We have developed the international financial equivalent of law enforcement’s “Most Wanted” list. And it puts the financial world on notice.
. . . We’ve established a foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks.
It will bring together representatives of the intelligence, law enforcement and financial regulatory agencies to accomplish two goals: to follow the money as a trail to the terrorists, to follow their money so we can find out where they are; and to freeze the money to disrupt their actions..... The Heretik, quoting George W. Bush
MoJo Blog takes note of the Administration's roguish Rovish insistence that the Times and Wall Street Journal are traitors -- dumping on the messenger-- has got some critics annoyed enough to go back through Bush's statements about terrorists' financial dealings and find that Bush is the one who leaked. Big time.
...The Heretik is camped out, exposing the outrageousness of this claim. He explains that the Bush administration has been doing nothing but blabbing for years about its intention to spy on and monitor financial transactions as a way of fighting the so-called war on terror.
"George Bush should look in the mirror," The Heretik says, for "Nobody has done more to...tell terrorists we are on to them, on the financial trail which in some ways is going cold."
He then provides a chronological collection of statements by Bush, beginning September 24, 2001, in which he explains to the world over and over how the U.S. is tracking international financial transactions and freezing the assets of terrorists.
Except, of course, that didn't really happen. The Heretik points out that terrorists do not actually do business with Swift--what a surprise-- only with a few selected Swift banks, and that terrorist assets are easily and quickly converted to things like diamonds, gold and investments in front companies. However, as a result of the fishing expedition, millions of confidential Swift records have been released without authorization, violating privacy laws, and resulting in complaints lodged in thirty-two countries.
"The simple truth is terrorists need little money to do great harm." So says The Heretik. And he refers to Bryan Bender's Boston Globe story, in which Bender quotes former terror financing expert Victor D. Comras:
Unless they were pretty dumb, they had to assume their transactions were being monitored. We have spent the last four years bragging how effective we have been in tracking terrorist financing.
The freepers are a little out of touch on who the leakers are. They're going to be protesting at the Washington bureau of the NYTimes on Monday. But perhaps they're not aware of who may well be guilty of treason, either, and will wind up feeling a little foolish.
The case illustrates the egregious flaws that have discredited Guantánamo-style justice and which led the US supreme court to declare such trials illegal on Thursday in a major rebuke to the Bush administration. Mr Mujahid is one of 380 Guantánamo detainees whose cases were reviewed at "combatant-status review tribunals" in 2004 and 2005. The tribunals were hastily set up following a court ruling that the prisoners, having been denied all normal legal rights, should be allowed to prove their innocence. Ten of the hearings proceeded to full trials, including that of Osama bin Laden's aide, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who brought the successful supreme court appeal.
But by the time the review tribunals ended last year the US government had located just a handful of the requested witnesses. None was brought from overseas to testify. The military lawyers simply said they were "non-contactable".
That was not entirely true.
The Guardian found the witnesses, produced them. But is Mujahid free?
The witnesses largely corroborated Mr Mujahid's story, with some qualifications. Mr Jalali, the former interior minister, said Mr Mujahid had been fired over allegations of corruption and bullying - not for attacking the government. Mr Haider, the former defence official, said Mr Mujahid had contributed 30 soldiers to a major operation against al-Qaida in March 2002. "He is completely innocent," he said.
Other Afghans agreed. General Ali Shah Paktiawal, Interpol director of the Afghan national police, said: "Some people have given false information about him and that's why this problem has come up."
Their testimonies do not necessarily exonerate Mr Mujahid but at the very least raise serious questions about the case against him. An Afghan government delegation that recently visited Guantánamo estimated that half of the 94 Afghan detainees were not guilty of serious crimes and should be released. They did not release any names.
This will not be the end of the story.
Lies and old rivalries had sent many innocent Afghans to Guantánamo, said Taj Muhammad Wardak, a former governor of Paktiya. "You can investigate these people here. There is no need to send them to Guantánamo," he said. "It is a great sadness between our countries that will last for many years."
A regular reader of the New Yorker, I've gotten used to avoiding Jeffrey Goldberg, a kind of DLC type who supported the war and propagandized it at length for several years in that respectable magazine . The New Yorker really should -- as Ken Silverstein suggests -- do some hard time for having printed the stuff.
Meanwhile, Goldlberg refuses to give in or admit he's been wrong. In fact he's still at it: "According to Goldberg, Democrats should avidly court the small number of party faithful who share his war fever and risk alienating the great majority who don't." "The majority who don't," Silverstein notes, makes up 71% of registered Democratic voters.
I fell on Silverstein's latest with pleasure because he tears Goldberg into bite-size pieces. But it was also good to read the following::
Michael Grunwald of the Washington Postrecently challenged the notion that Democrats need to move ever further rightward. “Maybe there's nothing wrong with the Democrats, politically speaking,” he wrote. “They've won the popular vote in three of the past four presidential elections. Their one outright loser was Sen. John F. Kerry, who had the liberal voting record that moderates warn about and the inability to take a stand that liberals warn about. Voters—even his supporters—told pollsters they didn't like him . . . . So how did Kerry become the party's standard-bearer? Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire, liberal and moderate, thought a military veteran had the best chance to beat Bush. They analyzed the political landscape, tried to imagine what the American people wanted in a president and voted accordingly. Their analysis just happened to be wrong. They voted, in other words, like pundits. Maybe that's what's wrong with the Democrats.”
Wait a minute, please. If members of an invading military commit crimes, aren't they answerable to a war crimes commission or tribunal? Not just to their own country or their own judiciary? Here's the latest case to consider, the latest horror:
Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official said Friday.
The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of assaulting in the March incident, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
The U.S. command issued a sparse statement, saying Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad. The statement had no other details.
And while we're thinking about what is or isn't a war crime, we might want to take Rosa Brooks column in today's LA Times pretty damn seriously:
...Here's where the rubber really hits the road. Under federal criminal law, anyone who "commits a war crime … shall be fined … or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death." And a war crime is defined as "any conduct … which constitutes a violation of Common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva." In other words, with the Hamdan decision, U.S. officials found to be responsible for subjecting war on terror detainees to torture, cruel treatment or other "outrages upon personal dignity" could face prison or even the death penalty.
Don't expect that to happen anytime soon, of course. For prosecutions to occur, some federal prosecutor would have to issue an indictment. And in the Justice Department of Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales — who famously called the Geneva Convention "quaint" — a genuine investigation into administration violations of the War Crimes Act just ain't gonna happen.
But as Yale law professor Jack Balkin concludes, it's starting to look as if the Geneva Convention "is not so quaint after all."
Again, to whom are those who commit war crimes accountable? To their own people, or to the international community?