The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command responded to lawmakers’ questions Wednesday about the Leahy Amendment, that prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units violating human rights and restricts U.S. aid to abusive security forces overseas.
"Navy Adm. William H. McRaven told the House Armed Services Committee that the “poison person, poison unit” policy mandates human rights vetting and applies to all U.S. military and law enforcement assistance worldwide," reported the Department of Defense in a written statement Wednesday.
Committee members referred to recent incidents in Mali, where some of its soldiers allegedly engaged in torture, summary executions, and kidnapping.
These same human rights abuses, war crimes, are also happening in and by the United States, authorized by the Obama administration.
In 1997, Patrick Leahy, the first and only Democrat elected to represent the State of Vermont in the United States Senate, introduced what is commonly called the “Leahy Amendment” as part of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
The Leahy Amendment, that applies to U.S. Defense Department and State Department programs assisting security forces in other countries, imposes a mandatory vetting and validation requirement on the Secretary of State.
If the Secretary has credible evidence of human rights abuses by foreign security forces, she or he must certify that the government of the recipient country is taking effective steps against units credibly implicated in the alleged violations. Failing to do so means that military aid to the recipient government, or at the very least those units implicated in human rights abuses, would be withheld.
The wording of the act includes:
None of the funds made available by this act may be provided to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights, unless the secretary determines and reports to the committees on appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces to justice.
“We try to teach [foreign nation forces] what we think right looks like [from] good order and discipline, to civilian rules of the military to human rights,” McRaven said.
(To see how "they" teach this, watch the video on the left of this page, 'US SOLDIER SPEAKS THE TRUTH - WAR CRIMES EXPOSED!")
"Socom units face the ongoing challenge of working with international partners to strengthen accountability efforts and civilian protection to help prevent further abuses," the Dept. of Defense statement says.
The admiral acknowledged, however, that the law "inherently restricts special operations from offering assistance to units that may require U.S. assistance to practice ethical behavior," the Department of Defense reports.
“If the individual has committed a human rights violation, then by default we have to go back, relook the entire unit [and] potentially step away from that unit … at a time when we probably need to engage them more than ever before,” McRaven said.
That begs the question of the United States policies related to kidnapping or helping others kidnap, ("render") and torture individuals.
McRaven assured legislators that U.S. forces conduct appropriate human rights vetting in "accordance to law and policy."
"In the final analysis the problem with the Leahy Amendment is that it requires the Secretary of State to determine whether an incident of gross violation of human rights has occurred," wrote Ali Chrishti, an investigative journalist and a counterterrorism expert based in Karachi, Pakistan, wrote. "This is problematic because the Secretary of State is guided by the predominate goal of his or her job: the self-interest of the United States.
"If the amendment is meant to be merely a tool for the Secretary of State to conduct foreign policy and obtain some measure of leverage against states with poor human rights records, then it may serve an important political purpose.
"If, however, the intent of the legislation is to ensure U.S. taxpayers are not funding atrocities committed by foreign armies, it looks a lot better on paper than it does in practice."
Human Rights news reporter Deborah Dupré is author of "Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don't want you to know," 450 pages packed with mainstream media's censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that continues catastrophic human and environmental devastation.
Follow Dupré on Twitter @DeborahDupre. For interviews, email info@DeborahDupre.com.