The Obama administration is fully aware that allowing civilians to sue nation states for sponsoring terrorism is - in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor of the Nazis during the Nuremberg Trials - "a poisoned chalice" that must be put "to our own lips as well." 7,8 For example, in an effort to convict Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the so called "mastermind of 9/11," the U.S. Military Commission cited the conviction of Liberian president Charles Taylor of war crimes by an international court for providing "practical assistance, encouragement, or moral support to the perpetration of a war crime." 9,10 This legal argument did not escape the notice of Obama's State Department regarding its support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Last January it held a meeting on limiting "U.S. exposure" to the Geneva Convention's "Law of Armed Conflict" regarding the continued supply of U.S. weapons to the Saudis despite the Kingdom's deplorable record of bombing civilians.11,12 For example, on October 8 two American-made GBU-12 Paveway II missiles were dropped on a Yemeni funeral hall.13,14
The Paveway II missile is tipped with a 500-pound MK-82 warhead that is a mixture of 80% TNT and 20% aluminum power.15,16 The aluminum increases the heat and kinetic energy of TNT. The MK-82 has an approximate blast force of 435 one-ton trucks traveling at 100 miles per hour.17,18,19,20 The "double-tap" strike, meaning two missiles fired, the second while funeral attendees and emergency personnel were in the process of providing aid to the injured, killed over a hundred mourners and injured more than five-hundred others, including women and children.21 The Associated Press reported that "hundreds of body parts were found strewn in and outside the hall" and that "rescuers collected them in sacks."22 Human Rights Watch and the UN have dubbed the bombing a war crime.23, 24
In response to the carnage, Yemeni rebels fired shore-based missiles a week later at the U.S.S. Mason, a Navy destroyer prowling off their coast. The missiles fell harmlessly short off their intended target.25 In response, President Obama ordered the U.S.S. Nitze, also operating in the Red Sea, to fire Tomahawk missiles at three Yemeni radar installations believed to be involved in targeting the Mason.26 It is unknown how many Yemenis may have been killed in the retaliatory strikes, but it is known that along with providing weapons, targeting information, and refueling support to the Saudis, the U.S. has now directly engaged the Yemenis in war.
As far as a U.S. president being tried for war crimes? Unlikely. The last time an international court tried the U.S. government for committing war crimes (for mining Nicaraguan harbors) the U.S. delegation simply got up and walked out of the courtroom.27, 28, 29 After all, imperialism has its privileges.
1. Obama vetoes 9/11 bill, likely setting up first congressional override of his presidency: click here2. H.R.3815 - Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3815 3. Enter the lawyers: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21707931-presidents-veto-ringingly-overturned-congress-enter-lawyers
4. George W. Bush 9/11 Address to the Nation: https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911addresstothenation.htm5. Text of George Bush's speech: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/sep/21/september11.usa13
6. After 9/11: the Saudis Who Slipped Away: http://articles.latimes.com/2004/apr/11/opinion/oe-unger11
7. Exclusive - As Saudis bombed Yemen, U.S. worried about legal blowback: click here
8. Robert H. Jackson: Opening Statement Nuremberg Trails, 1945: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/personality/sources_document12.html
9. KHALID SHEIKH MOHAMMED AND THE C.I.A.: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/khalid-sheikh-mohammed-cia
10. MILITARY COMMISSIONS TRIAL JUDICIARY GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA: http://www.mc.mil/Portals/0/pdfs/KSM2/KSM II (AE120B(Gov Sup)).pdf
11. D meeting -- Yemen civilian casualties and the LOAC: