AMERICAN NUREMBERG: HOLDING THE U.S. ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS ACTIONS

Amer-Nuremberg2

Back Row: C. Rice, J. Brennan, B. Obama, D. Petraeus
Front Row: R. Cheney, G. Bush, D. Rumsfeld, Fill-In #1, Fill-In #2


Challenging the legitimacy and further perpetuation of the “Global War on Terror” has never been more vital and necessary for the future of humanity than it is today. Rebecca Gordon’s latest book: American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial For Post 9/11 War Crimes (Hot Books: New York, 2016), provides critical perspectives on confronting war crimes committed by both U.S. presidents since September 11, 2001.

A good introduction podcast is Jeff Blankfort’s radio program Takes on the World interview with Rebecca Gordon, American Nuremberg Trial Needed. Blankfort goes way back with Gordon as he describes at the beginning of the program. The recording of the program is all of 34 minutes. Start with this to get a sense of the significance of this book.

From American Nuremberg’s Introduction:

“To this day, the people of the United States have never had a full accounting of all that has been done in our name as part of an apparently endless war on terror. After years of struggle, we finally have the heavily redacted 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,000-page report on the torture allowed by the CIA. But it contains only a partial accounting of the actions of a single US agency among the many security branches involved in the war on terror. Nor has there been any real public reckoning for those officials, including men (and a few women) at the highest levels of the government who are responsible for all these deeply troubling actions undertaken by Washington since 9/11. This impunity all but guarantees that the next time our country is seized by a spasm of fear, we can expect more crimes committed in the name of national, and our own, security….

“There is a pressing need to bring the United States into the legal community of nations, where it must be held accountable for its actions. Let us be clear: the scale of US crimes in the war on terror comes nowhere near the genocidal war-making of the Nazis. But ever since World War II, the American empire has put its heavy boots on every continent. Even in imperial decline—after disastrous wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and facing long-term challenges from China and Russia—it remains the world’s preeminent military and economic power. If the most powerful country in the world—a country that still, decades after the end of the Soviet Union, calls itself “the leader of the free world”—can violate international laws of war and human rights with complete impunity, then why should any other nation be constrained? For the sake of the victims of the war on terror, for the sake of our national soul, but even more for the future of humanity, we need a full accounting and real accountability for American war criminals. We need an American Nuremberg.”

Rebecca Gordon, writing in TomDispatch.com:

The conclusion of Exhibit One in Any Future American War Crimes Trial (April 24, 2016):

And so, the case against the man who was waterboarded 83 times and contributed supposedly crucial information to the CIA on al-Qaeda plotting was oh-so-quietly withdrawn without either fuss or media attention. Exhibit one was now exhibit none.

Seven years after the initial filing of Zubaydah’s habeas petition, the DC District Court has yet to rule on it. Given the court’s average 751-day turnaround time on such petitions, this is an extraordinary length of time. Here, justice delayed is truly justice denied.

Perhaps we should not be surprised, however. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, CIA headquarters assured those who were interrogating Zubaydah that he would “never be placed in a situation where he has any significant contact with others and/or has the opportunity to be released.” In fact, “all major players are in concurrence,” stated the agency, that he “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life.” And so far, that’s exactly what’s happened.

The capture, torture, and propaganda use of Abu Zubaydah is the perfect example of the U.S. government’s unique combination of willful law-breaking, ass-covering memo-writing, and what some Salvadorans I once worked with called “strategic incompetence.” The fact that no one—not George Bush or Dick Cheney, not Jessen or Mitchell, nor multiple directors of the CIA—has been held accountable means that, unless we are very lucky, we will see more of the same in the future.

The conclusion of Crimes of the War on Terror – Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Others Be Jailed? (June 7, 2016):

Seeing “the truth established” was the purpose behind South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Torturers and murderers on both sides of the anti-apartheid struggle were offered amnesty for their crimes—but only after they openly acknowledged those crimes. In this way, a public record of the horrors of apartheid was built, and imperfect as the process may have been, the nation was able to confront its history.

That is the kind of reckoning we need in this country. It started with the release of a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program, which brought many brutal details into the light. But that’s just the beginning. We would need a full and public accounting not just of the CIA’s activities, but of the doings of other military and civilian agencies and outfits, including the Joint Special Operations Command. We also would need a full-scale airing of the White House’s drone assassination program, and perhaps most important of all, a full accounting of the illegal, devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Justice would also require—to the extent possible—making whole those who had been harmed. In the case of the “war on terror,” this might begin by allowing torture victims to sue their torturers in federal court (as the U.N. Convention against Torture requires). With one exception, the Obama administration has until now blocked all such efforts on national security grounds. In the case of the Iraq War, justice would undoubtedly also require financial reparations to repair the infrastructure of what was once a modern, developed nation.

We’re unlikely to see justice in the “war on terror” until that cruel and self-defeating exercise is well and truly over and the country has officially acknowledged and accounted for its crimes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 40 years.