Friday, February 1, 2008

Braley Vows Justice for Tortured POWs after Bush Veto

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, had no inclination that President Bush was going to veto the Defense Authorization Bill on Christmas Eve, let alone the reason why he vetoed the proposed legislation. It was the latter that caught him off guard the following day. Bush vetoed the $3.5 billion authorization package that would have provided resources for military members, their families, and veterans, because it contained a provision that would have allowed Operation Desert Storm Prisoners of War (POW) to continue their case against the Hussein regime.

“I was stunned, shocked, outraged, and ashamed when I found out why the president vetoed the bill,” Braley said at the National Press Club last week. “What is more disturbing is the fact that this administration cannot justify why these soldiers should receive the judgment they so richly deserve and have faced roadblocks every step of the way. These POWs waited years and years for justice only to see this justice stolen by the Bush administration.”

In 2002, 17 American ex-prisoners of war who were brutally tortured in Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War sued Saddam Hussein’s regime. The veterans eventually won a judgment against Hussein. But shortly after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration stepped in and had the judgment overturned.

According to a Dec. 28 report in Congressional Quarterly, Bush issued his veto after lawyers for the Iraqi government threatened to withdraw $25 billion worth of assets from U.S. banks if the provision was allowed to become law.

The American POWs were granted damages by a U.S. federal district court in July 2003. The court awarded $959 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the 17 POWs — some of whom remain on active duty today and are serving in Iraq.

But earlier that year, after signing a bill that allowed Americans to collect court-ordered damages from the frozen assets of terrorist states — a list that included Iraq at that time — Bush had confiscated what was then $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets held in private banks. He allowed the payment of two judgments, including one for so-called “human shield” hostages held by Iraq in 1990, but none for the Americans taken prisoner in the 1991 Gulf War.

Moreover, after digging a little deeper, Braley found something even more disturbing regarding the president’s rationale for the veto. “The president chose to respect corporate interests over human interests and corporate rights over human rights,” Braley said at the Press Club. “This is something we have seen from this administration in the past in unrelated matters.”

"One of the things this administration doesn’t like to tell you is that while they have been denying these brave prisoners of war their just compensation, they have been quietly working to settle Gulf War commercial debt with foreign corporations like Mitsubishi from Japan,” Braley said. “They have done this without taking a single penny from the war effort in Iraq.”

Despite bipartisan support for the provision, Congress agreed to strip the language from the bill to ensure its passage into law, granting Iraq immunity from such claims. Braley also told the audience at the Press Club that he was perturbed that there was no response from congressional leadership and he vowed to fight for the POWs, regardless of the bill’s outcome. The revised Defense Act was signed into law by the President this week.

Staying true to his word, Braley introduced a bill that aimed to correct a flawed Defense Department Authorization Act (HR 4986) by introducing a bill to restore a provision allowing American veterans and victims of torture to pursue legal claims against their torturers.

Braley’s bill, the Justice for Victims of Torture and Terrorism Act, would effectively restore the provision and allow American torture victims to pursue legal action against state sponsors of terrorism.

“American veterans tortured as prisoners of war don’t deserve to be left behind by a presidential policy that keeps them from seeking justice,” Braley said in a recent statement. “We need to hold countries accountable for torturing American troops so it never happens again. And we need to get our priorities straight. Protecting American veterans and POWs should come before protecting Saddam Hussein’s assets.

“Congress needs to act quickly to correct the flawed Defense Authorization Act by passing this bill. I’m confident that there is strong bipartisan support in the House to right this wrong and send a message to the president that American soldiers deserve the right to bring torturers to justice.”
Originally posted on "Iowa Independent"

1 comment:

USMC said...

TBI Veteran 2-02-02
Written by Peter Macdonald 465 Packersfalls rd Lee NH 03824 603-659-6217
A sad story of a child leaving high school in 1970 at 17 to become a U.S. Marine and go off to a conflict. A four year tour with 31 months overseas, 8 convoys as American Advisor delivering surplus supplies to friendly camps in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and three disabling injuries, two were received during separate combat support missions. This now 100% disabled Veteran returns to New Hampshire with total amnesia from a traumatic brain injury received during his tour. How does one understand family, friends, and a life where commands and orders do not guide your life? Is it possible to live where killing is the norm, then be dropped into a civilized society and survive? I so much wanted to see what other Marines would describe as “Back in the World” that I slide into drugs, alcohol and college. Finely one day I started volunteering helping others to relieve my guilt of coming back alive. Volunteering made me realize that maybe helping others would eventually stop the need for war. Volunteering at the least allowed me to say thank you to those that never came home.
I learned to believe so much in the American system of government that getting involved became a passion. I volunteered on zoning board, and many others. I ran for elected local and state office. I volunteered in the court system, police projects, schools, hospitals and many more learning and reassuring my self I will some day be like others. Helping even strangers on the street, or in the communities with domestic problems, housing or other difficulties in every day life is an every day event for me.
I was raised in Alton NH but to this day I do not remember any part of life there. I do not look disabled which places doubt in others minds. I have accepted the fact that I must struggle every day to attempt to understand situations around me. I realize that from the day that I set foot back in the “world” that I was different from others because I had no emotions toward others. Not in the fact that I could not feel love and affection but that I could kill or accept other’s pain with out it interfering with my ability to complete my mission. I under stood that I did not belong in a civilized society. I moved out of Alton because people knew me and I had no idea whom they were. People in Alton could not accept this once wild child now had a broken back and lose of hearing which I hide for fear of being rejected.
I learned while in the Marine Corps that I was giving my life for the Constitution of the United Sates and equal treatment of the law to all. A Madbury NH family called my house in Lee NH to ask for help in 1999. They had a zoning issue and had read my letters to the editor in the newspapers. This family was so desperate because the local selectmen were using their lively hood “Family business” as a means to seek revenge against this family. This fact turned out to be true. In helping them, Judge Peter Fauver committed 29 or more Constitutional crimes to inflict pain and suffering on this family. I to this day have not stopped helping this family. The newspapers censor the facts in direct violation or our Constitution. The courts and government have inflicted so much pain and suffering on my family, people wonder why I do not stop helping people that were strangers to me. I learned to allow the courts and government to inflict pain and suffering on any one individual can not be tolerated. It does not matter that the people of the United States of America have been deceived by false facts printed in the news to harm my character in the public eye. I learned in the Marine Corps that we the people must correct the wrongs of government as a means to keep our nation strong.
The director of the NH VA medical care Mark Levenston stopped my VA medical in an effort to aid the NH government officials and judges to stop my free speech. My biggest conflict to understanding life back here in the world is accepting the atrocious acts that I committed as a U.S. Marine. It is not the fact that I did, what I did. It is that I do not feel guilty for killing a child while in the “Bush” to retrieve my weapon and escape. I have no memory of any good while I served. I remember the hot lonely nights waiting hour after hour for mission to begin. I remember riding on convoy where no one else spoke American and I knew that tomorrow would not be here. I remember hoping to live long enough to see what “Back in the World” was like.
I have so far lived a great life. NH has taken my freedom, and much more to prevent me from exposing wrongs in government that need to be corrected. The news media censors a 100% disabled U.S. Marines words to aid the criminal actions of a few trusted government officials and judges. I can not under stand how the news or any other United States citizen can allow medical care to be used to shut up a 100% disabled Veteran. The news highlights the politicians claims during election time to the need to place more help to the returning Veterans. I know to this day there are WWII veterans alive that are still asking for help with their service connected disabilities. These are the children that went off to fight for our Constitution. Mark Levenston, Judge Fauver NH governor Lynch and many others committed crimes against the peace and dignity of the United States. The NH Government, courts and news media with the help of the VA have knowingly harmed a disabled Veteran for self gain. Worse is that our courts, government and news media do this to many returning Veterans. Now do you under stand why this is a Sad Story. Go to and read this and many more sad stories.
Peter Macdonald Sgt USMC Semper Fi