– Hypocrisy, American Style – The Role of International Law (Veterans Today, Aug 5, 2013):
US to other countries: Do as I say, not as I do
“The Obama administration, like the Bush/Cheney administration before it, clearly considers that the rule of law only applies to the weak and the poor. The administration makes it clear that international law doesn’t apply to the US.”
On July 30, an American judge found Bradley Manning innocent of “aiding the enemy.” Were a typical American asked who the real enemy is, the answer would, invariably be “congress” or the government itself.
Few Americans understand what or who “Al Qaeda” is or is not, especially since they have, of recent, become America’s ally against the government of Syria.
No one is surprised at the Manning verdict, but many around the world are disgusted by it, particularly those who have tired of America’s hypocrisy.
Only two weeks ago, the US government ordered the defacto release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, in a prisoner swap with Pakistan. She had been considered one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists.
Both Siddiqui and Manning had suffered years of torture before their tribunals, the end result long predetermined.
Questions we won’t see asked, not in the American press certainly, is how a nation whose former leaders stand indicted around the world for capital offenses, war crimes of every description, can still consider “show trials” such as that Bradley Manning was subjected to as “justice?”
Who or whatever Edward Snowden is, heroic whistleblower or “Assange-like” showman and distraction, one thing for certain, no nation on earth, not Russia, not anyone, can every deliver anyone to the United States for trial and call it anything but “rendition” or kidnapping.
Since Edward Snowden allegedly revealed secret practices of the National Security Agency (NSA), the US has been loudly proclaiming that he should be returned to the US to stand trial. They constantly reference the “Rule of Law” as their basis. They have sought his return from the Moscow airport where he is supposed to currently reside. This despite the fact that the US and Russia do not have an extradition treaty in place. They have gone as far as to offer a sort of plea deal to Russia that if he is returned, the US promises not to seek the death penalty in his trial. (Note – Since this was written, Russia has announced that it is granting asylum to Edward Snowden. This has elicited a very strong condemnation from the US government)
The United States would have a more credible position if they did not routinely violate international law and ignore extradition requests from countries that do have extradition treaties with them.
In 2002, President George W. Bush announced that The United States was withdrawing from the international treaty that set up The International Criminal Court (ICC) even though the treaty had been signed in 2000 by then president Bill Clinton.
This withdrawal infuriated world leaders that believed that the US was taking this action because it feared that its leaders and soldiers would be subject to prosecution as war criminals if the US accepted the treaty.
At that time, the Washington Working Group on the ICC, a group of organizations supporting the court, said withdrawing from the treaty was a “rash action signaling to the world that America is turning its back on decades of US leadership in prosecuting war criminals since the Nuremberg trials.”
Judge Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor at The Hague war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, stated:
“I think it is a very backwards step. It is unprecedented which I think, to an extent, smacks of pettiness in the sense that it is not going to affect in any way the establishment of the international criminal court. The US have really isolated themselves and are putting themselves into bed with the likes of China, Yemen and other undemocratic countries.”
Shortly after removing itself from the ICC, the US made a pre-emptive strike on Iraq; this, despite the fact that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
During the following ten years, it has been alleged that the US used illegal weapons and tactics in the war, including the probable use of small-scale “tactical” nuclear weapons. Evidence of their use has recently surfaced largely due to the work of Dr. Chris Busby. After many years of dealing with red tape, Dr. Busby went to the Fallujah region of Iraq to research the effects of depleted uranium use.
What he found was that that fertility had been suppressed and the region was plagued with the onslaught of horrific birth defects. His hypothesis was that this was caused by the use of depleted uranium but he found that samples taken from the local population indicated that it wasn’t just depleted uranium but pure, weapons-grade U-235 that was used in the area.
The use of nuclear weapons is strongly prohibited by international law except in defending against a nuclear attack, and those ordering or carrying out such an attack would be subject to prosecution as war criminals.
Recently, President Obama has re-joined the ICC, but lately the cases that they are handling appear to be rigged to support war criminals rather than punish them. Low level crimes and small players are being brought before the court on flimsy evidence and are being found not guilty. Precedents are being set, so that when the real criminals are brought before the court, they will also be found not guilty. This is intended to create an acceptance of the martial law that is on the horizon in the west. There have been several arrest warrants issued for members of the Bush administration, but no one really expects them to be acted upon.
The flouting of international law by the US is not limited to high level officials. In 2003, suspected terrorist Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped off a street in Milan, Italy. He was thrown into a van and subjected to rendition, first by a secret CIA “black site,” and later by Egyptian police, who, he says, tortured him for the US. Nasr was released four years later, after an Egyptian court ruled that he was not guilty of anything.
Robert Seldon Lady, who at that time was the CIA station chief in Rome, Italy, along with 21 other CIA operatives, were indicted by the Italian courts. They asked for the accused to be extradited by the US to stand trial. Despite the long-time mutual extradition treaty between the US and Italy, the request was ignored.
The Italians were forced to try them in absentia. Lady, as station chief and mastermind of the kidnapping, was found guilty along with 13 others (eight men were acquitted) and was sentenced, also in absentia, to nine years in prison.
Following his sentencing, Italy obtained an international warrant for his arrest and sought to have him extradited by the US to accept his punishment, but the US refused.
In an interview in GQ magazine in 2007, Lady himself virtually admitted his guilt by saying:
“”I worked in intelligence for 25 years and almost no activity I did in those 25 years was legal in the country where it happened. When you work in intelligence, you do things in the country in which you work that are not legal. It’s a life of illegality.”
Lady seemed to vanish following his conviction, and was thought to be hiding out in Central America. He was arrested in Panama two weeks ago on an international fugitive warrant. At that point, Italy made clear that it was seeking his extradition, but on July 19, Lady was allowed to escape to the United States, which has no intention of returning him to Italy. Since the US has great influence in Panama, it is almost certain that they applied the necessary pressure for his “accidental” escape.
The US has clearly thumbed its nose at international law in this case. Documents leaked in 2010 by the US Department of Defense show that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had secretly worked with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to have the CIA agents’ case dropped, with Berlusconi promising to “do what he could,” and complaining that the Italian courts were run by “a bunch of leftists.”
Berlusconi has recently been tried and convicted of corruption in a tax-evasion case and he has been sentenced to four years in prison. More recently, he was also tried and convicted of sex with an underage girl, and was sentenced to an additional seven years in prison.
When Snowden went public with his allegations that the NSA is spying on the electronic communications of all Americans, and on hundreds of millions of other people around the world, including US allies, the Obama administration began attempting to coerce countries of Europe, Asia and especially Latin America, to not grant him asylum. Even Russia, where Snowden is currently holed up because the US has cancelled his US passport, has been threatened and pressured to keep them from granting him even temporary asylum. The US position is that other nations of the world must “follow the rule of law,” and hand Snowden over to the US for prosecution.
Snowden and his attorneys have pointed out, it is a right under international law to seek humanitarian asylum. That doesn’t matter to the US, though. They are strongly warning all countries that those who offer Snowden asylum, or even safe passage, will “pay a price” not just immediately but “for years to come.”
The Obama administration, like the Bush/Cheney administration before it, clearly considers that the rule of law only applies to the weak and the poor. The administration makes it clear that international law doesn’t apply to the US.