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Prosecute Tony Blair and John Howard over ‘proceeds of crime’

Gideon Polya | 17.11.2010 00:00 | Anti-militarism | Iraq | Social Struggles | South Coast | World

The leaders of the US Alliance have yet to face war crimes trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their involvements in the Iraqi Genocide (4.4 million deaths, 1990-2010) and the Afghan Genocide (4.9 million deaths, 2001-2010).

Judicial exposure of US Alliance war crimes can be achieved if Australian PM John Howard, who committed Australia to the illegal invasion of Iraq, is prosecuted for “proceeds of crime” over his recently published memoirs.

Blair and Howard held a press conference 5 weeks prior to the invasion of Iraq
Blair and Howard held a press conference 5 weeks prior to the invasion of Iraq

The leaders of the US Alliance have yet to face war crimes trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their involvements in the Iraqi Genocide (4.4 million deaths, 1990-2010) and the Afghan Genocide (4.9 million deaths, 2001-2010). Judicial exposure of US Alliance war crimes can be achieved if Australian PM John Howard, who committed Australia to the illegal invasion of Iraq, is prosecuted for “proceeds of crime” over his recently published memoirs.

Thus Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks (who has committed no offences against Australian or International law) is reportedly under investigation by Australian authorities for a possible “proceeds of crimes” prosecution over the publication of his memoirs “Guantanamo: my journey”. If “proceeds of crime” prosecution can be mounted against David Hicks who has killed nobody and broken no laws it can surely be mounted against John Howard and other US Alliance Prime Ministers complicit in child-killing sanctions, invasions and occupations and the deaths of millions.

David Hicks is an Australian who converted to Islam, trained with fundamentalist Muslim forces in Afghanistan and was captured unarmed after the illegal US invasion of Afghanistan. He was subsequently anally penetrated and tortured and then abusively imprisoned for 5 years at Guantanamo Bay, US-occupied Cuba (mostly in solitary confinement). He became a UK citizen in 2006 despite UK government opposition and refusal to demand his release from Guantanamo Bay (as it has successfully done for other UK prisoners there). The UK Government subsequently revoked his UK citizenship.

Hicks’ abusive imprisonment without trial by the US authorities drew criticism from many decent Australians. In order to secure release from highly abusive imprisonment, in mid-2007 Hicks pleaded guilty to a charge of “providing material support for terrorism” before a US Military Commission, was returned to Australia and served out the remaining nine months of a suspended seven-year sentence in Adelaide's Yatala Labor Prison where he was kept in solitary confinement in the state's highest-security ward, G Division. On his release from prison Hicks was released under a control order on 29 December 2007. The control order expired in December 2008. In 2010 Random House Australia published the personal memoirs of David Hicks entitled “Guantanamo: My Journey”.

However publication of David Hicks book immediately drew calls for criminal investigation under Australia’s laws prohibiting the making of any profit from crime. According to Professor George Williams, a public law expert at the University of New South Wales: “Well you can't proceed unless you actually know that David Hicks is profiting. Unless that can be shown then there's no basis to make an order against him.” And the Australia Federal Police won’t comment (see “Hicks to release book despite proceeds of crime laws”, The World Today, ABC TV, 24 September 2010).

“Guantanamo: My Journey” by David Hicks was released in October 2010. Right wing politicians have asserted that the book publication may not just violate the proceeds of crime laws but may also violate the terms of the plea bargain with the US Government. Thus Labor senator Joe Ludwig, representing Attorney-General Robert McClelland, confirmed the matter was now being investigated by the AFP ahead of possible action by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP): "The Australian Federal Police is making further enquires to enable it to determine whether and what action is to be taken in relation to this matter" (see “AFP investigating Hicks book”, The Age, 28 October 2010).

It must be remembered in all of this that David Hicks did not violate any Australian or International laws and only pleaded guilty to US charges to terminate 5 years of highly abusive imprisonment without trial and torture by war criminal US authorities. However the case raises the possibility of a novel avenue for justice being meted out to war criminal leaders of the US Coalition involved in the illegal invasion of Iraq, specifically George W. Bush and John Howard, who have recently published their memoirs and Tony Blair (who is writing his memoirs).

All are unapologetic for their illegal invasion of Iraq and the horrendous consequences of 7 years of genocidal war (post-invasion violent deaths and non-violent avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation now total 2.5 million) (see “Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide). In the UK and Australia criminals are prosecuted if they benefit from the “Proceeds of Crime” e.g. from book royalties. Tony Blair has ostensibly side-stepped this issue by donating his 4 million pound advance and all future royalties to injured veterans but unless John Howard has taken similar steps with royalties from his recently published memoir “Lazarus Rising”, he is up for prosecution. However, more importantly, the prosecution of John Howard under “Proceeds of Crime” legislation (passed by his own Government in 2002) would provide a public, judicial vehicle for exposure of the war crimes of the US Coalition as a whole in both Occupied Iraq (post-invasion deaths 2.5 million) and Occupied Afghanistan (post-invasion deaths 4.9 million).

It should be noted that while Blair may have offered his book advance and book royalties to a veteran’s charity, he presumably earns substantial sums through public speaking engagements and other engagements linked to his prime ministerial career – and as such remains eligible for “proceeds of crime” prosecution.

I haven’t read John Howard’s book “Lazarus Rising” but a cursory examination of the index revealed the absence of Andrew Wilkie, the former Australian Defense Force (ADF) Lieutenant Colonel and intelligence analyst who resigned from the Office of National Assessments in 2003 just before the Australian, UK and US invasion of Iraq, stating, contrary to the view of the warmongering Americans and the Howard Government, that there was no hard evidence for the existence of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Wilkie was backed by top UN Weapons inspectors and vindicated after the US Coalition invasion – no WMD were found.

Not only was the invasion of Iraq illegal, the continuing Iraq War has had horrendous human consequences. In Occupied Iraq the post-invasion violent deaths now total 1.4 million (this estimate deriving from the research of top US medical epidemiologists and the UK ORB polling corporation; see the eminent US Just Foreign Policy); post-invasion avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation total 1.1 million (UN Population Division data); post-invasion under-5 infant deaths total 0.8 million; and refugees total 5 million. However the Howard Government was also involved in Sanctions against Iraq (as were the previous Hawke and Keating Labor Governments of Australia) that were associated with 0.2 million violent Iraqi deaths in the Gulf War, 1.7 million avoidable deaths from deprivation and 1.2 million under-5 infant deaths (90% avoidable and due to deprivation). Thus the total violent deaths and avoidable deaths from deprivation in Iraq (1990-2010) total 4.4 million, under-5 infant deaths total 2.0 million and refugees total 5 million – an Iraqi Holocaust similar in magnitude to the death toll of the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and an Iraqi Genocide as defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention.

The Howard Government was also involved in the Afghan War that has been associated, so far, with post-invasion violent deaths of about 1 million, post-invasion non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation totaling 3.7 million, post-invasion under-5 infant deaths totaling 2.6 million and refugees totaling over 3 million – an Afghan Holocaust and an Afghan Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention (see “Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide”). The huge non-violent avoidable deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are largely due to egregious US Coalition violation of the Geneva Convention which demands that an Occupier must provide life-sustaining requisites to the Conquered Subjects “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. The US Coalition is composed of some of the World’s richest nations yet the World health Organization (WHO) informs us that the annual per capita total health expenditure permitted by the Occupiers in Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan is US$124 and US$29, respectively, as compared to US$3,122 in Occupier Australia.

As recently as several weeks ago Howard was unrepentant over the invasion of Iraq (see “Howard’s war – why he committed Australian troops to Iraq”, New Zealand Herald, 30 October 2010), stating that “[existence of Iraqi WMDs was] reasonably entertained …Even more importantly, it was a legitimate act of anticipatory self-defense against future terrorist facilitation by a regime which had a track record of both regional aggressions and support for terrorist activities .. It was neither unreasonable nor implausible of the Americans to believe that WMDs possessed by Iraq might, at some time in the future, be handed to a terrorist group for use against the United States or others, with horrific consequences."

However the testimonies of other important political figures are damning. Here is a sample of opinions of some conservative politicians.

John Valder, President of the Australian Liberal Party, Howard’s own party (2004): “Bush, Blair, and Howard, as leaders of the three members of the coalition of the willing, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Iraq. And, as such, they are criminals. I believe the only deterrent to a repetition of the Iraq situation is punishment in some form as war criminals" (see “Howard is a war criminal, says former colleague”, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2004).

