The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Barack Obama: Judgment At Nuremberg

I was happy to hear today that progressives are rousing themselves from their nap regarding Barack Obama’s policies toward Bush-era war criminality. As recently as yesterday Obama was still planning to “move forward” and to allow the Bush administration’s offenses to go unpunished. It is most unfortunate that the man has to be pressured to do what he should be doing to begin with. It seems that Mr. Obama promptly forgot who put him into office once he stepped into the White House. He immediately made friends with the Washington establishment and the military-industrial complex when it came to his attitude toward dealing with Bush-era torture, not to mention his prolongation of the futile slaughter going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have yet to call him to task for his apparent plans to establish a state of permanent warfare. But at least we are beginning to see through him in terms of his tolerance for war criminality.

But he is still hedging; and let us not get into denial about that. To investigate and appropriately prosecute those who formulated the legal pseudo-justifications for torture is not nearly enough. Those who authorized the torture and those who carried out the torture are every bit as culpable criminally. Obama wants us to forget about that. Let’s not be duped by his selective legalities. Obama wants to immunize those who were “just following orders.” That was the defense that many Nazis pleaded at Nuremberg after the Second World War. That defense was completely rejected by the Nuremberg Court, which included notable American justices. Now Obama wants to reinstate the Nuremberg defense for those who tortured prisoners during the Bush years. If we allow him to do it we betray our heritage and we reject the very meaning of this country.

Are we to believe that those who carried out the torture didn’t know what they were doing? They were unfamiliar with the standards set forth in the training manuals? They had never heard of the principles set forth in the Geneva Convention? They were even completely ignorant of every-day standards of right and wrong? So therefore they are innocent because they were “just following orders?” It doesn’t take much imagination to project what kind of doors that brand of legal philosophy would open. And that kind of aberration was firmly rejected by the entire civilized world at Nuremberg. Now Mr. Obama wants to re-establish it- to his shame- and ours if we allow him to get away with it.

What happened to Obama? I don’t know and I no longer care. He’s not the main issue. We are. And what we know is that he only yields to pressure. We need to remember that when he comes up for election again. For now we have to keep the pressure up and we have to amplify it greatly. You can check out the Progressive Democrats of America website if you haven’t already. They’re circulating a petition to Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor for war crimes. If it’s only pressure that Obama responds to, we need to give him plenty.