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Human Rights Watch, protecting civilians during war, Hillary Clinton voted "NO"

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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 09:52 AM
Original message
Human Rights Watch, protecting civilians during war, Hillary Clinton voted "NO"
Edited on Thu May-31-07 10:09 AM by welshTerrier2
no, Human Rights Watch (HRW) did not directly call out Hillary. They might as well have. It appears Mrs. Clinton is on the wrong side, the very wrong side, of one of their most critical issues. And that is not a very good place to be at all.

HRW seems like a great organization. I've spent some time on their website the last couple of days thanks to SaveElmer's thread about the concerns Human Rights Watch raised about the closing of TV stations in Venezuela.

HRW, not be confused with HRC, has numerous articles (See link below) about the banning of cluster bombs near population centers. Cluster bombs are an indiscriminate, evil weapon in that they are just tucked away waiting to do their damage until something triggers them. Many are familiar with the global campaign against land mines that have caused countless deaths and amputations all over the world. Cluster bombs are another weapon that civilians need protection from.

On September 6, 2006, an amendment (S4882) to ban the use of cluster bombs NEAR POPULATION CENTERS came before the Senate. It was not a total ban because some believe the use of cluster bombs is necessary in certain conditions of war. The goal of banning them NEAR POPULATION CENTERS was to protect civilian populations from being maimed or killed by these weapons. That sounds like a pretty reasonable HEALTH CARE PLAN to me. Senator Stevens made the following remarkable argument in opposition to the bill:

I do not believe it can be shown we have used these weapons indiscriminately in civilian areas. I believe civilians have moved into areas where they have been used in defense of our country and defense of our people.

One would expect all the regular hawks to line-up against the bill. It came to the Senate floor at a time when Democrats were in the minority. It had very little chance of passing. It had even less chance of passing when certain Democrats piled on with the republicans to sink the bill. The bill was defeated. Here's a link to the roll call vote: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/r...

Bayh, Biden, Landrieu, Lieberman and the Nelson "twins" were a few of the bad guys. And good old Hillary Clinton was another. I seem to keep using the word "unconscionable". What else would you call a vote that says "no" to protecting civilians from the weapons of war? How would you have voted?

Here's a link to numerous HRW articles on cluster bombs: http://www.humanrightswatch.org/doc/?t=arms

The following was entered into the Congressional Record to explain the damage these weapons inflict on civilians:

Cluster Bombs Kill in Iraq, Even After Shooting Ends
(By Paul Wiseman)

BAGHDAD.--The little canisters dropped onto the city, white ribbons trailing behind. They clattered into streets, landed in lemon trees, rattled around on roofs, settled on lawns.

When Jassim al-Qaisi saw the canisters the size of D batteries falling on his neighborhood just before 7 a.m. April 7, he laughed and asked himself: ``Now what are the Americans throwing on our heads?''

The strange objects were fired by U.S. artillery outside Baghdad as U.S. forces approached the Iraqi capital. In the span of a few minutes, they would kill four civilians in the ai-Dora neighborhood of southern Baghdad and send al-Qaisi's teenage son to the hospital with metal fragments in his foot.

The deadly objects were cluster bomblets, small explosives packed by the dozens or hundreds into bombs, rockets or artillery shells known as cluster weapons. When these weapons were fired on Baghdad on April 7, many of the bomblets failed to explode on impact. They were picked up or stumbled on by their victims.

The four who died in the al-Dora neighborhood that day lived a few blocks from al-Qaisi's house. Rashid Majid, 58, who was nearsighted, stepped on an unexploded bomblet around the corner from his home. The explosion ripped his legs off. As he lay bleeding in the street, another bomblet exploded a few yards away, instantly killing three young men, including two of Majid's sons--Arkan, 33, and Ghasan, 28. ``My sons! My sons!'' Majid called out. He died a few hours later.

The deaths occurred because the world's most modern military, one determined to minimize civilian casualties, went to war with stockpiles of weapons known to endanger civilians and its own soldiers. The weapons claimed victims in the initial explosions and continued to kill afterward, as Iraqis and U.S. forces accidentally detonated bomblets lying around like small land mines.

A four-month examination by USA Today of how cluster bombs were used in the Iraq war found dozens of deaths that were unintended but predictable. Although U.S. forces sought to limit what they call ``collateral damage'' in the Iraq campaign, they defied international criticism and used nearly 10,800 cluster weapons; their British allies used almost 2,200.

The bomblets packed inside these weapons wiped out Iraq troop formations and silenced Iraqi artillery. They also killed civilians. These unintentional deaths added to the hostility that has complicated the U.S. occupation. One anti-war group calculates that cluster weapons killed as many as 372 Iraqi civilians. The numbers are impossible to verify: Iraqi records are incomplete, and many Iraqi families buried their dead without reporting their deaths.

In the most comprehensive report on the use of cluster weapons in Iraq, USA Today visited Iraqi neighborhoods and interviewed dozens of Iraqi families, U.S. troops, teams clearing unexploded ordnance in Iraq, military analysts and humanitarian groups. The findings:

The Pentagon presented a misleading picture during the war of the extent to which cluster weapons were being used and of the civilian casualties they were causing. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on April 25, six days before President Bush declared major combat operations over, that the United States had used 1,500 cluster weapons and caused one civilian casualty. It turns out he was referring only to cluster weapons dropped from the air, not those fired by U.S. ground forces.

In fact, the United States used 10,782 cluster weapons, according to the declassified executive summary of a report compiled by U.S. Central Command, which oversaw military operations in Iraq. Centcom sent the figures to the Joint Chiefs in response to queries from USA Today and others, but details of the report remain secret.

U.S. forces fired hundreds of cluster weapons into urban areas. These strikes, from late March to early April, killed dozens and possibly hundreds of Iraqi civilians. Forty civilians were killed in one neighborhood in Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad, say residents and Saad Khazal al-Faluji, a surgeon at Hillah General Hospital who tracked casualties.

The attacks also left behind thousands of unexploded bomblets, known as duds, that continued to kill and injure Iraqi civilians weeks after the fighting stopped. U.S. officials say they sought to limit civilian casualties by trying to avoid using cluster munitions. But often alternative weapons were not available or would not have been as effective during the invasion.

Unexploded U.S. cluster bomblets remain a threat to U.S. forces in Iraq. They have killed or injured at least eight U.S. troops.

The U.S. Air Force, criticized for using cluster bombs that killed civilians during the wars in Vietnam, Kosovo and Afghanistan, has improved its cluster bombs. But U.S. ground forces relied on cluster munitions known to cause a high number of civilian casualties.

The Air Force, responding to the criticism, began working on safer cluster bombs in the mid-1990s and started using them in Afghanistan. But the Army started a program to install self-destruct fuses in existing cluster bomblets only after former Defense Secretary William Cohen called in January 2001 for dud rates of no more than 1% after 2005. The safer bomblets won't be available for at least two years. During the war in Iraq, U.S. ground forces dipped into stockpiles of more than 740 million cluster bomblets, all with a history of high dud rates.

Senior Army officials in Washington would not answer questions about the Army's use of cluster weapons in Iraq. Maj. Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said such weapons are effective ``against enemy troop formations and light-skinned vehicles'' and are used only after ``a deliberate decision-making process.''

WHY CLUSTER BOMBS ARE DEADLY

Cluster bombs have been controversial since they killed thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian civilians during and after the Vietnam War. They have since been used by armies around the world, including Russian forces in Chechnya and Sudanese government troops fighting rebels in a long-running civil war. But their use in urban areas of Iraq has given new momentum to a movement to restrict the use of cluster bombs.

Last month, dozens of activist groups hoping to duplicate the success of the campaign to ban land mines formed a coalition aimed at getting a worldwide moratorium on cluster weapons. After seeing the toll the weapons took on Iraqi civilians and their own forces, even some U.S. soldiers have misgivings about using cluster weapons, at least in urban areas.

As the war in Iraq approached, humanitarian groups warned the Pentagon against using cluster weapons, especially in urban areas. New York-based Human Rights Watch predicted on March 18, a day before the war began with an airstrike in Baghdad: ``The use of cluster munitions in Iraq will result in grave dangers to civilians and friendly combatants.'' Cluster weapons are especially dangerous to civilians because they spray wide areas with hundreds of bomblets. Most are unguided ``dumb'' weapons, so they can miss their target, and many of the bomblets don't explode immediately.

The U.S. military was aware of the threat cluster munitions posed and was determined to minimize them. Col. Lyle Cayce, an Army judge advocate general (JAG), led a team of 14 lawyers providing advice on the battlefield to the 3rd Infantry Division on the use of cluster munitions, as well as other weapons, during its 21-day, 450-mile drive north from Kuwait to Baghdad. The goal was to ensure that U.S. forces complied with international humanitarian law, enshrined in the Geneva Conventions. ``No other army in the world does that,'' Cayce says. ``We value the rule of law.''

The Geneva Conventions hold that when choosing which targets to hit and which weapons to use, armies must make sure they do not ``cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering'' and ensure that the harm to civilians does not outweigh the military advantages.

U.S. forces relied on sophisticated radar to pinpoint the sources of Iraqi fire, then cross-checked them against a computerized list of about 10,000 sensitive sites, such as mosques and schools. Cayce and the other lawyers looked at potential targets and advised U.S. commanders whether the military benefits of using specific weapons against those targets justified the risks to civilians.

Cayce gave advice 512 times during the war, usually in cases involving cluster munitions. Most involved sites outside populated areas. Cayce estimates he dealt with only 25 to 30 ``controversial missions.'' For example: He approved a strike against an Iraqi artillery battery in a soccer field next to a mosque because it was firing on the 3rd Infantry Division's artillery headquarters.

The choices could be agonizing. He says he asked himself, ``How many Americans do I have to let get killed before I take out that (Iraqi) weapons system?'' Ten to 15 times, Cayce advised commanders against firing on a target; they never overruled him. Five times, in fact, they decided against using cluster munitions even after he gave them the go-ahead because they believed the risk to civilians was too great. ``We didn't just shoot there willy-nilly,'' he says.

``It was the enemy who was putting his civilians at risk. ..... They put their artillery right in town. Now who's at fault there?''

Rather than call upon their artillery to hit a target with cluster munitions, U.S. ground forces preferred either to use other weapons, such as M-16 rifles or tank rounds, or to summon the Air Force to hit Iraqi targets from the sky with precision bombs. ``Cluster munitions were the last choice, not the first,'' Cayce says.

But aircraft frequently were unavailable. Sometimes the weather was bad or sandstorms were swirling. Sometimes Air Force pilots insisted on seeing targets instead of relying on radar readouts. The cluster munitions, especially M26 rockets fired by a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS), had

GPO's PDF

greater range than other weapons and were more reliable in bad weather.

Commanders also thought an MLRS was better at returning fire and killing the enemy. ``MLRS is ideal for counterfire,'' says Col. Ted Janosko, artillery commander for the Army's V Corps. In fighting on March 31 around Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, U.S. forces came under heavy artillery fire from the Iraqis. ``We used (MLRS) rockets to fire back,'' Janosko says. ``As soon as we started using rockets, guess what? We never heard from that unit again. I'm not going to say we killed them all ..... but believe me, they did not fire again from that position.''

The 3rd Infantry Division also used MLRS frequently. The rockets can go more than 20 miles, and they spray a wider area than other weapons. The 3rd Infantry fired 794 MLRS rockets during the Iraq war, according to an assessment by two high-ranking division artillery officers in the U.S. Army journal Field Artillery, published at Fort Sill, Okla.

As they raced north from Kuwait toward Baghdad in late March and early April, U.S. forces fired rockets and artillery shells loaded with bomblets into Iraqi troop and artillery positions in Hillah, in Baghdad and in other cities. U.S. aircraft sometimes dropped cluster bombs as well.

Just before U.S. forces' ``thunder run'' into Baghdad on April 7, the 3rd Infantry Division fired 24 MLRS cluster rockets into Iraqi positions at an important intersection in the capital. The damage assessment, recounted in the Field Artillery article: ``There's nothing left but burning trucks and body parts.''


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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
1. Hillary's "No" vote on that was simply indefensible! More on her "Hawkish Record" here --
Edited on Thu May-31-07 10:01 AM by jefferson_dem
Published on Friday, March 9, 2007 by the National Catholic Recorder
Hillary Clinton's Hawkish Record
by Stephen Zunes

For example, she opposes the international treaty to ban land mines. She voted against the Feinstein-Leahy amendment last September restricting U.S. exports of cluster bombs to countries that use them against civilian-populated areas. She opposes restrictions on U.S. arms transfers and police training to governments that engage in gross and systematic human rights abuses, such as Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, Pakistan, Cameroon and Chad, to name only a few. She insists upon continuing unconditional funding for the Iraq war and has called for dramatic increases in Bushs already bloated military budget. She has challenged the credibility of Amnesty International and other human rights groups that criticize policies of the United States and its allies.

Mrs. Clinton has been one of the Senates most outspoken critics of the United Nations, even serving as the featured speaker at rallies outside U.N. headquarters in July 2004 and last summer to denounce the world body. She voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq despite its being a clear violation of the U.N. Charter and in July 2004 falsely accused the United Nations of not taking a stand against terrorism when it has opposed U.S. policy. She was one of the most prominent critics of the International Court of Justice for its landmark 2004 advisory ruling that the Fourth Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War is legally binding on all signatory nations. She condemned the United Nations judicial arm for challenging the legality of Israels separation barrier in the occupied West Bank and sponsored a Senate resolution urging no further action by the United Nations to delay or prevent the construction of the security fence.

Mrs. Clinton has shown little regard for the danger from proliferation of nuclear weapons, not only opposing the enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions challenging Pakistan, Israel and Indias nuclear weapons programs but supporting the delivery of nuclear-capable missiles and jet fighters to these countries. This past fall she voted to suspend important restrictions on U.S. nuclear cooperation with countries that violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

At the same time, she insists that the prospect of Irans developing nuclear weapons must be unacceptable to the entire world, since challenging the nuclear monopoly of the United States and its allies in the region would somehow shake the foundation of global security to its very core. Last year, she accused the Bush administration of not taking the threat of a nuclear Iran seriously enough, criticized the administration for allowing European nations to take the lead in pursuing a diplomatic solution and insisted that the United States should make it clear that military options were still being actively considered.

...

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0309-23.htm
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Totally Committed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. She's DLC...
The perpetual-war-to-benefit-corporate-America Wing of the Democratic Party. You get what you vote for.

TC
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Missy M Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Obama has not taken a stand on cluster bombs....
so far he does not support Feinstein's S594 Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act.
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Obama voted for Feinstein's amendment last year
if you check this link on the vote referenced in the OP, you'll see he voted for Ms. Feinstein's amendment when it came to the floor last year:

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/r...
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Missy M Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 06:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Wrong one....
this is new this year and so far neither Obama or Clinton has co-sponsered it.
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. are you here just to "play" politics?
Edited on Thu May-31-07 06:45 PM by welshTerrier2
is the point of your post to "neutralize" the impact of Hillary's hideous vote only in relation to Obama? is it all politics to you?

why don't you express your opinion of exactly how Hillary did vote? she voted AGAINST protecting civilian populations from these horrible weapons. I'm not an Obama supporter but the guy voted in favor of the bill.

and now you try to squeeze a little daylight out of this darkness by citing this year's legislation? you think the passage into this new year excuses what Clinton did? Maybe she'll change her vote for political expediency. That would be a surprise, eh?

it tells me something about a candidate when i see this sort of ducking of the issues.

so, let me ask you directly, what did you think of Clinton's vote on the amendment to ban the use of cluster bombs from populated areas? does it seem as unconscionable to you as it does to me? here's a nice picture to bring home exactly what Hillary voted for:

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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
3. Hmmmm
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 10:20 AM
Response to Original message
4. So why, again, should I support Clinton?
I despise her because of her attitudes towards equal marriage and full rights for gay people. I'm told by people here in DU that I should support her because of her stands on other issues. Other issues like the use of cluster bombs on urban centers?
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Usrename Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 11:25 AM
Response to Original message
6. They were also dropped in early fighting in Afghanistan.
U.S. Warns Afghans That Cluster Bomblets and Food Packets Look Alike

U.S. radio broadcasts into Afghanistan now include a safety warning: airdropped food parcels are square, unexploded cluster bombs are can-shaped, and both are yellow, so it is important to tell them apart.

"Attention people of Afghanistan!'' the broadcasts in Persian and Pashto say. "As you may have heard, the Partnership of Nations is dropping yellow Humanitarian Daily Rations. The rations are square-shaped and are packaged in plastic. They are full of good nutritious, Halal food,'' prepared according to Islamic precepts.

"In areas far from where we are dropping food, we are dropping cluster bombs,'' the radio spots say, according to a transcript obtained on Monday. ``Although it is unlikely, it is possible that not every bomb will explode on impact. These bombs are a yellow color and are can-shaped .

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/PETA/valentine.html
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
8. interesting ...
not too many here interested in protecting civilian populations? you would at least assume all those Hillary supporters would either explain or disavow her unfortunate vote ...

probably using the old Hillary strategy of letting "unpleasant" issues just fade out of site ... the less said the better ... is that what's called leadership in action?
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Totally Committed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. You were expecting a swarm of Hillary supporters to come in and debunk this, were you?
Not with the unpleasant economic news that came out today. First things first. Gotta love the DLC.

TC
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. actually, no ...
there is no defense of this hideous vote ... this one called for the "let it sink" strategy ...
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Totally Committed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-31-07 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. So you don't think they were on the phone with their brokers instead?
Could be. I'm the naive one.... ;)

TC
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