WAR CRIMES – ‘Highway Of Death’

In recent news:

Marine Corps Investigates Photos From Iraq Showing Troops Burning Bodies (CNN, Jan 16, 2014)

Ramsey Clark served as U.S. Attorney General in the administration of Lyndon Johnson. He is the convener of the Commission of Inquiry and a human rights lawyer of world-wide respect. This report was given in New York, May 11, 1991.

War Crimes-torched

WAR CRIMES – A Report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal:

by Ramsey Clark and Others

Incinerated body of an Iraqi soldier on the “Highway of Death,” a name the press has given to the road from Mutlaa, Kuwait, to Basra, Iraq. U.S. planes immobilized the convoy by disabling vehicles at its front and rear, then bombing and straffing the resulting traffic jam for hours. More than 2,000 vehicles and tens of thousands of charred and dismembered bodies littered the sixty miles of highway. The clear rapid incineration of the human being [pictured above] suggests the use of napalm, phosphorus, or other incindiary bombs. These are anti-personnel weapons outlawed under the 1977 Geneva Protocols. This massive attack occurred after Saddam Hussein announced a complete troop withdrawl from Kuwait in compliance with UN Resolution 660. Such a massacre of withdrawing Iraqi soldiers violates the Geneva Convention of 1949, common article 3, which outlaws the killing of soldiers who “are out of combat.” There are, in addition, strong indications that many of those killed were Palestinian and Kuwaiti civilians trying to escape the impending seige of Kuwait City and the return of Kuwaiti armed forces. No attempt was made by U.S. military command to distinguish between military personnel and civilians on the “highway of death.” The whole intent of international law with regard to war is to prevent just this sort of indescriminate and excessive use of force.

“It has never happened in history that a nation that has won a war has been held accountable for atrocities committed in preparing for and waging that war. We intend to make this one different. What took place was the use of technological material to destroy a defenseless country. From 125,000 to 300,000 people were killed… We recognize our role in history is to bring the transgressors to justice.”Ramsey Clark


The material in this book was compiled by the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal. Most of the material in the first part of the book was originally presented at the first hearings of the Commission of Inquiry in New York City on May 11, 1991. More than 1,000 people attended the hearings held at Stuyvesant Auditorium. Since the announcement of the formation of the Commission of Inquiry, organizations world-wide have come foreward to participate and to offer evidence and testimony. A few selections of this additional testimony from other Commission hearings have been included where space permits. Commissions of Inquiry have been established in fifteen countries around the world, and public hearings where new testimony was presented were held in twenty-eight cities in the U.S. Obviously a great deal of this valuable material could not be presented in the short confines of this book.

At the May 11, 1991 hearing in New York, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark outlined the 19-point indictment of the U.S. government’s conduct in the Gulf War that served as the basis of the Commission’s work. For seven hours eyewitnesses who had traveled to Iraq during and following the war presented evidence on the extensive and deliberate destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure.

Compelling video testimony was shown. Images of destroyed neighborhoods, shrapnel and burn victims, dehydrated and undernourished children in hospitals lacking electricity and necessary drugs were diplayed in the photo exhibit. Some of these photos are also included in this book.

The Commission of Inquiry for an International War Crimes Tribunal was initiated by Ramsey Clark and the Coalition to Stop U.S. Intervention in the Middle East following Mr. Clark’s February trip to Iraq. Accompanied by a video filmmaker and a photgrapher, Mr. Clark traveled 2,000 miles through Iraq during a time when the U.S. was running up to 3,000 bombing sorties a day. He first documented the systematic destruction of the civilian infrastructure, a view later confirmed by a number of other delegations and even by the United Nation’s own team of investigators.

The Commission of Inquiry was established to gather testimony and evidence on an international basis and to present the testimony in a series of public hearings. Evidence gathered at all these hearings is to be presented to an International Tribunal of Judges on February 27, 2, and 29, 1992 in New York–the one-year anniversary of the war.

This book contains in the Appendix the information detailing the extent for the destruction that Ramsey Clark originally presented in a letter to then United Nations Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar and President George Bush and released to the world press. Other eyewitness reports and passages from several of the international laws and conventions along with U.S. Representative Henry Gonzalez’s Resolution of Impeachment of President Bush on the basis of violations of the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter and international laws have also been included.

International War Crimes Tribunal
United States War Crimes Against Iraq

Initial Complaint


George Bush, J. Danforth Quayle, James Baker,
Richard Cheney, William Webster, Colin Powell,
Norman Schwarzkopf and Others to be named


Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, Crimes Against
Humanity and Other Criminal Acts and High Crimes in
Violation of the Charter of the United Nations,
International Law, the Constitution of the United States
and Laws made in Pursuance Thereof.

Preliminary Statement

These charges have been prepared prior to the first hearing of the Commission of Inquiry by its staff. They are based on direct and circumstantial evidence from public and private documents; official statements and admissions by the persons charged and others; eyewitness accounts; Commission investigations and witness interviews in Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere during and after the bombing; photographs and video tape; expert analyses; commentary and interviews; media coverage, published reports and accounts gathered between December 1990 and May l991. Commission of Inquiry hearings will be held in key cities where evidence is available supporting, expanding, adding, contradicting, disproving or explaining these, or similar charges against the accused and others of whatever nationality. When evidence sufficient to sustain convictions of the accused or others is obtained and after demanding the production of documents from the U.S. government, and others, and requesting testimony from the accused, offering them a full opportunity to present any defense personally, or by counsel, the evidence will be presented to an International War Crimes Tribunal. The Tribunal will consider the evidence gathered, seek and examine whatever additional evidence it chooses and render its judgment on the charges, the evidence, and the law.


