Wednesday, June 06, 2012

'Blue Balls' McGurk faces Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning

Today Brett McGurk appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Barack Obama's third nominee for Ambassador to Iraq may face some tough questions.  ABC News Radio is reporting, "Sen. John McCain could torpedo the Obama's administration pick to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey."

Yesterday, McGurk's e-mails to reporter Gina Chon from 2008 were leaked.  In 2008, Chon was covering Iraq for the Wall St. Journal.  McGurk was part of the US diplomatic staff in Iraq.  While the private sector paid for Chon's expenses, the US tax payer paid for McGurk and did so with the belief that he'd be focusing on Iraq.  Instead, Chon was one of many hook ups he attempted while in Iraq.  The US taxpayer footed the bill for his sex-texts explaining that he had "blue balls" and how he'd gotten rid of them and who had the best wine in Iraq and how much he missed Chon and how Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, couldn't find out about them.

That last one is the really interesting piece.

He now wants Ryan Crocker's old job.   He who lied and concealed a relationship which should have been disclosed.  US diplomatic staff is not supposed to be on a bootie call when they're sent to a war zone.  They are certainly not supposed to engage in hidden relationships with the press.

As I noted yesterday, what Gina Chon did is Gina Chon's business.  She is a private citizen. She was not working for the government.  We have not quoted her comments back to him nor do I intend to.  They have no bearing on the nomination.  But what he did does have bearing.

How focused was he on his job, how much were the observation skills he was being paid for distracted by his constant need for hook ups.  Chon is only one of the hook ups.  There were others.  With the Chon one now out in the open with the exposure of the e-mails, Brett McGurk should explain why he should now be trusted to represent America in a foreign country after his immature and juvenile behavior less than four years ago?  What's changed?  How has he matured?

What he makes him the person to oversea the State Dept's largest embassy project -- both in size, scope and money -- in the world?

America needs a consistent face in Iraq and the Barack Obama administration has failed to provide one.  Brett McGurk is Barack's third nominee for this post.

Third nominee. 

Not because the other two got shot down by the Senate.  Not because one of the other two died while serving.

Replacing one ambassador in four years might be understandable.  Two?

The White House and the Senate are not properly vetting.

If they were, Brett McGurk -- anyone -- would not be Barack's third nomination for US Ambassador to Iraq.

Barack was never under pressure on that spot.  Ryan Crocker was appointed by Bush and Crocker graciously offered to stay in the post until the incoming president could find a suitable nominee.  Barack graciously thanked Crocker for that offer and took him up on it.

So that first nominee should have been something.

Should have been something good -- instead it was, as Isaiah noted, "The Pig Pen Ambassador."

The Pig-Pen Ambassador

For those who have forgotten or missed it, Chris Hill attended the hearing with his hair sticking up and out and a visible large stain on the front of his shirt.  Neither that nor his obvious ignorance in response to one question or another stopped the nomination.

It's time for the Senate to do its job.  The Foreign Relations Committee probably won't.  They'll probably take a pass.  But there are hard questions that McGurk needs to be asked.

The following community sites -- plus Diane Rehm, Adam Kokesh, CSPAN, On The Edge and Chocolate City -- updated last night and this morning:

Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert.  We'll close with this on internationa law:

