FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Crime Without Punishment

Boulder, Colorado

The risk, of course, is that the International Court of Criminal Justice might agree with United States Military investigators and decide to prosecute. That would be most unwelcome. It was all brought to mind again when the United States abstained from a vote on how to deal with events in Darfur. But first a bit of history.

One of the first things George Bush did when he was elevated to the White Palace, from which he now rules, was to remove the signature of the United States of America from a treaty. The treaty pertained to the International Court of Criminal Justice that was established through an agreement reached in Rome and signed by 78 nations. It was signed by Bill Clinton, Mr. Bush’s predecessor. With the affixing of the signature, the U.S. became a party to the treaty subject to its being ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Following his ascendancy, Mr. Bush said to his counselors, although not in these exact words: “Can no one rid me of this troublesome treaty?” Eager to please, John Bolton, newly designated U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but then undersecretary of state for arms control and international security (a title that subsequent events such as 9/11 suggested was more of a joke than a description of what he did) fetched an eraser and erased Mr. Clinton’s signature. He was later quoted as saying that erasing the signature was “the happiest moment in my government service.” (If wielding an eraser was the most fun thing he ever did while in government service one has to wonder whether he won’t find serving as a U.N. ambassador a bit of a let down.) Notwithstanding the erased signature, that was not the last Mr. Bush would see of the treaty and most recently it came back to haunt him during the dither over what to do about Darfur.

Darfur is the part of Sudan in which 2.4 million people have been displaced and more than 300,000 people killed during an internal conflict that is less than 3 years old. The United Nations has decided that something should be done and on March 31 voted to send those accused of war crimes there to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The vote was 11 in favor and four abstentions among which was the United States. It had first been thought that the U.S. would veto the resolution since it doesn’t believe in magic or in the International Criminal Court. Following amendment of the resolution to provide that Americans would not be subject to the court’s jurisdiction, the United States agreed not to veto the measure.

Commenting on the United States’ action, Anne W. Patterson, the deputy U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said: “We have not dropped and indeed continue to maintain our longstanding and firm objections and concerns regarding the I.C.C.” Her principled statement may have been motivated in part by a bit of news that came out a week earlier that might have had implications for the United States were it a signatory to the treaty.

On March 25 recommendations made by army investigators looking into the deaths of three prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003 and 2004 were made public. The Army Criminal Investigation Command concluded 17 soldiers should be charged with murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. Among the deaths that were investigated was the death of an Iraqi colonel who was lifted from his feet by a baton pushed into his throat. Of all the methods of hoisting someone into the air this would seem like one of the least desirable and it proved so. The colonel sustained throat injuries that contributed to his death.

Not all the men that investigators thought should be charged got off scot-free. One of them received an official letter of reprimand and another was discharged. If the U.S. recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC, the court might agree with the Army Criminal Investigation Command and bring charges against the soldiers that the American commanders thought should be ignored. The men might even be found guilty of the charges that were recommended and end up going to prison. The unwillingness of their own commanders to prosecute them would not afford them any protection. They would find they were subject to the rule of law even though the people they killed and abused were foreigners. That would come as an unwelcome surprise to Mr. Bush. It would be a welcome surprise for the rest of the world.

There won’t be any surprises. Mr. Bush doesn’t believe in them.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu or through his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Kathleen Wallace
The End of the Parasite Paradigm
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman
Anthony DiMaggio
Misinformation and the Coronavirus: On the Dangers of Depoliticization and Social Media
Andrew Levine
Neither Biden Nor Trump: Imagine Cuomo
David Rosen
God’s Vengeance: the Christian Right and the Coronavirus
David Schultz
The Covid-19 Bailout: Another Failed Opportunity at Structural Change
Evaggelos Vallianatos
In the Grip of Disease
Edward Leer
Somebody Else’s World: An Interview with Kelly Reichardt
Robert Fisk
What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19
Daniel Warner
COVID-19: Health or Wealth?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
Corona in Germany: Hording and Authoritarianism
Ramzy Baroud
BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy
Richard Moser
Russia-gate: the Dead But Undead
Ron Jacobs
Politics, Pandemics and Trumpism
Chris Gilbert
Letter From Catalonia: Alarming Measures
Richard Eskow
Seven Rules for the Boeing Bailout
Jonathan Carp
Coronavirus and the Collapse of Our Imaginations
Andrew Bacevich
The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom
Peter Cohen
COVID-19, the Exponential Function and Human the Survival
César Chelala - Alberto Luis Zuppi
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
James Preston Allen
Alexander Cockburn Meets Charles Bukowski at a Sushi Bar in San Pedro
Jérôme Duval
The Only Oxygen Cylinder Factory in Europe is Shut down and Macron Refuses to Nationalize It
Neve Gordon
Gaza Has Been Under Siege for Years. Covid-19 Could Be Catastrophic
Alvaro Huerta
To Survive the Coronavirus, Americans Should Learn From Mexicans
Prabir Purkayastha
Why the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses Fundamental Challenges to All Societies
Raouf Halaby
Fireside Chatterer Andrew Cuomo for President
Thomas Drake
The Sobering Realities of the American Dystopia
Negin Owliaei
Wash Your Hands…If You Have Water
Felice Pace
A New Threat to California’s Rivers:  Will the Rush to Develop Our Newest Water Source Destroy More Streams?
Ray Brescia
What 9/11 Can Teach Us About Responding to COVID-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Covid-19 Opportunity
John Kendall Hawkins
An Age of Intoxication: Pick Your Poison
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Propaganda Virus: Is Anyone Immune?
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 1: Dispatches From a Terrified Heartland
Nolan Higdon – Mickey Huff
Don’t Just Blame Trump for the COVID-19 Crisis: the U.S. Has Been Becoming a Failed State for Some Time
Susan Block
Coronavirus Spring
David Yearsley
Lutz Alone
CounterPunch News Service
Letter from Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer to the Publisher Zuade Kaufman
CounterPunch News Service
Statement From Striking Truthdig Workers
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail