A Private-Sector Case Against Exploitation


(Photo: Stuart Monk / Shutterstock)

Over a decade ago, I met with a group of small business leaders to talk about the perils of rising income and wealth inequality, and its destabilizing impact on the economy. This was years before the 2008 economic meltdown, the Occupy movement, Thomas Piketty’s Capital, and the electrifying presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Where are the business voices?” one small business leader asked me. “Where are the enlightened capitalists who understand that stagnant wages and rising wealth inequities are the real threats to the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg?”

I knew from experience that such business leaders were there. One was Jim Sinegal, the now-retired CEO of Costco, who fended off Wall Street pressure to cut wages and eloquently made the moral and business case for a higher federal minimum wage. “The more people make, the better lives they’re going to have and the better consumers they’re going to be,” Sinegal told The Washington Post. “It’s going to provide better jobs and better wages.”

Unfortunately, such voices are outliers.

Read the full article on The Nation.


The Case For Non-Cooperation With Trump


(Photo: Feedback Underground)

In my senior year of college, my Russian teacher pulled me aside. He told me that the CIA was recruiting on campus. I should consider applying for a job.

It was 1986. Mikhail Gorbachev had taken the helm of the Soviet Union, but the Cold War was still very much in place.

“The CIA?” I said. “Really?”

“I know your politics,” my professor said. “But don’t you think it’s better for the CIA to have analysts who are smart and speak Russian well? Don’t you think that will better serve the cause of peace?”

However flattered I was by his assessment, I was not tempted. I didn’t like what the CIA was doing around the world, and I was under no illusions about what one person could do to change such an institution from within.

“I would prefer not to,” I told him.

I was echoing the character of Bartleby the scrivener who, in the Melville short story of the same name, initially works hard at his Wall Street job and then, mysteriously, refuses to do anything at all. After my polite refusal to consider CIA employment, I embarked on a path that would take me ever further away from government service.

Today, all of America faces the Bartleby challenge. A small number of hard-right conservatives — Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon — made the decision to side with Donald Trump during the election campaign. They expressed no reservations about Trump’s disqualifications, worked hard on his behalf, and will soon reap the benefits of their opportunism.

Most Democrats — and a sizable number of #NeverTrump Republicans — never imagined that the billionaire would ever get near the White House. Now they have to decide: Will they engage with the Trump administration, or will they prefer not to?

Within this anti-Trump camp, two factions have emerged.

The exceptionalists believe that American democracy is strong enough to withstand the gale force winds of Hurricane Donald, so it’s better to get behind the levees to help with the sandbags. Perhaps they can moderate the fury of his attacks; perhaps they can find common ground on some popular economic projects.

The rejectionists counter that the new president is an autocrat who doesn’t believe in democracy, so it’s better to resist Trump at every step. Work with the devil, and you’re doing the devil’s work.

Each faction has a compelling argument to make. Columnist Dana Milbank, for instance, was one of the strongest voices in The Washington Post against Trump’s candidacy. In his first column after the election, a letter to his daughter, Milbank issued the following appeal:

First, we must try to help Trump succeed. I urge Republicans of conscience to join his administration, to temper his worst instincts, as I hope Vice President-elect Mike Pence will. Six years ago, the top Republican in the Senate said his top political goal should be defeating President Obama. I hope Democrats don’t act that way. If Trump drops the crazy talk of the campaign, he could easily find compromises on the economy and immigration. Trump reinvented himself for this campaign. He’s capable of remaking himself again into a practical leader.

Many politicians (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama) and many prominent Trump critics (Nicholas Kristof, Thomas Friedman) have shared this approach. Call it the Bartleby A position: the scrivener as a diligent and responsible worker.

Contrast that perspective with Masha Gessen, writing in The New York Review of Books. She speaks from her experience growing up in the Soviet Union and navigating the politics of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Institutions, she warns, will not save America from Trump the autocrat:

Democrats in Congress will begin to make the case for cooperation, for the sake of getting anything done — or at least, they will say, minimizing the damage. Nongovernmental organizations, many of which are reeling at the moment, faced with a transition period in which there is no opening for their input, will grasp at chances to work with the new administration. This will be fruitless — damage cannot be minimized, much less reversed, when mobilization is the goal — but worse, it will be soul-destroying. In an autocracy, politics as the art of the possible is in fact utterly amoral. 

