Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Karpova v. Snow Brief Filed with Supreme Court

From Judith Karpova:

Today, the fifth anniversary of the 2003 US attack on Iraq, attorneys Michael Sussman and Stephen Bergstein filed a brief to the Supreme Court to defend me against the prosecution of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department: Judith Karpova v. John Snow, Secretary, Department of the Treasury, United States of America.

Five years ago, in February and March of 2003, I went to Iraq with an international movement called the Human Shields to defend the UN designated civilian infrastructure of that country, such as water treatment plants and power generating stations. Such sites had been bombed by the US in the 1991 Gulf War, with catastrophic results for the Iraqi civilian population. The Human Shields had the larger ambition of bringing enough Western people into Iraq to prevent the war from going forward. Though failing in this greater goal, the sites we lived on during the 2003 war were not bombed. We were hosted by an Iraqi tourism ministry which provided food, lodgings and transportation within the country.

The Treasury Department accuses me of supporting the pre-war Iraqi economy by allegedly buying food and thus breaking the economic embargo against Iraq. As if, had I spent a few dollars, I could have undermined the entire US effort, going on for twelve years, to impoverish and starve the Iraqi people. Over a million Iraqi people died as a direct result of these sanctions, from the lack of banned medication and from untreated water. The embargo had become an international scandal.

The war which did go forward in 2003 is beyond a scandal. The Bush administration has again destroyed the country's infrastructure, used cluster bombs and depleted uranium against it citizens, handed over Iraq's reconstruction money to political cronies, and economically looted the country. It is closing in on seizing its oil reserves. In the desperate scarcity it has created, the administration uses US taxpayer money to pay every Iraqi sect and militia to kill each other. It has killed at least another million Iraqi people through these policies and driven millions more from their homes. The US soldiers trying to contain the Iraqi insurgency are treated as throwaways, denied protective equipment in the field and care when they return. While the administration borrows trillions of dollars to pay for its oil war in Iraq, it attempts to punish me and other humanitarian travelers for witnessing pre-war Iraq and stating that Iraqi lives are no less important than our own.

This Administration has a policy of impunity. The war itself was based on unconfirmed assertions and actually forged documents. Mercenary contractors commit atrocities in Iraq and are immune from prosecution because they're neither part of the military nor subject to US civilian law. Iraq itself is not permitted to prosecute any foreign contractors and these contractors fail to rebuild, but get paid anyway. Paul Bremer, the administrator of Iraq in 2003, says he's not subject to law because the Coalition Provisional Authority was not an entity of the US government. In my case the courts mirror this culture of impunity. Without a hearing, without having to submit any evidence or proof to an impartial judge or jury, the Treasury Department has both accused and convicted me of supporting the Iraqi economy by my humanitarian travel there prior to the war. In his memorandum to the Southern District Court of New York State, the US Attorney notes that the (Federal) Second Circuit "has declined to attach talismanic significance to the availability of an oral hearing."[1] A talisman is an object thought to have magical powers. This is apparently what the government now thinks of due process -- as a kind of superstition. Thus far the state and Federal Courts have upheld this denial of due process. I have filed to the Supreme Court today to ask if the culture of impunity has engulfed them as well. Do they also find due process nothing more than a superstition, or is it instead part of our Constitution, which they need to uphold?

[1] US District Court Southern District of New York, Judith Karpova against John Snow, 05 Civ. 5812 (CM) ECF Case p. 11

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