The International Criminal Court: Now Simply Indefensible 303

Support for the rule of international law, and for the institutions which uphold it, is one of the principles of this blog. I have therefore always been extremely keen to defend and support the International Criminal Court, despite widespread criticism that it is simply a tool for use against leaders in the developing world and other opponents of the neo-con world order. I maintained that the standard of justice and investigation in the cases it did consider was generally good, and the need was to widen its ambit.

Unfortunately, the decision of the ICC to close down its investigation into War Crimes committed by the British in Iraq is the last straw for me in continuing to harbour any hope that the ICC will ever be anything more than an instrument of victors’ justice. I have read the entire 184 page report which closes down the investigation, and it is truly shocking. It is shocking in the outlining of British war crimes, but what really shocked me is the truly appalling picture that clearly emerges of the attitudes of the International Criminal Court.

I am afraid this article is rather heavy going, and requires you to read some rather lengthy sections of the report to show what I mean. Nothing is so damning of the ICC as the words of their own report, so I do not apologise for this approach. I would say that what I found really did shock me and has completely changed my mind about the value of the International Criminal Court as an institution. As I flatter myself I have a reasonably good grasp of such matters, I am proceeding on the assumption that what was startling to me will probably be startling to you, and you will find this worth reading.

The launching of the Iraq War was itself the most serious single war crime of this century to date, and the ICC had previously ducked it by arguing that the Statute of Rome which founded the Court did not at the time of the war include illegal war of aggression among its list of war crimes. I argued then and I argue now that this did not remove that crime from its jurisdiction. The crime of illegal war of aggression was already firmly a part of customary international law and the very foundation of Nuremberg, so the ICC did not need specific mention in the Treaty of Rome to be able to prosecute it.

The current ICC report on British war crimes in Iraq however simply blandly reiterates the line (para 35):

Finally, although a number of communication senders have also made allegations relating to decision of the UK authorities to launch the armed conflict, the Office takes no position on legality of war given the non-applicability of the crime of aggression at the material time.

It was perhaps always Utopian to imagine that Blair, Straw, Campbell, Scarlett, Dearlove etc would pay for their crimes. But it did seem very probable that the ICC would prosecute at least some of those directly responsible for committing war crimes on the ground. Alas, the ICC has now produced 184 pages of mealy-mouthed sophistry and responsibility-dodging to justify why there will be no further investigation, let alone prosecutions. I have read the full report and frankly it makes me feel sick. But I shall still try to elucidate it for you.

This ICC report does give an account of the origin of the Iraq War, and it is astonishing. At para 36 it states the UK/US case for the invasion as historical truth, as though that were the simple and uncontested fact of the matter.

36. After the January 1991 Gulf War, the Security Council adopted a resolution setting out ceasefire terms, including ending production of weapons of mass destruction and permitting inspection teams on the territory of Iraq. In September 2002, the US and UK argued that Iraq was in material breach of the relevant resolutions and was seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction. UN weapons inspectors stated they had not found any “smoking gun” in their search for weapons of mass destruction, but noted that this was “no guarantee that prohibited stocks or activities could not exist at other sites, whether above ground, underground or in mobile units”. The US gathered a coalition of 48 countries, including the UK, for the stated purpose of searching and destroying alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

That is it. That is the ICC’s entire account of the origin of the Iraq War. The notion that Security Council Resolution 699 of 1991 authorised the 2002 invasion – a position never endorsed by the Security Council – appears to be taken as read despite being the most hotly disputed question in international law of all time. The selectivity of the cherry-picked quote from the weapons inspectors is an audacious bit of sophistry given it is taken from a report in which the weapons inspectors detailed they found no evidence of WMD, that cooperation from the Iraqi authorities was improving, and asked for more time and resources to complete their work. Even more flabbergasting, this ICC report paragraph gives as a supporting footnote the infamous UK government “dodgy dossier” on Iraqi WMD, a totally discredited document, without any indication there is any problem with it.

The truth is, that the paragraph in the report by the ICC prosecutor on the origin of the war is precisely as the UK would draft it, and in its unmoderated presentation of extremely contentious positions and its remarkable selectivity as to what facts are presented, it is entirely tendentious. I suspect that not only could it have been drafted by the UK government, it is very likely it was so drafted. I cannot think of anyone else, not even the current US government at time of writing, who would consider that paragraph a fair or reasonable explanation of the origins of the Iraq war.

This criticism applies to the entire document. It is written entirely in the preferred language of the invaders. For example, Iraqis resisting the foreign occupation are referred to as “insurgents” throughout the document. We first see this in para 43, in the statement that the British forces in Basra faced “an increasingly violent insurgency”. Oh, those poor innocent British forces, sitting at home in Basra, facing invasion from “insurgents” who had surged in from… from… err, Basra. The idea that the invaders were the respectable power and the locals were “insurgents” may be the language of the British MOD and may be adopted by the Daily Mail, but it should not be the language of the International Criminal Court. Here again, the prosecutor simply accepts the entire British framing of the narrative. Insurgents are referred to throughout.

Not only is the entire report written in the British voice, it entirely omits the Iraqi voice. The Prosecutor has written a report on British war crimes against Iraqis. The Prosecutor accepts there is credible evidence that hundreds of such war crimes were committed. Yet nowhere is there one single direct quote from an Iraqi victim. Not one. In the hundreds of references, The Prosecutor has based the entire report on whether to prosecute Brits for crimes against Iraqis, solely on interviews with Brits in official positions.

Everything is seen through the British military lens. To give another small illustration of this point, a skirmish at Majar-al-Kabir, following which captives were grossly mistreated, is referred to as “The Battle of Danny Boy”, which it is called by nobody except the British army. The ICC should not be calling a site in Iraq by the name the British army gave their checkpoint there, nor representing a skirmish involving 100 people as a “battle” because the British army does. “The Battle of Danny Boy” is a good illustration of the way that this report is written entirely through the British military gaze using British, not Iraqi, terms.

This next fact alone sufficiently illustrates my point, and entirely damns both this report and the International Criminal Court. Of the 776 footnotes, not a single one references a document in Arabic or in translation from Arabic. Not one. The vast majority of references are to official British documents. On the rare occasions when Iraqis are mentioned in the report, it is frequently to impugn their reliability as witnesses. The Iraqi individual most discussed – still briefly – is not a victim but a lawyer engaged in collecting testimonies. The Iraqi voice has gone unheard in this ICC decision. The victims are unconsidered.

You will search in vain for the Iraqi voice even where it could easily be found, in the witness statements of Iraqis to the British courts the report so freely quotes. But no, where Iraqi experience is recounted at all it is thoroughly mediated by British judges or other authorities.

Yet remarkably the report accepts that British forces were responsible for war crimes on a substantial scale. The report was written by a team, and plainly the team that was setting out the facts on the ground held rather different views from the politically influenced bosses who were writing the conclusions. The report notes:

70. The UK deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on 4 October 2001. The ICC therefore may exercise its jurisdiction, from 1 July 2002 onwards, over alleged acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed either on UK territory or by UK nationals on the territory of other States.
71. As set out more fully below, on the basis of the information available, there is a reasonable basis to believe that, at a minimum, the following war crimes have been committed by members of UK armed forces:
wilful killing/murder under article 8(2)(a)(i)) or article 8(2)(c)(i));
torture and inhuman/cruel treatment under article 8(2)(a)(ii) or article 8(2)(c)(i));
outrages upon personal dignity under article 8(2)(b)(xxi) or article 8(2)(c)(ii));
rape and/or other forms of sexual violence under article 8(2)(b)(xxii) or article 8(2)(e)(vi)).

