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Theodore A. Hoppe

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Is Powell a war criminal?

If the answer is "Yes" then answer this next question:

"What about our current president?"

Blogs on the internet accuse the president, of similar act as Powell:

"Obama remains a continuation of Bush. As he announced that “a decade of war is now ending,” his drone war killed three more “suspected militants” in Yemen—another statement that the U.S. has the right to target anyone, anywhere suspected of wanting to attack U.S. nationals or the forces of governments that work with the U.S. are fair targets for annihilation at the president’s discretion."

or......

Obama continues to threaten Iran. He continues to encourage the false perception encouraged by the media that Iran has a nuclear weapons program threatening Israel and the world. Following the joint U.S.-NATO operation to topple Qadafy in Libya (producing an even worse regime), he mulls over intervening in Syria, and already orders his air force to deliver French troops to the battlefields of yet another war-of-choice, this time in Mali."

President Obama was elected by popular support and with the endorsement of Gen. Powell.

****A WORD OF ADVISE: THIS IS A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC AND I WILL ASK THAT PEOPLE BE RESPECTFUL OF DIFFERING OPINIONS.
***** NO VERBAL FIST FIGHTS, PLEASE.
HAVE YOUR SAY AND LET OTHERS HAVE THEIRS. OKAY?
My thanks to TED for posting this debate.

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  • Jan 31 2013: For clarity, under the International Criminal Court in the Rome Treaty there are provisions that describe war crimes. The US is not a signatory to this treaty under that rational that it would require a Constitutional Amendment to cede judicial authority to the ICC. However, US law follows the ICC and Geneva Convention definitions very closely. So, a US President, or any other US citizen cannot be charged by the ICC with war crimes. However, they can be charged under US law.

    Both the Rome Treaty and US law have definitions for war crimes that include torture, murder, the deliberate or knowing targeting of civilians, the right of due process and fair trials, the prohibition of sexual torture and abuse and the taking of hostages.

    The US under Bush #1, Clinton, Bush #2 and Obama have committed acts including the murder of non-combatants, the targeting of civilians, torture, mental and physical abuse, the denial of fair trial and the taking of hostages.

    The US as a nation is guilty of waging a war of aggression in both Iraq and Afghanistan under international law. This is the most grievous of the war crimes because all the other war crimes descend from it.

    Under the current definitions of both international and US law, these men are guilty of war crimes as are large numbers of people throughout these administrations. Powell's own offenses fit in here. He was a willing participant in a grand series of lies and distortions that promoted a war of aggression. This is particularly evil, because at least people like Hitler were honest about their intentions.

    Ultimately, your question is interesting, but trivial. A twelve year old is capable of reading the definition and the history and coming to the only reasonable and accurate conclusion. The larger question is why given that the current law is so clear and unambiguous, does every administration so dramatically disobey it and why is there no moral or legal outcry that the situation be remedied
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    Gail . 50+

    • +3
    Jan 31 2013: I've been thinking about this question since I first read it. I'm not sure that there is an easy (understandable) answer.

    To begin, I think that war itself is a crime, thus all who participate in it are, to one degree or another, war criminals. That means you (if you pay taxes) and me, as well as Bush, Cheney, and Powell.

    I cringe when I see Powell's picture or hear his voice. I experience great sadness and extreme disappointment. Such a great loss of what should have been a great man. He agreed to participate in an ethical abomination that he KNEW was wrong. Why didn't he resign????? Why didn't he honor his oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies - both foreign and DOMESTIC???? (Bush/Cheney and the military industrial complex that owns our government)

    I have a different level of expectation for Obama - because I never respected him in the first place (or either of his presidential opponents). My feelings are very different. I see Bush2 as being the most shallow president we have had. I see Obama as being the most hollow. He doesn't stand for anything. He (like Bush, et. al.) is also too easily bought.

    Ultimately, I suspect, that for as long as Israel is the tail that wags our national dog, we will have one war criminal after another in office. And for as long as our economy is war-based, there is little that we can do about that. Israel serves us well in that regard. If we were to declare peace today (an option that we discard), our economy would collapse. Is there an electable president who would favor that?

    Who do I blame for that state of affairs? Obama? Previous presidents? The people? Me? You? I'm not sure. So who is the war criminal? It would seem that we all are.
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    Jan 31 2013: G'day Theadore

    I would say yes, the US is being known as a war mongering state which isn't healthy & it doesn’t represent the majority of the people in the US but the minority in power, war is very profitable to various multinationals & politicians who support these multinational so it will go on. The economy might go to the pack & the people ruled by these multinationals will suffer but the big boys won’t.

    War crime isn’t just pulling the trigger but ordering the trigger to be pulled when it’s totally unnecessary like in Iraq.

    Love
    Mathew
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    Feb 3 2013: I feel completely dismayed by the apparent conformist ideology of many people who responded to this original post. There are no partisan answers here. Only answers that make sense and answers that don’t.
    War is murder? Well then, imprisonment is bondage, taxation is extortion and debt is indentured servitude. What a lovely and totally irrelevant semantic evaluation.
    Yes. Murderous crimes are committed during war, and people tend to commit atrocities when they have the opportunity to subjugate others, and government and the aristocracy use deception and profiteering to serve their endless agendas. I already knew that.
    Can anyone suggest a solution? I’m sure that our leaders would exhibit an ardent interest in the decisive conclusion to problems like Hussein dropping chemical weapons of mass destruction on Kurdish populations without any military target, or like militants embracing Islamic Jihad and attacking targets comprised of exclusively civilians.
    I’m sure that peace was very popular among the victims of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Kim Jong-il and countless others with similar leadership styles. Why don’t we dig up their dead bodies from the mass graves and ask them how it worked out for them?
    Do we have the right to target psychopaths whose sole objective in life is to kill people because of religion or politics? Where do my rights end and your rights begin?
    It seems to me that I have the right to kill you if you are obviously trying to kill me.
    It is the blatant disregard for human rights that initiate the need for retaliation and containment. This is vastly different from the genocide being committed by the perpetrators.
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    Feb 1 2013: Indeed "thanks to TED for posting this debate", as you say. The man you are suggesting, however subtly, is a war criminal is currently a featured speaker on TED Talks as you show in your list of links. What a vivid example of freedom of speech in action. I too thank TED administrators for not silencing your post even though I find it misguided and not helpful.
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      Feb 1 2013: It was my belief that starting a discussing about this issue here might allow Gen Powell's talk to be considered for its own merits.
      In addition, the underlying issue is that President Obama, our current Commander-in-Chief, is viewed by some with the same derision. Why run from the issue? Let's explore it head on. It appears to be a minority view, abeit a very vocal one.
      • Feb 2 2013: What exactly is you concern that Powell be "considered for its own merits?" Do you feel a need to defend the honor of this killer? What is it exactly that so enamors you to his ideology and so demands your loyalty? Powell is a failed politician who is attempting to rebuild his tarnished legacy. He does not want to be known as the guy that lied to create the Iraq war, but he has done little else.

        The problem is that he is exactly what it says on the tin: a career military man who sold his soul to the devil and was the point-man to a whopper of a lie. The fact that he may be able to parrot some more noble cause or idea is irrelevant to his crimes and is, in the final analysis, insufficient to rebrand him.

        Old generals don't die, they just fade away....and in Powell's case...in disgrace and shame.
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          Feb 2 2013: Re: " Powell be "considered for its own merits?"
          I wrote "Powell's talk", meaning, the message of his talk.
          A great deal of what you are asking is bases on your own interpretations of events and is therefore rhetorical in its nature, and that's fine. But as I pointed out, it represent the minority view.
      • Feb 4 2013: The "interpretation of events" is rather simple. What Powell said is a matter of public record and is freely available. What he said was wrong. This is also a matter of public record. Powell now admits that much of what he presented was sketchy, overstated or unreliable and that he knew this at the time. This is also freely available.

        I fail to understand why you consider this to be controversial. You can find Powell saying these things in his own words. You do not need another source other than him. He convicts himself.
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          Feb 4 2013: There are many ways to understand history. We cannot pretend to know the "truth" of the matter you're referring to. We only share a perception of the truth. I cannot say what I would have done in that situation, I do not have all the details. Do you?

          Answer the larger question here. ""What about our current president?"
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    Jan 31 2013: Powel a war criminal? No.

    This is an outside perspective and not privy to all the information about his time.

    He was just following his Commander in Chiefs orders and left or was kindly told to retire during the second presidency term. Obama hasn't taken the country to war? and his first term was the inherited term? The second term is usually the initiation term but in this case it looks to be one presidency that escalated during Bushes terms and Obama's trying to bring it down. What the States need to realize is that the rest of the planet will tolerate the meddling but in the end they will discard it. History shows it.

    If anyone would like to share some links to impartial information then i would gladly read up on it but lately i've become critical of the veracity of what i find online.
    • Jan 31 2013: You don't need any online sources of opinion. You can see it in his own words. This is the speech he delivered to the UN that got the war started:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt5RZ6ukbNc

      It is a lie.

      Following criminal orders got a whole bunch of Germans hung during the Nuremberg trials. US military law allows people to disobey criminal orders. He has no excuse. These laws and rules are still in place in both international and US law. Powell is guilty of both.
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        Feb 1 2013: I watched it and am not sure which of his words are lies. Any help with times on the video clock where he is lying would be appreciated. I assume you know exactly which words are lies. Thank you!
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          Feb 2 2013: I did NOT write this. I'm just copying it from this Wikipedia page:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Powell

          "
          Powell's chief role was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition to mount the invasion. To this end, Powell addressed a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, to argue in favor of military action. Citing numerous anonymous Iraqi defectors, Powell asserted that "there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."[39] Powell also stated that there was "no doubt in my mind" that Saddam was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.[39]

          Most observers praised Powell's oratorical skills. However, Britain's Channel 4 News reported soon afterwards that a UK intelligence dossier that Powell had referred to as a "fine paper" during his presentation had been based on old material and plagiarized an essay by American graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi.[40][41] A 2004 report by the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the evidence that Powell offered to support the allegation that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was inaccurate.

          In an interview with Charlie Rose, Powell contended that prior to his UN presentation, he had merely four days to review the data concerning WMD in Iraq.[42]

          A Senate report on intelligence failures would later detail the intense debate that went on behind the scenes on what to include in Powell's speech. State Department analysts had found dozens of factual problems in drafts of the speech [...]
          ".
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    Jan 30 2013: Also yes and yes.
    On paper, both Powell, the current president and the previous are war criminals. The sole reason why they are seen as anything besides that is because of the double standard in determining what constitutes as the good guy and what consititutes as the bad guy. If they were leaders of a sovereign nation or middle eastern theocracy the worlds opinion on such people would be a very different on the subject.
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    Jan 31 2013: There is an interesting point to consider, the very basic right, to be considered "Innocence" until PROVEN guilty.
    The United States affords its citizens a system of justice that requires a person to be charged with a crime, provided the right to a trial, and to be judged by a jury of their peers.

    So, this seems to dictate that the term "alleged" war criminal be used.
    Those eager to proclaim individuals "guilty of alleged crimes are also willing to deny due process this this case.
    The fact that should not be over looked, even in the court of public opinion
    • Feb 2 2013: Ironically, not providing exactly what you quote - due process - is a war crime. Powell's legacy was the creation of several gulags where due process, torture, sexual torture and abuse was common.

      While the word "alleged" is proper for news stories, this term is inappropriate in that there is ample evidence that this is exactly what happened under Powell's watch.

      I suggest that Powell be treated in exactly the same way he directed.
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        Feb 5 2013: Re: " this term is inappropriate in that there is ample evidence that this is exactly what happened under Powell's watch.

        There is the mistake of the definitive in what you write here, in that you repeat the common linguistic error of removing the "qualifier" from you sentence, the qualifier being yourself. The statement is only true when it is written in the following manner:

        "I believe" this term is inappropriate in that "I find" there is ample evidence that this is exactly what happened under Powell's watch."
        This is not about Powell, this is about your limited perception of him.

        ...and now, what about our current President? That is the question posed here.
  • Jan 31 2013: The definition of war criminal both individually and as this definition applies to a nation is crystal clear.

    By this definition, Powell is a war criminal many times over and according to numerous provisions. The same is true of Obama, Bush2, Clinton, Bush1, and on back many more. The United States is as well under the definition of "war of aggression" and its policies of torture and legal process. This also includes several of our allies including much of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. This also extends to the nations to which we export our torture.

    It is not surprising that Powell would support Obama. Obama is not a man of peace, he is a man of exploitation and personal gain, just like Powell. Birds of a feather and all that...

    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this is that if you sat 100 people down at random in the US and attempted this same discussion, it would likely turn instantly into an ideological brawl with shouting and flag waving on one side and utter apathy on the other.

    I blame much of this on the mind numbing educational system and the wholesale indoctrination of the media culture.

    The question you asked was "Are these people war criminals"? Perhaps another question would be "Is the definition correct?" or "Does it matter?".
  • Jan 31 2013: no
  • Jan 30 2013: Sometimes the loudest voice overshadows the whispers of justice; and it would seem that such voice is a guardian of justice. But when a voice could drown the whispers and the whispers are only quoted by the loud voice....we may not know what is what or which is which..........

    But the truth is there. It is what it is.
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    • Feb 6 2013: My lord you are delusional. The video is not fake. This is real. Powell really said what he said. Rumsfeld really did meet with Saddam to discuss the Iraq/Iran war and to offer help.

      It is extraordinary to see people who have turned into such sheep that they defend the wolves.

      Tragic.
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    • Feb 6 2013: Are you as dottering as you appear? If so, I am sorry to challenge you.

      You cloud your life experience with vague emotions. Look at the life you are living. Look at the facts before you.

      You do not need "experts", you do not need "brilliant minds". You can use your own intellect to decide.

      You are incomprehensible.

      Put your opinions into a single declarative sentence without using emotional language or some lame metaphor and say something that someone can understand. You are not being intellectual, you are being obtuse.
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    Feb 5 2013: Tell me a country or a terroristorganisation that have killed more people then the US the last 10 year
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      Feb 5 2013: Re: As children of God we are all good.
      When we do wrong, we are doing the work of he who is evil!

      This is your personal belief. It would be more appropriate to state it as such so as not to force your beliefs onto others. i.e. I belief that "as children of God we are all good.
    • Feb 5 2013: You seem to disagree with me, but for the life of me, I can't point to a single comment you've made that describes what this is succinctly.

      Let me try this. I care too. I believe that the Iraq war was wrong. The reason I believe this is that the entire basis of prosecuting the war was wrong. Iraq DID NOT have WMD's when we invaded. Thus the millions of Iraqi who died or were displaced were killed when they weren't guilt of the crime for which they were accused. Thus the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the US died for a cause that was wrong.

      Powell was one of the chief reasons this error was made. He presented "evidence" that turned out to be wrong, cooked or deliberately distorted. I consider doing what he did to be contrary to the oath he took, contrary to the duty of his position, morally wrong and politically irresponsible.

      Further, Powell himself now admits much of this.

      If you believe that my agreement is wrong, please point out where you believe me to be in error and stop harping that you don't like my style.

      You have said several times now that I am ignoring your argument. For the love of Pete, would you please make it in a single readable sentence or two and get on with it?
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        • Feb 6 2013: Please, please please say something that makes some logical sense. Yes, I am an American. Not all Americans live forever in the States.

          I have learned to read. This is why I have such a hard time understanding you. You do not seem to follow any systematic thought progression.

          Will you please stop writing in lame metaphors and pseudo-poetic language. You fool no one.
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    • Feb 5 2013: I resent your characterization of me a evil. I have done nothing to harm anyone.

      In all your many words, you have yet to speak the simple truth: Colin Powell lied about Iraq.

      This lie cause hundreds of thousands of people to be harmed. I'm sorry that this causes you distress, however it is true.

      You are rewriting history. The US did not enter the war to kill Saddam Husein. It entered the war on the premise of removing the WMD's. These WMD's didn't and don't exist. Iraq was never a threat in this way.

      Look at the situation. Your government lied to you. Have you not considered that they will do it again?
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        Feb 5 2013: Please stop saying WMD's did not exist in Sadaam Hussein's arsenal. Here is part of The Complete Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD. Chapter 5-"Iraq's Chemical Warfare Program". Sept. 30, 2004. ( This is a CIA document freely available online):
        Location- Weapon Used- Date- Casualties
        Haij Umran Mustard August 1983 fewer than 100 Iranian/Kurdish
        Panjwin Mustard October–November 1983 3,001 Iranian/Kurdish
        Majnoon Island Mustard February–March 1984 2,500 Iranians
        al-Basrah Tabun March 1984 50-100 Iranians
        Hawizah Marsh Mustard & Tabun March 1985 3,000 Iranians
        al-Faw Mustard & Tabun February 1986 8,000 to 10,000 Iranians
        Um ar-Rasas Mustard December 1986 1,000s Iranians
        al-Basrah Mustard & Tabun April 1987 5,000 Iranians
        Sumar/Mehran Mustard & nerve agent October 1987 3,000 Iranians
        Halabjah Mustard & nerve agent March 1988 7,000s Kurdish/Iranian
        al-Faw Mustard & nerve agent April 1988 1,000s Iranians
        Fish Lake Mustard & nerve agent May 1988 100s or 1,000s Iranians
        Majnoon Islands Mustard & nerve agent June 1988 100s or 1,000s Iranians
        South-central border Mustard & nerve agent July 1988 100s or 1,000s Iranians
        an-Najaf -
        Karbala area Nerve agent & CS March 1991 Unknown
        • Feb 5 2013: Edward, I remind you that the US provided military support and diplomatic support to Saddam/Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war. Although the US under the Iranian arms for hostages scandal was also providing the same to Iran at the time as well. A video of Saddam and Donald Rumsfeld meeting is here to refresh your recollection:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTldYbqlJc8

          The dates you cite are not the time Powell was beating the drum for war. You neglected to mention the important point that after the US invasion, no WMD's were found. This is exactly as the Iraqi government declared and exactly contrary to what Powell asserted wrongly.

          Since we are citing CIA public sources, I suggest you peruse this declassified report issued by the CIA. In it, they analyze the intelligence failures that led to the disaster that was Iraq and the complete intelligence failures that led up to this war.

          http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/104944423?access_key=key-19nu1y80mg3glkkzahoc

          I am going to say it one more time: the entire basis for the war in Iraq was wrong. I am saying this because it is true. Moreover, the CIA agrees with me.

          Why don't you take a nice long dip in the pool of truth. Come on in, the water's fine.
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        Feb 5 2013: Thank you for the links. Can we skip any further arrogance and condescension please? The fact that no WMD's were found under Powell's reign does not mean there were no WMD's. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of barren sand makes a pretty good hiding place. The main point I wish you to acknowledge is that Sadaam had, and used WMD's. That is a matter of undisputed fact. If you insist Iraq had no WMD's you are guilty of the very charge you have spuriously and wrongfully leveled against me, i.e. ignoring known facts. So, calmly and respectfully, without ad hominem argument, please answer this one simple question: Do you acknowledge that Iraq possessed and used WMD's in the days leading up to our invasion? May I suggest your answer need not be much more than an honest "Yes", or "No". Thank you!
        • Feb 5 2013: Hello Edward,

          My answer is NO.

          Please note the dates on the CIA list. All of those dates are long before the invasion of Iraq which started in March of 2003. In the first Persian Gulf war we knew where the WMDs were located and we bombed them. I remember this from the press briefings. I was reminded of this fact while reading the autobiography of General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. "in the days leading up to our invasion" there were no WMDs in Iraq, and in my opinion the administration knew this fact.
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    • Feb 4 2013: Don, you have got this wrong in every way it is possible to be wrong.

      First, this forum is not a court of law. It is a public collection of various ideas, thoughts and feelings. Please stop with all the ranting about due process. It doesn't apply here.

      Second, while you misapply due process and evidentiary requirements in this forum and demand evidence, you then take exactly the opposite position regarding Powell's behavior in the events leading up to the Iraq war. In this case, Iraq was essentially on trial for its life. (Never mind the blatant loonacy of this trial given that the US, Britain, France and Israel already possess the same weapons that Iraq was accused of having.)

      If Iraq was found guilty of possessing weapons of mass destruction in what was essentially a trial, Iraq would be the object of war. In this trial, Powell acted as a prosecutor, and as a witness and as chief executioner. I will say that again - Powell was prosecutor, witness and executioner. If the verdict was "guilty", Powell would get the opportunity of a lifetime for a military man - being the supreme commander of a multinational coalition in a large scale war.

      Powell came to this trial with evidence that was cooked. He knew it was cooked when he presented it. This make it a lie and not just an untruth.

      The result of this was that Powell got his war, got his command and was the executioner of hundreds of thousands, including his own countrymen. It turns out that Iraq was innocent of the "crimes" that Powell accused them of. He admits this himself.

      These confluence of facts, the lies, the breakdown of the morality at the highest levels in the US government, the lack of character in a top military commander, the lack of judicial oversight or action once the truth was learned, the deaths and worst, the fact that nothing has been remedied to prevent this happening again and that he still walks free, raises this event to a national outrage and tragedy.
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        • Feb 4 2013: Don, you do understand that Powell was wrong about the WMD's, right? You do understand that the entire basis on which the Iraq war was fought turned out to be wrong, correct? You do understand that Powell himself now admits that he had doubts and misgivings about what he was presenting, right? You do know that he knew he was over-representing the data he had, correct? You do know that these sources included information that he and others in his chain of command knew was wrong, correct?

          Don, Powell himself has admitted this. Are you calling him a liar?

          The upshot of this is that the entire basis for the war was wrong. This means that Iraq and the Iraqi people were targeted in error. They were innocent of the crimes that Powell claimed wrongly and deceitfully.

          You like to dance around this issue, but the cold hard truth is that he was wrong when he said what he said and he knew it.

          You can believe what you like, but the facts remain.
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    Feb 3 2013: Тед цензура

    7 hours ago: Ken Brown - You asked for links - Read Up -

    I'm replying here if you ever see this, either Ted deleted your post or it got lost. It just so happened that i kept the tab open on my browser that contained your links.

    All of those links were not impartial but great to read. The only one that drew my interest was the mother jones article, yet that wasn't impartial either.

    We all lived through the 9/11 event and the war in iraq, it wasn't a world war on terrorism it was solely an American war taken from my perspective of living at the bottom of the world. If anything there was judging by the UN video's a sense of urgency or pressure which looks to me as if it was from internal political pressure, i'm probably wrong.

    America wanted blood and blood she got, if they want to string up anyone then you start with the commander in chief right through to the average person who waited for the response from their country that they had been waiting for for two years. Honestly we thought they were looking in the wrong place and chose iraq due to it's military was still in a weakened state and it's leader was not at all liked across the ME, Bush could have taken a different road and built up their intel services better and identified the core culprits and then went after them applying pressure everywhere but it didn't turn out that way.

    And of course there's oil or is it?
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    Feb 2 2013: Obama is an orator and politician. He has no knowledge of military or diplomatic skills. He is though the place where the buck stops. if anyone is guilty then the person in power is the by fault sponsor of those deeds. He has removed people who did not follow his orders and will probally do so again ... that should alert you to who is directing the band.
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    Feb 1 2013: This is the defense offer by the administration:

    The Obama administration has responded to critics of its use of drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles) to target terrorist suspects in Pakistan and elsewhere by offering the first legal defence of its policy. The justification was offered by State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh in a speech to the American Society of International Law on 25 March.

    The use of drones to carry out targeted killings of alleged terrorists outside battlefield conditions has been one of the most controversial aspects of US counter-terrorism policy since President Obama entered the White House. Research by the New America Foundation has shown a significant increase in the use of drone attacks in Pakistan under Obama’s leadership, and targeted killings have also apparently been carried out by the United States in Somalia and Yemen. Among other critics, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Philip Alston, said last year that the US needed to provide more information about its approach to targeted killings to answer concerns that they might be in violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

    Among the questions raised about drone strikes is whether such actions, far from any recognised zone of hostilities, can legitimately be justified with reference to the legal rules of armed conflict. Since drone attacks generally take place in secret, and target suspects in remote locations, there are additional concerns about whether adequate guidelines are followed with respect to possible civilian casualties.

    Laying out the legal justification for drone attacks, Koh said that the United States was “in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban and associated forces, in response to the horrific 9/11 attacks, and may use force consistent with its inherent right to self-defence under international law.”
    http://www.crimesofwar.org/commentary/obama-administration-announces-legal-basis-for-drone-attacks/
    • Feb 1 2013: There is nothing controversial about it. Targeting an individual for killing with a drone or any other weapon who is not a combatant in a declared war (of which the US has precisely zero) is murder. Murder is a war crime under US law punishable by death.

      Al-Qaeda is interesting in that the US always seems to know who did it and that we should spend trillions on threats, but little else. It is ironic that the defense industry needs just such a threat to exist.

      Have you ever noticed that every place that the US is fighting for freedom either has oil or valuable minerals under it. What are the odds?

      9/11 is/was a fraud. Every decision based on this event was politically, economically or militarily driven.
  • Feb 1 2013: Yes and yes and yes and yes and yes, to every officer and every President who has ever participated in war.

    I am no pacifist. I try to be realistic. If we determine that Colin Powell and Barack Obama are war criminals, then we must find almost every officer that ever committed to winning a war is also a war criminal. The myth that wars can be fought according to rules is absurd. Once you commit yourself to war, ethics and rules and laws become irrelevant. When soldiers speak truthfully and candidly about war experiences they speak of war crimes happening often, not rarely. War is crime, organized and methodical and ruthless. War is hell on earth. War crimes are the norm, not the exception.
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      Feb 1 2013: Are you suggesting that a country, such as England during WWll not defend itself?
      • Feb 2 2013: Not at all. As I said, I am no pacifist. I am saying that if you start labeling warriors as war criminals, you will be at it a long time. Churchill and FDR both authorized actions which are defined as war crimes. Leaders do not control wars; wars control the decisions of leaders.

        I recently saw a documentary on the bombing of Germany during WWII, and saved this quote:

        "I see this idea of just killing civilians, and targeting civilians, to be unethical.
        Though the most unethical act in WWII for the Allies would have been allowing themselves to lose."

        Conrad Crane
        Bombing of Germany: American Experience

        When winning is the top ethical priority, the rules of war are irrelevant.

        Also, war crimes trials are only conducted by the victors.
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      Feb 5 2013: RE: "My answer is NO."
      Of course if your information is correct it means Stormin' Norman thought there were no WMD's in Iraq.which really changes nothing. I am not implying that your information is not correct, I am saying that I have not heard that before and do not know the facts behind it. The West is not the sole producer of WMD's. Thanks, and I will look at the General's autobiography sometime. Be well sir!
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      • Feb 6 2013: I am not sitting on the fence at all. I am objecting to the whole concept of war crimes.

        Having laws against war crimes is absurd because running a war according to rules is absurd.

        War is killing and destruction. Conducting war consists of criminal acts. Expecting that an officer, a general, a commander in chief or a whole alliance of nations, will risk losing a war by following a rule book is preposterous and unrealistic.

        Pointing out Colin Powell in particular is absurd when every officer that ever went to war is just as guilty.

        The argument that war crimes trials are pursuing justice is absurd.

        The whole concept of war crimes is an insane attempt at legitimizing vengeance. When the enemy leaders are captured, they must be hung, and we need a lawful means to hang them.

        (Does any of this sound like sitting on the fence?)
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    Jan 30 2013: Theodore, I can devise a defination and make a argument to indicte anyone. Including the sacred Bill Clinton. By his inaction during the many bombings while he was in office he caused the direct and indirect deaths of thousands of men and women including the 9/11 incident.

    TED being the ultimate site to condem anything military based on the declared liberal membership.

    I would submit that our foriegn policy and diplomatic skills have demished our world image. That our leader is defined as the "Prince of Fools" by other nations and adds to this weak image by bowing to kings and pledging his muslim aliegence by doing so.

    What politicians say during a campaign never match the actions that follow. It is all about getting the votes.

    However, to be fair, it not the elected officials fault. It is ours, the voters. We are probally the least informed of how our government works and what the issues are of any I know of.

    Good luck with the conversation. Bob.
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      Jan 30 2013: Bob, I agree that what politicians say during campaigns often bears little resemblance to the actions that follow.

      But to say that someone's effort simply to be respectful in meeting other world leaders (I am sure that was the intention of his posture) suggests muslim allegiance is not, I think, valid. As people's religious beliefs are their own, our default should always be, I think, to let them label themselves in this respect rather than our labeling them. Obama identifies himself as Christian.
      He bowed to the Japanese emperor as well. I think also to Michelle on the dance floor? It is just a habit, perhaps because he is tall.
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        Jan 30 2013: You are kind and generous. We could all learn from your model. However, I am not as generous as I watched his address to the muslim brotherhood and have grave doubts about his aliegance. As I respect your opinion I hope we can agree to disagree on this.

        I wish you well. Bob.
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          Jan 30 2013: I raised the subject because I think of you as being thoughtful as well. I think also that my father (long gone now), with his old world continental manners, tipped his body on meeting people in the way that men used to lean forward while tipping their hats.

          This may be why it looks different to me than to you.
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          Jan 31 2013: It is rare to see cats and dogs showing such interest in etiquette.
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      Jan 30 2013: How do you define the term "war criminal?"
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          Feb 1 2013: I do not pretend to be an expert of the subject. I guess its like the way the Supreme Court defines pornography, I know it when I see it.

          Stephen Ratner writes: "Although UN bodies have restated the importance of crimes against peace (which was the first charge brought against the Germans) since World War II, the UN’s members—especially Western States—have noted serious obstacles to actually prosecuting individuals. First, a definition of aggression specific enough for prosecutions of governmental officials remains elusive. Second, since wars are typically planned by many people in State bureaucracies, drawing a line of guilt might prove difficult. Third, criminal cases could encompass complex, politically laden factual inquiries ill-suited for courts. While some cases of aggression are as stark as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, other incidents demand more careful scrutiny."