Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Lawfare Project's Anti-Democratic Agenda

The Lawfare Project's Anti-Democratic Agenda - by Stephen Lendman

Its web site (thelawfareproject.org) calls Lawfare:

"The use of the law as a weapon of war."

Fact Check

Provided they contradict no others, laws are sacrosanct, especially fundamental international ones like the UN Charter, Four Geneva Conventions, their Common Article 3, the Rome Statute, Nuremberg Tribunal and judgment, Genocide Convention, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and many others - ones Israel and America are sworn to uphold but consistently violate with impunity.

Lawfare Project (LP) claim: "The abuse of the law and legal systems (is used) for strategic or military ends."

Fact Check

International law is clear and unequivocal. The UN Charter explains under what conditions violence and coercion by one state against another are justified. Article 2(3) and Article 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use, and Article 51 allows the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In other words, justifiable self-defense is permitted, and Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33(1) absolutely prohibit all unilateral threats or use of force not allowed under Article 51 or authorized by the Security Council. Even then, under Fourth Geneva, civilians are "protected persons" off-limits to attack. Doing it is a war crime.

Claim: Law is used to "thwart free speech about issues of national security and public concern."

Fact Check

Free expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), among other international laws.

Yet Israel has no constitution or specific laws guaranteeing equality or free expression. However, its Basic Laws protect human dignity and liberty as fundamental values in "a Jewish and democratic state," including:

-- "no violation of the life, body or dignity or any person;"

-- their property;

-- their liberty, neither by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise;

-- the right to privacy; and

-- much more, including a traditionally mostly free and open media within certain limits most states impose.

Nonetheless, Israel violates its own law and international ones by imposing censorship as it sees fit. For example, during Operation Cast Lead when it restricted on-the-scene coverage to suppress its crimes of war and against humanity, now revealed in detail but ruthlessly assailed as untrue.

Despite America's First Amendment, the dominant US media self-censor, and in war zones, the Pentagon allows no independent coverage, instead using "embedded" journalists of its choosing.

Claim: "Law (is) used to de-legitimize the sovereignty of democratic states."

Fact Check

No state, democratic of otherwise, has the right to violate fundamental international laws nor remain unaccountable when they do. Israel and America are serial offenders.

Claim: The law is used to "frustrate the ability of democracies to defend themselves against terrorism."

Fact Check

Israel and America are democracies in name only, granting rights to the privileged, not the majority, and in Israel solely to Jews.

International law permits self-defense against violence or armed attacks. Terrorism is committed by the perpetrators.

Lawfare's anti-democratic issues include:

Claim: The illegitimacy of "legal limits" in fighting "terrorism."

Fact Check

Most serious is institutionalized state terrorism, including premeditated wars and targeted assassinations, criminal acts under international law, permitting self-defense against them.

Claim: No international law restricts nations from acting within or outside their territory.

Fact Check

Universally accepted international laws place clear and unequivocal limits, calling violations crimes of war and against humanity.

Claim: An international tribunal has no authority to hold sovereign states accountable.

Fact Check

International law created a tribunal as a legal entity to prosecute individuals for crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide in cases when guilty states fail to do so.

Claim: There are legitimate and illegitimate criticisms of religion.

Fact Check

Criticism is one thing. Vilifying one religion in defense of another is clearly indefensible. Further, international laws strictly prohibit persecuting, killing, or otherwise harming persons of other faiths, practices Israel and America repeatedly commit.

Claim: Lawfare uses its own definition of inciting violence.

Fact Check

LP calls self-defense violence and terrorism, premeditated aggression self-defense, including against innocent civilians.

Claim: Undefined hate speech should be banned.

Fact Check

International law protects free expression. Only when it crosses the line egregiously can it be questioned. Banning it is another matter, and without defining it, what is hate speech? Clearly, LP means any criticism of Israeli and American policies.

Claim: LP calls Universal Jurisdiction (UJ) illegitimate when it conflicts with "national security interests."

Fact Check

UJ is a well-established principle, used by America (against Liberia's Chuckie Taylor), Israel (against Adolph Eichmann) and other nations as a legitimate law enforcement tool for crimes of war and against humanity. All nations may use it.

Claim: LP advocates denying "terrorists" and "unlawful combatants" their rights.

Fact Check

By law, everyone is innocent unless or until proved guilty with substantive facts to prove it. The term "unlawful combatant" is unrecognized in international law and has no standing.

Claim: LP wants lawyers denied "classified material" to prosecute persons accused of torture.

Fact Check

No relevant information should ever be withheld for any reason to protect alleged torturers or other criminals.

