A JURY HAS FOUND DUPONT liable for negligence in the case of Carla Bartlett, taking less than a day to award $1.6 million to the Ohio woman who developed kidney cancer after drinking water contaminated with a chemical formerly used to make Teflon. The jury declined to give Bartlett punitive damages in the federal case. Instead, the award included $1.1 million for negligence as well as $500,000 for emotional distress.
“This is brilliant,” one of Bartlett’s attorneys, Mike Papantonio, said of the verdict. “It’s exactly what we wanted.” Papantonio emphasized that Bartlett’s case, the first of more than 3,500 personal injury and wrongful death suits filed on behalf of people in West Virginia and Ohio who were exposed to C8, had been chosen by DuPont as the first to be tried and involved less egregious injuries than many others yet to be heard.
“They picked this case with the idea that it was the most winnable. Strategically they never dreamed we’d win this case,” said Papantonio, who predicts that other C8 suits in the pipeline will result in punitive damages. “Really, it’s just a matter of time.”
In a statement, DuPont said it expected to appeal the verdict and emphasized that “safety and environmental stewardship are core values at DuPont.”
CARLA BARTLETT LIVED much of her life in Coolville, Ohio, a tiny town a few miles across the Ohio River from a DuPont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. After years of drinking water that had been contaminated with C8, Bartlett, who is now 51, was diagnosed with a tumor on her kidney in 1997 and underwent a painful surgery that involved removing part of one of her ribs along with the tumor.
Bartlett’s attorneys argued that while she and tens of thousands of people living near Parkersburg, West Virginia, were drinking water contaminated with C8, DuPont was actively working to ensure they didn’t “connect the dots” about the chemical. One DuPont PowerPoint presented by Papantonio described the company’s strategy of keeping sensitive information from government agencies, community organizations, and “disgruntled employees.”
DuPont’s lawyers, for their part, denied any responsibility for Bartlett’s illness. “Nobody at DuPont expected that Mrs. Bartlett or anyone else in the community would be hurt,” said Damond Mace, who emphasized that the company couldn’t have predicted that scientists would find a probable link between C8 and kidney cancer, as they did in 2012.
Bartlett’s attorneys responded with voluminous internal communications showing the company did in fact foresee the damage they would later inflict. In one DuPont document, a summary of a 1984 meeting about C8, a DuPont employee concluded that “we are already liable for the past 32 years of operation.”
The presentation of historical documents was designed to convince the jury that the company acted irresponsibly, even given the information that was available before Bartlett’s diagnosis. Bartlett’s lawyers laid out a clear timeline that began in the 1950s, when DuPont first learned of the chemical’s potential toxicity. By 1966, some DuPont employees realized that C8 was seeping into groundwater. By 1980, after the company instituted regular testing of its own employees, DuPont had evidence that C8 was present in workers’ blood — and within two more years there was evidence that the contamination persisted in human tissues. By 1984, according to testimony, DuPont’s own testing had established that C8 had leaked into local drinking water. In 1989, DuPont knew that C8 caused testicular tumors in rats — and even classified C8 as a possible carcinogen. But rather than reporting these developments, Mike Papantonio told the jury, “They hid this information from the public for at least 16 years.”
At any of these junctures, DuPont might have decided to stop using the chemical, said Papantonio, who repeatedly referred to a graph showing the spread of C8 contamination in the Ohio River, along with mounting evidence of the chemical’s harm. Instead, he emphasized in his closing arguments, DuPont actually increased production for years, even as it learned more about the dangers the chemical posed.
The company could have easily disposed of its C8 waste differently, Bartlett’s attorneys argued. As evidence, they produced a 1985 memo and a manufacturer’s information sheet from 3M, the company that sold C8 to DuPont until 2000, both of which clearly stated that the chemical should have been either incinerated or placed in a landfill designed for hazardous waste. Bartlett’s lawyers also revealed documents showing that DuPont did in fact follow 3M’s directive in its facilities in Japan, China, and the Netherlands, where it burned C8 waste.
In Parkersburg, however, DuPont chose to pump C8 through its smokestacks, bury it in unlined landfills, and dump up to 50,000 pounds a year directly into the Ohio River. The attorneys also presented evidence that switching to incineration would have cost the Parkersburg plant less than .2 percent of its annual operating costs. “The only reason they didn’t do it was because they wanted to save money,” Papantonio told the jury. Later, he added: “We wouldn’t be here today if it were incinerated.”
ARGUABLY THE MOST MOVING testimony came from Bartlett herself, a mother of two who described her daily routine of drinking iced tea that she unwittingly made with contaminated water, the physical pain of her ordeal, and her fear of a recurrence. Bartlett cried while on the stand and traced a huge line across her body where she has a scar from her surgery, saying, “It’s very big, and it’s very ugly.”
But it was testimony from two of DuPont’s own witnesses, who admitted to having high levels of C8 in their own bodies, that may have been even more damaging. Anthony Playtis, who was occupational health coordinator at the DuPont plant in Parkersburg, said that in 1994 C8 was measured in his blood at 400 parts per billion (ppb), a level that is roughly 100 times the national average. The retired DuPont worker went on to dismiss the notion that the measurement was cause for concern. “I knew there were a lot of other people who had much higher levels, and so I didn’t think mine was anything to worry about,” he said. Also, Playtis noted, “Everything is toxic.”
As part of a group of DuPont employees who measured C8 levels in local drinking water, Playtis took a sample from his home in 1988 that measured 2.2 ppb — more than double the safe level the company had set internally. But neither he nor anyone else at DuPont reported the elevated C8 readings to the public or to regulators until 1999. During those years, local children were splashing in backyard pools and community members were watering their vegetable gardens with the stuff.
Another former DuPont employee, Paul Bossert, who served as plant manager in Parkersburg from 2000 to 2005, made a point of mentioning that he drank the plant’s water, which had elevated levels of C8, and acknowledged that the chemical had been measured in his own blood at 85 ppb. Upon cross-examination, however, Bossert admitted that he had high cholesterol and a potentially cancerous “spot” on his kidney. Both conditions are among the six approved by a panel of scientists as grounds for personal injury cases such as Bartlett’s.
The jury didn’t have to make a decision about whether Bossert’s health conditions were caused by C8, but they did have to try to determine if the chemical caused Bartlett’s cancer, and they were given specific instructions about how to do so. According to the terms of a 2005 class-action settlement over the contamination that spawned these cases, they had to accept as fact that drinking C8 for at least a year at the level of .05 ppb or above, as Bartlett did, can cause cancer.
Although DuPont’s attorneys were not permitted to dispute the fact that C8 can cause cancer, they did question whether it had caused Carla Bartlett’s particular illness. “Just because C-8 is capable of causing cancer does not mean that it did cause Mrs. Bartlett’s kidney cancer,” DuPont attorney Damond Mace said. Instead, he argued that Bartlett’s cancer that was caused by her obesity.
The $1.6 million verdict is only one of several problems now facing DuPont. Since March the company’s stock is down more than 30 percent, and on Monday CEO Ellen Kullman announced she was stepping down, leaving DuPont without a succession plan.
Some observers who are familiar with the company’s long history in Parkersburg believe Kullman’s departure is tied to C8. Jeffrey Dugas, campaign manager of Keep Your Promises DuPont, a local nonprofit devoted to holding the company accountable, said the company’s mishandling of the chemical — the contamination, the cover-up, and now the bruising legal fight that just concluded in Columbus — hasn’t served anyone well.
“This whole process of trying to wiggle out of its responsibilities has hurt everyone involved,” said Dugas. “The latest victim is Ellen Kullman. But mid-Ohio residents have been suffering for over a decade.”
As the first of six bellwether cases, Bartlett’s verdict is seen as an important predictor of the thousands of C8 claims that may yet come to trial. The next case, in which the plaintiff has ulcerative colitis, is scheduled to be heard in Columbus in late November. The future of Chemours, the chemical company that was recently spun off from DuPont, may also hinge on the outcome of these trials.
With C8 present in water far beyond the Ohio Valley, where Bartlett and other plaintiffs in the current crop of plaintiffs were contaminated, the implications of the Bartlett case may be far wider. Papantonio, who tried some of the first asbestos cases, sees that litigation, which has cost industry more than $50 billion to date, as a possible model.
“This is starting out just like those cases,” said Papantonio. “If I was in charge of this company, I’d be worried.”For more on C8 and DuPont, see The Intercept’s 3-part investigation.
Kolumbien stellt sich der Weltöffentlichkeit gerne als ein Land vor, welches eine lange demokratische Tradition besitzt. In Wahrheit jedoch sind soziale Ungerechtigkeit, Armut und Repression in einem von einer reichen Minderheit regierten Staat an der Tagesordnung. Ausdruck dessen sind ein über 50-jähriger bewaffneter Konflikt und die hohe Anzahl von politischen Gefangenen.
Representatives Ted Lieu, D-Ca., and Steve Russell, R-Ok., have asked the Obama administration to remove sensitive security clearance information from Office of Personnel Management computers and put it somewhere safer.
The congressmen acted in the wake of data breaches at OPM that compromised sensitive information on more than 20 million people who have undergone background checks for security clearances.
“We strongly believe that security clearance data—which has been described as ‘crown jewels’ of our national intelligence—should not be protected by OPM, which is neither an intelligence agency nor a defense organization,” Lieu and Russell wrote in a letter obtained by The Intercept.
Though the administration has been working on revamping the notoriously slow and flawed process of security clearances since 2004, the OPM data breach over the summer brought new concerns over the security of the information from invaders.
In July, President Obama announced a 90-day review of the security clearance process to be conducted by an interagency panel chaired by David Mader, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The congressmen – members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – wrote to Mader that they were “shocked to learn” in committee hearings “that for years OPM leadership had ignored warnings from the inspector general of ‘material weakness’ in data security. OPM’s failure to address known vulnerabilities was inexcusable.”
And Lieu and Russell, both former active duty military officers, noted that the matter was a personal concern for them. “We felt the impact of this negligence firsthand,” they wrote.
“We have drafted, and are prepared to offer, legislative authority to accomplish [the] goal” of extracting clearances from OPM, they wrote. In fact, the congressmen have been working on drafting legislation to remove security clearance information from OPM, but have been met with some roadblocks.
Lieu told The Intercept last month that he was facing “funding issues, issues related to capacity…whether an agency wants” to take on the responsibility for the records.
The post Members of Congress Say OPM Can’t Be Trusted With Security Clearance Data Anymore appeared first on The Intercept.
On October 3, a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Kunduz, Afghanistan, partially destroying it. Twelve staff members and ten patients, including three children, were killed, and 37 people were injured. According to MSF, the U.S. had previously been informed of the hospital’s precise location, and the attack continued for thirty minutes after staff members desperately called the U.S. military.
The U.S. first claimed the hospital had been “collateral damage” in an airstrike aimed at “individuals” elsewhere who were “threatening the force.” Since then, various vague and contradictory explanations have been offered by the U.S. and Afghan governments, both of which promise to investigate the bombing. MSF has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation by a commission set up under the Geneva Conventions.
While the international outcry has been significant, history suggests this is less because of what happened and more because of whom it happened to. The U.S. has repeatedly attacked civilian facilities in the past but the targets have generally not been affiliated with a European, Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization such as MSF.
Below is a sampling of such incidents since the 1991 Gulf War. If you believe some significant examples are missing, please send them our way. To be clear, we’re looking for U.S. attacks on specifically civilian facilities, such as hospitals or schools.
Infant Formula Production Plant, Abu Ghraib, Iraq (January 21, 1991)
On the seventh day of Operation Desert Storm, aimed at evicting Iraq military forces from Kuwait, the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Infant Formula Production Plant in the Abu Ghraib suburb of Baghdad. Iraq declared that the factory was exactly what its name said, but the administration of President George H.W. Bush claimed it was “a production facility for biological weapons.” Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, chimed in to say, “It is not an infant formula factory. It was a biological weapons facility — of that we are sure.” The U.S. media chortled about Iraq’s clumsy, transparent propaganda, and CNN’s Peter Arnett was attacked by U.S. politicians for touring the damaged factory and reporting that “whatever else it did, it did produce infant formula.”
Iraq was telling the truth. When Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected to Jordan in 1995, he had every incentive to undermine Saddam, since he hoped the U.S. would help install him as his father-in-law’s successor — but he told CNN “there is nothing military about that place. … it only produced baby milk.” The CIA’s own investigation later concluded the site had been bombed “in the mistaken belief that it was a key BW [Biological Weapon] facility.” The original U.S. claims have nevertheless proven impossible to stamp out. The George W. Bush administration, making the case for invading Iraq in 2003, portrayed the factory as a symbol of Iraqi deceit. When the Newseum opened in 2008, it included Arnett’s 1991 reporting in a section devoted to — in the New York Times’ description — “examples of distortions that mar the profession.”
