- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

The ICC a European perspective

On May 6, the Bush administration formally renounced support of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a decision praised in your May 8 editorial "Unsigning the ICC." Carl Nyberg corrected some of the serious factual errors in this editorial in his May 10 letter to the editor "The verdict on 'Unsigning the ICC.'" Perhaps an ignorance of the facts, so clearly displayed in your editorial, is to blame for your fear of the ICC. As a Norwegian living in the United States, I would like to offer your readers an international perspective on this matter.

Opponents of the ICC often argue that the court is "flawed" and that it "lacks safeguards." Apparently, its biggest "flaw" is that Americans would be treated like everyone else. U.S. leaders have argued for years that all American citizens should simply be exempt from the court's jurisdiction. Americans I have spoken to find this ridiculous no one is above the law.

What about the "safeguards"? The court has every U.S. due-process protection, except that instead of a jury there is a panel of judges. Ironically, in a U.S. military trial, service members are not guaranteed a jury, either. The ICC will be run by the countries that ratify it, which includes every NATO ally except Turkey. Contrary to what you imply, rogue nations are not ratifying the ICC, because their leaders do not want to subject themselves to the court's jurisdiction. Of the 66 countries that have ratified to date, Freedom House, a U.S. nonprofit, ranks 96 percent as "Totally Free" or "Partially Free," according to USAforICC.org. Impressively, 70 percent are "Totally Free."

The American "unsigning" is met with frustration and disbelief overseas. My dad back in Norway a longtime supporter of the United States summed it up in an e-mail:

"The International Criminal Court yields to national investigations. In case of allegations against U.S. citizens, all the United States has to do is investigate for themselves. Why would President Bush not want to investigate allegations of war crimes?"

If the United States has concerns, it should simply wait and see how the court works. Meanwhile, all that your friends abroad ask is that you stop undermining the ICC with silly stunts like the one on May 6.

All Americans concerned with the rule of law and human rights should tell their leaders to stop undermining the ICC.


CHRISTIAN W. HANSSON

Arlington

Driver's license bill portends bleak future

In the May 10 letter to the editor "New driver's license legislation nothing to fear," Reps. James P. Moran and Thomas M. Davis III claim that new legislation mandating that a biometric identifier (fingerprint, retina scan and so forth) be placed in a computer chip on a driver's license will not be a precursor to a national ID card. This is absurd. Their plan may not be carried out by the federal government, but it effectively creates a national ID system by linking databases in all 50 states.

Mr. Moran and Mr. Davis state that "[t]o maximize privacy, the driver's license number (usually the ubiquitous Social Security number) and address also could be placed on the chip." When Social Security numbers first were issued, the government assured everyone that these numbers would not be used for identification purposes. People believed the government then. Why should we believe that these license changes will not result in a national ID now?

Mr. Davis and Mr. Moran shamelessly employ post-September 11 fear-mongering, writing that "four of the five hijackers had fake Virginia driver's licenses." Let's not make Immigration and Naturalization Service's failures and the laxness of Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles a justification for giving up more of our liberty. Even if the licenses the hijackers possessed contained biometric identifiers, would the INS have caught them?

A free society isn't necessarily a safe society, but it is preferable to a society strangled by government bureaucrats attempting to track its citizenry. This will be our future unless we avoid it now.


MICHAEL DOBAK

Chairman

Anne Arundel County Libertarian Party

Edgewater, Md.

Ukraine didn't sell arms to Iraq

In the May 9 story "Ex-bodyguard's tape implicates Kuchma in Iraq weapons deal," you refer to allegations that first appeared more than six months ago and have their roots in internal political infighting in Ukraine. The story creates a false impression that Ukraine could somehow be involved in deliveries to Iraq of items proscribed by the U.N. Security Council resolutions. That is simply not true.

The Ukrainian government has conducted a vigorous investigation and completely refuted these allegations. Neither the U.N. agencies that monitor compliance with Iraqi sanctions nor the U.S. government gives credit to them. As State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, the United States has seen "no credible evidence that the Kolchuga [radar] system was transferred to Iraq."

Now, if the U.S. government, after several weeks of thorough investigation, with all its intelligence assets involved has found no evidence of arms deliveries from Ukraine to Iraq, shouldn't it be enough to put this story to rest?


KOSTYANTYN GRYSHCHENKO

Ambassador of Ukraine

Washington


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