After living under a grant of asylum in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for nearly seven years, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was forcibly ejected and arrested by British police on April 11. Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, accused Assange of “repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols.” After an anonymous source revealed the “INA Papers,” a dossier that implicated Moreno in money laundering and contained personal photos of his family, WikiLeaks tweeted about it but denied any connection to the hacking.
Rafael Correa, who was president of Ecuador until 2017, had granted Assange asylum in 2012 to protect him from extradition to the United States to answer for WikiLeaks’s publication of evidence of U.S. war crimes. Ecuador’s foreign minister at the time, Ricardo Patino, said that without this protection, Assange could suffer “political persecution” or extradition to the U.S. where he might face the death penalty.
In 2010, WikiLeaks published classified documentation of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning had provided. It included the “Collateral Murder Video” that showed U.S. soldiers in an Army helicopter gunship kill 12 unarmed civilians walking down a street in Baghdad.
Sweden investigated Assange in fall 2010 for allegations of sexual assault. Assange was living in Britain at the time. Sweden issued an extradition warrant so Assange could face questioning about the investigation in Sweden. Assange fought extradition but lost in Britain’s Supreme Court in June 2012. He sought and received refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The United States is taking illegal and dangerous actions to execute regime change in Venezuela. In January, Juan Guaidó declared himself “interim president,” in a strategy orchestrated by the United States to seize power from President Nicolás Maduro.
In March, Guaidó announced that “Operation Freedom,” an organization established to overthrow the Maduro government, would take certain “tactical actions” beginning on April 6. Part of the plan anticipates that the Venezuelan military will turn against Maduro.
This strategy is detailed in a 75-page regime change manual prepared by the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The manual advocates the creation of rapid expeditionary development teams to partner with the CIA and U.S. Special Forces to conduct “a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations [in] in extremis conditions.”
Some of these actions will, in all likelihood, involve combat operations. A USAID official said, “Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve.”
On the eve of the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” at the Gaza border, lawyers and jurists around the world are calling on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers presented a petition from the International Lawyers Campaign for the Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes Committed Against the Palestinian People to Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the ICC. The petition urges Bensouda to initiate a full investigation and prosecute violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by Israeli officials in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The petition has garnered the support of tens of thousands of lawyers worldwide.
The petition condemns “the unimaginable atrocities that have been committed and continue to be committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians which deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”
The Mueller report is finally done. On March 23, Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent the confidential report of his 22-month investigation to Attorney General William Barr. Less than 48 hours later, Barr released a four-page letter outlining Mueller’s conclusions and jumping to one as well.
In response to Barr’s letter, Donald Trump claimed, “There was no obstruction, none whatsoever, and it was a complete and total exoneration.” But Mueller did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.
Two years after being released from prison where she had served seven years for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Chelsea Manning was jailed once again for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
“I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury,” Manning declaredin a written statement. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”
Noted whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg praised Manning. “Chelsea Manning is in jail again, this time for resisting a grand jury system whose secrecy and lack of witness rights makes it prone to frequent abuse,” Ellsberg told Truthout. “She is also resisting its current abuse, as it is used to attack freedom of the press by pursuing criminal charges for publication of the very war crimes and corruption she courageously revealed to WikiLeaks nine years ago.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his government committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, aided and abetted by U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a recent ruling from the International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines.
The tribunal, which was held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 18 and 19, 2018, rendered its 84-page decision on these crimes on March 8. Conveners of the tribunal included the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. A panel of eight jurors from Egypt, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States heard testimony from 31 witnesses, including me.
These jurors ordered the defendants to make reparations; to provide compensation or indemnification, restitution and rehabilitation; and to be subjected to possible prosecution and sanctions for their crimes. Although the tribunal does not have the power to enforce those measures, its findings of facts and conclusions of law could be used to bolster the preliminary examination of crimes by the Duterte regime currently pending in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On February 27, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee for six hours. In two months, Cohen will begin serving a three-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations involving illegal hush money and falsely testifying to Congress that Trump Tower Moscow negotiations had ended before the campaign.
“The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump,” Cohen testified. “I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore.”
Cohen called Trump “a racist,” “a conman” and “a cheat,” who enlisted others to do his dirty work. “Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.” He “would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people.”
On February 26, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution overturning Donald Trump’s trumped-up “national emergency” proclamation, in which he claims authority to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall at the southern border.
The National Emergencies Act requires Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House resolution to a vote within 18 days. In order to prevail in the Senate, four Republicans would have to defy Trump. If the bill passes both houses of Congress, Trump has pledged to veto it and there is little chance Congress could muster the two-thirds necessary to override his veto.
In the likely event the legislature fails to void Trump’s “emergency” declaration, the judicial branch will have the opportunity to check and balance the executive. Six lawsuits have already been filed in federal courts around the country. They quote Trump’s own words to demonstrate that even he doesn’t believe there’s a bona fide emergency. The suits claim Trump violated the Constitution’s Separation of Powers mandate by circumventing the will of Congress, which has rejected Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for his wall. And they allege violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Trump administration is threatening to unleash a flood of lawsuits involving Cuba, which no U.S. president has ever done. It has set a deadline of March 2 to announce whether it will create, in the words of the National Lawyers Guild, “a second embargo” of Cuba — “one that would be very difficult to dismantle in the future.”
In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union adopted the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in an effort to eliminate missiles on hair-trigger alert for nuclear war due to their short flight times. It was the first time the two countries agreed to destroy nuclear weapons. That treaty outlawed nearly 2,700 ballistic or land-based cruise missiles with a range of roughly 300 to 3,000 miles.
The Trump administration thought nothing of pulling out of the INF. On February 2, the United States suspended its obligations under the treaty, starting a dangerous chain reaction that brings us closer to nuclear war. Russia followed suit and pulled out of the treaty the next day.