US bars ICC staff

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

US bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators


AP Diplomatic Writer

Friday, March 15

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who attempt to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere and may do the same with those who try to take action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.

Pompeo, making good on a threat delivered last September by national security adviser John Bolton, said the U.S. had already moved against some employees of The Hague-based court, but declined to say how many or what cases they may have been investigating.

“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

He said any wrongdoing committed by American personnel would be dealt with in U.S. military and criminal courts.

The visa restrictions would apply to any court employee who takes or has taken action “to request or further such an investigation,” Pompeo said.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” he said.

The ICC prosecutor has a pending request to look into possible war crimes in Afghanistan that may involve Americans. The Palestinians have also asked the court to bring cases against Israel.

Speaking directly to ICC employees, Pompeo said: “If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States.”

That comment suggested that action may have already been taken against the ICC prosecutor who asked last year to formally open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants, as well as U.S. forces and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.

The United States has never been a member of the ICC. The Clinton administration in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had reservations about the scope of the court’s jurisdiction and never submitted it for ratification to the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration promoted and passed the American Service Members Protection Act, which sought to immunize U.S. troops from potential prosecution by the ICC. In 2002, Bolton, then a State Department official, traveled to New York to ceremonially “unsign” the Rome Statute at the United Nations.

In September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to U.S. national security interests and threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans. Pompeo said Friday that more measures may come.

“We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course,” he said, adding: “The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty.”

The ICC did not immediately respond to Pompeo’s announcement, but said last year it was “undeterred” by Bolton’s threat. At the time it noted that it had been established by a treaty supported by 123 countries and said it prosecutes cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so “genuinely.” Afghanistan is a signatory.

Supporters of the court, the first global tribunal for war crimes, slammed Pompeo’s announcement.

Human Rights Watch called it “a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the International Criminal Court.

“The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability,” it said. “Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked.”

Since its creation, the court has filed charges against dozens of suspects including former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed by rebels before he could be arrested, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of charges including genocide in Darfur. Al-Bashir remains at large, as does Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who was among the first rebels charged by the court in 2005. The court has convicted just eight defendants.

The court has been hobbled by refusal of the U.S., Russia, China and other major nations to join. Others have quit, including Burundi and the Philippines.

The Conversation

US military steps up cyberwarfare effort

March 12, 2019


Benjamin Jensen, Associate Professor of International Relations, Marine Corps University; Scholar-in-Residence, American University School of International Service

Brandon Valeriano, Professor of Armed Politics, Marine Corps University

Disclosure statement

Benjamin Jensen receives funding from the Carnegie Corporation, Office of Naval Research and Koch Foundation. He is affiliated with the Atlantic Council and is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. The views expressed are his own. None of these affiliations were used to sponsor the research linked to this article.

Brandon Valeriano receives funding from Carnegie Corporation. He is affiliated with the Atlantic Council. The views expressed are his own. None of these affiliations were used to sponsor the research linked to this article.

Partners: American University School of International Service provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

The U.S. military has the capability, the willingness and, perhaps for the first time, the official permission to preemptively engage in active cyberwarfare against foreign targets. The first known action happened as the 2018 midterm elections approached: U.S. Cyber Command, the part of the military that oversees cyber operations, waged a covert campaign to deter Russian interference in the democratic process.

It started with texts in October 2018. Russian hackers operating in the Internet Research Agency – the infamous “troll factory” linked to Russian intelligence, Russian private military contractors and Putin-friendly oligarchs – received warnings via pop-ups, texts and emails not to interfere with U.S. interests. Then, during the day of the election, the servers that connected the troll factory to the outside world went down.

As scholars who study technology and international relations, we see that this incident reflects the new strategy for U.S. Cyber Command, called “persistent engagement.” It shifts Cyber Command’s priority from reacting to electronic intrusions into military networks to engaging in active operations that are less intense than armed conflict but still seek to stop enemies from achieving their objectives. In late 2018, the U.S. goal was to take away Russia’s ability to manipulate the midterm election, even if just briefly.

