Government Justice

Government Justice

Why the International Criminal Court is bad news for the United States Military and Intelligence Agencies

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Last week, US National Security Advisor John threatened to severely sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC), a judicial branch of the UN, if they proceeded with investigations regarding potential war crimes committed by US armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during it's wars in the Middle East. Bolton denounced the ICC as "illegitimate" and a "threat to American national sovereignty and security." He also derided the investigation proposed by the ICC as based on "utterly unfounded" claims. While the US government has been at odds with the ICC ever since it retracted its signature from the Rome Statute (the court's founding document), it is also interesting to examine why the ICC was investigating US forces in Afghanistan in the first place. From torture to illegal imprisonment, the ICC alleges that the United States has violated international law on multiple occasions while carrying out military operations during the wars on terrorism.

Last year, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda stated that the ICC would begin preliminary proceedings examining whether or not there were "secret detention facilities" where "war crimes" were perpetrated "by the United armed forces." Specifically, Bensouda was referring to torture procedures used by the US military against prisoners suspected of Islamist ties, such as waterboarding, a technique which makes the victim think he/she is drowning. Many of these so-called "enhanced interrogation" procedures were undertaken at US military bases like Guantanamo Bay and the infamous CIA "Salt Pit" prison in Afghanistan. It is also worth noting that many of the prisoners held were not allowed to exercise basic Constitutional rights . In the court case Boumediene v. Bush, the Washington D.C. circuit court held that the writ of habeas corpus (the right for someone in custody of the law to know what crimes they are being charged with) does not apply to overseas military bases like Guantanamo. Therefore, it can be reasonably concluded that prisoners held by the US military were not allowed to access the 5th amendment right to due process of law, even though the Insular Cases of 1901 directly state that the US Constitution applies under all foreign territories under US control (this should include Guantanamo Bay). U.S. Constitution aside, the ICC has been called to investigate these potentially unlawful and "indefinite" detentions as violations of international law, specifically international humanitarian law.

When John Bolton threatened the ICC, he had reason to be concerned. For years, the US military and the CIA have been mistreating its prisoners in manners that violate the international accords set at the Geneva Conventions of 1949, since the United States was clearly engaged in an "armed conflict" in Afghanistan and the Middle East when many of these alleged crimes were committed. Although, given the US's power and prestige worldwide, the ICC will likely have no impact on the fates of those involved in the accusations, this investigation should send a loud and clear message of accountability that the United States will hopefully consider when crafting future foreign policy.

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Sorry People, But #BelieveWomen Is #UnAmerican

Presumption of innocence is a core American value

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There's a saying: "Lack of faith and blind faith - both are equally dangerous". Believing sexual assault accusers who are women just because they are women besides being the very definition of sexist - prejudice based on sex - is setting a harmful precedent on the way justice is served in this country. See, what this movement has done is changed justice from "prove guilt" to "prove innocence", an important and incredibly dangerous difference. Where is the due process that our Founding Fathers envisioned, fought, and died for?

Due process is an integral part of the reason why we have the United States of America. It was so important to our Founding Fathers that they included it in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight (the Bill of Rights), and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. It galls me to see how privileged modern day feminists are - so privileged they seemingly forget the freedoms this country affords them, so they may live their life, expect liberty, and be unhindered in their pursuit of happiness.

#BelieveWomen is a vigilante movement - and with vigilante justice the innocent always hang with the guilty, one of the very reasons for due process. I've heard the argument it's better to let innocent men rot in jail than have rapist men walk free, an argument, despite being incredibly moronic and unAmerican, that would not be made if the accused was a man close to the woman's heart. Because with the change to "prove innocence", the assumption will be guilt, and a confirmation bias will be created. Whereas if the assumption is innocence, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has occurred. I understand that a high percentage of rape accusations are truthful (I believe the number is in the high 90s), but the small percentage that are not means we cannot, in good conscience, assume guilt. To assume would damn some men to a fate they do not deserve, a fate they would have to endure simply because of their sex. Any real feminist should be appalled at how sexism is implicitly encouraged in this movement.

If you choose to #BelieveWomen in spite of everything I outlined, that is your prerogative, but you must #BelieveAllWomen. If your father, husband, boyfriend, or son gets accused, you must #BelieveWomen and stand with their accuser. Any less and your feminist privilege will show. Vocal #MeToo activist Lena Dunham has already shown her privilege - accusing actress Aurora Perrineau of lying about being assaulted by her friend Murray Miller. When the going gets hard, feminists rarely stick to their principles. And sadly, feminism - and the double standards it always brings - rears its ugly head once again.

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