Calhoun Also Received $15 Million in Extra Stock Shares! He and Other Top Defense Contractor Executives Are Being Put on Trial by Citizen-Peace Group Holding Them Accountable for Their Crimes
Life is great for Boeing CEO David Calhoun,1 who was paid a salary of $22.5 million in 2023 and received a bonus of $15 million in extra Boeing stock shares.
But Calhoun is now a defendant in a tribunal run by Brad Wolf a former prosecutor from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and other peace activists who have charged him and the CEOs of top defense contractors with war crimes for producing weapons that have been used to kill civilians in illegal wars undertaken in violation of the Geneva Convention and UN Charter.
The model for the tribunal is the Nuremberg trials after World War II which tried and convicted the executives of German war industries, notably I.G. Farben, Krupp and Flick, for war crimes.
Friedrich Flick receives his sentence during the Nuremberg trial. [Source: wikipedia.org]
The second session of the tribunal was held on November 19 and focused on U.S. war crimes in Syria and corporate complicity in them.
Wolf narrated a short documentary explaining that the U.S. intervened in Syria starting in 2011 by supporting opposition groups that aimed to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and justified further military operations by claiming to be fighting against the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS), which was trying to take over the country.
The CIA has spent billions of dollars in Syria in its largest operations since Afghanistan in the 1980s.
CIA proxies in Operation Timber Sycamore. [Source: adamfitzgerald911.wordpress.com]
According to Wolf, the real reason for the U.S. intervention was not to fight ISIS, but rather to secure control over Syria’s northern oil fields. The U.S. military functions as a “privatized corporate police force” in Syria, enabling the theft of the country’s oil.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that the United States “was in Syria illegally” as they had not been invited into the country by the current government. The cover story was Iran, but the U.S. military was really in Syria to “protect the oil flow to Israel, with Syria’s oil going to Israel at discounted prices and Israel attacking Syria too from time to time.”
Wilkerson added that none of this was reported anywhere in the U.S. media: “It may have been reported in Syria or Turkey but not in our media. The American public is not told even that we have troops in Syria.”
According to Wolf, U.S. leaders have claimed as a legal pretext for intervention Congress’s authorization for the use of military force against terrorist forces that allegedly attacked the U.S. on 9/11, though Syria actually had nothing to do with 9/11 and ISIS is “not part of al-Qaeda.”
The injustice of the illegal U.S. involvement in Syria has been compounded by egregious war crimes such as the March 2017 bombing of the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River using BLU-109 bunker-busting bombs made by General Dynamics.
Tabqa Dam [Source: wikipedia.org]
U.S. bombers also struck a school in the city of Raqqa, which was devastated after ISIS took it over in what Amnesty International called a “U.S.-led war of annihilation.”
Wolf’s documentary quoted Raqqa residents who said they did not understand why the U.S. had bombed their city and compared the level of destruction to Dresden during World War II.
More than 11,000 buildings were destroyed and an unknown number of civilians were killed.
Scene from Raqqa, Syria, after U.S. bombing. [Source: nytimes.com]
One of the chief bombers carrying out the attack was the F-18 made by Boeing.
Artillery rounds and howitzers that contributed to the destruction of buildings were made by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon—another defendant in the tribunal—and drones were made by General Atomics, another defendant.
How Do People Who Get Bombed in the Dark of Night by a Plane Get Justice?”
The third session of the tribunal focused on Somalia, where Lockheed AC-130 gunships and General Atomics Reaper drones have launched missiles and bombs that have killed hundreds of Somali civilians in another secret war that is largely unknown to the American public.
This war, according to Wolf, was again driven by oil and profiteering by U.S. oil companies, which hoped to access billions of barrels from off-shore oil deposits. John D. Harris, a member of the ExxonMobil Board of Directors, is the former CEO of Raytheon Interntional and Vice President of Business Development of Raytheon, whose weapons have killed innocent civilians over the last decade.
The target of the drone strikes is the militant Islamic group al-Shabaab, which formed after the U.S. backed the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 that devastated the country and led to the removal of the country’s government, which had made peace overtures to the U.S.
Since 2007, Washington has launched 139 drone attacks in Somalia, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which have killed 965 people. U.S. air strikes in Somalia were expanded by the Trump administration and increased by another 30% in 2022 under President Biden.
2013 protest in Minneapolis against killer drones. [Source: wikipedia.org]
Wolf’s presentation juxtaposed the suffering of Somali civilians who lost loved ones and were terrorized by drone strikes with the cavalier attitude of U.S. drone operators who celebrated when drone strikes successfully killed people—even if they were non-combatants.
Brandon Bryant, a former drone operator interviewed by Wolf, said that he never saw anyone in the military show any remorse or concern when civilians were killed, and that drone operators labeled women and children using terms from Greek mythology.
According to Bryant, “the drone technology was terribly precise and that is the terror of it.” Civilian deaths did not result from technical mistakes but rather from drone operators who knew almost nothing about Somalia and were prone to target any activity going on that they could not explain—which could really be anyone.
Brandon Bryant [Source: news.com.au]
Wolf showed that one of the drone missiles made by Lockheed struck farmers in a small village north of Mogadishu who were digging an irrigation canal in the middle of the night.
Another killed a prominent businessman, Mohamud Salad Mohamud in Jilib, a city in middle Juba, while another killed an 18-year-old girl and her two sisters and grandmother in Jilib after their home was struck while they were eating dinner.
A Somali woman featured in Wolf’s presentation, who said that she witnessed people being obliterated and cattle slaughtered and killed from U.S. air strikes in Somalia and said that they had lost everything. [Source: youtube.com]
While watching Wolf’s presentation, I thought about the book Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War written in 1972 by an International Voluntary Services (IVS) employee named Fred Branfman who got Lao villagers to draw pictures about what life was like for them living in under the weight of U.S. bombardment.
Observing how modern technologies helped distance the perpetrators of war crimes from their victims, Branfman wrote of “a new type of warfare…fought not by men but machines and which could erase distant and unseen societies clandestinely, unknown to and even unsuspected by the world outside.”
Which is exactly what we see going on today.
One of the drone attack witnesses featured in Wolf’s short film, Halima Mohamed, said that she lost her son, son-in-law and nephews—none of whom had any association with al-Shabaab—in a U.S. drone strike and now lives in an internally displaced people’s camp because her home was destroyed.
Excerpt from Voices From the Plain of Jars [Source: apjjf.org]
Ms. Mohamed said that she knew the drones belonged to the Americans who flew planes from the Baledogle Airfield, but that there was no way she could seek justice for the deaths of her family members. She asked: “How do people who get bombed in the dark of night by a plane get justice?”
Baledogle Airfield. [Source: nara.getarchive.net]
The latter is the precise question that the Merchants of Death tribunal is trying to answer. Its main aim is to hold accountable some of the main culprits who have grown wealthy off the suffering of people like Ms. Mohamed and so many others like her.
- A graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in accounting who was born in Philadelphia, Calhoun worked for General Electric for 26 years overseeing transportation and aircraft engines and served as a member of the company’s Board of Directors before becoming a senior managing director at the Wall Street private equity firm Blackstone Group, and then becoming chairman and director of Boeing and then its CEO. In 2018, Calhoun gave $20 million to his alma mater to create the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program that supports research on driverless cars. ↩︎
This article was first published in CovertAction Magazine.