This is a classic restatement of the “anti-politics” position of dissidents living in the former Soviet bloc. It was, as history turned out, the right position. Non-cooperation with the Communist regimes gradually undermined their legitimacy, and they collapsed. Call this position Bartleby B, when the scrivener was in his “I would prefer not to” mode.

It will probably be no surprise to learn that I lean in Masha Gessen’s direction. Here’s why.

Negotiating with Evil

“We don’t negotiate with evil,” former Vice President Dick Cheney infamously said in 2003. “We defeat it.”

Cheney was referring to North Korea. The George W. Bush administration was trying to figure out what to do with the government in Pyongyang: negotiate with it or try to initiate regime change. For the first six years, the Bush team tried the latter strategy. The regime didn’t budge. For the last couple years, however, the Bush administration attempted to negotiate through both bilateral and multilateral means. Dick Cheney was not happy.

I supported diplomatic engagement with North Korea. So why on earth would I favor negotiating with an undemocratic, tyrannical, human-rights-abusing regime and recommend resistance to the Trump administration, which won power through democratic means?

It’s quite simple. I believe that engagement with North Korea is the best way of changing the system there through trade, cultural exchange, and political contact. Isolation has only further hardened the system — and there are no viable alternatives within the country that can replace the Kim dynasty (except for the military, which isn’t likely to be any better).

Americans, however, live in a democracy (for the time being). We have strong, democratic alternatives. We can organize to blunt Trump’s power two years from now. We can mobilize to defeat Trump four years from now. And, more importantly, we can do whatever we can outside the voting booth to throw sand into the gears of the Trump juggernaut.

But what if Trump implements policies that I support? He’s no fan of free trade agreements. He wants to avoid a war with Russia. On the domestic side, he favors investments in infrastructure and other job-creation efforts.

Yes, and Hitler built the Autobahn, Mussolini made the trains run on time (actually he didn’t), and Stalin dragged the Soviet economy kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Conservatives like to say that soft-hearted liberals and cultural relativists don’t believe in evil. Well, all three of those fellows were evil. And so is Donald Trump (and some conservatives, I’m heartened to see, agree). And when Trump is too inconsistent or distracted by his Twitter account to be truly evil, a cohort of super-villains that he has assembled — alt-right nutcases like Bannon, law-and-order fanatics like Giuliani, and aspiring world-destroyers like Bolton — will fit the bill nicely.

I won’t try to stop policies that I think are good for the country or the world during the Trump era. Rather, I’ll devote my energies to blocking all of the malign effects of the new administration — on immigration, climate change, military spending, and the like.

How to translate “I prefer not to” into concrete action?

Here’s one great initiative that recently arrived in my inbox. If Donald Trump requires Muslims to register in the United States, I too will register as a Muslim. You can do the same here. “Sanctuary cities” like Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and DC have all pledged to refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in deporting immigrants. In a courageous Facebook statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that New York State will provide safe haven for anyone who “feels that they are under attack.”

Soon we may be called upon to stand with all embattled minorities. And thus we become an emboldened majority.

On Non-Cooperation

It’s easy enough for me to say “I would prefer not to” when it comes to the Trump administration. I’m about as far away from the corridors of power as one can be and still live in the DC area. It’s not like the Trump team is going to knock on my door and offer me a position. If there’s going to be any knocks on the door from the president’s men, it will probably be after midnight and for a more ominous reason.

Indeed, my first impulse after reading the results of the election was to return to my bed and pull the covers back over my head — I preferred not to acknowledge reality. The prospect of reading the newspapers over the next four years, with Trump’s face front and center, sickened me. The idea of writing about foreign policy issues during the Trump era struck me as little more than fiddling while Rome burns. And I’m not looking forward to living and working in DC when Trump’s henchmen arrive in their limousines.

Closing my eyes to Trump, however satisfying in an infantile way, won’t make him go away. Nor is “strategic patience” — the Obama approach to dealing with the North Korean regime — going to suffice for Trump. In fact, even the “I prefer not to” position of Bartleby B is not good enough.

In Melville’s story, Bartleby ends up starving to death in prison, never having explained his passive resistance. That scenario doesn’t appeal to me. So, let’s consider Bartleby C, in which we all borrow the battle cry of the pro-Trump crowd: We’re fed up, and we’re not going to take it any more.

Let the next four years of antipolitics begin.

