Obama DOJ: It's official! Nazis were right, Nuremberg prosecutors wrong!

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Feb 20, 2010 at 13:00


Don't look now, but Obama may have actually earned his Hitler mustache--By covering for Bush/Cheney

Josef Altstötter. Wilhelm von Ammon. Günther Joel. Herbert Klemm. Ernst Lautz. Wolfgang Mettgenberg. Rudolf Oeschey. Oswald Rothaug. Curt Rothenberger. Franz Schlegelberger.

These were the Nazi judges found guilty in the Judges Trial, the third of twelve Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, following the initial trial of the highest level Nazis.  The principal charges they were convicted of were:

* War crimes through the abuse of the judicial and penal process, resulting in mass murder, torture, plunder of private property.
* Crimes against humanity on the same grounds, including slave labor charges.

(Rothaug was acquitted of the first, convicted of the second.)

The Judges Trial was immortalized in the 1961 movie Judgment at Nuremberg starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, and Montgomery Clift.  Now that is an all-star cast.  And the quality of the cast was a way of underscoring the seriousness and importance of the film's message--the message of the original trial itself.

Judgment at Nuremberg was the sort of movie that helped me feel like I was not a freak when I was growing up.  It helped me feel that I was the real American, and bigoted wingnuts I ran into from time to time were the despicable un-American scum.

But now, Obama & his "Department of Justice" has effectively declared that those men were unjustly convicted.  They were right, and the men who prosecuted them were wrong.  They may have been guilty of bad advice, or bad legal decisions, but misconduct?  Come on!

This isn't just a matter of "being on the wrong side of history."  This is changing sides more than 60 years after the fact, on the great issue of what constituted good and evil in World War II.  Sure, we expect the sociopathic neocons to come down on the side of the Nazis, and clueless fratboy Bush to sign on with his signature, "Whatever."  But Obama was supposed to be elected to clean up that mess.  To restore us to constitutional rule, at the very least.  Instead, he has given his impremature to reversing the judgment at Nuremberg.

Now, to be sure, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility found that there had been misconduct, and that sanctions were appropriate.  And they were over-ridden by a career attorney--David Margolis--not an Obama appointment.  But it's also the case that Obama & Holder knew that it would play out this way, that Margolis was determined from the outset to shield Woo Yoo and Bybee, and by letting it play out this way, by the sin of ommission they are fully responsible for this outcome.

This is an act of pure evil.  It doesn't get any evilier than this.  You make think the act of torture is as evil as it gets.  But sending the message that those who set torture in motion were just a bit careless, nothing more--that opens the way for a future descent into the abyss, in which acts of torture become the norm.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -- Edmund Burke.

Obama & Bush, together in "whatever."  The banality of evil on steroids.

Paul Rosenberg :: Obama DOJ: It's official! Nazis were right, Nuremberg prosecutors wrong!

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h/t Greenwald (4.00 / 2)
Via

Whether or not the DOJ refers Yoo and Bybee for professional discipline, no one should think that either man behaved according to the high standards we should expect of government attorneys. They, and the government officials who worked with them, shamed this nation. They dragged America's reputation in the dirt. They severely damaged our good name in the eyes of the world. They undermined the values this country stands for and that the legal profession should stand for. Nothing the DOJ does now--or fails to do--will change that. - Jack Baldwin


That's BALKIN (4.00 / 1)
Jack Balkin.

And I was considering quoting him for this piece.

But, honestly, I didn't want to get down into the details too much here.  Others will do that very well, I'm sure, and more power to them.

I want to keep it simple:  The Nuremberg Trials.  Which side are you on?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Also, they ought to be impeached. (4.00 / 3)
You would be hard pressed to find a better case for impeachment - a clear instance of the abuse of the public trust.

So much failure around this issue.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
Absolutely (0.00 / 0)
and downgrading their offenses from misconduct to sloppiness is clearly a form of de facto impeachment protection.

