Ferencz Response to Safire Op-Ed, "The Purloined Treaty"
William Safire's article in the NY Times of April 9 is an example of muckraking at its worst. He opposes the creation of the proposed new International Criminal Court and asserts arguments that are demonstrably false, misleading and designed to frighten an uninformed public.
He says, "the agreement empowers a global court to try and imprison Americans, Israeli and other citizens of democracies for the undefined crime of “aggression.” The exact opposite is true. The Rome Treaty specifically provides that the Court will have no jurisdiction whatsoever to try anyone accused of the crime of aggression unless there is an amendment acceptable to almost all the parties that redefines aggression and clarifies the role of the Security Council consistent with the UN Charter. Such an amendment cannot even be considered until seven years after the Court starts functioning.
Safire says the prosecutor "would surely accede today to an Arab League request to indict Israeli soldiers and tomorrow to indict any US officeholder or servicemember who dared to offend a local dictator." This unsubstantiated and absurd prediction is based on the further erroneous supposition that "the prosecutor is answerable to no nation and unrestrained by any Bill of Rights." It totally ignores the fact that the prosecutor is subject to a host of judicial and administrative restraints that guarantees every accused person rights that exceed those now protecting American military personnel. His attempt to frighten readers by his warning that "no US sailor or president could travel abroad without becoming vulnerable to arrest by a politically motivated prosecutor" again stands truth on its head. Safire is describing the situation today, as Chile's ex-Dictator Augusto Pinochet discovered. The proposed new International Criminal Court would protect the accused against malevolent or unfounded prosecutions.
Mr. Safire ignores the opinion of leading academic and military experts that led the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to conclude that it would be in the interests of the United States to accept the new Court. The same conclusion was reached by the American Bar Association and by ten living past Presidents of the American Society of International Law. These are all serious scholars and experts whose views deserve the greatest respect. Safire echoes rabid arguments of opponents of the rule of international law that is needed to deter all nations equally. His article demeans his status as a serious journalist and diminishes the New York Times for publishing such an uninformed diatribe.
My website lists sources that may help serious readers find the truth.
BENJAMIN B. FERENCZ
A former Nuremberg War Crimes Prosecutor