American's are above the Law?

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6459895.stm

The US State Department has rejected a coroner's conclusion that the "friendly fire" death of a British soldier in Iraq was unlawful and a criminal act.

Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, 25, died near Basra on 28 March 2003 when a US pilot fired on his tank convoy.

US spokesman Sean McCormack said it was a "tragedy" during a time of war.
The coroner was critical of US failure to send witnesses to the inquest but the Pentagon said he had access to most information from its own inquiry.

When will the US Government start to understand they live in a world of over 6 Billion and not 300 Million. The UK is from a governmental perspective the USA Admin's most loyal, and powerful Friend. BUT they feel they have to more or less rubbish the UK Law and justice system with nonsense like this. This puts the UK Government which of course has to be behind its judicial system in a precarious situation. We have all seen the video's and yes I would conclude the lack of malaise, BUT the law is the law. This man was killed in a unlawful way, judged by one of the most mature legal systems in the world, yet to protect the Military (once again) the US Government passes the buck.

The question now should be, why would any intelligent person in this world put their trust into the *only* super power in the world when they ignore and bypass all other recognised legal systems in the world?

The example isnt the only one, there are other. The *get out clause* for the international court in Den Haag is another. We try to indidet milosevic for example in these courts, BUT no american solider can ever be tried here.

Sorry, I am not one to bash America, but I find the latest political position of the US Admin rather in fact incredibly irritating

The Military are not above the law, and a bit of humility could and would go a long way!
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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I don't understand what you are saying here - a British coronor expressed his opinion and a US state dept official disagrees with it. What does that have to do with Americans being above the law?
 
  • #3
drankin
That incident was an unfortunate, accidental mistake. It happened during battle. It shouldn't happen but has probably happened in every war mankind has ever participated. I, as an American, feel horrible about it as do millions of others.

Should the UK be able to prosecute US military personel for actions on foriegn soil? I don't believe it works like that. Was their a crime? Manslaughter is the best I can fathom.
 
  • #4
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Should the UK be able to prosecute US military personel for actions on foriegn soil? I don't believe it works like that. Was their a crime? Manslaughter is the best I can fathom.
Well it does work like that for everyone else, thats sort of my point. I dont disagree, it was an accident, but it was a unlawful accident. The fact that it was an accident does not wash away the law. So why is the US dept Position that it isnt unlawful? A bit of common sense would be nice, rather than political positioning.
 
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  • #5
Can a coroner actually pronounce on whether the death was unlawful or criminal?
 
  • #6
Kurdt
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Can a coroner actually pronounce on whether the death was unlawful or criminal?

Yes they can.
 
  • #7
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well the larger point is that all along the US has been above the law, whether its thumbing its nose at the Geneva convention protocols, insisting on US immunity from war crimes, not signing on to the international court, or its byzantine routing of suspected terrorists thru extraordinary rendition to countries where we know exactly what will happen.
 
  • #8
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well the larger point is that all along the US has been above the law, whether its thumbing its nose at the Geneva convention protocols, insisting on US immunity from war crimes, not signing on to the international court, or its byzantine routing of suspected terrorists thru extraordinary rendition to countries where we know exactly what will happen.

While these statements are mostly true, I do not understand the general outrage being expressed.

I'd like to try to understand other people's point of view here. Why do people on this forum post to bash the united states over its wrong doings (admittedly numerous), but there is nothing on the actions of the muslim extremists we're fighting?

Is it because you feel your government should be good enough to not engage in such practices, yet they are appropriate for our enemies?

Case in point: the actions of our soldiers at Haditha or abu graib. Certainly they were attrocious and I firmly believe those responsible should be held accountable - but the slaughter of innocent civilians and the humiliation of prisoners is par for the course for our enemies - why no outrage over that?

Not trying to be combative, but I am genuinely curious.
 
  • #9
Kurdt
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While these statements are mostly true, I do not understand the general outrage being expressed.

The outrage comes from the hypocrisy involved in many instances. While claiming to be the upholders of truth and justice the American government brushes aside rulings such as those in the OP without any due consideration, just because it would be inconvenient.

To address your case in point briefly. There is outrage at that for similar reasons as above. The blatant hypocrisy involved. America claims to be outraged by the ethical and moral virtues of those enemies yet seem to employ them when it suits American purposes, in the cases you illustrated and in particular the disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay.

People are outraged by terrorists but even more so by a country that claims to uphold a particular set of values yet conveniently drops them when things get tough. This is infinitely worse than a terrorist who doesn't pretend to have any other agenda.
 
  • #10
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Fratricide as this is usually referred to is to be considered as a most unlucky accident and of course it's understandable that the next of kin of the victim are hareassed and seek revenge.

Picture this, there is one soldier aiming at the wrong target and pulling the trigger. Is he guilty of any form of crime/fallony whatever? Things like this are usually the result of a chain of events which must all be going wrong. There is a very strict protocol, procedures etc for A-10 operations. You would normally expect some guidance of a controller for instance, who directed and assisted the pilot. Itr's almost certain that the cause it not solely the pilot, but he is the one whodunnit, so that is getting all the attention.

If you'd start criminal prosecuting of this kind of accidents, you'll soon find yourself out of military operators. Considering Americans to be above the law, is grossly overstated.
 
  • #11
Andre said:
If you'd start criminal prosecuting of this kind of accidents, you'll soon find yourself out of military operators.
Then what are waiting for?
 
  • #12
drankin
Then what are waiting for?

Are you suggesting that we abolish our military?? If so, this seriously compromises the credibility of any of your arguments.
 
  • #13
Kurdt
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Fratricide as this is usually referred to is to be considered as a most unlucky accident and of course it's understandable that the next of kin of the victim are hareassed and seek revenge.

Picture this, there is one soldier aiming at the wrong target and pulling the trigger. Is he guilty of any form of crime/fallony whatever? Things like this are usually the result of a chain of events which must all be going wrong. There is a very strict protocol, procedures etc for A-10 operations. You would normally expect some guidance of a controller for instance, who directed and assisted the pilot. Itr's almost certain that the cause it not solely the pilot, but he is the one whodunnit, so that is getting all the attention.

If you'd start criminal prosecuting of this kind of accidents, you'll soon find yourself out of military operators. Considering Americans to be above the law, is grossly overstated.

I think the point is that they were found to be grossly negligent in the execution of their procedures. There have been many friendly fire cases and this is the rare exception where it was deemed unlawful. I guess its like medical negligence, there has to be deemed serious error of judgement. The Uk believes there was and the US believes there wasn't.
 
  • #14
Are you suggesting that we abolish our military?? If so, this seriously compromises the credibility of any of your arguments.

That's a fairly ignorant thing to say. If you have a different opinion than someone then they are no longer credible? :bugeye:

At any rate, no - not abolish, just shrink it significantly. There is no need for such a massive military when we have no enemies that pose a significant military threat to us. But this is getting off-topic.
 
  • #15
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Nobody deserves to be above the law... except for me:rofl:

I think the reason that the US denied the jurisdiction is because we think its an accident and nothing more. he shouldnt be punished for a mistake.

on the other hand, there should really be some type of international law standard to cover this type of thing.
 
  • #16
Gokul43201
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While claiming to be the upholders of truth and justice the American government brushes aside rulings such as those in the OP without any due consideration, just because it would be inconvenient.
The bolded qualification you've included is indefensible. The USAF did conduct its own investigation into the incident and recommended punitive measures (over a couple years ago, I think) - these were later overridden by higher ups in the DoD.

So clearly, there has been a lot of consideration by the US. And the powers that were overruled the recommendations of their own investigatory commission, so why is surprising that they'd disagree with an outside investigation that opposed their chosen position?
 
  • #17
drankin
Nobody deserves to be above the law... except for me:rofl:

I think the reason that the US denied the jurisdiction is because we think its an accident and nothing more. he shouldnt be punished for a mistake.

on the other hand, there should really be some type of international law standard to cover this type of thing.

That's just it, the US will never submit to an international law. Noone has jurisdiction over the US. Laws of a country only apply to those in the jurisdiction of that country. Many want the US to follow an interational law but the US is never going to fall under that. It's not in our Constitution to ever fall under an international law. Our country wasn't designed that way. And I don't believe we are going to change the original design for the sake of other countries systems. Whether I agree or not it's the way it is. I do realize our political leaders try to use international law as a reason to use military force (we all know it's bs) elsewhere but the truth is we don't require it. Makes a lot of Euro folks upset because they do fall under such laws (I believe).
 
  • #18
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Somebody screwed up and somebody should be held accountable.
 
  • #19
russ_watters
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Well it does work like that for everyone else, thats sort of my point.
Does it? I don't think that's necessarily true. Can you point to any case where a country voluntarily turned over a suspected war criminal to another for prosecution? In any case, that is not at issue here, so that's kinda irrelevant anyway.
I dont disagree, it was an accident, but it was a unlawful accident. The fact that it was an accident does not wash away the law. So why is the US dept Position that it isnt unlawful? A bit of common sense would be nice, rather than political positioning.
The US state dept official thinks it is non-criminal neglegent accident, and the coroner in the UK thinks it is a criminal neglegent one. It is a simple difference of opinion on an issue that is anything but clear-cut.

I don't see an issue here and you didn't answer my query: Is this simply an excuse to bash the US?
 
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  • #20
russ_watters
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The outrage comes from the hypocrisy involved in many instances. While claiming to be the upholders of truth and justice the American government brushes aside rulings such as those in the OP without any due consideration, just because it would be inconvenient.
What would be convenient or inconvenient about agreeing or disagreeing? There won't be a trial, so there isn't any issue here.

The US is pretty much the same as any other western country when it comes to such things. We do make our soldiers take responsibility for their actions, as the trials we've had indicate.
To address your case in point briefly. There is outrage at that for similar reasons as above. The blatant hypocrisy involved. America claims to be outraged by the ethical and moral virtues of those enemies yet seem to employ them when it suits American purposes, in the cases you illustrated and in particular the disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay.
Except for a few extremely rare instances - which people get prosecuted for - the actions American soldiers take com nowhere close to the criminal actions of our enemies. Terrorism is SOP for our enemies here.

This is infinitely worse than a terrorist who doesn't pretend to have any other agenda.
Huh? Could you explain that? To me, that is hypocirsy.

The dualitiy should be striking: while we argue over whether or not a pilor was criminally neglegent in a friendly-fire incident, our enemy drives vans full of explosives into lines of civilians standing in line for jobs. And yet we're worse?
 
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  • #21
Kurdt
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What would be convenient or inconvenient about agreeing or disagreeing? There won't be a trial, so there isn't any issue here.

It would be inconvenient to subject an American citizen to a foreign judicial system. The debate remains as to whether you can dismiss the UK ruling just because the US has conducted its own.

The US is pretty much the same as any other western country when it comes to such things. We do make our soldiers take responsibility for their actions, as the trials we've had indicate. Except for a few extremely rare instances - which people get prosecuted for - the actions American soldiers take com nowhere close to the criminal actions of our enemies. Terrorism is SOP for our enemies here.

There have been no prosecutions for any of those operating the Guantanamo Bay facility. What is the ethical justification for this facility?


Huh? Could you explain that? To me, that is hypocirsy.

The dualitiy should be striking: while we argue over whether or not a pilor was criminally neglegent in a friendly-fire incident, our enemy drives vans full of explosives into lines of civilians standing in line for jobs. And yet we're worse?

How can a terrorist who makes their agenda clear then does it be called hypocritical?
 
  • #22
drankin
Kurdt, they are prisoners of war. When the wars over, they can be tried.
 
  • #23
russ_watters
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It would be inconvenient to subject an American citizen to a foreign judicial system. The debate remains as to whether you can dismiss the UK ruling just because the US has conducted its own.
Did you read the article? The UK says it does not want a trial, so there is no issue here: this American is not subject to the British judicial system because the British don't want to subject him to it.
There have been no prosecutions for any of those operating the Guantanamo Bay facility.
And you are suggesting there should be...?
What is the ethical justification for this facility?
It is a prison.
How can a terrorist who makes their agenda clear then does it be called hypocritical?
That isn't a complete sentence.
 
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  • #24
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Does it? I don't think that's necessarily true. Can you point to any case where a country voluntarily turned over a suspected war criminal to another for prosecution? In any case, that is not at issue here, so that's kinda irrelevant anyway.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crime
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_crimes
Knock your self out.

The US state dept official thinks it is non-criminal neglegent accident, and the coroner in the UK thinks it is a criminal neglegent one. It is a simple difference of opinion on an issue that is anything but clear-cut.
Great, so the Pentagon has a closed door internal investigation and the families of those how were killed should just accept the outcome of the pentagon?
Anyway, what isnt clear cut about it? To me it is clear cut, it was an accident, but a crinmal one.

I don't see an issue here and you didn't answer my query: Is this simply an excuse to bash the US?
I didnt answer it because you didnt ask it, plus I already answered it. However I will answer it *again*, NO.
When you are being critizied do you feel that the person critizing you is bashing you?

Did a non-impartial judge look at this case inside the USA? Why did the USA not send witnesses? Why were they not wanting to help?

The reason why there wont be a trail is because the USA wont allow it to happen.
 
  • #25
devil-fire
The US is pretty much the same as any other western country when it comes to such things. We do make our soldiers take responsibility for their actions, as the trials we've had indicate.

haven't all those crimes been brought to light by news media before the government has even admitted there to be something worth investigating? i don't think there would be any trials if the government was able to keep a lid on things like they have been trying to.
 
  • #26
drankin
Great, so the Pentagon has a closed door internal investigation and the families of those how were killed should just accept the outcome of the pentagon?

Yes, any family has to accept that when their loved ones go to war, they could be killed. If one of our soldiers were killed by an emeny soldier, do we take them to court? I get dismayed when people try to take a wartime event or accident and try to apply it to civilian litigation. It's rediculous and compromises any war efforts. I can only imagine the things that happened in WWII for crying out loud.
 
  • #27
chemisttree
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"When will the US Government start to understand they live in a world of over 6 Billion and not 300 Million."

What does the population of the world have to do with this? One could as easily (and illogically) say, "When will the UK Legal System start to understand that they live in a world of 6 billion not 60 Million."

You forgot to quote:

"Lawyer Geraldine McCool said the verdict did not suggest there would be a prosecution of the US pilot and the Hull family would not be calling for one."

and

"Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman, who met with US diplomats in London ahead of the inquest, said she shared the "frustration" at their failure to send witnesses. I explained that this was not a criminal court, nobody could be found guilty and sent to prison, it is simply asking questions and requiring answers," she said."

Then what was the purpose of the inquest? The answer is that it was obviously political and intended to embarass Tony Blair's administration and the US Military. It shouldn't be such as surprise that the US Military could see that one coming. Why would the US Military engage in this no-win nonsense?

And you forgot the most important bit of information:

"Although one of the pilots spotted what he thought were orange panels on the vehicles - signifying they were friendly forces - they were assured by forward air controllers attached to British units that there were "no friendlies" in the area.

The pilots concluded the orange must be rocket launchers, and began manoeuvring to fire on the convoy before they reached the next settlement."
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6441955.stm)

Did the Coroner have an opinion regarding the forward air controllers too?
 
  • #28
drankin
"When will the US Government start to understand they live in a world of over 6 Billion and not 300 Million."

What does the population of the world have to do with this? One could as easily (and illogically) say, "When will the UK Legal System start to understand that they live in a world of 6 billion not 60 Million."

You forgot to quote:

"Lawyer Geraldine McCool said the verdict did not suggest there would be a prosecution of the US pilot and the Hull family would not be calling for one."

and

"Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman, who met with US diplomats in London ahead of the inquest, said she shared the "frustration" at their failure to send witnesses. I explained that this was not a criminal court, nobody could be found guilty and sent to prison, it is simply asking questions and requiring answers," she said."

Then what was the purpose of the inquest? The answer is that it was obviously political and intended to embarass Tony Blair's administration and the US Military. It shouldn't be such as surprise that the US Military could see that one coming. Why would the US Military engage in this no-win nonsense?

And you forgot the most important bit of information:

"Although one of the pilots spotted what he thought were orange panels on the vehicles - signifying they were friendly forces - they were assured by forward air controllers attached to British units that there were "no friendlies" in the area.

The pilots concluded the orange must be rocket launchers, and began manoeuvring to fire on the convoy before they reached the next settlement."
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6441955.stm)

Did the Coroner have an opinion regarding the forward air controllers too?

Chemisttree really hits the nail on the head here. One really has to look thru all the political bs that the media tries make issue with.
 
  • #29
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Yes, any family has to accept that when their loved ones go to war, they could be killed. If one of our soldiers were killed by an emeny soldier, do we take them to court?
The UK is now your enemy?

You obviously dont grasp the idea of unlawful killing. The Military is just like any other job, you have some protection against being killed in an unlawful way.

I get dismayed when people try to take a wartime event or accident and try to apply it to civilian litigation. It's rediculous and compromises any war efforts. I can only imagine the things that happened in WWII for crying out loud.
Bit like the holocaust? or perhaps what milosevic was attempting? What is ridiculous is that you seem to believe your war effort is above international law.
 
  • #30
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"When will the US Government start to understand they live in a world of over 6 Billion and not 300 Million."

What does the population of the world have to do with this? One could as easily (and illogically) say, "When will the UK Legal System start to understand that they live in a world of 6 billion not 60 Million."

You forgot to quote:

"Lawyer Geraldine McCool said the verdict did not suggest there would be a prosecution of the US pilot and the Hull family would not be calling for one."

and

"Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman, who met with US diplomats in London ahead of the inquest, said she shared the "frustration" at their failure to send witnesses. I explained that this was not a criminal court, nobody could be found guilty and sent to prison, it is simply asking questions and requiring answers," she said."