Since World War I, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States have dominated the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region and its oil resources. This has been accomplished by military conquest and coercion, economic control and exploitation, and through surrogate governments and their military forces. Thus, from 1953 to 1979 in the post World War II era, control over the region was exercised primarily through U.S. influence and control over the Gulf sheikdoms of Saudi Arabia and through the Shah of Iran. From 1953 to 1979 the Shah of Iran acted as a Pentagon/CIA surrogate to police the region. After the fall of the Shah and the seizure of U.S. Embassy hostages in Teheran, the U.S. provided military aid and assistance to Iraq, as did the USSR, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and most of the Emirates, in its war with Iran. U.S. policy during that tragic eight year war, 1980 – 1988, is probably best summed up by the phrase, “we hope they kill each other.”

Throughout the seventy-five year period from Britain’s invasion of Iraq early in World War I to the destruction of Iraq in 1991 by U.S. air power, the United States and the United Kingdom demonstrated no concern for democratic values, human rights, social justice, or political and cultural integrity in the region, nor for stopping military aggression there. The U.S. supported the Shah of Iran for 25 years, selling him more than $20 billion of advanced military equipment between 1972 and 1978 alone. Throughout this period the Shah and his brutal secret police called SAVAK had one of the worst human rights records in the world. Then in the 1980s, the U.S. supported Iraq in its wrongful aggression against Iran, ignoring Iraq’s own poor human rights record.[l]

When the Iraqi government nationalized the Iraqi Petroleum Company in 1972, the Nixon Administration embarked on a campaign to destabilize the Iraqi government. It was in the 1970s that the U.S. first armed and then abandoned the Kurdish people, costing tens of thousands of Kurdish lives. The U.S. manipulated the Kurds through CIA and other agencies to attack Iraq, intending to harass Iraq while maintaining Iranian supremacy at the cost of Kurdish lives without intending any benefit to the Kurdish people or an autonomous Kurdistan.[2]

The U.S. with close oil and other economic ties to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has fully supported both governments despite the total absence of democratic institutions, their pervasive human rights violations and the infliction of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments such as stoning to death for adultery and amputation of a hand for property offenses.

The U.S., sometimes alone among nations, supported Israel when it defied scores of UN resolutions concerning Palestinian rights, when it invaded Lebanon in a war which took tens of thousands of lives, and during its continuing occupation of southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza.

The United States itself engaged in recent aggressions in violation of international law by invading Grenada in 1983, bombing Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya in 1986, financing the contra in Nicaragua, UNITA in southern Africa and supporting military dictatorships in Liberia, Chile, E1 Salvador, Guatemala, the Philippines, and many other places.

The U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 involved the same and additional violations of international law that apply to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The U.S. invasion took between 1,000 and 4,000 Panamanian lives. The United States government is still covering up the death toll. U.S. aggression caused massive property destruction throughout Panama.[3] According to U.S. and international human rights organization estimates, Kuwait’s casualties from Iraq’s invasion and the ensuing months of occupation were in the “hundreds” – between 300 and 600.[4] Reports from Kuwait list 628 Palestinians killed by Kuwaiti death squads since the Sabah royal family regained control over Kuwait.

The United States changed its military plans for protecting its control over oil and other interests in the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1980s when it became clear that economic problems in the USSR were debilitating its military capacity and Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan. Thereafter, direct military domination within the region became the U.S. strategy.

With the decline in U.S. oil production through 1989, experts predicted U.S. oil imports from the Gulf would rise from 10% that year to 25% by the year 2000. Japanese and European dependency is much greater.[5]

The Charges

1. The United States engaged in a pattern of conduct beginning in or before 1989 intended to lead Iraq into provocations justifying U.S. military action against Iraq and permanent U.S. military domination of the Gulf.

In 1989, General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Chief of the Central Command, completely revised U.S. military operations and plans for the Persian Gulf to prepare to intervene in a regional conflict against Iraq. The CIA assisted and directed Kuwait in its actions. At the time, Kuwait was violating OPEC oil production agreements, extracting excessive amounts of oil from pools shared with Iraq and demanding repayment of loans it made to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Kuwait broke off negotiations with Iraq over these disputes. The U.S. intended to provoke Iraq into actions against Kuwait that would justify U.S. intervention.

In 1989, CIA Director William Webster testified before the Congress about the alarming increase in U.S. importation of Gulf oil, citing U.S. rise in use from 5% in 1973 to 10% in 1989 and predicting 25% of all U.S. oil consumption would come from the region by 2000.[6] In early 1990, General Schwarzkopf informed the Senate Armed Services Committee of the new military strategy in the Gulf designed to protect U.S. access to and control over Gulf oil in the event of regional conflicts.

In July 1990, General Schwarzkopf and his staff ran elaborate, computerized war games pitting about 100,000 U.S. troops against Iraqi armored divisions.

The U.S. showed no opposition to Iraq’s increasing threats against Kuwait. U.S. companies sought major contracts in Iraq. The Congress approved agricultural loan subsidies to Iraq of hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit U.S. farmers. However, loans for food deliveries of rice, corn, wheat and other essentials bought almost exclusively from the U.S. were cut off in the spring of 1990 to cause shortages. Arms were sold to Iraq by U.S. manufacturers. When Saddam Hussein requested U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie to explain State Department testimony in Congress about lraq’s threats against Kuwait, she assured him the U.S. considered the dispute a regional concern, and it would not intervene. By these acts, the U.S. intended to lead Iraq into a provocation justifying war.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq occupied Kuwait without significant resistance.

On August 3, 1990, without any evidence of a threat to Saudi Arabia, and King Fahd believed Iraq had no intention of invading his country, President Bush vowed to defend Saudi Arabia. He sent Secretary Cheney, General Powell, and General Schwarzkopf almost immediately to Saudi Arabia where on August 6, General Schwarzkopf told King Fahd the U.S. thought Saddam Hussein could attack Saudi Arabia in as little as 48 hours. The efforts toward an Arab solution of the crisis were destroyed. Iraq never attacked Saudi Arabia and waited over five months while the U.S. slowly built a force of more than 500,000 soldiers and began the systematic destruction by aircraft and missiles of Iraq and its military, both defenseless against U.S. and coalition technology. In October 1990, General Powell referred to the new military plan developed in 1989. After the war, General Schwarzkopf referred to eighteen months of planning for the campaign.

The U.S. retains troops in Iraq as of May 1991 and throughout the region and has announced its intention to maintain a permanent military presence.

This course of conduct constitutes a crime against peace.

2. President Bush from August 2, 1990, intended and acted to prevent any interference with his plan to destroy Iraq economically and militarily.

Without consultation or communication with Congress, President Bush ordered 40,000 U.S. military personnel to advance the U.S. buildup in Saudi Arabia in the first week of August 1990. He exacted a request from Saudi Arabia for U.S. military assistance and on August 8, 1990, assured the world his acts were “wholly defensive.” He waited until after the November 1990 elections to announce his earlier order sending more than 200,000 additional military personnel, clearly an assault force, again without advising Congress. As late as January 9, 1991, he insisted he had the constitutional authority to attack Iraq without Congressional approval.

While concealing his intention, President Bush continued the military build up of U.S. forces unabated from August into January 1991, intending to attack and destroy Iraq. He pressed the military to expedite preparation and to commence the assault before military considerations were optimum. When Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael J. Dugan mentioned plans to destroy the Iraqi civilian economy to the press on September 16, 1990, he was removed from office.[7]

President Bush coerced the United Nations Security Council into an unprecedented series of resolutions, finally securing authority for any nation in its absolute discretion by all necessary means to enforce the resolutions. To secure votes the U.S. paid multi-billion dollar bribes, offered arms for regional wars, threatened and carried out economic retaliation, forgave multi-billion dollar loans (including a $7 billion loan to Egypt for arms), offered diplomatic relations despite human rights violations and in other ways corruptly exacted votes, creating the appearance of near universal international approval of U.S. policies toward Iraq. A country which opposed the U.S., as Yemen did, lost millions of dollars in aid, as promised, the costliest vote it ever cast.

President Bush consistently rejected and ridiculed Iraq’s efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution, beginning with Iraq’s August 12, 1990, proposal, largely ignored, and ending with its mid-February 1991 peace offer which he called a “cruel hoax.” For his part, President Bush consistently insisted there would be no negotiation, no compromise, no face saving, no reward for aggression. Simultaneously, he accused Saddam Hussein of rejecting diplomatic solutions.

President Bush led a sophisticated campaign to demonize Saddam Hussein, calling him a Hitler, repeatedly citing reports – which he knew were false – of the murder of hundreds of incubator babies, accusing Iraq of using chemical weapons on his own people and on the Iranians knowing U.S intelligence believed the reports untrue.

After subverting every effort for peace, President Bush began the destruction of Iraq answering his own question, “Why not wait? . . . The world could wait no longer.” The course of conduct constitutes a crime against peace.

3. President Bush ordered the destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic productivity throughout Iraq.

Systematic aerial and missile bombardment of Iraq was ordered to begin at 6:30 p.m. EST January 16, 1991, eighteen and one-half hours after the deadline set on the insistence of President Bush, in order to be reported on television evening news in the U.S. The bombing continued for forty-two days. It met no resistance from Iraqi aircraft and no effective anti-aircraft or anti-missile ground fire. Iraq was defenseless.

The United States reports it flew 110,000 air sorties against Iraq, dropping 88,000 tons of bombs, nearly seven times the equivalent of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. 93% of the bombs were free falling bombs, most dropped from higher than 30,000 feet. Of the remaining 7% of the bombs with electronically guided systems, more than 25% missed their targets, nearly all caused damage primarily beyond any identifiable target. Most of the targets were civilian facilities.

The intention and effort of the bombing of civilian life and facilities was to systematically destroy Iraq’s infrastructure leaving it in a preindustrial condition. Iraq’s civilian population was dependent on industrial capacities. The U.S. assault left Iraq in a near apocalyptic condition as reported by the first United Nations observers after the war.[8] Among the facilities targeted and destroyed were:

  • electric power generation, relay and transmission;
  • water treatment, pumping and distribution systems and reservoirs;
  • telephone and radio exchanges, relay stations, towers and transmission facilities;
  • food processing, storage and distribution facilities and markets, infant milk formula and beverage plants, animal vaccination facilities and irrigation sites;
  • railroad transportation facilities, bus depots, bridges, highway overpasses, highways, highway repair stations, trains, buses and other public transportation vehicles, commercial and private vehicles;
  • oil wells and pumps, pipelines, refineries, oil storage tanks, gasoline filling stations and fuel delivery tank cars and trucks, and kerosene storage tanks;
  • sewage treatment and disposal systems;
  • factories engaged in civilian production, e.g., textile and automobile assembly; and
  • historical markers and ancient sites.

As a direct, intentional and foreseeable result of this destruction, tens of thousands of people have died from dehydration, dysentery and diseases caused by impure water, inability to obtain effective medical assistance and debilitation from hunger, shock, cold and stress. More will die until potable water, sanitary living conditions, adequate food supplies and other necessities are provided. There is a high risk of epidemics of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and other diseases as well as starvation and malnutrition through the summer of 1991 and until food supplies are adequate and essential services are restored.

Only the United States could have carried out this destruction of Iraq, and the war was conducted almost exclusively by the United States. This conduct violated the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter, and the laws of armed conflict.

4. The United States intentionally bombed and destroyed civilian life, commercial and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, residential areas, historical sites, private vehicles and civilian government offices.

The destruction of civilian facilities left the entire civilian population without heat, cooking fuel, refrigeration, potable water, telephones, power for radio or TV reception, public transportation and fuel for private automobiles. It also limited food supplies, closed schools, created massive unemployment, severely limited economic activity and caused hospitals and medical services to shut down. In addition, residential areas of every major city and most towns and villages were targeted and destroyed. Isolated Bedouin camps were attacked by U.S. aircraft. In addition to deaths and injuries, the aerial assault destroyed 10 – 20,000 homes, apartments and other dwellings. Commercial centers with shops, retail stores, offices, hotels, restaurants and other public accommodations were targeted and thousands were destroyed. Scores of schools, hospitals, mosques and churches were damaged or destroyed. Thousands of civilian vehicles on highways, roads and parked on streets and in garages were targeted and destroyed. These included public buses, private vans and mini-buses, trucks, tractor trailers, lorries, taxi cabs and private cars. The purpose of this bombing was to terrorize the entire country, kill people, destroy property, prevent movement, demoralize the people and force the overthrow of the government.

As a result of the bombing of facilities essential to civilian life, residential and other civilian buildings and areas, at least 125,000 men, women and children were killed. The Red Crescent Society of Jordan estimated 113,000 civilian dead, 60% children, the week before the end of the war.

The conduct violated the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter, and the laws of armed conflict.

5. The United States intentionally bombed indiscriminately throughout Iraq.

In aerial attacks, including strafing, over cities, towns, the countryside and highways, U.S. aircraft bombed and strafed indiscriminately. In every city and town bombs fell by chance far from any conceivable target, whether a civilian facility, military installation or military target. In the countryside random attacks were made on travelers, villagers, even Bedouins. The purpose of the attacks was to destroy life, property and terrorize the civilian population. On the highways, civilian vehicles including public buses taxicabs and passenger cars were bombed and strafed at random to frighten civilians from flight, from seeking food or medical care, finding relatives or other uses of highways. The effect was summary execution and corporal punishment indiscriminately of men, women and children, young and old, rich and poor, all nationalities including the large immigrant populations even Americans, all ethnic groups, including many Kurds and Assyrians, all religions including Shia and Sunni Moslems, Chaldeans and other Christians, and Jews. U.S. deliberate indifference to civilian and military casualties in Iraq, or their nature, is exemplified by General Colin Powell’s response to a press inquiry about the number dead from the air and ground campaigns: “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in.”[9]

The conduct violates Protocol I Additional, Article 51.4 to the Geneva Conventions of 1977.

6. The United States intentionally bombed and destroyed Iraqi military personnel, used excessive force, killed soldiers seeking to surrender and in disorganized individual flight, often unarmed and far from any combat zones and randomly and wantonly killed Iraqi soldiers and destroyed materiel after the cease fire.

In the first hours of the aerial and missile bombardment, the United States destroyed most military communications and began the systematic killing of soldiers who were incapable of defense or escape and the destruction of military equipment. Over a period of forty-two days, U.S bombing killed tens of thousands of defenseless soldiers, cut off most of their food, water and other supplies and left them in desperate and helpless disarray. Without significant risk to its own personnel, the U.S. led in the killing of at least 100,000 Iraqi soldiers at a cost of 148 U.S. combat casualties, according to the U.S. government. When it was determined that the civilian economy and the military were sufficiently destroyed, the U.S. ground forces moved into Kuwait and Iraq attacking disoriented disorganized, fleeing Iraqi forces wherever they could be found, killing thousands more and destroying any equipment found. The slaughter continued after the cease fire. For example, on March 2, 1991, U.S. 24th Division Forces engaged in a four-hour assault against Iraqis just west of Basra. More than 750 vehicles were destroyed, thousands were killed without U.S. casualties. A U.S. commander said, “We really waxed them.” It was called a “Turkey Shoot.” One Apache helicopter crew member yelled “Say hello to Allah” as he launched a laser-guided Hellfire missile.[10]

The intention was not to remove Iraq’s presence from Kuwait. It was to destroy Iraq. In the process there was great destruction of property in Kuwait. The disproportion in death and destruction inflicted on a defenseless enemy exceeded 1,000 to one.

General Thomas Kelly commented on February 23, 1991, that by the time the ground war begins “there won’t be many of them left.” General Norman Schwarzkopf placed Iraqi military casualties at over 100,000. The intention was to destroy all military facilities and equipment wherever located and to so decimate the military age male population that Iraq could not raise a substantial force for half a generation.

The conduct violated the Charter of the United Nations, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter, and the laws of armed conflict.

7. The United States used prohibited weapons capable of mass destruction and inflicting indiscriminate death and unnecessary suffering against both military and civilian targets.

Among the known illegal weapons and illegal uses of weapons employed by the United States are the following:

  • fuel air explosives capable of widespread incineration and death;
  • napalm;
  • cluster and anti-personnel fragmentation bombs; and
  • “superbombs,” 2.5 ton devices, intended for assassination of government leaders.

Fuel air explosives were used against troops-in-place, civilian areas, oil fields and fleeing civilians and soldiers on two stretches of highway between Kuwait and Iraq. Included in fuel air weapons used was the BLU-82, a 15,000-pound device capable of incinerating everything within hundreds of yards.

