Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a Security Council meeting at the United Nations on August 20, 2019 in New York City.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a Security Council meeting at the United Nations on August 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

'It Was an Outrage': Mike Pompeo Celebrates Defeated ICC Probe Into US War Crimes

The investigation was rejected after US bullying efforts

Andrea Germanos

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday affirmed President Donald Trump's disdain for the International Criminal Court when he appeared to boast of the White House's successful bullying effort to stop the court from launching a probe into possible war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Pompeo made the remarks in a "Celebrating Americanism in Our Foreign Policy" speech at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis.

"Americanism means taking care of our own," said Pompeo.

"We stopped international courts from prosecuting our service members," Pompeo continued, adding that the potential probe "was an outrage."

In April, the ICC announced that it rejected a probe into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. Outgoing ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested the investigation in 2017, saying at the time that there was a "reasonable basis to believe" that war crimes were committed by the Taliban, Afghan National Security Forces, U.S. armed forces, and the CIA.  That move won the praise of human rights organizations and triggered over one million statements from alleged Afghan victims.

But the potential prosecutions also prompted threats from the White House, with Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, warning of sanctions against ICC officials if they moved ahead with probes into U.S. or Israeli war crimes. 

Pompeo confirmed earlier this year that the administration would revoke or deny visas for ICC personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies for potential war crimes. A month later, in April, the administration followed through and revoked prosecutor Bensouda's visa for entry into the U.S. 

Trump, for his part, celebrated the rejected war crimes probe as an "international victory." 

Human rights groups had a notably different takeaway.

"It is outrageous," said Jamil Dakwar, director of ACLU's group's human rights program, "that victims of war crimes are far less likely to get justice for well-documented atrocities because of the Trump administration's authoritarian efforts to sabotage an investigation before it could even get started."

"No one except the world's most brutal regimes win," Dakwar said, "when we weaken and sabotage international institutions established to fight impunity and hold the human rights abusers accountable."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo