Tuesday, December 29, 2009
(from Tackling America's Toughest Questions -- now at Amazon.com)
As long ago as October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" upon the Palestinian people, most of whom are Muslims. The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel's illegal paramilitary settlers. These Israeli "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel's political leaders.
But I want to focus for a moment on Israel's "crimes against humanity" against the Palestinian people-as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are "crimes against humanity"? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people: Crimes against humanity--namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
The paradigmatic example of "crimes against humanity" is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of "crimes against humanity" came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity. Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted "crimes against humanity" upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.
Furthermore, the Nuremberg "crimes against humanity" are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of "crimes against humanity." And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel's genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Zionism's "final solution" to Israel's much touted "demographic threat" allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide.
Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law-the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs-have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c). For at least the past six decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law-the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs-have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, and economic campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) group constituting the Palestinian people. This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.
Article I of the Genocide Convention requires all contracting parties such as the United States "to prevent and to punish" genocide. Yet to the contrary, historically the "Jewish" state's criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied and politically supported by the "Christian" United States. Although the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its blank-check support for Israel and their criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians--truly the wretched of the earth!
The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its NATO allies in favor of "humanitarian intervention" against Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a "responsibility to protect" the Palestinians from Zionist/Israeli genocide. The United States, its NATO allies, and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 monitoring force to help protect the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N. Charter Chapter 7 enforcement actions against Israel - shudder the thought!. The doctrine of "humanitarian intervention" so readily espoused elsewhere when U.S. foreign policy goals are allegedly at stake has been clearly proved to be a joke and a fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing and accelerating Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.
Rather than rein in the Israelis-which would be possible just by turning off the funding pipeline-the United States government, the U.S. Congress, and U.S. taxpayers instead support the "Jewish" state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year, without whose munificence this instance of genocide - and indeed conceivably the State of Israel itself - would not be possible. What the world witnesses here is (yet another) case of "dishumanitarian intervention" or "humanitarian extermination" by the United States and Israel against the Palestinians and Palestine. In today's world genocide pays so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure or de facto allies such as Israel.
Of course miracles can always happen. But I anticipate no fundamental change in America's support for the Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinians during the tenure of the Obama/Clinton administration.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
SIGN THE PETITION
Citizen's arrest bounty on Blair
Neil Clark: A trial would be warmly welcomed by millions – so what happens next?
By Neil Clark
December 16, 2009 "The First Post" - -- Tony Blair's extraordinary admission on Sunday to the BBC's Fern Britton - that he would have gone to war to topple Saddam Hussein regardless of the issue of Iraq's alleged WMDs - is sure to give fresh impetus to moves to prosecute our former prime minister for war crimes.
The case against Blair, strong enough before this latest comment, now appears rock solid. Going to war to change another country's regime is prohibited by international law, while the Nuremburg judgment of 1946 laid down that "to initiate a war of aggression", as Blair and Bush clearly did against Iraq, "is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".
Blair's admission, that he "would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam]" regardless of the WMD issue, is also an acknowledgement that he lied to the House of Commons on February 25, 2003, when he told MPs: "I detest his [Saddam's] regime. But even now he [Saddam] can save it by complying with the UN's demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully. I do not want war... But disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam's active co-operation."
The view that Blair is a war criminal is now mainstream: when comedian Sandi Toksvig, host of Radio Four's News Quiz, called him one on air, the BBC, according to the Mail on Sunday, did not receive a single complaint.
But while it is easy to label Blair a war criminal, what are the chances of him actually standing trial - and how could it be achieved? Various initiatives have already been launched.
The Blair War Crimes Foundation, set up by retired orthopaedic surgeon David Halpin, has organised an online petition, addressed to the President of the UN General Assembly and the UK Attorney General, which lists 14 specific complaints relating to the Iraq war, including "deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war" and violations of the Geneva Conventions by the occupying powers.
The campaigning journalist George Monbiot, who attempted a citizen's arrest of the former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, for his role in the Iraq war, said at the Hay Literary festival in 2008 that he would put up the first £100 of a bounty payable to the first person to attempt a non-violent citizen's arrest of Blair.
Monbiot has also called for the setting up of national arrest committees in countries which, unlike Britain, have incorporated the 'Crime of Aggression' into their domestic law. These committees would exchange information with one another and make sure that Blair "would have no hiding place".
If Blair is to face an international trial, then the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague - to which Britain is a signatory - would be the likeliest forum. While the ICC has said that it will not conduct prosecutions for the Crime of Aggression until it has been defined by its own working group, the court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Sunday Telegraph in 2007 that he would be willing to launch an inquiry into US/UK war crimes in Iraq. Charges could also be brought against Blair at the ICC for failing to prosecute the war in a "proportionate manner".
From Iraq itself, there are also moves to bring Blair to book. It has been reported that lawyers acting for Tariq Aziz, the former deputy leader of the country, now held in captivity, have written to Britain's top legal adviser asking permission to prosecute Blair for war-crimes, in the light of his latest comments.
Whichever way it comes about, if Blair is forced to stand trial, there can be no underestimating the event's significance. Up to now, the only political leaders who have faced war crimes trials since World War Two are those who fell foul of the west - and in particular the United States of America. But the notion of international justice will never be taken seriously if western politicians are deemed to be exempt from the same rules that leaders in Africa and elsewhere are supposed to adhere to.
The prospect of Teflon Tony finally having to answer for his crimes in a court of law, would be warmly welcomed by millions of people throughout the world, not least all those who marched for peace through central London in February 2003, one month before the Iraq invasion.
There is widespread contempt for a man who has made millions while Iraqis die in their hundreds of thousands due to the havoc unleashed by the illegal invasion, and who, with breathtaking arrogance, seems to regard himself as above the rules of international law.
The next decade will tell us whether that is indeed the case.
Friday, December 25, 2009
From a recent press release: "Canadian production company, NAFTC Studios has acquired the rights to distribute the controversial documentary The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder based on Vincent Bugliosi’s best-selling novel by the same name. The partnership came about following a meeting between Mr.Bugliosi and Windsor native Jim Shaban after Shaban became aware of the intense media black-out in the U.S. of the book and now the film. Mainstream U.S. media outlets that have previously supported Bugliosi have actively blocked the promotion of this latest effort."
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
December 22, 2009 "ICH" -- President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize nine days after he announced he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. His escalation of that war is not what the Nobel committee envisioned when it sought to encourage him to make peace, not war.
In 1945, in the wake of two wars that claimed millions of lives, the nations of the world created the United Nations system to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The UN Charter is based on the principles of international peace and security as well as the protection of human rights. But the United States, one of the founding members of the UN, has often flouted the commands of the charter, which is part of US law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
Although the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was as illegal as the invasion of Iraq, many Americans saw it as a justifiable response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The cover of Time magazine called it "The Right War." Obama campaigned on ending the Iraq war but escalating the war in Afghanistan. But a majority of Americans now oppose that war as well.
The UN Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan.
“Operation Enduring Freedom” was not legitimate self-defense under the charter because the 9/11 attacks were crimes against humanity, not “armed attacks” by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after 9/11, or President Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the UN General Assembly.
Bush's justification for attacking Afghanistan was that it was harboring Osama bin Laden and training terrorists, even though bin Laden did not claim responsibility for the 9/11 attacks until 2004. After Bush demanded that the Taliban turn over bin Laden to the United States, the Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan said his government wanted proof that bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks before deciding whether to extradite him, according to the Washington Post. That proof was not forthcoming, the Taliban did not deliver bin Laden, and Bush began bombing Afghanistan.
Bush’s rationale for attacking Afghanistan was spurious. Iranians could have made the same argument to attack the United States after they overthrew the vicious Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1979 and the U.S. gave him safe haven. If the new Iranian government had demanded that the U.S. turn over the Shah and we refused, would it have been lawful for Iran to invade the United States? Of course not.
When he announced his troop “surge” in Afghanistan, Obama invoked the 9/11 attacks. By continuing and escalating Bush’s war in Afghanistan, Obama, too, is violating the UN Charter. In his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama declared that he has the "right" to wage wars "unilaterally.” The unilateral use of military force, however, is illegal unless undertaken in self-defense.
Those who conspired to hijack airplanes and kill thousands of people on 9/11 are guilty of crimes against humanity. They must be identified and brought to justice in accordance with the law. But retaliation by invading Afghanistan was not the answer. It has lead to growing U.S. and Afghan casualties, and has incurred even more hatred against the United States.
Conspicuously absent from the national discourse is a political analysis of why the tragedy of 9/11 occurred. We need to have that debate and construct a comprehensive strategy to overhaul U.S. foreign policy to inoculate us from the wrath of those who despise American imperialism. The "global war on terror" has been uncritically accepted by most in this country. But terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. One cannot declare war on a tactic. The way to combat terrorism is by identifying and targeting its root causes, including poverty, lack of education, and foreign occupation.
In his declaration that he would send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Obama made scant reference to Pakistan. But his CIA has used more unmanned Predator drones against Pakistan than Bush. There are estimates that these robots have killed several hundred civilians. Most Pakistanis oppose them. A Gallup poll conducted in Pakistan last summer found 67% opposed and only 9% in favor. Notably, a majority of Pakistanis ranked the United States as a greater threat to Pakistan than the Taliban or Pakistan’s arch-rival India.
Many countries use drones for surveillance, but only the United States and Israel have used them for strikes. Scott Shane wrote in the New York Times, “For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for targeted killings in a country where the United States is not officially at war.”
The use of these drones in Pakistan violates both the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit willful killing. Targeted or political assassinations—sometimes called extrajudicial executions—are carried out by order of, or with the acquiescence of, a government, outside any judicial framework. As a 1998 report from the UN Special Rapporteur noted, “extrajudicial executions can never be justified under any circumstances, not even in time of war.” Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, punishable as a war crime under the U.S. War Crimes Act. Extrajudicial executions also violate a longstanding U.S. policy. In the 1970s, after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence disclosed that the CIA had been involved in several murders or attempted murders of foreign leaders, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order banning assassinations. Although there have been exceptions to this policy, every succeeding president until George W. Bush reaffirmed that order.
Obama is trying to make up for his withdrawal from Iraq by escalating the war on Afghanistan. He is acting like Lyndon Johnson, who rejected Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s admonition about Vietnam because LBJ was “more afraid of the right than the left,” McNamara said in a 2007 interview with Bob Woodward published in the Washington Post.
Approximately 30% of all U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have occurred during Obama’s presidency. The cost of the war, including the 30,000 new troops he just ordered, will be about $100 billion a year. That money could better be used for building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and creating jobs and funding health care in the United States.
Many congressional Democrats are uncomfortable with Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. We must encourage them to hold firm and refuse to fund this war. And the left needs to organize and demonstrate to Obama that we are a force with which he must contend.
Marjorie Cohn is the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law. She lectures throughout the world on human rights and US foreign policy. Visit her blog http://marjoriecohn.com
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Written, Directed and Produced by
Narrated by Martin Sheen
The premise of Clay Claiborne's new documentary re-examining the great tragedy of the Vietnam War concerns America's continuing reluctance to accept its responsibility for the brutal massacre of as many as 5 million Vietnamese people. Most of those killed by American Forces were civilians, an estimated 4 million from both sides of the North/South line established by the Geneva Convention in 1954. Claiborne then asks the question: how many deaths does it take to qualify for holocaust status? As the United States institutes war making in the Middle East, what lessons can America ever learn from Vietnam if there has been a collective denial of our previous atrocities?
The purpose of Vietnam – American Holocaust is to re-remind us of those atrocities.
In a concise, if not slightly hurried style, Claiborne gives us a short “History of Vietnam” lesson to help us understand the steps and missteps which pulled America into full scale war. He emphasizes Vietnam's long subservient role in Colonialism and their desire for autonomy: ruled for centuries by China, then for 100 years by France in the 1800's and early 1900's, temporarily taken over by Japan during WWII, given back to France for a Ten Year War in the 1950's, and then under military assault from the United States in the 1960's and 70's. When Vietnamese dedication finally outlasted American will in 1975, a reunited nation of Vietnam declared its first independence. Throughout Claiborne's history lesson, he is unafraid of exposing the American Masters of War, along with the true reasons behind their aggressions in the Far East. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all participated in the conquest of Vietnam, each fearing the nationalization of resources and the possible loss of profit from rubber, tin, tungsten, and most importantly, cheap labor. Claiborne focuses much of his time on a bitter and sadistic Lyndon Johnson, who along with Nixon, killed millions with relentless bombing campaigns. Tracing America's gradual participation into war from the early stages of CIA covert activity, Claiborne indicts the familiar major players behind the savagery: Secretary of Defense William McNamara, Generals Curtis LeMay, Alexander Haig and William Westmoreland, and the many weapons and chemical manufacturers promoting the war, GE, Dow Chemical and Monsanto, just to name a few.
But the main focus of Vietnam – American Holocaust, surrounds the graphic footage of the horrific atrocities that occurred during the prosecution of the war. America dropped over 8 million tons of bombs on Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, three times more than all countries combined in WWII. Scenes of American helicopters shooting down running civilians, destroying villages, crops and jungle habitat remind us forty years later of the brutality done to innocent people. Against the military claim of instituting only “surgical bombing,” Claiborne offers contrary aerial shots of the killing of innocent people and the intentional destruction of homes, schools and hospitals. He shows American planes in the systematic spraying of eventually 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and other fatal chemicals over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. In an attempt to destroy the food supply of the Vietcong, the American military poisoned the people, land and water of four nations, not to mention its own soldiers on the ground.
Claiborne's last chilling section of the film centers around a mix of reactions by both American troops and their Vietnamese victims. With cold bravado, some American soldiers recount their stories of “killing contests,” of “hunting gooks,” of making no distinction between civilian and Vietcong, of cutting ears and being paid by body count through the CIA. Claiborne then moves to clips of testimony from Vietnamese survivors giving accounts of their villages being burned, their daughters raped and their sons shot, only because there was rumor the Vietcong had recently been present. Eventually, Claiborne settles into footage from the historic Winter Soldier testimonies which took place in Detroit in February 1971. There, remorseful soldiers spoke the hard truth about the atrocities they witnessed and participated in during the war. Devastating accounts of brutality, orchestrated from upper levels of command giving “ambiguous orders” to “kill anything that moves,” eventually add up to a criminal and moral indictment against the politicians and career brass who forced the drafted soldier into a mentality of slaughter and mass death. As one tearful soldier speaks out in Detroit, “Don't ever let this government do this to you.”
87 minutes long, Vietnam – American Holocaust races by and still leaves many questions unanswered. The film begins to make comparisons of Vietnam to the new American wars in the Middle East, briefly showing eerie images of burned to death by white phosphorus victims in Iraq next to similar shots of white phosphorus victims in Vietnam. But Claiborne retreats from this examination, most likely understanding the constraints of film time to make the comparison thoroughly. While maintaining his position that America has fallen into a collective amnesia concerning the holocaust initiated on the Vietnamese people by the United States, Claiborne finishes his study by analyzing that unlike the American public, the American Military Industrial Complex did learn lessons from Vietnam. First, that American citizens would no longer tolerate a draft; and second, that from Vietnam on there would be a whitewashing of the horrors of war. The Pentagon would control all information to reporters and there would never again be an openly televised war. Even returning caskets would be blacked out. Americans were to be forever shielded from both the atrocities committed and the actual truth of history.
Vietnam – American Holocaust is a must see for seekers of truth and for believers of taking our world back from the war mongers. The film concludes with a simple truth: “Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.”
Friday, December 11, 2009
Reviewed by Will Shapira
I’m always surprised when the former president ventures outside the U.S. as he has done a few times; I fully expect him to be arrested and, in the most extraordinary rendition of all, transported to the International Criminal Court--which he so hated and undoubtedly feared--for indictment and trial for alleged war crimes. Ditto the members of his administration.
Two hundred sixty-nine alleged war crimes, according to Prof. Haas who has meticulously documented them. This not only is a compendium of alleged transgressions by Mr. Bush but a not-so-short course in Constitutional and international law. Fortunately for stupidos like me, you don’t have to be an attorney to understand the book; even a mediocre student such as Mr. Bush was in his college days would get the meaning.
Prof. Haas divides the book into two sections: “Identification of War Crimes” and “Prosecution of War Crimes.” He explains each of the alleged war crimes one by one and why he believes it is such. All of the names we so recently associated with the Bush Administration are here and some lesser-knowns, too. Seemingly, no one escapes.
Explaining his methodology in the Preface, Prof. Haas says, “I have done little investigative research but instead have mined existing writing on the subject by eyewitnesses, government officials, journalists, lawyers and other observers. I have engaged in what is literally known as ‘research’--that is, I have looked back at what has been recorded in order to sort firsthand and secondhand statements into a comprehensive listing of war crimes.”
In the Foreword, Benjamin D. Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, says it is Prof. Haas’ declared intention “to draw the attention to the enormity of injustices and illegalities that must be addressed before America’s tarnished reputation in the world can be restored.”
Since the book includes Iraq and Afghanistan, a sequel is likely, whether or not Mr. Bush journeys to The Netherlands or not. And it is not beyond rationality to assume members of succeeding administrations someday may be so charged.
One thing is sure; when it comes to President Bush and the ICC, Prof. Haas and his associates definitely are not tilting at windmills.
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War Crimes Times Statement of Purpose (revised 06/2011)
The War Crimes Times provides information to the general public, to law-makers, and to our justice-seeking allies on war crimes, war criminals, and on the true costs of war.
When national leaders initiate hostilities they create the conditions—the extreme use of force coupled with limited accountability—for the war crimes which invariably follow. War crimes are therefore an inherent part of war. The suffering caused and the enmity aroused by war crimes must be regarded as costs of war. Since these and other costs far exceed any benefits of war, we seek to end war as a tool of international policy.
Towards this goal, we believe that holding war criminals accountable will send a strong message to all current and future heads of state to very carefully weigh all the consequences of the decision to go to war. While we recognize that United States has long relied on unlawful military force to further its foreign policy goals, we are particularly concerned with the blatant and egregious violations of international law committed by the United States beginning with the Administration of George W. Bush and now continued and expanded under President Obama.
We endorse any efforts, including impeachment, which would bring war criminals of any administration to justice. The War Crimes Times has resolved to see that Bush, Cheney, Obama, and other government officials and military officers who have committed war crimes are prosecuted—no matter how long it takes.
There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.