Gentleman's Cs to the max!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the correction. (4.00 / 1)
The keyboard synapses that control my K finger and D finger got terribly confused.

Having fought this one out in Greenwald's threads forever, your question is an easy one for me to answer.  As someone expressed it a long while back:

We are signatories to the U.N.Convention against Torture. As such, we are required to prosecute and provide adequate punishment for torturers and those who create a system of torture. The Congress is the court and prosecuting body for the executive branch. They didn't just have a duty to abhor what was going on, they didn't just have a duty to write a letter or two, they didn't just have a duty to expose the wrongdoing.

They had a duty to act, under Article 12 of the CATCIDT. Either that or to make these people available for extradition to The Hague.

That's not to mention what duties to act they had as a consequence of their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution from these domestic enemies. - ondelette

ondelette tried to attract the attention of International Criminal Court.

Dear Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo,

We are writing to you to ask that you undertake an investigation of the government of the United States of America for the crimes of torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The Rome Statute provides that only the Security Council or one of the signatories may bring such charges, but also provides that the Prosecutor may do so if he finds grounds to, after an investigation, and provides that anyone may request that the prosecutor begin such an investigation...

He acquired a whole 129 signatures when he appealed for people who wanted to sign (I don't know whether to laugh or cry).  I signed.  The ICC declined.

I couldn't agree more with what you wrote here:

But it's also the case that Obama & Holder knew that it would play out this way, that Margolis was determined from the outset to shield Woo and Bybee, and by letting it play out this way, by the sin of ommission they are fully responsible for this outcome.

And, btw, isn't it Yoo, not Woo?  Dang, keyboard synapses!


[ Parent ]
Pesky Snapses, Indeed! (4.00 / 1)
Fixed.

What's really annoying is when you/I make a mistake like that, then look at it, and misread it so that we think it's right, not because we don't know the right name or whatever, but because our lower-level cognitive systems know what we meant to say or write, and insist on conforming to our intentions, rather then grasping reality.

A humble reminder that when regarding wingnuts, we should not forget to say, "There but for the grace of God go I."

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Snapses, Synapses, Whatever! (0.00 / 0)
having quite the day, am I.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
laugh out loud (4.00 / 1)
My lower level cognitive system corrected for your lower level cognitive system's intention, automatically. Wut? Didn't you write "synapses"?  I know I read it that way.

[ Parent ]
Chuckle! (4.00 / 1)
That's how the wingnuts play the game every day!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Obama protecting war criminals: (4.00 / 2)
It is of the essence that Obama take a public stand on this and roll back the fascist assults against the Constitution of the Bush administration.  Otherwise
we will not be able to restore our rapidly disappearing democracy.  His failure
to act on this is a tacit endorsement of these policies and will mean there is
bi-partisan agreement on casually throwing out the Bill of Rights, if these
Bush policies are not repudiated before he leaves office.  That will then be the bi-partisan norm for how we run our government.

It may not be so strange that this ondelette person was only able to get 129
signatures to his petition.  After all,  under Bush's fascist laws the president
gets to decide who is an enemy combatent, even US citizens, and then torture and murder them if he wants to.  As far as I know, Obama has also decided to
casually ignore this assult on our democracy and leave this outrage on the books too.  Thus, US citizens who sign  petitions like this one could be the next people to be declared to be enemy combatents and then sent off to be
tortured and murdered with no legal recourse.  

Just because Obama is not actually doing this himself right now is no
protection.  Once this  becomes the noncontroversial policy agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans someone will.  Why have powers like this
if you don't use them?


[ Parent ]
p.s. (4.00 / 3)
But Balkin's title for his post is priceless:

"Justice Department Will Not Punish Yoo and Bybee Because Most Lawyers Are Scum Anyway"

He may be a major academic, but that dude can snark!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
The values (0.00 / 0)
this country stands for? A little late for that particular cliche, like sixty years too late. Or, for that matter, like two hundred years too late.

