Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Unmask Those People. Who is Associated Press. Fact Check v. FactCheck.

AP 
 a/k/a Associated Press:
.
Not A Disinterested "News" Fact Dissemination Organization;
Instead, Argument With Few Facts 


Advocacy Journalism without Full Fact Background
Is Abusive:  
.

Perception Management, Opinion or Argument,
In the misleading guise of "News"

.
Our conclusion so far is that the AP is an organization of news business owners, with business interests at heart, not the public interest obligation of real journalism.  AP consists of the ones owning shares, news topics shaped by shareholders, who have to be satisfied as to coverage.

We see no obligation on the part of AP to disinterested, objective information at all.  Just market share. See its mission below. We see no reporters represented - so far - (have to Google the directors who so far look like the CEO's). Is there any outside news-auditor to spot tilt. Let us know. What we see: Just put out the entertainment, the moneymaker versions of stories, spun as needed to make the shareholders happy, what serves the private interests of the private owners.
.
Is this news, or did everyone but the public already know? And how to find out, except with a computer; and how to get access to one if you do not own one, without going to a library that will spy on you - or at least have in place the systems in the system to lock you and your searches in - see Sassafras Tree, Library Exposure Week, Privacy in Public Places?.

The nature of AP came up this morning: with a syndicated argument in the form of a news story; one with "Fact Check" in the title, and directed as though it were an analysis of Obama's Congress speech. But the facts offered were so paltry as to only support the argument already given.

Then we asked:

Is that "Fact Check" in the title the same as "FactCheck" the organization, the Annenberg public interest group that has as one of its public interest functions checking what politicos say? We looked them up. At FactCheck, facts are indeed given for many sides of an issue, and in detail, before a position is concluded, an "argument" presented.

Who is what?
.
It takes a keen eye, but there they are - two names, two kinds of entities in each.

a)  Fact Check, with groups using that combination of words including AP, a private commercial business, an argument presentation group that syndicates stories to persuade people that have in the title often the words "Fact Check;" and then

b)  The real FactCheck.org, an arm of the public interest Annenberg Foundation.

We looked into each.

1.  Fact Check 

This phrase can be used by anyone who uses the two words separated out - here we focus on its use is by Associated Press. Others have used it as well, see YouTube, at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGIqGaWZOo0/  Support for McCain during the campaign, right-leaning others later; such as tilt-coverage of Obama's speech to Congress.

By using the term, the AP and any other user suggests it is indeed "fact checking" - but in the case of the AP,  the story will get picked up just because it is AP with long and many tentacles.  See it at ://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29377101/

2.  Compare:  Mission Statements of the Associated Press and the Annenberg Foundation


 Mission statements have no teeth, but at least lay out a non-binding front for an organization's Objectives:  People and information, or Profit for business shareholders, for example.

AP uses the phrase "Fact Check." Do they mean well?  Is their interest in dominating the news market, monopolies really, in your interest? The AP mission statement is profit, market share, to be the essential global news network, at ://www.ap.org/pages/about/about.html/

"AP's mission is to be the essential global news network, providing distinctive news services of the highest quality, reliability and objectivity, with reports that are accurate, balanced and informed. ***" (emphasis added)

The statement continues including these: "AP is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members" and "On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP."

3.  FactCheck.

The Annenberg Foundation sponsors FactCheck, one word.  It's mission statement is to advance the public well-being, serve the public interest,  at ://www.annenbergfoundation.org/

"The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication." (emphasis added)

FactCheck is clearly different - Annenberg.  Find it at FactCheck.org. on the net.  Who you gonna trust?

Why bother distinguishing? Because it is a matter of truth in disclosure.  Who finances certain news overage counts in our assessment of its neutrality, just as which drug companies finance which testing counts in our assessment of the reliability of the reported results.

4.  Fact Check and FactCheck. 

There is a difference in coverage, intent, and spin. So far, we think this is true:

Go to Fact Check for the tighty whiteys (is that so, or is our fiirst impression too surface?); but go to FactCheck for an analysis of Democracy's issues, what supports this view, what does not, where did a speaker lead us astray and where is the criticism of that speaker itself astray.

AP Fact Check.  

1. See their recent account of the hollowness of President Obama's speech to Congress and the selection of items in support, offered in isolation without discussion of a totality, featured as the headliner this morning on Google News home page, and now at ://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090225/ap_on_go_pr_wh/fact_check_obama/

The odd thng is that we looked back at the Google site a few minutes ago, and it was gone from the Google main news page - vanished. Usually one story replaces another as a reader goes back, for the variety, but this time we could not find the AP one anywhere.

2. Thank heavens, because it did not qualify as "news." It is not the facts for the equivalent of a memorandum of law, or a brief; it is "argument" as lawyers say.  Nonetheless, either the AP version

a) will be picked up anyway just because AP owns the media;  or
b) has been killed (a righteous kill)  in enough places, and
c) that also means somebody is censoring the AP?

3. Thank heavens, one might say again in an unthinking way; but the main point is that the story itself looked so flawed even to us, that we are grateful someone did quality control. We are so sick of newsspin masquerading as objectivity that we could spit. So mad I could spit, my feisty Grandma used to say in private, when her usual dignity shield could be set aside.

 Call it quality control, and not censorship, and we hope that is so. No censorship. We did find the story again, but only by doing a specific set of words search, that we remembered from the first fleeting hapless glimpse. We look again, and there it shows up somewhere else  - now MSNBC has been lazy enough to pick it up already.

5.  Who is the AP?

Whoever, they self-puff.  They appear red in inclination, see the list of directors below and where most of them are from;  or look up their own or their businesses' shareholder interests, in putting out news the shareholders want. Is that so? 

See their website at ://www.ap.org/pages/about/about.html/  They are indeed a fixture in the news pulp entertainment business . Everybody knows AP.  It stuffs our "news" papers all the time - in the form of the syndicated versions of news free of local reporters analyzing, local investigative reporters keeping the AP honest. Our local is the Hartford Courant, owned by Sam Zell - not a happy marriage.

We had thought the AP was made up of actual reporters, out there reporting. Reporters deciding what would be sent out under their name. Not so?

Who are the 1500 members who are themselves newspapers - the owners, not the reporters - and is anyone there more interested in news than in the benefits of shareholding? News is just another commodity?

We have profit, media and entertainment people mostly, directing what citizens need to know. Is that so, because they make more money that way?  Is that why we need NPR and Public TV to be funded equally?

The AP is a co-op.  Will anyone ever fly the coop, or is everyone indoctrinated?

Look up Associated Press and find that it is indeed a co-op, with 1500 members and a board of directors as listed at their ap.org website at ://www.ap.org/pages/about/board.html.

  • Who gets to join?  The owner of just any newspaper?  Need to find out. We believe, however, that reporters are not welcome, that once were hired to do the news gathering and reporting at the papers now in the AP standing alone, like the cheese.

The board.  More media owners, not the ones collecting the news. The sifters.


See anyone you know?  As we suspected as we held our breath scrolling down, tbe board includes our Sam Zell, the Tribune Company (in bankruptcy) and an advocate of one individual or media component owning all the others in the region so that one viewpoint can be more effectively planted; and these others: media and entertainment people it looks like. See FodderSight, Sam Zell and the Shareholders.

With this list, we now will probablly have to Google everybody and their organization now; and how many reporters each has fired/ laid off.  With none of their own reporters, who gets and writes the stories? Is anyone independent of media financial interests.

We do see a range of kinds of papers: but with cannon to the right of them, vastly outnumbering cannon to the left of them, you can imagine whose volley thunders in the valley. 
  • David Westin, ABC (news president)  (NY NY)
  • William Singleton, as CHAIRMAN OF AP, MediaNews Group (Denver CO)
  • Mary Junck, Lee Enterprises (Davenport IA)
  • Donna Barrett, Community Newspaper Holdings (Birmingham, AL)
  • Craig Dubow, Gannett (McLean VA)
  • Jack Fishman, Citizen Tribune (Morristown TN)
  • Walter Hussman, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
  • Julie Inskeep, The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne IN)
  • Mary Jacobus, NYT Regional Media Group (region Tampa FL)
  • Boisfeuillet (Bo)  Jones, Washington Post (Wash.DC) - Boisfeuillet - woods+leaves something? musty piles that turn rustly in the fall? There must be a story here - quick, report it as news and entertain people and take space away from democracy's business! Can I do it? Huh? Please? Can I write something? Pleaseplease?
  • David Lord, Pioneer Newspapers (Seattle WA)
  • R. John Mitchell, Rutland Herald (Rutland VA)
  • Steven Newhouse, Advance Net (NY NY)
  • Charles Pittman, Schurz Communications (South Bend IN)
  • Gary Pruitt, The McClatchy Company (Sacramento CA)
  • Michael Reed, Gatehouse Media (Fairport NY) (that is next to Balanced)
  • Bruce Reese, Bonneville International (Salt Lake City UT)
  • H. Graham Woodlief, Media General (Richmond VA)
  • Jon Rust, Rust Communications (Cape Girardeau MO)
  • Sam Zell, The Tribune (Chicago IL) (see FodderSight, Sam Zell and the Ghost of News Future.
We are not the first to dismay at the spin put out here.  See ://www.opednews.com/articles/ANOTHER-EXAMPLE-OF-ASSOCIA-by-JOHN-LORENZ-080824-408.html/. That is an article from the campaign period, favoring John McCain, Karl Rove, and the Washington bureau chief, Ron Fournier, cozy with Republican interests, says the writer.

6.  Advocacy is fine, but disclose it.

The point here is that advocacy journalism is fine so long as people also have simultaneous access to the full, objective story so they can measure what the advocates are saying.  Here, spin is put out as "news." Tell that to Lou the Loud. Does he get the difference?

AP.  Talk about Propaganda Opportunity Time (POT) - perception management systems (PMS),  persuasion control (PC),  they have it all.

Read that Obama piece, about the speech to Congress. POT, PMS and PC abounding.

Conclusion:  AP's Fact Check cherrypicks and offers one-liners about how something is not true in one light, if only certain facts are considered; without showing how the statement or issue is also true in another light - when other facts are considered. Fine.  Free speech, but this group is syndicated so much that readers of newspapers should be given free computers just to fact check Fact Check.  Misappropriation of the name? It is at least misleading.

The Bias Cross-Pollination Group. Time to rename.

FactCheck. The place to go. As in factcheck.org/  Remember. That is the Annenberg Center. See ://www.opednews.com/articles/ANOTHER-EXAMPLE-OF-ASSOCIA-by-JOHN-LORENZ-080824-408.html/  FacCheck. Neutral. Neutral statement of facts - Just as a lawyer's Statement of Facts in a Memorandum of Law is supposed to be complete, and Argument stemming only thereafter, from the Facts selected from the whole.

