ATROCITIES IN IRAQ AND OUR WITHDRAWAL FROM
THE WORLD COURT
TvNewsLies - May, 2004
George W. Bush, upon taking office in 2001, immediately began a systematic withdrawal from major international treaties to which the US was a signatory. As part of that policy, on May 7th, 2002 Donald Rumsfeld informed the Secretary General of the UN that the US was officially withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Months before, the US had already established that the court would grant the United States immunity from the court for US citizens suspected of atrocities. Under guidelines pushed through despite EU concerns, US soldiers serving overseas would be immune from prosecution in the court, while politicians and US officials, including CIA operatives, could claim diplomatic immunity.
That was not enough. Rumsfeld made it very clear that the United States would reject any attempt by the court or state parties to the treaty to assert any jurisdiction over American citizens. In short, Americans were accountable to no one for any atrocities they might commit anywhere in the world.
The ICC opened in March 2003, without the United States, despite efforts by the Bush Administration to hamper its creation. What impressive foresight on the part of the Secretary of Defense and his Commander in Chief in the White House…and what unmitigated arrogance!
As usual, little media attention was paid to this action. As Iraq war cloud gathered, the Bush administration painted the UN as an organization whose decisions and activities were irrelevant and unnecessarily hostile to the coming invasion of Iraq. It seems quite clear now that Bush and Company were about to wage a war using whatever means necessary and free of any concerns that they would have to answer to the world community for anything they did. How right they were.
At this moment of national disgrace attested to by thousands of photographs of American atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, too few Americans know very much about the International Criminal Court, its purpose and its value.
How many flag-waving, blind-sighted Americans know that:
there is a new International Criminal Court that was created to enforce international law and address crimes such as those committed by Saddam Hussein as well as many other types of international crime?
most of the world believes that having such a court is a good idea and supports the concept of an entity designed to enforce international law and hold violators accountable for their crimes?
89 nations signed agreements promising their cooperation in enforcing international law and agreeing to comply with international law?
Now for the Big Question:
How many American patriots know that the Bush administration not only fought to prevent the creation of the ICC, but refused to join it, and have relentlessly been bullying other nations into not holding Americans accountable to any crimes they may commit?
Since abrogating the Clinton administration's signature, since the opening of the ICC the Bush/PNAC Administration has convinced 24 countries to sign bilateral agreements with the US, pledging not to surrender to the court US nationals or foreigners working under US contract. The number of nations exempting the US is still growing.
How can this be? How can the Bush administration, the professed moral leader of the world, refuse to officially agree not to commit international crimes such as war crimes? Why would they refuse? What possible reasons could they have for not wanting to be held to the same standards as the rest of the world?
What possible reason would there be for George Bush not signing this agreement? Can anyone think of a single reason for his refusal to have our actions held to account in the ICC? Truthfully, we can think of only one motive to remove the US from the jurisdiction of the UN’s International Criminal Court, and to withdraw from a previously ratified agreement that would make us accountable for violations of international law:
Such an act makes perfect sense if the United States had committed or intended to commit acts in violation of international law,and wanted to avoid prosecution!
There is no other rationalization for opposing membership in an organ of the UN that was created to maintaining international law and order. TVNL challenges this administration to come present a believable justification for not joining the world community in the ICC.
The key word here is: believable.
Consider some of Bush administration violations to date:
The detention of declared enemy combatants for indefinite periods without charges and without access to legal advise or defense
A preemptive attack against a non belligerent sovereign nation that posed no imminent threat to the US or any other nation
Responsibility for the death and maiming of thousands of civilians as part of an illegal invasion
Illegally invading and occupying a sovereign nation, and not planning for and providing adequate security for its population
Committing outrageous abuses and atrocities in violation of the Geneva Conventions against Iraqi citizens detained without due process.
Ah, a bit of light falls on the Bush administration’s position on the ICC and its relentless efforts to gain exemptions throughout the world. It virtually seals the argument for those who allege that the humiliation and torment of the prisoners in Iraq was cleared from high up in the Bush administration. It appears that great effort was made to ensure that no one in the Bush/PNAC administration could be held accountable for violating international law. As a result, our generals, our President, and members of the administration are totally and absolutely exempt from prosecution for war crimes even if it were determined that they had indeed been complicit.
When the US withdrew from the ICC, a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity made it quite clear. He said:
Sometimes the US has to do things and people don't agree with it. We don't want a politically motivated prosecution to result from that.
Common sense leads to the conclusion that the Bush administration knew all along that it would be conducting itself in a manner that would at the very least challenge international law, and at very most hold international law in utter disdain. They did their utmost to ensure that no one in this government would be held accountable by the international community. With a Republican House and Senate the Bush administration also is assured that it will not be held accountable for any of its actions in the US as well. There is no chance in hell of an impeachment process to take place.
You have to hand it to them, they did their homework. From the very start of this administration a relentless effort has been made to ensure that the Bush administration is above the law, at home and abroad. Without a doubt, the US Congress and the American corporate media are complicit in this travesty of justice that has once again awarded Bush and Company a free pass.
The resolution of this injustice is in the hands of the American public. Americans have traditionally walked the moral high ground, and would be highly critical of such an outrage should it have occurred in another country. There are criminals in high places in our government, not the least of whom has been entrusted with the title of Commander in Chief. These people will not be brought to justice in any court, that is a given.
They can, however be tried in the court of public opinion by the voters of this country this November. They must be held accountable, and we the people have the power to do that. Remember that - when you enter the voting booth. Remember that - when you cast your vote. Remember that - when you think of what this nation was only a short while ago, and what it has become under the Bush administration. And remember that most of all when you think about what your vote can do to restore the United States of America to its rightful and honorable role in the world.
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