"Obama War Crimes Ambassador Complicit in War Crimes Cover-up."--Does Obama Know? or Care? - by Prof. Peter Erlinder
“Obama War Crimes Ambassador Complicit in War Crimes Cover-up.”--Does Obama Know? or Care? - by Prof. Peter Erlinder
[CM/P continues to support President Obama despite all the seeming insults to the intelligence of his constituency--and to History, itself. The appointments of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke--to name just three--are hard unto impossible to explain except as reflexes of a deeply decadant and savagely anti-democratic system for the administration of such a large and powerful nation.
Biden, like so many other good working-class American Catholics, was a rabid supporter of the illegal secession from the Yugoslav Socialist Federation in 1991 of the revived Fascist Croatian Free State (and the cannonization of the Ustashi's own Arch-Bishop Stepinac); Clinton, like so many other sentimental feminists (Eve Ensler and Ben Affleck also come to mind), did yeo(wo)man's work in arranging important financial incentives for making rape (of women and children, one supposes, though this crime has recently claimed victims among fighting-age males in Congo), which has always been a crime in every nation on the planet, into a war crime, a crime against Humanity and even an act of genocide (Ms Clinton got a $600K reward together that brought such an indictment from the ICTR against the Former Rwandan Women's Development and Family Welfare Minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, see p://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/419850.stm); and Holbrooke, like all noble knights errant of the financial round table, almost single handedly from his broker's chair at Credit Suiss First Boston, broke into the privileged trade relations of the former Yugoslav Republics of Croatia and BiH, to insinuate therein the wasteful ministrations of Western investment banks, collected significant courtier's fees and service charges, and so raised the cost of living in these nominally socialist-administered political-economies that many chose suicide to paying outlandishly high energy prices for the same Russian feul they'd gotten pre-Dick at a third the price from YugoGaz when Slobodan Milosevic was heading that agency, just to help the Holbrookes with the rent on their Eastside Manhattan coop.
Maybe these appointments can be written off as corrupt Clinton-era legacies--or just further murky reflections in an ever-more degenerating and putrescent US social service employees pool. But President Obama's recent appointment of Stephen Rapp as his Ambassador for War Crimes, replacing Pierre Prosper--coming as it does at this critical moment in the writing of recent military history in Africa and elsewhere, and having as much or as little as it does of Obama's own political volition behind it--can only exacerbate an already morbidly ill US foreign policy, especially where the vast, rich and strategically essential African continent is concerned.
We won't blame Obama for this selection, yet another set back for Historical Truth and Justice; but we will come in as hot as we can to bring out the evidence of its folly.
For after all, as Prof Erlinder, a great and good fighter in our cause, mentioned in a personal email:
--I "like" Obama too, and would much rather shoot hoops with him, than cut brush with Bush ... but, we now have the smartest, most likeable and most competent captain that the Titanic has ever had. .... But he does not own the ship, does not determine the ports of call, has already demonstrated that "first class" gets the lifeboats and, even though he hears us yelling down in steerage--and was once down here himself-- ..... we are not a priority for the "Cunard Line" mukimuks that pay his salary.
More importantly, no matter how hard he pulls on the wheel .... when allowed to ..... the course of the ship was set long ago, and .... the iceberg is still looming in the darkness.--
Wow, whadda buzz-kill, huh. Man, let's all just pull up a deck chair, kick back, ice up those cocktails (there's a whole lot a fresh ice right off the port bow), and see what the band'll play next.
You think they know Louie, Louie? --mc]
Former Chief UN Rwanda Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte:
“Obama War Crimes Ambassador Complicit in War Crimes Cover-up.”
Does Obama Know? ….or Care?
by Prof. Peter Erlinder
In mid-July, the NY Times reported that the Obama administration had selected Stephen Rapp to replace Pierre Prosper, the Bush administration’s Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes. A former Iowa U.S. Attorney, and Democrat politico, Rapp began his international career at the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2001, while Carla Del Ponte was Chief Prosecutor. In Del Ponte’s 2008 memoir, Madam Prosecutor: Confronting Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity, translated into English in early 2009, Del Ponte explains how she was removed from her ICTR position in 2003 by U.S. Ambassador Prosper, himself, because she refused to cooperate with a U.S.-initiated “cover-up” of war crimes committed by the current Rwandan government during the 1994 “Rwandan Genocide.”
According to Del Ponte, the ICTR Prosecutor had the evidence long before 2003 to prosecute Kagame for “touching-off” the Rwanda Genocide by ordering the assassination of Rwanda’s sitting President Juvenal Habyarimana. Her book also details dozens of massacre sites involving thousands of victims for which the Kagame government and military should be prosecuted. The well-publicized canard, that “the identity of the assassins is unknown” is a bald-faced lie, known to all ICTR senior prosecutors, according to Ms. Del Ponte.
Two years after Del Ponte was removed from office, Rapp became “Chief” of ICTR Prosecutions with access to all of the evidence known to Ms. Del Ponte, and more. During his four years at the ICTR, Rapp also was in a position to prosecute Kagame and members of the current government of Rwanda, but, to this date, not ONE member of Kagame’s military has been prosecuted at the ICTR … and the “cover-up” continues to this day. Unlike, Ms. Del Ponte, Mr. Rapp was rewarded with an appointment as Chief Prosecutor at the U.S.-funded Sierra Leone Tribunal and, now, with a coveted ambassadorship.
Former Chief ICTR Prosecutor Del Ponte Details ICTR “Cover-up”
According to Del Ponte, in May 2003 she was called to Washington D.C. by Prosper (ironically, also a former ICTR prosecutor with knowledge of Kagame’s crimes) who informed her that the U.S. would remove her from her UN post if she carried through with her publicly announced plans to indict Kagame and members of his government and military. According to Del Ponte, when she refused to knuckle-under because “she worked for the UN, not for the U.S,” Prosper told her her ICTR career was over. True to his threat, by October, Del Ponte was replaced by a US-approved ICTR prosecutor, Hassan Abubacar Jallow. Stephen Rapp was elevated to Chief of Prosecution by Jallow two years later.
ICTR Trials: More Evidence of Rwanda Crimes Cover-Up
Del Ponte’s revelations are not the only evidence that a U.S. initiated “ICTR cover-up” is creating impunity for crimes committed by Kagame and his military. Memos from September 10, 1994, in evidence in the ICTR Military-1 Trial, confirm that U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher was informed that Kagame’s troops were killing “10,000 civilians a month” in military-style, according to an investigation funded by USAID. And, in early 1997, Chief ICTR Investigative Prosecutor and former Australian Crown Prosecutor Michael Hourigan; former FBI Agent James Lyons; and former UN-Chief of Military Intelligence in Rwanda, Amadou Deme: all reported to Ms. Del Ponte’s predecessor, Louise Arbour, that Kagame should be prosecuted for assassinating the previous president. Arbour scuttled the investigation, suppressed the report and disbanded the investigative team. Shortly thereafter, Arbour was elevated to Canada’s Supreme Court and has recently been chosen to head the International Crisis Group, after an illustrious UN career.
Former ICTR Prosecutor Rapp Complicit in Cover-up
But, even though Arbour suppressed the “Hourigan Report” it must have been known to Ms. Del Ponte, Mr. Rapp and other ICTR prosecutors, because ICTR judges had ordered the ICTR Prosecutor to release the “Hourigan report” which had already been released to a defense team as early as 2000, a year before Rapp began his ICTR work, and two years before Del Ponte was fired by Prosper.
Like Del Ponte, when Rapp became the ICTR Chief of Prosecutions under Jallow in 2005, he had access to all of the information necessary to prosecute Kagame and main figures in his military and government. But to date, not one indictment has been issued against Kagame by the ICTR Prosecutor.
Kagame & Co. Already Indicted in France and Spain
Athough the U.S. has been successful in preventing Kagame’s crew from being indicted at the ICTR, other courts have indicted Kagame and members of his retinue. In late 2007, French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière indicted the assassins of Habyarimana and recommended that Kagame be prosecuted by the ICTR. And, in February 2008, Spanish Judge Fernando Merelles issued a 180-page indictment specifically charging Kagame with Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, including the massacres of more than 300,000 civilians. And Mr. Rapp’s former boss, Mr. Jallow, publicly admitted before the UN Security Council in spring 2008 that Kagame’s military is responsible for the assassination of Rwanda’s Catholic leadership in 1994. But still no ICTR prosecutions.
The Consequences of the ICTR Cover-up of Kagame’s Crimes
The tragic consequence of the failure to prosecute Kagame at the ICTR, from 1994 to-date, is that Kagame was free to invade Congo in 1996 and 1998, and is currently occupying a part of eastern Congo 14-times larger than Rwanda. No less than four UN Security Counsel-commissioned Panel of Experts Report(s) on the Illegal Exploitation of the DR Congo (2001, 2002, 2003 and December 2008) have detailed the massive rape of the Congo’s resources that has brought vast riches to Kagame and his inner circle. Since the first invasion in 1996, Kagame’s Congo invasions have been responsible for more than 5-million deaths, more every few months than the total alleged to have died in Darfur, crimes for which Sudanese President Bashir, a figure disfavored by the U.S., has been indicted by the ICC.
While Rapp was ICTR Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions, Kagame was effectively elected President-for-Life with 95% of the vote, after banning opposition parties and jailing opponents, in “a climate of intimidation” according to EU observers. According to the Economist report on the 10th Anniversary of the “genocide” in 2004:
“[Kagame] tolerates no serious domestic opposition, nor much in the way of free speech. Rwanda today is a thinly-disguised autocracy, where dissidents are usually accused of genocidal tendencies, live in fear, or exile, or both. The regime is a threat to its neighbors.
ICTR Chief of Prosecutions Rapp Personally Withheld Exculpatory Evidence from Defense Counsel and ICTR Judges
As if this wasn’t enough, in February 2009, the ICTR issued its Judgement in the Military-1 case, the main case at the ICTR, in which Mr. Rapp personally appeared for the Prosecution. Although massive violence did occur in Rwanda, the court certainly recognized that blaming only one side WAS a falsehood, when it acquitted all of the “architects of the killing machine” (as Mr. Rapp called the defendants in court) of conspiracy or planning to kill civilians. The highest ranking military-officer was acquitted of all charges.
And, although it is now clear from Ms. Del Ponte’s memoirs that Mr. Rapp had the evidence that would clear the defendants of the assassination charges and that both sides had committed crimes, for which the losing side has been blamed entirely. Simply put, Mr. Rapp and other ICTR prosecutors have: withheld evidence at the ICTR that would be beneficial to the defense; prosecuted defendants for crimes they knew were committed by Kagame and the RPF; and created a system of “judicial impunity” that has permitted Kagame to kill millions in the eastern Congo.
All of which raises the uncomfortable question regarding President Obama’s nomination of Mr. Rapp: Are his advisors ignorant of the public record regarding Rapp’s complicity in an ICTR Cover-up? … or does Obama just not give a damn?
Prof. Peter Erlinder
Wm. Mitchell College of Law
St. Paul, MN 55105