American War Criminals

October 26, 2007, Paris, France – Today, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Paris Prosecutor before the “Court of First Instance” (Tribunal de Grande Instance) charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. Rumsfeld was in Paris for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, and left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.

from the Center for Constitutional Rights Website.

I can’t listen to Democracy Now all of the time; it is too strident. Pacfica Radio, with certain exceptions, has always had a certain problem with tone. So I often stop listening for a while and then go back and listen to shows from, say, a week before. That makes the contrast between what Democracy Now sees as news and the so-called mainstream particularly sharp. This story is a good example of something that is completely below the radar, at least until one of these suits actually sticks…

The U.S. led the way into the concept of international law, from the League of Nations to the United Nations to the Geneva Convention and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Our government, of course, has a long tradition of following these laws only when it’s convenient. What is so interesting is that there is now a movement afoot to force the War criminals to face this same international justice. Rumsfield apparently slipped out of France in order to avoid press and summons. It’s a lot less quixotic than you might imagine.

So far, in fact, this seems like a well organized effort unlikely to be easily deterred. “Henry Kissinger reportedly fled Paris in 2001,” write Amy Ross and Chandra Lekha Sriram, in The Jurist , “after being tipped off to an imminent summons by a French judge; he later canceled a trip to Brazil after being warned by the government there that he might face an international arrest warrant.” Also in the sights of these suits is Guatemala’s Efrain Rios Montt, sought in connection with “the genocide of Mayan Guatemalans during his government’s scorched earth policy in the 1980s…”

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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