UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY
"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."
Statement on the Abu Ghraib prison abuses and a pattern of illegal conduct
May 13, 2004
The scandalous abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison has brought to a crisis what appears to be a pattern of illegal conduct by the President of the United States and the high civil officers appointed by the President.
We call upon all residents of Pierce County and upon all Americans to demand appropriate investigations by Congressional and judicial authorities of this pattern of conduct. Should these investigations demonstrate that the administration has deliberately violated the law, the U.S. Constitution, and international covenants and conventions to which the United States is a signatory, we call on others to join us in advocating the impeachment of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General of the United States.
The decision to make war on Iraq unleashed a cycle of violence that has, in recent weeks, spun out of control.
The origin of this cycle of violence was not, as the administration would have us believe, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. Its origin was the President's decision to invade and occupy Iraq.
United for Peace of Pierce County opposed the war from the beginning; in fact, UFPPC organized as a group to oppose the war. It was clear to us, just as it was clear to millions of observers all around the world, that the rationales offered were insufficient to justify war.
The fourteen months since the U.S. invaded Iraq have shown that none of the justifications for the invasion of Iraq were valid. There were no weapons of mass destruction posing an imminent threat to U.S. national security, and the government of Saddam Hussein did not support al-Qaeda and Islamist terrorism.
One justification for the war has continued to be advanced: the overthrow, in the name of freedom and democracy, of a tyrannical regime guilty of human rights violations.
However laudable these ideals, they do not justify the war. Invasion of sovereign nations in pursuit of these ideals without a clear authorization of the Security Council is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, to which the United States is a signatory, and whose fundamental purpose is "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which . . . has brought untold sorrow to mankind." This scourge the President chose deliberately to inflict upon the world.
War has led to occupation, occupation has led to oppression, oppression has led to resistance, resistance has led to retribution, and retribution has led to revenge, with no end in sight. The killing goes on. The number of Coalition troops who have died to date is 884 (775 of them American, from every state in the Union), the number of Iraqi civilians – men, women, and children – who have died is estimated at between 9,137 and 10,994, and the total number of Iraqis who have died is far, far higher.
Now evidence of the extensive abuse of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere has come to light, shaming the nation and discrediting the administration's last justification for war and occupation. The revelation of these horrors has led to other horrors even more shocking. With the barbaric beheading of Nicholas Berg, the portals of hell are swinging open wider still.
The administration says that the misconduct of U.S. soldiers amounted to a number of exceptional cases. Unfortunately, they are not that. Rather, they are the expression of a pattern of contempt for and violation of the law. Photographs, and the very fact of their existence, suggest that soldiers either believed that their conduct was permitted, or that it would be shielded by superiors. For this, their superiors must be held accountable – and the pattern of lawlessness seems to have been set by our highest officials.
By holding prisoners at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and arguing that the persons in U.S. custody there have no juridical status because the base is outside the borders of the United States and the individuals are "enemy combatants" and not prisoners of war (a matter argued before the Supreme Court on April 20 and now pending decision), by misusing the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, applying it in areas that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and by neglecting, as a matter of policy, to ensure that the Geneva Conventions were respected by U.S. military personnel holding prisoners of war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the administration appears to be guilty of violations of the law which merit thorough and extensive investigations by appropriate legislative and judicial bodies.
These investigations may show that the administration has deliberately violated the law, the Constitution, and international covenants and conventions to which the United States is a signatory. Today's revelation in the New York Times that, in violation of anti-torture statutes (18 U.S. Code ß2340), the U.S. authorized the torture of a group of a dozen or more prisoners, some of whom were deliberately kept under the ostensible supervision of foreign governments in order to provide a legal cover for torture, is one more piece of evidence pointing in this direction. If this is demonstrated, or if investigations conclude that there is substantial evidence of this, then we believe that impeachment proceedings against the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General of the United States are in order, as provided for by Article II, Section IV of the Constitution of the United States: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY
"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions
rather than cooperative diplomacy."