Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
My point is that some rules are normally held to be beyond the power of any legislative body to sign away. In those cases where such rules have been violated, it is incumbent upon the first civilised government to seize power in the relevant jurisdiction to prosecute these violations. Indeed that is one of the litmus tests of civilisation.

So it fundamentally does not matter that Congress legalised torture, because Congress never had the authority to legalise torture. And if the US constitution gives Congress the right to legalise torture, then the US constitution is in the wrong - because the people of the US never had the authority to give their elected representatives the authority to legalise torture.

And if you object to citing Nürnberg as a precedent, you can strike that from the list. Still leaves a sufficiently solid precedent to go by. Certainly you would not argue that the crimes committed by Pinochet or various assorted Yugoslav war criminals were orders of magnitude more serious than the crimes here under consideration?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 19th, 2009 at 08:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't object to Nurnberg or the other references. Just see them as somewhat irrelevant.

Do you have a civilized government in mind? If so, where has it been throughout the "civilized" history of mankind?

Please don't take me wrong.  I agree with your ideals; things should be that way, but it ain't gonna happen.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 01:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a civilized government in mind? If so, where has it been throughout the "civilized" history of mankind?

Civilisation is obviously a matter of degree, and no actual state in history has been what I'd call "fully civilised." But on this particular subject, I would say that the British, French and Americans in the immediate aftermath of the second world war were more civilised than contemporary Americans. Of course you can find other issues where this is not the case (colonialism, institutionalised racism, treatment of the poor, ill or mentally infirm, to name but a few). But on this particular topic, things have been slipping.

Please don't take me wrong.  I agree with your ideals; things should be that way, but it ain't gonna happen.

And I understand that. I just think it should be made clear that the reason it's not going to happen is that certain named political actors are determined and able to obstruct justice, not because there is a lack of jurisprudence on the issue or because their pseudo-legal defences have any merit.

I can accept that we're going to lose the political battle over whether due diligence will be observed in the investigations of Anglo-American torture programmes. What I will not accept is the fiction that due diligence was exercised and there was nothing there that could be prosecuted.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 04:29:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French in the immediate aftermath of WWII ? more civilized than the US ? You do mean the Indochina & Algeria wars France, right ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 09:45:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg to disagree: the Algeria war was not in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Between 1945 and 1947, we just massacred 15 OOO in Algeria, 40 000 in Madagascar, 6000 in Haiphong (Tonkin) and a few dozens elsewhere... Isn't it civilised?

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 10:24:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I will not accept is the fiction that due diligence was exercised and there was nothing there that could be prosecuted.

I had the same feeling every time I investigated a violent crime and no legal action was taken because an attorney declined to prosecute.  Sometimes the attorney simply feared the case would be lost due to lack of sufficient evidence.  In some cases I knew he may have been correct, but there was nothing else I could do.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 11:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand why Nuremberg isn't relevent, could you explain?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 11:20:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just believe that in this tangled, chaotic world we live in history continually repeats itself, regardless of humanity's best intentions.  While Nurnberg and other historical cases involving prosecutions for war crimes may be recalled, I would predict that court decisions in the current cases will turn upon more recent events and court decisions.  

The other thing is that justice is not rendered exactly equally with regard to location and time.  Circumstances change even though the crimes remain basically the same. When circumstances change, laws and treaties may be viewed differently.  My opinion, take it or leave it.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 21st, 2009 at 11:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series