The US has been a rogue, lawless nation for a long time. Obama is doing things--summary executions, rendition, secret prisons, indefinite detention--just as horrific as anything Yoo and Bybee tried to justify.

By all means let's try to hold Bush accountable but let's not pretend that anything that went on between 2000 and 2008 was some grand departure.  


[ Parent ]
Okay. True. (4.00 / 1)
But was it always this blatant?  Was there always a Cheney using the popular media of its time to boast and to taunt?

And, as for holding Bush accountable, I'd be most happy to add Obama's name to the list.


[ Parent ]
That's true (0.00 / 0)
And Bush and Cheney are (somewhat) unique in that they attempted to make the illegal "legal," and systematically instituted a program of torture (which, to my knowledge, no administration had ever done.)

BTW, I didn't mean to play leftier-than-thou; I just recoil when liberals buy into notions of American exceptionalism.


[ Parent ]
Well, We ARE Exceptional In A Way (0.00 / 0)
But, then, so is everyone else.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
No offense taken! (4.00 / 2)
It was an honest question.  Maybe my sense of history is too thin, or too distorted, to know... but, it's the sheer bravado of the Bush Crime wave that leaves me so stunned... And, the brittle response of the Obama administration that leaves me so breathless... All of which has me wondering, Have we been here before?  

[ Parent ]
Actually, It WAS A Departure (4.00 / 2)
The national security state from the time of NSC-68 onward has been a rather sinister doppleganger of public America, which over the same period of time has cast of the chains of segregation, removed the stigma of second-class citizenship for women, and made a whole host of civilized advancements, however partial they may remain.

But one can see a very particular and unique inflection reflected in how Bush disdained to ask for FISA to be revised to give him all the power he needed. He deliberately set it up so that he had to steal the power.  And however compromised our national double-unconsciousness had been up to that point, that was a significant departure, significantly deeper into the abyss.  Now, Obama has looked around, and decided that he likes it there just fine, and wants to set up permanent digs.  In a sense, what we've seen this week is simply the logical culmination continuation of Obama's FISA flip-flop.  "Culmination" was obvious a foolish hope on my part.  I'm sure there's lots more darkness ahead from where that came from.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, I guess it depends on your perspective (0.00 / 0)
Is this Bush's third term or Truman's sixteenth one?

Departure or no, I don't know how any smart person could prattle on abou Bybee-Yoo undermining "the values this country stands for," almost seventy years after the formation of the national security state, which surely was the foundation for Bush's criminality, and which, among other things, precluded the possibility that it would ever hold itself accountable.

Anyhoo, I'm glad you brought up NSC-68.

Chris Floyd.

But of course, in many ways, we are not really living through Bush's third term, but the 16th term of the National Security State that was founded by secret presidential directives during Harry Truman's second term. Beginning with the ur-document, NSC-68, these directives mandated a thoroughgoing militarization of the American state, complete with vast secret forces specifically designed to carry out criminal actions - subversion, coups, "black ops," break-ins, kidnappings, torture, assassination programs, gruesome medical experiments: "the dark side, if you will." Not that things were all peaches and cream before then, of course; just ask the Filipinos (or the Cherokee, or the slaves, etc.) But in 1951, the new National Security State raised the war machine budget by 400 percent in a single year. And it has never looked back, not even after the collapse of the Soviet Union - the ostensible reason for devouring the lifeblood and seed-corn of the nation and giving it to war profiteers. As we noted here a couple of years ago:

http://chris-floyd.com/compone...


[ Parent ]
Yes, But (4.00 / 2)
Truman wouldn't bite on the CIA plan to overthrow Mosadegh.  Eisenhower & the Dulles brothers would.  That's a huge difference.

Of course it was the whole NSC-68 apparatus that made that progression so smoothly possible.  But that only shows to go that's far too simple to only rely on a single narrative description of that entire era.

So, yes, I do regard NSC-68 as pretty much the embodiment of original sin.  But many more sins that followed were quite original in their own ways as well.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
But... They did it for love of country (4.00 / 2)
What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country!... Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it - he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation.