Claim: LP wants a majority bloc of UN states denied their right to enforce human rights policy.

Fact Check

International laws protect human rights. Nations and individuals in violation should be held fully accountable.

Claim: LP wants to suppress legitimate human rights reports critical of Israel and America.

Fact Check

It objects to Goldstone Commission and other human rights groups' revelations of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity during Operation Cast Lead to absolve its perpetrator's and America's (as a co-conspirator) of any culpability for their lawlessness.

Claim: LP calls Israel's Separation Wall legitimate.

Fact Check

Israel's Separation Wall is being built on 12% of confiscated Palestinian land. In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled it illegal, and ordered it dismantled.

Claim: Like America and Israel, LP calls Hamas a terrorist entity.

Fact Check

In January 2006, Hamas was democratically elected as Palestine's legitimate government, what it remains today despite Israel and Washington's recognition of Fatah's coup d'etat regime under a president whose term expired 14 months ago.

Claim: LP calls hate speech legitimate for "radical" Islam and "terrorism."

Fact Check

Hate or any other type speech is never legitimate when it lies about or vilifies one religion in defense of another.

Claim: LP opposes applying the rule of law, due process, equal justice, civil and human rights, and fundamental democratic principles for governments or groups it opposes.

Fact Check

Advocating lawlessness is never legitimate under any circumstances, ever, for any reason.

The Lawfare Project's First Conference

Sponsored by the Committee on Foreign and International Law of NYCLA (NY Collegiate Learning Assessment) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on March 11, its first US conference was held in New York, co-chaired by:

-- Irwin Cotler - law professor, Canadian MP, and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General from 2003 - 2006;

-- Robert Morgenthau - former District Attorney for New York County, borough of Manhattan, and US Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and

-- David Schizer - Dean, Columbia University School of Law.

Invited speakers included:

John Bolton

He's a Project for the New American Century (PNAC) member, senior fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and Bush administration's recess-appointed UN Ambassador, a man Law Professor, author, activist, and former President of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie Cohn, accused of "cooking intelligence to whip up US aggression against other countries," including, of course, Iraq based on bogus WMD claims.

In his UN post, he was also notorious for "hyping threats posed by Cuba and Syria, and taking a dangerously combative stance toward North Korea." He now advocates war against Iran, getting op-ed space in publications like the Wall Street Journal, again to hype fear.

Dore Gold

He's a former Israeli UN Ambassador, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and served in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's first administration as Foreign Policy Advisor. He was also an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a member of Israel's delegation at the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinian National Authority (PA). He's a notorious right-wing extremist, hostile to democratic principles and Palestinian rights.

David Scharia

He's a former First Senior Deputy at the Supreme Court Division of Israel's Attorney General's office, a position in which he was the lead attorney in major counterterrorism cases before Israel's High Court (HCJ). He also headed the CT Internal Investigations Unit, was Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Counterterrorism Committee, and was a member of the experts' forum on
"Democracy and Terrorism," established by the Israel Democratic Institute. Most recently, he's been Legal Officer at the Security Council's Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).

Gabriela Shalev

She's currently Israeli UN Ambassador, former Hebrew University of Jerusalem law professor, president of the Academic Council, and Rector of Ono Academic College in Israel. She's an expert in contract law and procurement contracts, and was chief legal editor of the Judgments of Israel's HCJ and Hebrew Encyclopedia.

Francois-Henri Briard

He's a longtime litigator before France's Supreme Court, has represented US companies in France, and is active in arbitration. He also worked on economic intelligence, is a member of the Historical Society of the US Supreme Court, and is president of the Vergennes Institute, that he co-founded with Justice Antonin Scalia to foster cooperation between the US and French Supreme Courts. Briard now belongs to France's Institute for National Defense Studies.

Daniel Huff

He's Director of the Legal Project, an organization involved in "protect(ing) researchers and analysts who work on the topics of terrorism, terrorist funding, and radical Islam from lawsuits designed to silence their exercise of free speech."

He's a former Senate Judiciary Committee counsel on matters of national security, civil, and criminal matters, and once was a management consultant for McKinsey & Co.

Douglas Murray

He's Director of the Center for Social Cohesion, a UK right-wing think tank, specializing in studying radicalism and extremism in Britain. He's also a freelance journalist and author of books including, "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It."

Pierre Prosper

He's US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, and was formerly special counsel and policy advisor in the Office of War Crimes Issues, a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, an Assistant US Attorney for the Central District of California, and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County.