Then again:

113. The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that in the period from April 2003 through September 2003 members of UK armed forces in Iraq committed the war crime of wilful killing/murder pursuant to article 8(2)(a)(i) or article 8(2)(c)(i)), at a minimum, against seven persons in their custody. The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that in the period from 20 March 2003 through 28 July 2009 members of UK armed forces committed the war crime of torture and inhuman/cruel treatment (article 8(2)(a)(ii) or article 8(2)(c)(i)); and the war crime of outrages upon personal dignity (article 8(2)(b)(xxi) or article 8(2)(c)(ii)) against at least 54 persons in their custody. The information available further provides a reasonable basis to believe that members of UK armed forces committed the war crime of other forms of sexual violence, at a minimum, against the seven victims as well as the war crime of rape against one of those seven victims while they were detained at Camp Breadbasket in May 2003. Where such detainee abuse occurred, this typically arose in the early stages of the internment process, such as upon capture, initial internment and during ‘tactical questioning’.
114. As noted above, the findings set out above are a sample pool of incidents which, while not reflecting the full scale of the alleged crimes relevant to the situation, were sufficiently well supported to meet the reasonable basis standard and allow the Office to reach a determination on subject-matter jurisdiction.

Later the following aggravating factor is considered:

140. The manner in which these crimes are alleged to have been committed also appears to have been particularly cruel, prolonged and severe. Notably, in five cases of deaths in custody, the victims were allegedly tortured – or at least severely and repeatedly assaulted – by UK personnel who detained them prior to their death. In the killing of Baha Mousa in September 2003, the victim was hooded for almost 24 hours during his 36 hours of custody and suffered at least 93 injuries prior to his death.

It is important to note that this appalling catalogue of crimes, where there was a reasonable prima facie case to proceed, represented only a very small sample of the thousands reported to the International Criminal Court. But even this small sample convinced the prosecutor that there was good enough evidence for the investigation to go forward.

So why did it not proceed? The Prosecutor decided to drop the case on the principle of “Complementarity”. This means that the ICC cannot prosecute if the government concerned – the UK government in this case – is itself genuinely investigating or prosecuting. The prosecutor based the decision not to proceed on these provisions of the Statute of Rome:

But none of the catalogue of crimes for which there is good evidence, examined by the ICC, had resulted in prosecution. In fact the report detailed that not a single prosecution had resulted from the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) in the MOD, although they had investigated scores of cases which the IHAT itself – consisting of former military and retired policemen – considered viable. In every single case, the proposal for a prosecution had been knocked back by the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA).

In fact the ICC only references two cases in which there were convictions for war crimes, and in both cases the conviction was purely because somebody immediately admitted the truth and confessed at the initial investigation stage. The maximum sentence given out was just one year in prison. The report’s account of how one of these convictions from confession came to fruition is extremely revealing:

91. Several notable features stand out from the Camp Breadbasket court martial. First, although multiple military personnel knew about the alleged abuses (including the alleged sexual crimes), each failed in their duty to report them. The conduct only came to light when one of the soldiers involved in taking trophy photographs had the photographs developed in a civilian shop and the shop assistant reported the conduct to civilian police, who made an arrest. Second, during his testimony, when asked why he had not reported alleged criminal conduct at Camp Breadbasket, Corporal Kenyon asserted that, “there was no point in passing anything up the chain of command, because it was the chain of command who was, in my eyes, doing a wrongdoing to the Iraqis to start off with, and they were passing Iraqis down to us, for us to do the same things basically”.

The key fact here is that the MOD’s processes and investigations had nothing whatsoever to do with the conviction. It came about because of the chance of a civilian seeing the photo and bringing in the civilian police, who had plain and undeniable photographic evidence of torture and sexual abuse. Otherwise this would have been entirely covered up by the MOD, exactly like all the other thousands of cases bar one other (in which somebody wracked by conscience insisted on confessing). For the ICC to quote the Camp Breadbasket conviction as evidence the UK investigation processes are working is tendentious. It was very obviously a fluke; I cannot think of a better example of an exception that merely proves the rule.

The International Criminal Court’s decision that there are no grounds to continue investigation, on the grounds the UK’s own procedures are adequate, becomes truly incredible – in the real meaning of the word, utterly lacking in credibility – when you read this passage of the report. It really is worth reading:

380. The Office has pursued a number of lines of inquiry to independently ascertain the veracity of the BBC/Times allegations with a view ultimately to speak with the primary sources of the allegations and other persons directly involved or with knowledge of facts related to the events. Overwhelmingly, those former IHAT staff the Office spoke to indicated that they had concerns about the outcome of IHAT’s investigations. Most considered that the investigative teams did a thorough job, but when it came time for the investigations to progress to prosecutions, there was something obstructing this. The former IHAT investigators were unable to specify what this obstruction was, given their limited access to decision-making, but insisted that such obstruction came at levels higher up within IHAT or the SPA (Services Prosecuting Authority).
381. Several former IHAT investigators reported their frustration at the outcome of inquiries into systemic issues submitted for internal IHAT/IHAPT review, whether in terms of recommendation for further investigative steps or referrals for prosecution, in view of their concern that cases involving superior responsibility were prematurely terminated or that there was leadership pressure within IHAT/IHAPT not to pursue them.
382. Several former IHAT staff were of the view that IHAT’s independence and impartiality was undermined by its relationship with the army and MoD, including: its physical location on a British Army base; IHAT’s use of MoD resources and systems; and requirements that IHAT staff go through the RNP or MoD personnel for certain functions (such as securing custody and travel).
383. Multiple former IHAT staff described difficulties in accessing evidence in the possession of the RMP or the MoD. They described how some RMP and MoD personnel obstructed access to files, in their view unjustifiably; did not permit IHAT staff to locate documents they had been vetted to inspect; and imposed restrictions on access; or were repeatedly told that they had been given all of the relevant material pertaining to a certain matter, only to later discover that they had not. The former IHAT staff described how some storage boxes had been mislabelled, obscuring the discovery of relevant evidence, and their view that the RMP only gave IHAT a fraction of the relevant material they possessed.
384. The former IHAT staff the Office spoke to also conveyed the difficulties the teams encountered in attempting to interview witnesses and suspects and to conduct other investigative steps. They described multiple occasions on which their requests to interview important witnesses were blocked for either unexplained reasons or for administrative ones, such as ‘expenses not allowing’. They described how witness interviews were hampered by IHAT refusing to reimburse witnesses for travel, travel details being changed at the last minute and in one case a potential witness being arrested before meeting with investigators. Some had the impression that IHAT management were trying to put obstacles in their way. Multiple former IHAT staff relayed their impression that there was no will on the part of IHAT management to allow proper investigations which would result in prosecution.
385. Concern was also expressed over the SPA’s involvement in the termination of cases. Several former IHAT staff that the Office spoke to felt that the SPA, as part of the MoD, was not truly independent or impartial respecting the armed forces. Multiple individuals with extensive civilian criminal investigations experience described how the investigation teams built cases which they considered were evidentially strong and ready to proceed, but the SPA refused to lay charges. With respect to certain alleged killing incidents, the view was conveyed that evidence supporting charges of manslaughter or murder, which would have proceeded in a domestic civilian police inquiry, were discontinued by the SPA.

Read that, and then consider that the conclusion of the International Criminal Court report is that their investigation must be dropped as there is no evidence that the UK is not diligently pursuing prosecutions.

The ICC then details a dozen paragraphs of what I would characterise as bland managerial reassurances from the MOD that these concerns are unwarranted, a result of the limited understanding of junior staff, and decisions not to prosecute have always been taken on the advice of external counsel. You are welcome to read that section of the report starting at para 386. The ICC accepts these reassurances and the British Government view as genuine without question, never for example considering that the MOD might have external counsel of notable militarist views and disinterest in human rights. The fact that external counsel is involved in the decisions not to prosecute is taken by the ICC as substantial guarantee that the procedure is genuine.

After the IHAT was closed down its workload was transferred to the smaller Service Policy Legacy Investigations Team, which immediately closed down 1213 out of the 1283 cases it inherited. That this indicates that a genuine process is underway is apparent to the ICC, but not to me. The report also notes something remarkable about the IHAT’s approach in that it categorised cases into three tiers, of which only the first tier was actively pursued. The second tier were cases considered less serious so it was not “proportionate” for them to be pursued. But consider what was in the second tier. This is from para 355 of the report:

Tier 2 allegations are those that may meet the investigative threshold of the SPLI but are dependent upon a further review. They are cases of moderate severity and ill-treatment where no life changing injuries or significant psychological harm has been sustained. Examples of Tier 2 cases could include, but are not limited to, GBH type offences that are not of a life changing nature; e.g. broken bones and or fractures. Tier 2 allegations could also include lower level sexual allegations e.g. intimate searches, and other treatment of a serious nature i.e. mock execution, nonfatal shootings and electrocution.

