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Congress Should Investigate the State Department’s Violations of the Rule of Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
July 28, 2009—No. 59 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed

Congress Should Investigate the State Department’s Violations of the Rule of Law

WASHINGTON, DC — The following Op-Ed appeared in The National Herald 7-18-09, Greek News 7-16-09, The Hellenic Voice 7-22-09, The Greek Star 7-23-09, and theHellenic News of America July edition.

Congress Should Investigate the State Department’s Violations of the Rule of Law

By Gene Rossides

July 14, 2009

The past few weeks have seen a series of news stories regarding calls by Democratic Senators and Representatives for investigations of various aspects of the Bush administrations’ CIA security programs. The discussions on last Sunday’s television talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN on possible congressional inquires were extensive. (See NY Times, Washington PostWashington Times, July 13, 2009.)

Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), the second ranking Democrat in the Senate appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and called for an inquiry and said that “those who broke the law need to be held accountable.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the CIA had withheld information from Congress concerning a counterterrorism program. “This is a big problem, because the law is very clear.” Feinstein said on Fox News Sunday.

President Obama said last weekend on a CNN interview regarding the alleged killing of Taliban prisoners by local forces allied with the Untied States, “that he had just learned of ‘the indications that this had not been properly investigated’ and had directed aides to collect the facts’ on the killing…of Taliban prisoners.” (NY Times July 13; A1, col. 4.)

The President stated: “If it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that.”

Congress, the Rule of Law and the State Department

Basic to all these issues is the rule of law, a fundamental pillar of American liberty and democracy. A key function of Congress in our separation of powers government is to uphold the rule of law by the Executive Branch. Congress does this in a number of ways including: by enacting legislation; by oversight hearings; by oversight investigations; and by its appropriations.

To commemorate the 35th anniversary of Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus the relevant committees of Congress should call for hearings and/or investigations of  the State Department’s violations of the rule of law. Congress pursues violations of law by the CIA and other agencies and it should do the same with the State Department.

The laws that the State Department has failed to enforce or abide by include the following:

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

July 20, 2009 marks the 35th anniversary of Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus with the illegal use of U.S. supplied arms in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, the UN Charter Article 2(4) and customary international law. A fitting response to that date would be for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee to announce hearings on (1) State’s failure to enforce U.S. laws calling for the immediate halt in arms transfers to Turkey; (2) State’s failure to seek UN Security Council action against Turkey; (3) State’s illegal encouragement and support of Turkey’s renewed and massive aggression of August 14-16, 1974 in which Turkey grabbed one-third of Cyprus, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus had been restored; and (4) Secretary Henry Kissinger’s offer of one-third of Cyprus to Turkey.

The UN Charter Preamble and Articles 1 and 2

The UN Charter Preamble and Articles 1 and 2 make aggression illegal and Article 2(4) specifically applies to “the threat or use of force.” Any such hearing should focus on State’s continuing failure to apply the rule of law by failing to call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s 40,000 plus illegal occupation forces.

Geneva Convention of 1949

State’s failure to condemn Turkey’s violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 which prohibits colonization of occupied territory by the occupying power. Turkey has over these past 35 years been illegally bringing in settlers/colonists from Anatolia to change the demographics of Cyprus. To date these are over 180,000 illegal Turkish settlers/colonists in occupied Cyprus and they outnumbered the Turkish Cypriots by 2 to 1.

The State Department is obligated to uphold the Geneva Convention of 1949 and customary international law and has not done so for 35 years! The relevant committees of Congress should hold hearings to put the spotlight on State’s illegal conduct in failing to uphold the rule of law by calling for the immediate removal of Turkey’s illegal settlers/colonists.

Illegal transfer of U.S.-supplied military equipment from Turkey to Cyprus.

U.S. law specifically prohibits the transfer to Cyprus of any U.S.-supplied military arms and equipment to Turkey. Yet the State Department refuses to act to tell Turkey to remove from Cyprus 12 U.S. origin M48 tanks supplied to Turkey and illegally transferred to Cyprus in 2005. The law applies to all military arms and equipment supplied to Turkey after the law was enacted.

State’s false and misleading “Background Note: Cyprus”

The State Department’s website’s “Background Note: Cyprus” contains false and misleading statements as to what happened in July and August 1974. It amounts to a deliberate attempt to rewrite history and to cover-up State’s unlawful conduct in 1974 and its continuing efforts to mislead the public, the Congress and historians. Hearings are needed to bring the facts to the public and Congress.

Appropriations Committee

The House Appropriations Committee should hold hearings on State’s conduct and consider a reduction in the amount appropriated for State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs until State cures its illegal conduct and corrects the false and misleading statements on its website.

Community action needed

Call and write to your two Senators and your Representatives and urge them to support hearings on the State Department’s violations of the rule of law and its false and misleading website on Cyprus.

The Honorable firstname lastname
United States Senate
Washington, DC  20510
202-224-3121 (Main Switchboard)

The Honorable firstname lastname
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515
202-224-3121 (Main Switchboard)

Call and write to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and ask them to take corrective action regarding State’s violations of the rule of law and false and misleading website on Cyprus.

President Barack Obama 
The White House 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20500 
Tel. 202-456-1111 (Comments)
202-456-1414 (Main Switchboard) 
Fax: 202-456-2461 
E-mail: comments@whitehouse.gov

The Honorable
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Phone: 202-647-9572

Gene Rossides is founder of the 
American Hellenic Institute and
former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.