Air Raid Shelter, Amiriyah, Iraq (February 13, 1991)
The U.S. purposefully targeted an air raid shelter near the Baghdad airport with two 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs, which punched through ten feet of concrete and killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians. A BBC journalist reported that “we saw the charred and mutilated remains … They were piled onto the back of a truck; many were barely recognizable as human.” Meanwhile, Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “We are chagrined if [civilian] people were hurt, but the only information we have about people being hurt is coming out of the controlled press in Baghdad.” Another U.S. general claimed the shelter was “an active command-and-control structure,” while anonymous officials said military trucks and limousines for Iraq’s senior leadership had been seen at the building.
In his 1995 CNN interview, Hussein Kamel said “there was no leadership there. There was a transmission apparatus for the Iraqi intelligence, but the allies had the ability to monitor that apparatus and knew that it was not important.” The Iraqi blogger Riverbend later wrote that several years after the attack, she went to the shelter and met a “small, slight woman” who now lived in the shelter and gave visitors unofficial tours. Eight of her nine children had been killed in the bombing.
Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory, Khartoum, Sudan (August 20, 1998)
After al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the Clinton administration targeted the Al Shifa factory with 13 cruise missiles, killing one person and wounding eleven. According to President Bill Clinton, the plant was “associated with the bin Laden network” and was “involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.”
The Clinton administration never produced any convincing evidence that this was true. By 2005, the best the U.S. could do was say, as the New York Times characterized it, that it had not “ruled out the possibility” that the original claims were right. The long-term damage to Sudan was enormous. Jonathan Belke of the Near East Foundation pointed out a year after the bombing that the plant had produced “90 percent of Sudan’s major pharmaceutical products” and contended that due to its destruction “tens of thousands of people — many of them children — have suffered and died from malaria, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases.” Sudan has repeatedly requested a UN investigation of the bombing, with no success.
Train bombing, Grdelica, Serbia (April 12, 1999)
During the U.S.-led bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war, an F-15E fighter jet fired two remotely-guided missiles that hit a train crossing a bridge near Grdelica, killing at least 14 civilians. General Wesley Clark, then Supreme Allied Commander Europe, called it “an unfortunate incident we all regret.” While the F-15 crew was able to control the missiles after they were launched, NATO released footage taken from the plane to demonstrate how quickly the train was moving and how little time the jet’s crew had to react. The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau later reported that the video had been sped up three times. The paper quoted a U.S. air force spokesman who said this was accidental, and they had not noticed this until months later — by which point “we did not deem it useful to go public with this.”
Radio Television Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia (April 23, 1999)
Sixteen employees of Serbia’s state broadcasting system were killed during the Kosovo War when NATO intentionally targeted its headquarters in Belgrade. President Clinton gave an underwhelming defense of the bombing: “Our military leaders at NATO believe … that the Serb television is an essential instrument of Mr. Milosevic’s command and control. … It is not, in a conventional sense, therefore, a media outlet. That was a decision they made, and I did not reverse it.” U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told the Overseas Press Club immediately after the attack that it was “an enormously important and, I think, positive development.” Amnesty International later stated it was “a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.”
Chinese Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (May 7, 1999)
Also during the Kosovo war, the U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia’s capital, killing three staff and wounding more than 20. The defense secretary at the time, William Cohen, said it was a terrible mistake: “One of our planes attacked the wrong target because the bombing instructions were based on an outdated map.” The Observer newspaper in the U.K. later reported the U.S. had in fact deliberately targeted the embassy “after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.” The Observer quoted “a source in the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency” calling Cohen’s version of events “a damned lie.” Prodded by the media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the New York Times produced its own investigation finding “no evidence that the bombing of the embassy had been a deliberate act” but rather that it had been caused by a “bizarre chain of missteps.” The article concluded by quoting Porter Goss, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as saying he believed the bombing was not deliberate – “unless some people are lying to me.”
Red Cross complex, Kabul, Afghanistan (October 16 and October 26, 2001)
At the beginning of the U.S-led invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. attacked the complex housing the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul. In an attempt to prevent such incidents in the future, the U.S. conducted detailed discussions with the Red Cross about the location of all of its installations in the country. Then the U.S. bombed the same complex again. The second attack destroyed warehouses containing tons of food and supplies for refugees. “Whoever is responsible will have to come to Geneva for a formal explanation,” said a Red Cross spokeswoman. “Firing, shooting, bombing, a warehouse clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem is a very serious incident. … Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
Al Jazeera office, Kabul, Afghanistan (November 13, 2001)
Several weeks after the Red Cross attacks, the U.S. bombed the Kabul bureau of Al Jazeera, destroying it and damaging the nearby office of the BBC. Al Jazeera’s managing director said the channel had repeatedly informed the U.S. military of its office’s location.
Al Jazeera office, Baghdad, Iraq (April 8, 2003)
Soon after the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. bombed the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera, killing reporter Tarek Ayoub and injuring another journalist. David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary at the time, subsequently revealed that a few weeks before the attack he had urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb Al Jazeera’s transmitter in Baghdad. Blunkett argued, “I don’t think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don’t actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy.”
In 2005, the British newspaper The Mirror reported on a British government memorandum recording an April 16, 2004 conversation between Blair and President Bush at the height of the U.S. assault on Fallujah in Iraq. The Bush administration was infuriated by Al Jazeera’s coverage of Fallujah, and according to The Mirror, Bush had wanted to bomb the channel at its Qatar headquarters and elsewhere. However, the article says, Blair argued him out of it. Blair subsequently called The Mirror’s claims a “conspiracy theory.” Meanwhile, his attorney general threatened to use the Official Secrets Act to prosecute any news outlet that published further information about the memo, and, in a secret trial, did in fact prosecute and send to jail a civil servant for leaking it.
The post A Short History of U.S. Bombing of Civilian Facilities appeared first on The Intercept.
Als Beitrag zur Reform der ukrainischen Armee hat Polen mit Schulungskursen für 30 Militärausbilder seines östlichen Nachbarlandes begonnen. Wie das Warschauer Verteidigungsministerium am Mittwoch mitteilte, werden die 30 ukrainischen Unteroffiziere bis zum 6. November an Militärhochschulen in Warschau und Posen (Poznan) ausgebildet. Die Kosten für die Schulung übernehmen das Ministerium und die Nato. Polen beteilige sich so am Nato-Programm DEEP (Vertiefendes Schulungsprogramm Verteidigung), an dem auch die USA, Deutschland, Großbritannien und andere Nato-Staaten mitarbeiten, hieß es. Ziel sei es, die Standards der ukrainischen Armee an die Nato anzupassen.
Polen ist einer der stärksten Fürsprecher einer Westintegration der Ukraine und drängt angesichts
Mehrere zehntausend Menschen werden am Samstag zu einer Demonstration gegen das transatlantische Handelsabkommen TTIP in Berlin erwartet. 600 Busse sollen Teilnehmer aus ganz Deutschland in die Hauptstadt bringen, wie die Organisatoren am Mittwoch mitteilten. Hinzu kommen demnach fünf Sonderzüge aus verschiedenen Teilen des Landes. Organisiert wird die Protestaktion unter anderem von Umwelt-, Sozial-, Kultur- und Verbraucherverbänden, darunter der BUND und der Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB). Den Angaben zufolge rechnen die Initiatoren mit 50 000 Teilnehmern. Bei der Polizei waren 100 000 gemeldet.
Die Kritiker fordern, die TTIP-Verhandlungen mit den USA zu stoppen und das mit Kanada verhandelte CETA-Abkommen nicht zu ratifizieren. Sie
In Geneva this morning, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded a formal, independent investigation into the U.S. airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz. The group’s international president, Dr. Joanne Liu (pictured above, center), specified that the inquiry should be convened pursuant to war-crime-investigating procedures established by the Geneva Conventions and conducted by The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. “Even war has rules,” Liu said. “This was just not an attack on our hospital. It was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated.”
Liu emphasized that the need for an “independent, impartial“ investigation is now particularly compelling given what she called “the inconsistency in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened over the recent days.” On Monday, we documented the multiple conflicting accounts offered in the first three days by the U.S. military and its media allies, but the story continued to change even further after that. As The Guardian’s headline yesterday noted, the U.S. admission that its own personnel called in the airstrike – not Afghan forces as it claimed the day before – meant that “US alters story for fourth time in four days.” All of this led Liu to state the obvious today: “We cannot rely on internal military investigations by the U.S., NATO and Afghan forces.”
