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Much is made these days of pardons and prosecutions around the nexus of the war in Iraq.  The Repugnicons--specifically the media endowed ones--are erecting their straw men in an attempt to head off any push to prosecute anyone and lefties are pulling on their pointy beards while moaning that 1. The Obama administration probably will not pursue prosecution and 2. The POTUS will pardon everyone and their grandmother.

I for one do not believe we should look to the POTUS Elect to pursue prosecutions here.  I would prefer he spend his time turning around the massive damage done to our country on all other fronts.  It would be heartening to see some sort of mechanism for the eventual prosecution devised--one that didn't require any more direct action by the new POTUS than signing off on it.  

It is not that I think we should ignore the law breaking--I don't.  It's just that Saddling the future POTUS with that pursuit seems a little like shoving him into quicksand to act as a bridge when we need someone tall to reach the bananas--he wouldn't make a good bridge and we wouldn't get the bananas.

There may be some things which could be done here.  I remember a post somewhere about allowing an International War Crimes Tribunal on American soil.  Although it would be a huge uphill battle, Congress could start working on a bill to allow just that.  Call it the Protecting Patriotism Act (PPA) or something actually witty.  If it were a credible threat, much could be gained from pressing the bill forward.  Would a Presidential pardon work at such a tribunal?

What I am proposing here is that the threat of pardons from Bush be met with the threat of a PPA.  

There is another consideration though that needs to be made--those whose actions directly broke the law by direction of the current [mis]administration.  Here is one area that I think the Obama administration absolutely must act.

Whether by their own cowardice, or their own ideological ignorance, many lower-level folks participated in actions that directly broke the law of armed conflict.  Those who actually tortured for example--those who had direct knowledge of the torture as well as those who organized, trained, equipped, administered, prepared and directed units engaged in torture.  

A President Obama cannot allow such cowardice to stand unchallenged.  Those people should have their actions documented in their next review and should be made ineligible for promotion for the very next promotion cycle they would otherwise be eligible for.  That seems punishment enough for some, perhaps a career ender for many but justifiably so.

Originally posted to fr33d0m on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 09:37 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Preemptive war is a war crime (3+ / 0-)

    We nailed that one to the wall at Nuremberg.

    We should abide by our own standards.

    Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

    by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 09:44:01 AM PST

    •  I don't believe you. (0+ / 0-)


      We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

      by burrow owl on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:01:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, see, the way it works is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl, iRobert

        That the Nuremberg Trials were good and therefore anything I don't like was automatically declared illegal in it. For example, I think Bill Belicheck's blatantly illegal actions for the New England Patriots was wrong, and so I'm sure that one of the lesser-read comments of the War Tribunal referred to it. You see, they said that breaking the law was bad, and Bill Belicheck clearly broke the law, and so he is roughly comparable to, if not Hitler or Eichmann, well at least Goebbels.

        Doesn't this make things so much easier? Now we can continue to make ludicrous comments about the American political system and not discuss the actual genocides in Darfur and the DRC, which, of course, the Nuremberg Trials would have had nothing to say about.

      •  Read about the trials (0+ / 0-)

        The prosecution case, argued by Drexel Sprecher, an American, placed considerable stress on the role of media propaganda in enabling the Hitler regime to prepare and carry out aggressive wars. "The use made by the Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. They used the press, after their earlier conquests, as a means for further influencing foreign politics and in maneuvering for the following aggression

        Sound familiar?

        Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

        by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:25:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's sure as hell not what I asked about. (0+ / 0-)

          The only reasonable inference from your non-responsive comment is that your initial claim is wrong.  

          We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

          by burrow owl on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:53:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I said read (0+ / 0-)

            We charge unlawful aggression but we are not trying the motives, hopes, or frustrations which may have led Germany to resort to aggressive war as an instrument of policy. The law, unlike politics, does not concern itself with the good or evil in the status quo, nor with the merits of the grievances against it. It merely requires that the status quo be not attacked by violent means and that policies be not advanced by war. We may admit that overlapping ethnological and cultural groups, economic barriers, and conflicting national ambitions created in the 1930's, as they will continue to create, grave problems for Germany as well as for the other peoples of Europe. We may admit too that the world had failed to provide political or legal remedies which would be honorable and acceptable alternatives to war. We do not underwrite either the ethics or the wisdom of any country, including my own, in the face of these problems. But we do say that it is now, as it was for sometime prior to 1939, illegal and criminal for Germany or any other nation to redress grievances or see expansion by resort to aggressive war.


            Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

            by LaFeminista on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:28:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  None of that is about preemptive war. (0+ / 0-)

              It's about aggressive war, but you'd need to differentiate the two and show how Nuremberg was specifically about preemptive war.

              Otherwise your claim fails.

              We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

              by burrow owl on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 12:35:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I understand that you're focusing on the phrase (0+ / 0-)

              "It merely requires that the status quo be not attacked by violent means and that policies be not advanced by war." and taking it literally. So let me ask some questions: If it is a war crime to change the status quo by violent means, then was the re-invasion of France during World War Two a war crime? Was intervention against Milosevic's Serbia a war crime? Would intervention against the Hutus during the Rwandan genocide be a war crime? Those were all examples where the world intervened against the status quo. Clearly the crucial phrase of "unlawful aggression" is not meant quite as literally as you might assume

              •  i suppose it depends what your interpretation (0+ / 0-)

                Of preemptive is.

                "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
                -- International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, 1946, condemning Nazi Germany for its version of "Preemptive Deterrence"

                Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others. ~Virginia Woolf

                by LaFeminista on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 02:12:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Something to remember (6+ / 0-)

    The rest of the world consists of civilized human beings.  They have expectations concerning the behavior of the most powerful nation on the planet.  If they see that most powerful nation let war criminals, torturers, people who illegally launched wars of aggression and flouted every provision of the Geneva Convention, laughing in the world's face the whole time, walk away unscathed in the name of "political pragmatism", they will conclude (correctly) that we have no place in the community of civilized nations, and they will harden their hearts against us forever.  I am certain that one reason the rest of the world has been so enthusiastic about Obama is their (baseless) assumption that the election of Obama represents some intention on the part of Americans to return to norms of civilized behavior.  When we refuse to, and in fact respond to such calls with self-righteous indignation about how we have to "move on", then don't be surprised when the next time an al-Qaida strikes against the US the rest of the world just shrugs and says "who cares?"

    This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 09:45:02 AM PST

  •  Hey, didn't you get the memo? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Dude, here at Dkos, we're all about electing Democrats.  We don't have time to think about Democratic Party "leaders"  who facilitated, enabled, or aided and abetted war crimes.

    Also,  "war crimes"  are only for those who LOSE wars.  Get it?  Milosevic was a war criminal.   Cheney and Pelosi are not.   Real simple.

    "World peace through non-violent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed." MLK

    by SmedleyButlerUSMC on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 10:24:02 AM PST

    •  I got something (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD

      But it said to memorize and then destroy it so I read it, dropped it into a blender with some ice and alcohol.  It was after about three of those my brain cells were happy again.  

      My memory being what it is, I don't remember what it said.

    •  Very well put and (0+ / 0-)

      witty.  Obama must outlaw torture on his first day and say that torturers will be punished.  If he waits and torture continues he will also be a war criminal.

    •  This is literally true. (0+ / 0-)

      Otherwise FDR would have been brought to trial for war crimes,(from interning the Japanese-Americans to saturation bombing civilians) to Truman.  Eisenhower allowed torture and assassinations.  JFK and LBJ, Bay of Pigs and Vietnam.  Obviously, we don't need to bring up Nixon, so we can move right along to Reagan and his various latin american adventures, Bush senior in Panama, Clinton in Kosovo, and then Bush II.  Basically, since FDR, Carter is the only non "war criminal" in the bunch by some of you guys definitions.

  •  As a starter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    We should make sure all records from Bush are declassified and opened to public inspection.  A way to recognize and encourage whistleblowers to come forward would also help.  The numerous books written about the Bush Administration have not sufficiently caught the public's attention.  An investigative TV series might help spread the truth.  I agree it would be hard for the new administration to do investigation/adjudication  without being it tarred as a partisan pursuit.  

    •  Agree (0+ / 0-)

      Some artful declassification should prove fruitful and would be a necessary component.

    •  Whistleblowers (0+ / 0-)

      I've read (don't have link right now) that there's a long line of whistleblowers who want to talk and believe they might be heard soon by congresscritters, journalists, and the Justice Dept.

      Much of my hope for the future rides on their shoulders.

      Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

      by JG in MD on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:18:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whistleblowers 2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edbb, Doc Memory

    Firedoglake ran a story that referred back to a story from Wired with this quote.

    New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources waiting to spill the Bush administration's darkest secrets, he said in an interview last month. "You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on January 20. [They say,] 'You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.'"

    Joe Biden: Get up! Al Gore: Pray, and use your feet! Harriet Tubman: Keep going!

    by JG in MD on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 11:24:23 AM PST

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