Sunday, August 27, 2006

Denis Halliday said what?

In the coverage of the August 17th Article 32 hearing on Ehren Watada's refusal to depoly to Iraq, one thing was consistently missing: What did former UN Assistant Secretary General UN Denis Halliday say in his testimony?

His name was frequently mentioned in the press coverage along with former Army Col. Ann Wright and law progessor and international law expert Francis A. Boyle. While a pull quote from the latter two frequently made it into the coverage, Halliday was never quoted.

As C.I. noted in "Walking Through Watada (Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing)": "Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports."

Exactly one week later (this past Friday, August 25th), Halliday would finally be pull quoted, by Sarah Olson, as follows:

Denis Halliday is the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. During Lieutenant Watada's Article 32 hearing, Halliday was called to testify regarding the impact of war on the Iraqi people. "The people of Iraq had become used to living under very difficult conditions after the destruction in the name of the United Nations by the United States of the civilian infrastructure, water supplies, sewer systems, electric power, use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs."
Halliday was prevented from providing complete testimony when the investigating officer presiding over the Article 32 hearing ruled that the "consequences of the war or the situation on the ground" were irrelevant to Lieutenant Watada's argument that the war was illegal and that he had an obligation to refuse to fight it.

You read that correctly, "Halliday was prevented from providing complete testimony". And the media wasn't interested because most weren't aware.

Last Sunday, in "Iraq, the war independent media forgot," we wrote:

Among the three people testifying for Watada was former UN sectretary Denis Halliday. What did he say? As C.I. noted, "Halliday's testimony was apparently delivered via mime which would explain why there's nothing from his testimony in any of the reports." Ann Wright's testimony was covered as was Francis Boyle's (Boyle is a professor at the University of Illionis and a scholar in international law). When two reporters (mainstream) who covered the trial were asked about the Halliday blackout (and it was a blackout) the excuse offered was that Boyle and Wright were deemed more worthy because Wright was former military and Boyle was an expert. Going to where the silences are would include independent media covering what the mainstream blacked out (Halliday's testimony).

Olson becomes the first (and only thus far) reporter to note that Halliday's testimony "was prevented." Apparently sharing the sentiments of puppet of the occupation (Nouri al-Maliki) who recently decreed that the Iraqi media must, simply must, stop showing the reality of the violence on TV screens, Lt. Col. Mark Keith (presiding over the Article 32 hearing) agreed with the prosecution ("Trial counsel") that Halliday's focus on life on the ground in Iraq wasn't worthy of noting. Later last week, the United States media, the few that had covered Iraq in the last six to seven weeks, appeared to agree with al-Maliki that, if we all just looked the other way, the chaos and violence on the ground wouldn't exist.

Does it matter what happens on the ground? We'd argue it does. We'd argue it did from the start but only more so, when the WMD lies weren't working, as the administration began offering that the invasion was done to 'liberate' Iraqis and spread 'democracy' (from the end of a gun barrel). But the "Trial Counsel objected to the line of questioning" and Keith "ruled that the consequences of the war or the situation on the ground did not have any bearing". How does the reality on the ground (the reality that the illegal invasion has only bred chaos and violence throughout its three years) have no bearing on an officer's refusal to take part in the ongoing, illegal war?

In Ruth's Report, Ruth addressed Ann Wright's testimony and we urge to read that. But we also urge to read what Denis Halliday testified to. From the official report (with typos -- we mean their typos but we're sure we've added our own), here is what the media ignored in real time.

After leaving college in 1962 I was a British volunteer in East Africa. I joined the UN in 1964, worked in Iran, Southeast Asia, New York and ended my career back in New York in 1998.
I worked for the United Nation's Development program for most of my career. That is an aid program. After that I became a member of the UN Secretariat. The Secretary General appointed me as Assistant Secretary General for human resources. I held that job in NY and then went to Iraq. In Iraq, I was the Chief of the Humanitarian Program in Iraq. After leaving the UN, the first thing I did was a Congressional Briefing in Washington.

My initial experience in Iraq was in 1997. I went there in the end of August to take up the post of Humanitarian Chief and I stayed there until October 1998. I have also been back to Iraq five or six times since than. The last time was in Feburary 2003, right before the invasion .
I was asked to go there by The Institute for Public Accuracy. They sponsored my trip to talk to government people about changing policy to adjust there behavior to make it hopeful that the invasion wouldn't take place.

I was nominated along with Kathy Kelly an American who heads Voices in the Wilderness for the Nobel Peace Prize. I also received an honorary degree from Swathmore University for the work that I had done for the UN and the International Gandy Peace Prize.

The UN peace charter is a very specific document. Article 2 very definitely rules out any use of aggression of force and military action against soverign states. Chapter 7, articles 39, 40, 41 and 42 it rules out any sort of military action without the approval of the Security Council.

All of these parts relate to the invasion, pre-emptive strike if you wish against Iraq. No, the United States did not comply with its obligation under the UN Charter when it invaded Iraq. It never obtained a suitable resolution under Article 42 of Chapter 7.

To my knowledge there was not a rationale for defense but that would have been covered by Article 51.

No, it was not permissible for the United States to engage in military action against Iraq under the UN Charter.

No, that fact has not changed in the last 3 years, continuing an act of aggression which is a violation of international law does not get any better over time.

There is no effective provision that the UN Security Council can take when faced with one of the five permanent members who stands in violation of international law under the charter. This is a failure of the charter which goes back to its very origins.

This failure allows the United Nations to be controlled and dominated by the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, in early 2003 that was anticipation that the attack would take place. They knew about the US Military's preparations with their air craft carriers in the Gulf. They knew about the failed attempts to put together a coalition as the first President Bush had done. My interest there was to go and talk with some of the ministers and see if they could make some adjustments that would make it more difficult for Mr. Bush to justify the invasion.

The people of Iraq had become used to living under very difficult conditions after the destruction in the name of the United Nations by the United States of the civilian infrastructure, water supplies, sewer systems, electric power, use of deplete uranium and cluster bombs. All of this was very much in the minds of Iraqi people. Because of this they were extremely concerned about the health and survival of their families.

I spoke with the Minister of Health and asked him what he was doing about the water supplies in anticipation of another attack on the civilian infrastructure. In response he said he has authorize people to drill wells in their gardens. When I asked him what he was doing about the use of depleted uranium he replied that there was nothing he could do.

Trial Counsel objected to the line of questioning based on relevancy of questions and how they relate to 1LT Watada's deployment.

The Defense Counsel stated that earlier they spoke about the commission of war crimes during the course of the war. [Note: During Francis Boyle's testimony.] Now we are talking about the devastating effects that the war has had on the population.

The Investigating Officer [Lt. Col. Mark Keith] ruled that the consequences of the war or the situation on the ground did not have any bearing on the facts or the problem of what 1LT Watada's decision was.


[Responses to] Questions by Trial Counsel:

To my knowledge there are not any actions or resolutions pending right now that would stop the current conflict.

I would question the statement that right now Iraq is a soverign country. The UN does recognize Iraq right now as a sovereign country.

The government of Iraq today was assembled under occupation which raises a large question for many within the United Nations. The fact that the government has invited the United States to assist in Iraq is the status quo.
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