An independent, impartial investigation into what happened here should be something everyone can immediately agree is necessary. But at its daily press briefing on Monday, the U.S. State Department, through its spokesman Mark Toner, insisted that no such independent investigation was needed on the ground that the U.S. Government is already investigating itself and everyone knows how trustworthy and reliable this process is:
QUESTION: The – so MSF is calling for an independent investigation of this incident by a neutral international body. Is that something the Administration would support?
MR TONER: Well, we’ve got three investigations underway. Certainly, we’ve got our own DOD-led investigation. We obviously strongly believe that can be a very transparent and accountable investigation. Let’s let these three investigations run their course and see what the results are.
I would say – and I know the White House spoke about this earlier – we have reached out to some of the leadership in Medecins Sans Frontieres to express our condolences over this tragic incident. But as to whether there needs to be an independent fourth investigation, we’re satisfied, I think, at this point that enough investigations are underway that we’ll get to the truth.
QUESTION: You don’t think that with the U.S., which is – which has an interest in how this investigation proceeds and what the outcome is, and being involved in all three investigations somehow affects the legitimacy of it?
MR TONER: I mean, frankly, I think we’ve proven over time that we can investigate incidents like these – like this, and as I said, hold anyone accountable who needs to be held accountable, and do it in such a way that’s transparent and, I think, credible.
QUESTION: Just along those lines —
MR TONER: Please.
QUESTION: — MSF has said that this is a clear presumption of a war crime that’s been committed here. Some have suggested that the ICC take it up. Is it a safe bet that the U.S. would vote against/veto any attempt in the Security Council to bring this incident for – up for an ICC investigation?
MR TONER: I don’t want to answer a hypothetical. On the war crime question itself, we’re just not there yet, and I don’t want to prejudge any outcome of any investigation.
QUESTION: What do you mean, “We’re just not there yet”?
MR TONER: I mean we’re conducting investigations, we’re looking at this very closely, and we’re going to, as multiple folks have said including the President over the weekend – that we’re going to hold those accountable and it’s going to be a credible investigation.
QUESTION: Does that mean —
QUESTION: So it’s conceivable to you that this could have been a war crime?
MR TONER: I said we’re not – we’re letting the investigations run their course.
QUESTION: Well, regardless of whether or not you —
MR TONER: I’m not going to – I’m not even – yeah, please, Matt.
QUESTION: No, but I want to —
MR TONER: Sure, go ahead. Sorry.
QUESTION: Is it not – I mean, it’s always been assumed, I think – and I just want to know if this assumption is still safe – that the U.S. would oppose an attempt to refer an incident involving U.S. troops to the International Criminal Court.
MR TONER: That’s —
QUESTION: I mean, as it’s – as it was being formed, you guys ran around signing these Article 98 —
MR TONER: That’s a perfectly sound assumption.
Can anyone justify that? So predictably, American journalists have announced without even waiting for any investigation that this was all a terrible accident, nothing intentional about it. Those U.S.-defending journalists should be the angriest about their government’s refusal to allow an independent, impartial investigation since that would be the most effective path for exonerating them and proving their innocent, noble intentions.
Many Americans, and especially a large percentage of the nation’s journalists, need no investigation to know that this was nothing more than a terrible, tragic mistake. They believe that Americans, and especially their military, are so inherently good and noble and well-intentioned that none would ever knowingly damage a hospital. John McCain expressed this common American view and the primary excuse now accompanying it – stuff happens – on NPR this morning:
They’re certain of this despite how consistent MSF has been that this was a “war crime.” They’re certain of it despite how many times, and how recently, MSF notified the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of this hospital. They’re certain of it even though bombing continued for 30 minutes after MSF pleaded with them to stop. They’re certain of it despite the substantial evidence that their Afghan allies long viewed this exact hospital with hostility because – true to its name and purpose – the group treated all wounded human beings, including Taliban. They’re certain of it even though Afghan officials have explicitly defended the airstrike against the hospital on the ground that Taliban were inside. They’re certain of it despite how many times the U.S. has radically changed its story about what happened as facts emerged that proved its latest claims false. They’re certain of it despite how many times the U.S. has attacked and destroyed civilian targets under extremely suspicious circumstances.
