Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AG Holder Throws Out Nuremberg Verdicts Retroactively. Is This Holocaust Denial?

Two decisions by President Obama - one yesterday, and one to be announced today - shake my faith in his administration more than anything else to date:

I. My friend Shannyn Moore is somewhat of an expert on former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief Allied Nuremberg Prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson. Some of Moore's best writings and radio commentaries this past year have been on the subject of Jackson's approach to responsibility when it came to the ordering and implementation of the criminal policies of the Third Reich. Jackson's opening statement to the 1946-47 war crimes tribunal is one of the greatest, most noble by an American. Moore has quoted the following excerpt several times:

It is my purpose to open the case, particularly under Count One of the Indictment, and to deal with the Common Plan or Conspiracy to achieve ends possible only by resort to Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity. My emphasis will not be on individual barbarities and perversions which may have occurred independently of any central plan. One of the dangers ever present is that this Trial may be protracted by details of particular wrongs and that we will become lost in a "wilderness of single instances". Nor will I now dwell on the activity of individual defendants except as it may contribute to exposition of the common plan.

The case as presented by the United States will be concerned with the brains and authority back of all the crimes. These defendants were men of a station and rank which does not soil its own hands with blood. They were men who knew how to use lesser folk as tools. We want to reach the planners and designers, the inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the world would not have been for so long scourged with the violence and lawlessness, and wracked with the agonies and convulsions, of this terrible war.

It is a powerful statement. The set of trials known as "Nuremberg" enshrined high standards meant to let the world know that neither the creators nor implementors of criminal state policy regarding torture, detention and death would be immune from justice. Contrast, though, this with the statement made yesterday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

The men and women in our intelligence community perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. Further, they need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

To clarify what Holder actually said, in his announcement that gave extremely limited powers to an already severely compromised "special (as in "eunuched") prosecutor, let me do some word substitution to it:

The men and women in our Fuhrer's intelligence community perform an incredibly important service to our Fatherland, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances, created by Bolsheviks and Jews. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. Further, they need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Reich will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Reichminister for Legal Affairs regarding the interrogation of detainees, and the subsequent disposition of these traitors to The Fatherland. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

Robert Jackson must be turning over in his grave. So Obama's law enforcement and judicial chief is endorsing the excuse given by every war criminal tried on every continent since the end of hostilities in 1945? How can anyone with a knowledge of war crime law defend what AG Holder said yesterday?

Contrast the way AG Holder is handling our current moral dilemma, to how the crew of the helicopter gunship that singlehandedly stopped the My Lai massacre approached their duty as Americans, as they saw it:

Three American soldiers were honored by the U.S. Army for helping to stop the massacre. They were part of a helicopter crew that landed between a group of Vietnamese civilians and U.S. troops who were preparing to fire on them. Two of those American soldiers are no longer alive, pilot Hugh Thompson and crew chief Glenn Andreotta. The gunner on that helicopter was Lawrence Colburn. I spoke with him from the studios of member station WABE in Atlanta, and I asked him whether William Calley's apology comes too late.

Mr. LAWRENCE COLBURN: It depends upon what he does from this point forward. If he would somehow be able to make the trip back to My Lai and face the survivors and apologize there face-to-face, it would be a healthy thing for him to do.

RAZ: Take us back to that day. You were in a helicopter flying over the village of My Lai. When did you realize something wasn't right?

Mr. COLBURN: We were on station first thing in the morning before the insertion of the ground troops, and we were there to provide air support and reconnaissance for the men on the ground, and we did that. We reconned the area before they came in.

It was relatively quiet. And when we came back into the immediate area of the village, the people we saw leaving earlier were leaving on this main road, which we thought was a good idea that they get out of the area. But when we came back into the village area, they were still on the road, but they were dead or dying, mainly women, children, elders. That's when we knew something was amiss.

RAZ: At one point, Hugh Thompson, the pilot, told you to prepare to fire on your fellow American soldiers in order to prevent a massacre of civilians. Were you prepared to do that?

Mr. COLBURN: Well, Mr. Thompson tried everything he could to stop what was going on on the ground. We realized it was our people when we saw a captain shoot a woman that we'd marked with smoke, hoping she'd receive medical attention.

RAZ: This is a woman who was injured that you had marked.

Mr. COLBURN: It was a chest wound, yes, and she was still alive. We marked numerous bodies, thinking we were helping them in some way, but indirectly, we were killing them because we gave up their position, and then the soldiers on the ground would not administer medical attention. They'd kill them. And when we saw a captain do it right in front of our face, that's when we knew that it was our people that were committing these atrocities.

RAZ: I want to put your actions into context here. I mean, American GIs were constantly being ambushed in Vietnam, often tricked into thinking they were approaching civilian areas that actually were Viet Cong hideouts. So I imagine that what you did and the fact that you reported this massacre to your superior officers wasn't popular with some of your fellow soldiers at the time.

Mr. COLBURN: I know Mr. Thompson experienced some grief for reporting it up the chain of command, but it was our responsibility to do that. Personally, the people I worked with understood what happened that day. They knew the truth. So they didn't pass judgment on Mr. Thompson, Glen Andreotta or myself.

II. President Obama will announce today his reappointment to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, of Ben Bernanke, the person who did more than anyone else during the waning days of the Bush administration to make it harder for us to tell the difference between the bankers and the bank robbers.

As my friend Hugh observed today on the probable Bernanke reappointment:

Bernanke’s is best known for backing Alan Greenspan’s easy credit policies that fueled the $8 trillion housing bubble. Bernanke managed not to see this bubble until it burst on August 9, 2007. After a brief intervention led by foreign central banks, he then did almost nothing to forestall its effects believing that the fallout was manageable and that markets would be able to handle it on their own with only occasional, limited involvement of the Fed. On the weekend of September 13-14, 2008, he worked with Henry Paulson, former CEO and chairman of the board of Goldman, and Lloyd Blankfein, the current CEO of Goldman, to save insurance giant AIG. Goldman had a heavy exposure to AIG, and its bailout essentially saved Goldman. Bernanke also forced Bank of America to buy the investment bank Merrill Lynch under dubious conditions which Bernanke later lied about.

Hugh goes on to describe other, more recent aspects of Bernanke's "epic fail."

hat tips - Shannyn, Peterr, and Hugh


Kelly said...

Great piece Phil...I would add some substitute language in Mr. Holders statement, "we are not going to prosecute ANYONE who was 'just following orders'..."

'Just following orders' was no excuse at Nuremberg...and it's no excuse now.

Obama is a right leaning centrist at best...how I wish he were a liberal...

Anonymous said...

Good job Hugh. We should make a list and check it twice..

However you need to double your list of scandals as the Democrats are just as guilty as the Republicans of corruption and self serving agendas. Start with Chris Dodd, Barney, Tom Daschle and company. Shouldn't take long to get to 800.

Celia Harrison said...

Thank you for this powerful and informative post about the reluctance our current administration has to prosecute our own people for war crimes. It just makes no sense to me to leave out those who orchestrated the whole mess or those who followed through at the lower end of the chain of command. A nurse is liable for carrying out an order given by a doctor which is harmful to a patient. She can't be protected because she was not the one who wrote the order, she is responsible to refuse to do it because it is wrong.

Anonymous said...

why do your kind always resort back to accusing others of Holocaust denial when just below the surface you don't like the Jews either? Just curious Phil...


Anonymous said...

Of course you might be making light of the subject? One of those back handed jokes, maybe?


Philip Munger said...


You completely misunderstand me. I have no idea, either, what you mean by "your kind."

Anonymous said...


they did the crime, they pay their own legal bills.

Anonymous said...

Yeah , because roughing up islamic terrorists is EXACTLY the same as the Holocaust ...