Monday, November 29, 2004

From Small Seeds...

One attribute that distinguishes ASZ from other progressive blogs is that we like to challenge our beloved readers to engage in simple little actions that can make a big overall difference. Sometimes it's no more than clicking through on a link. Other times, it might be something as easy as dropping a Christmas card to a wounded GI. Look at it this way - action (however seemingly insignificant) keeps you occupied, off the street, and engaged in a meaningful way. Ergo, progressive as a verb.

Here's the latest installment in ASZ's progressive viral marketing. On Tuesday, 11/30/2004, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (the group that continues to bring some measure of justice to Gitmo detainees) will be filing a criminal complaint in German court to hold a select group of perpetrators accountable for war crimes.

I can hear you guffawing now -- but this is an amazing opportunity, and I think the CCR pre-press release explains it quite nicely:

In a historic effort to hold high-ranking U.S. officials accountable for brutal acts of torture including the widely publicized abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib, on Tuesday November 30, 2004, CCR and four Iraqi citizens will file a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office at the Karlsruhe Court, Karlsruhe, Germany. Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.

The four Iraqis were victims of gruesome crimes including severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse. (Further details of the treatment of the complainants will be provided after the filing.)

The U. S. officials charged include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Former CIA Director George Tenet, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Steven Cambone, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Major General Walter Wojdakowski, Major General Geoffrey Miller, Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry L. Phillabaum, Colonel Thomas Pappas, and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen L. Jordan.

Please check back on our home page in the next day for an opportunity to write the German prosecutor in support of the investigation: it is critical that he hear from as many people as possible so he feels worldwide pressure to pursue the case.

CCR needs a bit of Left Blogistan "rapid response". Why? Because there will be little notice in the mainstream media, yet with the force of numbers behind this criminal complaint, CCR's action can become a major story. So, if you're a blogger, grab this story and run with it. Or, if you hang out on other blogs, broadcast the story around via comments.

The bottom line is that there's little love lost between the U.S. and German governments right now, and that's why this complaint stands a chance of moving forward. German law regarding this type of complaint was enacted post-WWII to facilitate prosecution of war criminals, even in their absence from German soil. And clearly, some political motivation exists for the German prosecutor to cooperate with the complaint.

I don't know what the net effect of such a complaint and prosecution would be. I can't say if any of the principals would even be obliged to respond. But I do know that this issue could be thrust into the media mainstream by sheer force of numbers. If a million progressives in the U.S. contact the German prosecutor, it would certainly be hard for the mainstream media to ignore.

Earlier today, one of our coveted commentors lamented how quickly that story lines such as Abu Ghraib disappear in the U.S. Our media is like one big hyperactive pinball machine, bouncing from one atrocity to another. The upshot is that everything blends into one big omnibus atrocity, such that most people just throw up their hands and don't even try to understand the nuance.

Here's an opportunity to force a story back onto the front page - a story that should have never left the front page until the truly guilty parties were doing the perp walk. It'll only take a minute of your time tomorrow. Bookmark the CCR website, or check in with ASZ tomorrow for more details.