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The Arrogance of Power

[The Vile History of the CIA and Crimes against Humanity]

 

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES:  The British, during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens had 200 or so detainees.  And Churchill said, “We don‘t torture.”  Churchill understood: you start taking short-cuts, and over time, that corrodes what‘s—what‘s best in the people.  It corrodes the character of a country.

Keith Olbermann show, 2009

 

Introduction

The people of the United States are at a crossroads of morality and conscience where torture policy in America is concerned. Much harm has been done to the reputation of this country as a civilized people, due to the expediency of policies during the Bush Administration believed to aid and assist the job of National Security. A secret policy of torture was promoted by the Bush Administration ostensibly to counter international terrorism. Subsequently, every “MOW-RON” and his brother came out of the woodwork to euphemistically describe torture as, “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”

While it’s one thing for a misguided, uneducated general public to miss the historical, religious, social, legal, sociological and psychological basis for prohibiting torture, there really is no excuse for former members of the government to do so, many of whom knew it was wrong from the start.

In recent weeks, the primary motivation of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and others who promoted an after-the-fact dismissal of national and international law, including the Geneva Convention, was self-preservation, and the fear that they might one day soon be prosecuted and incarcerated for crimes against humanity.

Since we now have President George W. Bush’s confession on tape, broadcast on the Keith Olbermann MSNBC show in 2009, the country knows that there was approval at the highest levels of government to commit these war crimes. Those guilty of war crimes did reach all the way from “lackey” levels in the CIA to military prisons in Iraq and elsewhere, and finally to the Bush White House itself.

More blatant rationalizations came recently from ex-vice president Dick Cheney. He appears on the television networks as the primary defender of torture. Cheney, who never went beyond his freshman year of college, seems to lack any understanding of law and shows absolutely no remorse for initiating and promoting torture and crimes against humanity.

How soon do the American people forget history? At the end of World War II many public servants, low-level bureaucrats, military officers, Nazi SS elite, judges, and high-level government officials were brought to the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal and tried for crimes against humanity. Where German military and concentration guards were concerned, they were not allowed to defend themselves with rationalizations like “We were only following orders,” or “let’s put this all behind us and look to the future” (sound familiar?). The Japanese also were tried after WWII for war crimes, including those who used waterboarding to torture prisoners. Many were sentenced and put to death by hanging for Crimes against Humanity.

Crimes against humanity were viewed as great violations of this country’s values to respect life and humanity in general. Policies of torture rob our nation of both dignity and respect. If we fail to act responsibly now as a nation, and fail to bring to justice all those involved in initiating an American torture policy or promoting or carrying out war crimes in the name of the United States, the consequences of a dishonored nation with a double standard will taint the American image, and thus taint the American people forever more. According to Alfred W. McCoy in his important book, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, concluded:

 

“Finally, as we learned from France’s battle for Algiers in the 1950s and Britain’s Northern Ireland conflict in the 1970s, a nation that sanctions torture in defiance of democratic principles pays a terrible price. For nearly two millennia, the practice has been identified with tyrants and empires. For the past two centuries, its repudiation has been synonymous with the humanist ideals of the Enlightenment and democracy. When any modern state tortures even a few victims, the stigma compromises its majesty and corrupts its integrity. Its officials must spin an even more complex web of lies that, in the end, weakens the bonds of trust and the rule of law that are the sine qua non of a democracy. And, beyond its borders, allies and enemies turn away in collective revulsion.”

 

 

 

Background

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been involved in torture, kidnapping, extortion, blackmail and murder since its official inception in 1947 when the CIA was organized from its predecessor, The OSS—Office of Strategic Services. Both agencies have had a long and vile history. Individuals responsible for these violations of national and international law have never been held accountable because of the veil of secrecy and the alleged compromise to American intelligence gathering and national security. Because of this the public ends up not knowing whether the CIA did their clandestine activities out of a legitimate need for protecting the nation’s security, or was it a bogus smokescreen to cover up criminal behavior, including murders committed on behalf of the agency?

 

With more and more revelations every day that the CIA engaged in a long rogue program of illegal activity bordering on treason (any act of betrayal or disloyalty—in this case the undermining of the laws, values and ideals of the American people, it is imperative that the crimes not be stonewalled or met with impunity.

