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Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations of Geneva Convention

by Last Night in Little Rock

Suddam Hussein's lawyers (see Hussein trial blog) have complained to the International Criminal Court that the United States has committed violations of the Geneva Convention various ways that "amount to war crimes" according to a story on AFP on Yahoo.co.uk. This story will evoke universal apathy.

The AFP story mentions several violations of human rights: "'Saddam Hussein has been subjected to degrading treatment, including photographs taken of him unclothed,' it said."

More fundamental, however, is the allegation that Hussein is subject to a certain imposition of the death penalty in violation of international law and he was being denied full access to counsel and his family. Ramsey Clark, one of Hussein's eleven surviving lawyers, complains that the U.S. backed court is a show trial:

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, one of Saddam's lawyers, said last month the former dictator could not receive a fair trial in Iraq unless his lawyers received US protection.

"It's impossible to have a fair trial when you don't protect all the participants in the trial -- protection that only the United States can provide under the circumstances," Clark told a news conference in Washington.

Clark said the lawyers should be given bodyguards and their families moved out of Iraq.

He said that without such protection, the former Iraqi leader would be subjected to "a show trial, a corruption of justice."

True.

This complaint is, however, Quixotic at best, and will garner virtually no press attention in the U.S. because the U.S. press does not understand nor, because of pure apathy, care what the ICC does or says. Why? Two fundamental reasons:

First, the U.S., thanks to President Bush's unsigning of President Clinton's December 2000 signing on to the ICC, is not a party to the "Rome Statute" that created the ICC. (Go to WhiteHouse.gov and search "International Criminal Court"; see example) The administration has been overtly hostile to the ICC because it goes to any length to veto anything before the UN Security Council without language in it that protects U.S. troops and personnel from the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Second, because the U.S. is not a party to the ICC, a complaint to the ICC about U.S. violations of the Geneva Convention is moot.

For what it is worth, the United States Code already criminalizes "war crimes" committed by our soldiers or personnel in 18 U.S.C. § 2441 which explicitly includes violations of the Geneva Convention. And, the U.S. is investigating and charging soldiers in the War in Iraq with war crimes.

So, will Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld be charged with war crimes on Hussein's allegations? Hardly, even though factually they are probably true. Sure, it is a show trial. War crimes in Iraq lie elsewhere.

War crimes charges, however, have to pass some transcendental line between bad acts and serious stuff. They are the stuff of "I know it when I see it" (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (Stewart, J., concurring)) jurisprudence. A wanton murder is not a war crime. Many murders are. Who had knowledge? Who is responsible? Who did what? Who didn't do what? All difficult questions.

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  • Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 07:27:06 AM EST
    All true, but it might put a crimp in Rummy's (and others') foreign travel plans if they're thinking about going to an ICC-signatory/participant country. The admin did have to put on a full-court press when the Germans started an investigation (under their universal jurisdiction human rights laws) of Sanchez and Rumsfeld over Abu Ghraib. That they succeeded in squelching it does not minimize the effort they had to expend to get there.

    All true, but it might put a crimp in Rummy's (and others') foreign travel plans if they're thinking about going to an ICC-signatory/participant country.
    You're not saying Sec Rumsfeld (and whoever else you would like to include in your list of ICC war criminals) might possibly be detained by a foreign government, persuant an ICC investigation? That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time - if that's what you meant, of course.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#3)
    by Punchy on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 08:44:23 AM EST
    The Saddam "trial" is the biggest sham trial since OJ. Everyone and their mother KNOWS he's getting death. WAYYYYY before the trial even started. Their is/was absolutely no doubt about it. The U.S. would never, ever allow any verdict but death. And this is why his scheduled execution will be on Nov. 3 or 4....days from the U.S. elections... With the Republicans...its ALL about the party.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 08:53:49 AM EST
    croc_choda - That's what he meant.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:11:50 AM EST
    Rumsfeld is certainly criminally incompetent. Suggesting he's somehow above blame and responsibility is dishonest and cowardly. What, only OTHER people's sh*t stinks? He is, with Bush and the rest, part of the most egregiously imcompetent, ignorant, and lazy administration in this nation's history. Too stupid to understand history or culture, too deluded to question themselves, and pathological egomaniacs all of them. For what he's put my brother through, for the abuse he continues to heap on soldiers and civilians, I'd break Rumsfeld's jaw if he came within five feet of me and go to jail gladly for it. He is a useless sack of sh*t and a walking mental illness. Another General calls for Rumsfeld's head. That said, Hussein will be executed right on schedule. And the Repubs will treat it like yet another "turning point" in their murderous escapade, when they know full well it is nothing of the sort. They'd whore their grandmothers if they thought it would win them an election. And I exaggerate only slightly.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:28:45 AM EST
    narius, does the idea of setting an example for the world mean anything to you? do you not think as a free country we should at least TRY to not be hypocrites? hussein should get a trial as fair as the nuremburg trials, but we've helped the world evolve backward and backass since then. we should be proud.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:40:25 AM EST
    Croc - that's what I meant. There was a very serious, though short-lived, (criminal) investigation of Rummy and Sanchez underway in Germany shortly after Abu Ghraib came to light. The Germans have a universal jurisdiction human rights law (kind of like the Spanish law that was used to indict Pinochet) and it appeared the investigation was going somewhere until Bushco intervened (through diplomats) to put the stop to it. The Germans also have something called "investigative detention", which is, well, being arrested and held until they get done interrogating you and deciding whether to charge you. Something like holding a material witness, I suppose. And, FWIW, it is said that Kissinger, when he travels overseas, goes with lawyers accompanying him, allegedly to defend him.

