Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"I Was Following Orders"

During the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which resulted in the committee voting approval (17-2) of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General, several of the republican senators kept adhering to an old idea.

They kept asking Holder if he was going to prosecute individuals who tortured prisoners at Gitmo.

Individuals who were "only following orders" to torture.

The implication those republican senators not only alluded to, but specifically stated, was that if a lower level individual was "only" following orders, then that lower level individual is not guilty and should not be held to account for the torture he or she did.

Two things come to mind.

First, that is the defence the NAZI fascists presented who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. It is called the Nuremberg defense, and is invalid pursuant to international law, which states:
"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."
(Nuremberg Principle IV). Why do the republican senators want us to follow the misguided wrongs of the NAZI ideology promulgated under Hitler?

Second, even the American military manuals, where the rules of conduct are printed, say that a soldier should not follow criminal orders.

These republican senators believe that the NAZI fascist defence is a good one for America.

Are they advocating NAZI fascist dogma? Isn't it the ideas an individual espouses which define who and what they are?

Who but a NAZI fascist would want America to become like NAZI Germany?

Modern day Germans recoil at that notion much more severely than republican senators do. It is a crime in that nation.

And it is a crime in the Fifth Circuit where a Texas sheriff, and several of his deputies, were sent to prison for waterboarding prisoners. The case is US v Lee, 744 F.2d 1124 (5th Cir., 1984). In that case a deputy raised the Nuremberg defence and it was rejected.

If only those republican senators had done their history homework.


  1. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy pointed out that asking Holder that question was the equivalent of asking a judge how that judge would decide a specific case.

    It is unethical to ask and unethical to answer that question.

    Among other things, the reason is that the individual does not have all the facts in the DOJ files. And all facts must be considered in a fair and impartial decision.

    Holder folks have denied he has answered one way or another.

  2. So who gave this CIA agent the notion that he could drug and rape Muslim women in other nations?

    Was he "only following orders"?

  3. Jurgen Habermas refers to a legitimation crisis.

    "..."Meaning" is a scarce resource and is becoming ever scarcer. Consequently, expectations oriented to use values -- thatis, expectations monitored by success -- are rising in the civil public. The rising level of demand is proportional to the growing need for legitimation. The fiscally siphoned-off resource "value" must take the place of the scanty resource "meaning." Missing legitimation must be offset by rewards conforming to the system. A legitimation crisis arises as soon as the demands for such rewards rise faster than the available quantity of value, or when expectations arise that cannot be satisfied with such rewards...."

    Habermas is kind of like reading sawdust.

    Here's Max Weber:

    "...The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter's view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the "saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment." 114 But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage...."

    I'll stop. I was gonna try to find quotes by Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Paulo Freire, Alice Miller, and others. I'm not trying to be a poser. I just want folks to know that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. It's pretty clear what is going on. And it will be recognised when proper steps are taken to restore humanity. Maybe we are approaching the point akin to when the Buddha hit rock bottom, and an authentic new age will soon bud. A good first step would be for the Patriot Act to be abolished, "intelligence" disbanded, and the military bidget slashed to a bar minimum. There is no reason why the planet cannot be saved. Another important step would be to prosecute the head of the rotting fish first. Sure, the dumbasses at the bottom took the oath to not lie, cheat, and steal. But when the top are allowed to hide behind the misdeeds of their sheep, that too is a legitimation crisis.

  4. John Yoo, a miscreant transplant, is pulling out the propaganda pen again, lying, misinforming, and showing the utter anti-Constitutional rhetoric he is infamous for.

    Jail him.

  5. Some new work is coming out about the "bullet halocaust", costing about 2 million lives because someone was "following orders".