27 March 2007

Clinton Did It Too?

The nation's leading law officer is on the hotseat for equivocating and engaging in blatant deceptions over his involvement with the political dismissals of U.S. attorneys.

Naturally, Bush loyalists and neocon Kool-Aid quaffers are repeating adnauseum that "Clinton did it, too". However, as this article demonstrates, that is a load of hooey:

Bush says that firing US Attorneys for political purity is a “customary practice.” He’s lying, of course. It isn’t a customary practice and never has been. It’s corruption on a wide scale. The enabling legislation is a paragraph in the ill-thought-out and hastily-passed USA PATRIOT Act. Under the newly-invented process, if a US Attorney is fired, he or she can be replaced by someone who is never required to be confirmed by the Senate—leading us to a place where the top US law enforcement officer in each region can be another Brownie.

The Bush Administration fired U.S. Attorneys because they prosecuted well-connected Republicans, as happened with Carol Lam in San Diego, who lost her job for convicting congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham for evading taxes and conspiring to pocket $2.4 million in bribes, including a Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode. They fired them for not going out of their way to prosecute Democrats when the timing would be advantageous to Republicans. This happened to U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico, who ignored requests by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) to indict Manny Aragon before the November elections in order to improve her chances of being reelected. U.S. Attorney H. E. “Bud” Cummins III of Little Rock was fired in order to politicize the office and reward a political operative by giving the job to Tim Griffin, a hand-picked protege of Karl Rove.

Back to the Clinton excuse: How many US Attorneys left office before their four-year terms were up during the Clinton presidency (other than to accept greater responsibility within the Justice Department), and why? Answer: Two of them.

And what were the two attorneys dismissed for? One was filmed by a television camera grabbing a reporter by the throat and another left after accusations he bit a topless dancer on the arm.

It is true that the White House's explanation for the firings is more much more disturbing than the charges that they are abusing the office for political purposes.

3 March 2007

Axis sauce and Allied gravy:
The Nuremberg Principles and the US of A

US Army Lt. Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Convinced that the war in Iraq is illegal under both the US Constitution and international law, Watada believes that he would become party to a crime if he obeys the order to deploy.

But prior to the start of Lt. Watada's court-martial, presiding judge Lt. Col. John M. Head prohibited him from mounting a defense based on the fourth Nuremberg Principle:
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.
One of the findings of the Nuremberg Trials was that the claim "But I was only following orders!" is not a valid defense for committing war crimes. Corrollary to that is the principle — which is taught in boot camp to every member of the US armed forces — that military members have a duty not merely to obey lawful orders, but to disobey unlawful orders as well.

Writes Timothy J. Freeman:
The ruling by Judge Head conflicts with the statement by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, that the United States must be bound by the same rule of law used to prosecute the Germans: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us." The Nuremberg trials established that soldiers are not immune from prosecution for war crimes just because they were following orders. The judgement at Nuremberg means that the common view held by Judge Head and apparently many Americans that "soldiers like Lt. Watada can't pick and choose when to fight" is just flat out wrong. In denying [Lt. Watada's] "Nuremberg defense" the military is simply setting aside the judgement at Nuremberg and ignoring Justice Jackson's explicit statement.
Witness the paradox of civil disobedience: Nations that ostensibly uphold the right of civil disobedience only do so for the citizens of other nations. No nation that is waging agressive (and therefore illegal) war can afford to allow a man of conscience to look it in the eye and say, "What you are doing is criminal, and I will not participate," for to do so would be to concede the criminality of its actions.

But Timothy Freeman concludes:
The nation would be stronger, not weaker, if it recognized Lt. Watada's right to refuse deployment to an illegal war. If Lt. Watada's action is recognized as right, the nation would be far less prone to engage in unnecessary and immoral wars. In refusing deployment to Iraq, Lt. Watada is serving the country with his conscience, and in so doing, is giving the highest service. If Lt. Watada goes to prison, as seems now very likely, he will be a powerful symbol of the injustice of the nation and its shame in ignoring the judgement at Nuremberg and refusing to remember Justice Jackson's counsel.
So for the time being, despite Justice Jackson's sage counsel, what was sauce for the Axis is not gravy for the US of A.