Burt Lancaster as Ernst Janning


Indeed! (4.00 / 2)
There is no evil that can't be turned into a good by doing it for a larger group, instead for oneself.  For family, for community (Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, yes!), or as you say, for country.  Whether it's for "love of" or "in defense of" or "to save" or whatever, the group is always the perfect excuse.

And of course, who better to exploit this excuse than the sociopath who cares not one whit for anyone but themselves?  But in the end, it matters not one whit whether the person offering the excuse is sincere or a sociopath.  In the end, it's all the same:  The crime that's done to serve the group does nothing so much as to help destroy it.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Tsk, tsk, tsk. (4.00 / 2)
You should be looking forward, not backward.
Reflection, not retribution.

"Yes you can" "hope" for "change".
Nobody though guaranteed that you´d be getting change you could believe in..

German advice (me) for next Obama speech:

You don´t recognize a pro-torture party and an anti-torture party in America. Only one party who supports torture sometimes [when ordered by the US government].
And now let´s sweep it all under a rug so that the US government can go on criticizing foreign countries for human rights violations.
You´re ready to lead again!

Pretty disappointing.
I didn´t think US foreign policy would change a lot with Obama. A nicer package (Obama speeches) while demanding pretty much the same from the rest of the world as Bush did.

But I did hope for a few steps back from lawlessness and blatant treaty violations. With some investigations to hopefully ensure it doesn´t happen again.
Instead all I see is arrogance.
One law for the USA, another one for the rest of the world.

Now, don´t misunderstand me. I do know that former US governments haven violated treaties before. But back then they at least tried to hide it. :)
Knowing that it would - at a minimum - be bad for the US image in the world. But even that face-saving gesture to the rest of the world has now vanished.

I don´t think many governments / countries will like that.
Just publish your next yearly State department human rights report and watch the reaction in foreign media.
You will get ridiculed.

Couple that with the anger many ordinary people feel against Wall Street and the popularity of the USA could fall again.


[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 3)
And Obama had already upended WW II notions of justice when he preemptively cleared all those lower-level torturers who were just "following order."

People seem to think that covering up Bush's torture, he's protecting him, but of course he's protecting himself: as he continues rendition and expands our system on secret prisons in Afghanistan, he doesn't want to set the precedent that could come back to bite him.


Absolutely. (0.00 / 0)
He's covering his own ass from war crimes prosecutions now.

He's just as guilty as his predecessor now.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Clarity. (0.00 / 0)
Don't let this moment of clarity die.

We are in a real struggle to preserve what was gained in 1789.

It's going to take people putting aside petty differences and coming together as a people.


Now, I'd like to see (4.00 / 1)
how they handle petitions from the families of people the US has convicted for waterboarding, as well as the families of nazis convicted after WWII for using bogus "legal opinions" to justify atrocities, all demanding those convictions be vacated and reparations paid.

I guess the nobel committee is feeling good (4.00 / 3)
what a travesty...

(Raucous Applause) (0.00 / 0)
Brilliant.

These people are killing the republic right under our noses. A nation yawns.

On the other hand, perhaps this is one reason why only 21% of Americans feel our government operates with the consent of the governed. If only there was a progressive movement to scream bloody murder over this and maybe tap into the public angst in a meaningful and constructive manner. If only...

Shredding Nuremberg and 60 plus years of international law: Quite the legacy for the constitutional "scholar" from Chicago, eh?

Is it time to smash the Veal Pen yet?

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


We can find the banality of evil embodied in the person of David Margolis (0.00 / 0)
It seems to me that we can find the banality of evil embodied in the person of David Margolis of the Department of Justice in his sanction of the government's use of torture and "Coercive Persuasion" that he seems to believe to be not only inevitable but also necessary. The "cover up" of specific torture recommendations or the actual torture events are to protect the ongoing illegal acts of the government bureaucracy. Illegal acts have been institutionalize thus cover ups protect everyone in the bureaucracy except the whistle-blower.

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