Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Just Following Orders?

by Antifa Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 08:01:50 AM EST

October 1st marks the 60th anniversary of the closing gavel of the Nuremberg Trials -- the true Trial of the Century just passed.  For four years, the top 24 Nazi leaders, instigators and perpetrators had to sit through seeing their crimes fully explored and revealed.  After the final gavel fell, most of these Nazis went to the hangman or to prison.

Most importantly, the Nuremberg Principles established that for all nations, whether they became signatories to the Principles or no, there is no excusing these crimes by any individual of any nation by means of claims that they were 'just following orders,' or by virtue of being a government official or head of state, or by claims of not knowing that it was a war crime, or of not being capable of stopping such crimes. No such excuses are allowed under international law.


The precise standard of absolute personal responsibility for war crimes that has been in place since that distant October morning has never been vague or uncertain -- if the crime factually happened, and if you were present, or you were aware of it, or you took any part, or you failed to attempt to stop it -- you committed a war crime, or a crime against humanity. And, there is no statute of limitations, none whatsoever, on these crimes. You are completely subject to prosecution, wherever you may be, for every remaining day of your life.

Sixty years since the final gavel fell, and the Nuremberg Principles established by those trials are now openly violated by the United States of America -- crimes against peace, wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Both political parties, both sides of both Houses of Congress, by absconding from their sworn oaths and duties to  our Constitution and our obligations to world peace, have left themselves entirely open to prosecution for permitting, abetting, conspiring and engaging in elective wars of aggression, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against peace. By the precise standards of absolute personal responsibility for war crimes established by the Nuremberg Principles, not a one of America's Senators or Congress members may walk this earth as free men and women from this day forth. They all belong to the same category now -- they are non-prosecuted war criminals until such time as they actually are prosecuted.

Perhaps their trial will be held in the ancient city of Nuremberg.

Who was charged in the original Nuremberg Trial?

There were two dozen prominent Nazi leaders, officials, and officers.  They were prosecuted as individuals, and as members of one or more of six "criminal organizations" of the defeated Nazi regime that were also prosecuted.

These six criminal organizations were:
the political leadership of the Nazi Party,
the Schutzstaffel (the infamous SS),
the High Command of the German Army,
the Gestapo,
the Sicherheitsdienst (the Intelligence Branch of the SS),
the Sturmabteilung (the Brownshirts).

What were these military, political, police and intelligence organizations charged with?

The charges against them (and the individual members of them) were:

   1. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crime against peace
   2. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crime against peace
   3. War crimes
   4. Crimes against humanity

In order to constitute the court, and to prosecute the crimes of the Nazi regime, the Nuremberg Principles were created and agreed upon by the Allied Powers, most particularly the USA, Russia, Britain and France.  The seven  Nuremberg Principles are:

Principle I

Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

Principle II

The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

Principle III

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his  Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle V

Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

Principle VI

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

    (a) Crimes against peace:

        (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

        (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

    (b) War Crimes:

    Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

    (c) Crimes against humanity:

    Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on  in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Principle VII

Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

The horrific revelations of crimes against persons and whole populations revealed during the four-year Nuremberg Trial, and subsequent lower level Nuremberg Trials, fostered unanimous international agreements and treaties to prevent any recurrence of such crimes against humanity from ever recurring.

These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the Genocide Convention of 1948, the Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War in 1949, the Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in 1968, and the Supplementary Protocols strengthening the Geneva Convention in 1977.

How America's Senators, Judges, Congress members, military officers, police and intelligence agency personnel behave under the absolutely illegal and immoral scenarios pursued by the radical Bush Administration rests entirely on their individual heads.  No excuses are permitted, as long as a moral choice to participate or not is even remotely possible.  If these political, military, police and intelligence personnel do not stand against the Bush Administration, they will stand trial some fine day for participating, and for not standing against it.

When their trial comes, upon some unforeseen day between now and the end of their lives, not a one of them will be afforded any excuse for their complicity or participation in the capture, torture, interrogation, imprisonment, trials, punishment or death of any human beings under this Administration.

This Administration is a criminal organization by the clear definitions of the Nuremberg Principles. So are the government and military and police and intelligence organizations that follow the directives, orders and policies of this Administration.  So are the individual members of those organizations.  Just as the High Command, political leaders, intelligence, police and political operatives of the Nazi Administration were tried, convicted and variously hung or imprisoned, so will all participants in this criminal Bush Administration be variously hung or imprisoned if they do not leave off any and all participation in it and with it.

Stand apart from this radical Administration. Take no part in it. Get as far away from it as you can.

Or, stay the course and go down with it.  Live with the shame of it for the remainder of your days.  Tell your grandchildren that you were 'just following orders' -- but don't try telling that to the judge.  Live in fear of your pending trial for as long as you may live, wherever you go. When every nation on earth is calling for your trial, where do you think you will go?

We will find you, no matter where you seek shelter from justice. Every nation on earth has long since agreed to the pursuit and prosecution of people like you. We will bring you to the docket, and you will answer for your participation in the Bush Administration.

Get out. Get away.  It is no longer just a question of Bush and Friends being impeached and imprisoned.  With the wholesale adoption of torture of any kind whatsoever, with the elective war of aggression on Iraq, and the imminent war of aggression on Iran, the Bush Administration and every government, police, political and intelligence organization that obeys its policies are clearly crossing the Rubicon, fully qualifying as 'criminal organizations' under the clear principles of international law.

Bush is not your King. Bush is not your Fuhrer. Bush is a traitor to his oath of office, and our Constitution.

Choose.

Display:
"I know nothing -- n o t h i n g g g !"

Frames exist within larger frames. Draw a larger frame around your opponent's frame; he will appear wrong or insufficient. This is how wizards play.
by Antifa (antifa@bellsouth.net) on Fri Sep 22nd, 2006 at 08:03:36 AM EST
Let's not forget Hans Fritzsche a popular radio commentator, and head of the news division of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry who was tried in place of Joseph Goebbels and acquitted.   The precedent of trying personalities
from the mass-media for spewing out propaganda is established, although mere treason (as for Tokyo Rose or
Lord Haw-Haw) may be more suitable for their contemporary reincarnations.  Acquittal is always possible, as in Fritzsche's case, but some of America's most visible media stars seem too closely linked to various intelligence agencies to escape conviction, and have too flagrantly pimped for the governing war criminals to merit leniency.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 03:25:27 AM EST
I have always been uncomfortable with condemning people who followed orders.

In too many militaristic regimes the alternative to obeying an order is death, plain and simple. Oh, they may dress it up in a sham trial, a mockery of battlefield justice, but it is death and not mere dishonour we debate here. If a person is drafted and ordered to work in areas of moral compromise, why should they be held to standards most others would fail ? If a rifle is effectively held to your head, would you shoot somebody ? Knowing they would be shot anyway so that your death is a pointless unseen protest ?

I cannot say I would not do it. In a choice between grubby life or saintly death I'll choose life every time. In a world gone mad, we make our own private peace.

Blame those who formulated the policies. Those who had real choice. Those who volunteered. But those who were ordered....no.

Course, that's from a European aspect, dwelling on the atrocities of the nazis, or the dubious activities of the allies from 60 years ago. How about Israeli soldiers, or American, or Iraqi for that matter ? War is not civilised. Those who revel in it are not civilised people and we who create societies where such people prosper can hardly be called civilised either.

Where does complicity end ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 12:23:04 PM EST
The intense dilemna you describe is why the Nuremberg Principles (and other treaties) allow for the lack of actual choice.

The legal phrase is "provided a moral choice was in fact possible . . ." and it was on this basis that many Nazi soldiers and officers were, in fact, acquitted of war crimes.

But none were acquitted onthe basis of just following orders. The acquitted were those who would have been killed for disobeying or hesitating. That is, there was no real choice allowed them.

Frames exist within larger frames. Draw a larger frame around your opponent's frame; he will appear wrong or insufficient. This is how wizards play.

by Antifa (antifa@bellsouth.net) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 02:26:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware of that provision. In fact I've seen a lot that suggested no such choice existed. How would you prove you faced such a dilemma ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 02:54:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depending on how high up the chain of command you were, you would have a harder time arguing you lacked a moral choice.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 03:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Following the main Nuremberg Trial, which lasted four years, a second trial began to try many thousands of lower level Nazi soldiers, officers, civilians, and collaborators.

At these lower levels, the consideration of whether a moral choice was in fact possible for them came into play frequently.

In brief, if it would have meant death, severe imprisonment or torture to have refused the duties the Nazi system demanded of one of these individuals, then it was grounds for strong mitigation of their sentence, or outright acquittal of the charges.

If your choice was sending someone to Dachau or going there yourself, the Nuremberg Tribunal had to take that into full consideration.

There was no one policy that fit all cases at Nuremberg. Every single individual was considered, all witnesses had their say, before deliberations and decisions went ahead.

Compare that to Mistah Bush's preemptive kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, even murder without the victim ever once being given a chance to defend themselves.

Even Stalin knew better than to do that in public.

Frames exist within larger frames. Draw a larger frame around your opponent's frame; he will appear wrong or insufficient. This is how wizards play.

by Antifa (antifa@bellsouth.net) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 07:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]