In April of 2003, The Nation called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense. “The indictment has many counts,” we wrote, “from misrepresenting the threat posed by Iraq, to the miscalculation of human and financial costs, to the shredding of international relationships.”
More than three years later, this judgement was met with mainstream consensus and national cheers as last week’s election results finally forced President Bush to show Rumsfeld the door.
Now, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is working to hold Rumsfeld accountable for being a central instigator of an illegal war. The legal group’s President and co-founder Michael Ratner yesterday filed a criminal complaint in Berlin asking the German Federal Prosecutor to open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that will look into the responsibility of high-ranking US officials–starting with Rumsfeld–for authorizing war crimes in the context of the “War on Terror.” The complaint was filed on behalf of 12 current and past US-held captives at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantánamo detention center, and argues that the Bush administration authorized policies and interrogation techniques that led to their torture.
The Bush Administration has refused to seriously investigate the abuses that have taken place under Rumsfeld’s command, so CCR has had to go to Germany to do it. Why Germany? The complaint is being filed under the Code of Crimes against International Law, enacted by Germany in compliance with the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court in 2002, which Germany ratified.
The CCIL provides for “universal jurisdiction” for war crimes, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. It enables the German Federal Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes constituting a violation of the CCIL, irrespective of the location of the defendant or plaintiff, the place where the crime was carried out, or the nationality of the persons involved.
The German Prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to initiate an investigation. CCR is urging people to write to her so she knows that people around the world support this effort. Please urge the German Prosecutor to open an investigation into this case. CCR has a good letter you can send along with contact info. (Note that all letters are in both German and English with German appearing first.)
Needless to say, even a conviction wouldn’t put Rummy in the docks. But it would send an important signal to the world that war crimes will not be ignored. It could also crimp Rumsfeld’s travel plans! The more of us who write to the German Federal Prosecutor, the more likely she is to open an investigation.
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