What to do with Fact Check the Tilted?  To find the tilts in Fact Check you have to go to FactCheck.Org.

And to do that, we need computers in every home, a geek in every neighborhood to keep the computers going, swap shops like the yellow bikes in Portland - pick one up anywhere, use it, then leave it off somewhere else. See online access for every voter at  FodderSight.


Fact. It is time to be afraid. Very afraid.

Check. That is you, written off, your interest in neutral information a threat to the shareholders

Checkmate. One source, one interpretation, control.  They are halfway there.
 ............................................................................

FN 1 Post Script News - keyword - Wishful Thinking

Faux News Flash!
.
The AP Has Been Bought By a Group of Its Own Upstart Members
and Renamed:
 .
The Bias Cross-Pollination Group
.
To be known hereafter as 
The BCPG NewsWire
(pronounced BckyPg)
.
[CT Independent News Services Group][CINS]

News buffs are grateful for the transparency and disclosure that the change of name of the AP to BCPG represents. It is a step forward that the nature of the news presented is hereby linked appropriately with the name of the organization.
 .
Readers, held captive in areas with only one news media owner for the paper, the tube and the raddy-o,  also remain concerned that the tilty content has not changed. CINS is applying for membership in the renamed organization, and will keep a log of events and procedures, and standards for publication or rejection of stories.
.
This clarification of nature of coverage is needed in other aspects of the old AP's work:  Keen-eyed readers and finger-tappers have noticed in the past that there is Fact Check, and there is FactCheck. Time to wire the country for our own defense, see the role of giveaways in the best of our country's history, at FodderSight, Wire the Country.
..............................................

End of CINS News Group Wire Services account

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Title IX Failure. Where Is: "I've Got Your Back." Gender and Competition Skills.

Girls' Relational Aggression:

Has Title IX Made a Difference/


1. Boys' Rules. "I've Got Your Back"


"BUT A SHORT WHILE IS HAND FAIN OF BLOW
BARE BACK WITHOUT BROTHER BEHIND IT."

Old roots of concepts we take for granted.

That motto is from an Icelandic Saga from before the 10th Century, See also "Otkell, son of Skarf, son of Hallkell, who fought with Gorm of Gormness and felled him on the holm,"  from the Icelandic Saga, The Story of Burnt Njal at chapter 47, Icelandic Saga Database, at //www.sagadb.org/brennu-njals_saga.en/.

Find the photo of the coat of arms at read about Otkell, son of Skarf, son of Hallkell, in the Story of Burnt Njall, at Chapter 47, from the 1861 "Life In Iceland at the End of the Tenth Century, from the Icelandic of the Njal's Saga, this book by George Webbe Dasent. This Icelandic Saga is found in a google book now at (cut and past in the big address bar up top) ://books.google.com/books?id=CzkLAAAAQAAJ&dq=Burnt+Njal%27s+Saga+Skarf&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=fFnfSozHkl&sig=86e9XhcSzHdvSZ3MjCNiYGfBv4U&hl=en&ei=Js6lSaqeN9W5twedpo3VBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result/

Do scroll up past the Title page to see the depiction of the Icelandic skall or hall, a kind of long house, and keep scrolling up to see the coat of arms, and the motto on the shield.

Fast forward to today:

Competitive aggression, mutual protection, teamwork. "I've got your back." The assurance of a buddy. The ingrained ethos of the team. Teamwork. The watchword of the warrior, who does not even have to ask: Help will be there if humanly possible. An assumed part of a man's world.

King Leonidas, Sparta, Battle of Thermopylae, Greece

It gets enforced by the sting of epithets - "traitor," "coward." Mortal humiliation. Boys may use relational aggression as part of the battle and supremacy context, bullying dances, or supremacy mentality (gangs?). But the team concept is still there. Who is on my team, who is not. Boys are more usually overt, not subtle.

There are urban takes on "I've got your back," such as "I got your six," see http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=I+got+your+six, but the meaning is the same. A back-up.

Much of that attitude is learned on the sports fields, the controlled competitions, of traditional boys' games. Sports become a training ground for attitudes vital to survival on the battlefield, as well as recreation.

I've got your back.  Roots even in the oldest Icelandic Sagas, see For Viking buffs, see the google book, The Story of Burnt Njal, from 1861, at http://books.google.com/books?id=CzkLAAAAQAAJ&dq=Burnt+Njal%27s+Saga+Skarf&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=fFnfSozHkl&sig=86e9XhcSzHdvSZ3MjCNiYGfBv4U&hl=en&ei=Js6lSaqeN9W5twedpo3VBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPP1,M1/


Scroll up, yes, up, from the title page to see a depiction of an Icelandic long house, the skall or hall, and then up even further to see the shield with the motto,


"BUT A SHORT WHILE IS HAND FAIN OF BLOW


BARE BACK WITHOUT BROTHER BEHIND IT."




Aggression serves the larger goal of the team. And later, the army.

And, getting older, aggression learned is necessary to prime the boys for war, probably.

Teach them early that the boy may need to sacrifice himself and his desire to shine over others, if he is needed elsewhere. Coach, send me in.

Is it true that men know sport as a kind of battle substitute. Look at the tolerance for violence, the language, the acting out in the stands.

They also, however, firmly fixed the glass ceiling as they grew up, to ensure people in place.


2. Girls' Rules

How did a natural ability to do what was needed get twisted into the devious aggressions we see today.  Go back to the original Red Riding Hood tale - no shrinking violet there.  No little mite curtseying in a cloak of crimson, but a capable, physically strong, gutsy gal who stuffed that wolf's stomach, once the granny had been slitout, with rocks.  Go, girl.  Just like a a boy could do.  But why don't we tell it like that?  Who shifted the track. And who benefitied.  See Migratory Patterns of Cultural Tales, Red Riding Hood.


Relational aggression.

This is not just team or skill competition. Boys had war, and we joined in as tomboys and had forts and tree houses also, but our participation with other girls had an edge.

Boys finished and went home., see ://www.hopehouseonline.org/pages/girls.shtml/.

We did not finish. Somebody remembered. All is a matter of degree, never always true. degree, that is. Bullying, gossip, backbiting, social exclusion. Not the team, with a common goal; but hte clique.

For either gender, extremes in this area of who is on the team, or in the clique or not, can lead to suicide, depression, acting out. Girls had less outlet. Traditional girls' sports and facilities were paltry. No need to teach her battle, and what if we taught her and she then won? Can't have that.
Girls may well carry out their aggressions in less overt but psychologically more destructive ways. Behind the scenes. The undercut.

The deniable shove, when others are not looking.

Pretense of accommodating, then the dig. Is this the battle training, to seem to get along in the extended family, while leaving an opening for natural assertion, independence.

Girls are more likely, says this armchair observer, to push somebody down, push back even after the game was over, and then deny it if caught.

Battle is not part of our upbringing, ethos. We miss learning that come to the aid of your buddy element, as a "natural." The "pack" rather than the team. Is that so, or is this off?

The missing ethos for the girls, it seems:

I face front to fight in my direction, and you stand behind me, to fight in your direction. And so long as we stand together, back to back, we are a fighting machine, impregnable so long as we both shall stand.

For older women: The girls' rules were never challenged. No broader teamwork patterns developed. Some gravitate to it more naturally than others - showing the same "I've got your back." Others fail at it.


3. For both genders: 

Each learns, through sports largely, that there are two ways to get ahead:


Sportsmanship: Fairness, graciousness in the win or the loss, respect. How to play, is an educational topic for anyone in sport - see ://www.crs.umd.edu/programs/intramurals/policies/sportsmanship.html. There is even a scoring mechanism for sportsmanship - what is measured. It is actively taught. Not in Hillary's day, probably.

Gamesmanship: a pejorative - cutting corners, maybe not breaking the rules, but bending them as far as will not be noticed, in order to win. Gamesmanship violates the spirit of the game. Ethically dubious. Read more about both at www.internationalsport.com/nsd/nsd_teamsportsmanship.cfm. Discussions and role plays are outlined to teach the difference.

4. Title IX.

This is the 1972 legislation that offered expanded athletic and team experience, financial support for equipment and training and facilities, to women to participate in contact and other sports, individual and team. And have a choice. See it at ://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/coord/titleixstat.htm. See FN 1. It has had great effect in expanding opportunities and skills, see, for example, ://serendip.brynmawr.edu/local/scisoc/sports04/papers/jlee.html

Has It Changed Basic Mindsets Off the Field: Contemporary Politics and the Older Woman.

Hillary Clinton did not develop that sense of when to use which. She ignored "sportsmanship" teamwork in the "intramurals" - the primaries, within the same party walls. She jumped immediately into "gamesmanship" even for intramurals. Bad form.

Gamesmanship works in intermurals - you and the other team from the other school.

If you are competing within your own school's walls, you had better follow sportsmanship.

Would IX have made a difference?

Who knows. She was out of college in 1968, and the legislation was only passed in 1972. She had the traditional scrap and scrabble experience to get ahead. Gamesmanship.

That skill of gamesmanship has its necessary place, however, particularly in defense - it wins if left unchecked, and if there is no enforcement of sportsmanship, as politicians have learned.

Hillary and women's relational aggression instead of teamwork aggression in politics; and use of the wrong form at the wrong time.

So, we need to deal with that, and the sense of entitlement that brings, her campaign financing, her whatever. Time and energy going to soothing relational effects, when those are needed elsewhere.

Other areas where women's comparative lack of historical experience impact on politics: the sense of "contract."

A sense of contract leads to a line of conclusions: A deal between informed parties, level playing field, you make your deal and live with it. By that thinking, unless she argues she was not fully informed of the consequences, of the fine print, she lives with her decision to contribute to herself. Or should. See ://ezinearticles.com/?Fundamentals-of-Contract-Law&id=82686.

She may consider disclosing who paid for the Clinton Library before asking people to pay her bills.  Some of us even consider her self-finance arrangements a gift. See PoseJuxta, Campaign Contributions to Own Campaign as Gift.

None of this gets in the way of political careers. She will continue to do well, and deserves credit. All this is just musing about gender approaches, that are probably cultural, matters of exposure.


Back to Title IX

If Hillary is faulted for lack of perception in how to proceed in her campaign, why, then, are girls and women these days, who do have Title IX, still falling short in the team play area.
  1. Women still develop deadly bullying behaviors, gossip, undermining, cliquey skills as outlet alternative for competitive urges, and to show superiority somewhere.
  2. Women are still untrained in muscle maintenance, upper-body strength, endurance; look at the obesity among us.
  3. Women are still easily intimidated by those with a "group" behind them - men, and a team, men, and their buddies; or who tout muscles, upper-body strength, endurance - the fist taken back in anger, threat.
Serious and successful team sportsmanship requires mutuality, a focused "got your back," training. Nobody has that yet, at least, not many. You better be there or you'll be talked about! Even the younger women who enjoyed Title IX are in the mold. The change of mindset of the victim victimizing others has not come yet, but we believe it will. It just takes time. FN 1
.......................................................

FN 1 Title IX provided that gender could no longer be reason for discriminating against women participating in, or enjoying the benefits of, any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance See ://www.american.edu/sadker/titleix.

This is not an equality program as to each sport. Substantial proportionality works, as does a record of continuing expansions of programs, and each sport need not be offered to each gender. Rather, a roughly equal opportunity to participate in sports of interest will qualify. Gray areas, but progress nonetheless.

Title IX said, go ahead, engage in tough team sports if that is your interest, you will have the funding and the equipment and the locker room facilities do do it. The history of women's sport shows an artificial culturallly-induced backslide from the 1850's to recent times, and finally that was to come to an end. The advice of coaches to men's teams, could be that to women's teams as well: "You either win or you learn," apparently said Harvard Head Coach Dave Fish, see ://harvardtennis.blogspot.com/2007/06/all-ivy-honors-national-team.html. Rule of tough.

  • Pre-Title IX.  

Look at the sports available to women pre-Title IX - teams by the season, but always secondary to academics and the social events, even including music, always largely individual or glee club skills, personal best, but little funding or group adulation for women's contact sports, "teams." Individual skill sports are demanding, but sterile in requiring a following of rules of form, but little learned about teamwork. Or how to take a physical hit.

For women today, this is appalling.

Women's sports abilities were seen as recreational, peripheral, secondary to any other goal society put forth as to women and the roles ascribed to them. Women's sports teams were transitory (no place to go with the skills learned), underfunded, not center of meaningful attention. Women have little institutional framework anywhere for harnessing, funnelling competitive activity. Women's areas for attaining recognition as superior in skills focus on music or academics.

Women, if they wanted to excel, did it individually because the life on the field didn't translate elsewhere. High school men could at least look forward, if they were inclined, to continue in the big contact sports in college and professionally after.

Hillary took the usual skating, ballet, swimming, but also volleyball and softball, no body-blows there. And no wonder. That is what one did.

  • Now: There is a very rough equivalence, barely but a rightful movement, to the proving-ground of contact sports, the locker rooms someday to be equal roughly to those offered men at the men's schools, or co-ed. We see respect for the individual sports -no longer the lesser facilities, lower emphasis on programs, sissy rules - the basketball (courts were halved), soccer (play on half a field) and field hockey (play on half a field). The grandstands - if there were any - were not full for the women. No cheerleaders, no aura.
  • Amounts spent per sport per boy or girl do not reflect what is happening. Even in the individual sports like golf or tennis, the cash rewards to women and men are far apart. Ok - all takes time to shake out.
  • Old Days: Is it true that women of ease just had had amusements, recreation. Men of ease had competitions, successes. How were women to learn the deep commitment without question, to sportsmanship, and team, and, in war, "my buddy," that raised generations of men. Title IX - may be doing that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Accountability. Best Jurisdiction, War Crimes.

War Crimes; and Crimes against Humanity.
The Reach of International Law
.

 Universal Jurisdiction and Treaty

I. Universal Jurisdiction

Spain is conducting investigations into Alberto Gonzales and 5 ranking Bush officials as to Guantanamo torture, see ://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-04-13/the-bush-six-to-be-indicted/ The investigation will not continue if the US conducts its own investigation, according to the article.

As an update, however, the Spanish legislature is considering limiting the power of its courts to use one route to investigation: "universal jurisdiction" discussed here. See Push in Spain to Limit Reach of the Courts, 5/20/09, at ://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/world/europe/21spain.html

The jurisdiction of the Spanish Court is not limited to "universal jurisdiction," however, since the Plaintiffs have legally sufficient ties to Spain to support an action, apparently. The Guantanamo legal "limbo" is not the only grounds for bringing suit in Spain. See World Bulletin, at ://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=40954/  There is criticism of the use of "universal jurisdiction" see  Questia at http://www.questia.com, focusing on the limited reality of the universal jurisdiction, see http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=KVyJ1htJz3PjvbQk1vwpbSf4hn0GbJKSLMWztRS3HxjklQ/gSRGP7!-286333544!-1860105440?docId=5001995258/

If the suit goes forward, the Court will investigate not only the perpetrators, but their "bosses." A second probe may be pending, see ://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre5443x0-us-spain-guantanamo/. Spain has pioneered this concept of universal jurisdiction.

The idea is that some acts are so violative of human rights that they must be prosecuted, see ://www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice/issues/universal-jurisdiction/ Thus, other states can act on behalf of humanity, and obtain reparations. Henry Kissinger came out against it in 2001, see The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction, Risking Judicial Tyranny, at ://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/general/2001/07kiss.htm/. Kissinger's position was rebutted by Kenneth Roth at The Case For Universal Jurisdiction, saying the fears are overblown, at ://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/57245/kenneth-roth/the-case-for-universal-jurisdiction/

So, watch Spain.

