Thursday, August 7, 2008

Guantanamo; and the Nuremberg and Ichigaya precedent

Just what is the United States saying with its treatment of the Guantanamo detainees?

Let's look at the conduct of the war criminals in Germany and Japan and how the victors treated them:
With the genocide, murders, slavery, medical torture and aerial bombings of civilians by Germany, the perpetrators were given:
the Nuremberg Trials, with standard legal rights.
And the massive Nanjing atrocities, the murders, medical torture, slavery, torture of POWs by Japan, the perpetrators were given:
the Ichigaya Court at Ichigaya, Tokyo, with standard legal rights.

Look at what the Axis criminals wrought: murder of millions and abuse and pain upon the survivors. The US took care to employ the kind of justice practiced in the US, the kind of practice that it would probably expect were its soldiers accused of war crimes.

While the murder of three thousand in the skies and the World Trade Center was indeed profoundly tragic, what kind of message is the US sending, by suspending due process from its detainees?

We often hear people citing George Santayana's adviso to study history, in order not to repeat the mistakes of history. This is too narrow, and it is too negative. Yes, we ought to avoid the mistakes and crimes of the past. Yet we should also learn not only from crimes, but also from actions that were taken that demonstrate our commitment to certain principles of administration of justice. History can provide us with precedents of action and policy.
In the instances of the prosecution of WWII war criminals we allowed for due process. This was done ought of principle. Holding up those principles showed the character of our sense of justice, even if the crimes and criminals were most repugnant. Again, what kind of message are we sending, by withholding due process -against suspects that -if guilty- had committed acts far less heinous in volume than those in WWII? Are we saying that the Guantanamo detainees have done acts worse than those in WWII? What kind of face are we now showing the world?

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