War Criminal as Attorney General?

As White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales originated, authorized, approved, and aided and abetted grave breaches of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949 (e.g., torture and Gitmo kangaroo courts), which are serious war crimes. In other words, Gonzales is a prima facie war criminal. He must be prosecuted under the Geneva Conventions and the US War Crimes Act.

For example, article 129 of the Third Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War provides in relevant part with respect to prima facie U.S. war criminals such as Gonzales: “Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such graves breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.”

To the same effect is article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting Civilians in wartime. This obligation to prosecute Gonzales applies to every High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions, which means almost every state in the world, including the United States of America–still “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” despite incumbent US Attorney General John Ashcroft, another prima facie war criminal. And there is no statute of limitations for the commission of such serious war crimes. No wonder the Bush Jr administration has done everything humanly possible to sabotage the International Criminal Court.

The same conclusions can be reached by the application of the Pentagon’s own U.S. Department of the Army Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, which, by its own terms, also applies to civilian government officials such as Gonzales involved in ordering or aiding and abetting or conspiring to commit war crimes

Despite the pusillanimous predilections of Senator Leahy, the U.S. Senate must reject his nomination. As a prima facie war criminal, Gonzales is not fit to be Attorney General of the United States of America. Should Gonzales travel around the world in that capacity, then human rights lawyers around the world will attempt to get him prosecuted wherever he might go along the lines of what they did to General Pinochet in London. Like pirates, war criminals are “hostes humani generis”–the enemies of all humankind. A fitting description for Bush Jr and his gang of war criminals.

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Foundations of World Order, Duke University Press, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, and Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, by Clarity Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU



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