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[casi] CCR on shock & awe: war crime


Pentagon Official Warns of "Hiroshima" Effect

International Criminal Court Jurisdiction Can be Invoked For Attacks
Launched from British Base in Diego Garcia

New York, March 21st, 2003 - U.S. officials involved in military
operations against Iraq could be liable for war crimes prosecution
for the planned massive military attack, "shock and awe" lawyers
associated with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said
today.  "Donald Rumsfeld has stated that the attack on Iraq will
' of a...scope and scale beyond what anyone has been seen
before'," said CCR President, Michael Ratner.  "If that is the case,
and the U.S. is planning to employ a force beyond that used in
Dresden or Hiroshima, for example, then Secretary Rumsfeld is
predicting the commission of war crimes. In that case, the U.S.
could, and should, be prosecuted," Ratner added.

Generally, Americans carrying out war crimes may be able to do so
without fear of prosecution before the International Criminal Court
(ICC) because one of the pre-conditions to the Court exercising
jurisdiction is that the individual concerned be a national of a
state that is a Party to the ICC. However, the Court also has
jurisdiction over crimes carried out on the territory of a State
which is a Party, or onboard a ship or aircraft of a State which is a

A Senior Pentagon official has stated publicly: "There will not be a
safe place in Baghdad... you have this simultaneous effect, rather
like the nuclear weapon at Hiroshima, not in days or weeks but in
minutes."  The purpose is to "take the city down.  By that I mean you
get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days, they
are physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausted." In a
press statement yesterday, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld obviously
referring to "shock and awe" said that Wednesday night's attack would
be followed by a military campaign "of a force and scope and scale
that will be beyond" anything seen before.

It has been widely reported that U.S. U2 Bombers to be involved in
the "shock and awe" strategy are based at the U.S. Air Base on Diego
Garcia, in the Indian Ocean and will be loaded with cruise missiles
there for use against Iraq. Diego Garcia is UK territory, which it
leases to the U.S. As the UK is a Party to the ICC, crimes under the
statute, including war crimes, committed wholly or in part on Diego
Garcia fall within the Court's jurisdiction.

"Shock and awe" forms an integral part of the official U.S. war plan
for the invasion of Iraq. The strategy calls for the launching of
3,000 precision-guided bombs in the first 48 hours of war at Baghdad,
a densely populated city of 5.6 million. In Afghanistan, these
weapons had a maximum success rate of 85%, indicating that at least
200 missiles will miss their targets daily resulting in the
indiscriminate deaths of countless numbers of innocent civilians.

If initiated, this strategy will almost certainly result in the
commission of war crimes, primarily through its impact on civilians
and the civilian infrastructure such as water, electrical power and

According to CCR Legal Director, Jeffrey Fogel, "The laws of war
prohibit civilians being targeted and there is a fundamental rule
that Parties to the conflict must distinguish between the civilian
population and combatants and between civilian objects and military
objectives. Parties must restrict their operations to the targeting
of military objectives. The proposed U.S. "shock and awe" strategy
fails on all counts and as such constitutes a war crime under Article
8 of the Rome Statute."


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