The first time I read about Obama's reasons for not prosecuting the CIA personnel accused of torturing “terrorist” prisoners, I had an attack of deja vu. The main reason given (aside from “putting the past behind us” -- tell it to Elie Wiesel! -- and “not wanting to divide the country” -- as if the election brought us together!) was that “they were following what they thought were legal orders”. Has anyone asked them what they thought? I seriously doubt it. But as to the deja vu? Why, the trial of Adolf Eichmann, of course! He was also “just following orders”, which were, in fact, perfectly legal according to the established legal system in Germany at that time -- so in that sense he was on firmer ground than our own CIA boys. But this was not considered a sufficient alibi – so his trial proceeded, and he found himself at the end of a hangman's noose, a la Saddam. (In fact, he was hanged by the very same people, for all intents and purposes.) So... if that excuse wasn't good enough for Eichmann, why does Obama think it's good enough for CIA “operatives”? Well, clearly, their offense doesn't belong in the same category... it's hardly a “war crime”... more people die by Tasering every day than have ever died from “waterboarding”... and besides, the CIA didn't just lose a war. That's the main thing. You lose a war, and the victor decides, post facto, what constitutes a “war crime”. If you win a war, then, by definition, you could not possibly have committed any “war crimes”. It's quite simple, really. Of course, Obama did have to do some backtracking on one point. Even if the low-level operatives are off the hook, the people who gave them the impression that what they were doing was legal may not be. This awkward reversal was apparently a concession to the forgotten left wing of the Democratic Party, which is feeling about as unloved as a frat guy's date for a “bowser ball”. They supported him, campaigned for him, and voted for him with the full expectation that, once in office, he would bring out the long knives and many Republican heads would roll, especially those involved with the war in Iraq and the totally bogus “war on terror”. But they forgot – actually they never knew – that there is only one Regime, and it's not going to let any of its good and faithful servants fall to any cuckoo-butt lefty ax. Obama knows this full well; in fact, he knew it way in advance of his election, but that was not the right time to make it generally known – there were, after all, votes at stake. Now that he's in office he has no trouble letting the lefties know, in no uncertain terms, that they've been played for fools again. But he's still going to throw them a bone and “look into the matter” of who declared what legal when, etc. And this will result in precisely zero prosecutions, zero losses of jobs, and zero changes of policy. But at least he can say to his lefty friends, “Well, I tried.”
But hold the phone! Salvation may be at hand in the form of an audacious Spanish judge who has every intention of trying U.S. military and intelligence personnel who were stationed at Guantanamo – and those who issued their orders -- for violation of international law. Well gosh, “those who issued their orders” could include everybody up the line all the way to “W”. That's the appreciation he gets for taking all the trouble to learn Spanish! (Especially when he can barely speak English.) Now, you would think the Democrats, and the Obama administration, would be fully supportive of this, and already preparing extradition papers for “W” and his crew. Not only that, but the judge – Baltasar Garzon – was also a tireless pursuer of Augusto Pinochet, another unsavory character that the State Department had about as much use for as it had for Eichmann (never mind that Pinochet got rid of Allende, the “Jimmy Carter of Chile” -- for which the world owes him at least some grudging respect). And his pursuit of El Augusto set the precedent, with which we heartily agreed (at the time), that “certain serious crimes can be prosecuted anywhere in the world” -- i.e. they don't have to be prosecuted in the country in which they occurred, or in the country in which the perpetrator enjoys citizenship. So the United States could, for example, prosecute a mullah in Mali for the crime of female circumcision. What are we waiting for?
The problem is, well – W and his crew may be fascist, warmongering criminals, but they're _our_ fascist, warmongering criminals, and national pride is going to weigh in as a factor when it comes to actually turning them over to the mercies of an international foreign court. And what if they were found guilty, and sentenced to prison? What would the Secret Service's duties be in that case? Would they have to rent out an adjoining cell? And yet, we're perfectly willing to give up our sovereignty in many other areas to the faceless, gray lumps at the E.U. So it's all very mysterious. One minute we believe in the “one world” notion, and the next minute we're harboring our own war criminals. It's enough to make you think we're “inconsistent” or something.