Senator Nick Minchin, leading Liberal member of the Howard Liberal-National Party Coalition Government (2010): “I regret we were not able to be more successful in persuading the Bush administration to remain focused on Afghanistan rather than open another front in Iraq… The debacle that ensued in Iraq has made the vital campaign in Afghanistan more protracted and more difficult…My admiration for Powell was immense; my doubts about Rumsfeld were deep. I earnestly hoped that Powell would win that internal battle and that the US would refrain from pre-emptive action in Iraq…Rather than the US and its allies focusing all their energies and resources on Afghanistan, Iraq became a massive diversion” (see “US was wrong to invade Iraq, says Minchin”, Yahoo 7 News, 28 October 2010).

Nick Clegg, UK Deputy PM to the UK House of Commons (2010): “"I am happy to account for everything that we are doing in this coalition government, a coalition government which has brought together two parties working in the national interest to sort out the mess that he [Jack Straw] left behind. Maybe one day, and perhaps we'll have to wait for his [Straw's] memoirs, he could account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all, which is the illegal invasion of Iraq" (see “Britain’s Clegg says Iraq invasion was “illegal’: Reuters, 21 July 2010).

Gerhard Schröder, former German Chancellor (2010): “"But this link [between 9-11 and Iraq], as it became clear during 2002, was false and contrived. This goes for reasons [for the invasion] given by Bush and [vice president Dick] Cheney too. As we know today, the Bush administration's reasons for the Iraq war were based on lies." (See “Schröder hits back, saying Bush lied”, The Local, 9 November 2010).

Bush will not be tried for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) because the US does not recognize its authority over Americans. Blair may possibly face the ICC (for a scenario see the movie “The trial of Tony Blair” :) but may have evaded future prosecution for “proceeds of crime” by donating his book advance and future royalties from his memoirs to injured soldiers. John Howard is unlikely to be hauled before the ICC (unless, like General Pinochet, he lands in the wrong country) but is a potential candidate for a “proceeds of crime” prosecution. Prosecution of John Howard for “proceeds of crime” would be the first comprehensive exposure of US Coalition war crimes in a transparent, public judicial process. Decent Australians must demand the “proceeds of crime” prosecution of John Howard.

The human cost of US Alliance war crimes with which Howard is intimately associated can be measured in part by the 10 million violent deaths or non-violent avoidable deaths from war-imposed circumstances, the breakdown being 4.4 million (Iraq, 1990-2010), 4.9 million (Afghanistan, 2001-2010) and 0.8 million global opiate drug-related deaths (3,000 Australian, 100,000 American) due to US Alliance restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 to over 90% today (UN Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report).

UK Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter in his 2005 Literature Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech stated: “The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading as a last resort all other justifications having failed to justify themselves as liberation.

A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people. We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice.”

10 million? More than enough, I would have thought. Indeed I have made a detailed Formal Complaint to the International Criminal Court over US Alliance war crimes and other genocidal crimes.

In the absence of prosecutions of US Alliance war criminals before the International Criminal Court, Dr Mahathir suggested a non-government non-UN war crimes tribunal of eminent World citizens (akin to the War Crimes Tribunal on Iraq that included brilliant, humanitarian Indian writer Arundhati Roy), as reported by the Perdana Global Peace Organization: "The former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad hosted the conference and won applause yesterday for calling for the leaders to be tried by an unofficial tribunal for war crimes in Iraq. He said the war had caused more terror than al-Qaeda. “We should not hang Blair if the tribunal finds him guilty, but he should always carry the label ’War Criminal, Killer of Children, Liar’," said Dr Mahathir in a speech illustrated by pictures of wounded children, deformed babies and tortured men. "And so should Bush and the pocket Bush of the Bush-land of Australia," he said, referring to the Prime Minister, John Howard."

The most important thing about any such transparent, public war crimes trial is establishing the truth in order to minimize the possibility of History repeating itself. Decent people must demand justice for the 10 million victims of US Alliance war crimes through either ICC or authoritative but non-official tribunal war crimes trials. In the interim, decent people must demand the “proceeds of crime” prosecution of people such as John Howard and Tony Blair as vehicles for telling the truth about the Iraqi and Afghan parts of the neocon- and Zionist-promoted Muslim Holocaust...

Gideon Polya
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  1. Where is the law? — Allen L. Jasson