WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration has instructed U.S. diplomats abroad to defend its decision to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay detainees accused in the Sept. 11 terror attacks by recalling the executions of Nazi war criminals after World War II.
A four-page cable sent to U.S. embassies and obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press says that execution as punishment for extreme violations of the laws of war is internationally accepted and points to the 1945-46 International Military Tribunals as an example. Twelve of Adolf Hitler's senior aides were sentenced to death at the trials in Nuremberg, Germany, although not all were executed in the end.
The unclassified cable was sent by the State Department to all U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide late on Monday.
In it, the department advises American diplomats to refer to Nuremberg if asked by foreign governments or media about the legality of capital punishment in the 9/11 cases.
"International Humanitarian Law contemplates the use of the death penalty for serious violations of the laws of war," says the cable, which was written by the office of the department's legal adviser, John Bellinger.
"The most serious war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg were executed for their actions," it said.
That, from war criminal Condi Rice's state department and following the admission by the CIA's Michael Hayden that the company has waterboarded prisoners of war - including Khalid Sheikh Mohammmed who is, of course, a defendant in these new & improved Nuremberg-style trials.
The Bush administration, as usual and in the style of 1984, has once again flipped the truth upside down. (War is peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength).
The only trial that would truly resemble Nuremberg would be one in which Bush and his torturing, war-mongering, lying criminals sat in the defendant's seats while the rest of the world rightly passed judgment on their absolutely horrendous actions and Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials, agrees.
And, as UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour said recently following the US admissions about waterboarding:
Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said.
"There are several precedents worldwide of states exercising their universal jurisdiction ... to enforce the torture convention and we can only hope that we will see more and more of these avenues of redress," Arbour said.
Although German courts refused to use that right to prosecute Donald Rumsfeld et al for war crimes, that case has since been filed in Spain while Sweden (2007) and Argentina (2005) also filed cases against Rumsfeld.
This is far from being over. The only question in these cases is whether or not those countries will eventually cave to political pressure.
If the Bush administration admires the Nuremberg process as much as it claims to, it shouldn't stand in the way of real justice for its millions of victims while choosing transparency for the so-called justice it intends to mete out in the cases of these alleged 9/11 defendants with the first step being the refusal to admit evidence gained by the government through the use of torture.
Gitmo Charges: Why Now? And What About the Torture?