ViolationS of International Law
Middle East International
Sept. 3, 1982, at 11
Francis a. boyle (univesity of illinois), Richard a. falk (princeton University), C. Clyde ferguson, Jr. (Harvard law School), Roger Fisher (harvard law school), Stanley hoffmann (harvard University), W. Thomas Mallison (George Washington University).
The invasion of Lebanon by the government of Israel constitutes a violation of UN Charter article 2(3), mandating the peaceful settlement of international disputes, as well as the article 2(4) prohibition on the threat or use of force in international relations against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Despite the assertions of Israeli Prime Minister Begin before the General Assembly, the invasion cannot be excused as a legitimate exercise of the right of self-defense recognized by article 51 of the Charter and accepted principles of customary international law concerning the use of force.
The PLO is likewise bound by the article 2(3) and 2(4) obligations, and the Lebanese government must not allow its territory to be used in a manner violative of international law. Nevertheless, the PLO cannot be held legally responsible for every act of violence perpetrated against Israel that occurs anywhere in the world, but only to the extent that the Israeli government can produce clear and convincing evidence of specific actions sanctioned by the PLO. The evidentiary record establishes that during the preceding year, the PLO has in good faith adhered to the terms of the cease-fire applicable to the Lebanese-Israeli border that had been successfully negotiated last summer by President Reagan’s special envoy for the crisis. Consequently, the PLO has not launched any “armed attack” upon Israel as required by article 51 before the latter can resort to the use of force to defend itself. It is Israel that has “attacked” Lebanon and the PLO in violation of its international legal obligations.
Even assuming the contemporary international legal order still recognizes the regressive doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon fails to meet that test as well. As definitively stated by U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster in the case of The Caroline, the “necessity of that self-defence [must be] instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” Furthermore, Israel cannot invoke the antiquated doctrines of intervention, protection and self-help to justify the invasion, because these were soundly repudiated by a decision of the International Court of Justice in the Corfu Channel Case (1949) as totally incompatible with the proper conduct of international relations in the post-World War II era.
Three seminal U.N. General Assembly resolutions have firmly established the fundamental proposition that non-consensual military intervention by one state into the territorial domain of another state is prohibited for any reason whatsoever: The Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention (1965); The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970); and the Definition of Aggression (1974). At least the Arab Deterrent Force, composed primarily of Syrian troops, had been stationed in Lebanon with the consent of the Lebanese government and conducted its peacekeeping operations with the approval of the League of Arab States, which is the appropriate regional arrangement under Chapter 8 of the U.N. Charter for sanctioning such activities.
Finally, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon has violated the basic principle of customary international law dictating proportionality in the use of force, applicable to even a legitimate exercise of the right to self-defense. The massive scale of death, destruction, dislocations and suffering inflicted by the Israeli army in Lebanon is egregiously disproportionate to any harm that has been perpetrated upon Israel or to any serious threat to its legitimate national security interests posed by the presence of the PLO in Lebanon.
The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 apply in their entirety to the conduct of hostilities by Israel in Lebanon. Additional Protocol 1 (1977) indicates that the members of the PLO who have been captured by the Israeli army should be treated as prisoners of war within the meaning of the Geneva Accords. At the very minimum, captured members of the PLO and other individuals affiliated with them together with all Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, are entitled to the full panoply of protections set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention and the customary international law of belligerent occupation. Statements by the Israeli government that captured PLO members will be treated as “terrorists” and thus presumably deprived of their protected status under the Geneva Conventions would, if acted upon, constitute a grave violation of the humanitarian laws of armed conflict that have been universally accepted by all civilized states.
As a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 the Untied States government has an obligation to respect and to ensure respect for their observance by all other contracting powers. This obligation becomes irresistibly compelling in a situation where Israel has been enabled to invade Lebanon by means of weapons, munitions and supplies provided primarily by the United States government at concessionary rates. To the extent the US government does not prevent Israel from using American weapons in explicit violation of international law and of U.S. domestic statutes applicable to arms transfer agreements, it must assume full legal responsibility before the international community for such proscribed activities committed by Israel in Lebanon. Under the circumstances the United States has an absolute duty to employ the tremendous leverage over Israel afforded by its arms supply relationship in order to secure the latter’s strict obedience to the laws of war and its immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 508 (1982) and Resolution 509 (1982), which are legally binding on Israel under Charter article 25.