Coercion is difficult

Cyber Command’s operation against the troll factory was part of a sophisticated campaign that targeted individuals – Internet Research Agency workers – and systems – the organization’s internet connection.

In military terms, that effort generated “friction,” or difficulty for opposing forces to perform even mundane tasks. Russian hackers and trolls may wonder how a foreign government got their information, or was able to take their workplace offline. They might be worried about personal vulnerabilities, weaknesses in their own systems or even what else Cyber Command might do if they don’t stop trolling.

Our research has found that covert activities that are not as clear as armed conflict don’t always change a target’s behavior. Successful coercion efforts tend to require clear signals of both capability and resolve – assurance that the defender both can respond effectively and will do so, in order to prevent the attacker from taking a desired action.

Digital operations are often the opposite – concealing that anything has happened, as well as who might have done it.

Even when a defender shows an adversary what it is capable of, there are few guarantees that deterrence will work. It is tough to force a determined aggressor to back down. Most scholarly studies of coercion – whether in the form of cyber action, economic sanctions or limited air strikes – show how hard it is to change an adversary’s behavior.

As we have found, all of these signals, digital and otherwise, are most effective when used by more technologically sophisticated countries, like the U.S., who can combine them with other instruments of national power such as economic sanctions and diplomacy. Actions in the shadows can produce friction, but on their own are unlikely to change an opponent’s behavior.

Through targeted social media posts, Russians have amplified political fault lines in the United States. Social media makes it easy for misinformation to spread, even long after false stories are planted. There will always be “useful idiots” who will circulate disinformation and misinformation.

Entering risky territory

It’s not clear that U.S. military hacking of Russian internet connections will put a damper on Putin’s global information warfare campaign.

It’s also not yet clear whether there will be – or even has already been – any sort of retaliation. There may be a point at which the conflict escalates, threatening the electricity grid, civic groups, private homes or voting systems.

It’s valuable for the U.S. to introduce friction against enemies who seek to harm the American way of life. But it’s equally important to consider the potential for escalation to more widely harmful forms of conflict. This type of cyberoffensive may succeed at pushing back Russian disinformation. Or it may just be the government’s attempt to do something – anything – to convince the public it’s engaging the threat. Quick wins, like shutting down a troll factory for a few days, could produce much bigger longer-term consequences in a connected world.

The Conversation

Sen. Martha McSally, pioneering Air Force pilot, shows how stereotypes victimize sexual assault survivors again

March 12, 2019

Author: Leigh Goodmark, Professor of Law, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Disclosure statement: Leigh Goodmark does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Martha McSally was the first woman to fly combat missions for the United States Air Force after the prohibition on female combat pilots was lifted in 1991. She later sued the United States Department of Defense, challenging a policy that required servicewomen in Saudi Arabia to wear abaya (full-body coverings) when traveling off-base. In 2014, she was elected to the House of Representatives and is a currently a United States senator from Arizona.

Martha McSally is a powerful woman.

But when a superior Air Force officer raped her, “I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless,” McSally said. She blamed herself. And she chose not to report the assault.

The feelings McSally describes are common among victims of sexual violence. McSally is not alone in her decision not to report her victimization. In 2016, only about 23 percent of rapes were reported to law enforcement.

In my 25 years of representing survivors of gender-based violence as an attorney, I have met hundreds of women like McSally. The shame and powerlessness that these women feel are a direct result of antiquated notions about rape and sexual assault that were, until recently, embedded in the legal system.

Those ideas continue to affect how police, prosecutors and judges see victims of violence and how victims see themselves.

Institutional skepticism

Reforming the law was a priority for the anti-rape movement of the 1970s and 80s.

The rape law of the time both implicitly and explicitly challenged the credibility of complainants. Many states gave jurors a cautionary jury instruction derived from 17th-century English jurist Sir Matthew Hale’s observation that rape “is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved.”