One seven mile stretch called the “Highway of Death” was littered with hundreds of vehicles and thousands of dead. All were fleeing to Iraq for their lives. Thousands were civilians of all ages, including Kuwaitis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Jordanians and other nationalities. Another 60-mile stretch of road to the east was strewn with the remnants of tanks, armored cars, trucks, ambulances and thousands of bodies following an attack on convoys on the night of February 25, 1991. The press reported that no survivors are known or likely. One flatbed truck contained nine bodies, their hair and clothes were burned off, skin incinerated by heat so intense it melted the windshield onto the dashboard.

Napalm was used against civilians, military personnel and to start fires. Oil well fires in both Iraq and Kuwait were intentionally started by U.S. aircraft dropping napalm and other heat intensive devices.

Cluster and anti-personnel fragmentation bombs were used in Basra and other cities, and towns, against the convoys described above and against military units. The CBU-75 carries 1,800 bomblets called Sadeyes. One type of Sadeyes can explode before hitting the ground, on impact, or be timed to explode at different times after impact. Each bomblet contains 600 razor sharp steel fragments lethal up to 40 feet. The 1,800 bomblets from one CBU-75 can cover an area equal to 157 football fields with deadly shrapnel. “Superbombs” were dropped on hardened shelters, at least two in the last days of the assault, with the intention of assassinating President Saddam Hussein. One was misdirected. It was not the first time the Pentagon targeted a head of state. In April 1986, the U.S. attempted to assassinate Col. Muammar Qaddafi by laser directed bombs in its attack on Tripoli, Libya.

Illegal weapons killed thousands of civilians and soldiers.

The conduct violated the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Charter and the laws of armed conflict.

8. The United States intentionally attacked installations in Iraq containing dangerous substances and forces.

Despite the fact that Iraq used no nuclear or chemical weapons and in the face of UN resolutions limiting the authorized means of removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the U.S. intentionally bombed alleged nuclear sites, chemical plants, dams and other dangerous forces. The U.S. knew such attacks could cause the release of dangerous forces from such installations and consequent severe losses among the civilian population. While some civilians were killed in such attacks, there are no reported cases of consequent severe losses presumably because lethal nuclear materials and dangerous chemical and biological warfare substances were not present at the sites bombed.

The conduct violates Protocol I Additional, Article 56, to the Geneva Convention, 1977.

9. President Bush ordered U.S. forces to invade Panama, resulting in the deaths of 1,000 to 4,000 Panamanians and the destruction of thousands of private dwellings, public buildings, and commercial structures.

On December 20, 1989, President Bush ordered a military assault on Panama using aircraft, artillery, helicopter gunships and experimenting with new weapons, including the Stealth bomber. The attack was a surprise assault targeting civilian and non-combatant government structures. In the E1 Chorillo district of Panama City alone, hundreds of civilians were killed and between 15,000 and 30,000 made homeless. U.S. soldiers buried dead Panamanians in mass graves, often without identification. The head of state, Manuel Noriega, who was systematically demonized by the U.S. government and press, ultimately surrendered to U.S. forces and was brought to Miami, Florida, on extra-territorial U.S. criminal charges.

The U.S. invasion of Panama violated all the international laws Iraq violated when it invaded Kuwait and more. Many more Panamanians were killed by U.S. forces than Iraq killed Kuwaitis.

President Bush violated the Charter of the United Nations, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, committed crimes against peace, war crimes and violated the U.S.Constitution and numerous U.S. criminal statutes in ordering and directing the assault on Panama.

10. President Bush obstructed justice and corrupted United Nations functions as a means of securing power to commit crimes against peace and war crimes.

President Bush caused the United Nations to completely bypass Chapter VI provisions of its Charter for the Pacific Settlement of Disputes. This was done in order to obtain Security Council resolutions authorizing the use of all necessary means, in the absolute discretion of any nation, to fulfill UN resolutions directed against Iraq and which were used to destroy Iraq. To obtain Security Council votes, the U.S. corruptly paid member nations billions of dollars, provided them arms to conduct regional wars, forgave billions in debts, withdrew opposition to a World Bank loan, agreed to diplomatic relations despite human rights violations and threatened economic and political reprisals. A nation which voted against the United States, Yemen, was immediately punished by the loss of millions of dollars in aid. The U.S. paid the UN $187 million to reduce the amount of dues it owed to the UN to avoid criticism of its coercive activities. The United Nations, created to end the scourge of war, became an instrument of war and condoned war crimes.

The conduct violates the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution and laws of the United States.

11. President Bush usurped the Constitutional power of Congress as a means of securing power to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, and other high crimes.

President Bush intentionally usurped Congressional power, ignored its authority, and failed and refused to consult with the Congress. He deliberately misled, deceived, concealed and made false representations to the Congress to prevent its free deliberation and informed exercise of legislature power. President Bush individually ordered a naval blockade against Iraq, itself an act of war. He switched U.S. forces from a wholly defensive position and capability to an offensive capacity for aggression against Iraq without consultation with and contrary to assurances given to the Congress. He secured legislation approving enforcement of UN resolutions vesting absolute discretion in any nation, providing no guidelines and requiring no reporting to the UN, knowing he intended to destroy the ammed forces and civilian economy of Iraq. Those acts were undertaken to enable him to commit crimes against peace and war crimes.

The conduct violates the Constitution and laws of the United States, all committed to engage in the other impeachable offenses set forth in this Complaint.

12. The United States waged war on the environment.

Pollution from the detonation of 88,000 tons of bombs, innumerable missiles, rockets, artillery and small arms with the combustion and fires they caused and by 110,000 air sorties at a rate of nearly two per minute for six weeks has caused enormous injury to life and the ecology. Attacks by U.S. aircraft caused much if not all of the worst oil spills in the Gulf. Aircraft and helicopters dropping napalm and fuel-air explosives on oil wells, storage tanks and refineries caused oil fires throughout Iraq and many, if not most, of the oil well fires in Iraq and Kuwait. The intentional destruction of municipal water systems, waste material treatment and sewage disposal systems constitutes a direct and continuing assault on life and health throughout Iraq.

The conduct violated the UN Charter, the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the laws of ammed conflict and constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.

13. President Bush encouraged and aided Shiite Muslims and Kurds to rebel against the government of Iraq causing fratricidal violence, emigration, exposure, hunger and sickness and thousands of deaths. After the rebellion failed, the U.S. invaded and occupied parts of Iraq without authority in order to increase division and hostility within Iraq.

Without authority from the Congress or the UN, President Bush continued his imperious military actions after the cease fire. He encouraged and aided rebellion against Iraq, failed to protect the warring parties, encouraged migration of whole populations, placing them in jeopardy from the elements, hunger, and disease. After much suffering and many deaths, President Bush then without authority used U.S. military forces to distribute aid at and near the Turkish border, ignoring the often greater suffering among refugees in Iran. He then arbitrarily set up bantustan-like settlements for Kurds in Iraq and demanded Iraq pay for U.S. costs. When Kurds chose to return to their homes in Iraq, he moved U.S. troops further into northern Iraq against the will of the government and without authority.

The conduct violated the Charter of the United Nations, international law, the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the laws of Iraq.

14. President Bush intentionally deprived the Iraqi people of essential medicines, potable water, food, and other necessities.

A major component of the assault on Iraq was the systematic deprivation of essential human needs and services. To break the will of the people, destroy their economic capability, reduce their numbers and weaken their health, the United States:

  • imposed and enforced embargoes preventing the shipment of needed medicines, water purifiers, infant milk formula, food and other supplies;
  • individually, without congressional authority, ordered a U.S. naval blockade of Iraq, an act of war, to deprive the Iraqi people of needed supplies;
  • froze funds of Iraq and forced other nations to do so, depriving Iraq of the ability to purchase needed medicines, food and other supplies;
  • controlled information about the urgent need for such supplies to prevent sickness, death and threatened epidemic, endangering the whole society;
  • prevented international organizations, governments and relief agencies from providing needed supplies and obtaining information concerning needs;
  • failed to assist or meet urgent needs of huge refugee populations including Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Sudanese, Jordanians, Palestinians, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, and interfered with efforts of others to do so;
  • consistently diverted attention from health and epidemic threats within Iraq caused by the U.S. even after advertising the plight of Kurdish people on the Turkish border;
  • deliberately bombed the electrical grids causing the closure of hospitals and laboratories, loss of medicine and essential fluids and blood; and
  • deliberately bombed food storage, fertilizer, and seed storage facilities.

As a result of these acts, thousands of people died, many more suffered illness and permanent injury. As a single illustration, Iraq consumed infant milk formula at a rate of 2,500 tons per month during the first seven months of 1990. From November 1, 1990, to February 7, 1991, Iraq was able to import only 17 tons. Its own productive capacity was destroyed. Many Iraqis believed that President Bush intended that their infants die because he targeted their food supply. The Red Crescent Society of Iraq estimated 3,000 infant deaths as of February 7, 1991, resulting from infant milk formula and infant medication shortages.

This conduct violates the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other covenants and constitutes a crime against humanity.

15. The United States continued its assault on Iraq after the cease fire, invading and occupying areas at will.

The United States has acted with dictatorial authority over Iraq and its external relations since the end of the military conflict. It has shot and killed Iraqi military personnel, destroyed aircraft and materiel at will, occupied vast areas of Iraq in the north and south and consistently threatened use of force against Iraq.

This conduct violates the sovereignty of a nation, exceeds authority in UN resolutions, is unauthorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and constitutes war crimes.

16. The United States has violated and condoned violations of human rights, civil liberties and the U.S. Bill of Rights in the United States, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to achieve its purpose of military domination.

Among the many violations committed or condoned by the U.S. government are the following:

  • illegal surveillance, arrest, interrogation and harassment of Arab-American, Iraqi-American, and U.S. resident Arabs;
  • illegal detention, interrogation and treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war;
  • aiding and condoning Kuwaiti summary executions, assaults, torture and illegal detention of Palestinians and other residents in Kuwait after the U.S. occupation; and
  • unwarranted, discriminatory, and excessive prosecution and punishment of U.S. military personnel who refused to serve in the Gulf, sought conscientious objector status or protested U.S. policies.

Persons were killed, assaulted, tortured, illegally detained and prosecuted, harassed and humiliated as a result of these policies.

The conduct violates the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , the Hague and Geneva Conventions and the Constitution and laws of the United States.

17. The United States, having destroyed Iraq’s economic base, demands reparations which will permanently impoverish Iraq and threaten its people with famine and epidemic.

Having destroyed lives, property and essential civilian facilities in Iraq which the U.S. concedes will require $50 billion to replace (estimated at $200 billion by Iraq, killed at least 125,000 people by bombing and many thousands more by sickness and hunger, the U.S. now seeks to control Iraq economically even as its people face famine and epidemic.[l1] Damages, including casualties in Iraq, systematically inflicted by the U.S. exceed all damages, casualties and costs of all other parties to the conflict combined many times over. Reparations under these conditions are an exaction of tribute for the conqueror from a desperately needy country. The United States seeks to force Iraq to pay for damage to Kuwait largely caused by the U.S. and even to pay U.S. costs for its violations of Iraqi sovereignty in occupying northern Iraq to further manipulate the Kurdish population there. Such reparations are a neocolonial means of expropriating Iraq’s oil, natural resources, and human labor.

The conduct violates the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution and laws of the United States.

18. President Bush systematically manipulated, controlled, directed, misinformed and restricted press and media coverage to obtain constant support in the media for his military and political goals.

The Bush Administration achieved a five-month-long commercial for militarism and individual weapons systems. The American people were seduced into the celebration of a slaughter by controlled propaganda demonizing Iraq, assuring the world no harm would come to Iraqi civilians, deliberately spreading false stories of atrocities including chemical warfare threats, deaths of incubator babies and threats to the entire region by a new Hitler.

The press received virtually all its information from or by permission of the Pentagon. Efforts were made to prevent any adverse information or opposition views from being heard. CNN’s limited presence in Baghdad was described as Iraqi propaganda. Independent observers, eyewitnesses’ photos, and video tapes with information about the effects of the U.S. bombing were excluded from the media. Television network ownership, advertizers, newspaper ownership, elite columnists and commentators intimidated and instructed reporters and selected interviewees. They formed a near-single voice of praise for U.S. militarism, often exceeding the Pentagon in bellicosity.

The American people and their democratic institutions were deprived of information essential to sound judgment and were regimented, despite profound concem, to support a major neocolonial intervention and war of aggression. The principal purpose of the First Amendment to the United States was to assure the press and the people the right to criticize their government with impunity. This purpose has been effectively destroyed in relation to U.S. military aggression since the press was denied access to assaults on Grenada, Libya, Panama and, now on a much greater scale, against Iraq.

This conduct violates the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and is part of a pattern of conduct intended to create support for conduct constituting crimes against peace and war crimes.

19. The United States has by force secured a permanent military presence in the Gulf, the control of its oil resources and geopolitical domination of the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region.

The U.S. has committed the acts described in this complaint to create a permanent U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, to dominate its oil resources until depleted and to maintain geopolitical domination over the region.

The conduct violates the Charter of the United Nations, international law, and the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Scope of the Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry will focus on U.S. criminal conduct because of its destruction of Iraq, killing at least 125,000 persons directly by its bombing while proclaiming its own combat losses as 148, because it destroyed the economic base of Iraq and because its acts are still inflicting consequential deaths that may reach hundreds of thousands. The Commission of Inquiry will seek and accept evidence of criminal acts by any person or government, related to the Gulf conflict, because it believes international law must be applied uniformly. It believes that “victors’ justice” is not law, but the extension of war by force of the prevailing party. The U.S. Senate, European Community foreign ministers, and the western press, even former Nuremberg prosecutors, have overwhelmingly called for war crimes trials for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi leadership alone. Even Mrs. Barbara Bush has said she would like to see Saddam Hussein hanged, albeit without mentioning a trial. Comprehensive efforts to gather and evaluate evidence, objectively judge all the conduct that constitutes crimes against peace and war crimes and to present these facts for judgment to the court of world opinion requires that at least one major effort focus on the United States. The Commission of Inquiry believes its focus on U.S. criminal acts is important, proper, and the only way to bring the whole truth, a balanced perspective and impartiality in application of legal process to this great human tragedy.

Ramsey Clark
May 9, 1991


  1. Covert Operations: The Persian Gulf and the New World Order (Washington, DC: Christic Institute, 1991).
  2. Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, The CIA and American Democracy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 206.
  3. Independent Commission of Inquiry on the U.S. Invasion of Panama, The U.S. Invasion of Panama: The Truth Behind Operation Just Cause(Boston: South End Press, 1990).
  4. Amnesty International Reports, 1991, pp. 122-124.
  5. Congressional Record, June 12, 1990, S8605.
  6. “Saddam’s Oil Plot.” London Observer, October 21, 1990.
  7. Rick Atkinson, “U.S. to Rely on Air Strikes if War Erupts,” Washington Post, September 16, 1990: Al + . Eric Schmitt, “Ousted General Gets A Break,” New York Times, November 7, 1991: Al9.
  8. Joint WHO / UNICEF Team Report: A Visit to Iraq (New York: United Nations, 1991). A report to the Secretary General, dated March 20, 1991 by representatives of the U.N. Secretariat, UNICEF, UNDP, UNDRO, UNHCR, FAO and WHO.
  9. Patrick E. Tyler, “Powell Says U.S. Will Stay In Iraq,” New York Times, March 23, 1991: Al + .
  10. Patrick J. Sloyan, “Massive Battle After Cease Fire,” New York Newsday, May 8, 1991: A4+.
  11. “U.S. Prepares UN Draft on Claims Against Iraq,” New York Times, November 1, 1990.

Final Judgment:
International War Crimes Tribunal

The members of the International War Crimes Tribunal, meeting in New York, have carefully considered the Initial Complaint of the Commission of Inquiry dated May 6, 1991 against President George H. W. Bush, Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Commander of the Allied Forces in the Persian Gulf, and others named in the Complaint charging them with nineteen separate crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the First Protocol thereto, and other international agreements and customary international law:

      having the right and obligation as citizens of the world to sit in judgment regarding violations of international humanitarian law;

having heard the testimony from various Commissions of Inquiry hearings held within their own countries and/or elsewhere during the past year and having received reports from numerous other Commission hearings which recite the evidence there gathered;

having been provided with documentary evidence, eyewitness statements, photos, videotapes, special reports, expert analyses and summaries of evidence available to the Commission; having access to all evidence, knowledge, and expert opinion in the Commission files or available to the Commission;

having been provided by the Commission, or elsewhere obtained, various books, articles, and other written materials on various aspects of events and conditions in the Persian Gulf and military and arms establishments;

having considered newspaper coverage, magazine and periodical reports, special publications, T.V., radio, and other media coverage and public statements by the accused, other public officials and other public materials;

having heard the presentations of the Commission of Inquiry in public hearing on February 29, 1992, the testimony and evidence there presented; and having met, considered and deliberated with each other and with Commission staff and having considered all the evidence that is relevant to the nineteen charges of criminal conduct alleged in the Initial Complaint make the following findings.


The members of the International War Crimes Tribunal finds each of the named accused Guilty on the basis of the evidence against them and that each of the nineteen crimes alleged in the Initial Complaint, attached hereto, has been established to have been committed beyond a reasonable doubt.

The members believe that it is imperative if there is ever to be peace that power be accountable for its criminal acts and we condemn in the strongest possible terms those found guilty of the charges herein. We urge the Commission of Inquiry and all people to act on recommendations developed by the Commission to hold power accountable and to secure social justice on which lasting peace must be based.

The Members urge the immediate revocation of all embargoes, sanctions and penalties against Iraq because they constitute a continuing crime against humanity.

The Members urge public action to prevent new aggressions by the United States threatened against Iraq, Libya, Cuba, Haiti, North Korea, Pakistan and other countries and the Palestine people; fullest condemnation of any threat or use of military technology against life, both civilian and military, as was used by the United States against the people of Iraq.

The Members urge that the power of the United Nations Security Council, which was blatantly manipulated by the U.S. to authorize illegal military action and sanctions, be vested in the General Assembly; that all permanent members be removed and that the right of veto be eliminated as undemocratic and contrary to the basic principles of the U.N. Charter.

The Members urge the Commission to provide for the permanent preservation of the reports, evidence, and materials gathered to make them available to others, and to seek ways to provide the widest possible distribution of the truth about the U.S. assault on Iraq.

Charges of Other Countries

In accordance with the last paragraph of the Initial Complaint designated Scope of Inquiry, the Commission has gathered substantial evidence of criminal acts by governments and individual officials in addition to those formally presented here. Formal charges have been drafted by some Commissions of Inquiry against other governments in addition to the United States. Those charges have not been acted upon here. The Commission of Inquiry or any of its national components may choose to pursue such other charges at some future time. The Members urge all involved to exert their utmost effort to prevent recurrences of violations by other governments that were not considered here.

Done in New York this 29th day of February, 1992.

Olga Mejia, Panama
President of the National Human Rights Commission in Panama, a non-governmental body representing peasants’ organizations, urban trade unions, women’s groups and others.
Sheik Mohamed Rashid, Pakistan
Former deputy prime minister. Long-term political prisoner during the struggle against British colonialism and activist for workers’ and peasants’ rights.
Dr. Haluk Gerger, Turkey
Founding member of Turkish Human Rights Association and professor of political science. Dismissed from Ankara University by military government.
Susumu Ozaki, Japan
Former judge and pro-labor attorney imprisoned 1934-1938 for violating Security Law under militarist government for opposing Japan’s invasion of China.
Michael Ratner, USA
Attorney, former director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, past president of the National Lawyers Guild.
Lord Tony Gifford, Britain
Human rights lawyer practicing in England and Jamaica. Investigated human rights abuses in British-occupied Ireland.
Rene Dumont, France
Argonomist, ecologist, specialist in agriculture of developing countries, author. His 45th book, This War Dishonors Us, appears in 1992.
Bassam Haddadin, Jordan
Member of Parliament, Second Secretary for the Jordanian Democratic Peoples Party. Member of Parliamentary Committee on Palestine.
Dr. Sherif Hetata, Egypt
Medical Doctor, author, member of the Central Committee of the Arab Progressive Unionist Party. Political prisoner 14 years in 1950s and 1960s.
Deborah Jackson, USA
First vice president of the American Association of Jurists, former director of National Conference of Black Lawyers.
Opato Matarmah, Menominee Nation of North America
Involved in defense of human rights of indigenous peoples since 1981. Represented the International Indian Treaty Council at the Commission of Human Rights at the U.N.
Laura Albizu, Campos Meneses, Puerto Rico
Past President of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and current Secretary for Foreign Relations. Honorary president of Peace Council.
Aisha Nyerere, Tanzania
Resident Magistrate of the High Court in Arusha, Tanzania. Researched the impact of the Gulf war on East Africa.
Peter Leibovtich, Canada
President of United Steel Workers of America, USWA, Local 8782 and of the Executive Council of the Ontario Federation of Labor.
John Philpot, Quebec
Attorney, member of Board of Directors of Quebec Movement for Sovereignty. Organizing Secretary for the American Association of Jurist in Canada.
John Jones, USA
Community leader in the state of New Jersey. Vietnam veteran who became leader of movement against U.S. attack on Iraq.
Gloria La Riva, USA
Founding member of the Farmworkers Emergency Relief Committee and Emergency Committee to Stop the U.S. War in the Middle East in San Francisco.
Key Martin, USA
Member of Executive Committee of Local 3 of the Newspaper Guild in New York. Jailed in 1967 for taking message of Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Vietnam to active duty Gls.
Dr. Alfred Mechtersheimer, Germany
Former member of the Bundestag from the Green Party. Former Lieutenant Colonel in the Bundeswher; current peace researcher.
Abderrazak Kilani, Tunisia
Tunisian Bar Association. Former President, Association of Young Lawyers; founding member, National Committee to Lift the Embargo from Iraq.
Tan Sri Ahmad Noordin bin Zakaria, Malaysia
Former Auditor General of Malaysia. Known throughout his country for battling corruption in government.
P. S. Poti, India
Former Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. In 1989 elected president of the All-lndia Lawyers Union.

Part Two:
The Basis in International Law

  1. International Law and War Crimes – Michael Ratner
  2. War Crimes Committed Against the People of Iraq – Francis Kelly

1 thought on “WAR CRIMES – ‘Highway Of Death’”

  1. This is a real crime against humanity that being censored and even hidden from search engines like google. the U.S should be chased internationally to pay for their crimes.


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