DATE: September 26, 2001

Helms Introduces Amendment to Protect Servicemen From International Criminal Court

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Republican Jesse Helms (R-NC) delivered the following statement on the Senate floor this afternoon concerning his amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, which is endorsed by the Bush Administration:

Mr. President, after dastardly terrorists killed thousands of American citizens in New York, Washington and that plane crash in Pennsylvania, President Bush instructed our armed services to "be ready."

And, this nation is at war with terrorism, and thousands in our armed forces are already risking their lives around the globe, prepared to fight that war. These are courageous men and women who are not afraid to face up to evil terrorists, and they are ready to risk their lives to preserve and protect the miracle of America.

And that is why, Mr. President, I am among those of their fellow countrymen who insist that these men and women who are willing risk their lives to protect their country and fellow Americans should not have to face the persecution of the International Criminal Court --- which ought to be called the International Kangaroo Court. This court will be empowered when 22 more nations ratify the Rome Treaty.

Mr. President, instead of helping the United States go after real war criminals and terrorists, the International Criminal Court has the unbridled power to intimidate our military people and other citizens with bogus, politicized prosecutions. Similar creations of the United Nations have shown that this is inevitable.

Earlier this year, the U.N. Human Rights Commission kicked off the United States --- the world's foremost advocate of human rights --- to the cheers of dictators around the globe.

The United Nation's conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, this past month, became an agent of hate rather than against hate. With this track record, it is not difficult to anticipate that the U.N.'s International Criminal Court will be in a position not merely to prosecute, but to persecute our soldiers and sailors for alleged war crimes as they risk their lives fighting the scourge of terrorism.

Therefore, Mr. President, now is the time for the Senate to move to protect those who are protecting us.

I have an amendment at the desk to serve as a sort of insurance policy for our troops. My amendment is supported by the Bush Administration and is based on the "American Service Members Protection Act," which I introduced this past May. It is cosponsored by Senators Miller, Shelby, Murkowski, Bond, and Allen. Mr. President, many Americans may not realize that the Rome Treaty can apply to Americans even without the U.S. ratifying the treaty. This bewildering threat to America's men and women in our armed forces must be stopped.

And that is precisely what my amendment proposes to do --- it protects Americans in several ways:

(1) It will prohibit cooperation with this kangaroo court, including use of taxpayer funding or sharing of classified information.

(2) It will restrict a U.S. role in peacekeeping missions unless the U.N. specifically exempts U.S. troops from prosecution by this international court. (3) It blocks U.S. aid to allies unless they too sign accords to shield U.S. troops on their soil from being turned over to the ICC.

And (4) It authorizes any necessary action to free U.S. soldiers improperly handed over to that Court.

My amendment to the Defense Authorization bill incorporates changes negotiated with the Executive Branch giving the President the flexibility and authority to delegate tasks in the bill to Cabinet Secretaries and their deputies in this time of national emergency.

The Bush Administration supports this slightly revised version of the "American Service Members Protection Act." I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the Administration in support of this amendment be included in the record.

Mr. President, nothing is more important than the safety of our citizens, soldiers and public servants. The terrorist attacks of September 11 have made that fact all the more obvious.

Today, we can, we must, act to protect our military personnel from abuse by the International Criminal Court.