Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves a press conference at the State Department in Washington D.C, on March 17, 2020.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves a press conference at the State Department in Washington D.C, on March 17, 2020. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Bashing Probe of US War Crimes, Pompeo Threatens Family of ICC Staff With Consequences

"If there remained any doubt that the Trump administration's hostility towards the court is fundamentally punitive and callous in nature, these doubts have now been dispelled."

Andrea Germanos

Amnesty International on Wednesday rebuked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over new comments bashing the International Criminal Court and threatening court staff—and their family members—investigating alleged war crimes committed by United States forces in Afghanistan.

"Threats against family members of ICC staff who are seeking justice is a new low, even for this administration," said Daniel Balson, Amnesty International USA's advocacy director.

Balson's comments came a day a press briefing in which Pompeo told reporters the ICC is "a so-called court which is revealing itself to be a nakedly political body."

In a decision applauded by human rights advocates, the ICC announced earlier this month that the probe—which includes alleged crimes committed at CIA black sites in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania—could proceed after the court's Pre-Trial Chamber previously stopped its advancement. The prospect of that probe bristled the Trump administration, which carried out what had previously appeared to be a successful bullying attempt to quash the investigation.

With the investigation now having a green light, Pompeo renewed his vocal disdain for the court, calling it "an embarrassment."

"As I said the last time I stood before you, we oppose any effort by the ICC to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. personnel," Pompeo told reporters. "We will not tolerate its inappropriate and unjust attempts to investigate or prosecute Americans."

Pompeo suggested retaliatory actions would be in store.

"It has recently come to my attention that the chef de cabinet to the prosecutor, Sam Shoamanesh, and the head of jurisdiction, complementarity, and cooperation division, Phakiso Mochochoko, are helping drive ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's effort to use this court to investigate Americans," the secretary of state said. "I'm examining this information now and considering what the United States' next steps ought to be with respect to these individuals and all those who are putting Americans at risk."

"We want to identify those responsible for this partisan investigation and their family members who may want to travel to the United States or engage in activity that's inconsistent with making sure we protect Americans," he continued.

Amnesty's Balson, in his statement, said the Trump administration was making clear it had no interest in working towards justice.

"Instead of pursuing the torturers, the U.S. is condemning the investigators, and even their families," said Balson.

And that sends a dangerous message.

"To refer to the International Criminal Court, a body which for years has worked on addressing the most heinous of crimes, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, as 'an embarrassment' is the real embarrassment," said Balson.

"Lack of political will to investigate crimes and prosecute those responsible has impeded the ICC's vital work and Secretary Pompeo's remarks have only exacerbated this," he added. "Perpetrators the world over now have a clear message from the United States: they too may demand impunity when their nationals are accused of the gravest of crimes."

The fact that Pompeo is now hovering the possibility of retaliation for the investigation over family of ICC staff "is an ominous move," said Balson.

"If there remained any doubt that the Trump administration's hostility towards the court is fundamentally punitive and callous in nature," he added, "these doubts have now been dispelled."


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

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo