Obama Should Be Charged For War Crimes Involving Gaddafi And bin Laden
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict (also known as international humanitarian law) giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. Examples of such conduct include “murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps”, “the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war”, the killing of prisoners, “the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity”.
Similar concepts, such as perfidy, have existed for many centuries as customs between civilized countries, but these customs were first codified as international law in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The modern concept of a war crime was further developed under the auspices of the Nuremberg Trials based on the definition in the London Charter that was published on August 8, 1945. (Also see Nuremberg Principles.) Along with war crimes the charter also defined crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, which are often committed during wars and in concert with war crimes.
Article 22 of The Hague IV (“Laws of War: Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907”) states that “The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited”and over the last century many other treaties have introduced positive laws that place constraints on belligerents (see International treaties on the laws of war). Some of the provisions, such as those in The Hague, the Geneva, and Genocide Conventions, are considered to be part of customary international law, and are binding on all. Others are only binding on individuals if the belligerent power to which they belong is a party to the treaty which introduced the constraint.
The Geneva Conventions are four related treaties adopted and continuously expanded from 1864 to 1949 that represent a legal basis and framework for the conduct of war under international law. Every single member state of the United Nations has currently ratified the conventions, which are universally accepted as customary international law, applicable to every situation of armed conflict in the world. However, the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions adopted in 1977 containing the most pertinent, detailed and virulent protections of international humanitarian law for persons and objects in modern warfare are still not ratified by a number of States continuously engaged in armed conflicts, namely the United States, Israel, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and others. Accordingly, states retain different codes and values with regard to wartime conduct. Some signatories have routinely violated the Geneva Conventions in a way which either uses the ambiguities of law or political maneuvering to sidestep the laws’ formalities and principles.
Death of Osama bin Laden, the former head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda known for the September 11 attacks and other terror related attacks, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 am local time by Navy SEALs of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six). The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama and carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation. In addition to DEVGRU, participating units included the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and CIA operatives.The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was launched from Afghanistan.After the raid, U.S. forces took bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death.
The CIA briefed Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), about the compound in January 2011. McRaven said a commando raid would be fairly straightforward but he was concerned about the Pakistani response. He assigned a captain from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) to work with a CIA team at their campus in Langley, Virginia. The captain, named “Brian”, set up an office in the printing plant in the CIA’s Langley compound and, with six other JSOC officers, began to plan the raid.
In addition to a helicopter raid, planners considered attacking the compound with B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. They considered a joint operation with Pakistani forces. President Obama, however, decided that the Pakistani government and military could not be trusted to maintain operational security for the operation against bin Laden. “There was a real lack of confidence that the Pakistanis could keep this secret for more than a nanosecond,” a senior adviser to the President told The New Yorker.
President Obama met with the National Security Council on March 14 to review the options. The president was concerned that the mission would be exposed and wanted to proceed quickly. For that reason he ruled out involving the Pakistanis. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other military officials expressed doubts as to whether bin Laden was actually in the compound, and whether a commando raid was worth the risk. At the end of the meeting the president seemed to be leaning toward a bombing mission. Two US Air Force officers were tasked with exploring that option further.
McRaven assembled a team drawing from Red Squadron, one of four that make up DEVGRU. Red Squadron was coming home from Afghanistan and could be redirected without attracting attention. The team had language skills and experience with cross-border operations into Pakistan.Without being told the exact nature of their mission, the team performed two rehearsals in the U.S. on April 10 in North Carolina and April 18 in Nevada.
Planners believed the SEALs could get to Abbottabad and back without being challenged by the Pakistani military. The helicopters to be used in the raid had been designed to be quiet and to have low radar visibility. Since the U.S. had helped equip and train the Pakistanis, their defensive capabilities were known. Furthermore the U.S. had supplied F-16 Fighting Falcons to Pakistan on the condition they were kept at a Pakistani military base under 24-hour U.S. surveillance. The U.S. would know immediately if the Pakistanis scrambled their jets.
When the Security Council met again on April 19, President Obama gave provisional approval for the helicopter raid. But he worried that the plan for dealing with the Pakistanis was too uncertain. Obama asked Adm. McRaven to equip the team to fight its way out if necessary.
On April 28 Admiral Mullen explained the final plan to the Security Council. To bolster the “fight your way out” scenario, Chinook helicopters with additional troops would be positioned nearby. Obama said he wanted to speak directly to Admiral McRaven before he gave the order to proceed. The president asked if McRaven had learned anything since arriving in Afghanistan that caused him to lose confidence in the mission. McRaven told him the team was ready and that the next few nights would have little moonlight over Abbottabad, good conditions for a raid.
On April 29 at 8:20 a.m. (Eastern daylight time), Obama conferred with his advisers and gave the final go-ahead. The raid would take place the following day. That evening the president was informed that the operation would be delayed one day due to cloudy weather. On April 30 Obama called McRaven one more time to wish the SEALs well and to thank them for their service.
On May 1 at 1:22 p.m., Panetta, acting on the president’s orders, directed McRaven to move forward with the operation. Shortly after 3 p.m., the president joined national security officials in the Situation Room to monitor the raid. They watched night-vision images taken from a drone while Panetta, appearing in a corner of the screen from CIA headquarters, narrated what was happening.Video links with Panetta at CIA headquarters and McRaven in Afghanistan were set up in the Situation Room. In an adjoining office was the live drone feed presented on a laptop computer operated by Brigadier General Marshall Webb, assistant commander of JSOC. Two other command centers monitored the raid from the Pentagon and the American embassy in Islamabad.
The raid was carried out by approximately two dozen heliborne United States Navy SEALs from the Red Squadronof the Joint Special Operations Command’s United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
***For legal reasons (namely that the U.S. was not at war with Pakistan), the military personnel assigned to the mission were temporarily transferred to the control of the civilian Central Intelligence Agency.
According to The New York Times, a total of “79 commandos and a dog” were involved in the raid.The military working dogwas a Belgian Malinois named Cairo.According to one report, the dog was tasked with tracking “anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces”. The dog was to be used to help deter any Pakistani ground response to the raid and to help look for any hidden rooms or hidden doors in the compound. Additional personnel on the mission included a language translator, the dog handler, helicopter pilots, “tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers”.
The SEALs flew into Pakistan from a staging base in the city of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan after originating at Bagram Air Base in northeastern Afghanistan.The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), a US Army Special Operations Command unit known as the “Night Stalkers”, provided the two modified Black Hawk helicopters that were used for the raid itself, as well as the much larger Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that were employed as backups.
The Chinooks kept on standby were on the ground “in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way” between Jalalabad and Abbottabad, with two additional SEAL teams consisting of approximately 24 DEVGRU operators for a “quick reaction force” (QRF). The Chinooks were equipped with M134 Miniguns and extra fuel for the Black Hawks. Their mission was to interdict any Pakistani military attempts to interfere with the raid. Other Chinooks, holding 25 more SEALs from DEVGRU, were stationed just across the border in Afghanistan in case reinforcements were needed during the raid.
According to the mission plan, the first helicopter would hover over the compound’s yard while its full team of SEALs fast-roped to the ground. At the same time, the second helicopter would fly to the northeast corner of the compound and deploy the translator, the dog, and four SEALs to secure the perimeter. The second helicopter would then hover over the house and the team leader and six SEALs would fast-rope onto the roof. The team in the courtyard was to enter the house from the ground floor.
As they hovered above the target, however, the first helicopter experienced a hazardous airflow condition known as a vortex ring state. This was aggravated by higher than expected air temperature (“a so-called ‘hot and high’ environment”) and the high compound walls, which stopped the rotor downwash from diffusing. The helicopter’s tail grazed one of the compound’s walls, damaging its tail rotor, and the helicopter rolled onto its side. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft’s nose to keep it from tipping over. None of the SEALs, crew and pilots on the helicopter were seriously injured in the soft crash landing, which ended with it pitched at a forty-five-degree angle resting against the wall. The other helicopter then landed outside the compound and the SEALs scaled the walls to get inside. The SEALs advanced into the house, breaching walls and doors with explosives.
According to Obama administration officials, U.S. officials did not share information about the raid with the government of Pakistan until it was over. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen called Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at about 3 am local time to inform him of the Abbottabad Operation.
Death Of Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, died on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte. Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed shortly afterwards. The NTC initially claimed he died of injuries sustained in a firefight when loyalist forces attempted to free him, although videos of his last moments show rebel fighters beating him to death.
After the fall of Tripoli to forces of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) in August 2011, Gaddafi and his family fled the Libyan capital. He was widely rumoured to have taken refuge in the south of the country and in fact Gaddafi had fled in a small convoy to Sirte on the day Tripoli fell. His son Mutassim Gaddafi followed in a second convoy.
On 19 October, Libya’s acting prime minister Mahmoud Jibril said that the former leader was believed to be in the southern desert, organising an insurgency among pro-Gaddafi tribes in the region. By that point the NTC had just taken control of the pro-Gaddafi town of Bani Walid and were close to taking control of Gaddafi’s home town, the tribal heartland of Sirte east of Tripoli. According to most accounts, Gaddafi had been with heavily armed regime loyalists in several buildings in Sirte for several months as NTC forces took the city. Mansour Dhao, a member of Gaddafi’s inner circle and leader of the regime’s People’s Guard, said that Gaddafi was very delusional and complained about the lack of electricity and water. Any attempts to persuade him to flee the country and give up power were ignored. As the last loyalist district of Sirte fell, Gaddafi and other members of the government attempted to flee.
At around 08:30 local time (06:30 UTC) on 20 October, Gaddafi, his army chief Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, his security chief Mansour Dhao, and a group of loyalists attempted to escape in a convoy of 75 vehicles. A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft spotted the convoy moving at high speed, after NATO forces intercepted a satellite phone call made by Gaddafi.
NATO aircraft then fired on 11 of the vehicles, destroying one. A U.S. Predator drone operated from a base near Las Vegas (almost certainly Creech Air Force Base) fired the first missiles at the convoy, hitting its target about 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Sirte. Moments later, French Air Force fighter jets continued the bombing.The NATO bombing immobilized much of the convoy and killed dozens of loyalist fighters. Following the first strike, some 20 vehicles broke away from the main group and continued moving south. A second NATO airstrike damaged or destroyed 10 of these vehicles. According to the Financial Times, Free Libya units on the ground also struck the convoy.
