Prosecutors from the International Criminal Court (ICC) today revealed that the results of a preliminary probe have suggested the US likely committed war crimes during the occupation of Afghanistan, saying that the probe suggested troops and the CIA tortured at least 61 detainees.
The United States has made a point of not becoming a member of the ICC specifically to try to prevent American personnel from facing legal repercussions for war crimes. The ICC, however, has jurisdiction in this case because Afghanistan is a member, and the torture happened on Afghan soil.
The report said the evidence suggests the torture was not the abuses of a few isolated individuals, but rather part of a systematic US approach of mistreating detainees to try to extract “actionable intelligence” from them. The report added that secondary investigations are also ongoing related to CIA torture in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania.
Such preliminary probes are obviously just the first step, and are meant to determine if there is enough evidence and a legal basis for jurisdiction to launch a full-scale investigation. While Afghanistan obviously gives them jurisdiction, it isn’t clear if they will move forward.
That’s because the ICC would also have to establish that the war criminals are not being prosecuted for their crimes at home, and they are still seeking to get all the details of all the court-martial cases and the like the US has conducted.
Even then, the ICC has never gone on to launch a full investigation in anyplace but Africa so far, and the international body may be loathe to move from prosecuting Tuareg rebels in Mali to trying to go after CIA torture-masters.