Monday, September 10, 2007

Dodd - Nuremberg Applies Today

By Cernig

Chris Dodd has a new book out detailing his father's letters home while serving as one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials following World War Two. In the book, Dodd cites those trials' relevance to modern events.
``For six decades, we learned the lessons of the Nuremberg men and women well,'' the Democratic presidential candidate writes in his book, ``Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice,'' published this week. ``We didn't start wars - we ended them. We didn't commit torture - we condemned it. We didn't turn away from the world - we embraced it.''

``But that has changed in the past few years,'' Dodd writes.
Dodd is referring to the Bush administration's actions in holding detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in secret CIA prisons beyond the rule of law, in torturing those detainees and in setting up kangaroo "military tribunals". He also writes about how the Bush administration cowed Democratic opposition voices.
In the book's opening pages, which puts Nuremberg in the context of today, the Connecticut senator recalls how the patriotism of former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland was questioned by the White House because the Democratic lawmaker opposed a provision in the bill creating the Homeland Security Department in 2002.

Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam War veteran, lost his Senate seat that year.

``I had no doubt that if we, as a group, had the audacity to take a firm stance against the commander in chief on the interrogation issue we'd get the same treatment,'' Dodd writes.

Chastened Democrats backed a GOP compromise that ``seemed to favor a reasonable plan for treatment of prisoners and retain elements of habeus corpus,'' Dodd writes.

But the compromise didn't withstand Bush's review, and the final legislation allowed the president to define U.S. commitments under the Geneva conventions.

`` ... We had been played,'' Dodd writes. ``In agreeing to all this, Congress has shirked its oversight responsibilities.''

Dodd's conscience took another blow when he agreed to drop plans to block the bill via filibuster.

``The filibuster might have worked,'' Dodd writes, ``Dropping it, I decided, would be my last compromise on the issue.''

With the bill poised to pass into law, Dodd voted against it after delivering a floor speech in which he quoted Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg: ``We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well.''

Dodd now seems to wonder whether he dampened his lips on a poisoned chalice by not fighting harder against the Bush administration in the face of fears raised by Cleland's demise.

``That element (fear) was part of the rational why people were so gun-shy in '06,'' Dodd told The Associated Press in an interview about the book. The Supreme Court will hear challenges to the new law this term.
It's rather sad that Dodd admits the Democratic leadership are more concerned with losing their sinecure seats than with upholding the standards and principles that made America the home of liberty - but it isn't new news. As for the GOP, they sold their freedom-loving souls in return for political power built on fearmongering a long time ago. It would be nice if the next U.S. president would be someone we could trust to roll back all this unjust trampling on the rule of law - especially from the point of view of the rest of us on this planet who must live with the biggest kid on the block no matter how he throws his weight around - but I won't be holding my breath.

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