Jeremy Rabkin

He's a George Mason University School of Law Professor of Law and member of the US Institute of Peace, congressionally funded to promote US interests in "resolving" international conflicts. He also has a particular interest in matters of national security law and early constitutional history.

Joshua Rozenberg

His bio calls him "Britain's best-known commentator on the law," having been BBC's legal correspondent for 15 years, and since 2000 in the same capacity for The Daily Telegraph. He also writes for the London Evening Standard and the Law Society's Gazette.

Mark Shurtleff

He's Utah Attorney General, former Assistant Attorney General, and once served as Deputy County Attorney and Commissioner of Salt Lake County.

Notable by Their Exclusion

Notably absent were academics, scholars, human rights activists, and other critics of US and Israeli policies, the rule of law, and accountability for states that break it. In framing issues, Conference participants told attendees that international law doesn't apply when it conflicts with powerful state interests, the rights of their victims thereby unaddressed, silenced, and of no interest.

George Mason University's Jeremy Rabkin called "taking international law too seriously" dangerous, saying "It's not like the tax code." Audaciously, he claimed its principles are unclear with no court to enforce them, when he knows laws are clear and unequivocal and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is a permanent tribunal established to prosecute individuals for crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide.

John Bolton told attendees:

"It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so - because over the long-term, those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."

In other words, we're boss. What we say goes, and dissidents are legitimate enemies, an idea dominant in Nazi Germany and other past and current despotic states.

Hitler justified exterminating Jews for destroying the German nation through culture and democracy. He started WW II blaming Poland for a Nazi-staged incident. He declared war on Britain claiming its prime minister spurned his 1940 peace offer saying:

"If the Providence has so willed that the German people cannot be spared this fight, then I can only be grateful that it entrusted me with the leadership in this historic struggle which, for the next 500 or 1,000 years, will be described as decisive, not only for....Germany, but for the whole of Europe and indeed the whole world."

When he invaded Russia, he said "I sought no war. On the contrary, I did everything to avoid it (but) in view of the mortal danger from the Soviet Union (to all Europe)" he gave "the signal to attack myself (for) this moral struggle."

And when he declared war on America, he blamed it on Roosevelt and his coterie of Jews and WW I on Wilson, both men he considered mad.

He accused Roosevelt of inciting war, falsifying the causes, "then odiously wrap(ping) himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy...." and policies "aimed at unrestricted world domination and dictatorship (together) with England (against) the rights of the German, Italian and Japanese nations...."

When tyrants or extremists try justifying illegal actions, there's no dearth of excuses, including tried and true fear mongering and blaming victims.

Propagandizing for Israel

The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor disseminates propaganda, debases the legitimate human rights community, and promotes a pro-Israeli agenda defending the indefensible, Anne Herzberg its legal advisor. At the conference, she assailed notable human rights organizations for promoting a "radical agenda" and "anti-state, anti-democracy, (and) anti-American" ideology.

For revealing Israeli crimes of war and against humanity, Justice Richard Goldstone was particularly assailed, David Schizer saying he:

"created standards of morality in war that leave a state without the means of legitimate self-protection," ignoring Israeli premeditated aggression and victimized Gazans, a matter clearly and unequivocally covered under international law principles.

Schizer and others didn't go there, instead focusing on ways to discredit US and Israeli critics to delegitimize them, notably human rights organizations like B'Tselem, Al-Haq, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), and, of course, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Goldstone Commission.

Israel's Lawfare Forum

A February Jerusalem conference covered the same ground, defining Lawfare as "waging war under the cover of war," and urging help for Israel to "delegitimize its delegitimization." Speakers claimed Israel obeys international law, conforms to the laws of armed conflict in fighting "terror," has a legitimate right to kill enemies of the state, and to discredit critics like Richard Goldstone whose assertions are more suitable for discussion at "a psychiatrist's seminar," according to reserve IDF Lt. Col. David Benjamin. He and others called the Goldstone Report corrupt for accusing Israel of crimes, and to take the offensive by making Israel the plaintiff, not the accused.

DJ Schneeweiss, former Israeli deputy ambassador to China, told attendees:

"We are fighting a strategic, multi-dimentional, ideologically clothed war that uses the language of values and simple, repetitive messages against us. Anti-Zionist Israelis and Jews add fuel to the fire."

Participants at both conferences didn't let truth, justice, and democratic values impede their extremist ideology, loyalty to criminal states, and the institutionalized state terrorism they practice. Instead, they blamed victims for their crimes - another refuge for scoundrels who have no morality standards, no principles, no legitimacy, and no place to hide under the law.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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