No Foreigners Will Be Trying Members Of The Bush Administration For War Crimes

Over at the New Republic, they’re speculating that European nations will pursue war crimes charges against members of the Bush Administration,

Is it likely that prosecutions will be brought overseas? Yes. It is reasonably likely. Sands’s book contains an interview with an investigating magistrate in a European nation, which he describes as a NATO nation with a solidly pro-American orientation which supported U.S. engagement in Iraq with its own soldiers. The magistrate makes clear that he is already assembling a case, and is focused on American policymakers. I read these remarks and they seemed very familiar to me. In the past two years, I have spoken with two investigating magistrates in two different European nations, both pro-Iraq war NATO allies. Both were assembling war crimes charges against a small group of Bush administration officials. “You can rest assured that no charges will be brought before January 20, 2009,” one told me. And after that? “It depends. We don’t expect extradition. But if one of the targets lands on our territory or on the territory of one of our cooperating jurisdictions, then we’ll be prepared to act.”

Viewed in this light, the Bush Administration figures involved in the formation of torture policy face no immediate threat of prosecution for war crimes. But Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, nails it: “Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzales and–at the apex–Addington, should never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In the future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court.” Augusto Pinochet made a trip to London, and his life was never the same afterwards.

The Bush administration officials who pushed torture will need to be careful about their travel plans.

Even if a member of the Bush Administration somehow ended up in a country where they were charged with war crimes, there would be a very basic problem with capturing that person and putting him on trial.

That problem is that it would be an act of war against the United States. If let’s say Belgium or France captured Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney and stuck him in a prison cell, we’d probably try to settle it diplomatically at first, but if need be, those countries would get an up close and personal lesson in war crimes — right in their city streets.

What it comes down to in the end is that we don’t accept any other nation’s authority over us and we’re capable of doing something about it. So, unless they can stop our bombers, our tanks, and our special forces from running right over them, they’re not going to be putting any members of the Bush Administration on trial for “war crimes.”

PS: It goes without needing to be said, at least to people with common sense, that they didn’t commit any war crimes in the first place. And if they did, we’d be the ones to deal with them, not any group of foreigners.

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