The post The Case For Non-Cooperation With Trump appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer directs Foreign Policy in Focus, a project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Case Against Obama Administration for War on ISIS Raises More Political Questions than Legal Ones

A U.S. army officer is suing the Obama administration, claiming the U.S. war against the Islamic State is illegal because it was not authorized by Congress.

“This is a political question much more than a legal question,” IPS Middle East expert Phyllis Bennis told RT America.

The administration has had two responses to the claim argued by Captain Nathan Smith, according to Bennis. For one, they maintain that the War Powers Act refers to hostilities and that troops are not being sent into hostilities. At the same time, they claim that the original authorization for the use of military force that was signed by President George W. Bush after 9/11 has language that authorizes the use of force against those responsible for the attacks of Sep. 11, which they say applies in this case.

“The problem of course,” Bennis said, is that ISIS didn’t exist at that time, and “the precursor to ISIS, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), wasn’t part of Al-Qaeda at that time and also didn’t exist, but because it used the name later, somehow that makes it all okay.”

While Congress has not authorized the war against ISIS, it has passed military appropriations bills that fund those combat operations.

Bennis said that Republicans don’t want to pass a resolution because “they don’t want to acknowledge the fact that President Obama is doing exactly what they want—escalating the so-called Global War on Terror.” Meanwhile, Bennis explained, the Democrats don’t want to vote in favor of a war that’s unpopular with their base, but they also don’t want to vote against their president.

“The problem that the administration has is that Obama says ‘please vote for an authorization, but if you don’t, I think I have enough authorization from the old one, so you don’t really have to.’ So it’s a very ambiguous, politically driven position.” Bennis said.

Smith is using the question of lack of authorization as the basis for his challenge, but there is a chance that he could also raise issues of illegality in how the war is being carried out, Bennis said.

“Questions of the use of torture in interrogation; questions of the attacks on civilians; questions of the drone wars that target individuals that are, in the view of many around the world, extrajudicial assassinations—all of these could be brought into this case.” Bennis said.

The post Case Against Obama Administration for War on ISIS Raises More Political Questions than Legal Ones appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Italy claims UN Arbitration court rules in its favour in marines case, India disagrees – The Indian Express

The Indian Express
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Giulio Regeni case: Egypt editor warns on Italy ties after student’s death – Sydney Morning Herald

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Creating positive change for workers in global food chains – Case study Morocco project

Thumbnail Case Study Morocco March 2016Fairfood’s Moroccan tomato project has now been underway for more than three years! Together with the local Moroccan agricultural labour union Fédération Nationale du Secteur Agricole (FNSA) we are working on improving the working conditions and wages for agricultural workers the Souss Massa region. 

Today we published the case study Creating positive change for workers in global food chains – A case study of the partnership between an international NGO and a local trade union in the Moroccan tomato supply chain‘. This case study gives an overview of everything Fairfood has done and achieved in these three years and it includes the practicalities of collaboration between an international NGO and a local trade union, the successes, the challenges, and the lessons Fairfood and the FNSA have learned.

Living wages are now on the agenda of major European retailers

The project has brought about some significant and concrete improvements: now, the partners have access to concrete facts from two field research studies that were conducted, living wages are now on the agenda of major European retailers, Moroccan companies are considerably more willing to meet with the FNSA and unionists in Morocco are much better equipped to negotiate with companies. Further indirectly, the project has contributed to more workers becoming registered for social security, an increase in union membership and improved transport conditions.

Collaborating with a local partner opens the door to many new opportunities

In the Morocco project, we have learned that collaboration between different stakeholders opens the door to many new opportunities to create value for all involved. Both Fairfood and the FNSA have gained a great deal from this partnership and have achieved far more than they could have done alone. We are now looking for ways to further improve workers’ conditions at the production end of agricultural global food chains.

The Morocco project

Fairfood has been working in Morocco since January 2013, together with our partner the FNSA, the largest agricultural trade union in the country. The project has focused on the Souss-Massa region, where the vast majority of Moroccan tomatoes are produced. The majority of these workers are women. They often live and work in very poor conditions and don’t earn enough to meet even their most basic needs. These tomatoes are sold by European supermarkets, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Albert Heijn. Read more about the issues in our report The fruits of their labour – the low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets.

>>Read the full report<<

Thumbnail Case Study Morocco March 2016



Greece, a special case – Kathimerini

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The Moral Case Against the TPP

(Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr CC 2.0)

(Image: Backbone Campaign / Flickr)

Pope Francis waxed radical on a number of big issues during his recent speech to the U.S. Congress, where he condemned the arms trade, war profiteering, and even the war on terror itself.

But despite the Vatican’s previous critical statements about free trade agreements, the Pope chose not to confront Obama’s trade agenda in his own backyard.

I wish he had. On October 5, just weeks after Francis’ historic visit, the United States and 11 other countries announced that they’d reached an “agreement in principle” on the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a huge “free trade” pact that would set investor-friendly rules in countries making up 40 percent of the world’s GDP, many of them at the expense of crucial labor and environmental protections.

Would strong words from Pope Francis have prevented this rush to complete the pact? Probably not. But his moral authority would’ve given U.S. lawmakers something to think about as they move towards voting on the deal in early 2016.

Naming the Beast 

When the pope visited Bolivia last July, he delivered an unmistakable invective against exploitative economic policies at the World Meeting of Popular Movements.

“Neocolonialism,” Francis said—a term he used 7 times in that speech—“takes on different faces,” including “some treaties named as ‘free trade’ and the imposition of ‘austerity’ measures that always tighten the belts of the workers and the poor.”

Other Vatican officials have spoken out directly against the TPP.

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the permanent observer of the Holy See in Geneva, has warned the World Trade Organization against “mega-regional trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Tomasi called these pacts “asymmetric” and noted that “among the most damaging concessions developing countries make in regional and bilateral agreements are those enhancing the monopolies on life-saving medicines, which reduce access and affordability, and those that provide excessive legal rights to foreign investors, limiting the policy space for nations to promote sustainable and inclusive development.”

Until they release the TPP text, which (aside from what’s been leaked by WikiLeaks) has been kept secret from the public and even the parliaments of countries involved in the negotiations, we won’t know for certain what’s in it or how exactly the TPP will affect citizens. But there’s strong reason to assume that the deal will reflect everything the Vatican warned about.

Checking the Fine Print

 Following the conclusion of negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative—the office responsible for negotiating the U.S. position in the deal—quickly produced a “summary of the TPP” to try to convince Congress and the public of its virtues. And indeed, there are some nice-sounding words in the summary about development and sustainability.

But a key question is which parts of the deal will be legally binding for all parties and which will be merely voluntary. For example, the summary provides a description of the “Development Chapter,” which will be presented as an innovation in these types of agreements. It lists “three specific areas to be considered for collaborative work once TPP enters into force.”

And they’re hard to disagree with. They include:

“(1) broad-based economic growth, including sustainable development, poverty reduction, and promotion of small businesses; (2) women and economic growth, including helping women build capacity and skill, enhancing women’s access to markets, obtaining technology and financing, establishing women’s leadership networks, and identifying best practices in workplace flexibility; and (3) education, science and technology, research, and innovation.”

The fine print, however, makes clear that the committee established to promote these priorities focuses only on “voluntary cooperative work in these areas and new opportunities as they arise.” That’s hardly an impressive commitment.

Stacking the Deck

These voluntary developmental objectives contrast sharply with the enforceable protections transnational corporations would receive, including “the basic investment protections found in other investment-related agreements.”

Those standards are exactly what made past “free-trade” agreements so exploitative.

According to the U.S. summary, parties will essentially be required to treat transnational corporations the same as local companies, despite the asymmetries between the two. The deal bans “performance requirements” that could require the local sourcing of labor or technology, and restricts capital controls that could ensure investments promote development in the countries where they’re made. The agreement will also “prohibit the expropriation of corporate resources that are not for public purposes” — a provision which, under other agreements, has led corporations to characterize environmental protections and other regulations as “expropriation.”

In simpler words, as the pope said in Bolivia, rules like these ensure that “transnational companies are becoming stronger to the point that local economies are subordinated, especially weakening the local states, which seem ever more powerless to carry out development projects in the service of their populations.”

Rewriting the Rules

These corporate protections are enforced by an obscure process called the “investor-state dispute settlement system,” which has allowed major corporations to sue scores of countries in little-known World Bank tribunals for millions and even billions of dollars.

This system thwarts the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest — including on health, safety, and environmental protection, although the U.S. summary of the TPP claims the contrary — by allowing corporations to claim damages for public interest regulations that they claim impact their profits.

Take the El Salvador case that’s been in the World Bank court’s dock for six years. The small country was sued by the multinational Pacific Rim-Oceana Gold company for $ 300 million simply for protecting its primary watershed from poisonous gold mining. That’s just one of scores of cases stemming from the U.S.-led DR-CAFTA deal, which has chilled the regulatory environment

Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, have lost many regulatory cases under NAFTA’s investment rules.

The TPP must be stopped — not simply because it could put jobs on the line. It needs to be stopped because it rewrites all the rules in favor of big corporations, allowing them to circumvent regulations for the public good — even as its backers claim they’re doing the opposite.

The pope knows it. Obama must know it. Even Hillary Clinton, if you can believe it, says she knows it now. And if the texts are ever released, we’ll know it for sure, too. No wonder there’s a growing global backlash to this unjust system.

It’s a pity the pope didn’t try to talk some sense into U.S. policymakers on the issue of trade. But it’s not too late for him and others to make the moral case against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The post The Moral Case Against the TPP appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Manuel Pérez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.


IPS Applauds Declassification of Letelier-Moffitt Assassination Case Documents

The Institute for Policy Studies applauds the U.S. Department of State for declassifying documents today related to the 1976 assassination of two IPS colleagues. While the crime was traced to high-level Chilean military officials, the just-released documents point the finger directly at Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

In a 1987 memo to President Ronald Reagan, then-Secretary of State George Shultz reported that the CIA had “convincing evidence” that Pinochet personally ordered the murders. “This is a blatant example of a chief of state’s direct involvement in an act of state terrorism, one that is particularly disturbing both because it occurred in our capital and since his government is generally considered to be friendly,” Shultz wrote.

The assassination took place on September 21, 1976, when IPS colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt were killed by a car bomb in Washington, DC. Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States who directed IPS’s sister organization the Transnational Institute, was one of the Pinochet regime’s most outspoken critics. Moffitt was a 25-year old American who worked as an IPS development associate.

“The friends and family members of Letelier and Moffitt deserve to know who ordered this heinous act of international terrorism—and who might’ve prevented it,” said IPS Director John Cavanagh. “These documents appear to vindicate our long-held belief that it would have been inconceivable for this assassination to have taken place without the authorization of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.”

IPS has awarded human rights prizes in Letelier and Moffitt’s names for 39 years and has worked with lawyers, human rights activists, family members, policymakers, and others to pursue justice for them and the thousands of other victims of the Pinochet regime.

In 1995, IPS Fellow Saul Landau, who died in 2013, co-edited a book with Spanish lawyer Joan Garces (Orlando Letelier: Testimony and Vindication) which accused Pinochet of authorizing the assassination of Letelier, citing statements by a former FBI agent who was no longer alive.

When Garces became the chief lawyer in a Spanish case charging Pinochet with crimes against humanity, IPS worked with others to help him secure legal cooperation from U.S. authorities.

After Pinochet’s arrest in London in 1998 in response to a Spanish request, IPS joined with the National Security Archives and other groups to demand that the U.S. government take actions to hold Pinochet accountable for his crimes, including releasing classified documents related to the U.S. government and the Chilean dictatorship.

In June 1999, the Clinton Administration declassified more than 16,000 government documents related to the Pinochet dictatorship. These documents have served as evidence in legal cases against human rights violators.

The government held back documents specifically related to the Letelier-Moffitt case on the grounds that they were part of an ongoing investigation. And indeed, in March 2000, a team of U.S. law enforcement officials traveled to Chile for court proceedings involving 42 potential witnesses subpoenaed by Chile’s Supreme Court on behalf of the U.S. government.

The Washington Post reported on May 28, 2000 that “Federal investigators have uncovered evidence that some of them believe is sufficient to indict General Augusto Pinochet for conspiracy to commit murder in the 1976 car bombing.” While a draft indictment of Pinochet was reportedly prepared by Clinton administration officials, the administration of President George W. Bush failed to take action.

With no sign of progress on an investigation, Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archives led the call for the declassification of these remaining documents related to the Letelier-Moffitt case.

“While Pinochet never faced trial, there have been many measures of justice over the years in the Letelier-Moffit case,” said IPS Director Cavanagh. “The efforts of family members, human rights activists, bold lawyers, and a handful of committed elected officials have changed the course of history. They have charted new ground in international human rights, including the “Pinochet Precedent” established when British courts stripped the former dictator of his “sovereign immunity” and ruled that Spain could extradite him for torture. This is just the latest step in a long and inspiring struggle for justice.”

Previous Milestones on the Path to Accountability for the Assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt

On September 10, 1976, Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet revoked the citizenship of Orlando Letelier, who had served as Chile’s ambassador to the United States and as a cabinet minister in the government of Dr. Salvador Allende before the 1973 coup. That night, Letelier filled the seats at Madison Square Garden for an anti-Pinochet rally, telling the crowd: “I was born a Chilean, I am a Chilean, and I will die a Chilean. They were born traitors, they live as traitors, and they will be known forever as fascist traitors.”

Eleven days later, on September 21, 1976, agents of Pinochet assassinated Letelier as he drove to work at the Institute for Policy Studies with his colleague, 25-year-old American Ronni Karpen Moffitt. The car bombing on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC, was a devastating blow to their families, their friends, their colleagues, and to the global crusade for human rights. But over these past 30 years, there have been measures of justice.


Between 1978 and 1991, U.S. authorities prosecuted seven people in connection with the crime. Michael Townley, a U.S. citizen working for the Chilean secret police, pled guilty in 1978 to organizing the assassination, and received a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against five Cuban exiles involved in the bombing. A Chilean Army captain, Armando Fernandez Larios, also pled guilty for his role. An independent IPS investigation into the crime, led by Saul Landau, resulted in a book, “Assassination on Embassy Row,” (co-authored with and recently updated by John Dinges) and helped keep up the pressure for justice.


In 1995, 19 years after the Letelier-Moffitt murders, former Chilean Secret Police Chief Manuel Contreras and Brig. Gen. Pedro Espinoza were sent to prison in Chile for their roles in the crime.


In 1978, U.S. lawyers Michael Tigar and Sam Buffone filed a civil suit on behalf of family members of Letelier and Moffitt against the assassins and the Republic of Chile. It was the first wrongful-death suit filed in the United States against a foreign nation. After the 1990 transition to democracy, the Chilean government settled the suit.


On October 16, 1998, London police arrested Pinochet on an order from the Spanish courts. The Spanish case had been filed by lawyer Juan Garcés, on behalf of victims. While a British magistrate ruled that Spain could extradite Pinochet for torture, in March 2000, the British Home Secretary released the former dictator on humanitarian grounds.


In 1999, the Clinton Administration responded to pressure from the National Security Archive and other human rights groups by declassifying more than 16,000 secret government documents related to Chile and the relationship between the U.S. government and the Pinochet dictatorship. The declassified documents helped clarify the history of U.S. intervention in Chile and have served as evidence in legal cases against human rights violators.


In March 2000, a team of U.S. law enforcement officials traveled to Chile for court proceedings involving 42 potential witnesses subpoenaed by Chile’s Supreme Court on behalf of the U.S. government. The Washington Post reported that “Federal investigators have uncovered evidence that some of them believe is sufficient to indict General Augusto Pinochet for conspiracy to commit murder in the 1976 car bombing.” While a draft indictment of Pinochet was reportedly prepared by Clinton administration officials, no action appears to have been taken since President Bush took power.


Within 72 hours of Pinochet’s return to Chile from London in March 2000, Chilean Judge Juan Guzman moved to strip his immunity from prosecution, initiating a series of prosecutions that continue today. Twice—in 2000 and again in 2004—Guzman succeeded in indicting Pinochet. In both cases superior courts declared Pinochet mentally unfit for trial. Since Pinochet’s London arrest, over 300 other Chilean military officers have faced legal proceedings for human rights violations. Armando Fernandez Larios, who admitted his role in the Letelier-Moffitt assassination to U.S. authorities, was also held liable by a U.S. jury for crimes against humanity.


In February 2005, Riggs Bank agreed to settle a case brought by lawyers Juan Garcés and Sam Buffone by paying $ 9 million to victims of Pinochet for the bank’s role in concealing and spiriting Pinochet’s money out of Great Britain in 1999. In November 2005, Pinochet was arrested and placed under house arrest for charges related to tax evasion, passport forgery and other crimes associated with his possession of hundreds of illegal bank accounts, many of them in the United States. In August 2006, the Chilean Supreme Court stripped Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution, opening the way for additional charges related to these multi-million dollar accounts.

Pinochet died on December 10, 2006. At that time, about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations, tax evasion, and embezzlement.

These milestones stand as a testament to the power of persistence. As Martin Luther King once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The post IPS Applauds Declassification of Letelier-Moffitt Assassination Case Documents appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


Italy’s top court: Amanda Knox conviction based on poor case – USA TODAY

Italy's top court: Amanda Knox conviction based on poor case
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