Prior to the rape law reform of the 1970s and 80s, the law in most states required rapes to be promptly reported. The failure to make a prompt report suggested that the event was fabricated.

Rape law in many jurisdictions precluded prosecution without corroboration of the victim’s testimony; a rape victim, on her own, could not be a credible witness. Many state laws also required that rape victims fight back against their attackers – resisting “to the utmost,” according to the law.

And defendants could introduce evidence about the accuser’s sexual history to undermine the claim that the sex was not consensual.

These laws have, for the most part, been repealed. But the skepticism of rape claims and rape victims underlying these laws continues to shape how the legal system responds to rape and sexual assault.

Victim credibility

Official reports detail just how poorly many police departments and prosecutors understand and deal with rape.

A 2011 United States Department of Justice report describes how police in New Orleans, for example, asked a victim of sexual assault “if she screamed or resisted the perpetrator.” When she said she had not, the detective asked why not, and commented that “the victim ‘seemed very calm and unrattled.’” The implication, of course, is that a true victim would scream and fight; a calm and unrattled victim is not a credible victim.

In a 2016 report, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department documents detectives’ skepticism of victims who delayed reporting and detectives’ suggestions that victims had done something to trigger assaults. Police and prosecutors openly ridiculed victims who they did not believe.

In one exchange, a prosecutor wrote, “[T]his case is crazy. … I am not excited about charging it. This victim seems like a conniving little whore. (pardon my language)”; the officer responded, “Lmao! I feel the same.”

In a 2014 report, the Department of Justice described how Missoula, Montana police told a woman that “because ‘no one had a limb cut off and there was no video of the incident,’ prosecutors ‘wouldn’t see [her rape] as anything more than a girl getting drunk at a party.’” Between January 2008 and May 2012, the Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed charges in less than 17 percent of the rape cases referred for prosecution. By contrast, in 2012-2013 about 48 percent of sexual assault related arrests resulted in charges being brought in Arizona.

As recently as September 2018, many observers dismissed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because of her failure to promptly report.

Victim stereotypes

Society generally, and law enforcement specifically, still expects rape victims to look and act a certain way.

They should be demure, virginal and blameless; they should not have had previous sexual contact with their attackers; they should be openly emotional about their experiences; they should report promptly; they should fight to defend their honor.

When rape victims fail to conform to these stereotypes, law enforcement doubts their stories.

Without a “good” victim, law professor Tamara Rice Lave has argued, police are less likely to make arrests, prosecutors are less likely to bring cases to trial, and judges and juries are less likely to convict.

These stereotypes affect how victims respond to rape and sexual assault.

Women see that the system continues to blame them for being raped. Like Sen. McSally, they don’t report because they don’t believe that the system will work for them. When they do report, they often feel, as McSally described, “like the system was raping me all over again.”

Law enforcement reliance on rape stereotypes heightens the shame, powerlessness and revictimization that women who have been raped feel when they do report – and prevents other women from reporting in the first instance.

The Department of Justice reports cited above suggest that changing the law has not changed attitudes toward rape victims. Only by changing the wider culture will we achieve that goal.

At the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where I teach, we’re trying to make that cultural change through the Erin Levitas Initiative for Sexual Assault Prevention.

As we describe our initiative, “Our goal is to change the way that boys and young men think about women by addressing the attitudes that drive violence.”

The Levitas Initiative will use restorative justice principles, which focus on repairing the harm experienced by victims, to respond to incidents of school-based sexual harassment and educate middle school students on sexual violence.

We hope that restorative dialogue and active accountability will undermine the attitudes and stereotypes that continue to haunt victims of rape – something the law has not been able to achieve.

Takeaways from Beto O’Rourke’s presidential launch


Associated Press

Monday, March 18

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (AP) — After weeks of hype, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke swung through Iowa for the first time and strode into the presidential race to larger crowds and more media attention than most others in the already crowded 2020 Democratic field.

Until recently, O’Rourke was a little-known El Paso congressman whose views weren’t well known. His campaign rollout filled in some blanks and gave him a chance to try to move past some flubs, such as quips about being a part-time parent. Still, he remains something of a political mystery.

Here’s some of what we learned during his White House rollout:


One of the big questions surrounding O’Rourke’s candidacy is whether he’d be able to recreate the energy that fueled his political stardom during his 2018 challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz.

At least on the fundraising front, the answer is yes.

O’Rourke’s campaign said Monday it drew in $6.1 million in donations during its first day alone, or just more than the $6 million fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders raised in the opening 24 hours of his campaign. That’s a key indication O’Rourke can revive a deep, nationwide supporter base built heavily on small donors that helped him rake in $80-plus million while nearly upsetting Cruz.

As he did while running for Senate, O’Rourke says he won’t take donations from outside political groups, but he also won’t rule out organizing fundraisers with high-dollar donors, as has another 2020 Democratic White House candidate, Elizabeth Warren. He said he’d support his campaign staff unionizing after Sanders’ became the first presidential campaign to do so.

And O’Rourke has pledged to release his tax personal returns — unlike President Donald Trump — but didn’t say when.


O’Rourke’s six years in Congress encompassed little foreign policy experience, and it’s showed at times. He said he supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but when asked if he had an opinion about “Brexit,” he answered simply, “No.” If elected president, O’Rourke says he wouldn’t send U.S. troops to Venezuela. Nor would he deploy them to Syria “without some declaration or authorization for force.”

He’s also denounced China for manipulating international markets but hasn’t said how he’d deal with that other than criticizing Trump’s trade tariffs.


Policy areas O’Rourke likes discussing are immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. A fluent Spanish speaker, he hails from El Paso , across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which he calls the “world’s largest binational community.” O’Rourke says he knows more about the border that has dominated national debate than anyone running for president.


During the Senate race, O’Rourke said he’d support Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. Now, O’Rourke says he prefers a proposal by Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois known as “Medicare for America.”

O’Rourke says it would allow people who already get health insurance from their employers to continue to do so while helping millions without coverage enroll in Medicare.

When a man in Independence, Iowa, accused O’Rourke of siding with “insurance company greed,” the former congressman responded with one of his common refrains: “If we become too ideological or too prescribed in the solution, we may allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.”


Asked about the U.S. government making financial payments for centuries of stolen labor and oppression of enslaved black Americans, O’Rourke didn’t directly answer. He said only that the nation had to confront the truth about its racist past.

Other 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Harris, Warren and ex-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, have suggested the U.S. government should use tax credits or other subsidies to compensate the descendants of those enslaved.


O’Rourke frequently jogged with supporters while running for Senate and seems poised to get plenty of exercise during the presidential campaign. He participated in a race in North Liberty, Iowa, running 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, in 24 minutes and 29 seconds. He also chatted with fellow racers while doing so, saying talking health care helped speed him up.

O’Rourke acknowledged being in pain toward the end of the race, but he called it a good “pressure check” on his body.


O’Rourke likes to drive himself to campaign stops, often while livestreaming. He did this constantly as a Senate candidate, saying he can’t stand to sit still.

His presidential campaign used a Dodge Caravan to traverse parts of Iowa, then drive to Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio with plans to head to Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. But O’Rourke has a tendency to speed — and to sometimes curse at other drivers — which can make for awkward internet moments. He’s promised to clean up his language while running for president.

O’Rourke could have the road to himself a lot. While other candidates, including the senators running for president, have day jobs, the campaign is O’Rourke’s only occupation at the moment.


Trump suggested O’Rourke constantly waving his arms might mean the Texan is crazy. Others picked up on how, during the online video announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke bounced so much on the couch where he was seated with his wife that she occasionally pitched forward, appearing to nod in agreement without actually moving her head.

Those who knew O’Rourke before he was elected to Congress in 2012 say he used to be a stiff and little-animated campaigner — a problem he no longer has.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
News & Views

Staff & Wire Reports