State Dept. refuses to take position on lynching of Gaddafi: “It’s really up to the Libyan people to decide”

Daily Press Briefing with Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner, 21 October 2011:

QUESTION: Picking up on the word “cathartic” that you used, the UN high commissioner on human rights was saying that Qadhafi’s death has actually robbed his victims of a cathartic moment by seeing him in trial. Is that something that you all would have preferred, I’m assuming?

MR. TONER: Again, it’s not for us to state our preferences of what we would’ve liked to see happen. It is – events that took place yesterday, I think, point to a brighter future for the Libyan people. And as I said, they’ve emerged out of whatever you want to call it, a 40-year political coma. They’ve fought bravely to liberate their country from this dictator, and he met an ignominious end yesterday. But now the important challenges ahead are the – how the Transitional National Council establishes security and stability throughout the country and then moves them on a glide path towards a democratic transition.
[...]
QUESTION: Why would you have no preference on how you would’ve liked to have seen this taken place when the question pertained to a legal process versus a death under mysterious circumstances – which, by your own admission, you didn’t endorse any full account of how he died. Wouldn’t a legal process have been a better thing for everyone?

MR. TONER: This was a man who brutalized his people, who threatened to hunt them down like rats, who then, when Tripoli was liberated by the opposition, by the Transitional National Council after weeks and months of heavy fighting, then clearly retreated to Sirte, where he fought to the bitter end, and then fled Sirte, and there was a firefight of some sort.

But I mean, it is – we’ve long said about Qadhafi’s fate that it’s really up to the – he should be held accountable, but it’s really up to the Libyan people to decide. He decided his fate when he refused to step down.

QUESTION: Be that as it may, it’s up to the Libyan people to decide, shouldn’t – wouldn’t it be preferable that your – that it’s in a legal process where all accordance of rights are guaranteed, as opposed to all these questions we’re getting now?

MR. TONER: And again I would just say it – this was a decision by Qadhafi not to step aside, not to allow for democratic transition to take place, but rather to put countless lives at risk and to fight to the bitter end. And so what happened, happened.

QUESTION: But that [doesn't] justify anything.

MR. TONER: I didn’t say it did. I just said that this is – he met his fate, but it was his decision.

Let’s look at the statement “it’s really up to the Libyan people to decide.” In 1959 after Castro came to power and executed Batista-era officials, I cannot for the life of me imagine the US stating that “it’s really up to the Cuban people to decide.” The same can be said about the mass executions carried out in revolutionary Iran against former officials of the Shah’s regime. Was that for the Iranian people to decide?

It is normally uncontroversial that the needless killing of an unarmed detainee is a crime that cannot be excused on any grounds. As recently as 2010 the State Department has stated that it condemns “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions against all persons, irrespective of their status.” The recent killings of bin Laden and Awlaki were justified to us on the basis that arrest or capture was not feasible. The US here had a chance to clarify that it condemns the summary execution of someone who was captured and posed no conceivable threat to anyone. It refused to do so. These are disgraceful times we’re living in.

Business partner of #OWS Snitch was convicted for using excessive force as Secret Service agent

According to Gawker, the listserve for Occupy Wall Street was infiltrated and leaked by a man named Thomas Ryan who is a “Managing Partner” at a small security firm called Provide Security. His fellow managing partner at the company is a former Secret Service agent and NYPD officer named Dr. Kevin Schatzle. It seems that his LinkedIn profile leaves out one major event that transpired while serving as a Secret Service agent.

US Court of Appeals, 2nd Cir., US v. Schatzle, 1990:

Kevin Schatzle appeals from a judgment of conviction entered on September 25, 1989, by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Pierre N. Leval, Judge. Schatzle, a Special Agent of the United States Secret Service, was convicted under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 (1982) for willfully depriving Christopher Gorayeb of his constitutional rights by subjecting him to excessive force. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

FACTS
On April 10, 1988, at approximately 5:00 p.m., a New York City motorcade carrying Senator Albert Gore, then a presidential candidate, was traveling north on West Street and turning east on Vesey Street. Schatzle was driving one of the cars in the motorcade. Believing the motorcade had passed, Christopher Gorayeb attempted to cross Vesey Street at the corner of West Street. As Gorayeb crossed the street, the car driven by Schatzle turned the corner and had to swerve to avoid striking Gorayeb. Gorayeb, standing by the driver’s window as Schatzle drove past, cursed Schatzle. Schatzle testified that Gorayeb spat at him as well, though Gorayeb denied this.

The cumulative testimony of seven government witnesses yields the following account of what transpired. Schatzle stopped his car and ran after Gorayeb. Upon catching Gorayeb, Schatzle placed his hand on Gorayeb’s shoulder and spun him around. Schatzle then punched Gorayeb in the face and, according to Gorayeb, broke his nose. He kicked Gorayeb repeatedly and delivered a knee to his groin with such power that, according to one witness, Gorayeb was thrust off the ground. After Gorayeb fell to the ground, Schatzle continued to punch and kick him. Finally, Schatzle handcuffed Gorayeb, by then well-bloodied, and informed him that he was under arrest.

Although at one point Gorayeb jerked Schatzle by his tie, the government witnesses agreed that Schatzle had struck Gorayeb first, and that Gorayeb grabbed at Schatzle’s tie only in a desperate attempt of self-defense. The government witnesses also agreed that once Gorayeb cursed (and, according to Schatzle, spat at) Schatzle following the near collision, Gorayeb said nothing else to Schatzle that might have instigated Schatzle to attack him so ferociously.
[...]
The jury found Schatzle guilty of the excessive force charge, but found Schatzle not guilty of the charge that he deprived Gorayeb of his civil rights, in violation of Section 242, by subjecting him to a false arrest. The district court sentenced Schatzle to a six-month term of imprisonment to be served at a halfway house, a three-year term of probation, and a $2,000 fine.

NYT, 11 April 1988:

Witnesses said Mr. Gorayeb was near the corner of West Street and Vesey Street when a motorcade, which included a van with bumper stickers for Sen. Albert Gore Jr., a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, sped by. Witnesses said the last of the six or seven vehicles stopped suddenly, its brakes screeching.
The witnesses said a man jumped out, ran to Mr. Gorayeb and grabbed him. They said he did not identify himself first.

A passerby, Bill Welsh, said he saw the man push Mr. Gorayeb against a wall on the north side of One World Trade Center and begin kneeing him and hitting him with his fists.

A group of about 10 people gathered as Mr. Gorayeb slumped to the ground. When several people yelled that the beating was unprovoked. Mr. Welsh and Mr. Bouza said the man replied, “He’s under arrest for assaulting a Federal agent.”

Mr. Lin quoted the agent as saying, “He spit at me.”

NYT, 9 June 2011:

A Secret Service agent was found guilty yesterday of using excessive force but acquitted of making a false arrest in the beating and arrest of a Manhattan lawyer during a Presidential campaign motorcade in New York City a year ago.
[...]
The agent, Kevin P. Schatzle, 28 years old, is attached to the service’s New York office. He faces a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 for having punched, kneed and kicked the lawyer, Christopher J. Gorayeb, 31, on April 10, 1988, in lower Manhattan.

The prosecutor, Assistant United States Attorney Elliot R. Peters, told the jury that even if there were grounds for arresting Mr. Gorayeb for interfering with the motorcade, there were no grounds for the degree of force used in arresting him.

The extent of that force was testified to by Mr. Gorayeb and supported by seven witnesses who were near the lawyer as a seven-car motorcade of Senator Albert Gore Jr., a Democratic Presidential contender, turned off West Street into Vesey Street.

No, Obama did not offer to apologize for Hiroshima

Investors Business Daily:

Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. Will the next president apologize for the current one?
[...]
A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that “the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a ‘nonstarter.’”

The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.

The actual cable:

VFM Yabunaka pointed out that the Japanese public will have high expectations toward President Obama’s visit to Japan in November, as the President enjoys an historic level of popularity among the Japanese people. Anti-nuclear groups, in particular, will speculate whether the President would visit Hiroshima in light of his April 5 Prague speech on non-proliferation. He underscored, however, that both governments must temper the public’s expectations on such issues, as the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a “non-starter.” While a simple visit to Hiroshima without fanfare is sufficiently symbolic to convey the right message, it is premature to include such program in the November visit. Yabunaka recommended that the visit in November center mostly in Tokyo, with calls on the Emperor and Prime Minister, as well as some form of public program, such as speeches, an engagement at a university, or a town hall-like meeting with local residents.

Nowhere in the cable is it stated that Obama was planning to apologize for Hiroshima. The speculation was made by anti-nuclear groups in Japan.

If you want a president that apologized to Japan and Japanese Americans, then Ronald Reagan is your man:

Disclaimer: I do not believe there was anything wrong with either of Reagan’s apologies. Just noting that the real Reagan was different from the myth.

Market-based “solution” to climate change dispossesses peasants in Honduras

The Guardian reports that an EU-based carbon credit scheme is empowering crooked landlords in Honduras who are implicated in the displacement and murder of farmers and their families:

The reported killing of 23 Honduran farmers in a dispute with the owners of UN-accredited palm oil plantations has called into question the integrity of the EU’s emission trading scheme (ETS), as carbon credits from the plantations remain on sale.
[...]
At the heart of the issue are the reported murders of 23 local farmers who tried to recover land that they say was illegally sold to big palm oil plantations, such as Grupo Dinant, in a country scarred by widespread human rights abuses.

In July, a report by an international fact-finding mission was presented to the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee, alleging that 23 farmers, one journalist and his partner, had all been murdered in the Bajo Aguán region between January 2010 and March 2011.

The alleged killings were facilitated by the “direct involvement of private security guards from some of the local companies who are complicit with police and military officials”, the report said. In some cases it cited “feigned accidents” in which farmers were run over by security guards working for palm oil businessmen. In other cases, the farmers were simply shot, or had “disappeared”.

The CDM board recently ruled that the Bajo Aguán project met the criteria of its mandate – because of a three-year gap between the stakeholder consultation process and project approvals.

We are not investigators of crimes,” a board member told EurActiv. “We had to take judgments within our rules – however regretful that may be – and there was not much scope for us to refuse the project. All the consultation procedures precisely had been obeyed.”

Such morbid results were likely predicted by many on the left-wing of the environmentalist movement who criticized carbon “offset” programs as a means for rich countries to foister the responsibility for fighting climate change on poorer countries. This scheme is the logical extension of neo-liberalism to climate policy. Instead of making a stenuous effort to invest in conservation, energy-efficiency and clean power, the “market-based” solution to climate change is to privatize the atmosphere. The complexities of balancing pollution control with the need for energy are thus reduced to a another financial instrument for speculators in Wall Street and London to place bets on.

The thinking in this instance is that European polluters can offset their emissions by investing in biofuels (despite the massive environmental damage associated with their cultivation). Somehow this evens things out in their minds. Carbon credit programs have created a large demand for biofuels. As is always the case when landed oligarchies discover a new cash crop to grow and reap for profit, vulnerable groups such as the indigenous, those residing on communally-held land, and small farmers see their land rights enroached upon to satisfy the increase in demand. We have seen this many times before in Latin America.

I am currently working on a extensively researched post on the land conflict in the Bajo Aguan of Honduras. It should (hopefully) be posted by the end of the year.