The Israeli government has no right under international law to intervene in the domestic affairs of Lebanon by dictating the terms of some future government as a condition for the withdrawal of its troops. The future of the Lebanese government must be determined by the Lebanese people without interference or compulsion from any external source. The most effective means to ensure the success of this endeavor is for the Israel immediately to withdraw its troops from Lebanon and to turn over evacuated territory to the Lebanese army, where possible, or to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The ultimate disposition of the Arab Deterrent Force should be determined by the League of Arab States in accordance with the wishes of the Lebanese government expressed after an Israeli military withdrawal.
The United States must actively oppose any proposals by the Israeli government to establish some type of international police force in Lebanon that is not under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Security Council. Israeli charges that UNIFIL cannot be trusted because the U.N. is biased against Israel obfuscate the fact that UNIFIL operates under the auspices of the Security Council (where the United States can, if necessary exercise a veto power) not under the General Assembly. The evidentiary record clearly establishes that UNIFIL has proven to be quite effective at preventing the large-scale infiltration of PLO fighters across the Israeli-Lebanese border. A renewed and strengthened mandate for UNIFIL will continue to perform this task until the Lebanese army is reconstituted as an effective and independent military force under the control of the central government. In this regard Israel must also dismantle the Lebanese Christian enclave it has created along the border, whose members have so far illegally resisted the interposition of UNIFIL troops with the collusion of the Israeli government.
A long-term solution to the problems of Lebanon can only be found when Israel is willing to recognize the international legal right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Neither Egypt, Israel, the United States, nor Jordan have any right under international law to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people. Both the U.N. General Assembly and the League of Arab States have determined that the PLO is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. That determination must be respected by Israel and the Untied States for the purpose of negotiating an overall settlement on the ultimate disposition of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the East Jerusalem. Mutual and simultaneous recognition of their respective rights under international law by Israel and the PLO must be the next stage in the development of the Middle East peace process.
Barak Appoints War Criminal Yaron
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law
(The author served as Attorney in the lawsuit against General
Yaron in Ali Aidi v. Yaron, 672 Fed. Supp. 516 (D.D.C. 1987), Palestine
Yearbook of International Law, Vol. V, 1989.)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has nominated former Major General Amos
Yaron to serve as director-general of the Israeli Defense Ministry, while
Barak himself retains the portfolio of Minister of Defense. According to the
1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, Yaron, whose appointment must be confirmed by
the Israeli Cabinet, is a war criminal by virtue of his command
responsibility for the murder of about 2000 Palestinian and Lebanese
civilians during the 1982 Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacre in Beirut,
Lebanon. Should Yaron's appointment be confirmed, the U.S. government will
be aiding and abetting the work of an infamous war criminal. In Fiscal Year
2000, Israel is scheduled to receive $1.92 billion dollars in U.S. military
aid out of a total annual U.S. aid package to Israel worth $2.94 billion.
In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, driving as far north as the capital,
Beirut, purportedly in an effort to expel the Palestine Liberation
Organization. In August 1982, special U.S. envoy Philip Habib negotiated the
withdrawal of Palestinian forces from Beirut. According to that agreement
the United States government guaranteed the safety of the remaining
Palestinian civilians and obtained Israel's assurance that its armed forces
would not enter West Beirut. Israel, breaking its own pledge, occupied West
Beirut and surrounded the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps on September 15,
On September 16, then Brigadier General Amos Yaron, acting under orders from
the Israeli Ministry of Defense under General Ariel Sharon, allowed
Phalangist troops to enter the refugee camps even though the same troops had
previously engaged in massacres of Palestinians living in Lebanon. The
killing at the refugee camps went on for three days. During nighttime
Phalangist operations, Yaron's troops fired illumination rounds so the
Phalangists could continue their bloody work. Israeli troops, under the
command of Yaron, blocked the exits of the camps to prevent the refugees
from escaping and supplied the Phalangists with at least one bulldozer,
which was used to cover bodies with rubble.
According to the official Israeli Commission of Inquiry into the massacre
(the so-called Kahan Commission), Yaron, who was present on the roof of the
IDF forward command post overlooking the Shatila camp on the evening of
September 16, knew then that women and children were being killed by
Phalangist militiamen who had entered the camps by prior arrangement with
