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James W. Huston
In the News

In the News

DING DONG QADDAFI’S DEAD

Written by: James W. Huston Published: October 22, 2011

Libyans celebrate the death of Gaddafi     

It has now been confirmed that Qaddafi has been killed, probably by rebel forces after his convoy fleeing his home town was stopped by US Predator drones.  Celebrations fill the streets of Libya.  The seven month effort by NATO, acting as the rebel Air Force, during which they flew over 26,000 air missions (see a good summary by The Guardian ) ended with the rebels prevailing in the civil war.  So Qaddafi is gone.  Good.  The world is better for it.  But as this mission ends, it is important to ask:  By what authority were the US and NATO involved in a Libyan civil war?

Qaddafi was a bad man.  He supported terrorism (in the 80s mostly), tormented and oppressed his people, and needed to go.  But is that the whole story?  After 9/11, President Bush told every country in the world either you’re for us or you’re against us.  What did Qaddafi do?  He dismantled his weapons of mass destruction, abandoned his nuclear program, swore off supporting terrorism, admitted responsibility for downing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland by a bomb placed by Libyan agents, and agreed to pay $2.7 Billion in compensation to the families of the victims ($10 Million per family).  You can read about it here.

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In the News

In the News

Say NO to the No Fly Zone

Written by: James W. Huston Published: March 26, 2011

It used to be that launching a hundred Tomahawk missiles into a country killing numerous people would be an act of war. Imagine if Cuba launched a hundred missiles into Florida. I believe we would consider that an act of war. The United States Constitution has provisions on how we are to conduct war. It says in Article I Section 8 that Congress shall have the power to declare war. It seems that we have constructed a new way of declaring war. Here are the requirements:
1) Have one or more UN Security Council Resolutions;
2) Form a “coalition”; and
3) Attack whomever you want.
I’ve been writing novels about the tension between the legal requirements for conducting war and what we actually do since my first novel, Balance of Power.  Things are not getting better. President Obama is as comfortable with adventurous military activity as President Bush was going in to Iraq (and for the record, I supported going in to Afghanistan as that was where the 9/11 attacks originated and were ordered—but Iraq? Why Iraq? Because they violated UN Security Council resolutions?).

President Obama consulted with the UN,  and sent diplomats all over Europe and the Middle East to form a “coalition.” (That’s where others make it look like they support what we’re doing, but we end up doing seventy-five percent of whatever has to be done.) This coalition includes the Arab League–an association of dictators–and several European countries. So our government, formed and bound by the Constitution, consulted with the UN, the Arab League, European countries, but not Congress. How can that be when Congress is where the power to declare war resides?

But regardless of who has the power, is what we’re doing in Libya a good idea? In short, no. We are violating one of the fundamental rules of military conduct. Do not become involved in a civil war absent a compelling national interest.  We may hope Gaddafi topples, and we may hope for democracy. But what right do we have to impose our will by military power on the country of Libya?

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In the News

In the News

Nuclear FALLOUT

Written by: James W. Huston Published: March 23, 2011

As many of you know, one of the books I wrote (before 9/11) is FALLOUT. It is about a Navy pilot who starts his own private TOPGUN school at Tonopah, Nevada. Several of the students in the first class are Pakistani, and have more in mind than learning to fly better. They plan on attacking a nuclear power (San Onofre in San Diego County) from the air. In researching that book, I learned a lot about nuclear plants, and storage of nuclear waste (almost all of it is stored outside the reinforced “domes” in pools of water in not very strong buildings (like the ones leaking in Japan)). There is much more to say on the subject, but for now, Logan Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune is asking what many are asking–how safe are US reactors near fault lines? In my opinion, not very. He mentions FALLOUT. See his column here .

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In the News

In the News

BUSH AFRAID TO GO TO SWITZERLAND

Written by: James W. Huston Published: February 21, 2011

Switzerland, that beautiful, peaceful, mountainous, neutral country. The country that couldn’t find it in itself to oppose Nazism, or do anything about the Holocaust in World War II. Because after all, they were a tadpole, and would have gotten run over by Germany. So better not to say anything. Whether it is ever right or moral to remain neutral in the face of evil is a discussion better left for another day. But today, that Switzerland has finally stood up for a moral cause, or at least has allowed others to stand up for a moral cause on their turf, with their legal system. What great moral cause?That President Bush must be jailed. For what? For agreeing to allow water boarding of terrorists while he was president (a total of three men were water boarded, for the record. Read about them here .)  The possibility of arrest was apparently serious enough that President Bush cancelled his trip to Switzerland to speak at a fundraiser.

I have studied World War II history quite a bit, and my father fought from Normandy all the way to Germany to the end of the war (I guess he decided not to remain neutral). I don’t recall reading about demonstrations against Hitler, or the Holocaust, or the invasions of Poland, or Czechoslovakia, or Austria, or Russia, or England, or anywhere else. Sure, there were some newspapers that condemned Nazism. But the government was thought by many to be too pro-Nazi. But now? The Swiss are outraged by President Bush and his endorsement of “torture.” Not only the Swiss, who were planning large demonstrations, with each demonstrator armed with a shoe to throw at Bush, but also by The (US) Center for Constitutional Rights. You can read ABC’s story here. A Swiss Justice Department spokesman said that after it’s “initial assessment of international law”, Bush would have enjoyed immunity from the criminal prosecution. Hmmmmm. “Initial assessment.” Those are words we in the practice of law call non-binding. And based on the “final assessment”, once he arrives, it turns out…he can be prosecuted! Who knew! Predictably, Bush cancelled his trip.

What is this Center for Constitutional Rights? They are the self-appointed human rights activists (attorneys) who blaze with righteous indignation for their causes. This cause, against President Bush, has been joined by sixty other “Human Rights” organizations to put Bush in prison for accepting the advice of his legal advisors. You can see how proud they are on their website here.  Or read the op/ed on CNN yesterday, by Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights here.  He states clearly that he believes Bush violated the Convention Against Torture and therefore international law (the treaty though simply requires that each country pass laws against torture under their own jurisdiction, it is not self executing) by authorizing water boarding, among other things. The “other things” are not identified, so let’s deal with water boarding.

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The ICC—the international court for war crimes featured front and center in my novel Falcon Seven—was prosecuting Thomas Lubanga, the alleged Congolese warlord, but the chief prosecutor for the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, was found by the trial court to be out of line for failing to inform the defense of a key figure in the case.  The case was dismissed.  You can read about it on Yahoo News here.  But of course Moreno Ocampo appealed–to the appellate court right down the hall. 

Unsurprisingly, the “appellate” court of the ICC (which is located in the same building as the ICC’s trial court), reversed the trial court’s decision, saying Ocampo should only have been sanctioned, and, of course, the trial may continue. 

Notably, Moreno Ocampo is the same chief prosecutor of the ICC who said in 2009 (you can read the Reuters story here ) that he was investigating the conduct of American troops in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for war crimes.  Looks like Americans will be in the good hands of a sanctioned prosecutor of the ICC some day.  We’d better dust off the Servicemember’s Protection Act and get it ready.  We may need it.

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