According to their statement, NATO was not aware at the time of the strike that Gaddafi was in the convoy. NATO stated that in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1973, it does not target individuals but only military assets that pose a threat. NATO later learned, “from open sources and Allied intelligence,” that Gaddafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.
After the airstrike, which destroyed the vehicle in front of Muammar Gaddafi’s car, he and his son Mutassim, and former defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr took shelter in a nearby house, which was then shelled by NTC forces.
Mutassim then took some 20 fighters and went to look for undamaged cars, having persuaded his father to come too. “The group belly-crawled to a sand berm,” a UN report released in March 2012 said, and then through two drainage pipes and set up a defensive position.
One of Gaddafi’s guards threw a grenade at advancing rebels on the road above but it hit a cement wall above the pipes and fell in front of Gaddafi. The guard tried to pick it up, but it exploded, killing both the guard and Yunis Jabr.
Gaddafi survived the strikes and took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi’s own men also shot him, in order to spare him from being arrested.It is unclear if NATO aircraft were involved in helping secure Gaddafi’s capture by Libyan forces on the ground.
However, a UN report released in March 2012 revealed a different account of Gaddafi’s capture. Gaddafi was wounded by grenade shrapnel, from a grenade thrown by one of his own men, that bounced off a wall and fell in front of Gaddafi, that shredded his flak jacket. He sat on the floor dazed and in shock, bleeding from a wound in the left temple. Then one of his group waved a white turban in surrender.
Gaddafi was killed shortly afterwards. There are conflicting reports; according to one report, Gaddafi said “Don’t shoot!” prior to being shot,and when questioned by Misratan rebel fighters about the damage done to Misrata by his forces, denied any involvement, and begged his captors not to hit him or kill him. One fighter demanded Gaddafi stand up, but he struggled to do so. Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying “God forbids this.” and “Do you know right from wrong?” when being shouted at by his captors. In a video of his arrest he can be seen draped on the hood of a car, held by rebel fighters. A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi. According to another NTC source, “they captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him”. forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head.”
Several videos related to the death were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the internet. The first shows footage of Gaddafi alive, his face and shirt bloodied, stumbling and being dragged toward an ambulance by armed men chanting “God is great” in Arabic. The video appears to picture Gaddafi being poked or stabbed in the rear “with some kind of stick or knife” or possibly a bayonet. Another shows Gaddafi, stripped to the waist, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, and in a pool of blood, together with jubilant fighters firing automatic weapons in the air. A third video, posted on YouTube, shows fighters “hovering around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair.” Another video taken, most likely after his death, shows him being stripped naked and jeered by his captors.
War Crimes are those serious violations of the rules of customary and treaty law concerning international humanitarian law that have become accepted as criminal offences for which there is individual responsibility. Colloquial definitions of war crime include violations of established protections of the laws of war, but also include failures to adhere to norms of procedure and rules of battle, such as attacking those displaying a peaceful flag of truce, or using that same flag as a ruse of war to mount an attack. Attacking enemy troops while they are being deployed by way of a parachute is not a war crime. However, Protocol I, Article 42 of the Geneva Conventions explicitly forbids attacking parachutists who eject from damaged airplanes, and surrendering parachutists once landed. War crimes include such acts as mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians. In 2008 the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 1820, which noted that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide”; see also war rape.  War crimes are sometimes part of instances of mass murder and genocide though these crimes are more broadly covered under international humanitarian law described as crimes against humanity.
Destruction of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument, Kraków, Poland by German forces on August 17, 1940.
War crimes are significant in international humanitarian law because it is an area where international tribunals such as the Nuremberg Trials and Tokyo trials have been convened. Recent examples are the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which were established by the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.
Under the Nuremberg Principles, war crimes are different from crimes against peace which is planning, preparing, initiating, or waging a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances. Because the definition of a state of “war” may be debated, the term “war crime” itself has seen different usage under different systems of international and military law. It has some degree of application outside of what some may consider to be a state of “war”, but in areas where conflicts persist enough to constitute social instability.
The legalities of war have sometimes been accused of containing favoritism toward the winners (“Victor’s justice”),as some controversies have not been ruled as war crimes. Some examples include the Allies’ destruction of civilian Axis targets during World War II, such as the firebombing of the German city of Dresden and the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the use of Agent Orange against civilian targets in the Vietnam War; the mass killing of Biharies by Kader Siddique and Mukti Bahini before or after victory of Bangladesh Liberation War in Bangladesh between 1971 and 1972; and the Indonesian occupation of East Timor between 1976 and 1999.
Another example is the Allied re-designation of German POWs (under the protection of the Geneva conventions) into Disarmed Enemy Forces (allegedly unprotected by the Geneva conventions), many of which then were used for forced labor such as clearing minefields. By December 1945, six months after the war had ended, it was estimated by French authorities that 2,000 German prisoners were still being killed or maimed each month in mine-clearing accidents.
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