But as the report notes, this almost all meets the definition of torture: GBH inflicting broken bones and “non-fatal shooting”, as well as “lower level” sexual abuse is pretty serious stuff. If somebody shot you in the knee while holding you captive, would you think it “proportionate” for them to be prosecuted? The MOD would not – subject to an unspecified future review.

The question of the work of the IHAT being frustrated by senior management is one of those instances where the content of the report is at such variance with its conclusions, it is pretty clear that these were not written by the same people. In fact, the report returns to the concerns of IHAT staff again, plainly giving real weight to something earlier paragraphs had already dismissed:

408. The Office spoke with a number of former staff of IHAT who held different levels and functions. This sample of individuals was to some extent self-selected (being persons who were willing to speak to the Office). Accordingly, there may be limits to the representativeness of their experiences as compared with that of former IHAT staff as a whole. The Office nonetheless notes that the views of these individuals were on the whole balanced, as evidenced through their advancement of both praise and critique for various aspects of IHAT’s work. The Office also accepts that these individuals were not natural ‘whistle-blowers’. As former law enforcement personnel bound by confidentiality undertakings with their former employer and liable for penal sanction for potentially breaching protections on classified information, they may have been naturally reticent to speak with the ICC, which also reduces their likelihood of having made frivolous or malicious allegations. On the whole, the information received by the Office corresponds to the reports made in the BBC Panorama programme and in the Sunday Times.
409. The Office views with concern the fact that professional IHAT investigators – drawn from experienced retired officers of civilian police forces or serving Royal Navy Police personnel – would have made allegations of a cover-up or expressed concerns over the fate of the IHAT investigations that they worked on.

The schizophrenic report attempts to reconcile this by constantly referencing only para 2 (a) of the admissibility criteria, and claiming that neither the lack of prosecutions nor the allegations of IHAT staff give conclusive evidence that criminals are being deliberately shielded from prosecution. The report claims on the basis of previous court decisions that for a case to be admissible, “shielding” by the state must be proven to the standard of criminal proof. I am not sufficiently expert in the court’s previous judgements to know if that is true. But on the face of it, it is an extremely curious view of the admissibility criteria, read as a whole. Even apart from that, the evidence of shielding of soldiers by the MOD appears to be fairly compelling; certainly enough to justify further investigation.

The detail of the report gives ample evidence, much of it from UK courts, that cases are not being adequately investigated, that prosecutions are not being properly pursued, and that the military are conspiring – “Closing ranks” as more than one senior judge has put it – to cover up crimes, and getting away with it.

Para 213
The commanding officer referred Baha Mousa’s death for investigation by the RMP’s SIB, which was concluded in early April 2004 and resulted in the court martial of seven soldiers of the QLR. The court convicted Corporal Donald Payne of inhuman treatment but acquitted him of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. Payne appears to have been the first British soldier ever to be convicted in the UK of a war crime. In the case of five other defendants, the Judge Advocate ruled that there was no case to answer due to lack of evidence, while two further accused were cleared by the jury of negligently performing the duty of ensuring that detainees were not ill-treated by men under their command.331 Justice MacKinnon, who presided over the court martial, acknowledged that despite his finding that Baha Mousa’s injuries were the result of numerous assaults over 36 hours “none of those soldiers have been charged with any offence simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks”.

A similar example:

217. Naheem Abdullah died from a blow or blows to the left side of his head inflicted by one or more soldiers of a section of the 3rd Batallion of the Parachute Regiment while in their custody in Maysan Province on 11 May 2003.346 Naheem Abdullah’s death was investigated by the RMP’s SIB in 2003 and seven soldiers were charged with murder. At a court martial on 3 November 2005, the Judge Advocate found that the evidence did not permit a conclusion to be drawn on the individual responsibility of each defendant. The Judge Advocate criticised the RMP’s SIB investigation as “inadequate” with “serious omissions” by investigators in not searching for records of hospital admissions or registers of burials.
218. During the Ali Zaki Mousa litigation, the UK High Court noted its concern that IHAT had not taken the case forward despite the court martial finding that the death was a result of an assault by the section to which the soldiers belonged.
219. On 27 March 2014, the Secretary of State for Defence announced that an IFI investigation into Naheem Abdullah’s death had been commissioned in order to comply with the High Court’s decision in Ali Zaki Mousa (No. 2) but that “no prosecutions will result”. The IFI made “exhaustive inquiries about the whereabouts of the transcript of the court martial” but concluded it had probably “been destroyed or thrown away”. It further noted that the soldiers had not given oral evidence, been examined or cross-examined and found that the “need for them to give oral evidence” was a “critical aim” of the IFI inquiry.

In what universe is this not an unwillingness or inability of the UK authorities genuinely to prosecute? If this were a stabbing by a group of civilian youths, they would all be banged up under the doctrine of “common purpose”. The difficulties of prosecuting criminals who stick together are by no means the sole preserve of the armed forces, and the days when nobody could be convicted because of the problem of proving which gang member struck the fatal blow are long gone in civilian life.

The sole difficulty here is the prosecutors’ and investigators’ unwillingness to use the toolbox regularly used against gangs or organised crime, against self-protecting groups of soldier war criminals. The criminals are indeed being shielded.

Para 228 further shows the MOD’s failure in this regard is systemic:

As IHAT/SPA set out to the Office: 7 defendants were prosecuted during a six month court martial, with the case against all but 2 being dismissed by the judge at the conclusion of the prosecution case. The reasons for this outcome are complex but relate to the quality of the evidence given by the British soldiers who were called as witnesses by the prosecution. While the defence did not dispute that the detainees in this case had been subjected to serious mistreatment, including acts of violence, during their detention at “BG Main”, the detainees themselves were unable to identify which individual soldiers had been responsible for which aspects of their mistreatment or for which assault. This was primarily because the detainees had been hooded for most of the relevant time. Several of the soldiers who were called as witnesses by the prosecution proved reluctant to provide evidence against those with whom they still served, leading to what the Judge Advocate, a senior judge from the civilian system who had been brought in to try this case, described as a “more or less obvious closing of ranks”. The 2 defendants against whom the case was not dismissed at the conclusion of the prosecution case were subsequently acquitted by the Military Board after consideration of all of the evidence.

Finally, one last paragraph to illustrate that the conclusion of the report is completely incompatible with its internal evidence:

250. The Baha Mousa Inquiry report, published on 8 September 2011, made findings on the death of Baha Mousa in British custody in Basra after several days of abuse in September 2003. Five years prior to the report, seven suspects had been subject to the pre-IHAT procedure described above, which resulted in six acquittals at a court martial and one conviction for the war crime of inhuman treatment (following a guilty plea). The report found that British soldiers had subjected detainees to serious, gratuitous violence and that although doctrinal shortcomings may have contributed to the use of a process of unlawful conditioning, it could not “excuse or mitigate the kicking, punching and beating of Baha Mousa which was a direct and proximate cause of his death, or the treatment meted out to his fellow Detainees”.414 The findings did not inspire new prosecutions. On 8 June 2017, during a hearing to review the progress of IHAT investigations, Justice Leggatt noted that it was “difficult to understand why almost six years after a major public inquiry was finished in 2011 there has been no resolution of the question whether to prosecute anybody in relation to Baha Mousa.”

Yet the International Criminal Court claims not to have sufficient evidence that the UK government is not genuinely pursuing prosecutions: and remarkably states that even the passing now of legislation specifically to give an amnesty to soldiers for historic war crimes, does not radically affect its judgement as to the MOD’s practice and intent.

This report is a nonsense. It is based on adopting the UK MOD gaze throughout, and accepting that everything statted by UK official sources is true and given in good faith, which is never even questioned. The failure even to entertain the notion that the UK is acting in bad faith renders the report utterly pointless. Never can a report have been written on any subject where the internal evidence was so utterly incompatible with the conclusion. The report is the responsibility of prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. I find her motives as baffling as her conclusions.