    Posted by Dadler July 7, 2006 10:28 AM narius, does the idea of setting an example for the world mean anything to you? do you not think as a free country we should at least TRY to not be hypocrites? hussein should get a trial as fair as the nuremburg trials, but we've helped the world evolve backward and backass since then. we should be proud.
    What exactly is it that you don't like about Hussein's trial? It seems that there is no right answer. We are trying to give him a fair trial and you complain that it is rigged. What would make you happy regarding the trial?

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#11)
    by glanton on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 10:44:04 AM EST
    Let's just stop preaching from the moral high ground.
    Well, narius, give it time. There are still Luddites among us who want to believe that "truth, justice, and the American Way" really all belong in the same sentence and that the country should be a beacon, even at (gasp!) the expense of tangible imperial power and the like. But these Luddites thin in number daily, and meanwhile you and yours grow. Take heart. Give it time.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:11:54 PM EST
    Granola, I'm not shedding a tear for Hussein, believe me, but the "trial" has become a bloody farce. Defense attorney after defense attorney is murdered. What's the point? And how is the larger cause of justice and building a legitimate future served by this chaotic and bullet-laden "trial". Sometimes the right thing to do is swallow some distasteful reality (by treating Hussein better than he would treat or did treat anyone in his own position) in the service of that larger goal.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#13)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:14:45 PM EST
    What would make you happy regarding the trial? Allowing him to meet with his lawyers would be a start. Then I would ask two questions: 1 Who gave you the technology with which to make your chemical and biological weapons? 2. Who gave you the targeting satellite images which allowed you to effectively deploy these weapons?

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:41:26 PM EST
    What would make you happy regarding the trial?
    Keeping his lawyers alive would be a start.

    Scribe - I couldn't imagine any nation in the world that would even pretend to joke about detaining one of our high-level officials. Absurd. Farcical. Again, a perfect plan for Fantasyland but not even a remote possibility in the real world. Remember, since 1989, we have been living in a unipolar world.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#16)
    by jondee on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 04:54:47 PM EST
    It's geopolitically "unipolar", but not morally unipolar. Some quaint notion bereft of "grim resolve"etc, about karma hitting one right in the face occurs to me..

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#17)
    by soccerdad on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 05:19:08 PM EST
    the unipolar gig has pretty much run its course

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#18)
    by Andreas on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 06:37:37 PM EST
    scribe wrote: "I couldn't imagine any nation in the world that would even pretend to joke about detaining one of our high-level officials. Absurd. Farcical. Again, a perfect plan for Fantasyland but not even a remote possibility in the real world." In fact government officials who are not arresting war criminals such as Donald Rumsfeld or help them to avoid arrest are themselves criminals.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#19)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 07:36:14 PM EST
    Soccerdad: the unipolar gig has pretty much run its course From your link:
    "Power is its own reward," wrote neo-conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer -- a long-time advocate of a U.S.-led "unipolar" world and Cheney favourite -- after the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan. "Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the region is now one of fear and deep respect for American power."
    First time I've ever seen anyone spell the word no d-e-e-p. Fear is not respect. It never has been. It's fear, and it's usually mixed with disgust. Krauthammer must still be in the 4th grade playground, I guess.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#20)
    by soccerdad on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 08:45:35 PM EST
    Fear is not respect. It never has been. It's fear, and it's usually mixed with disgust. Krauthammer must still be in the 4th grade playground, I guess.
    But thats the neocon approach -their idea of foreign policy is "shock and awe". Think about the pathology behind that way of thinking and then consider how the Iraq war has been run. Keep increasing the brutality and eventually they will give up - well I dont think so. You might get a truce but they will never give up when its their land they are fighting for.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:06:43 PM EST
    Andreas-It may seem all the same to you but your citation of scribe was incorrect. croc_choda was the one you have quoted. In fact scribe points out that American war criminals are at risk and that Cosigner travels with a team of lawyers when he leaves the country.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#22)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:17:23 PM EST
    Soccerdad: Keep increasing the brutality and eventually they will give up Yaeh, Soc. They'll never get it I suppose. After all look how well it worked with the North Vietnamese. And The French had such great long tern success trying it with the Algerians.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#23)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:18:48 PM EST
    I tink I bedder practiss my speling. :-)

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:18:55 PM EST
    spellcheck built in protection for war criminals. Cosigner Cheyenne Dolton Fetish Adding-ton Yew et al

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#25)
    by Edger on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 09:24:06 PM EST
    :-D

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#26)
    by Andreas on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 12:22:31 AM EST
    Correction: Squeaky is correct. croc_choda wrote that crap, not scribe. Sorry.

    Saddam will be kept alive along with Al Queda. It's Bin Laden who will likely die in November right before the elections. Saddam is needed to show the people of Iraq that Bush really cares about them. It's a ego thing with leaders. Since when do leaders kill leaders.If that were so Saddam would have never made it out of his hole he was hiding in.Bin Laden is worth more bonus points right now. Saddam is worth nothing.

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 10:41:15 AM EST
    More on war criminals and international travel
    As a former president, there will of course be many invitations to travel and speak on a wide variety of subjectsand that is where my advice comes in. Bush should bag the foreign travel.... Heads of State and senior government officials are immune from prosecution, until, that is, they have left office. This process has become known as "the principle of universal jurisdiction"
    link via robot wisdom

    Posted by Sailor July 7, 2006 03:41 PM What would make you happy regarding the trial? Keeping his lawyers alive would be a start.
    Ok -I'll give you that, but you can't believe that we(Bush,et al) want his lawyers to be murdered can you?

    Re: Hussein Complains to ICC about US Violations o (none / 0) (#30)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Jul 09, 2006 at 12:01:25 AM EST
    Granola, We kind of expected that the lawyers could travel aroung safely in Iraq this far down the line. Wolfie said it would be over in 6 months to a year. Or is that asking too much?