Law and Disorder Radio – Bill Quigley on Permanent War – End the Korean War – Omar Khadr Military Commission Trial – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

No End In Sight, Number One In War

What will you remember on Memorial Day? US law officially proclaims Memorial Day “as a day of prayer for permanent peace.” However, the US is much closer to permanent war than permanent peace, writes Bill Quigley, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in his recent article titled “No End In Sight, Number One In War.” The article outlines the rising costs of war, the damage to country and who is reaping massive profits. At what point do we begin to transition to permanent peace?

Bill Quigley:

Yes, politicians are making hay from the permanent war, but there’s also a lot of people who are making an awful lot of money from the US military.

We discount the role they’re playing in keeping the US constantly fearful and preparing for and perpetrating war in every place across the globe.

This is something that people are afraid to talk about.

The “Axis of Evil” spends less than one percent of what the US spends. This coming year the US will spend $708 billion on war and another $125 billion for Veterans Affairs.

Al Qaeda spends less than one percent of one percent of what the US spends.

You have to ask yourself “why?” Why are people in the United States more afraid than anybody in the whole world? Fanning the flames of fear. Behind the scenes are huge corporations that are making billions of dollars.

We talk about Blackwater, but there are a couple corporations that dwarf Blackwater.

Lockheed Martin, a huge corporation that runs almost entirely on taxpayer money. 140,000 employees.

A corporation totally reliant on the United States Congress. You spend $125,000 lobbying Congress and Congress doesn’t get some benefit from that.

The US is spending 10 times more on the military than China. Who is calling for accountability on this spending?

Guest – Bill Quigley. Bill is the Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Bill joined CCR on sabbatical from his position as law professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University in New Orleans. He has been an active public interest lawyer since 1977.

 End the Korean War

Hosts get an update on the uneasy tensions between North and South Korea. A multinational investigation concluded last week that a North Korean submarine had torpedoed the 1,200-ton warship called the Cheonan back in March, killing 45 people. North Korea denies involvement in the sinking; South Korean defense ministry denies that any of its ships had crossed the “Northern Limit Line.” Meanwhile, the threat of sanctions against the already oppressed North Korean population escalate. South Korea and the Obama administration have agreed to initiate joint anti-submarine military exercises near North Korean border. Right now, there are almost 29,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.

Eric Sirotkin:

  • When you look into the history of the conflict, and we are still technically at war, as an armistice doesn’t technically end a war only stops the shooting.
  • These kind of incidences occur because you don’t have a peace regimen to fall back on.
  • There is a very conservative South Korean government. Very hawkish toward the North.
  • The initial report of them torpedoing the boat, there are a lot of questions, there are people who are writing about Tonkin Bay, and thinking about that.
  • You have a choice to march toward war or go toward peace.
  • The United States at this point is ramping up the rhetoric.
  • Before this situation with the South and the North, we had a lot more exchanges and things were going in a positive direction. If you think there’s no exit strategy after Iraq, look at Korea, sixty years later.
  • We’re working with a campaign to end the Korean War.

Guest – Attorney Eric Sirotkin is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and helped found Korean Peace Project. Eric Sirotkin is the founder and Director of Ubuntuworks, LLC, combining his experience as a human rights lawyer, film producer, author and peacemaker. Over the years his peacemaking activities have taken him around the world, including India, Peru, Cuba, South Africa, Japan, North and South Korea, France, the Netherlands, Canada and China. He contributed to dialogue on the new Constitution in South Africa, was a UN-sponsored election observer at President Mandela’s election and coordinated an international monitoring project of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Omar Khadr, First Military Commission Trial Under Obama

Last week the first military tribunal opened under the Obama administration. It is the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen. Military prosecutors say that Omar Khadr threw a grenade that killed a US Special Forces medic in Afghanistan and helped build roadside bombs to use against American soldiers. We look at why the Obama Administration is putting a detainee on trial who was 15 when he was captured and whether the self-incriminating statements he has made can be used as evidence. Unless the Prime Minister acts to request repatriation, Khadr could face conviction by a jury of U.S. military officers based on evidence extracted by torture.

Attorney Jonathan Hafetz:

  • International law is very clear on how you treat child soldiers. In 2001, military commissions were struck down by the Supreme Court; in 2006 in the Hamdan case, Congress created them again.
  • The hope was that Obama was going to close this chapter and end military commissions.
  • Obama suspended military commissions for 4 months and then brought it back.
  • You have huge issues in Khadr’s case. He was a child soldier. He was accused of killing an American soldier in a firefight. Number one, the US doesn’t seem to have any credible evidence not derived from torture or other abuse that Khadr actually killed the serviceman.
  • Even if they had evidence that Khadr was responsible for the death of this serviceman, it’s not a war crime. It’s part of war but not a war crime. The US government’s theory of war is totally distorted.
  • On the day of the first war crimes trial of a juvenile in US history, the day its starts and new rules are handed out, I don’t think they had enough copies to give to all the council.

Guest – Jonathan Hafetz, attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project.