Then what was the purpose of the inquest? The answer is that it was obviously political and intended to embarass Tony Blair's administration and the US Military. It shouldn't be such as surprise that the US Military could see that one coming. Why would the US Military engage in this no-win nonsense?

And you forgot the most important bit of information:

"Although one of the pilots spotted what he thought were orange panels on the vehicles - signifying they were friendly forces - they were assured by forward air controllers attached to British units that there were "no friendlies" in the area.

The pilots concluded the orange must be rocket launchers, and began manoeuvring to fire on the convoy before they reached the next settlement."
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6441955.stm)

Did the Coroner have an opinion regarding the forward air controllers too?

Are you implying that the UK legal system is bent on embarrassing the UK government? :rofl:

I didnt forget to quote anything, I was making a very clear point, what exactly was your point? My point was that America is part of an international community, and if you want to be taken seriously you need to start complying to international laws, rather than dodgey hypocritic cover-ups.

As for the orange, you were aware that everyone else was briefed that the Coalition forces would have orange panels fitted on thier equipment to ensure that they wouldnt be attacked, on top of that the ground command did NOT give them permission to fire? It was a gross miss-judgment, by the piots, and they should be tried.....
 
  • #31
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Well certainly Bush et al have seen this coming for some time. They exempted their selves from possible tribunals. And in fairness have fought for the same re Armed services personnel of all stripes. But I would ask for an even higher level of consistency than signing onto the Geneva convention and then looking for loopholes, or refusing to endorce international tribunals with the primary complaint that we have a legal system that is non pareil and any further jeopardy is superfluous. This is the same issue as Gitmo, and the "extraordinary rendition" crap where we whisk in the dark of night "prisoners" to various countries where torture is common, and then deny that as a motive.
 
  • #32
drankin
The UK is now your enemy?

You obviously dont grasp the idea of unlawful killing. The Military is just like any other job, you have some protection against being killed in an unlawful way.

Bit like the holocaust? or perhaps what milosevic was attempting? What is ridiculous is that you seem to believe your war effort is above international law.

Again, we aren't under international law. Period, zippo, zilch. To be above the law, we would first have to be under it. It's not part of our Constitution to be under any international laws. Your OP is flawed.

No, the UK is not our enemy. That wasn't my point. In war, people die, and sometimes because of mistakes from our own fire. The roles could easily have been reversed. We would accept it because it is understood that it happens. It's emotional, politically driven, non-sense. And you are falling for it.
 
  • #33
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But thats the point--most civilized countries agree to certain conduct. And to enforce these standards. If you agree that we have the right to be outlaws, then say so. Bush etc have made such clear. They believe they are so. Hence this thread! We have a case of some trigger happy young man who missed clear markings and fired. More disturbingly we have had a bunch of blown up journalists in Iraq by "friendly" fire and Israeal recently hit red cross vehicles. In this case it was an honest mistake I believe, but to sequester evidence, really does no one any one good.
 
  • #34
drankin
But thats the point--most civilized countries agree to certain conduct. And to enforce these standards. If you agree that we have the right to be outlaws, then say so. Bush etc have made such clear. They believe they are so. Hence this thread! We have a case of some trigger happy young man who missed clear markings and fired. More disturbingly we have had a bunch of blown up journalists in Iraq by "friendly" fire and Israeal recently hit red cross vehicles. In this case it was an honest mistake I believe, but to sequester evidence, really does no one any one good.

I pretty much agree with you, doc. My point is that we can't be called outlaws because in order to be an outlaw you have to be subject to the laws in the first place.

Now, we do have a moral obligation to our comrades in war but there is a point to where that obligation ends. Otherwise, the next time we need to fight side by side we will be signing release waivers. Please, do the lawyers have to get their hands on everything?
 
  • #35
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But thats the point--most civilized countries agree to certain conduct. And to enforce these standards.
When the Constitution was written, falling under the jurisdiction of international law meant falling under the jurisdiction of the European monarchs. There was a good reason for the authors to ensure that the US wouldn't succumb to their influence. Furthermore, as I'm sure you know, the Constitution is notoriously difficult to amend. This is also for a good reason: it allows the government to withstand the willy-nilly opinions of the public. (For example, without inertia, the neocons would've turned this country into a police state after 9/11). Given that no one has yet to provide a compelling political reason for amending the Constitution to allow the government to abide by international law, it hasn't been done.

In fact, I don't think it will ever be done. Our laws are too similar: whenever a conflict between international law and American law arises, it will never be a clear-cut difference, and will always be in a moral gray area (e.g., a friendly fire shooting). Therefore, there will never be a public outcry, and nothing can ever be done to change that.
 
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