A former judge for the International Court of Justice and renowned expert on human rights law told a reporter this week that former vice president Dick Cheney should be prosecuted for war crimes and torture.
Eighty-one-year-old Thomas Buergenthal told Newsweek journalist Robert Chalmers that "some of us have long thought that Cheney, and a number of CIA agents who did what they did in those so-called black holes [overseas torture centers] should appear before the ICC [International Criminal Court]."
"We [in the USA] could have tried them ourselves," added Buergenthal. "I voted for Obama but I think he made a great mistake when he decided not to instigate legal proceedings against some of these people."
The former judge added that, despite the inaction so far, he believes eventual charges are inevitable: "I think—yes—that it will happen."
Buergenthal was born in the former Czechoslovakia and currently lives in Maryland where he works as a professor of law at George Washington University. He served for a decade as a judge for the International Court of Justice—the main judicial arm of the United Nations—before retiring in 2010. Chalmers described him as the "most distinguished living specialist in international human rights law."
The occasion for the interview was the release of Buergenthal's new memoir, A Lucky Child, about surviving the Holocaust. The conversation covered far more territory than the war crimes of the former U.S. vice president, touching on the plight of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, as well as anti-black racism in U.S. police departments.
Buergenthal also described former President George W. Bush as "an ignorant person who wanted to show his mother he could do things his father couldn't."