What is however plain is that I can no longer argue that the ICC is an impartial body. Its protection of the UK not only over the initiation of the Iraq War, but even over the many crimes committed by its working level soldiers, let alone those who commanded them, stands in such stark contrast to the ICC’s treatment of those viewed as the designated enemies of the Western powers, that it has lost all moral authority.

I leave you with Ms Bensouda’s conclusions:

502. The Office recalls that, based on its evaluation of the totality of the information available, it cannot conclude that the UK authorities have been unwilling genuinely to carry out relevant investigative inquiries and/or prosecutions (article 17(1)(a)) or that decisions not to prosecute in specific cases resulted from unwillingness genuinely to prosecute (article 17(1)(b)). Specifically, for the purpose of article 17(2), the Office cannot conclude that the relevant investigative inquiries or investigative/prosecutorial decisions were made for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court; that there has been an unjustified delay in the proceedings which in the circumstances is inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice; or that the proceedings were not or are not being conducted independently or impartially, and they were or are being conducted in a manner which, in the circumstances, is inconsistent with an intent to bring the person concerned to justice.
503. On this basis, having exhausted all avenues available and assessed all information obtained, the Office has determined that the only appropriate decision is to close the preliminary examination and to inform the senders of communications. While this decision might be met with dismay by some stakeholders, while viewed as an endorsement of the UK’s approach by others, the reasons set out in this report should temper both extremes.

Do you feel a little bit sick too?


Before the usual appeal for funding to continue this blog, I want to make a brief point. There is only one of me. I am aware that output this past month has been very slight. This has partly been due to exhaustion (and perhaps writers’ block) and partly to a whole series of quite major happenings in my personal life, some good, some bad, but all of them stressful. I am very grateful to those of you who subscribe to keep the blog going, but it does not come with a guarantee of any particular volume of output. It is also the case that some articles, like this one, require rather a lot of work. This blog will always have spells of unusually high and unusually low activity. I am doing my best.

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303 thoughts on “The International Criminal Court: Now Simply Indefensible

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  • Wally Jumblatt

    It is vitally important that, in the coming decades of increasingly feudal times, that dissident voices such as CM’s, can still be heard.
    I have no doubt the mainstream media will barely register a ripple of discomfort at these ICC findings, but I look forward to the day when Craig and his like, register daily audiences of 5 million and more.
    That would eventually start to un-nerve the cowards and crooks currently running the show, and hopefully encourage the unwashed masses to remove them.

    • Piotr+Berman

      The masses are being washed — especially, the brains. Concerning this site, and its like, it is “disreputable”, in part, because of “propagating conspiracy theories”, and this article, positing that ICC investigation of alleged crimes of British armed forces and putative coverup, was corrupted in a way that benefited HMG and the alliance to which it belongs (USA, the rest of NATO and ANZUS, the Gulfies and other “superior forms of life”).

      While UK did not issue public threats to functionaries of ICC, threats were issued by USA which is surely a related party, with identical conduct in the same country — one should add Afghanistan where the same conduct was reported to be happening, and of course “black sites” around the globe.

      The corruption of instruments of international law like ICC and OPCW is increasing, or leaks and explicit information about it is increasing. My impression is that this is an ongoing process, ICC being behind the curve compared with OPCW, hence the “schizophrenic” report, condemning paragraphs not purged from the final report.

      One reason or concomitant facet of the corruption is improved consolidation of the control of the media combined with the more systematic vilification of the media outside control — like this site. Consider vilification scenarios directed again Russia, China and other countries “outside control”, Dar ar Harb (house of war, humanitarian intervention ongoing) and Dar al Jawr (house of injustice, humanitarian intervention recommended. As the go outside bounds of plausibility, the doubters are “self-identified” as “tools”, “conspiracy theorists” etc., enabling identification of “enemies within”, justifying efforts and monies supporting those efforts. The apparatus that is involved actually thrives In such setting, while its welfare could be precarious otherwise. Integrity Initiative was (and remains?) but an island in a vast archipelago of outfits that in turn control media, think tanks, boards advising giant social media companies about methods of censorship and much, much more.

  • Tom74

    It is obviously true that the International Criminal Court could do better. However, in the words of the immortal Theresa May: We shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Far better to have the ICC investigating war crimes in Iraq and sometimes falling short than for there to be no investigation at all, which is no doubt what the CIA and MI6 would prefer. Let’s hope in time that the ICC is given more teeth and we can prosecute war criminals whatever their nationality.

    • Sarge

      Nobody is giving it teeth to prosecute western war criminals, no matter how much you hope. These people are held in the highest regard by Anglo American power elites, lauded as moderate voices of reason. News organisations represent it as a coup if granted a few words by a war criminal trying to influence a some public issue. As long as English and American liberals remain as hypocritical as they have always been our war criminals are untouchable.

      • Giyane


        You could say that the British establishment is a purpose-built, designed to spec, fully-funded, MSM-supported, shit-spreading machine, with an open licence to fill the open countryside with the stink of shit.

        How dare the ICC complain about such a safe, modern, reliable, fancy piece of shit-kit?

      • Bramble

        As long as electorates accept without question that their countries are always in the right and that criticism, especially of military activity, is unpatriotic, we will get nowhere.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Failiure to investigate war crimes in Iraq is a feature, not a bug, of the ICC. This failiure is intentional and built in from the start.

    • Bramble

      Yes, but it is a but much when it’s the criminals themselves dictating what the court can and cannot try.

    • NoOneYouKnow

      A whitewash is worse than no wash at all. The ICC is diplomatically lying through its teeth, which undermines any credibility it might try to claim in the future. It has demonstrated itself to be fraudulent. It would have been far better for its credibility to release a simple statement saying “Under threat, physical or otherwise, the ICC has decided not to pursue investigation of the UK’s failed war crimes prosecutions. We refer you to the MoD and the British Prime Minister’s office.”

      • philw

        Isn’t this basically what the report IS saying? It practically highlights its own ridiculousness

  • FranzB

    “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it never happened”.

    A recent Off Guardian article pointed me at Harold Pinter’s 2005 Nobel prize acceptance speech – the quote above is from the speech. In it he also refers to ” … a vast tapestry of lies that surround us…”. In the speech, Pinter calls for Blair to be arraigned at the ICC for the illegal war on Iraq. The speech is 46 minutes long. He begins talking about his plays, and then goes on to consider US foreign policy with regard to Nicaragua and El Salvador, and then talks about Blair and Iraq. No punches are pulled.

  • djm


    “The SNP are to join forces with the Tories to campaign for a referendum on the EU Treaty. The SNP claim the treaty is bad for Sco’lan as it will enshrine in law Brussels control over fishing……..”

    Just 13 years ago, & still a gem

  • np

    A UK judge will rule Monday on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to the US to face criminal charges after weeks of talk about a possible pardon from Donald Trump…

    “It’s very rare for the magistrates to refuse extradition requests from the US,” said Anthony Hanratty, a lawyer at BDB Pitmans in London, who specializes in extradition cases…

    Barring a pardon, the extradition process in London will likely drag on no matter how Judge Vanessa Baraitser rules Monday. Appeals could take 18 to 24 months with possible challenges going to the UK Supreme Court and even the European Court of Human Rights, Hanratty said.

    Extracts from Bloomberg report 31/12/20

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      That is what we would expect,but in the current climate of severe repression and given the lack of Thatcher’s oxygen of publicity, we cannot discount the possibility of a Nacht und Nebel Action, claiming Julian raised no objection to the verdict and was promptly jump -suited and flown out.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Kerch’ee Kerch’ee Coup,

        ” Nacht und Nebel Action”


        As bad, compromised and at times corrupted as the British judicial system is – I honestly do not see a disappearance as a realistic probability. The British judicial system would more want to present itself as compliant with due process than openly make a Hitlerian move on Assange.

        I therefore see the ruling moving up the judicial appellate ladder.

        In a short while we shall know.


        • NoOneYouKnow

          So far, everything about Baraitser’s court and the UK legal system in the Assange case has been deeply corrupt, on top the unprecedented kidnapping of Assange from a foreign embassy and his being kept in conditions conducive to producing madness and death. Handing him over to the CIA at a US airbase would hardly be out of character.

          • Goodwin

            Like it or not, he wasn’t kidnapped, he was handed over by the foreign embassy. The rest is about right.

