Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obama and the Nuremberg Defense

The infamous Nuremberg Defense, rejected then by the U.S. and her allies, was "I was just following orders." It has long been American law that a member of the military or any agent of the American government MUST refuse to obey an illegal order. Although some military interrogators and military lawyers spoke against torture as illegal, immoral and counterproductive, various members of our military and the CIA (or Blackwater contractors acting in their name) conducted torture against men, women, and children (those under 18), both the guilty and the innocent. In at least one case, American military resources were diverted to chase the torture-induced fantasies of a literally insane person. By all definitions, these acts were war crimes both on the part of those who ordered them and those who obeyed. Under American and international law, anyone suspected of war crimes MUST be prosecuted.

Recently, Obama released Office of Legal Counsel memos, which he was legally compelled to do. At the same time, he promised war criminals that they would not be prosecuted for their crimes and invoked a rehashing of the Nuremberg Defense. Glenn Greenwald has a strong legal examination of this illegal promise, replete with links to others well worth reading. Rebel Reports has the UN Rapporteur on Torture's response to Obama and condemnation of a decision that is itself a violation of law and considered a war crime.

When American leaders quote Nazi defense arguments, we can only pray that G-d and destiny will have mercy upon our nation.


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