Marjorie Cohn

US law mandates war crimes prosecutions


Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, discusses the illegality of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the use of torture to extract false confessions linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, the embarrassment of Spain investigating U.S. war crimes while Obama sidesteps the issue and Condi Rice’s comeuppance at Stanford.

MP3 here. (23:39)

Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent.

12 thoughts on “Marjorie Cohn”

  1. According to former Trident missile engineer Bob Pentagon aims to achieve a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability. And according to Bob Aldridge the US Navy can track and destroy all enemy submarines simultaneously. Please see the article by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy” in the 2006 March/April issue of Foreign Affairs. Minuteman-3s and Trident-2 D5s linked to NAVSTAR obtain a CEP of 30-40 metres, enough to destroy any hard target. A First-Strike Capability won´t be complete without the missiles in Poland to shoot down any surviving Russian missiles. Even if it´s only for blackmail, the Russians may have no choice but implementing Launch On Warning.

  2. Torture is like many other subjects that I knew nothing about previously until I went up the learning curve, courtesy of W. It took me a couple of weeks to learn that eliciting false confessions was a primary objective of torture.

    Yes al-Libi recanted. It’s in his wiki. I had an interesting interaction with that info. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I was doing due dilligence on Iraq by reading the case in favor of invasion. One of the books was by Stephen Hayes. When I came to the section on al-Libi and the Saddam-AQ link, I had no idea who al-Libi was, so I googled him. The recantation was already in his wiki.

    Scott: off topic, but you should do an interview with Jeff Sharlet, on his lead article in Harpers, He was on democracynow this morning. Really frightening the way the Xtianists have taken over the U.S. military and are using the wars to proselytize Muslims.

  3. With the idea that we are a nation of laws:
    On Bill Moyers program his guest, Bruce Fein, made an interesting suggestion. He claims that the Obama administration has really 2 options (neither of which is happening):
    1- prosecute those involved with a special counsel (and hopefully the special prosecuter is independent enough to go after anyone in any party) or
    2- Obama should pardon those officials from the Bush administration (which would admit there was a crime) and have a truth commission so that people would feel free to talk about what happened and that Congress could act to either prevent these kinds of behavior from happening again or write new laws that allow torture (break the Geneva Convention treaty just like we did with the SALT treaties).
    We need to work within the system we have, enforce the laws or change the laws. It’s either legal or not. It’s not unenforceable.
    Instead Obama, like Bush, is doing neither and is indirectly saying that it is OK for some people to ignore or break the laws (and constitution) of the country with no consequences. He also is behaving like Bush in that he is looking for ways to expand his power. The example given is the rule that prohibits people from suing the government for actions that go against FISA enacted by Obama.
    Obama said he was for more transparency (but not too much), but the question is he willing to take his oath of office seriously and enforce the laws as the executive branch is in charge of doing. What is occurring now is neither enforcement nor is it pardoning.
    Is Obama treating law enforcement like Lincoln treated slavery? Lincoln hemmed and hawed in his first couple of years in office about which side to come down on. He finally chose the correct side. But there were no laws against slavery nationwide (except the compromises that limited slavery to certain states). The problem with Obama is that he is treating his constitutional obligation like an issue that has no written laws yet. Will Obama make a bold and courageous stand against the government insiders and intelligence communities, or will he continue to kick the can down the road like all of our previous presidents and hope someone else has the courage to right the ship.

    If we have evidence that someone lied to Congress about torture use. Former CIA Director Hayden told Congress that people were only tortured no more than three times for no longer than one minute. Congress doesn’t need Obama’s actions to call him on the carpet. Where are the consequences?
    Firing Rice would be a good beginning to consequences, but that’s from outside the government.

    We here at can believe that the Bush administration would use propaganda/torture techniques from the Chinese and Vietcong to get a false link between Iraq and Al Qaeda and lead us into war. Unfortunately most people in this country will refuse to believe that people in any administration would go that far (no matter how far on the dark side we ventured).

    Scott, how horrible is the state of our country when you confuse which prisoner was tortured in US custody.

  4. Perspective: of course waterboarding is torture and torture should be condemned, but she mentioned the actual/real reason why Bush-Cheney should be investigated: the illegal war.
    Killing an innocent person and people under false pretenses are way way, infinitely worse than torturing him. Likewise Obama’s killing of innocent people in Afghanistan and now especially Pakistan (more than 700 killed with a US drone, I read) should not only be condemned Ms. Cohn, but also investigated and legal steps taken against. Note that innocent victims are not part of a war and therefore no “legitimate targets”.

  5. The Pentagon must stop aiming at achieving a disarming and unanswerable first-strike capability (including fully developed Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities) which only leads to Launch On Warning and Nuclear War by mistake. The Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge realised this and resigned.

  6. RE: “off topic” eCAHNomics’ worry…
    I listened to DNow yesterday and was disappointed that Amy Goodman can’t or won’t see how silly this sideshow is. What’s more important, putting an end to sham wars that kill millions of innocents, or worrying about Christians in the military? Don’t get distracted by personal, pet issues that divide the antiwar movement, allowing the senseless destruction of lives and nations to continue.
    Priorities, people. This reminds me of the ACLU wasting time and money to take down nativity scenes while myriad other issues that immediately deprive Americans of basic human rights go unabated.
    What’s more important, ending war or satisfying personal grievances with some church?
    These kinds of manufactured distractions ensure that war continues with no real opposition.

  7. I agree with Little Alex that the starting of any war (false pretenses just makes it worse) is infinitely worse than torturing, but I don’t think the country is ready to admit that the war in Iraq was a lie. Their patriotism is blinding them to the facts that have been exposed so far. There are too many people who continue to believe there was a connection between Sadaam and Al Qaeda. The only way to sever that connection is to demonstrate that the Sadaam connection was intended to be a lie.

    If an investigation into the war crime of torture can demonstrate that the torturing was done for propaganda purposes and the war was blatantly a lie (right now we just don’t have a spoken justification for Iraq), then we can prosecute for the war crime of starting an illegal war, because the general public will see that they have been played for suckers. Then the few who have been holding on to the idea that there was a connection between Sadaam and Al Qaeda will be the first in line at the Bush Administration lynching.

  8. Oh…You guys….. So… blind..or..sadly naive….. Did Hayden lies to Congress ?? Is water suffocation torture ??

    Michael Haydn . was director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999–2005……. So he

    either…missed the 911 chatter…or was told to keep quiet…Which do YOU think?? Doesn*t it seem

    that he should have been fired or demoted if he missed all the 911 chatter and traffic..???

    CERTAINLY seems odd, to PROMOTE him…. the man in CHARGE of listening to America*s ENEMYS?

    Butt his promotion …. only makes sense IF ~~ those ABOVE him…WERE COMPLICIT !!

    He got the top job at CIA… because he kept the Bush 911 secrets over at NSA…. out of the Press…

    And in addition, he knew too much.. 911 was leaky… Everyone who was anyone knew something..

    but Hayden knows the names and addresses….and who said what to whom…..the damning stuff

    Investigate..torture..O..K..O..K…But…911..needs..another…LOOK.too..!!tt Sorry..if..a..bit..garbled..


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