          • Giyane


            Just suppose you had sought asylum in Britain, and armed with your British passport you eventually returned home. At the airport you are arrested. And incarcerated. Ok it wasn’t kidnapping, it was a misjudgement to assume his British passport would protect him.

            We know now that Britain is not a civilised country and it doesnt protect human rights and or victims of oppression.

            That is a bit if a shock to all of us. We have all been living under the assumption that our government condemns inhumanity and criminality. It’s as if we suddenly realised that we were being ruled by Hitler.

            A bit picky when you realise you are living under a Nazi regime to worry about whether you will die on a foreign battlefield, in a prison, or from an SS bullet. WE ARE NOW AT WAR WITH OUR GOVERNMENT

            Something about which you appear to be in denial..

    • Giyane


      Brilliant. It’s obvious that tinkering with law is mad.
      As is tinkering with nature. I have a very strong suspicion that some pharmaceutical tinkering with nature which was designed to allow poultry to be kept in inhumane? conditions somehow enabled the covid2 virus to morph. The more they mess around with nature, the more harm they cause. Especially what they now seem to be doing with grain, to which I am becoming less tolerant.

      The Bill which permits police and troops to break the law with impunity is a case in point. Just to save the bacon of a few fancy pigs, they send out a message to all the criminally and not criminally inclined that breaking the law is not a hard and fast rule.

      They will reap the consequences of their stupidity in blocking the ICC charges against British war crimes.
      Save this blog has heard before, there are British universities who advise government on how to manage soldier virtualisation.
      1/ how to chemically brutalise them
      2/ how to utilise their brutality on the battlefield
      3/ how to make them forget what they have done
      4/ how to detoxify them to return to civilian life

      If that is a legitimate subject of study for a British university then I’m a donkey. But braying about it is not going to change the British Nazi war machine.

    • Giyane


      The British Empire2 dreamers could never have become so arrogant and evil without the slavish support and service of their Islamist criminal proxies.
      The Saudi “””Royals””” absolve their terrorist mercenaries by providing them with free Hajj.

    • nevermind

      Thanks for that article from Serbia, Bevin, it very much corroborates Craig’s exceptional article on an ICC that has long been a toothless tiger.

  • Bob

    Juilan Assange’s fate will be decided on Monday. There are also rumours that Trump is considering pardoning Julian.

    • Kempe

      Generally you have to be found guilty of something before you can be pardoned for it. The only presidential exception was Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon and that was never tested in court. To date all Assange has been found guilty of is breaching his bail conditions in the UK and Trump can’t pardon him for that. I suppose he could order the extradition proceedings to be dropped but he needs to get a move on.

      • lysias

        Besides the blanket pardon issued to Nixon, I believe blanket pardons were issued to ex-Confederates after the American Civil War.

        If Trump issues to Assange a blanket pardon for any crime he may have committed to that point, I think that renders any extradition impossible.

  • Pyewacket

    Craig’s reporting of the Assange extradition hearings on this site, clearly suggest that should Madge B make her pronouncement on Monday, the verdict will certainly not be of her own making after weighing up all the evidence fairly, and coming to a just decision. As we havd already seen, she will do what her masters tell her. Personally, I think an adjournment is possible on some pretext or other, until after the Biden inauguration. It costs the ptb nothing, Time is one of their best, and most effective weapons, that Julian does not share in equal measure. For them, 30+ years is fairly common to keep stuff swept under the carpet, or lost in the long grass, or down that never ending road.

  • Hamish McGlumpha

    This is a superb piece of investigative reporting and analysis.

    But I am really tempted to ask: What’s New? The British Army, as an instrument of imperialism stinks. It was ever thus.

    There is substantial evidence of its modus operandi, just for example this:

    Cobain has also meticulously documented the methods of cover-up of the truth of Empire that are second nature to the Brit establishment

    What is new and shocking is the extent to which supposedly objective international bodies have been captured by the Global Imperial Establishment – of which Britain is now a minor – but nevertheless useful member and teacher of the methodology of conquest and subordination.

    Thanks are due yet again to Craig Murray for this vital public service.

    The terrain of world domination by the global elite becomes daily more clear.

  • neil

    Can somebody recommend similar writers like Craig? I like Rafael Behr, George Monbiot and Marina Hyde at the guardian, looking for similar stuff to inform and educate me.

    • Hamish McGlumpha

      Read Chris Hedges, Alexander Cockburn and John Pilger, that’ll do for a start.

    • bevin

      The Consortium News website is a good place to look, it republished this piece. Information Clearing House is honest and useful. Counterpunch, which Alex Cockburn established and ran for years before his death in 2012, also has stuff which will interest you.

    • Anthony

      The Guardian’s role is to misinform. See the Media Lens book Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality.

      • Hamish McGlumpha

        Patrick Cockburn, Alexander’s brother still writes on Counterpunch. Always worth a read.

    • Doctor K

      Try searching “marina hyde corbyn ” and read Media Lens on Monbiot before you think about looking at the Guardian again, let alone supporting them. The Guardian was a leading smearer of Corbyn, and is an Israeli and MI6 asset under the present management team.

      • Stonky

        Try searching marina hyde corbyn…”

        I always think she should be given her full multi-barreled sobriquet:

        Marina Hyde-Your-Aristocratic-Ancestry-Behind-A-Fake-Blokey-Assumed-Name…

        Typically, she couldn’t go for common-or-garden “Hide”. If she had called herself Smith it would have been “Smythe”…

        • Doctor K

          I was curious enough to check your allusion on Wikipedia:

          Marina Hyde (born Marina Elizabeth Catherine Dudley-Williams).
          Hyde is the daughter of Sir Alastair Edgcumbe James Dudley-Williams, 2nd Baronet, and his wife, the former Diana Elizabeth Jane Duncan….
          Hyde began her career in journalism as a temporary secretary on the showbiz desk at The Sun newspaper. In an otherwise unrelated article in The Guardian, she wrote: “I am only called Marina Hyde because my real name was too long to fit across a single column in The Sun, where I started out”….
          In November 2011, The Guardian apologised to The Sun newspaper for an article in which Hyde had falsely alleged the newspaper had visited the home of a member of the legal team of the Leveson Inquiry. In the front-page story Hyde had accused The Sun of “blowing a giant raspberry at Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry”. The Sun’s then managing editor Richard Caseby sent a toilet roll accompanied by “a squalid note” to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger after Hyde’s false story.

    • S

      Even within the MSM I find it helpful to read Peter Oborne and occassionally Peter Hitchens. I don’t mean to endorse their views or attitudes, but it is good to read a different view now and then.

    • Sarge

      Similar stuff to Behr and Hyde to iinform you?
      How about Kettle, Freedland, Toynbee, Cohen, Bennett et al? All will inform you in a very similar manner.

      • Mr Shigemitsu

        Hehe! Don’t forget Timothy Garton Ash and Simon Tisdall.

        And if anyone wishes to be kept in utter ignorance of how macroeconomics and money creation really works in the UK, make sure to regularly read the continuous neoliberal economic narratives put out by Richard Partington and Phillip Inman.

    • Dungroanin

      Bernard at MoonifAlabama and Jonathan Cook blog are honest. In the U.K. besides from Craig Murray, you absolutely must read and understand about Money, Public Finance and Tax as a starting point prof Richard Murphy’s blog.

      Ignore the self declared ‘socialists’ who are almost all to a man (and they are mostly men) such as CP, WSWS, In/Off-G types, all fully controlled and setup as DS adjuncts – as was proved by the public outing of the RCP and the elevation of its leader Claire Fox to the Lords by tory Bozo as her reward for doubt her part in delivering BrexShit.

      Watch out also for the ‘ever so humble’ reactionaries dressed in Marxist clothes selling their trolling wares btl, as any wise granny would tell you.

    • Dungroanin

      Whoops I forgot to add Elijah Magnier for all perspectives Middle East and the recently deceased Vltchek, who was shaping into the new Pilger, make of that what you will.
      As of course the only women I am reasonably certain of Caitlin Johnston an Indy and surprisingly from the BBC, Katya Adler, who was smothered in the last GE and largely ignored through the BrexShit deal pantomime .
      There are many others who are not so well known – their Twitter feeds are constantly under attack and they don’t blog much – but they are reports from the frontlines – you must find them yourself – no point revealing them to the Watchers here.

