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Prosecute Obama for War Crimes

by sd Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009 at 1:47 AM

"ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT – Whoever, knowing that an offense has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact; one who knowing a felony to have been committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon in order to hinder the felon's apprehension, trial, or punishment. U.S.C. 18"

I grew up an American in the midst of the cold war. The world of my childhood was portrayed to us as divided into two camps: one moral and one amoral. The righteousness of our position was said to be derived from the moral goodness of our intentions and the means we used to attain them. Yes, it was a time of intense propaganda, but underlying the propaganda, on both sides of the cold war, was an unpracticed but attested conflict of values. The notion that our government would spy on us, launch preemptive wars, torture prisoners, or hold some class of individuals as above the law was foreign to us. These were the notions we ascribed to the enemy. I am not naïve enough to believe that we lived up to those values nor am I naïve enough to believe that the "enemy" lacked morality, but it was the case that we expected more of ourselves than we did of our opponents. This expectation died when President Obama decided that American intelligence agents who engaged in torture will not be prosecuted.

It is no longer deniable that agents of the United States violated American and international law by subjecting prisoners of war to torture. The documents have been released. The former President and Vice President have both acknowledged their role in ordering, monitoring, and encouraging the torture. There is no dispute regarding the fact that crimes were committed. Yet, despite these facts, President Obama has decided to accept the very defense that the Nuremberg trials rejected: that a defendant is innocent if he was only following orders.

When I was a teenager, I was a member of Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. In the course of our training, we were required to view official training films put out by the U.S. Armed Forces. I remember sitting in the drill hall of the Air National Guard in Wellesley, Massachusetts one session, watching a series of official films on the Nuremberg trials. These films, by the U. S. Department of Defense, instructed American soldiers to disobey illegal orders. In our discussion about those films, hypothetical situations based on the reality of Nazi Germany were presented to us. One hypothetical discussion involved the situation of being assigned to a firing squad the task of which was to shoot Jewish civilians. If to disobey was to put oneself in peril of being shot for resisting orders, would it be acceptable to violate the human rights of the civilians under the excuse that we were only following orders? The consensus was that would should refuse such orders even on pain of death.

Unlike the Nazis, any American intelligence agent refusing to torture (or kill) detainees under the Bush Regime, would not be subject to execution. There was no such threat against them. If it was the position of our government that Nazi war criminals could not use the Nuremberg defense, even though they acted under pain of death for refusal, how can it be argued that American intelligence agents who faced no such reprisals could use the very same defense? Obama has lowered the moral bar of the United States Government below that of the defense lawyers of Nazi war criminals. In so doing, President Obama has become an accessory to war crimes after the fact.

I've spent a lot of time wondering how it is that Obama, a man who opposed George Bush's illegal war, could turn around and become a co-criminal to the regime he has replaced. Was Obama deceiving us when he ran for the presidency? Has power already corrupted him?

From 2001 through 2002, I worked as a department director for a defense contractor in Austin, Texas that does work for various government agencies. From time to time representatives of these agencies would come to our office and present requests for ideas for systems that might assist in their missions. One such visitor was a representative of the CIA. He described to us how, each morning, the CIA presented to the President a security briefing. His request involved the development of a system that could automate the process of bringing together salient information about various threats. In his pitch, he described how these daily briefings brought to the fore all of the important security issues that a President needed to make pertinent decisions. Thinking back on this, I can not help to wonder whether Obama has been caught in the web of the intelligence community.

There is a phenomenon amongst micro societies with access to privileged information. Once information becomes privileged, those who work within the closed society of individuals with access to such information begin to believe rumors that reference privilege. For example, let us suppose that someone tells you that there is a secret but compelling reason why the NSA was instructed to spy on someone. You are not privy to the reason, but the awe surrounding the secretiveness of the reason and the privilege of knowing that there is a reason boost your confidence in the argument that the surveillance is justified. I personally experienced this when the U.S. Invaded Granada. I knew people who believed, due to direct access to people with privileged information, that there was a secret justification for the invasion that made the preemptive nature of it morally acceptable, even though these very same people did not know what that reason was.

Likewise, a President, though he may have access to all information held by the CIA (though I doubt he actually does have such access), due to the privilege of access to those whose opinions are intended to inform his own opinion, will place more weight in such opinions and privileged hear-say than he will in his own direct experiences. I imagine that he has been led to believe that these programs of torture actually prevented devastating attacks upon the United States. More importantly, I am willing to bet that he believes he may one day need to use the same techniques against existing or future detainees. He is excusing the crimes of the Bush Regime because he wants the option of committing the very same crimes and he has been instructed that he will not be able to rely upon the CIA to conduct such crimes unless the CIA can be confident that it and its agents will not be prosecuted for such crimes.

Of course, as I explained above, the "reality" upon which the President's beliefs are founded is an illusion intentionally created by the intelligence agencies themselves. This is what I meant when I wrote that I "wonder whether Obama has been caught in the web of the intelligence community". Essentially, the intelligence agencies run the United States Government by running the President. They run the President by creating the reality in which he makes his decisions. This is why it does not matter who the president is.

Nevertheless, without ambiguity, Obama has become an accessory to war crimes. As such, we must cease supporting him and commit ourselves to opposing his presidency with vigor. He isn't the Obama we elected.

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