Rumsfeld dodging war crimes complaint

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-110796461728878.jpg’, ”, ‘Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’);

New documents have been filed with the German Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe, Germany, in connection with a war crimes complaint against several top U.S. officials.

The complaint, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), names Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and newly confirmed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, among others.

One of the new documents includes evidence the investigation of the Abu Ghraib abuses, conducted by Major Gen. George R. Fay, was designed to protect Bush administration officials. That is part of an extensive and comprehensive opinion by Scott Horton, an expert on international law.

The second document is a letter outlining how Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirms his part in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Horton was asked to consider if the U.S. would carry out a genuine investigation for war crimes up the chain of command. He states flatly that “no such criminal investigation or prosecution would occur in the near future in the United States for the reason that the criminal investigative and prosecutorial functions are currently controlled by individuals who are involved in the conspiracy to commit war crimes.”

CCR notes that the impossibility of an independent domestic investigation and the U.S. refusal to join the International Criminal Court make the German jurisdiction a court of last resort.

Horton said a study he made of Gen. Fay’s investigation of the events at Abu Ghraib showed the probe was meant to protect and cover up the role of high-ranking officials in this scandal. Horton said “certain senior officials whose conduct in this affair bears close scrutiny, were explicitly ‘protected’ or ‘shielded’ by withholding information from investigators or by providing security classifications that made such investigation possible…In each case, the fact that these individuals possessed information on Rumsfeld’s involvement was essential to the decision to shield them.”

With regard to Gonzales’s part in all this, CCR Vice President Peter Weiss said Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee “demonstrates his involvement in setting policy where torture and inhumane treatment were authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration.”

Weiss said Gonzales’s assertion that the bar on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment does not protect foreigners in U.S. custody abroad, “makes clear that Gonzales and the Bush administration continue to believe that non-citizens held outside the U.S. can be treated inhumanely” (

An FBI e-mail, dated May 22, 2004, said: “We are aware that prior to a revision in policy last week, an executive order signed by President Bush authorized the following interrogation techniques, among others, sleep ‘management,’ use of military working dogs, ‘stress positions’ such as half squats, ‘environmental manipulation,’ such as the use of loud music, sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc. I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by the executive order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is granted.”

The White House immediately denied the allegations. White House press secretary Scott McClellan declared: “What the FBI agent wrote in the e-mail is wrong. There is no executive order on interrogation techniques. Interrogation methods for military detainees are decisions made by the department of defense.”

The ACLU reported memos issued by Donald Rumsfeld had specifically authorized the interrogation methods in question.

Reuters reports Secretary Rumsfeld says he hasn’t decided if he will attend an international security conference this week in Germany, where he could be arrested on a war crimes complaint.

“I have not made a final decision on that (attendance). And there are several factors,” Rumsfeld said. The conference is scheduled to take place in Munich Feb. 12-13. Rumsfeld will be in Europe next week.

He admitted to reporters that one problem is the jurisdiction of a German court over the 160-page complaint filed Nov. 30 that accuses him of war crimes in connection with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The complaint was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based attorney group representing Iraqis who claim they were mistreated by U.S. military personnel at the prison.

The complaint also names former U.S. CIA Director George Tenet and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former U.S. commander in Iraq. “It’s certainly an issue, as it was in Belgium,” Rumsfeld said. “It’s something that we have to take into consideration. Whether I end up there, we’ll soon know. It’ll be a week, and we’ll find out.”

A law similar to the German law was passed in Belgium, but later changed and, under U.S. pressure, charges against U.S. officials and others, including Fidel Castro, were dropped.

Officials of the Munich conference told The Washington Post Rumsfeld might not attend. Rumsfeld said he will attend an informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in Nice, France, Feb. 9-10, and may make other stops but that his full schedule was not complete.

“I’m going to be in Nice,” Rumsfeld said, “and I’m very likely going to visit some other locations in that part of the world during that period” (

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