Explainer Mailbag: A Jail for Generals?

Explainer Mailbag: A Jail for Generals?

Explainer Mailbag: A Jail for Generals?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Aug. 3 2001 5:24 PM

Explainer Mailbag: A Jail for Generals?

OK, Radislav Krstic is going to prison for genocide and crimes against humanity, Slate reader Todd Patrick writes. But where's he going to serve his time? Can he get paroled?

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There's no official Prison for War Criminals. The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will select a country where Krstic will be imprisoned from a list of countries that are willing to take him. According to the statute governing the tribunal, "imprisonment shall be in accordance with the applicable law of the State concerned, subject to the supervision of the International Tribunal."

Parole for war criminals doesn't have much precedent in international law. But the "supervision" clause likely means that the U.N. tribunal would have to grant permission for parole, just as the tribunal's permission is required for a pardon or commutation.

Gary Wesler has a question about last week's Explainer mailbag: What's the difference between gross domestic product and gross national product?

Essentially, it's the difference between location and nationality. GDP measures economic activity within the geographical confines of a country, regardless of whether the producer is domestically owned or foreign-owned. GNP measures the economic activity of a country's residents, regardless of where the activity takes place. GDP is considered a superior measure of an economy's domestic production (no matter who's producing it), while GNP is a better measure of a country's income (no matter where that income comes from). Many, including the World Bank, now use the term "gross national income" for what used to be called GNP. (Click here for good shorthand definitions of GDP and GNP.)

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Several readers (including an eloquent Fraygrant) complained that the National Infrastructure Protection Center isn't the government agency that polices the Internet for viruses and worms. That's done by Carnegie Mellon's federally funded CERT Coordination Center, they argued.

It depends on what the meaning of "police" is. According to Explainer's dictionary, the first definition of the verb form of "police" is "to regulate, control, or keep in order by means of an organized civil force for maintaining order, preventing and detecting crime, and enforcing the laws." That's what the NIPC, an interagency center housed at FBI headquarters and operating under the authority of the attorney general, does for the Internet when faced with a large-scale virus or worm attack.

The mission of the CERT Coordination Center fits the second definition of "police": "to clean and keep clean." Funded mostly by the Department of Defense, CERT works on the technical side of virus and worm problems. Think of it this way: CERT is more concerned with what happened and how it happened, and NIPC is more concerned with who did it and why.

Finally, Press Box has a beef with Explainer. Is Explainer "dragging his heels" about admitting false allegations in Slate's final Chandra Levy update? Explainer noted that a minister told FBI agents and the Washington Post that his daughter had an affair with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. Explainer also noted that the daughter denied the story, that Condit's chief of staff denied the story, and that Condit's bodyguard (who had confirmed allegations of a Condit affair with flight attendant Anne Marie Smith) denied the story. Press Box wants Explainer to note that the minister has now recanted. So noted.

Explainer thanks Bill Pollak of the CERT Coordination Center.