When I asked Barack Obama last week about the issue of possible crimes in the Bush White House, particularly on the issue of torture, it made a fair amount of news, but mostly on sites like the Huffington Post and not the traditional media. It's pretty rare to see the issue ever raised in the mainstream press, which is why I was surprised to find this on the not-at-all-left-wing Politico.com:
Don’t think it can’t happen. I think the arrest abroad of an American is only a matter of time and, between now and November, is at least as likely as another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. As a former Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Paul X. Kelley, reminded the nation in a July 2007 Washington Post op-ed, written with a University of Virginia law professor: “Violations of Common Article 3 are ‘war crimes’ for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.”
Courts in Italy and Germany already have issued warrants demanding the arrest of CIA operatives for illegally kidnapping and allegedly torturing citizens and residents of their nations. More than 30 U.S. citizens have been named, their CIA covers blown. These warrants have not been executed, primarily for diplomatic reasons. But they could be acted upon rapidly with a simple decision by either government. And other names — of those directly involved in “enhanced interrogation techniques” — are starting to emerge overseas.
Former high-ranking government officials might want to also think twice about traveling to Europe this summer. Just this week, new evidence emerged that waterboarding and other blatant methods of torture were specifically and directly authorized in White House meetings. Anyone present is now potentially culpable before an international court.
The article may be on to something, although I'd believe it when I saw it. Frankly, if the French or Italians arrested an American public figure before the November election, it would probably whip up anti-European frenzy on U.S. soil and help get John McCain elected (although hasn't Pennsylvania helped him enough?). Anyway, it all gets back to my question of Obama (which I would ask the other two contenders, if given the chance); the best way to deal with lawbreaking for Americans is for justice to be meted out -- by Americans.