same phrase by Bush on other lesser controversial matters.
  22. Leo Casey argues against the 50% claim and another regarding the possible death toll of tens of thousands as consequence to the factory's destruction.[109] A debate goes on regarding this issue between Casey and Noam Chomsky.[110] Chomsky argues that the actual death toll, because a lack of adequate data collection, will remain unknown even if the figure was much more than the "tens of thousands" estimate. Casey additionally argues that the Sudan government could have easily imported any replacement medicine. Critics point out that costlier imported medicine was unlikely to have been a viable option for the Sudanese poor, a nation where 46.5% of the population lived beneath national poverty lines.[111] Al-Shifa was the only pharmaceutical factory producing TB drugs - for more than 100,000 patients, at about £1 a month.[112]
  23. US officials, at the time, countered this evidence for Al-Shifa's legitimacy by pointing out that even if legitimate pharmaceuticals were produced, it did not contradict their claim that the factory was also producing precursor chemical weapons.[113]
  24. The attack happened on August 20, 1998 and the cited study incorporated material published up to October 15, 1998.
  25. This could have been, possibly a mere co-incidence. The case, however, was dismissed by the court applying political question doctrine.[120][121]
  26. The DIA concluded that at least a fourth of the detainees the U.S. has released from Guantánamo – majority of whom were released in big-batch transfers under Bush – were confirmed or suspected of later engaging in terrorism or insurgent activity.[128]
  27. "All of the white phosphorus shells that Human Rights Watch found came from the same lot manufactured in the United States in 1989 by Thiokol Aerospace, which was running the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant at the time. In addition, on January 4, 2009, Reuters photographed IDF artillery units handling projectiles whose markings indicate that they were produced in the United States at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in September 1991."[140]
  28. An Israeli Defence Forces Intelligence Service document entitled "The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine in the Period 1/12/1947 – 1/6/1948" dated 30 June 1948, detailed 11 factors which caused the exodus, and lists them "in order of importance".[149]
  29. This report was published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs which gets criticized by pro-Israel organizations as being "anti-Israel".
  30. On 16th July, Mohyeldin was told to leave Gaza immediately by NBC.[175] The network cited "security concerns" as Israel prepared for a ground invasion as the motivation for the order. But in an apparent display of self-contradiction, NBC also sent Richard Engel, along with an American producer who had previously never been to the area and spoke no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault. Two days later, NBC "reversed its decision" and agreed to send Mohyeldin back to Gaza.[175][174]
  31. A detailed article was written by the organization Muftah on these protests.[182]
  32. Sir Duncan's critique involved him believing settlements on occupied Palestinian land represented an "ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe" and likening the situation in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to apartheid.[188] The Israeli embassy later apologised for the actions of its official to Sir Duncan.[189]
  33. Kevin Poulsen, however, argued that there actually was "a ton of evidence tying Moscow to the ... hack" but US intelligence agencies fell short in appropriately presenting them.[193] While on the other hand, Jeffrey Carr was reported to have said, "There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the D.N.C. attack to the G.R.U., F.S.B. or any agency of the Russian government".[194]
  34. The role of Tzipi Livni was praised by both Israeli and American officials for her extraordinary efforts to move the peace process forward. However, even she was intolerant on allowing individual Palestinian refugees the right to return.[199][200]
  35. Duration of the military presence was left to the two sides to negotiate. Netanyahu agreed to the presence of an international force along with the IDF.[184]
  36. An Israeli official noted that Netanyahu was agreeable to include this as a future aspiration, that it would not be possible to achieve a final agreement without the Jerusalem issue's reoslution. According to the official, Netanyahu accepted that without a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem there would be no agreement, but due to political concerns he wasn't ready to make a statement regarding the subject at that stage.[200]
  37. Although, "along with the bombing," the US also dropped rations packages too.[204]
  38. Vast majority of civilian deaths, up-to 80 percent of them, are caused by insurgents.[206]
  39. The Americans claimed that they were first fired upon by heavy weapons and they acted in self-defence. However, "in the days before the raid, the American investigators found no evidence of anti-aircraft weapons at the bombed sites."[209]
  40. The pentagon later announced it would pay compensation to the victims of the attack.[212]
  41. All in all, their superiors appeared to be more willing to investigate the allegations than their American counterparts.
  42. A decorated special forces veteran explained how the culture of protectionism among Australian soldiers spread partly in response to a 2009 incident. One commando, acting under orders and under fire threw a grenade into a house inadvertently killing a number of children. Charges of manslaughter were made against two soldiers which were later dropped before the trial began. "They acted professionally, they sought immediately to help the people that were injured, they never tried to cover up the story, they reported it correctly and it should have ended it there and then but obviously there was a punitive response by Defence and the end state was there developed an atmosphere of protectionism ... That level of protectionism consequently developed into an ability to act with impunity in the field, where guys realised there was a lack of consequence, which develops further into an ability to act recklessly with engagements where potentially civilians or non-combatants were engaged due to reckless firing of weapons, or reckless use of supporting platforms."[214]
  43. While, some argued against the legitimacy of the tape,[225][226] the Muckraker Report believed the tape to have had been authentic, the CIA already cognizant of it, having arranged the taping and that too probably even before the Afghanistan invasion.[224] This, however, still leaves the issue that evidently convincing evidence was not provided to the Taliban.
  44. i.e. In return for evidence, extradition to a third neutral country that would never "come under pressure from the United States"[203]
  45. Although it is likely, but The Washington Post article did not explicitly mention whether this proposal was also rejected or not.[233]
  46. Chomsky argues that the argument of "well, you can't trust them" – and therefore ignore promising diplomatic resolutions "literally without comment", in favour of increased militaristic force – is a common repeated feature of US politics related to foreign governments.[237]
  47. Reluctant supporters of the policy argue the arrangement to be pragmatic, encouraging the warlords to engage in political rather than militant activities.[246]
  48. However, there would be some dispute on this, since the US in May, 2001 applauded the Taliban's very successful ban on poppy cultivation and additionally announced food aid worth $43 million for Afghanistan, to be distributed thorugh non-governmental organizations.[249][250]
  49. In his answer the American official also assumes bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attacks. This being quite fallacious as the demand of evidence for this particular assumption was exactly the original question, and instead of providing it he assumes it to be true. A UN order is also mentioned to prove the Taliban's guilt,[265] possibly the one to which the Taliban responded by suggesting handing over bin Laden to a panel having Islamic jurists on it.[233]
  50. The British Parliament briefing papers provided legal justifications for the war, such as self-defence, bin Laden's involvement in the attacks, the Taliban not fulfilling UN demands to ensure its territory is "not used for the preparation of terrorist actions, and hand over Mr bin Laden to justice."[274] However, "International law must be clearly distinguished from the use of force for revenge or punishment; states, like persons, must not act as vigilantes. Second, in criminal law, self-defence may be invoked in the face of an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm. In general, the threat must be immediate and the response must not be pushed beyond what is reasonably required to repel that threat. Therefore, in general, self-defence may not be invoked to justify physical retaliation to an attack a few weeks after it occurs."[270] Additionally, denial of providing evidence to the Taliban regarding bin Laden's involvement in the attacks and multiple Taliban proposals to "hand over Mr bin Laden to justice" are not commented upon.
  51. Crawford had also dismissed war-crime charges against the tortured detainee, apparently due to the abuse.[295]
  52. The prosecution was, ironically, allowed by an amendment to the Patriot Act.[283] Some low-level military personnel were also prosecuted for other cases of detainee abuse.[299]
  53. The CIA's Baghdad station chief had a rank demotion following the death of an Abu Ghraib detainee.[290]
  54. The death initially reported as a "heart attack", became suspect after three US army personnel came forward to testify.
  55. Although, this way Obama did protect the report from the danger of the Republicans destroying it.[331][333]
  56. Some Muslim governments were also complicit in this behaviour.
  57. Although, some speculate that this was done at the British government's' request, so as to be provide it with a viable excuse to not disclose embarrassing information related to torture.[357]
  58. Facebook claimed that it was censoring support for terrorists.[360] A significant number of Kashmiris, however, did not view the movement as "terrorism". "What the rest of the country called 'terrorism', took the concrete, believable form of a 'rebellion' for them with Burhan's face to promote it. (...) YouTube is abound with videos of Burhan Wani--one uploaded as recently as 20 May--that clearly underscores why he had turned into an icon for enraged Kashmiri youngsters. Some of the videos portray Wani and his accomplices as regular youngsters--giggling, cracking jokes and occasionally humming as they sit around a wildfire, earphones plugged. Another shows Burhan and his friends playing cricket."[362]
  59. Local Kashmiri youths had been involved in "heckling and kicking security forces".[363] The government defended the incident arguing that it was the "smart thing" to do in order to defuse "a nasty situation".[365]
  60. There also have been some rare drone strikes noted for their high precision, which not only did no harm to any individual other than the intended target but also prevented any structural damage to the surrounding buildings as well.[371]
  61. Ironically, a methodology of similar logic is applied by Muslim terrorists when justifying suicide attacks involving, aside from the intended target, the likelihood of collateral damage of, even by their standards, innocent civilians. The guilty will be dispatched to Hell and the innocent will be saved and sent to Heaven, they argue. Different justifications, similar pragmatic results.
  62. Although the criminal appears Caucasian, he is identified as "American Indian/Alaskan Native" in the Buncombe County Detention Center records.[414] Some argued that the lack of attention was due to the attack's prevention, similar to some potential Muslim attacks that had been ignored in the past. However, critics argued that the shoe and underwear bombers' plans also happened to be foiled plots.[415]
  63. Unlike Seymour Hersh, however, there were many others convinced of the Syrian government's link to the Ghouta chemical attack. Previously, The New York Times had to back away from a front-page report which using a "vector analysis" placed the site of the sarin missile launch at a Syrian military base[424] which was later demonstrated to be incorrect by MIT professor Theodore Postol.[423]
  64. Although the author is quite sure of this but can't be a hundred percent on it, as certain facts regarding the matter remain quite literally, unbelievable.
  65. Pakistan was second with a third of the US vote, China third, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel and North Korea at the fourth place.[434]
  66. The Afghan government had also been guilty of attempting to block the ICC investigation.[436]
  67. Although, "[t]he administration never misses an opportunity to gratuitously antagonize its allies on the ICC," said an HRW official. "But it's also true that the new law has more loopholes than a block of Swiss cheese."[437]
  68. Technically, this is an increase of infinite times, since the preceding figure was 0.
  69. 17,832 to be exact, or 178.32 times the original.
  70. 151,636 to be exact, or 1,516.36 times the original.
  71. Technically, it wasn't a Presidential pardon.[474][475]
  72. Lived, as he died in 2011.


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