Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama Rules: "Torturers are OK If They Were Following Orders"

It is "time for reflection, not retribution."

"In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carrying out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the department of justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."

Thus Barack Obama joins the ranks of apologists for American war crimes, offering the conclusively rebutted defense that "they were following orders." Pathetic, shameful, revolting. And sufficient reason to reject a second term for a 'compromising' toad who seems bent upon joining the ranks of American war criminals with an expanded war in Afghanistan. And, as if this were not enough, Obama has embarked on the largest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich in American, and perhaps world, history.

Eric Holder
, already distinguished in his contempt for the average American, added "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the justice department." One wonders how far this insane illogic could be carried.

And Leon Panetta, CIA Director, jumped in also, promising legal and financial help for any CIA employees who might face Congressional or foreign legal or court actions: "CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government. For that reason, as I have continued to make clear, I will strongly oppose any effort to investigate or punish those who followed the guidance of the Department of Justice.... In addition, the Department will provide legal representation to CIA personnel subject to investigations relating to these operations."

Even investigation is being ruled out. (Wouldn't want to turn up any info that might undermine the Obama line.)

The Obama administration understanding of law is nothing more than an assertion by Obama that "I am the law". It is legal just in case the executive branch says it is legal. Remember Nixon saying that "When the president does it, that means it is not illegal"? Obama has tacitly endorsed the legal strategy of the Bush administration: An officially contrived legal excuse is all that is needed to act illegally.

The American Civil Liberties Union has noted that this effective immunity is being granted before we know all, or even most, of the facts. Much remains, and will remain, secret and uninvestigated.

Also unaddressed, though the implications seems clear, is whether Obama will hold accountable the higher-ups who provided the legal excuse — Gonzalez, Rumsfeld, Rice, Yoo, Addington, Bybee, and others. And could Obama administration figures become liable if they provide safe harbor for known war criminals?

It must again be noted that Obama was a professor of law at what is routinely touted as the nation's leading law school — Harvard, once and future home of war criminals, apologists for war criminals and training ground for architects of economic disaster.

Sadly, Spain has backed away from the precedent it established in the case of Chilean president Augusto Pinochet. Spain's attorney general said, "If there is a reason to file a complaint against these people, it should be done before local courts with jurisdiction, in other words in the United States."

Let us summarize some of the points that are either lost on a dimwitted Obama or deliberately ignored or dismissed by a malicious Obama:
  • The Obama administration is still keeping classified most of the Bush documents and is swearing off investigation of Bush actions.
  • Ignorance of the law is no defense. Willfully twisting the law certainly isn't.
  • Obama, AG Eric Holder, and CIA Director Leon Panetta have effectively granted federally-backed immunity for American war criminals.
  • The US has repeatedly and explicitly rejected exactly the kind of defense Obama now offers for American war criminals. This includes both the precedents of US actions against foreign nationals and several long-standing American treaty obligations. Indeed, Obama's rejection of law could itself constitute a violation of international law.
  • The defense is the notorious Nuremberg defense: "We were following orders." Wrong wrong wrong.
The issue ultimately is one of Justice, and once again the United States is telling the world that there is one standard for the world and another for the United States.

When does Justice apply? Common Sense emphatically says always. President Obama says "when it suits us". This is commonly called 'pragmatic' or 'realistic'. In truth, it is cowardly, craven, criminal. If 'pragmatism' and 'realism' are frames for justice, when will a crime be a crime? If Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez (or or their Obama adminstration counterparts) say killing civilians is legal and US forces simply kill people on the street, are they exempt from prosecution because they 'believed they were acting legally'?

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