Friday, February 02, 2007

The first steps toward a war crimes tribunal?

The actions of he Bush administration have been blatantly criminal. And it is becoming more apparent that many in the world see it that way. And now the first arrest warrants for agents of the US government have been issued by German prosecutors in Munich.

The warrants are for 13 individuals who are believed to be agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency. These men were involved in a US-led kidnapping of a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri. The whereabouts of the agents is currently unknown and it assumed that extradition requests will be filed when their location is known.

Under the illegal Bush policy of “extraordinary renditions” individuals suspected of being terrorists by the Bush administration are kidnapped in whatever country they living (thus violating the sovereignty of numerous other nations). The suspects are then taken to nations working for the U.S. government where they are tortured.

In this case el-Masri was in Macedonia when US agents kidnapped him and flew him to Afghanistan. There he was tortured and interrogated. After four months the US government flew him to Albania and dumped on the side a road. Political groups from across the spectrum support this move against the United States.

In a similar case a prosecutor in Milan, Italy, Armando Spataro, is also filing charges against 26 CIA agents and five Italians. In this case the US kidnapped a Muslim imam in Milan while he was going to mosque on the assumption that he “might” know something. The imam, Abu Omar, was taken to a US air base in Germany and then flown to Egypt, a nation that has no problem using torture. Omar is still being held in jail in Egypt after four years based on what they hope he might know. The United States is trying to squash these cases through politician manipulation.

But one has to wonder if the call for a war crimes trial won’t escalate over the next few years. Just as it is unwise to fly into the United States it may be unwise for George Bush, once he is farmed out into retirement, to visit any nation which might support the rule of law against his imperial presidency. At least he knows that those governments won’t send agents illegally into the United States to kidnap, then whisk him out of the US to an undisclosed location in a country where torture is routine, inflict said torture and demand he confess. In other words the one comfort Bush has is that these nations don’t act as he would.

But if what these men di was illegal then those who ordered them to do these actions also own responsibility for these crimes. That was a principle the West pushed in Nuremberg after World War II. and it is a principle that ought to be revised. This does not mean that the men behind 9/11 shouldn't be brought to justice. They should. But the men responsible for the invasion of Iraq ought to be brought to justice as well.