the Israeli military. Not until the morning of September 18 did Yaron move
to end the killings. Israeli military intelligence later underestimated the
death toll at between 700 and 800, which was criminal enough. In his
testimony to the Kahan Commission, Yaron said he was "happy" about the
decision to send the Phalangist forces into the refugee camps because "the
fighting serves their purposes as well, so let them participate and not let
the IDF do everything."
Under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which was signed by
both the United States and Israel, by his complicity in the massacre, Yaron
allowed the willful causing of "great suffering" and "serious injury" to the
residents of the camps, who were legally "protected persons" thereunder. In
so doing, Yaron was guilty of "grave breaches" under Article 147 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention. In other words, because of his command
responsibilities during the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Yaron was personally
responsible for the commission of "war crimes" under general principles of
both customary and conventional international law.
On August 1, 1986, the Israeli government announced that it was nominating
Yaron as its Military Attaché to the United States and Canada. Immediately
thereafter, this author and Mr. Abdeen Jabara, Esq. who had recently become
President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in
Washington, D.C., decided to launch a campaign to prevent the United States
government from accepting Yaron's diplomatic credentials and admitting him
into the country. Together, the two of us drafted telegrams to Secretary of
State George Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and Attorney
General Edwin Meese pointing out that Yaron was responsible for the
commission of "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the role
that he played in supervising the Sabra and Shatila massacre. As such, the
United States government was under an absolute obligation under the Fourth
Geneva Convention to prosecute Yaron for these heinous war crimes should he
set foot on United States territory. Therefore, the telegrams argued, the
United States government must not allow Yaron to enter the country for any
reason other than prosecution. Otherwise, the United States government would
be in breach of its own obligations under the Fourth Geneva Contention.
ADC sent similar telegrams to the ambassadors for all states parties to the
Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, requesting that pursuant to common article
1, their governments had an obligation to intervene with the United States
government to demand that the latter not accept Yaron's diplomatic
credentials. A few European states did indeed take this matter up with the
United States government. In the meantime, this author sent a letter to the
Legal Adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry stating that in the event
Yaron were to set foot upon United States territory, he would personally sue
Yaron in a U.S. court for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
These vigorous efforts by this author, Jabara, the ADC, and others led the
Reagan administration to hold up Yaron's Letter of Accreditation for a
period of three months. According to the Israeli Press, these protests
against Yaron's appointment were instrumental in prompting Washington to
seek Yaron's recall. Israeli papers reported that the behind-the-scenes
diplomatic fury which resulted over Yaron's nomination came after the
Department of Defense received hundreds of letters from Arab-Americans and
liberal Jewish groups protesting Yaron's presence in the United States.
Several meetings were held between Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz over
the question of Yaron's suitability to serve as Defense Attaché in light of
his involvement in the Beirut massacres. The Israeli daily Davar, associated
with the Labor Party, first broke the story of the meetings between U.S. and
Israeli officials over Yaron in its October 22 edition, indicating that
Washington and Tel Aviv had agreed that Yaron would be recalled but not
immediately. Both sides later denied that a deal had been made, although a
spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., Yossi Gal,
confirmed that the negotiations had indeed taken place. On October 24, 1986
the Reagan administration officially accepted Yaron's Letter of
Undaunted, ADC's Abdeen Jabara flew to Ottawa to convince the Canadian
government to refuse diplomatic accreditation to Yaron as Israel's Military
Attaché to Canada. To its great credit, on March 5, 1987 the Canadian
government refused to accept Yaron's diplomatic credentials. Explaining the
move, External Affairs Minister Joe Clark said that Canada did not consider
it "appropriate" to accept Yaron's credentials. Officials of the External
Affairs Ministry indicated privately that Canada had based its decision on
the findings of the Kahan Commission Report.
On March 28 the Jerusalem Post reported that Yaron had asked his superiors
to cut short his Washington assignment. A "cool" reception from the
diplomatic community in the U.S., followed by Canada's refusal to accept his
appointment to Ottawa, were factors leading to Yaron's request to be
considered for a territorial command, according to their sources.
Apparently, Canada had rejected Yaron's credentials with Washington's
In the meantime, this author, Abdeen Jabara, Linda Huber, Esq., an attorney
in Washington, D.C., Professor Linda Malone, now of the William and Mary
School of Law, and Albert Mokhiber, Esq., then ADC Legal Affairs Director
and later its President, convened at ADC Headquarters for the purpose of
preparing a civil lawsuit against Yaron on behalf of some of the victims of
the Sabra and Shatila massacre. This author and Linda Huber agreed to serve
