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John Bolton to Threaten Sanctions if International Criminal Court Investigates U.S.

"For all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us," Bolton reportedly plans to say.

Tarasov/ZUMA Press/NewscomTarasov/ZUMA Press/NewscomNational Security Advisor John Bolton will reportedly take a hardline stance today against the International Criminal Court (ICC), which investigates allegations of war crimes and genocide.

In a speech at the conservative Federalist Society in Washington, Bolton will warn the the court not to probe the United States' wartime conduct in Afghanistan. "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court," a draft of Bolton's speech reads, according to Reuters.

If the international body doesn't listen, the Trump administration could ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country. That's not all: "We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system," Bolton will say, according to The Wall Street Journal. "We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans."

The Trump administration's stance against the ICC—also referred to as The Hague, after the city in the Netherlands where it is headquartered—isn't particularly surprising. The ICC was established in 2002 by the Rome Statute, but that treaty was never ratified by the U.S.

"It's a much more real policy matter now because of the potential liability in Afghanistan," a senior Trump administration official tells The Washington Post.

In addition to threatening sanctions against the ICC, Bolton will reportedly announce the closure of the D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). According to the Journal, Bolton will claim the Palestinians aren't sufficiently committed to negotiating a long-term peace agreement with Israel.

Bolton's two announcements are tied together. Last September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israeli officials. The Trump administration responded by threatening to close the PLO office in D.C. "The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel," Bolton will say today, according to Reuters.

Bolton has long opposed the ICC. The court "constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty, especially that of constitutional, representative governments like the United States," he wrote in a Journal op-ed last November. Today, he'll say that "for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."

As Reason's Matt Welch noted in 2013, residents of non-signatory countries such as the U.S. can only face trial before the ICC at the request of the U.N. Security Council. Bolton apparently plans to address that in his speech. "We will consider taking steps in the U.N. Security Council to constrain the court's sweeping powers, including to ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute," he intends to say, according to The Guardian.

It's not absurd to worry that the ICC violates U.S. sovereignty. There are several constitutional problems with international courts such as the ICC too.

Still, it's not crazy to entertain the possibility that the U.S. has committed war crimes. Those crimes should be investigated and all responsible parties punished, even if the ICC—which already has a hard time holding war criminals accountable—isn't right for the job.

In any case, Bolton's threats are a bit extreme. Refusing to cooperate with the ICC because you think it sets a bad precedent for national sovereignty is one thing. But threatening companies that dare to assist an investigation? That just seems over the top.

Bonus link: Click here to read about Welch's firsthand experiences with Bolton, including a contentious interview on the late, lamented Fox Business show The Independents.

Photo Credit: Tarasov/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Earth Skeptic||

    Nothing rebuts accusations of corrupt, immoral government acts like corrupt, immoral government acts.

  • Ron||

    Didn't Bush Tell the ICC to fly a kite when they were thinking of prosecuting Bill Clinton for bombings in Iraq.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Bolton: Negative side for Trump

  • Carter Mitchell||

    Bolton needs to be in the dock for crimes against humanity. Not to mention fraud: impersonating a human being. Of course, we'd need an experienced priest for the exorcism.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Don't listen to him, ICC. You do whatever the fuck you want to.

  • Fancylad||

    So Bush and Obama get war crimes trials? I'm up for that.

    Also, this hurts Trump how?

  • Hamster of Doom||

    I have no idea where this conversation came from but you have definitely made me curious. Please continue.

  • Jack Spratt||

    Well, if that's the case, then Bolton and everyone should to whatever the fuck they want to.

  • Ken Shultz||

    John Bolton is a scumbag, who deserves to be prosecuted in the American criminal justice system himself. That being, said, he's not exactly wrong about everything.

    The UN is not a representative body. It may be representative of something, but to suggest that the UN (or the Security Counsel) is representative of the people of, for instance, China or Iran is worse than ludicrous--it's an affront to democracy and freedom.

    If the president hasn't signed and the senate hasn't ratified the ICC, then its officials have no authority to investigate American citizens on American soil. Our Republic and the people our Constitution protects is not subject to the authority of agreements to which we've never consented. Anyone within our borders who is trying to imprison Americans citizens outside the American system of justice is breaking so many laws, it's hard to know where to start--conspiracy to commit kidnapping is a likely candidate.

    If Stalin were to say that free-markets are better than central planning, I wouldn't disagree with him just because he's a murdering scumbag, and when John Bolton speaks the truth, those words are no less true for having passed between his false teeth.

  • Ron||

    Just curious what has Bolton done that rises to prosecution?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Colluded with somebody, somewhere?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Have you seen his moustache?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I hear it's a bolt-on moustache.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Six months after we invaded Iraq, almost 70% of the American people still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11.

    "WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists' strike against this country.

    Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it's likely Saddam was involved."

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com.....iraq_x.htm

    John Bolton deserves a big part of the blame for that. Ask Colin Powell. Ask George W. Bush about the infamous bullshit words in his SOTU. Ask the Republicans why they wouldn't confirm him under Bush. Ask the intelligence analysts he abused for not confirming his preferred narrative.

    If Chelsea Manning was worthy of prosecution for holding to the oath to protect the Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic, then John Bolton should be prosecuted for actively subverting the Constitution in regards to congress and its responsibility to declare war--specifically in regards to the casus belli as it pertained to Iraq. He even, apparently, hoodwinked the president--and his good intentions don't count for shit.

    Fuck John Bolton.

  • Ron||

    convincing people to believe stupid things is not a crime if it were we'd have to arrest everyone

  • Cathy L||

    Some people would call lying under color of authority "fraud."

  • Fancylad||

    Oh good, we get to incarcerate almost every politician worldwide who voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and told their constituents what a good thing it was. There goes half of todays DNC. In the senate only Larry Craig, R and Jesse Helms, R abstained.

    Here in Canada our old leftie PM sent Canadian troops to Afghanistan. I can hardly wait to see him sitting in the dock.

  • Ken Shultz||

    A lot of those politicians you're trying to protect said and did those things because of the false information they were given by none other than John Bolton.

  • TW||

    And what false information specifically did John Bolton provide?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Not so long ago, this stuff was so retreaded, it would make the regulars' eyes gloss over like you were arguing over abortion.

    If you're unfamiliar with the yellowcake in Niger story or the infamous bullshit that was put into Bush Jr.'s infamous SOTU address, if you're unfamiliar with the horseshit Colin Powell presented to the American people and the world or where it came from, if you don't know why or how the American people still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11 or why, then go read up on all that stuff.

    You've already been given more than enough facts to look it up yourself, and I don't get paid for bringing you up to speed on what happened circa 2002 and 2003.

  • Careless||

    Ken, you seem to have forgotten: this wasn't about yellowcake. this was about your claim that they did this because he convinced them Saddam did 9/11

  • Ken Shultz||

    You seem to have forgotten John Bolton's part in the yellowcake story.

    If you're unfamiliar with why yellowcake, mobile WMD labs, and the president telling us that Saddam Hussein was collaborating with Al Qaeda might have made Americans think Iraq was somehow involved in 9/11 and the anthrax attack, then that's on you.

    If you didn't know that Bolton was in the middle of all that bullshit, then go educate yourself. It's your responsibility to know what you need to know. I'm not here to teach you about what happened during World War II either.

    I can't help but wonder if I'm talking to people who were just little kids when all this was happening.

    I wasn't a little kid when this was happening.

  • Careless||

    No, I'm just pointing out that Bolton's part in the yellowcake story is completely irrelevant to your claims. you need to stop talking about it in this subthread. You were talking about what he convinced people about 9/11. This is you changing the subject and desperately trying to pretend your're not. Stop that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's detailed below.

    Or go look it up yourself!

  • perlchpr||

    Oh good, we get to incarcerate almost every politician worldwide who voted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and told their constituents what a good thing it was.

    I approve of this message and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not saying he should be convicted of anything in particular.

    If anybody should be investigated and prosecuted for what they've done in office and how badly its impacted American security and the American people (and not just in their wallets), that person is John Bolton.

    Maybe he should be acquitted. Through that trial, maybe we'd learn that some things need to be illegal that aren't already.

    And I am not convinced that purposely giving false intelligence to the president, Congress, the Secretary of State, et. al. isn't a crime--if that's what Bolton did.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "I'm not saying he should be convicted of anything in particular."

    "If anybody should be investigated and prosecuted for what they've done in office and how badly its impacted American security and the American people (and not just in their wallets), that person is John Bolton."

    These two statements are somewhat contradictory.

    In order to do more than a just cursory investigation that comprises nothing more than voluntary discussions with potential witnesses, they have to have probable cause. They can't establish probable cause unless they have something in particular that they are investigating him for.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "These two statements are somewhat contradictory."

    They're either contradictory or they're not, and they're not.

    Maybe get clear on the differences between probable cause and reasonable suspicion.

    The given reason for why an investigation into Bolton's activities was dropped was because the testimony and evidence against him was all highly classified.

    Still, public statements suggest a tremendous amount of culpability on Bolton's part--certainly enough to warrant an investigation of whether our intelligence services purposely deceived the American people. If you're so far gone as to imagine that congress needs a warrant to investigate whether government officials are deceiving the American people and their representatives in congress, then there's no point in discussing this or anything else with you.

  • ||

    I seem to even recall that at some point Bolton essentially admitted to having concocted a lot of that stuff and offered up that he was telling people untrue things so that they would do the right thing.

    Which was up to him to determine, of course.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Works for me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Why would you defend John Bolton?

    Is it for any reason other than because he works for Trump?

    Beware of Trump Derangement Syndrome--it swings both ways.

  • Ron||

    I'm not defending Trump just curious to why you think Bolton should be prosecuted and I see from your earlier comment that your reasons are not criminal, you just don't like things he's done.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't know whether what he did was illegal.

    I know that he should be investigated and prosecuted.

    A crime was committed when 12 jurors agree a crime was committed.

  • Ron||

    I normally appreciate most of your comments Ken but you are sounding no different than those who want to impeach Trump just for being Trump.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you can't tell the difference between those who would impeach Trump for being Trump and those who would investigate and prosecute someone for purposely feeding false intelligence to the Secretary of State, the President, congress, and the American people so that they would invade and occupy Iraq--costing us trillions of dollars and losing the lives of thousands of American soldiers--then you may have read what I've written in the past, but I'm not convinced you really understood what you read.

    If Trump collaborated with Putin and Russian intelligence services to throw the election, then he should probably be impeached--if not removed from office. I've seen no compelling evidence or testimony to suggest that this is what happened.

    I've seen plenty to suggest that Bolton purposely fed our government and the American people false intelligence in order to goad us into a war.

  • Jack Spratt||

    And your evidence that John Bolton knowingly gave false information is what? Or is Reason magazine and its readers in a competition with Salon to see who can do the most vile character assassination?

    There are a great many insinuations about the Iraq war and what got it started. But little evidence.
    It may be that the CIA lied or was lied to.

    Was taking out Saddam a good idea? There are a 1000 Monday morning quarterbacks who think it was nothing more than an illicit scheme based on fraudulent information. As yet I have not seen anyone of them prove their case. Just a bunch of wild ass speculation based on what very well could have been 'bad' information.

    Without being able to read all the CIA memoranda it's impossible to know.

    In all of the ranting by Ken Shultz not one piece of hard evidence is offered to substantiate his accusations. This is the Left at work. the smarmy, lousy Left that does character assassination rather than offer evidence. Let's be clear. Suspicions and wild ass guessing isn't a substitute for evidence.

    What is being said here about Bolton could be true. But then that is always a possibility...but that it's being said without a shred of evidence is pathetic.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Jack Spratt,

    Six months after we invaded Iraq, 70% of the American people still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11.

    There were a number of reasons for that. The anthrax attack is a big one.

    A lot of the rest of it had to do with the fake uranium in Niger story, the bogus photos of mobile WMD labs that Colin Powell showed America and the world. A lot of it had to do with what George W. Bush said in his SOTU address, which also turned about to be bogus. Is it really hard to believe that 70% of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11 because our intelligence services, our Secretary of State, and our president were all telling us that Saddam Hussein was collaborating with Al Qaeda and a state sponsor of terror?

    The person behind all that shitty intelligence--uranium in Niger, bogus mobile WMD labs, and the infamous words in Bush Jr.'s infamous SOTU address--was John Bolton.

    That's why Bolton couldn't get confirmed by a Republican senate. That's why Colin Powell personally intervened to make sure Bolton wasn't confirmed. That's why Bolton ended up with team Trump during the last campaign--because he was a pariah and there was no where else for him to go.

    We also have reports that Bolton abused and tried to fire analysts that wouldn't support whatever he wanted them to say when he was an official in the Bush Jr. administration.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you're not familiar with these facts, then there a few likely explanations for that.

    1) You're an uninformed ignoramus.
    2) You only support Bolton because he's on team Trump.
    3) You'd rather defend Bolton that accept that you were deceived--which amounts to intellectual dishonesty, really.

    Assuming that you only support Bolton because he's on team Trump is actually giving you the benefit of the doubt--and even that explanation is pathetic.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Ken, you don't haul someone in front of 12 jurors for no reason, there is usually criminal activity outlined prior to that. This is just wanting someone hauled in front of a jury because you think they're icky.

    His actions may all be odious and even at times duplicitous but how many politicians or senior political staff pass if that's as far as you go for their crimes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Again, it seems to me that purposely feeding false intelligence to congress, the Secretary of State, the president, and the American people does not equal "no reason" to investigate or prosecute.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Hey man, I am not sure they knew they were pushing false intelligence, only that it was maybe weak intelligence and they did not really care one way or the other if it was good because they were sure they would find WMD.

    If we were going to throw people in prison for the Iraq boondoggle (I am all for this) then we need to start with Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. Bolton may be part of this pie, but he is a bit player at best.

    The Royal Navy used to execute Captains for cowardice and shoddy leadership, I am not sure we should not have revived to practice for our civilian leadership in the present age. (I am half joking. Half).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If Bolton knowingly sent false information with intent to defraud via email, he has committed wire fraud.

    18 U.S. Code § 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television
    Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    In my opinion, wire fraud is not used enough against politicians and bureaucrats.

  • GaryA||

    Juan Cole has answered that at "Informed Comment":

    Let's call Bolton what he is, a War Criminal with Terrorist Ties, not just "Hawkish"

    Juan Cole 03/23/2018
    l

    John Bolton helped lie our country into an illegal war of aggression that killed several hundred thousand Iraqis, wounded over a million, and displaced 4 million from their homes, helped deliver Baghdad into the hands of Iran, and helped create ISIL, which blew up Paris. In a just world, Bolton would be on trial at the Hague for war crimes. Instead, he has been promoted into a position to do to Iran what he did to Iraq.

    and

    He is also in the back pocket of the MEK Iranian terrorist organization, which despite its violent and smelly past has proved so useful to those plotting the apocalyptic destruction of Iran that the Washington elite decided to take it off the list of terrorist organizations in 2012.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Bolton wears dentures?

    That said, I agree with the sentiment. The truth doesn't become less the truth, just because you don't like the guy who speaks it.

    "According to the Journal, Bolton will claim the Palestinians aren't sufficiently committed to negotiating a long-term peace agreement with Israel."

    Is there anybody who hasn't spent the last quarter century in a cave, who can seriously disagree with Bolton about this?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    While Bolton was technically correct, why should the Palestinians work toward peace with Israel?

    Israelis stole the land from Palestinians, who stole that land from Jews, who stole that land from....

    The USA should want to encourage peace because its good for business. OTOH, Since Israel has been around, the USA has been dragged into a bunch of Middle East turmoil.

  • DJF||

    The Romans stole the land fair and square, then they built roads and Aqueducts. The last time the place was run right was when the Romans had it.

    True they did a few Crucifixions but you have to keep order. Can't have people overthrowing tables in the Temple just because they think they are god

  • Seamus||

    What have the Romans ever done for us?

  • Hendo||

    The court "constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty, especially that of constitutional, representative governments like the United States"


    Added Bolton, "And national sovereignty is sacrosanct, except when we're the ones violating it."

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Like

  • Shirley Knott||

    +1

  • Juice||

    LOL, you know what else is a direct assault on national sovereignty?

  • shortviking||

    Open borders?

  • Alcibiades||

    It's not absurd to worry that the ICC violates U.S. sovereignty. There are several constitutional problems with international courts such as the ICC too.

    US to ICC; fuck off...

  • DajjaI||

    The ICC is deeply corrupt. It's basically an international sharia court. The judges seem like wise old white guys with thick beards but they are wolves in sheep's clothing. Thank you Bolton for fighting them. At times like this I'm glad I supported Trump. (Hillary would love the ICC, probably.) And yes I support closing the PLO office for appealing to the court. The court can't solve that either. The parties must achieve peace on their own. And they can do that the libertarian way: one state with full freedom and equal rights. #proclaimliberty #notsatire

  • SIV||

    Drone strike those ICC motherfuckers

  • damikesc||

    Why should the US be party to a court they never agreed to join?

    If the ICC tries anything, yes, we should nail them to the wall.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    >>>Why should the US be party to a court they never agreed to join?

    Indeed. Why should anyone?

  • Alcibiades||

    As Reason's Matt Welch noted in 2013, residents of non-signatory countries such as the U.S. can only face trial before the ICC at the request of the U.N.

    WTF!!

  • Mickey Rat||

    Where the US has a veto.

  • Alcibiades||

    Where the US has a veto.

    ...and which Obama sometimes refused to invoke.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Well, the idea that the US was a sovereign nation seemed to grate on Obama a bit.

  • Red Tony||

    Make Obama Grate Again!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    More cheese for everyone!

  • Mickey Rat||

    Enforcing US sovereignty and jurisdiction over its citizens is kind of a important point. I would also like to remind Seyton that US evidentiary rules and assumptions about how courts work like innocent until proven guilty are, well, not the norm outside of countries whose judicial system does not descend from English common law. You may not approve of what the standards of the ICC are.

  • Joe Emenaker||

    "Enforcing US sovereignty and jurisdiction over its citizens is kind of a important point"

    Did you *really* mean to say that the US should should be unique in the fact that their citizens should only have to answer to the US gov't (even when committing war crimes in other countries), or was the "US" part just a typo?

    And, if you feel that, in *general*, citizens should only be answerable to their own government (even for crimes committed outside of their borders), then... those who Nuremberg trials were illegitimate, then? Only the Germans had the right to try and punish the Nazis?

  • JoeBlow123||

    The Germans lost the war. They did not have a choice. Neither did the Japanese.

    When you are on the side with guns you can make the rules.

  • ||

    First, even though it's the WSJ, I'm skeptical that they know the exact language of the forthcoming speech. That matters. Let's at least wait to report on what Bolton actually says.

    Second, if a private party engages with the ICC and there's legitimate criminality related to that action, shouldn't they be prosecuted? I'm not clear here though what criminal actions are immediately apparent from such an interaction.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    John Bolton, "over the top"? No way!

  • Benitacanova||

    Hey ICC, you're not the boss of me!

  • UVaGrad||

    If the international body doesn't listen, the Trump administration could ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country. That's not all: "We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system," Bolton will say, according to The Wall Street Journal. "We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans."

    How would this even work? If Judge Whoever from the ICC allows a case against the United States to move forward, then decides to go to Hawaii for vacation, the FBI is going to arrest him on charges of...what, exactly? First-degree butthurt?

  • damikesc||

    Given that they tend to be foreigners...we are under no obligation to honor passports. We are free to tell them no.

  • UVaGrad||

    I get banning them from the country. But Bolton isn't just threatening an entry ban; he's also threatening prosecution. Prosecute them for what?

  • Joe Emenaker||

    "The court 'constitutes a direct assault on the concept of national sovereignty...' "

    ... he said while defending possible war criminals' actions resulting from our invasion of another sovereign nation. THAT ship, sir, has already sailed.

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