Paula Kerger, President and CEO Jonathan Barzilay, COO Sylvia Bugg, Chief Programming Executive Judy Woodruff, Managing Editor, PBS Evening News Hour Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, PBS Public Editor Public Broadcasting System May 29, 2021
re: Colin Powell's participation in PBS Memorial Day concerts
Dear PBS Executives::
This email is to comment on PBS's choice of Colin Powell, who is a war criminal, for involvement in PBS's National Memorial Day Concert May 30, 2021, and in these concerts in prior and likely future years.
Gen. Powell publicly and knowingly lied to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, about evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in a key moment initiating the Iraq war, lied 244 times about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 times about Iraq's links to Al Qaeda (1), providing a false basis for US initiation of this catastrophic war. He also participated in review and micromanagement of torture techniques, in dozens of White House meetings as part of the Bush Principals Group along with Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, George Tenet and John Ashcroft (2), war criminals all, with the knowledge and approval of George W. Bush (3), who has been convicted of war crimes in absentia (4). Powell's lies, and George Bush's 935 documented Iraq war lies (1), directly set the stage for the 30000+ lies and crime-ridden presidency of Donald Trump.
With Gen. Powell's critical early support and lies, the Iraq war unnecessarily took the lives of up to 1 million Iraqis (5-6), and over 4500 US servicemen in a war that wasted well over $3 trillion entirely added to the national debt (7). His front-end review of torture techniques as part of the Bush Principals Group (2-3), contributed directly to the Bush administration's practice of systematic (8-14) torture (15-22). Mohamed El Baradei has suggested a war crimes probe of the Bush team (23). Since systematic torture is a crime against humanity (24), Gen. Powell, the rest of the Bush Principals Group, and especially Bush and Cheney have committed crimes against humanity. Although later repentant, the large number of Iraqis who were tortured and killed in part courtesy of Gen. Powell cannot be brought back to life. There has been no accountability for any of these war criminals; these war crimes provide the substance for the widespread and constant hypocrisy of American politicians accusing other countries of war crimes, such as Barack Obama (who protected these war criminals from prosecution), John Kerry as Secretary of State and most recently Nancy Pelosi.
The PBS management decision to honor Gen. Powell in this way devastates PBS's reputation for quality journalism, instead revealing a political correctness so severe that you will stoop to including a war criminal as an honored participant in this celebration. This decision also devastates the generally high quality reporting of your staff by very much making PBS look like it values political correctness above all moral and factual arguments, and is not only an insult to all US citizens, to black citizens that are the focus of your intense advocacy/reporting for social justice, to General Powell's only slightly indirect torture victims, and to all of the US servicemen and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died in this criminal war. Could you not find a genuinely distinguished black citizen to honor instead of a war criminal??? Henry Louis Gates? Karen Bass? Lloyd Austin? Kamala Harris? Andrew Young? James Clyburn? or another of many other choices.
D. Anderson Ph.D. Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
1. Charles Lewis, Mark Reading-Smith. “False Pretenses. Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.” The Center for Public Integrity, Jan. 23, 2008. This article discusses 935 documented lies/distortions by Bush and his top officials, including Colin Powell. 2. Jan Crawford Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg, Ariane de Vogue. “Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'.” ABC News, April 9, 2008. 3. Jan Crawford Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg, Ariane de Vogue. “Bush Aware of Advisers' Interrogation Talks. President Says He Knew His Senior Advisers Discussed Tough Interrogation Methods.” ABC News, April 11, 2008. 4. Yvonne Ridley. “Bush convicted of war crimes in absentia.” Foreign Policy Journal, May 12, 2012. 5. Burnham, G. et al., “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey.” The Lancet, Oct 11, 2006. 6. Opinion Research Business [London, reported by Reuters Jan 30, 2008] survey of Iraq War casualties as of Aug 19, 2007. 7. Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes. “The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond.” Washington Post, Sept. 5, 2010. Prof. Stiglitz is the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics; Linda Bilmes is a Professor at Harvard University. 8. Larry Siems. “The Torture Report.”, O/R Books, Feb. 15, 2012. 9. Matt Spetalnick, Jane Sutton. “U.S. condoned torture after 9/11, must close Guantanamo: report.“ Yahoo News, Reuters and The Constitution Project, April 16, 2013. Concerning the 577-page report: “An independent task force issued a damning review of Bush-era interrogation practices on Tuesday, saying the highest U.S. officials bore ultimate responsibility for the "indisputable" use of torture.” “...the panel concluded that never before had there been "the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody." "It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture.” “Torture occurred in many instances and across a wide range of theaters." 10. Dana Priest. “CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons.” Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005. This discusses the covert CIA global internment network (“black sites”) in 8 countries. 