October 19, 2007

Rule of Law? Or Rule of Convenience?

Glenn Greenwald excerpts a couple of points from Michael Goldfarb's latest piece. Goldfarb, one of the shining examples of the deep thinkers employed by the oh-so-sensible right wing paper, The Weekly Standard, believes the duty of any American or American company in the time of war is to rush to do the Dear Leader's bidding.

[I]f federal agents show up at a corporate headquarters for a major American company and urgently seek that company's officers for assistance in the war on terror, the companies damn well ought to give it as a matter of simple patriotism, whether the CIA wants a plane for some extraordinary rendition or help in tracking terrorists via email. . . . [T]o expect a company to resist a plea from the government for help in a time of war is ridiculous.

First, can someone point to exactly what war we were waging in Feb 2001 when the Bush administration first approached the telcoms in their scheme to spy on Americans?

Then Goldfarb opines that if the Dear Leader is wrong in what he is asking, that should not be a problem for the person who is "Just Following Orders."

The companies affected by the new draft Senate bill acted in the interests of their country when they decided to comply with the government's requests. If the requests were inappropriate, that's another matter.

Of course. Why didn't we think of that? That's exactly the reason the WWII Allies never bothered to try individual soldiers for war crimes, because everyone knows if you are ordered to do something, you have no choice in the matter. NOT.

Help sponsor Senator Dodd's fight for our Constitution and our Civil Liberties. Bush has no right to ask the telecoms to break the law. Congress must not put the telecoms above the rule of law. If we expect our Constitution to mean anything then Congress must reaffirm that no one, repeat no one, is above the law.

Posted by Mary at October 19, 2007 07:29 PM | Civil Liberties | Technorati links |

===Bush cheers a famous oil tanker nation:Panama===

Posted by: ccoaler at October 20, 2007 10:06 AM

The concept of prosecuting individual soldiers for taking part in an unlawful war raises rule-of-law issues of its own, unless you can feasibly prosecute ALL of them (which in WWII would have been millions). It would violate the equal-protection concept to prosecute only some and not others.

I guess one possible solution would be do to hold all the aggressor's POWs for several years, as the USSR did with captured Germans.

Posted by: Huskarl at October 20, 2007 02:14 PM

Huskarl, we did prosecute the people in charge even when they tried to use the "I was just following orders" excuse.

Posted by: Mary at October 20, 2007 04:22 PM

We prosecuted certain persons for particular and notorious violations having to do with conduct during war, yes.

Also we prosecuted certain persons in charge for their part in the launching of the war itself. That did not raise an equal protection issue, because common troops were not the architects of the war.

But as you point out we did not prosecute rank and file soldiers, even though they had participated in a war of aggression.


perhaps I took the original post too literally, but this was the only way I could read it.

Posted by: Huskarl at October 20, 2007 07:09 PM

to clarify; during the final years of the Cold War I was an "individual soldier". Thus when I read that the Allies "never bothered to try individual soldiers" it made immediate truthful sense (I didn't get that it was intended in ironic sense), because the Allies did not try people like me.

Most of those sentenced to death at Nürnberg were Party officials and administrators, not soldiers.

The Nuremberg Trials: Newspaper Accounts

The Trial Of German Major War Criminals

Posted by: Huskarl at October 20, 2007 07:50 PM

True point - the individuals in the service were not prosecuted, but the leaders were. When the barrel is bad, you need to hold the ones who created the barrel accountable. The telecoms absolutely knew they were breaking the law, but did so anyway for money. They deserve to be accountable to their customers.

Posted by: Mary at October 20, 2007 11:20 PM