as Attorneys of Record for three Palestinian women who survived the
massacre. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia on May 4, 1987. The Complaint alleged that Yaron bore
responsibility for the murder of the family members of the three Palestinian
women under international treaties including the Nuremberg Principles, which
forbid war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The plaintiffs, Fatimeh Ali Aidi, Zeineb Sa'ad and Samia A. Khatib, all
three of whom resided in the Shatila camp, each asked for $100,000 in
punitive damages and an undetermined amount in compensatory damages against
Yaron. The Complaint stated that the husband of Fatimeh Ali Aidi, the father
and sister of Zeineb Sa'ad, and the mother, sister and five nieces and
nephews of Samia A. Khatib, were "murdered in the Shatila Camp by agents of
the defendant Yaron" and the IDF during Israel's occupation of West Beirut
in September 1982. The lawsuit stated that Yaron was guilty of violating the
Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits the killing of civilians
under military occupation and incriminates an occupying power even if its
"agents" carry out the killing. Citing the Nuremberg Principles, which were
designed to prevent the repetition of crimes against humanity such as were
committed by the Nazi occupying power in Europe during the Second World War,
the suit alleged that Yaron's position of authority, and knowledge of the
ongoing massacre, rendered him personally responsible for the actions of the
Yaron was served with a summons to appear in court as he left his Chevy
Chase, Maryland apartment for work on the morning of May 5, one day after
the suit was filed. On May 20, 50 demonstrators picketed Yaron's apartment
building, calling attention to current efforts by France, Israel and the
Soviet Union to bring Nazi war criminals to justice, while Yaron continued
to enjoy diplomatic status in the United States. On May 26, a motion to
dismiss the case was filed by lawyers representing Yaron, claiming that he
enjoyed diplomatic immunity as Israel's Military Attaché, that the statute
of limitations had expired, and that the international treaties cited by the
plaintiffs allowed only governments, not individuals, to bring legal action
for alleged treaty violations.
During the course of the Yaron litigation, the United States Department of
State took the official position that Yaron possessed diplomatic immunity
under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the U.S.
Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978. Yet, at the exact same time the U.S. State
Department was also involved in efforts to put former U.N. Secretary General
Kurt Waldheim on the so-called "watch list" in order to bar his entry into
the United States on the alleged grounds that he might have been an
accomplice to the commission of war crimes during the Second World War. The
U.S. Department of Justice so barred Waldheim as of April 27, 1987. By
contrast, Yaron was directly responsible for the murder of about 2000
innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, including women, children, and
old people. Unlike Waldheim, however, not only was Yaron permitted to enter
the United States, but the U.S. government also accorded him full diplomatic
privileges and immunities under the Vienna Convention. The gross hypocrisy
involved in these two contemporaneous decisions by the U.S. government could
not have been more blatant.
Nevertheless, the Federal District Judge who handled the Yaron case decided
to defer to the wishes of the Department of State in this matter. The Judge
observed that this was not a criminal tribunal, but only a civil action.
Hence, the Judge ruled that Yaron was immune from civil proceedings in
United States courts irrespective of whether or not he would be immune from
criminal proceedings in some other forum. The Judge basically ignored expert
Affidavits submitted to the Court independently by three American Professors
of International Law, all of whom stated under oath that acknowledged war
criminals such as Yaron were both criminally and civilly liable for the
commission of their international crimes, whether in United States courts or
Despite this setback, ADC continued to mount its nationwide campaign to
convince Yaron that an acknowledged war criminal was not wanted by the
American people to be roaming the streets of their capital, and that he
should go home. Exactly one year after the Israeli government press office
had quietly announced the appointment of Yaron, the Jerusalem Post of Aug.
1, 1987 reported that Yaron was to resign his diplomatic position "for
reasons related to a lingering controversy" about his role in the 1982 Sabra
and Shatila massacre. This "lingering controversy" was fueled by ADC's "Send
Yaron Home" campaign. According to the Jerusalem Post, although the Reagan
administration initially accepted Yaron's posting to Washington, it had
since been actively trying to encourage Israel to recall him. Eventually
Yaron returned home to Israel, where he currently lives and works with his
fellow war criminals in the IDF and the Israeli government.
Under basic principles of international law, the U.S. government must be
concerned about directing billions of U.S. tax dollars to the control of an
acknowledged war criminal such as Yaron. Accordingly, the U.S. government
must discontinue all military assistance to Israel if Yaron's appointment is
confirmed. Also, there is no statute of limitations for war crimes. Should
Yaron attempt to return to the U.S., the U.S. government is obligated to
prosecute him for war crimes. The same conclusion follows for any other
State where Yaron might travel. Legally, General Yaron is just like General
Pinochet: Hostis humani generis--The enemy of all humankind!

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