From www.sfgate.com :
City Council considers role in Rumsfeld war crimes case
Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The Berkeley City Council was in the spotlight Tuesday night as it grappled with whether to become the first U.S. government entity to support the prosecution of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials for war crimes.
If the council approves the resolution, Berkeley would become a co-plaintiff if Germany files a criminal complaint against Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other U.S. officials for their alleged involvement with torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
Berkeley has a long history of protesting U.S. policy, but the city manager recommended that the council stop short of participating in the prosecution of Rumsfeld and his associates.
"Charging United States officials with crimes in a foreign country is of course a very serious matter," City Manager Phil Kamlarz wrote in a memo to the council. "The city does not have the resources to undertake this entirely new and serious responsibility."
He said the issue would take too much time for the city attorney's staff and expose the city to potential financial and legal liability.
Berkeley would join two Nobel Peace Prize winners and about three-dozen human rights groups around the world as co-plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and calls on German federal prosecutors to file charges.
Germany has a universal jurisdiction law, adopted after World War II, for prosecuting war criminals.
Councilwoman Dona Spring said she thought the chances were 50-50 that the council would pass the resolution.
Prosecuting Rumsfeld wasn't Berkeley's only foray into foreign policy Tuesday night. The council also considered resolutions condemning cluster weapons, human rights abuses in Haiti, immigration raids and the possibility of war with Iran.
The council was also slated to consider revoking permits for Pacific Steel, the nation's third-largest steel foundry, due to ongoing pollution problems.
Pacific Steel, which has been making steel parts for trucks and buses in West Berkeley for 75 years, has been under fire from several agencies for toxic emissions.
The city's environmental commission proposed revoking the foundry's permits, some of which were issued decades ago, and forcing the company to reapply for them under stricter standards.
A Pacific Steel spokeswoman said the company is doing everything the city and other groups have asked for, such as installing carbon filters on the smokestacks. The city should wait to see updated test results before taking further action, said spokeswoman Elisabeth Jewel.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District filed suit last fall and is trying to reach a settlement with Pacific Steel over compliance with air standards. Communities for a Better Environment struck an agreement last month with the company to reduce its toxic emissions by 2 tons and clean up its scrap metal supply.
Pacific Steel, which is family-owned, employs more than 600 mostly union workers.
This article appeared on page B - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle