"I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It's a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial.
"And I wouldn't join it. And I understand that in certain capitals around the world that that wasn't a popular move. But it's the right move not to join a foreign court that could -- where our people could be prosecuted." - George W. Bush 09/30/04
"Men without conscience are capable of any cruelty the human mind can imagine." - Dick Cheney 01/26/05
Nothing good comes of this: Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths by Douglas Jehl New York Times 03/26/05.
Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.
Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations.
To date, the military has taken steps toward prosecuting some three dozen soldiers in connection with a total of 28 confirmed or suspected homicides of detainees. The total number of such deaths is believed to be between 28 and 31.
In one of the three cases in which no charges are to be filed, the commanders determined the death to be "a result of a series of lawful applications of force." In the second, the commanders decided not to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. In the third, they determined the soldier involved had not been well informed of the rules of engagement.
We shouldn't kid ourselves about the iceberg of which this is a tip. The Iraq War, combined with the lawless preferences of the Bush administratio, is wrecking discipline in the Army. It may take the Army much longer to recover from this debacle than it did from the Vietnam War. Anyone who thinks this is a sign of being "tough on terrorism" has their head buried in the sand.
This is probably the most telling comment in the whole story. The Pentagon has clowns like this go out and make transparently dishonest statements and then whines that it's "the media" that created their credibility gap:
A spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Chris Grey, said in a statement: "We take each and every death very seriously and are committed and sworn to investigating each case with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness. We are equally determined to get to the truth wherever the evidence may lead us and regardless of how long it takes."
One of the deaths involved an Iraqi lieutenant colonel who died in captivity from "blunt force injuries and asphyxia." In other words, they beat his head in and strangled him with a baton while he was gagged. No prosecutions.
In another case, a soldier just shot a prisoner to death. The Army concluded that he hadn't been well informed of the rules of engagement. No prosecution. If you shoot somebody in your neighborhood for having a muffler that's too loud or something, try telling the cops that you weren't informed of the laws about murdering somebody over a loud muffler.
Another Iraqi prisoner had been apparently suffocated by being stuffed into a sleeping bag head-first. No prosecution.
For the rightwing trolls who claim that criticizing any American for committing a crime while in uniform is "dishonoring our soldiers," I've got two comments:
One: Leck mich doch! (Rough translation: Bite me!)
Two: If you "honor," excuse or defend the actions of soldiers who murder prisoners or carry out criminal orders to torture, you're equating these criminals with the now hundreds of thousands of inidividual soldiers who have served in Iraq, under difficult conditions and often with inadequate equipment, without committing such crimes. Normal Americans honor soldiers who do their duty. Only rightwing zealots "honor" the torturers and murderers.
And this really does relate back to Bush's objection to the International Criminal Court. The ICC is designed to prosecute war crimes only in instances where the legal system of the country involved fails to deal with the crimes. Before the Bush administration, it was generally assumed that the US legal system would easily meet that test, so that it would be extremely unlikely that the ICC would assume jurisdiction over a case involving Americans working on behalf of the government, either in the military or in other capacities.
That assumption no longer seems to be valid. The Bush administration is making the United States into a rogue state within the democratic world.