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Letter to Judge Frederick Motz about Iraq (3/2004)

Friday, March 21, 2003

The Honorable J. Frederick Motz
Edward Garmatz Federal Building
101 W. Lombard Street,
Baltimore, MD 21201

Dear Judge Motz:

This letter is to inform you that the US attack on Iraq is a major violation of domestic and international law. As a respected Federal judge, we are requesting that you take whatever steps possible in your service under the US Constitution to stop the terrible crimes which are currently taking place in Iraq.

Article VI of the Constitution reads, "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land…"

Note that it reads, “all treaties made…shall be the supreme law of the land.” This includes the UN Charter, which became a US treaty with the 1945 UN Participation Act. The war-weary US Congress overwhelmingly ratified the UN Charter in an effort to prevent the human catastrophe of the previous seven years from repeating.

The UN Charter is quite clear that the only time a member nation can attack another nation is in self-defense. Article 51 specifies:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Meanwhile, there has been no “armed attack” from Iraq. The US has bombed Iraq consistently since the first Persian Gulf War in its self-declared “no-fly” zones. (By the way, since these areas are not referred to in any UN Resolution, each and all of these bombing raids have been violations of the UN Charter.) Still, Iraq has not managed to seriously damage any plane or pilot flying these raids.

There is no question that it is Iraq which has the legal right to shoot at any plane flying in the no-fly zones by direct application of the self-defense provision of Article 51 of the UN Charter. The US cannot claim self-defense when it is flying illegal bombing missions halfway around the globe from its shores.

It is also falsely asserted by the President that UN Resolution 1441 authorizes his military actions taking place in Iraq. The pivotal sentence in UN 1441 is: "13. Recalls, in that context, that the [Security] council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations…"

It is the viewpoint of a majority of Security Council member states that this sentence does not authorize the US to attack Iraq. This is particularly true because like all UN Resolutions, UN 1441 affirms that it is “Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.” (Chapter VII contains Articles 39 through the previously mentioned 51.)

In closing, President Bush’s attack on Iraq violates the UN Charter and implicitly, the US Constitution. As concerned citizens we request that you take measures you can to force the President to act under the Constitution.

Halting the military attacks is a matter is of life and death to millions of civilians around the world.


Scott Loughrey
On behalf of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance

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