But they are not apparently so certain that they desire an independent, impartial investigation into what actually happened here. The facially ludicrous announcement by the State Department that the Pentagon will investigate itself produced almost no domestic outrage. A religious-like belief in American exceptionalism and tribal superiority is potent indeed, and easily overrides evidence or facts. It blissfully renders the need for investigations obsolete. In their minds, knowing that it was Americans who did this suffices to know what happened, at least on the level of motive: it could not possibly be the case that there was any intentionality here at all. As McCain said, it’s only the Bad People – not Americans – who do such things deliberately.
But those who already know that this was all a terrible mistake, that no U.S. personnel would ever purposely call for a strike on a hospital even if they thought there were Taliban inside, should be the ones most eager for the most credible investigation possible: namely, the one under the Geneva Conventions which MSF this morning demanded, by the tribunal created exactly for such atrocities.
The post Why Is the U.S. Refusing An Independent Investigation If Its Hospital Airstrike Was An “Accident”? appeared first on The Intercept.
Seit dem 6.10.2015 ist der neue Libertäre Podcast mit dem Septemberrückblick 2015 online: unser ernster und satirischer Blick auf die Geschehnisse des Vormonats. Mit einem Beitrag zur Kiezdemo in Neukölln und dem Weisestraßenfest, zu den Protesten gegen den Fundimarsch in Berlin, zahlreichen Satiren, aktuellen politischen und kulturellen Tipps, Wo herrscht Anarchie, Musik u.v.m.
Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke joined practically everyone in America by saying in his new memoir, The Courage to Act, that more Wall Street executives should have gone to jail for criminal misconduct that led to the financial crisis.
“It would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual action, since obviously everything what went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,” he wrote.
Unlike practically everyone else in America, however, Bernanke in a pretty good position to actually facilitate criminal misconduct proceedings, if he wanted to see them so badly — as head of the nation’s most powerful bank supervisory agency from 2006 to 2014.
The Fed, like all banking regulators, can initiate criminal referrals to the Justice Department for individuals they find to have broken the law. This acts as the first line of defense to discipline criminal misconduct on Wall Street.
But such activities were absent during the period when Bernanke was chair, according to criminologist and law professor Bill Black. “The Federal Reserve appears to have made zero criminal referrals; it made three about discrimination,” Black told Bill Moyers in 2013.
And when Bernanke took action, his stumbling attempts at accountability weren’t just inadequate; they were absurd. The one major action his Federal Reserve took regarding specific conduct regarding the financial crisis wound up as the most embarrassing display of fake accountability in the history of the Obama Administration.
The mortgage securitization process that fed the housing bubble and generated the financial crisis also led to widespread foreclosure fraud, and in April 2011, the Fed, along with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, issued enforcement orders against ten major banks over “misconduct and negligence related to deficient practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.”
Explicitly alleging violations of state and federal law, the two agencies decided to institute the “Independent Foreclosure Review” process, where third-party consultants would examine all 4.2 million foreclosure cases from 2009 and 2010, to check for errors and determine an appropriate level of compensation.
At the time, state and federal law enforcement were investigating the same practices of illegally foreclosing on homeowners in courts, using multitudes of false documents because, after securitization, banks lacked actual standing.
The Fed’s split from that investigation reduced the leverage of the larger inquiry.
The Fed designed a confusing review process that took as many as 50 hours to complete a full file, racking up $2 billion in billing for third-party reviewers in 18 months. And the Independent Foreclosure Reviews turned out to be neither independent nor reviews. Banks hand-picked their own reviewers and were responsible for their payment. And predictably, whistleblowers alleged that the reviewers, at the behest of their employers, deliberately minimized evidence of borrower harm.
In the end, the Fed decided to cancel the reviews, ordering the ten banks to instead pay $3.6 billion in cash to the 4.2 million foreclosed families, an average of less than $1,000 per foreclosure. These sums were split into broad and seemingly random categories. According to the payment agreement, 234,000 borrowers had their loan modification approved, were thrown into foreclosure anyway, and received for their trouble – for having banks try to steal their home – a whopping $300.
The checks initially bounced. Some were so insulted by the piddling amounts they never cashed them or mailed them back. There was another $5.7 billion in alleged “homeowner assistance” in the agreement, where if the bank reduced payment by $1,000 on a $500,000 house, they got credit for $500,000 in relief.
This is what Ben Bernanke considered proper application of justice when he was in power at the Federal Reserve. Only after he relinquished that power did he decide that the country should have punished bankers more severely.
The post Bernanke Talks Tough But Was Weak When It Mattered appeared first on The Intercept.