Fugitive Rumsfeld Cancels German Trip

Rumsfeld scraps Munich visit over war probe (Expatica, 21 Jan.)

United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has cancelled a planned visit to Munich. Rumsfeld has informed the German government via the US embassy he will not take part at the Munich Security Conference in February, conference head Horst Teltschik said.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a complaint in December with the Federal German Prosecutor’s Office against Rumsfeld accusing him of war crimes and torture in connection with detainee abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. Rumsfeld had made it known immediately after the complaint was filed that he would not attend the Munich conference unless Germany quashed the legal action.

This afternoon’s Juan Non-Volokh post is the first I’ve heard of it, although Steve Soto at LeftCoaster had the story Friday. He remarks,

You know we have sunk a long way when we have to get lessons on war crimes, international law, and accountability from the Germans.

Right. A country that can’t quash a bogus complaint filed by a foreign activist group against a person with diplomatic immunity is one we should emulate.

We should withdraw the U.S. delegation–and thus the legitimacy–from this conference rather than simply sending a non-indicted replacement (Doug Feith) in Rumsfeld’s stead. A superpower should not be in the business of dignifying such shenanigans.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kappiy says:

    James, you imply that Rumsfeld has been indicted–he has not been. The complaint is a simple request for investigation. And the prosecutor has not yet responded to the request. Rumsfeld is free to travel to Germany without fear.

    The case is being pursued under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction which is an accepted component of both US, German, and international law. The complaint is being supported by numerous groups from a wide variety of countries–including several German legal groups.

    If the case is, indeed, simply “bogus,” the German prosecuter won’t choose to investigate. Even if an investigation is forthcoming, it does not necessarily mean an indictment.

    Rumsfeld is overreacting.

  2. McGehee says:

    Rumsfeld is overreacting.

    He would be, if he’s really cancelled the trip because of this. Looks to me like that’s somebody’s opinion that’s getting picked up and echoed elsewhere.

  3. BigFire says:

    Can we move our troops out of Germany, onto somewhere more sensible, like Hungary and Poland?

  4. anjin-san says:

    So since we are a superpower, everyone can just kiss our ass? Damn, that beacon of freedom is burning bright…

  5. McGehee says:

    Since we’re a sovereign country, we can take our troops out of a country if we choose. Kiss that, Anjin.

  6. anjin-san says:


    I rather doubt the Germans give a rats ass if we pull our troops. Given the strains Bush has placed upon our military manpower, we may have to reduce such forces soon weather we want to or not.

    Actually though, the issue under discussion is should the US have to “bother” with such things since it is a superpower. Depends on what kind of country we want to be. If you feel might makes right, I guess you would think not.

  7. LJD says:

    “I rather doubt the Germans give a rats ass if we pull our troops.”

    A number of German economies surrounding our bases disagree with your assumption from across the pond.

    “…we may have to reduce such forces soon weather we want to or not.”
    That’s right, if it starts to rain too much, by all means, bring them in.

    “Actually though, the issue under discussion is should the US have to “bother” with such things since it is a superpower.”

    Actually though, it is precisely BECAUSE we are a superpower that these trivial issues come up. Were we a smaller country, we could be running around chopping off heads and throwing bodies in pits- the U.N. would do nothing.