‘The ICC Is Already Dead to Us’: John Bolton Announces Withdrawal over War on Terror Probe

john bolton
Penny Starr/Breitbart News

WASHINGTON, DC – National Security Advisor John Bolton announced on Monday that the United States is formally rejecting the “fundamentally illegitimate” International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bolton made the announcement during a speech at a gathering of the Federalist Society in Washington, DC, on the eve of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks by radical Islamists on U.S. soil that killed almost 3,000 innocent Americans.

Bolton said the timing for the announcement also relates to the court’s suspected intentions to launch a formal investigation into the 17 years the United States has been fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan that would put American warriors at risk for prosecution by the ICC.

Breitbart News asked Bolton about the timing of the announcement and the court’s impending investigation.

“The reason for the timing now is that, even in the past few weeks and months, we have been hearing that a decision on a possible formal investigation could be in the works,” Bolton said. “So we thought it important to give notice that the U.S. and the Trump administration has a very different view of the ICC, certainly [than] how it was viewed by the Obama administration.”

Bolton said the announcement about ending all involvement with and support for the ICC put the U.S. stance in the “public record.”

In his remarks, Bolton spoke about the efforts made during the George W. Bush administration — where he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — to protect Americans from the court’s unchecked authority.

“To protect American service members from the ICC, in 2002 Congress passed the American Service Members’ Protection Act, or ASPA, which some have branded ‘The Hague Invasion Act,’” Bolton said.

“This law, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support, authorizes the president to use all means necessary and appropriate, including force, to shield our service members and the armed forces of our allies from ICC prosecution. It also prohibits several forms of cooperation between the United States and the Court,” Bolton said.

“I was honored to lead U.S. efforts internationally to protect Americans from the Court’s unacceptable overreach, starting with un-signing the Rome Statute,” Bolton said. “At President Bush’s direction, we next launched a global diplomatic campaign to protect Americans from being delivered into the ICC’s hands.”

“We negotiated about 100 binding, bilateral agreements to prevent other countries from delivering U.S. personnel to the ICC,” Bolton said. “It remains one of my proudest achievements.”

Bolton said that last fall, the ICC’s intentions became clear.

“In November of 2017, the ICC Prosecutor requested authorization to investigate alleged war crimes committed by U.S. service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan—an investigation neither Afghanistan nor any other State Party to the Rome Statute requested,” Bolton explained. “Any day now, the ICC may announce the start of a formal investigation against these American patriots, who voluntarily went into harm’s way to protect our nation, our homes, and our families in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.”

Bolton said unequivocally that the U.S. would end all ties to the court.

“Today, on the eve of September 11th, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the President of the United States,” Bolton said. “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC,” Bolton said. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

On the same day that Bolton made his remarks, the White House released a fact sheet explaining the ICC decision, which included a remark from President Donald Trump.

“America is a sovereign nation, and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens,” Trump said.

The ICC declaration is the latest in Trump administration actions to remove the United States from international entanglements that do not benefit America or its citizens, including withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement and ending membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“This administration will fight back to protect American constitutionalism, our sovereignty, and our citizens,” the fact sheet said. “As always, in every decision we make, we will put the interests of the American People first.”

And despite the expected criticism of the Trump administration’s decision Bolton noted the U.S. is part of a majority of court skeptics.

“Today, more than 70 nations, representing two-thirds of the world’s population, and over 70 percent of the world’s armed forces, are not members of the ICC,” Bolton said.

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