 

In addition, the violation of civil and human rights (decade after decade) warrants a long overdue charge of “Crimes Against Humanity” directed at individuals responsible including the chief architects of such programs.

 

It is now clear that in order to regain any shred of national respect and honor in the eyes of the American people and the rest of the world, those responsible must finally be brought to justice. Such vile human conduct of the last 71 years must not be whitewashed or swept under the rug of obscurity. The CIA has castrated the Declaration of Human Rights worldwide and, at home, stripped all moral authority of the United States to promote human rights anywhere in the world.

 

The CIA has used mind control drugs on unwitting experimental subjects, been a party to, over the last seventy one years, the murder or attempted murder of international democratically-elected political figures, and has been directly involved in training 56,000 South American soldiers (School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia) in methods of torture. Torture methods taught were eventually used against innocent civilians (men, women and children), political figures, militant rebels, and military combatants and detainees, all sponsored on behalf of the CIA of the United States government.

 

A Long and Vile History

 

The following quote from the late Steve Kangas describes the underlying motivation of just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA and its predecessor since 1943.

 

“CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

 

So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination.

 

These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

 

This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious “School of the Americas.” (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the “School of the Dictators” and “School of the Assassins.” Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.

 

The Association for Responsible Dissent estimated that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an “American Holocaust.”

 

The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.

 

The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington’s will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator’s control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution.

 

The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this “boomerang effect” include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.”

 

 

“Since 1949 the United States government has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On the one hand, the U.S. government was a signatory to the United Nation’s Geneva Convention and Declaration of Human Rights. More recently, during the Clinton administration, the government was a signatory to the 1994 Torture Statute. The statute basically said that any US citizen involved in torture outside the United States would be charged with a crime and prosecuted under the statute when they return.

 

When all of the scandals hit the news media on Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and secret torture prisons outside the United States run by the CIA, the graphic pictures of abuse shocked the nation. Many Americans began to see for the first time the clandestine, repulsive side of its government—Mr. Hyde.

 

George W. Bush and Richard Cheney were not the first politicians to ever pervert American values and the ideals of human rights. Every CIA Director going back to 1947, have kept their dirty little secrets. The uncanny similarity to Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s is unmistakably frightening.

 

The German people also turned a blind eye and were caught up in the rhetoric of charismatic heads of state and taken in by false propaganda, lies and deceit. Few people remember that the CIA operated a top-secret program called, “Operation Bluebird.” It was approved by the CIA Director on April 20, 1950.

 

This was a behavior modification program jointly undertaken with the Pentagon. Bluebird was a continuation of a Nazi program that had been conducted at Dachau concentration camp. CIA scientists, many of whom were former Nazis, used human guinea pigs at the Pentagon’s chemical warfare base in Edgewood, Maryland.”

 

Now move forward in time to the 21st Century. It is now estimated that 100 detainees during the Bush/Cheney years died in custody. Of these, 8 died while being tortured.” And, please remember this—there is no Statute of Limitations on murder or manslaughter. So ask yourself this question—why aren’t they being tried in a criminal court for these criminal acts?

 

Society’s Inner Conflict over Torture

 

Ultimately, there are now serious long-lasting value conflicts going on between various segments of American society over the issue of torture. Since things went public, there are those who find torture the epitome of evil incarnate—a violation of human decency, abhorrent criminal behavior that has now put our troops at extreme risk, morally wrong and reprehensible conduct unbecoming of professionals, the likes of which have never been seen before. In effect, it is the perversion of American’s highest ethical standards. It is ironic that the very people who are supposed to be protecting our national security are the very ones who are the greatest threat to the American people and, as it turns out, a major threat to the Congress of the United States as well.

 

They also view a national policy around torture as the promotion of despicable acts not worthy of the highest ideals a people can hold; it dishonors the importance of human rights and dignity, and tarnishes the character of the American people.

 

There are some in our society today who, reacting under the pressures of terrorist potential attacks, psychologically and morally cave in to these pressures by turning a blind eye to such public disclosures as a national torture policy. Fear and anxiety over potential terrorist attacks dominate and rule these people’s beliefs, however unfounded or useless the “ticking Bomb Scenario” might be.

 

There is still a small percentage of the American public that has no moral qualms where human suffering is concerned, and would give our government a free pass to torture whomever they want.

 

While the above fearful type may be thought of as pragmatic whose approval of torture is highly conditional (the ticking bomb scenario), the latter group would allow the government to torture anyone they saw fit and exempt government from any control whatsoever. The fearful and anxious group of citizens needs education. Those giving government a free pass to conduct torture under any circumstances are not in need of education. Education probably won’t help them. What they need most is a psychiatrist.

 

The greatest problem facing both of these latter groups is that they have not taken the time to carefully think things through in any systematic or careful way. One of the key ideas that haven’t been thought through at all by these societal groups is our own system of laws and history of American jurisprudence in the United States.

 

At the top of the list is the country’s century old domestic problem of law enforcement—beating confessions out of detainees (The Third Degree). You will recall Brown versus Mississippi (1936) in which Negro defendants were whipped in order to coerce a confession.

 

Lynching and murder was the mainstay of a desperate south trying to protect its repressive social order. One-by-one the legal system has slowly purged law enforcement its legacy of violence against the citizenry. When the Rodney King incident occurred in 1991, society was relatively swift to punish law enforcement personnel who engaged in beating Rodney King. But over the decades there have been cases of law enforcement personnel who engaged in other criminal acts such as torture, rape or murder of suspects or jailed individuals without cause.

Or, in the case of police officers committing child abuse or spousal abuse, there is no longer hiding from the consequences of such criminal acts. More recently no one looks the other way or hides their head in the sand when police officers commit unjustified homicides. Just consider all the national and local protests of law enforcement murdering unarmed black men in this country.

 

And, for those who do bring nothing but shame and dishonor to themselves by such acts, the word cowardice does come to mind.

 

The Problem of the EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) Timeline

 

Some politicians (like Dick Cheney) have been suggesting that EIT were responsible for protecting Americans against terrorist attacks on American soil between 2001 and today.

 

But there is a strange bit of twisted logic in that assumption. Between 2001 and 2009 such CIA tactics as torturing were ostensibly used to acquire intelligence information. The information obtained through torture was then allegedly used to prevent such attacks.

 

However, enhanced interrogation techniques came to an end in 2009 when President Obama gave an executive order that enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA were to be stopped immediately.

 

But alas here is the rub or distortion of logic. Between 2009 and today there also have been no attacks on American soil. If EIT protected us, why then was the country unharmed between 2009 (five years) and today in the absence of EIT? EIT obviously had nothing to do with why the country has been unharmed during the last 13+ years. Let’s be clear: CIA rationalizations around the alleged value of torture are being used to protect those at the highest levels in the government from being prosecuted for Crimes against Humanity and quite possibly Treason.

 

Not all Fear of Terrorism is Irrational

 

Although terrorist attacks have not occurred in the United States since 2001, the fear isn’t entirely abnormal or irrational. That is, there have been worldwide several terrorist attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mumbai, India and the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Bali, Madrid, Paris, London, and a continuous stream of threats from Al-Qaeda against the United States. When these events occurred, people became easily manipulated by an exaggerating press.

 

Add to this the continued fear-mongering by members of the previous Bush administration, there is a rush to judgment as to what ought to be done about terrorist activities worldwide.

 

Promoting a national torture policy is shortsighted to say the least. Homeland Security’s effort to police cargo shipping, ports of entry, airports, aviation schools, and other transportation venues along with security measures to identify all people coming into the country legally and illegally has probably gone a long way toward protecting our country than some clandestine CIA and military program to torture incarcerated detainees.

 

Dick Cheney in particular wanted the public to be fearful so as to justify, in his mind, the Bush administration’s decisions to ignore national laws prohibiting torture, and international laws, including the 1994 Torture Statute and the earlier Geneva Conventions.

 

Why then is there such a double standard when it comes to torturing foreign military combatants, or prisoners in detention, in places like Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib? Besides fear, anxiety, and an unwillingness to consider the legal, historical, moral, intellectual, humanistic, philosophical, psychological and sociological basis for not adopting policies of torture, there are two other reasons that seem to block the mental ability of some to think things through: (1) An underlying element of ethnic and religious prejudice, bigotry and racism towards detainees or enemy combatants, and (2) lack of foresight into what might be called, “The Opening of Pandora’s Box.”

 

In the next section I want to take the reader on a conceptual trip into the Abyss of torture and potential human suffering. This is largely hypothetical but I ask each reader to contemplate what could happen or might have happened if the United States had suffered additional terrorist attacks between 2001 and now.

 

 

The Abyss of Pandora’s Box

 

a·byss [ə bíss]

(plural a·byss·es)

n

  1. Chasm: a chasm or gorge so deep that its extent is not visible 
  2. Endless space: something that is immeasurably deep or infinite 
  3. Terrible situation: a situation of apparently unending awfulness 
  4. Hell: hell thought of as a bottomless pit 

 

[14th century. Via late Latin abyssus < Greek abussos “bottomless” < bussos “bottom”]

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

 

One of the reasons for writing this Blog is simply that people I meet just have not thought through this issue with any degree of logic and reason. Just as it took the entire 20th century to minimize or lessen the use of torture and violence by law enforcement in the United States, it now seems some people want to reverse that trend by starting to compromise where enemy combatants are concerned. It is easy to dismiss such people as being, “Not Too Bright.”

 

Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. Those supporting torture are not necessarily stupid (although a psychiatrist might help them). Although reason and logic isn’t their strong suit, such people are mostly ordinary, well-meaning people like your neighbor, a family member, or a close friend. This makes their missing the mark all the more befuddling and stupefying. A logical analysis of the torture issue asks a very simple question. That is, where do you draw the line? If 9% of those surveyed give carte blanche to government to torture, then what else lies beyond that line?

If nothing but irrational emotion and value judgments rule the day, then who or what will ever put a limit on buffoons in government from crossing the line to absolute extremism and national insanity?

 

Consider the following as a hypothetical example of how this might occur.

 

Let’s say this is 2016 and the fear-mongers (mostly conservative republicans and Tea Party members are in control of Washington, and the “loose-cannon media are looking for an exaggeration high to be filled.” Let’s further hypothesize that three more attacks on American soil have occurred killing an additional 10,000 of our good citizens.

Ultra-conservative politicians want blood and revenge for these attacks and the public is clamoring and demanding action as well. The Vice President gets the assignment. Being overwhelmed and stressed out, he turns to his two confidants, the director of the CIA and the Secretary of Defense. They advise the Vice President to bring in Homeland Security, more senior CIA staff, and the Pentagon to discuss options. They propose to re-institute the 2009 phased-out Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. They want to again torture detainees and re-institute renditions and secret torture prisons overseas.

 

Always anxious to impress his bosses, a lower level lackey inside the CIA comes up with a proposal that promotes an old concept of graduated responses (like we did in Vietnam) where responses would be in direct relationship to the number of attacks on our soil.

 

Four levels of response are proposed.

 

They include a program of cruelty, brutality, savagery, and genocide. The VP looks at the rest and says, “We once supported a policy of “cruelty” i.e., waterboarding, sexual humiliation, nudity, walling, facial slaps, abdominal slaps, dietary manipulation, wall standing, water dousing, and sleep deprivation. And, at least 8 detainees were murdered by their captors and torturers; well, we’ve got to do more than that!”

 

The Vice President then wants to know what else can one do. The lackey tells the VP that the previous program of cruelty was very satisfying and successful. But there is level 2, 3, and 4. The VP inquires, “What are levels 2, 3, and 4?”

The lackey tells the VP level 2 is designated “brutality,” “level 3 is savagery,” and level 4 is “genocide,” where individuals are no longer singled out. Instead this last response is directed toward killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, including non-combatant men, women, and children.

 

He tells the VP that brutality (level 2) is whipping and beating a detainee to a near-death state, cigarette burning and use of acid on a man or woman’s genitalia, and (level 3) savagery involves skinning the detainee, burning flesh with branding irons, convulsive electro-shock, blinding the subject, heating pins/nails and forcing them under fingernails, and of course, cutting off a man’s penis and slicing and dicing a women’s breasts. When all else fails to get a detainee to talk, we forcibly hold a detainee’s mouth open and force a poisonous snake to enter his or her body (See the Schwarzenegger movie, Collateral Damage) for this grisly way to put someone to death. And, like the Nazis following the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, hundreds of German officers and government officials, who were alleged to have been part of the plot, were hanged with razor-thin wires making their suffocation and suffering last so much longer.

 

The VP begins to salivate at these ideas, but he wants to know more about the idea of genocide. The CIA director, with his lackey employee, smile in gleeful anticipation of the answer the lackey will provide.

 

The VP is told the following:

 

“Let me give you an example of how this could have worked in our previous war in Afghanistan. We controlled the cities in Afghanistan with troops, sir.

 

What we couldn’t control was the countryside and the tribal areas of Afghanistan. (Level 4) is an operational plan to use biological warfare (killing microbes) that could have been used to wipe out everyone in these tribal areas.”

 

“That’s fabulous,” said the VP.

“But, sir,” said the lackey, “that will also kill more than just Taliban, Al-Qaida, or ISIS. It will also kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent men, women and children.”

 

“To be honest,” said the VP, “we’ve already committed crimes against humanity with our torture/cruelty program. What are a little more torture, and a little more Collateral Damage?  “I want all 4 levels implemented right away.”   

 

     This has been just a hypothetical example. However, if push comes to shove and the terrorist attacks were to continue within the United States, do you really think four levels of response wouldn’t be considered by our government?

 

 

Let the Generals Speak

 

October 29, 2008

Retired Generals Condemn Use of Torture

 

On October 23, 2008, at the University of Virginia Law School retired military leaders Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster and Lieutenant General Charles Otstott discussed the importance of using interrogation methods that are effective, lawful and humane, and the importance of the commander-in-chief setting the highest standards for all U.S. personnel in the treatment of prisoners.

 

“It doesn’t matter what they do, it’s what we do. We don’t lower ourselves to the level of this terrible enemy we are fighting. It’s about what our standards are.”

 

General Soyster

 

“The rules are the same, and should be the same. All the Machiavellian work that has been done to get around those rules is detestable, and I can’t believe we are doing that as an official policy in the United States of America.”

 

General Otstott

 

In an article on August 27, 2009, “CIA probe shields architects of US torture regime,” its author Bill Van Auken reported on the Obama’s administration’s cover-up, reluctance to prosecute, and its substantial censorship of the CIA Inspector General’s Report on torture.

Given the number of murders that were perpetrated by the CIA, it is flabbergasting that the Obama Administration, which promised “accountability”, would fail the American people so miserably in this way.

 

Bill Van Auken reported that,

 

The censoring of information on similar torture deaths means that the Obama administration is acting to ensure that those who planned, ordered, and executed the torture program under Bush are literally allowed to get away with murder.

 

Nor is this a matter restricted to the three deaths concealed in the report released Monday. Human rights groups have unearthed information on at least 100 detainee deaths during interrogations, and given the cover-ups carried out by the military and the CIA, there is ample reason to believe that there are many more.

 

An indication of the widespread character of such fatal abuse was given by retired US Army General Barry Richard McCaffrey during an interview on MSNBC television news last April, following President Obama speech to CIA employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

 

In that interview General McCaffrey said, “We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees,” said McCaffrey, who made repeated inspection tours of US-occupied Iraq on behalf of the military’s Central Command. “We tortured people unmercifully,” he added. “We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the Armed Forces and the CIA.”

 

 

 

Judgment at Nuremberg Revisited

 

 

In 1961 a movie was released called Judgment at Nuremberg. The actual Nuremberg trials took place in 1945-46 in Nuremberg, Germany. Although a movie, the final speech by Spencer Tracy spoke volumes to the ramifications of what these trials meant and the long-term impact of crimes against humanity would have on the world.

 

These trials cut through the rationalizations of citizens following orders of a corrupt and evil dictator. The rationalization, “I was only following orders” carried no weight in the end. Individuals were held responsible for their own acts and were punished or sentenced accordingly. Half of the original 22 defendants were hung.

 

Current and former members of the CIA, U.S. Army, or higher up political figures will not be allowed to hide from their crimes against humanity by shifting responsibility to “good intentions” or uncertain pragmatic beliefs about results. All that is irrelevant; what matters is that the United States Justice Department bring criminal offenders to justice and set an example of a democratic country doing what is morally, legally and ethically just.  

As you read ahead, empathetically place yourself inside the mind of Judge Haywood. In the movie Spencer Tracy played Judge Haywood. As you read his words, see the striking connection to what took place this last decade, in particular compared to the United States at the end of World War II in 1945. One can easily see that society today needs to be reminded of the Nuremberg trials because, indeed, history does seem to repeat itself and governments don’t seem to learn from either history or its mistakes. Individuals have memories; institutions do not.

 

Speech by Judge Haywood Prior to Sentencing

 

“The trial conducted before this Tribunal began over eight months ago. The record of evidence is more than ten thousand pages long, and final arguments of counsel have been concluded.

Simple murders and atrocities do not constitute the gravamen of the charges in this indictment. Rather, the charge is that of conscious participation in a nationwide, government organized system of cruelty and injustice in violation of every moral and legal principle known to all civilized nations. The Tribunal has carefully studied the record and found therein abundant evidence to support beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against these defendants.

Heir Rolfe, in his very skillful defense, has asserted that there are others who must share the ultimate responsibility for what happened here in Germany. There is truth in this. The real complaining party at the bar in this courtroom is civilization. But the Tribunal does say that the men in the dock are responsible for their actions, men who sat in black robes in judgment on other men, men who took part in the enactment of laws and decrees, the purpose of which was the extermination of humans beings, men who in executive positions actively participated in the enforcement of these laws — illegal even under German law. The principle of criminal law in every civilized society has this in common: Any person who sways another to commit murder, any person who furnishes the lethal weapon for the purpose of the crime, any person who is an accessory to the crime — is guilty.

Heir Rolfe further asserts that the defendant, Janning, was an extraordinary jurist and acted in what he thought was the best interest of this country. There is truth in this also. Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and the death of millions by the Government of which he was a part. Janning’s record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial: If he and all of the other defendants had been degraded perverts, if all of the leaders of the Third Reich had been sadistic monsters and maniacs, then these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake, or any other natural catastrophe. But this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary — even able and extraordinary — men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat at through trial can ever forget them: men sterilized because of political belief; a mockery made of friendship and faith; the murder of children. How easily it can happen.

There are those in our own country too who today speak of the “protection of country” — of “survival.” A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient — to look the other way.

Well, the answer to that is “survival as what?” A country isn’t a rock. It’s not an extension of one’s self. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult!

Before the people of the world, let it now be noted that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.”

 

 

Final Comments

 

The issue of torture and the war crimes committed by members of the government in our name isn’t going to go away. The choices are simple. The end does not justify the means and no amount of rationalization is ever going to alter that. No matter how many times someone tries to gloss over it, torture is a crime against humanity.

 

Those who have initiated policies to institutionalize interrogation techniques involving torture, otherwise promoted it, or carried it out, should receive the harshest of punishment, namely death or life in prison. It is not important what position an individual held in our government; those guilty of war crimes need to be brought to justice.

 

It is an unacceptable act of betrayal and disloyalty to the values of the American people that misguided buffoons in our government led us down the path toward everlasting national dishonor and disgrace.

 

Given the failure of the United States to follow the principles of international law, and the failure of a sizeable minority of American citizens to comprehend the gravity of a democratic country promoting torture, the “land of the free and the home of the brave” are now in serious moral trouble.

 

 

References

Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, New York: (Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC), 2006.

Steve Kangas, Timeline of CIA Atrocities, 1996, online @ http://www.serendipity.li/cia/cia_time.htm available October 9, 2009. The timeline used in Kangas’ article is from another source: Primary data source was All history concerning CIA intervention in foreign countries is summarized from William Blum’s encyclopedic work, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995. Sources for domestic CIA operations come from Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen’s The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1997.

 

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