Crimes are Crimes


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Find out more about the outrages which have prompted this statement

Crimes Are Crimes

Download PDF of the ad which appeared previously in The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The Humanist, and Rolling Stone online

Why donate to publish this statement?

Miller Francis, former writer for Rolling Stone, sent this quote from Bertolt Brecht to explain why he donated:

"Nowadays, anyone who wishes to combat lies and ignorance and to write the truth must overcome at least five difficulties. He must have the courage to write the truth when truth is everywhere opposed; the keenness to recognize it, although it is everywhere concealed; the skill to manipulate it as a weapon; the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective; and the cunning to spread the truth among such persons."

Crimes Are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them

Intro October 2010:  On the ninth anniversary of America's longest war, the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq remain bloody, employing more contractors, while drones rain death upon Pakistan.

In the months since this statement was written, US courts have ruled that innocents who have been tortured may not sue, while the Obama administration defends those who directed that torture be used.

When leaking evidence of war crimes is criminalized, remaining silent is a crime.

It has become common knowledge that Barack Obama has openly ordered the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Aulaki. Without trial or other judicial proceeding, the administration has simply put him on the to-be-killed list.*

Whistleblowers in the military leaked a video showing U.S. troops firing on an unarmed party of Iraqis in 2007, including two journalists, and then firing on those who attempted to rescue them, including two children. As ugly as this video of the killing of 12 Iraqis was, the chatter recorded from the helicopter cockpit was even more monstrous. The Pentagon says that there would be no charges against these soldiers; and the media absolves them of blame. “They were under stress,” the story goes; “Our brave men and women must be supported.” Meanwhile, those who leaked and publicized the video came under government surveillance and are targeted as “national security” threats.

The Pentagon acknowledged, after denials, a massacre near the city of Gardez, Afghanistan, on February 12, 2010. 5 people were killed, including two pregnant women, leaving 16 children motherless. The U.S. military first said the two men killed were insurgents, and the women, victims of a family “honor killing,” but the Afghan government accepts the eyewitness reports that U.S. Special Forces killed the men, (a police officer and lawyer) and the women, and then dug their own bullets out of the women’s bodies to destroy evidence. Top U.S. military officials have now admitted that U.S. soldiers killed the family in their house.

Just weeks earlier, a story broken in Harper’s by Scott Horton carried news that three supposed suicides of detainees in Guantánamo in 2006 were not suicides, but possible homicides carried out by American personnel. This passed almost without comment.**

In some respects, this is worse than Bush. First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention." Third, the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use such lethal force and extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.

Such measures by Bush were widely considered by liberals and progressives to be outrages and were roundly, and correctly, protested. But those acts which may have been construed (wishfully or not) as anomalies under the Bush regime, have now been consecrated into “standard operating procedure” by Obama, who claims, as did Bush, executive privilege and state secrecy in defending the crime of aggressive war.

Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration has refused to prosecute any members of the Bush regime who are responsible for war crimes, including some who admitted to waterboarding and other forms of torture, thereby making their actions acceptable for him or any future president, Democrat or Republican.

End the complicity of silence.

* On 9/24/10 the Justice Department asserted that “state secrets” bar any examination of Obama’s order.

** On 9/29/10 a U.S. federal court dismissed a suit by the victims’ families on grounds of “national security.”

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Trump Pardons Nisour Square Killers

Debra Sweet | December 24, 2020


Credit:Ali Yussef/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.


December 23 Trump pardoned - a full, complete pardon - four Blackwater contractors convicted in US courts by the military for a massacre in 2007 at Nisour Square, in Baghdad, in which many civilians, including children, were killed.  The ringleader was sentenced to life in prison.  Now he'll be on the fascist talk-show circuit along with Michael Flynn and Kyle Rittenhouse, branded as heroes of "America First," adored by white supremacists.


Obama on Tour to Shore up the Empire

Debra Sweet | May 25, 2016

The commander in chief is making highly provocative visits to countries the United States did the most significant damage to in the last century. He's in Vietnam, where more than 2 million were killed in the illegitimate U.S. war on the people.  Napalm, B-52 bombers, "tiger cages," and the words "My Lai" will not come from Obama's lips. The State Department has made it clear Obama is not in Hiroshima, Japan, to apologize for the U.S. first use of a nuclear bomb on the people there. 


When is it OK to bomb a hospital?

Debra Sweet | May 6, 2016
We received this article as one of many responses to WAR CRIMES EXCUSED... ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?

2 May 2016. A World to Win News Service. The al-Quds hospital was one of the very few remaining in Aleppo and the only one with facilities and personnel to treat children. It was hit by one or more air strikes on the night of 27 April. Video from a surveillance camera in a hospital corridor shows Dr Muhammad Waseem Moaz, said to be the leading and perhaps last paediatrician in the city, closing a door, adjusting his hospital scrubs and stepping toward the emergency room just as an explosion blows in the front door and the walls and ceiling collapse. He and at least 26 other staff and patients were killed in the attack on this hospital supported by the international medical volunteer organization Medecins Sans Frontieres.


War Crimes Excused... Are We Asking the Right Questions?

Debra Sweet | May 4, 2016

16 people in the U.S. military will not be prosecuted for repeated bombings of the Médecins Sans Frontières(Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last October 3. After a six-month investigation, the Pentagon says the 16 will face administrative sanctions because they "failed to comply with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement."


Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Drone Killings of Three Americans

The Center for Constitutional Rights | July 23, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following press release was issued by The Center for Constitutional Rights on July 19, 2013. World Can't Wait issued the Crimes Are Crimes statement in 2010 after it was revealed that Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen, had been placed on the Obama administration's “kill list,” but before he was actually assassinated in 2011.  

ACLU and CCR Argue Killings Must Be Subject to Judicial Review


Tutu Calls for Blair and Bush Indictments

by Chris Floyd 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu refused to attend a conference last week for a very good reason – he did not want to be publicly associated with a war criminal.

That war criminal was Tony Blair, who had been paid his usual whopping fee ($238,000 in this case) to deliver his usual sanctimonious blather at a South African conference on “leadership.” Tutu – who was speaking for no fee – withdrew from the meeting when he heard Blair was coming, the Guardian reports.


Obama Administration: Judge, Jury, and Executioner

From Revolution 

On September 30, 2011, several men driving across a remote desert in Yemen stopped for breakfast. They spread a rug on the ground and were eating dates when one of them noticed a pilotless drone above them.

They ran to their vehicle and tried to escape, but it was too late. Missiles fired from the drone—which was operated by the U.S.'s Central Intelligence Agency—hit their truck, killing seven people and leaving their bodies "totally charred." Two of the men killed, including Anwar al-Awlaki, were U.S. citizens. The men killed had not been charged, much less convicted, of any crimes.


Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush

from Revolution 

With the presidential elections approaching, there are those who argue, yet again, that whatever problems there are with the Democrats and Obama, the "alternative"—the Republicans—are much worse. So when it's all said and done, the argument goes, people who don't want the "right wing" to take over must fall in line behind Obama and the Democrats.

The reality is that in key ways, Obama as U.S. president has been even worse for the masses of people, in the U.S. and worldwide. This is a fact that can be clearly demonstrated. Here are six main ways that Obama has gone beyond Bush in fascistic, brutal, reactionary moves, in service of the ruling system of capitalism-imperialism.


Are You Outraged about Indefinite Detention by U.S. Military?

by Debra Sweet

Crimes are crimes and must be denounced whoever commits them. This government has passed yet another bar for disregarding the rule of law and the basic rights of people with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and many of you are rightfully angry about that.

Mounting meaningful, mass actions against the completely unjust and illegitimate continuation of indefinite detention and the prison camps at Guantanamo and Bagram this January is ALSO a meaningful response to the outrageously unjust NDAA. We have been planning for months, with a number of other groups including Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International, for
mass protest on the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo. What better way to send a message to this government and everyone around the world against military detention on U.S. soil than to refuse to accept the moral outrage of sending people from other countries into the "legal black holes" of Guantanamo and Bagram?


Cornel West Slammed by Obama Supporters For Telling the Truth About Obama

A shit storm has been raging around critical comments by Cornel West about Barack Obama’s presidency, in an interview done by Chris Hedges for the online magazine, Truthdig. West has been accused of launching personal attacks and hurling racial slurs at Obama. The attacks on West have had several striking features in common. One is how his accusers have had little or nothing to say about what he actually said about what Obama has, and hasn’t, done as president. The other is how those attacking West have either distorted his history and track record or gone after him like he has neither. (For the interview, go to

In his interview with Hedges, West bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”


Not "Thinking Like Americans"

By Debra Sweet Crimes Are Crimes

Recently the message "stop thinking like Americans and start thinking like a human being" was posted on World Can't Wait's Facebook page.  The post got a large number of immediate "likes," as did the message that "American lives are not more important than other lives." 

We phrased a little differently in the flyer we distributed at recent anti-war protests: We must stand up for the whole planet, stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity.

Many people wrote to say how much they appreciated this flyer and approach to stopping the wars. It's still quite relevant. You can download it here.


Main Crimes are Crimes


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.