Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Rumsfeld's Prior Commitments

Two months ago (as I noted here), the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe against U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and nine other American officials. The complaint alleged that the officials were responsible for war crimes that included the torture of four Iraqi citizens who had been held in American custody in Iraq.

Now Deutsche Welle reports that Secretary Rumsfeld, citing prior commitments, has decided not to attend the Munich Security Conference next month. It is possible that Rumsfeld fears the possibility of arrest if he goes to Germany. This, in fact, is the spin on the story as it is reported on the blog of the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. (The post is headlined "Rumsfeld Cancels Trip Out of Fear of Arrest.") It is more likely, however, that Rumsfeld's decision merely reflects his irritation that German authorities have not summarily dismissed the complaint.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, who is not named in the criminal complaint, is scheduled to attend in Rumsfeld's place. Horst Teltschik, the head of the conference, said that Rumsfeld's decision not to attend "will disappoint many people in Europe, because there is a real need for discussions about the Iran crisis." (That's not a typo. The Iraq crisis is yesterday's news.)