  • Peter Moritz

    Maybe this gives you an explanation of the why:

    “Recently, on December 9, we saw the brazen use of this strategy when the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer, was successfully coerced into dropping her intention to call British troops to account for war crimes they are alleged to have committed in Iraq. The ICC preliminary investigation had been completed and the office of the prosecutor had reached the conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to proceed with the case. Ms. Bensouda was by then under brutal pressure by leading Western powers, who in regard to liability for war crimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan have a common interest, and who also happen to be vocal advocates of the “rule of law,” to drop the inquiry.

    An precedence exist:

    “The position into which the ICC Office of the Prosecutor was pressured mirrors a similarly preposterous decision made twenty years ago by ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte not to open an inquiry into NATO’s illegal bombing of Yugoslavia because – as she airily alleged at the time – NATO was perfectly capable of investigating itself and disciplining wrongdoers.”

      • giyane


        ” the US probably would have been far better off had Assange’s attempt to flee to Russia succeeded. That would have made clear even to the dead-enders that Assange had become little more than a Russian tool,”

        The world is divided into those whose bogeyman is Russia and those whose bogeyman is Big Foot.
        The first group project their guilt at their nation’s crimes against Vietnam and Iraq onto socialists, while the second group projects their nation’s crimes against the natural environment onto imaginary wildlife.

        Protective facegear and straightjackets are provided free at the entrance of all good department stores.

        • Ben

          Actually it’s simpler than your idea suggests.

          Two simple dividing lines between types is: Property Trumps People or People over Property…

          Your choice

      • NoOneYouKnow

        Using Marcy Wheeler’s Russiagate ranting to support your actual evidence-free smear of Assange is sad, but funny, but mostly sad. The most pertinent element at this point in the persecution of Assange is that he received the DNC/Podesta data from Seth Rich, who was subsequently murdered, probably at the behest of Podesta and Hillary Clinton. Assange knows this and that is why they want him buried alive or dead.

        • Ben

          Marcys grip on facts clearly presented is at least as precise as Craigs so I’m not sure what metrics you utilize for the purpose intended

  • David

    No – what you found startling did not startle me in the slightest.

    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our society has hopefully reached an apotheosis of corruption. I say hopefully because I do not wish to contemplate what worse would like. But perhaps the devil will indeed have his day.

    I read your wonderful articles with interest, and continue to admire you, but wonder when you will finally wake up to the nature of corruption and evil and abandon your hope and belief that the power inherent in an overarching state can ever be wielded for good. It cannot. This power always turns to evil.

    The only solution is minimal government. Don’t get me wrong – minimal government is no utopia. But every attempt to create a utopia through the use of coercion always and everywhere eventually leads in the opposite direction.

    You can often spot a cheat because he is quick to believe he is being cheated. Sadly good men are prone to the the same syndrome, in their case believing the best of others who are busily engaged in cheating them.

    You continue to find more corruption everywhere you look. Yes – in the places where you expected to find it such as Westminster. But also in Scotland and the SNP, and in Europe and the courts and institutions which you believed in. It has infected our politics, our schools, our bureaucracy, our police, our armed forces, our banks, our corporations, our media, and – perhaps inevitably – almost all of us in some way.

    And the answer to this turgid sea of corruption, we are told by our glorious and noble, rulers is to trust them with more powers to allow them to fix things.


    Happy New Year anyway 🙂

    • Stevie Boy

      David, your proposed solution of minimal government sounds suspiciously like Conservative policy that aims for minimal government and offloading everything into the private sector. Isn’t that why we are in the complete mess we are ?
      The problem is money and power but mostly money. We need a way to undermine and nullify the negative affects of these. One way would be proportional representation and government made up of cooperating parties forced to work together independent of party agendas. We don’t want full blown Stalinist communism but we do need more socialism in our government. IMO.

    • Tom Welsh

      Sometimes what looks superficially like progress can turn out to be quite the opposite. Especially where people are concerned – societies are immensely complex structures, which cannot be assessed or improved using unaided intuition.

      One factor that has tended to increase corruption and spread it more widely – indeed, to all strata of society – is the American culture in which the only two things thought worth striving for are wealth and celebrity. Moreover, celebrity usually leads to wealth – unless something goes badly wrong – and wealth is interchangeable with power. Indeed, places like Washington, London and Brussels could almost be defined as markets where celebrity, wealth and power are traded for one another.

      Unfortunately, this situation has impressed on everyone – especially the young – that all the old, fusty values such as honour, duty, kindness, trust, honesty, wisdom and the like are worthless and should be ostentatiously spurned.

      Our old systems, for all their unequal privilege and unfairness, helped to maintain those old values. Certainly many people ignored them and went straight for celebrity, wealth and power; but some at any rate were restrained by thoughts of honour, duty, honesty and the Christian virtues. There was more appreciation of the age-old Christian (and Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian and Taoist) doctrine that peace and fulfilment can be gained only by inward means, not by attempting to subdue the external world.

      Today those of us who still retain some traces of the old virtues find ourselves hopelessly handicapped in competition with those who have no scruples.

      “As the sociologist Georg Simmel wrote over a century ago, if you make money the center of your value system, then finally you have no value system, because money is not a value”.

      – Morris Berman, “The Moral Order”, Counterpunch 8-10 February 2013.

      C.J. Hopkins put it even more clearly and emphatically:

      “Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system. It only has one fundamental value, exchange value, which isn’t much of a value, at least not in terms of organizing society or maintaining any sort of human culture or reverence for the natural world it exists in. In capitalist society, everything, everyone, every object and sentient being, every concept and human emotion, is worth exactly what the market will bear … no more, no less, than its market price. There is no other measure of value”.

      – C.J. Hopkins, “Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy”

    • Bayard

      “I say hopefully because I do not wish to contemplate what worse would like. But perhaps the devil will indeed have his day.”

      If you change your mind, a study of the British government of 200 years ago will give some indication.

  • Spencer Eagle

    You have to wonder what the real story was behind the ‘fake’ photos that got Piers Morgan sacked from the Mirror in 2004? Was Morgan actually duped or was he party to a British Government psyop intended to undermine the future publication of genuine photos of torture and abuse emanating from soldiers returning from Iraq. Following the Mirror furore, no one in the media dared publish anything relating to the conduct of British soldiers in Iraq. The very idea that someone so odious as Morgan could suddenly be elevated into plumb media positions only adds to the suspicion the whole fake photo episode was contrived.
    With that in mind it’s possible the same playbook was used for the same purposes in the investigation into high profile British paedophiles, in this instance, Carl Beech taking the place of the ‘fake’ photos.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I sincerely hope, that Julian Assange is a Free Man tomorrow at 10:00 am.

    Free to do whatevever he wants to do and free to say what he wants to say.

    He Chose The UK


    • Mary

      The state broadcaster managed to introduce a hatchet job on Julian into their News at ten o’clock

      John Simpson was resurrected for the purpose.

      They real!y are pathetic

    • mark golding

      America prides itself on it’s greatness and majesty from advances in freedom and democracy. America was the ‘great experiment’ to fulfil the founding principles that created this nation. The quasi supernatural qualities of optimism and defiance and willingness to go into the unknown and make it a truly American home, to make the amazing the norm is the so called dream. American’s defied the status quo. That’s how they built America.

      Now the once guiding light for so many inhabitants of this planet has today and yesterday dimmed into a nebulous smog of lies, deceit, theft, torture and death.

      We recall the Bush WMD lies, the U.S. orchestrated coup in Ukraine, the diverted Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 and shoot-down, the drone assassinations, the confiscated (stolen) property and bank accounts, the US blackmail gun denial of visas for ICC judges that perculated into the UK as a disingenuous kangaroo court extradiction trial against Julian Assange where Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and her husband, James Arbuthnot, who was a defense minister for procurement, have “earned” £’s from two companies exposed by Wikileaks. During the August-September extradition hearings, Arbuthnot “stepped down” to be supervisor of the new magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser. During three weeks of hearings, Baraitser looked at her laptop to read decisions she had written before defense lawyers had made their arguments, or witnesses had testified.