II. Treaty:
The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The International Criminal Court (ICC), independent of the United Nations, at The Hague, the Netherlands, was established by the Rome Treaty or the Rome Statute. See International Humanitarian Law, Documents, at ://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/52d68d14de6160e0c12563da005fdb1b/fb2c5995d7cbf846412566900039e535.

The ICC prosecutes cases of genocide, crimes against humanity (this includes torture, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, enforced disappearance of persons, do read it all and the definitions, see Article 7 at http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/52d68d14de6160e0c12563da005fdb1b/fb2c5995d7cbf846412566900039e535/ - or do a "find" for "torture."), and war crimes, where the state itself will not prosecute, or is shielding its citizens from prosecution by procedural or other means.

See the overview of the ICC at ://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/About+the+Court/Frequently+asked+Questions/.

Crimes must have been committed after the founding of the Court in 2002, and cases can be initiated by a State, the United Nations Security Council or the Prosecutor at the Court itself.

It appears that magnitude of the crime is pivotal. And, if a State is considering prosecuting its own case, then the ICC cannot step in unless there is bad faith - inability to prosecute at the State level, or the shielding in some way.
  • This is different from the tribunals hearing cases related to abuses in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, those having been created by the Security Council at the United Nations for a limited period of time. Specific jurisdiction, part of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and separate from this ICC. See FAQ's at http://www.icc-cpi.int/NetApp/App/MCMSTemplates/Index.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID={D788E44D-E292-46A1-89CC-D03637A52766}&NRORIGINALURL=/Menus/ICC/About+the+Court/Frequently+asked+Questions/&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#id_2/.
The US has not signed. There is no presidential authorization in effect any more. There has been consistent opposition through several administrations in order to shield the US Military from prosecution, see UN Wire at ://www.unwire.org/unwire/20001212/12171_story.asp/ A concern is for loss of Bill of Rights protections pursuant to the US Constitution if US nationals are prosecuted at the ICC.

Issues are convoluted in application to the United States, because, in summary:
  • one President authorized Congress to ratify the Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court;
  • the next President de-authorized Congress from ratifying it: and 
  • the de-authorization apparently suited Congress because it enacted legislation to immunize servicemembers from prosecution if they violated the terms of that same Treaty that the US did not ratify; and so long as it remained unratified;
  • meanwhile, were plans being made to act in violation of any such treaty even before the legislation was proposed, so that the legislation would be in place in time? some say; and
  • then 9/11 happened, and the not-so-hot pursuit after Perps into Afghanistan, that just happened to be the place where plans were or were not already being discussed to rout the Taliban; and
  • The ICC treaty passed but remained unratified by the US
  • then came Iraq and its sh-awe-king display; and 
  • when and who briefed Congress members and was it before or after the fact of torture, and if after, is that keeping the Congress informed? Who has the paperwork proving what was said, how, and if that was adequate to get the impact of the point across, as is required in keeping Congress informed;
  • then or was it before? Guantamo, the legal limbo housing unspeakable acts against people whose information was never put in one file, as we understand, so nobody knew much of who was there;
  • Abu Ghraib  and the lowlings put in jail;
  • torture blow-up, Spain investigating where the US will not; and universal jurisdiction applies; does the Rome Treaty as well, since its provision covers even non-signatories.
It is enough to keep lawyers busy and paid fortunes for years, and how to appropriate that kind of money for that.purpose. Roads, schools, health, jobs, accountability for bailout funds, or dig into torture. The Universal Jurisdiction idea at least avoids the legalities and nuances of an unratified Treaty applying and whether there is anything culpable about immunizing yourself against your planned bad acts, or at least trying to. Conspiracy to thumb nose?

Background. 

The issue remains: Can a State remove itself from accountability under international war crimes treaty jurisdiction (the ICC), that, by its terms, applies even to non-signatories; and merely by passing internal legislation declaring immunity. Specifically: Is the US accountable for international war crimes pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in force as of July 2, 2002. The Rome Treaty authorizes international investigation and enforcement where a state itself refuses to investigate its own acts.
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Texts.
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, see ://www.un.org/law/icc/index.html/; see also OpsLaw.com at ://www.toddpennington.com/taxonomy/term/3/ , full text at http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/index.html/.  See discussion at V.B.1, below.
  • The American Servicemembers Protection Act at ://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode22/usc_sup_01_22_10_81_20_II.html/ (US Code, Title 22, Subchapter II).
So far:

It appears to be in any nation's interest to explore a war crimes issue thoroughly itself, and with transparency; so its conclusion to prosecute or not is a) reasonable, even compelling under the facts; b) appropriate in terms of deterrence and punishment, and c) will end the issue.

III. How to enforce international standards for war crimes 
and crimes and crimes against humanity.

A. Get Facts First.

International Criminal Court and the International Court. Still in progress. Roughly so far, we think:

1.  Timeline to 2009. 

 For a comprehensive effort, see Complete 9.11 Timeline at ://www.historycommons.org/project.jsp?project=911_project/  Do a search for timeline and see all that show up. Ours is limited to jurisdiction-type issues in light of criminal prosecution areas.

  • 1993 -Renditions. Note: this site says that the practice of "renditions" (compare to "extraordinary renditions:) has apparently been going on since 1993, see History Commons at ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=torture,_rendition,_and_other_abuses_against_captives_in_iraq,_afghanistan,_and_elsewhere_854#torture,_rendition,_and_other_abuses_against_captives_in_iraq,_afghanistan,_and_elsewhere_854
  •  1998. Rome Statute/ The International Criminal Court was established by the Rome Treaty in 1998. 
  • 2000. President Clinton authorized Congres to ratify the Rome Statute of the Criminal Court, see://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2001/index.htm/; a Treaty. There appears to have been a flurry of activity at the United Nations in the human rights areas in that 2000 era - gender, children, white slavery, genocide, war crimes, etc. See Index of treaties then on file and proposed at ://untreaty.un.org/English/TreatyEvent2001/index.htm/  Effect if US had ratified: With full ratification, the US would be obligated to comply with anti- war crime and anti-torture provisions, and submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court first established in 1998.
  • December 2000 - the Gilmore Panel warns of US vulnerability to attack - attack inevitable - and advises Bush to bolster preparedness within one year, to improve human intelligence instead of relying on technology and to consolidate anti-terrorism effort into one agency. Scroll down to ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a121400gilmore#a121400gilmore/. Wouldn't then-president Clinton have received the same briefing?
  • In that context, Clinton's signing the Rome Treaty might have been what - pre-emptive what?
  •  2001.  January. President Bush was inaugurated.
  • 2001. April. DeLay and Helms in Congress introduce legislation to immunize servicemembers from prosecution for their actions internationally. May. Congress passed The Servicemembers' Protection Act.  See FN 1. 
  • The US tried to get exemptions for the US as to the Treaty. These failed.
  • Also in May 2001, President Bush de-authorized the previous authorization of President Clinton for Congress to ratify the Rome Treaty.  President Bush revoked the US signature, and began a campaign against the ICC according to this site, see Amnesty International at ://www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice/issues/international-criminal-court/usa-icc/ The efforts largely failed, and the US (having submitted resolutions to grant exemptions to the US) withdrew those proposals. But future ratification is still in issue. Look at Wikipedia for a map of where the states are located overall that have ratified - Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia. Not: US, Russia, most of Asia, Middle East.
  • Specific issue:  Mussaoui - alerts. What could have been learned of plans? Mussaoui is also known to the French, traced perhaps to Chechens, see ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a082201french#a082201french/.  The CIA is also interested, but is blocked by FBI - see ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a082401ciabacksminneapolis#a082401ciabacksminneapolis/
  • August 2001-ff to September 11, 2001 - the FBI blocks investigation into Mussaoui's belongings by warrant, and there were other SNAFUS, see ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a082001rfumoussaouimeta#a082001rfumoussaouimeta/
  • September. 9/11, traumatizing and galvanizing the country, occurred. For time line geeks, note this was after maximum immunity had been established internally by the President and Congress against international investigation and enforcement of th e Rome Treaty, coincidence or in furtherance of a plan, see and vet issues in  ://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/preplanned.html/.
  • It is only after 9/11 that the criminal warrant is granted to the CIA to search Mussaoui's belongings. 
  • Torture: When begin?Did the CIA adequately (clear, unambiguous) inform Congress of torture already going on; torture pending; torture dreamed of; or not. Takes documentation here. CIA has the documents.
  • Extraordinary renditions. Extraordinary renditions increased after 9/11, see History Commons at ://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=torture,_rendition,_and_other_abuses_against_captives_in_iraq,_afghanistan,_and_elsewhere_859#torture,_rendition,_and_other_abuses_against_captives_in_iraq,_afghanistan,_and_elsewhere_859/

    There is a long narrative on events, so it appears that actionable events may well have happened. Mild comment.
     
  • 2001 invade Afghanistan, vet this site and let us know: ://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/preplanned.html
  • 2003. US invades Iraq
  • Guantanamo
  • Extraordinary rendition
  • Torture, where and when
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Our focus here is on why the de-authorizing of the Rome Treaty by President Bush in May, but do read more about the 9/11 fiasco at the History Commons site. The United States of the Keystone Cops. Who gave the orders? How did we end up where we ended up.

2. Timeline 2009. Fast Forward.
  • January 2009.
Enter President Barack Obama. There is an ongoing trial related to prosecution of transporters of persons suspected of terrorist acts perhaps (no charges, no trials). Those transporters were claimed to be part of Bush's extraordinary rendition program where torture apparently occurred, and was reasonably known, despite "agreements" with those countries that the persons would not be tortured. Obama's administration did not alter the previous administration's arguments, position, the case was dismissed, to the dismay of those who sought for this administration to object to how matters proceeded under the former.




B.  Assess.

Priorities and timing matter. See Reuters at ://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSN1246924120090212; there may be good arguments to not alter the previously established course, to keep those criminal cases from going to trial, because perhaps our nation's refusal to prosecute preserves other options.
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Perhaps the failure to prosecute in trial now may lead to prosecutions from elsewhere in at least some similar cases, possible, feasible.

