ICC Oversteps Authority

Posted in Politics on July 13th, 2008

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has once again attempted to overstep its authority by involving itself in matters which are outside of its jurisdiction. On Monday 14 July, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will submit to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I his evidence on crimes committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years. Specifically he is requesting an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the systematic killings in Sudan’s western Darfur region since 2003.

At first read this seems to be a fine idea. It isn’t.

The The International Criminal Court derives its powers from the Rome Statute signed into treaty on 17 July 1998 and entered into force on July 1, 2002. The Rome Statute is an international treaty which specifically grants the ICC jurisdiction in only in those States which formally expressed their consent to be bound by its provisions. These States voluntarily became “Parties” to the Statute. The 106 Nations who are currently States Parties to the Rome Statute do not include Sudan! The ICC has absolutely no jurisdiction over the Sudanese or their President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

As bad as the situation is in Sudan, especially the Darfur region, I believe it is an even worse situation in the long run for an international body such as the ICC to be gratuitously overstepping its authority and ignoring the dictates and limitations of the treaty that created it and empowered its actions.

I’m fairly sure that the apologetics used to rationalize the ICC’s frankly extra-legal endeavors are that what is happening in the Darfur region of Sudan is an ongoing parade of atrocities, many – possibly most – of them committed systematically at the bequest of al-Bashir’s government. That’s fine and emotionally satisfying, but if one condones such actions by the ICC, then one must also condone the actions of Israel, the US, China, Russia, and any other nation that steps outside of international law and treaties to “do what it deems is necessary” to end an atrocity or protect itself.

For what little it’s worth the Sudanese government has exhibited a fierce defiance of the ICC. They even threatened to try Moreno-Ocampo in a Sudanese court for “terrorism” after the ICC Prosecutor tried to apprehend and arrest Sudanese State Minister Ahmed Haroun, one of the Sudanese citizens facing a previous ICC warrant, as he was about to go on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

NOTE: I really hate feeling the need to make posts such as this one. On a personal level I’d happily sell my life to visit the same horrors upon the Sudanese government and their forces that they’ve visited on the people of Darfur. One has to look beyond that though and see the ramifications the actions taken to redress these issues.

Thank you ever so much, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, for forcing me to side with al-Bashir and his ilk on anything! May the Gods create a special Hell for you rot within for eternity.

Obama’s Service Plan

Posted in 2008 Election on July 9th, 2008

On Wednesday, July 2, 2008, the Democratic Presumptive Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama, in his speech at the University of Colorado on national service, promised that, if elected as president of the United States of America he would “set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year.”

Sen. Obama has promised that he would ensure that these federally mandated goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. States whose school systems and universities didn’t meet federal quotas for student performed public service hours would be denied federal educational dollars.

While this plan does not – despite some conservative pundit’s rants – violate the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery and most other forms of forced servitude, it is still a vile and pernicious assault on both States’ rights and individual liberty.

One must remember that a similar (mis)use of federal education dollars to enforce a federally mandated curriculum, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), has been reviled and complained about for years now. Yet it at least centered on curriculum and results-oriented accountability, whereas Obama’s proposed use of federal education dollars is for the purpose of mandating public service efforts by students.

Perhaps Sen. Obama should spend less time analyzing how he could, if elected as president, circumvent the 10th Amendment – which strictly limits the powers of the Federal Government – and spend more time reviewing the relevant Child Labor laws such as the the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

NOTE: This post only deals with that part of Obama’s National Service plan that deals with using federal education dollars to coerce the States into requiring public service work-hour quotas from students. There are other points in his plan that I endorse in principle, though as in all things involving the federal bureaucracy, I am skeptical of the implementation.

InfoWar – African Style

Posted in 2008 Olympics, Politics, Society on July 4th, 2008

InfoWar or Information Warfare is the use and management of information in pursuit of an advantage over an opponent. Information warfare may involve collection of tactical information, assurance that one’s own information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of opposing force information and denial of information collection opportunities to opposing forces.

InfoWar has always been important in political and military struggles. In the modern world it possibly even more important for adversaries in a conflict to control and shape the information available.

Below is a video reporting on how some African citizen journalists – read that as Bloggers – are waging campaign of information warfare against the ruling parties in their lands who seek to maintain their authority at least partially by controlling and censoring what information is provided to their citizens and the world through the media.


This video is courtesy of Current_TV

These are some very brave and committed people who daily risk their freedom and their lives in an ongoing attempt to break their governments’ stranglehold on information dissemination. Across the globe citizen journalists – bloggers mostly – are engaged in an asymmetric war of information. They often manage though the porous nature of the internet to do what the Main Stream Media (MSM) is unable or unwilling to accomplish – the free and open release of information about unpopular, uncomfortable, and/or unprofitable issues.

Happy Birthday!

Posted in Politics, Society on July 3rd, 2008

232 years ago a group of insurgents rose up to cast off the shackles of an oppressive foreign power. Using asymmetric warfare techniques they forced an eventual withdraw of occupying and counter-insurgency troops from their land, despite being outnumbered and vastly out-gunned by their opposition.

They won their freedom from foreign tyranny and forged a new nation that still stands today.

Happy Birthday, America!

Heller Of A Decision

Posted in Politics on June 26th, 2008

On Thursday, June 26, 2008, The US Supreme Court gave its ruling on DC v. Heller. In a 5-4 decision the SCOTUS ruled that the District of Columbia’s gun ban was unconstitutional.

The Majority Opinion held that:

  1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
    1. The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
    2. The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.
    3. The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous armsbearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment.
    4. The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms.
    5. Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion.
    6. None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553, nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 264–265, refutes the individual rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.

  2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
  3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny
    the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most cute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

The full text of the Opinion can be downloaded here.