11. Claudio Fava, European Parliament. “CIA activities in Europe: European Parliament adopts final report deploring passivity from some Member States.” Feb. 14, 2007. The report discusses at least 1245 illegal CIA rendition flights using European airspace in 2001-2005, the illegal 2003 CIA abduction of cleric Abu Omar in Milan, secret detention facilities at US military bases in Europe (that may include Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, Romania and Poland), the UK allowance of 170 airport stopovers (and Ireland allowance of 147 airport stopovers) of potential CIA rendition flights, and a number of cases of individuals illegally subjected to rendition, including torture in some cases, by the US. 12. Harbury Jennifer K. Truth, Torture and the American Way: The History and Consequences of US Involvement in Torture. Boston. Beacon Press, 2005. Up to 100 CIA prisoners, deliberately hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross, have apparently disappeared. Incidents at Abu Ghraib included setting fire to prisoner’s hands, mock executions, electric shock, insertion of lit cigarettes into detainee’s ears, mock burials, water pits, deprivation of food, light, sleep, and medications, blows to the head resulting in death, confinement in scorching hot shipping containers, beatings with cables and rubber hoses while hung upside down, immersion in cold water, chaining to a ceiling for 7-8 days until extremities turned black, liquefaction of legs by numerous blows followed by death, chaining of hands and feet to a bolt in the floor while being subjected to severe cold and heat while being denied toilet privileges, rape, and prolonged and repeated rectal searches. 13. Lee Keath, Sarah El Deeb. “[Human] Rights watch: evidence of wider US waterboarding.” Associated Press, Sept. 6, 2012. This 154 page report discusses the torture of 14 Libyan dissident exiles. 14. International Committee of the Red Cross. “ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody.” Feb. 14, 2007. 15. Defined in US Code's Title 18, Chapter 113C (2340), torture is illegal under the 1994 Torture Statute and 1996 War Crimes Act; Torture is prohibited by the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Geneva Conventions III and IV, the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of June 1987, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, for example. 16. “CIA torture report fast facts.” CNN.com, updated Sept. 24, 2015. This article discusses the Senate Select Committee's Torture Report, with a 525 page summary of a 6077 page review. Some report conclusions: “The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others." “119 detainees were held at CIA sites between 2002 and 2008. This is 20 more than previously reported by the CIA.” “39 detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, which included sleep deprivation, waterboarding, prolonged standing, and exposure to cold. All but one of these interrogations took place before April 2006.” “At least 26 detainees were found to be held "wrongfully." “Jose Rodriguez, director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, ordered that 92 tapes of terror suspect interrogations be destroyed. The tapes were made in 2002 and showed the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, including waterboarding.” 17. “Bush admits to knowledge of torture authorization by top advisers. ACLU calls for independent counsel to investigate administration approval of torture and abuse.” American Civil Liberties Union, April 12, 2008. 18. BBC News. “CIA admits waterboarding inmates”, Feb. 5, 2008. 19. CNN. “Memo: two al Qaeda leaders waterboarded 266 times.” April 20, 2009. 20. Spencer Ackerman. “Torture by another name: CIA used 'water dousing' on at least 12 detainees. Interrogators used a technique that elicits a drowning sensation and lowers body temperature on many more detainees than the agency admits to waterboarding.” The Guardian, October 16, 2015. 21. Larry Siems. “Creators of the CIA's enhanced interrogation program to face trial. Two psychologists will face claims they are financially liable in lawsuit brought by three victims of US intelligence agency’s torture program.” The Guardian, Aug. 8, 2017. 22. Peter Foster. “CIA torture more 'brutal and sadistic' than Senate report disclosed. Newly declassified testimony by Guantanamo Bay detainee shows CIA interrogators running out of control.” The Telegraph; Center for Constitutional Rights; Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture; June 2, 2015. 23. Charles J. Hanley. “El Baradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team.” Associated Press, April 22, 2011. Nobel Peace Prize laureate (2005) Mohamed El Baradei, also former chief U.N. nuclear inspector who failed to find any evidence, in 700 inspections, of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the war in Iraq, “..accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by El Baradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.” “The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators...""I was aghast at what I was witnessing," ElBaradei writes of the official U.S. attitude before the March 2003 invasion, which he calls "aggression where there was no imminent threat," a war in which he accepts estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed. In such a case, he suggests, the World Court should be asked to rule on whether the war was illegal. And, if so, "should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a `war crime' and determine who is accountable?" “El Baradei, citing the war-crimes prosecution of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, sees double standards that should end. "Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again?" he asks.” 24. Crimes Against Humanity include systematic torture and murder, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.