C. Review facts again - the history and topics related to the International Criminal Court.
  • We go back to the History Timeline project, at History Commons, ://www.historycommons.org/project.jsp?project=911_project/ See the entire timeline of events laid out there, at ://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=complete_911_timeline/ President Bush was inaugurated in January 2001. See ://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/17/bush-2001-inaugural/
Review:

The US was prepared to ratify this Rome Treaty, establishing the International Criminal Court. President Clinton authorized Congress in 2000 to ratify the Treaty. Discussion was in process in Congress. Then President Bush was elected; plans were or were not being made to invade Afghanistan, see sites about such plans dating to March 2001 perhaps; then Helms-DeLay in Congress proposed legislation in April 2001 to immunize servicemembers from prosecution under the Rome Treaty until such time as the US ratified it; and President Bush de-authorized Congress in May 2001 from ratifying the Treaty. The legislation immunizing servicemembers passed in May 2001.

IV. Other Chronologies- Torture Plus.


Extraordinary renditions.

Sue the transporters? What is the extent of government immunity? State secrets, etc. Specifically, if a California court does not pursue a case against a former president or administration or surrogates or airlines in extraordinary rendition cases, because of "state secrets" issues, what is left to those other judicial proceedings elsewhere. See cases at "Secret Crimes, Secret Punishment," at ://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1/3703-secret-crimes-secret-punishment.htmlIs the US in the possible international net. Some call for a "truth and reconciliation" proceeding - see Public Record at ://www.pubrecord.org/torture/673-obama-indicates-he-doesnt-back-lawmakers-calls-to-probe-bush-abuses.html

V. Option.

A. Let the local cases already in process fall as they may -

Let the earlier filings play out - Obama's current choice - leaving the case clear for other investigations, prosecutions, from other interested parties with other jurisdictions. That is, if they can assert jurisdiction successfully. Then, if cases are dismissed here, showing that the nation will not prosecute its own, the case may be preserved for prosecution elsewhere. Add the Torture cases - Spain, and possibly internal, US.

B.  Plan for the International Efforts

1. Universal jurisdiction; and possibly the Rome Treaty despite us

To be explored. So far, "state secrets" is the trumper uber alles. But does that relate to the nature of that particular case; and in a more appropriate, better-targeted case, fall away.


2. International law: Other sources of jurisdiction

Read the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations.

Read carefully at the Overview at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html/.

This was adopted on December 10, 1948. Go to Article 5 - no torture, no cruel, degrading, dehumanizing treatment. There are 9 basic uman rights treaties. For a list of many laws related to human rights, see International Law at ://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/

There was another convention that focuses on genocide, see Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/p_genoci.htm/.

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Who can sue on those grounds of violations of universal human rights against us. Go ahead. No findings of fact on any record here, let 'er rip.

4. Breach of one's own signed treaties, the United Nations, another choice. We sue ourselves.

For now, wait, watch the statutes of limitations (others surely are), and get those fact-findings first in the areas that outsiders clearly have no interest in. The spying. The acts against our own citizens. Me. You. What would Iraq or other countries have to do to get within the ICC as to their citizens? Beyond scope here. Terrorism. A New Deal.

And genocide? Are we paralyzed? Read "The Translator, a Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur" by Daoud Hari, Random House NY 2008. More important, are we complicit. Read there the text on the Universal Human Rights, United Nations. We need adult literacy in this country. At the highest levels.

5. For animals, we care not a whit. See torture on them at Sassafras Tree, Testing on Animals, Ethics. We need to examine why.

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FN 1.  The DeLay-Helms-Miller legislation, Servicemembers' Protection, said the US would not be bound by the 1998 Rome Treaty until it ratified it, and no action had yet been taken on Clinton's authorization. Explanation: Fair use quote, or is this public record so no copyright? Does anyone understand copyright??
"Under the legislation, US military personnel must be immunized from ICC jurisdiction before the US participates in any U.N. peacekeeping operations; no direct or indirect transfer of classified national security information and be made available to the ICC; and no US military assistance could be extended to any country that has ratified the treaty with the exception of major US allies. The legislation also authorizes the President to use all means necessary to release any US or allied personnel detained against their will or on behalf of the Court."
That is from the Background section at this long URL, not sure how else to get you to it, so copy and paste - ://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:7FuoTW9LkUcJ:www.unausa.org/site/pp.asp%3Fc%3DfvKRI8MPJpF%26b%3D368475+Rome+treaty+events+2001&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us&client=firefox-a/.
Concern of Helms: Fair use quote:
"Under the terms of the Rome Treaty, the ICC will have the ability to prosecute the nationals of any country, whether a party to the treaty or not."
Yet, the provisions of the Rome Treaty say the ICC only acts when the State does not or cannot prosecute. See ://www.unausa.org
This is from the section on proponents fearing "unfair" prosecution.at the unusa.org site.
  • There was a cache of information from Feb 6, 2009 at http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:7FuoTW9LkUcJ:www.unausa.org/site/pp.asp%3Fc%3DfvKRI8MPJpF%26b%3D368475+Rome+treaty+events+2001&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us&client=firefox-a/

    Can't reach it now. There also were "talking points" there. Whose?
Presto! Legislate-o! Immunizations were already and very conveniently in place for whatever the US government chose to do against anybody else.
  • And like magic, this happened before 9/11. What was going on? What was being prepared for? Who knew what when, so that preparations had to be made like this to immunize us.
Discussion: Helms cited actions against Yugoslavia and other International Court issues. But those are not comparable because the International Criminal Court has a narrower jurisdiction. a) See the section on "complementarity." And it is used b) only in cases of the most "heinous" crimes. That History Commons site at ://www.historycommons.org is great site for review of time lines, and ://www.unausa.org for the provisions.