      But Christmas 2020 was a time for US clemency; a US president pardons American death squad mercenaries who slaughtered woman and children in what became known as the Nisour Square Massacre.

      Yet do not shout too loud or the US eye-widening scale of illegal practices of cyber attacks and thefts will get you as Snowden reveals. Sit back and enjoy the ‘great experiment’ as America self-destructs:

    • Courtenay Barnett


      Wishful thinking.

      I predict that the Magistrate will follow the script then there will be an appeal.

      If I am wrong then I shall fly to London with the Missus, find you – then buy you a beer.


      • Tony_0pmoc


        Deal !

        My wife and I really like the Caribbean.

        There is a little island we know, off the coast of Cuba

        Cayo Blanco Beach Bar?

        Not been there for 20 years, but I doubt much has changed.


  • Giyane

    The sole purpose of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was to secure the oil for the West. The method was 100% brutality, not only US and UK troopscwhile they were there but also by igniting a sectarian civil war between Shi’a and Sunni by Us and UK false flag market place and mosque bombing. The General Betrayus strategy.

    The sole purpose of Daesh or Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is the exact same purpose as the crimes the ICC wanted to prosecute, to put down dissatisfaction with the theft of Iraqi oil through fear. The main intermediary for this colonial suppression of local resistance was NATO’s Erdogan, with whom Boris Johnson has just clinched a trade deal mainly for the purpose of selling Islamic State British weapons.

    USUKIS want to nip this kind of exposure of their criminal colonial brutality in the bud. We still talking , re Julian Arrange and ICC about the crimes if 2003. We are now 18 years of criminal colonial brutality further down the line. Daesh is being re-grouped as we speak by Biden to quell a growing Iraqi insurgency against poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.

    Craig is being threatened for airing the criminal behaviour of this country by helping Assange and on his blog. They are even trying to spy on and blackmail me for writing here. Who is doing this? Daesh in its civilian clothes paid for and protected by the state that delivers diesel to your pump at 110.9 pence a litre..

    Unfortunately for the criminals the Buds have not been nipped. It is like the bud on the plants in my garden, here in the snow in Birmingham, the irrepressible buds of nature are already fully formed waiting for spring.

    • Laguerre

      “The sole purpose of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was to secure the oil for the West. “

      No it wasn’t. It was a major factor, never expressed openly evidently, but with oilmen in Bush’s government. However more important was advancing the Israeli policy of f*cking up any Arab state that might be capable of threatening Israel (as repeated in Syria). Notable that the Kurds you like so much were so very friendly with Israel, and kept Israeli advisors in Erbil, with the same purpose in mind. Far away third would be finally ending any threat to the Gulf states (and Saudi), after 1991. Lastly, people still thought at that time that all the Military Industrial Complex weaponry needed some field exercise from time to time. Since the US failure in Iraq, that sort of exercise is no longer considered valid, only activities that don’t lead to US casualties.

      • Giyane


        Your apology for Daesh is noted in my 2021 diary. I will remind you of it next time you pop up to contradict Kurdish history.

      • Giyane

        According to you, the reasons for Deash were
        1/ Israel’s security
        2/ Kurdistan’s protection by israel
        3/ Gulf states ‘ security from somebody.
        4/ within the inner circle of oil magnates, western oil security..

        And that’s why Barzani’s brother, Islamist Imprisoned Mullah Krekar, and US and UK travelled to Jordan to sign for Daesh to travel in US Toyota 4 x 4s through Turkey to attack and occupy Mosul.

        Is the fact that you have lucrative contracts in Kurdistan maybe the reason why you always deny the reality that Iraq was attacked in 2003 and 2014 solely to secure the vast Iraqi oil reserves? First time by the British army buggerers and rapist torturers and second time by the headchopping gang bang merchants working as proxies of USUKIS.

        It’s difficult to take your comments on Iraq seriously.

        • laguerre

          “According to you, the reasons for Deash were”

          To repeat again, I said nothing at all about Da’ish, and have no special opinion about their origins. Why you repeat a fake accusation escapes me.

          Your continuing insistence on a unique origin of the Iraq invasion is bizarre. Unlike you, I’ve actually been in Iraq, many times.

    • Carrots

      “The sole purpose of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was to secure the oil for the West. “

      There was a mix of reasons, but the Israeli lobby was one of them. It didn’t make sense to me that the overwhelming mass of Tory MPs were in favour… way more so than Labour MPs whose government it was.

      Then (at the time) I saw that “Over 80%” were in Conservative Friends of Israel (their own website) and it clicked. The fraudulent WMD intelligence came from Israel too – search for “The spies who pushed for war”.

      • Laguerre

        I doubt if what was thought in Britain was of much importance. It was a Bushian US policy, and it was what was thought there that counted. However Bush did need Tony Blair’s British backing – that was the British role.

  • Fredi

    Today is the big day for Assange, let that Baraitse judge surprise us all and let the poor man go free.

    They’ve clearly made their point, whistleblowers must be punished, hasn’t he enough? Just when is it enough for the crime of publishing the truth about wrongdoing?

    • pretzelattack

      i’m watching it live, but no announcement. but i’m just about certain they’re going to extradite him.

      • Ingwe

        @pretzelattack-of course they are going to order his extradition. I know there will be various appeals, probably stretched out procedurally, so that Mr Assange dies before the final outcome is known. Then the neo-liberal scribblers will wring their hands saying he was getting good old British justice. A travesty-one that hopefully leads eventually to a public trial of the Baraitsers of this deeply corrupt country.

  • Sean_Lamb

    I was watching the twitter feed and getting crosser and crosser, until the mental health matters came up. I think in the long run it might leave him a bit vulnerable if the US government makes commitments to attend to his mental health

    I guess the take away is journalism is a crime unless you are suicidal.

    Still happy for the decision

  • Doctor K

    “Julian Assange cannot be lawfully extradited to the US to face charges over WikiLeaks because of his mental health and suicide risk, a judge has ruled.

    District Judge Vanessa Baraitser highlighted the isolated conditions he would be likely to face in the US and said that in light of his mental health, they mean extradition would be “oppressive”.

    But she said Mr Assange would be kept in custody, ahead of an appeal expected from the US.”


    • Ingwe

      So I got it wrong about what Baraitser would order. But my conclusion stands. She rejected all the main and important defence issues, the is keeping him incarcerated pending any likely US appeal and the Hone Secretary could still deport him.
      Thin gruel I’m afraid. No banquet of fair play.

      • Martinned

        Of all the points that Assange could have won on, this one is the most difficult to appeal, because it’s most fact-based. They’ll appeal, but it’s unlikely the US would win. (NB I haven’t read the judgment yet.)

        It’s also the “solution” to the case that creates the least amount of difficulty going forward. Agreeing with Assange on any other point would have created a precedent that future targets of extradition requests might rely on, but this one is quite narrow.

        • RogerDodger

          Thanks Martinned, this is interesting analysis.

          Does it strike you as odd at all that Baraitser would consider the conditions of incarceration in the US a mental health/suicide risk, but presumably not the conditions of UK custody to which she has ordered he be retuned?

          • Martinned

            The idea is that in Belmarsh they have taken various measures to mitigate that suicide risk, which the Americans might or might not take. (And which they might now promise to take.)

            358. Thirdly, many of the protective factors currently in place at HMP Belmarsh would be removed by these conditions. Mr. Assange’s health improved on being removed from relative isolation in healthcare. He has been able to access the support of family and friends. He has had access to a Samaritans phoneline. He has benefited from a trusting relationship with the prison In-Reach psychologist. By contrast, a SAMs regime would severely restrict his contact with all other human beings, including other prisoners, staff and his family. In detention subject to SAMs, he would have absolutely no communication with other prisoners, even through the walls of his cell, and time out of his cell would be spent alone. Ms. Baird, from her experiences as an SES warden at the MCC, described the only form of human interaction coming from correctional officers who open the viewing slot during their inspection rounds of the unit, from institution staff walking through the unit during their required weekly rounds, or when meals are delivered through the secure meal slot in the cell door. The ‘Darkest Corner’ reported inmates finding their communication with family to be so limited and degraded through delay and constant monitoring, as to render it worthless. Whilst Dr. Leukefeld and Mr. Kromberg set out BOP policies and programmes on mental health treatment, the CIC report of 31 October 2018 described the practical reality at the ADX Florence, where psychological services are offered primarily through self-help packets and videos, where slots for individual therapy are limited, and where group therapy for prisoners subject to SAMs takes place from individual cages and with prisoners shackled. Ms. Baird confirmed that any program offered to a prisoner subject to SAMs would take place in isolation.

        • Sean_Lamb

          I agree with your reasoning.

          I do find it slightly odd because if he was charged with rape, murder or financial fraud and in exactly the same mental state, no one would care less. Still, if that is the mental gymnastics needed for the legal system to let Assange go, so be it.

          This may be just my paranoia and not Baraister’s – but I do wonder if her claims that Assange was clever enough to evade suicide watch had a touch of “Epstein didn’t kill himself” behind it.

          I don’t believe Aaron Swarz killed himself, but that is another matter

        • James B

          Martined, Hope you’re right, but (pessimistically) I’d say that this point is probably the one that is easiest to appeal on.
          I therefore hope that Assange’s team are getting ready to appeal those parts of the judgement where Baraitser agrees with the Americans – even if her final conclusion was against the extradition.

        • N_

          What if the US government promises they’ll only chuck him in an ordinary slammer?
          Not that I think they will say that.

          If they wait until Wednesday to say they’re not appealing, the Assange affair could provide some extra zing to a total Trump kook-out in Washington on the day Congress tell him he’s a loser. Fire the ambassador in London! Fire the attorney-general! Weren’t they both working for Hugo Chavez anyway? Abolish the CIA! “This makes Pizzagate look minor!” “Oh dear, did I get 25thed?”

  • N_

    Deportation to the US seems very unlikely given that extradition to that country has been denied. To Australia maybe.

    Whatever. The Foreign Office and the US Embassy will have decided on the optics. Baraitser does what she’s told.

    Given that Obama released Manning, even if Assange were to get bundled onto a US plane Biden would probably ensure he didn’t stay in jail long.

    Good for Assange that he didn’t get back into the 2016 groove and help Trump too much during the 2020 campaign. That’s even if some were ready to exclaim in horror that Biden’s son’s business arrangements were the most terrible affront they’d ever heard about in politics.

  • nevermind

    The first step to freedom means that the US will now appeal and his stay in Belmarsh hell will carry on. Biden will want his pound of flesh and Kamala, should he be incapacitated, would follow whatever the security services tell her.
    I so hope that he now gets bail and is able to see his two children, he needs a calm and secure environment to recuperate.
    Nevertheless another twist in the neocon game of hunting and harassing whistleblower’s of international war crimes.

    Will the ICC pursue the murder of children and journalists by US soldiers? will they investigate any war crime? or do they demand to get everything on a plate, regardless of whether its fact or fiction?

  • JohninMK

    “In a historic ruling that some say could help protect press freedoms in the US, a British judge has ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can’t be extradited to the US.

    The New York Times described the ruling as “…a major victory against the U.S. authorities who have accused him of conspiring to hack government computers and violating the Espionage Act with the release of confidential communications in 2010 and 2011.”

    • JohninMK

      British Judge Rejects Assange Extradition

      This was unexpected. The British district court judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. extradition request against Julian Assange:

      Kevin Gosztola – 11:07 UTC · Jan 4, 2021

      BREAKING: Judge rules against US extradition of Julian Assange, contending extradition would be oppressive by reason of Assange’s mental health

      The British judge said that the U.S. prison is too brutal to be trusted with the health of Assange.”

      • JohninMK

        “The prosecution will have the possibility to appeal the judge’s decision to the High Court, now that her judgement has been handed down. There is now also the possibility that Julian Assange may be released on bail.

        Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said on the morning of 4 January 2021.

        “I am satisfied that Mr Assange has the intellect and determination to circumvent suicide prevention measures [in the US]”, the judge said, after rejecting every other argument posed by the defence in this case.

        • Vivian O'Blivion

          Possiblity? In any equitable world there would be a presumption that Julian be granted bail. If he was judged a flight risk before, then the presumption now would be that extradition will not be granted on appeal and therefore he is no longer a flight risk.
          An electronic ankle bracelet would seem more than adequate, particularly with his partner providing residence and there’s the building of a relationship with the weans to consider.

      • JohninMK

        “Julian Assange’s US lawyer, Barry Pollack, said he was “enormously gratified by the UK court’s decision denying extradition.” District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that although the extradition case was solid, the risk of suicide was too great.

        There has been a huge reaction on social media to the news that a judge in London has blocked Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States over revelations which emerged on the WikiLeaks website he founded.

  • 6033624

    Although you haven’t written anything about it – yet, I feel I have to comment on the news that Assange is NOT to be extradited after all. I am actually shocked that the decision given the behaviour of the judge during the hearings. I am assuming that there is more to this than I know?

  • Dan

    Although it seems like good news for Julian today, I don’t for one moment believe this is the end of it – especially when you consider Baraitser’s conduct throughout. Could it be that today’s outcome was always planned in order that the US can subsequently win on appeal and it can be seen that JA’s mental health was fully and properly considered by the UK Courts? It’s quite an astonishing – dare I say unbelievable? – volte-face.

  • fonso

    A great result, given all the negative indicators. The judge’s reasoning seems highly spurious, but I’m sure Julian is massively relieved and will take it whatever way he can get it.

    • Franc

      Totally agree fonso, almost too good to be true, and if it wasn’t for Craig’s journalism in the first place, we would be none the wiser.

      • VinylFlunkie

        exactly, journalism is a farce in the UK now. Hello ‘journalists’ who may come here to learn. It used to be people in advertising who suck satans balls but now its you lot. Cowards and gravy train riders. Show some fucking humanity one day a week eh?

  • Willie

    On the face of it a great result for Julian Assange. But the devil is in the judgement.

    Firstly the judge has not actually done anything other than to say that because of Julian’s mental condition, that for that reason he shouldn’t be extradited to the US. Secondly, unlike the initial spoof sexual assault charge, Assange hasn’t been allowed to walk free and he remains incarcerated in Belmarsh.

    So who knows what is going on behind the curtains. One thing for sure the UK ain’t any democracy. The game of cat and mouse, or should I say the big tiger and individuals in the press goes on unabated.

    More locally in Scotland, I understand that Mark Hirst the Scottish independence supporting journalist was scheduled for court this week to join the ranks of other Scottish nationalists now being pursued through what can only be described as the deployment of state violence through the prosecution system.

    No doubt Craig, who is in the same boat will maybe comment later.

  • DiggerUK

    Let us rejoice at the news of Julian’s situation, but keep in mind that appeals against this decision can still be made.

    I’m keeping the champagne on ice for now, but have ordered extra to be delivered…_

  • Martinned

    For the record, my prediction for the Assange case is that the Americans will now offer whatever concessions they need to wrt Assange’s treatment if extradited in order to win on appeal. That said, it may be that the new US administration decides that this case isn’t worth the hassle, and quietly drops the whole thing. That’s what I would do.

    In any event, it’s disappointing that Assange didn’t win on any point to do with politically motivated prosecution. As a matter of first principle, that’s where I think he ought to have won. (Which might have turned up in the judgment as extradition being a violation of his freedom of speech under art. 10 ECHR, which protects whistleblowers as well as journalists.)

  • Giyane

    I don’t think it helps to say that the judge can only do what she’s told. There’s no chance of Assange losing if the case goes to the US, because the US protects journalists freedom , unlike the UK Biden would lose face if he either died or won.

    Also, the judge was according to Craig deeply disturbed by some of the evidence presented by the Defence, and even more disturbed by the aggression of the Prosecution. Holland Park is a village like every other village. Nobody wants to be socially despised at work or at home by publicly ignoring human concerns.

    Content Barnett won the bet. Could he possibly accept alcohol-free beer from me, should he want to call it in?
    He was right. I was collectively wrong. On the other hand the alcohol free beer would look and taste like a pint of pee.

    • VinylFlunkie

      there are some fantastic non alcoholic beers available ‘these days’. Its a new thing!

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