US Trying to Destroy the Rule of Law
George Bush Sides With Slobodan Milosevic and Nazi War Criminals, Against International Court
A new scandal affecting the Bush administration. One of the hallmarks of civilization and democracy is the "rule of law." Now the US federal government wants that to be dismantled, and has even been caught trying to bully other countries. Here are portions of an article originally appearing in the New York Times and being distributed by Transparency International, the anti-corruption organization.
U.S. suspends aid to 35 countries over new international court
by Elizabeth BeckerThe Bush administration suspended all American military assistance to 35 countries on July 2 because they refused to pledge to give American citizens immunity before the International Criminal Court.
The administration warned last year that any country that failed to give exemptions to Americans would lose such aid.
That includes training programs as well as financing of weapons and equipment purchases.
Some of the countries affected, like Colombia and Ecuador, are considered critical to the administration's efforts to bring stability to the Western Hemisphere. Others, like Croatia, are preparing to join NATO and were counting on American help to modernize their armed forces.
The new court is the world's first permanent forum for putting on trial people charged with genocide and other crimes against humanity.
The Bush administration strongly opposes it on the ground that Americans could be subjected to politically motivated prosecutions.
"There should be no misunderstanding, that the issue of protecting U.S. persons from the International Criminal Court will be a significant and pressing matter in our relations with every state," Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said.
Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein of Jordan, the president of the assembly of nations that signed the treaty establishing the court, said 90 countries had become members despite Bush's opposition.
"The US campaign has not had a negative effect on the establishment of this court," said the prince, who is his country's ambassador to the United Nations. "We have a court in place, a very fine panel of judges, a prosecutor, and we should be fully running by the end of the year."
Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr., the US assistant secretary for political military affairs, admitted that the administration wants to remain outside the court's purview, especially with a rise in the number of war crimes charges against American officials.
"Our opposition is not meant to be a lack of respect for the jurists involved in the I.C.C.," Mr. Bloomfield said. "It is concern that there could be politically motivated charges against American citizens. Several standing officials have been under war crimes indictment in Belgium this year for their roles in the 1991 gulf war."
He said those included Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.The Progress Report points out -- Bloomfield failed to explain why these indictments should not lead to court trials to settle the charges. Why is the US government afraid of a trial?Supporters of the court dismissed that argument, saying the Belgian court is a national body with very different rules from those of the new international court, which has safeguards that would help protect American officials if they are innocent.
Richard Dicker, a director of Human Rights Watch in New York, which has lobbied for the court's creation, said the suspension of military aid today amounted to a defeat for Bush.
"This policy is creating a dilemma where the administration has to chose between military cooperation with democratic nations and this campaign of ideology against the international criminal court," he said. "I've never seen a sanctions regime aimed at countries that believe in the rule of law rather than ones that commit human rights abuses."The Progress Report points out -- the US is penalizing countries that agree to an international court of law. The US government is seeking a special privilege -- let's see, in Serbia, that would have made it impossible to put Slobodan Milosevic on trial. In Germany in 1945, that would have made it impossible to put Nazi war criminals on trial. Does the Bush administration really want to overturn the principle behind those war crimes trials?Senior administration officials said the announcement should not be seen as a permanent freeze on all military aid to the 35 countries. That was little comfort to the nations that lost military assistance. Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said the July 1 cutoff would have differing impacts on the countries.
The Progress Report says -- we have shocking news for the Bush administration. The purpose of a trial is not to please the defendant, but to decide justice. The US government's idea, that no U.S. people should be put on trial unless they feel like it, is completely ridiculous. Imagine if Bush's idea were the custom throughout the United States.
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