I used to think that the US should not join the International Criminal Court because it too greatly intruded on our sovereignty. I am more and more convinced that I had it backwards: we need to join the ICC to save ourselves from ourselves.
The heart of the ICC scheme is a complementarity of jurisdiction: the ICC has jurisdiction only over very serious crimes against humanity such as genocide or war crimes. And even then, only if the crime happened in a signatory state or was committed by a national of a signatory state.
And even then the ICC only has the power to act only if the state with jurisdiction over the alleged criminal is unwilling or unable to genuinely prosecute him.
Which brings me to why the ICC is looking better all the time:
Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths: 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.
This comes on the heels of a bizarre defense offered to Congress by Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III for his report on why no higher-ups are responsible for anything bad:
When pressed to explain why he did not hold anyone accountable for failing to establish clear interrogation procedures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Admiral Church told reporters, “I don't know who you would have assigned responsibility necessarily to do that.”
When our government admits we have killed 27 POWs (something we used to take rather seriously when it was US POWs in the hands of the Vietnamese and the Viet Cong), tortured who knows how many, and then our government says no one is to be held accountable — that's when the case for joining the ICC, as a last-gasp line of defense of our decency — seems at its strongest.